Foreign aid to Pakistan has become a flashpoint between the Republican presidential candidates.
The country is “too nuclear to fail,” Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said during Tuesday night’s GOP debate.
As long as Pakistan poses a nuclear threat, U.S. aid to Pakistan provides some influence in the country, Bachmann said. But she also said that “the Obama policy of keeping your fingers crossed is not working in Pakistan.”
Her position is in sharp contrast to one held by several GOP front-runners, most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry who has said he would zero-out aid to foreign countries that don’t support American interests.
“I would not send them one penny, period,” if Pakistan does not agree to support U.S. interests, Perry said.
It’s a position Bachmann said was “highly naive” in Tuesday night’s debate.
Foreign aid surfaced in a Nov. 12 debate, also about foreign policy.
“Pakistan is clearly sending us messages,” Perry said during that debate. “It’s clearly sending us messages that they– they don’t deserve our foreign aid that we’re getting, because they’re not bein’ honest with us… It’s time for us as a country to say no to foreign aid to countries that don’t support the United States of America.”
Later in that debate, front-runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich agreed with Perry’s approach.
It’s a position that rankled some conservatives, including former Sen. Norm Coleman who penned an op-ed with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in favor of foreign aid, writing that so-called soft power should not be dismissed as “expensive and expendable.”
“Adequate resources for the military are necessary. But so are adequate resources for global health, economic development and the promotion of democracy and human rights,” Coleman and Huckabee wrote.
“When it’s spent in a strategic and targeted manner, with transparent accountability, foreign aid makes a substantial contribution to U.S. security and prosperity,” they wrote.