After reading the July 11 letter to the editor headlined “To fend off global enemies, U.S. needs strong military,” I felt compelled to respond.

I would argue that with all our defense spending, the U.S. already has a strong military. However, my main issue with this statement is that I believe in order to resolve conflicts and ensure our national security, fending off our enemies with military force will prove to be more detrimental than productive. Instead of using military force to resolve conflicts, I propose using foreign aid.

As an intern at The Borgen Project, a national nonprofit that works to make global poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy, I have been educated on the many benefits of sending aid to developing nations. When the United States offers aid to developing countries, it not only improves worldwide economic growth and saves lives, it also helps advance its own interests.

Even our own military officers admit that current threats to our national security cannot be resolved by military force alone, yet when looking at U.S. discretionary spending in 2015, we can see that 54 percent was spent on the military and less than 1 percent was spent on foreign aid. The perceived most dangerous countries in the world are also among the poorest: Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.

Humanitarian efforts in poverty-ridden areas like these can decrease the influence of terrorist groups. Brute military force often destabilizes governments, disrupts the lives of citizens and does more harm than good. Development and diplomacy, however, complement military action by playing a major role in strengthening both economic and political stability around the globe. Therefore, these approaches should be equally funded and respected.

Emma O’Rourke

Cape Elizabeth

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