Examining the Goals of US Foreign Assistance in the Post-Cold War Period, 1991-96

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Lai, Brian (2003) Examining the Goals of US Foreign Assistance in the Post-Cold War Period, 1991-96 , Journal of Peace Research 2003(1): 103–128.

The current literature examining US foreign assistance goals in the post-Cold War period has found that security is declining in importance and that the USA is aiding democracies while also supporting abusers of human rights. This article examines a previously untested neorealist hypothesis about the changing nature of US security goals following the end of the Cold War. Security for the USA, according to neorealists, is changing as the distribution of power changes. This paper also tests hypotheses about different liberal goals the USA might pursue. Finally, this article uses more appropriate and novel methods to test these models, including analysis of what determines when a state initially gets aid and what their initial aid allocation is. Unlike previous studies, security is found to still be important but changing as the balance of power changes after the end of the Cold War. Also, human rights abusers are likely to receive less aid. Finally, this article demonstrates that the econometric methods used to analyze foreign aid data play a large role in discerning what factors actually affect aid decisions.

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