Soft Power, Strategic Security, and International Philanthropy
Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies Working Paper Series No. 53
75 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2006
This Article examines a variety of regulatory rules, administrative responses, and legislative actions designed to prevent nonprofit organizations from unwittingly providing support to terrorist groups around the world. A combination of executive orders, legislation, and Treasury guidelines is intended to enhance U.S. security interests, protect American charities from abuse, and ultimately keep U.S. citizens safe by stemming the flow of funds to terrorists. Although these may be laudable goals, the government's approach may actually have the effect of undermining U.S. security interests by inadvertently chilling the flow of charitable dollars overseas to address serious problems - including those associated with the root causes of terrorism - such as extreme poverty, inadequate access to health care, economic development, and poor education systems, to name just a few. The central argument of this Article is that burdens placed on international philanthropy exact more than just administrative costs from U.S. grantmakers; they also exact security costs affecting U.S. interests that have been underappreciated by policy makers. Specifically, foreign grantmaking serves as an ally in the war against terrorism by contributing to public diplomacy efforts supporting a positive image of the United States abroad through international humanitarian relief activities and by generating U.S. soft power used to garner multilateral cooperation in foreign affairs. Only by recognizing and acknowledging international philanthropy's tangible contributions to the national security agenda will the federal government begin to shift its current regulatory approach on overseas grantmaking from focusing exclusively on conceivable charitable abuses by terrorists to a more balanced and strategic response. U.S. policy should balance legitimate and well-founded concerns about terrorist financing while simultaneously ensuring and even encouraging U.S. charities and private foundations to remain engaged in international programs and giving. In other words, international charity should not become a victim of the global fight against terror, but should be treated as a frontline ally.
Keywords: nonprofits, grantmaking, charities
JEL Classification: F29, H56, H87, K33, K34, O19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation