Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Katja Favretto

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Although foreign aid has been an important component of US foreign policy for many years, it has nevertheless been a constant source of debate and controversy. Academics offer differing views with respect to both its motivations and effectiveness. In addition, there has been considerable evolution in thinking as to the nature of reforms that recipient countries should prioritize to achieve sustainable development. This paper discusses these issues in the context of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was established in 2004. More specifically, the paper discusses the extent to which the approach taken by the MCC has been informed not only by the longstanding debates regarding the utility of US foreign aid but also by the lessons learned during previous major foreign aid initiatives, including the Marshall Plan and the Alliance for Progress. Drawing on both the academic literature and historical experiences, the paper focuses on key aspects of the MCC approach that are designed, among other things, to both de-politicize the aid eligibility process and ensure adequate country ownership. The paper uses two country case studies – Benin and the Philippines – to assess how this approach has been applied in practice. The overall conclusion highlights what may seem as a contradiction: although it is inevitable that one of the motivations of US foreign aid is political, the extent to which foreign aid will be effective in the long run will depend on whether it is insulated from the political process in the short term.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.