It is the arguement that the Sustainable Good blog was founded on and Outreach International works from every day: doing long-term development is much more successful than short-term, reactionary humanitarian aid. And one of my coworkers found a great report by the Center for American Progress with evidence to back this up. The report called "The Cost of Reaction: The Long-Term Costs of Short-Term Cures" argues that the United States has been pursuing short-term solutions to development for much too long, at the detriment to the safety and security of everyone, including the self-serving interests of the U.S.
The report argues that U.S. foreign aid is much too reactive, instead of proactive. Much of the funding the U.S. provides goes toward areas after conflict or disaster in the form of humanitarian or security (military) aid. After the crisis has subsided, or the U.S. interest in the region diminishes, aid "flatlines." This has created an aid system that is incapable of doing anything but emergencies services. Imagine a hospital where after the emergency is averted there is no follow-up, no cures offered, no ability to help prevent the next emergency.
The report cites Afghanistan the epitome of the problems that can happen with the U.S. foreign aid. When the Soviets were in Afghanistan, the U.S. was a leading provider of aid to the country. But when the Soviets left, the aid all but stopped. And the ground was set for a rise in poverty, illiteracy and terrorism. 50% of a population living in absolute poverty. 70% unable to read and write. This is the recipe for conflict and, as evidenced by Afghanistan, terrorism.
I am glad to be part of an organization that is working for a different kind of foreign policy. The community development work that Outreach International is doing is creating a more just and peaceful world. One story that demonstrates that is of a young adult leaving the military in Bolivia to create his own opportunities within his community. He and a group of young adults that Outreach International works with have started a barber shop. Person by person, community by community, country by country, sustainable good is spreading. And it is making us all safer!