United States foreign aid has always been securitized, that is, explicitly used in support of geostrategic goals. However, the first decade of the 21st century saw the temporary return of a past trend, the militarization of United States (US) aid; where official development assistance (ODA) is used to serve battlefield goals. The Department of Defense (DOD) became both a major aid donor and an important implementing agent for ODA projects in the field. This chapter examines how and why US ODA has been consistently securitized and, on occasions, militarized, and assesses the consequences of both. The most recent militarization was due to the chronic bureaucratic weakness of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which meant it could not respond swiftly to the Bush administration’s demands that it play a prominent role in national security strategy after the 11 September 2001 attacks (9/11 attacks) on the US (Atwood et al. 2008). This incapacity of USAID led to the DOD proactively taking on these roles. When aid has been militarized to serve specific and time-bound US military goals — as it was in the Vietnam conflict and again in the recent fight against terrorism and insurgency — it has failed to meet instrumental military goals and ultimately served neither security nor development well.
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