It’s ultimately a chicken vs. egg debate – do you set up democracy first, then build a hospital; or do you build a hospital and hope it helps democracy to grow?
U.S. foreign policy loves spreading democracy and freedom. How this is done* varies by current political climate, prevailing economic theories, and a country’s friendliness factor. U.S. public opinion tends to change every now and again on whether this type of spreading is even a good idea – why not just stick close to home?
A new report by Canada-based Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and Laval University have found that Canadians prefer tangible foreign aid to value spreading. They don’t completely dismiss value spreading, but if given the choice would prefer a hospital or bridge to be built with their foreign assistance.
With a new U.S. administration in 2009, it’ll be interesting to see what foreign aid policies the U.S. adopts and if the public rallies behind their government. 48% or only 48%, depending on your viewpoint, of Canadians think their government is most likely to have a positive influence on world affairs.
*Done implies completed – and how exactly do you complete the spread of very complicated, value-laden ideas?