Foreign Aid Should Only Go to Friends

Foreign Aid Should Only Go to Friends

In December 2017, President Trump courageously announced that the United States would officially recognize the truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and that we would move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Shortly afterward, the United Nations General Assembly gathered to give its opinion on this sovereign U.S. decision. Before the vote, as America’s UN Ambassador, I warned that the American people would “take names” of who was with us and who was against us. A large majority of countries voted against America that day. There was no immediate consequence for doing so. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t take names. For countries who consistently trash America at the United Nations, there must be consequences, or there will be no changes in their behavior.

In fact, I did more than take names. My team at the U.S. Mission to the UN compiled an exhaustive research book on every country. We looked at how much foreign aid we give to each country, and how often they vote against us in the UN. The results were eye-opening.  

I presented the findings to President Trump and he was shocked. So much so that in last year’s State of the Union Address, he referred to this huge gap between what we give to countries and how they treat us in return, saying, “That is why, tonight, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

I could not agree more. Let’s look at two examples.

In 2017, Pakistan received nearly $1 billion in U.S. foreign aid, the sixth most of any country. Much of the aid went to the Pakistani military. Some went for road, highway, and energy projects to assist the Pakistani people.

It is more than fair to ask what the U.S. gets in return for our generosity. On all key votes at the UN, Pakistan opposed the American position 76% of the time. Much more troubling, Pakistan also has a long history of harboring terrorists who have killed U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  

That same year, U.S. taxpayers provided over half a billion dollars to the people and government of South Africa. That’s more than what the entire UN system provided to South Africa that year.

Most of our funds go to a great program for preventing HIV/AIDS. Over the years, we have literally saved the lives of millions of South African citizens. Americans do this because we are a big-hearted nation and it is the right thing to do, not because we expect something in return.  

Still, you would think a government that received such life-saving assistance would show some gratitude for our generosity. You would be wrong. South Africa voted against the U.S. position at the United Nations 82% of the time – among the worst in the world. What’s more, it is an extremely hostile voice against many critical U.S. interests.

There are many other similar examples.

Congress failed to pass the legislation the President asked for last year, but the Administration went ahead with its own full-scale review of U.S. foreign assistance policies. That review, which I participated in before leaving office in January, is long overdue. The Administration has already wisely restricted assistance to Pakistan, but there is much more to be done.

Our foreign aid policies are stuck in the past and often operate on auto-pilot without considering the conduct of the countries who receive our aid. The national security bureaucracy is also very dug-in defending the foreign aid programs they administer. But the Administration is proceeding.  I hope it comes out with its changes soon and strongly.

UN votes should not be the only factor we consider in our foreign aid decisions. We have many humanitarian, economic, diplomatic, and military interests that must be weighed. But UN votes should be one factor.  If they are not, then we will consistently underperform what we are capable of at the UN.

None other than former Secretary of State John Kerry said this about foreign aid: “Foreign assistance is not a giveaway. It’s not charity. It is an investment in a strong America and in a free world. Foreign assistance lifts other people up and then reinforces their willingness to link arms with us in common endeavors.”  

I agree. And when foreign aid goes to countries that take our generosity and bite our hand rather than link up arms with us, it’s time to stop it.

49 Replies to “Foreign Aid Should Only Go to Friends

  • Samuel Sanguedolce

    By Samuel Sanguedolce


    Thank you for all your efforts, this is long overdue.

    • Deborah Rosas Latour

      By Deborah Rosas Latour


      I strongly agree with you Nikki. I still don’t understand why you resigned 😵

      • Loretta.wilson

        By Loretta.wilson


        I.agree with you.i.dont.understand just some 30.percent agree that’s just not right

      • Pedro A Delgado’s

        By Pedro A Delgado’s


        Agree 100% on both statements.

    • David Lanier

      By David Lanier


      America First!

  • Eric Lucas

    By Eric Lucas


    It’s about time we stop giving away our hard working taxes abroad and take care of Our home first. This does not mean government assistance but infrastructure, schools, Veterans and private businesses.

  • Holly Harrington

    By Holly Harrington


    It’s a fine balance between compelling humanitarian need and funding regimes that do little to support us and our allies. This situation needed to be addressed in a compassionate and unequivocally clear fashion. Bravo to you for achieving BOTH!

  • Sue Brown

    By Sue Brown


    I respectfully disagree, “Keep your friends close, keep you enemies closer”, Proverb 2 Samuel 9.

  • sandra borr

    By sandra borr


    Nikki Haley: No one has stood for the USA as solidly, consistently and bravely as you have done. It’s impossible to put into words what your loyalty and courage has done as our US Ambassador to the UN. I would gladly support you in every way possible if you ever seek elected office. You are a lioness among hyenas and jackals. Love, love,and more love to you.

    • Jere

      By Jere


      Very well said. I couldn’t agree with you more!

    • Betty.M

      By Betty.M



  • Richard S Warn

    By Richard S Warn


    Common sense is so rare and what you are sharing is so valuable. It was written “seek the truth and the truth shall make you free”. Free from worry, free from doubt, and free from the insanity driving so many people insane. I thank you for being you, a bright light in a time of darkness.

  • Patrick Turnbow

    By Patrick Turnbow


    Well said. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your commitment to the interests of our country, and for the many sacrifices you and your family have made to support our mutual interests! Blessings to you and your family!

  • Melvin Auman

    By Melvin Auman


    We are 22 trillion dollars in debt. We don’t have money to give away!

  • Trisha

    By Trisha


    Well said. I especially agree with you position that while humanitarian aid should be given because it is the right thing to do, we as a country should monitor how that aid is being spent and temper our donations to these countries as appropriate given their support of us in our critical missions.

