Friday, November 30, 2012
Here's a thoughtful column by Michael Gerson on what leaders must display in a time of austerity: a sense of proportion, the courage to take on large interests, and a sense of humanity. Wherever you think the balance should be, these orientations are right. And Gerson continues his compassionate-conservative defense of foreign aid against attacks like those by Sen. Rand Paul:
There are many substantive responses to Paul’s critique of aid. U.S. foreign policy would not be particularly American if a commitment to universal human dignity did not play some role. And acting according to that commitment has traditionally been an important element of U.S. influence — shaping our image and serving our interests.
But Paul’s crusade against aid is most notable as a failure of leadership. It lacks proportion, since the total of humanitarian assistance amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget — an expenditure irrelevant to the United States’ long-term, structural fiscal challenge.