Obama Administration Announces Plans to Cut Aid for Programs Promoting Democracy in Middle East

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The Obama Administration is planning to reduce the amount of money it sends to the Middle East to promote democracy, according to a report from The Daily Beast. The program was directed mostly towards countries that participated in the “Arab Spring” movement, such as Egypt, Libya, and also Iraq. Budget reduction seems to be the prime motivation behind the cuts, with the 2014 mid-term elections looming in the future. However, activists are criticizing the policy saying that the Obama administration is abandoning countries in need.

No money has been earmarked for Iraq or Libya to promote democracy, according to State Department officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. The U.S. has adopted “a wait-and-see approach until after a January 15 referendum on a newly-drafted constitution” before rendering a final decision about foreign aid for them.

The budget for total foreign aid—beyond the simple mandate of “promoting democracy’—for the current fiscal year is $7.36 billion, about nine percent less than the previous year’s budget. The actual budget for democracy promotion is $298.3 million, reduced about 35 percent from last year.

In an appearance yesterday on Fox News, former ambassador John Bolton acknowledged the importance of the Middle East to the US but added, “whether that translates into programs to support democracy, however, is a very different question.” He recognizes that terrorist organizations in the region “do a much better job” than the US when it comes to ingratiating themselves to the people in the region. However, he scoffs at the idea that the US can teach democracy through these programs, describing democracy as a way of life that cannot be taught through “sending 30 year-olds out to teach them principles of democracy” but should be observed in the US first-hand.