Cover of Aiding and Abetting by Jessica Trisko Darden
Aiding and Abetting
U.S. Foreign Assistance and State Violence
Jessica Trisko Darden


November 2019
216 pages.
from $30.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503610231
Paper ISBN: 9781503610996

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Excerpts and More

The United States is the world's leading foreign aid donor. Yet there has been little inquiry into how such assistance affects the politics and societies of recipient nations. Drawing on four decades of data on U.S. economic and military aid, Aiding and Abetting explores whether foreign aid does more harm than good. Jessica Trisko Darden challenges long-standing ideas about aid and its consequences, and highlights key patterns in the relationship between assistance and violence. She persuasively demonstrates that many of the foreign aid policy challenges the U.S. faced in the Cold War era, such as the propping up of dictators friendly to U.S. interests, remain salient today. Historical case studies of Indonesia, El Salvador, and South Korea illustrate how aid can uphold human freedoms or propagate human rights abuses. Aiding and Abetting encourages both advocates and critics of foreign assistance to reconsider its political and social consequences by focusing international aid efforts on the expansion of human freedom.

About the author

Jessica Trisko Darden is Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the School of International Service at American University.

"This is a critical book at a time when the U.S. approach to human rights is in deep crisis and global human rights are in grave danger. Jessica Trisko Darden has given us a beautifully written and compellingly readable account of how U.S. foreign aid has tragically supported regimes that unleashed violence against their own citizens."

—William Easterly, New York University

"Jessica Trisko Darden's new book is a masterful look at the dangerous and often unintended consequences of U.S. foreign aid. By combining state-of-the-art quantitative methods with detailed case studies, she convincingly shows that foreign aid often deeply harms the citizens it is purported to help. The book should be required reading for international political economy, human rights, and foreign policy scholars. It persuasively calls for a radical reimagination of the American foreign aid process."

—Amanda Murdie, University of Georgia

"This is a fascinating study of one of the darker sides of American foreign policy. Drawing on her own family's experience as well as decades of diplomatic history, Jessica Trisko Darden shows how foreign aid—widely seen as a bipartisan vehicle for promoting American values abroad—has often played into the hands of ruthless autocrats."

—Robert Worth, contributing writer, The New York Times Magazine