Damimola Olawuyi has served as a Geopolitical Analyst for SBM Intelligence. He can be found on Twitter @DAOlawuyi. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization or any group.
Title: Assessing the Effect of Military Aid on Both Donor and Receiver
Date Originally Written: April 4, 2020.
Date Originally Published: April 13, 2020.
Author and / or Article Point of View: The author maintains a keen interest in the geopolitical implications of conflicts and alliances. The author believes that any assistance towards parties in conflict must be bound in an overarching strategic framework that allows both donor and receiver achieve their aims.
Summary: Military aid is a significant part of any foreign diplomatic effort. While aid, properly constructed, can provide significant advantages for all parties involved, the failure of such a policy will result in serious political repercussions for both sides beyond the ceasing of such transfers.
Text: Ever since nations have been established, they have supported allies in prosecuting armed conflict, including fighting interstate conflict, terrorism, and counter-insurgencies. The Egyptian-Hittite treaty is the first treaty of which both sides’ independent copies have survived. The treaty spoke to providing aid in case of attacks on either party. While the treaty was between adversaries, it aligned the interests of both parties in putting down external military threats and stabilizing their internal jurisdictions.
Military aid takes various forms, often tailored to meet the perceived needs of the receiver as well as strategic considerations guiding the relationships. One form of military aid is the provision of men and firepower for direct combat like the Russian intervention in Syria. Donor countries may provide instructors and advisers like the Military Assistance Advisory Groups that operated around the world during the Cold War. Donors will also sell weapons and the instruct allies in their employment, managed in the United States by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency under its Foreign Military Sales program.
The deployment of military aid allows donors to show support to allies and deter aggressive behavior from adversaries. As part of its diplomatic strategy, aid will allow the sponsor to deepen personal and institutional bonds with the recipient. Industries can develop overseas markets via follow-on contracts and opening of the recipient’s markets to trade. The donor can fine tune doctrines, test equipment, and prepare personnel for future military campaigns. By exhibiting the lethality and reliability of its weapons, the donor can attract sales from other countries looking to expand their military capacities and capabilities. The threat of withholding aid may be used to shape the behavior of receiver countries. Finally, the donor may leverage the platform of the recipient to project power and influence in the recipient’s region.
The recipient gains access to military capabilities often beyond the ability of local industries to manufacture. By leveraging relationships with allies, those capabilities can be obtained at favorable conditions not available to others. This access to top level technology may also enable the recipient jumpstart local industries to meet civil and military needs. Exposure to military training and expertise from first rate armies will allow the beneficiary military to professionalize faster than organic capacity will permit. The presence of a patron will result in more freedom of action for operations while curtailing the ability of their adversaries to act without risking escalation.
However, the provision of military aid may result in adverse consequences. The Athenian support for the Ionian Revolt precipitated the 50-year Greco-Persian War. Aid may encourage unproductive behavior in the recipient, especially by prolonging the conflict. Once aid is passed to the beneficiary, there is limited donor control over its use, resulting in potential exposure of the benefactor to accusations of enabling war crimes. There is no certainty that the aid will result in a favorable outcome for the recipient and the fall of the ally may result in sensitive technology passing into hands of adversaries.
Ultimately, foreign military aid type, size, and duration, requires constant critiquing. Military aid, for both the donor and receiver, is a crucial extension of defense and diplomatic policies. The consequences of a failed aid policy will exert political costs far beyond currency figures. It is crucial that political leaders are made aware of the multiple options available to them in deciding what is sent, who it is sent to and how it is sent.
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