William & Mary

Aiding Japan: Foreign aid in the wake of a natural disaster

In the aftermath of a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake, Japan was consumed with rescue and recovery efforts. Nations around the globe responded with offers of assistance – money, rescue personnel, food, equipment, etc. Not all the aid was received with open arms.

Assistant Professor of Government A.  Maurits van der Veen recently discussed the topic of foreign aid with the William & Mary News. When it comes to natural disasters and foreign aid, he says the model is broken in that the money comes at the wrong time, noting that foreign aid donations don’t start arriving early enough to fulfill the immediate cash need in the wake of a disaster and generally stop arriving before long-term rebuilding needs are met. Van der Veen also contends money isn’t necessarily the best answer for Japan.

“There is nothing that throwing money at Japan is going to make things go better,” he said. “They are a wealthy country, they have their own currency. If money was the problem, they could print more.”

{{youtube:medium:center|gAfP1s8YRUE, Government Maurits van der Veen on foreign aid.}}

Van der Veen holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College, a M.S. in computer science from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. He joined the William & Mary faculty last fall. Van der Veen’s research examines the various ways policy-makers think about ("frame") foreign policy issues, and the impact these views, in turn, have on actual policy choices. He specializes in ideas and identity in foreign policy.