Journal of Social Sciences

US Foreign Policy and Aid to the Peace Corps

Donald D.A. Schaefer

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2009.139.145

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 5, Issue 2

Pages 139-145


Problem statement: This study examined foreign aid as administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) through four presidencies, beginning with the Reagan era. Aid dispensed to the Peace Corps for humanitarian purposes was the major focus of the investigation. The research proposed that such aid should continue under the President Barack Obama administration. Approach: The approach taken used both qualitative analyses of the four administrations along with quantitative analyses of the data from USAID. Results: The findings indicated that, while many forms of economic and military assistance had been both used and abused throughout much of American history, the Peace Corps created under President John F. Kennedy presented an exception. However, the Peace Corps had received both benefit and harm as a beneficiary of US foreign aid due to fluctuating economic realities associated with the federal budget. President Reagan was a strong supporter of the Peace Corps; yet, it was "under his watch" that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985 was passed, which negatively influenced nearly all forms of economic and military assistance distributed through USAID. Starting with President Clinton’s second term funding for USAID dramatically increased. Conclusion: The Peace Corps was not immune to the adverse effects, but funding also increased under President Clinton. From this time onward, the Peace Corps has enjoyed a high level of political and financial support, a scenario that deserves to be continued under President Obama. This study can help future analyses of the US presidential responses to the giving of assistance to the Peace Corps.


© 2009 Donald D.A. Schaefer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.