Speakers urge colleges to help countries in need

Mike Neaton

Providing international aid to developing countries benefits the United States by promoting worldwide democracy.
This was one of the main messages Ambassador J. Brady Anderson, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, offered at a public forum Tuesday afternoon at the Humphrey Center.
Anderson spoke to more than 200 people, taking questions afterward about issues such as aid for Iraq and how USAID is trying to increase its funding.
Professor G. Edward Schuh, University Regents’ professor of international economic policy, introduced Anderson. He expressed fears that the U.S. government was not spending enough on international aid. If 1 percent of the federal budget was spent, it would allow for more than $70 billion in international aid, he said. The United States now spends around $7 billion annually.
Anderson told the audience that the amount of money allocated to USAID is controlled by Congress and is essentially out of the agency’s hands.
“The U.S. ranks last among industrialized nations in percentage of gross domestic product going toward foreign aid,” Anderson said.
Funds through USAID programs support education and infrastructure projects in developing countries, as well as provide small-business loans to local entrepreneurs; these are designed to promote democracy and healthy living, he said.
The effective promotion of democracy around the world helps the United States in foreign relations, Anderson said.
“In the past hundred years, democracies have not gone to war against each other. True democracies bring lasting political stability,” he said.
Sue Klaseus, the associate dean of the Carlson School of Management, supported Anderson’s points of bringing all government and industry sectors together.
“The government and universities need to spur the private sector to promote aid in developing countries,” she said.
Minnesota exported an estimated $14.5 billion in goods to foreign countries, Anderson said. He used this as an example of how Minnesotans can be directly affected by increased political stability in the world. This stability will provide Minnesota industries with trading partners.
The event was cosponsored by the Minnesota International Center, the Orville and Jane Freeman Center on International Economic Policy, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the American Refuge Committee.
“We need to get the message out about foreign affairs,” Anderson said. “The Minnesota International Center has worked hard to keep people engaged and knowledgeable about public affairs.”
He explained how international aid does not typically come in monetary forms. USAID sent a former California police chief to El Salvador to educate the local police force about effective law-enforcement methods.
Anderson urged for more support from American universities for developing countries, saying that international aid does not necessarily need to come through the government.
The Minnesota International Center is a nonprofit organization that promotes global exchange and understanding between Minnesotans and the world.
Carol Engebretson Byrne, executive director of the center, said, “This forum is a chance for Minnesotans to have a dialogue with a senior member of USAID.”