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Article Review | Debating Foreign aid: Right versus Left

By Jean Philippe Therein

Sachin Tiwari

Course Title: American National Security Policy & Process

Course Coordinator: Professor Chintamani Mahapatra

Professor Christopher Raj

Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies

School of International Studies

Jawaharlal Nehru University


How have the Left and the right ideological environment shaped the aid? What is the
significance of the perspective in understanding of foreign aid? In ‘’Debating Foreign aid:
Right versus Left’’ (Third world quarterly, Vol. 22, 2002, pp. 449-466), Jean Philippe Therein1
presents a discussion of the impact of the ideological environment on the Foreign aid. This is
related to the debate Right versus the Left and how the opposing forces of the right and the Left
have shaped the foreign aid overtime. Dividing the article into three major portions, the first part
of the article attempts for the definition of the foreign aid. Second the historical development of
the foreign aid and last, the significance of the Left right debate in understanding the Foreign aid
with concluding remarks.

The author begins with the development of the foreign aid as an innovation of the twentieth
century where the transfers from the developed to the poor countries have become a norm in
form of the development assistance. This has shaped the world polices with the strategic from the
decolonization to the end of the cold war and globalization Arguing that the discusses the
definition of the foreign aid in view of the Left right debate , its changing .The Left focuses on
the restricted meaning of the foreign aid related to the public welfare aspect . While the right
focuses on the broader definition of the foreign aid and included all the possible options of donor
practice.

Next, the author discusses the historical evolution of the foreign and the left right divide. The
early historical evolution of the aid has been influenced by the Left with the emphasis on the
egalitarian society and the labor values. This period also stand out in the liberal world where the
development of the Welfare state contributes to the inclusion of the welfare state principle. It has
shaped the general interest of the society towards the social welfare development. Foundation of
the UN, World Bank accelerated the aid. Marshall Plan development largely shaped the period
with the building of the war torn nations in form of development assistance. There has been
since 1950 a constant interplay between the Left Right divide with the domination of the one
over other. The institutionalization of the Aid during 1960’s and new economic order during 70s
give new aspect to the foreign aid. However, with the 80’s a balance of payment crisis occurred

1
Author Jean Philippe is professor at the university at department of Political Science at University De Montreal
Canada
and the question of how aid might contribute to the development was seriously questioned. In the
contemporary times there is return back to the basic human needs strategy.

Next, the author discusses the interplay between the Left and the right with explanation of the
world view in light of the Left right debate. The right is concerned with the optimum resource
strategy and regulation with the trade policies that have largely affected the aid. Similarly for the
Left the concern morality is primary. The declining aid and the policies followed by the have
continuing shaping the aid in its contemporary form with Left emphasizing on the condition laid
with the aid and the Left for the basic human needs .

Concluding, the author’s points to the idea of foreign aid the policy of the developed countries in
form of the trade policies have affected the development of the recipient countries. The
domination of the development center in the effective control of the market polices. Discussing
in view of the left and the right debate, the question of the ineffectiveness have been discussed.
For right the optimum uses of the resources and for Left the questions of the morality are
primary. Foreign aid is a foreign policy tool for the right in view of the optimum resources with
the developing countries adopting the policies of the developed .The Left view in morality
emphasis on the political and the economic development with the human approach which have
been concluded as more successful in dealing with the basic needs fulfillment in the developing
and third world countries .However , the two views holds similar view in several cases and
supports the current approach of the stage in economic affairs . The Left right divergent views
lead to the clear understanding as in respect to the traditional interpretation and the approach
should be used for the future analysis not only of the aid but other phenomenon.

Critical Analysis

With several factors affecting the donor for the foreign aid, the discussion of the ideological
drives an impetus from the political point of view. The discussion in the article has focused on
the debate of the Left versus right as an interpretation to understand foreign aid. The left and the
right divide have many overlapping ideas as both have effect on each other ,and therefore
considering the idea of the Left versus right debate is challenging which the authors accepts .
The argument in the article is limited to as the shifting ideological environment cannot be the
only basis for political environment and therefore the Left right cannot be a proper basis for the
analysis. However, major insights in the development of the foreign aid have provided as to why
welfare by the developed countries? Providing with a historical narrative of the idea of Foreign
aid and the development of the welfare policies into norm in the 20th century, and subsequently
in the form of the development assistance has largely shaped the foreign aid environment.
Interplay of the Right and left ideological in the development with the historical evolution has
been discussed with the Left, Right providing the idea for the development through the various
periods. Adding of the idea of the welfare, egalitarian, general interest in society to the
development of the institutional, structural adjustment the Left Right ideological debate have
contributed to the changing meaning of Foreign aid .In this sense, the contemporary trend of the
return back to the basic human needs strategy for the foreign aid can be understood in light of the
Left Right divide. The author attempts to provide with a new perspective in light of the Left
versus Right debate in understanding the concept of the Foreign aid both as the optimum
resource and the morality view of the Right Left views. The right emphasis on the condition
associated with the foreign aid in form of the condition’s associated as the trade policies and
restrictive policing which in the current time have led to the optimum resources u by the
recipient .Similarly Left with the element of the human internationalism including providing
with the general welfare of the recipient nations .Foreign aid is constantly being shaped by the
ideological divide. The author has emphasis on the use of the Right left views to understand the
various phenomenon’s as it bridges the gap between the political and the international relations
and provides a new perspective to the understanding which is simpler in approach.