1st Edition

Against Aid
A History of Opposition to U.S. Foreign Aid Spending

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 2, 2021
ISBN 9781138345287
July 2, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
228 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Against Aid presents a complex and diverse history of opposition to U.S. foreign aid spending, explaining why critics challenged aid and how they had a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy.

Foreign aid was an integral part of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. U.S. leaders hoped aid spending could modernize other societies, create steadfast allies, and promote global stability, but there was always considerable opposition. Jeffrey F. Taffet skillfully examines aid’s opponents and shows how they questioned the assumptions that the United States needed to be globally engaged. He argues that aid’s opponents forced changes in U.S. aid programs which dramatically reduced overall spending and limited support for dictatorships. Taffet also makes a larger argument, that in fighting aid, opponents were challenging essential views about the nation and its global role that transcended debates about how much to spend. They were arguing about the appropriate use of national power, and the essence of the nation’s purpose.

This book is essential reading for courses in American Politics, International Studies, and history of American foreign policy. Students will benefit from the broad, chronological scope and accessible narrative of the text.

Table of Contents

0. Introduction, Two Conversations  1. Foreign Aid in Historical Context  2. Fighting the Marshall Plan and Point Four  3. Aid Opposition and the Public in the 1950s  4. Otto Passman and the Fight Against Modernization Theory  5. Wayne Morse and Aid as Imperialism  6. Nixon, Defeating Aid, and the Path to Basic Human Needs  7. Conclusion

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Jeffrey F. Taffet is Professor of History at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He is the author of Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, (Routledge 2007) and The United States and Latin America: A History with Documents (Routledge 2017, with Dustin Walcher).


Taffet’s accessible and engaging study convincingly demonstrates that many Americans rejected the notion that U.S. foreign aid during the Cold War could strengthen other societies or benefit the United States. Illuminating fierce legislative battles that frequently cut across party lines, Against Aid shows how opponents of foreign aid questioned the assumptions of American Cold War leadership, laying the foundation for current debates about U.S. global engagement.

William Michael Schmidli, Associate Professor of History, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Whether foreign aid achieves its stated goals is an open question among scholars and even among its proponents. Jeffrey Taffet shows that its skeptics rooted their doubts in a variety of soils, and their opposition to foreign aid reflected conflicting visions of the national mission in the latter half of the "American Century." This is a valuable volume, and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the "soft power" of foreign aid in postwar American diplomacy.

Jason C. Parker, Professor of History, Texas A&M University, USA

What is the ultimate purpose of U.S. foreign relations? To vigorously spread U.S.-style freedoms and democracy around the globe, and shoulder the responsibility that comes with that choice? Or pursue narrowly-construed, specific U.S. interests, cautiously avoiding possible foreign entanglements? Although the debate goes back nearly two centuries, today the conflict over foreign aid is arguably the best way of understanding it. As such, the enduring relevance of Jeffrey Taffet’s excellently-researched, well-written book is clear.

James F. Siekmeier, Associate Professor of History, West Virginia University, USA