It’s a common complaint, the billions of taxpayer dollars poured into almost every corner of the globe by the United States government. And it’s a justifiable complaint. We have our own problems here at home, with our major cities descending into chaos, deteriorating infrastructure, and our national debt past the stratosphere–out of near-Earth orbit, and well on its way to Saturn and points beyond.

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Once in a while, though, an idea comes along that makes one wonder why someone didn’t think it up long ago. This is one such; making the billions we send out in foreign aid not a grant, but a loan, to be secured by the receiving nations’ natural resources.

Really, why not? The idea was floated during the recent negotiations for the Ukraine aid bill:

Working to salvage an aid package to Ukraine, Republican senators pitched an idea to former President Donald Trump that they thought he’d like: Instead of a grant, the U.S. would give the country a loan that would be backed in some fashion by Ukrainian rare earth minerals worth trillions of dollars.

GOP lawmakers knew they needed Trump’s support if they were to ensure the ex-president wouldn’t use his clout in Congress to sink the aid package that Ukraine needed to fend off Russia’s invasion.

Not to get into the Ukraine debate – that’s an argument to be made in another story – but making it about resources isn’t the worst idea. Ukraine has about 10 percent of the world’s iron ore reserves, along with manganese, oil, and natural gas, and Europe’s largest reserves of titanium and uranium. That troubled country contains other strategic resources – graphite, potash, gold, and mercury.

And then there is the entire Middle East, with their oil and gas reverses, and the billions of dollars we pour into that region.

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That seems like pretty good collateral. Former President Trump is reportedly open to the idea:

That specific plan didn’t make it into the final legislation that President Joe Biden signed into law last month. Ukraine received a loan rather than a grant — meeting Trump’s threshold requirement — though there was no mention of the country’s minerals as a potential means of repayment.

Still, Trump liked the concept, GOP lawmakers who spoke to him said, and if he wins the election, some envision a new model taking hold in which the U.S. structures foreign aid not as grants, but instead as loans with countries putting up natural resources or other valuable assets as collateral.


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Several key Republicans were also reportedly in favor of the idea, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). 

And, honestly, why not? There is nothing in the Constitution that says that foreign aid should be charity. Instead of being Santa Claus to the world, why not be the mortgage broker to the world? Is it so wrong to think that the United States, when almost every other nation on the planet comes to us with their hands outstretched, waiting for American cash to be doled out, to ask, “Wait just one damn minute – what do we get in return?”

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If America First is going to be the agenda, why not put America first when it comes to access to the world’s resources – or at least in having our client nations pay back what we give them, with interest?

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have a license to go into, say, Ukraine, and start digging titanium and uranium. The resources would be used to secure loans. As recently as the 20th century, the United States insisted other nations pay back loans made during such events as the Great War

We might even see the United States making some progress towards a sustainable fiscal policy. That presumes, of course, that we can rein in government spending.