    • Linda Douglas

      By Linda Douglas


      I applaud your idea that we should monitor how our aid to countries is being spent. We are a generous nation, but there must be verification.

  • Merrill

    By Merrill


    I agree totally Nikki! I repeated applauded your speeches at the UN. You took stands no one else has for years. My hat is off to you, Lady.

  • Cynthia Patterson

    By Cynthia Patterson


    I will be writing my congressmen/women regarding this. Thank you for all your efforts!

  • Elaine Fryback

    By Elaine Fryback


    That was an eye opener, but not surprising. I am so glad you have started this policy group and you have much insight now, after two years at the UN as our Ambassador. Keep us informed and thank you!

  • Marcie Maestas

    By Marcie Maestas


    Cruz/Haley ticket for 2024!!!

    • An Iowan

      By An Iowan


      How about Haley/Cruzticket?!

  • Elise

    By Elise


    Those numbers are staggering. And sadly this is something preached by many conservatives through the years. Through his decisive action, and his decision to put action people in key positions (like you), President Trump is keeping his promises. Thank you for being the catalyst for action. I look forward to many more opportunities for you in the coming years. You’re the best! I continue to be proud of how you have kept your word from day 1, to be our voice.

  • Jason Dixon

    By Jason Dixon


    Thank you! You are taking bold stand to help make America great! Semper Fi from Greenwood SC.

  • Jackie Frye

    By Jackie Frye


    I agree wholeheartedly. The hand is accepted, while sand is kicked in our face. Time to take notice and take names

    • Ethel Walker

      By Ethel Walker


      I agree!!!

  • Patricia Cross

    By Patricia Cross


    Thank you! I admired you as my Governor in SC and even more so as you strongly and boldly represented the USA at the UN. Thank you for continuing to stand for America! I stand with you.

  • Laurie (Rie) Moratto

    By Laurie (Rie) Moratto


    A poignant op-ed that needed to be published! Of course we should, from a position of strength, reach our hand out across the ocean, but to those who support us. These findings need to get out to the general public, with stats, names and monitory bottom lines. Keep them coming!

  • Kathy Carpenter

    By Kathy Carpenter


    Thank you for your service. I believe that foreign aid should be closely watched and monitored more than ever before. You are going in the right direction. Good behavior should be highly rewarded not bad behavior.

  • Phil Waddell

    By Phil Waddell


    Excellent explanation of a critical component of American foreign policy. I hope you will continue to urge the President to pursue this approach.

  • Daniel McEleney

    By Daniel McEleney


    You are a breath of fresh air! For far too long our political leaders have squandered other people’s money, our precious tax dollars, in so many ways. Review of foreign aid is a great place to start.

  • Deepak Khopade

    By Deepak Khopade


    Very true.

  • Deborah Balog

    By Deborah Balog


    We are generous to a fault. We will be responsible for our own demise if we do not heed your advice.

  • Lynda M. Johnson

    By Lynda M. Johnson


    Thank you!

  • Valerie Brooks

    By Valerie Brooks


    I applaud what you have done in public service, and what you are proposing to do as a private citizen. Leadership such as yours is so very important to our nation.

  • Danielle Birkhead

    By Danielle Birkhead


    I am so proud to say that you were our Governor here in SC and I wish you still were but I can see you are in a mission and I stand in your corner. Thank you.

  • David White

    By David White


    This is so long overdue. We squander money on countries that are unsupportive on the world stage. I am so pleased to see this initiative.

  • Jason Zielonka, MD

    By Jason Zielonka, MD


    It’s amazing that the Executive Branch hasn’t kept a record of funds donated to and actions (such as UN votes) by the respective countries. Thank you and thank President Trump for being the first to do so.

    Has that data been published anywhere? Is there a way For “We the People” to see that data and make our congressional representatives aware of it?

    If you’re short of resources, I’m semi-retired and would be happy to help …

  • Jim Olson

    By Jim Olson


    This is a long-overdue evaluation of those that love our money but hate us and work against us. We need to show them tough love: respect them but stop the gravy train.

    We need you at the top of the ticket!

  • Linda Douglas

    By Linda Douglas


    So glad you took the bull by the horns on this topic, Madame Ambassador. Countries unfriendly to the United States’ mission should not be rewarded with our funds.

  • Charles Roy Craig

    By Charles Roy Craig


    Why on earth did you quit Nikki you were the best person ever in the UN.

  • Zach

    By Zach


    Thank you for your love for America, and all your hard work on our behalf. I am glad our President has a person like you supporting his ideals for making America great again. You are in my prayers and I will support you anyway I can.

  • Myrna Patterson

    By Myrna Patterson


    I thank you and agree with you. I was greatly pleased with your boldness at the UN. This country needs your leadership. God be with you,protect and bless you and your family.

  • dolinda balch

    By dolinda balch


    Thank you for educating me.

  • Bill Jones

    By Bill Jones


    I have liked you since my brother, a state of South Carolina career employee, voiced praise for you!! You are a breath of fresh air to us common sense Americans!

  • Laurent

    By Laurent


    Nikki Haley, you are absolutly right, and we thank you for your courage and determination in your fight for what is just and right. In the face of countless evil doers you took a stance for those who voices are ignored. We will support you in all your efforts. Thank you to the moon and back for your decision regarding Israel. You are a true friend and we are Behind you.

    I look forward to participating at your event in montreal next week, because
    we too “ standforamerica” the same way you stood for israel! With many blessing to you and your family. Shalom.





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  • Sean

    By Sean


    The Amb. Haley, as always, is right on the money. Let us support only our allies and I mean our strategic partners allies .

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