Smart Conditions

A Strategic Framework for Leveraging Security Assistance

The United States provides security assistance to international partners as a means to achieve its foreign policy objectives. However, when the policies of countries receiving U.S. security assistance fundamentally diverge from U.S. interests, the United States faces a dilemma. If it cuts off assistance, it may risk losing leverage in working with the partner on other priorities. On the other hand, if the United States ignores the policy divergence, it may lose credibility with the partner. Conditioning security assistance may provide a middle ground with associated benefits, costs, and implementation challenges.
This study proposes a framework for evaluating why conditionality has worked in some cases but not in others. The study also offers a taxonomy of different types of conditionality and proposes a set of guidelines to inform future policymaking. By employing common principles to conditioning security assistance, U.S. leaders could improve the credibility and consistency of U.S. foreign policy.

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Melissa Dalton