Aid Imperium: United States Foreign Policy and Human Rights in Post-Cold War Southeast Asia



Series: Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies

The University of Michigan Press

Does foreign aid promote human rights? As the world’s largest aid donor, the United States has provided foreign assistance to more than 200 countries. Deploying global numerical data on US foreign aid and comparative historical analysis of America’s post–Cold War foreign policies in Southeast Asia, Aid Imperium provides the most comprehensive explanation that links US strategic assistance to physical integrity rights outcomes in recipient countries, particularly in ways that previous quantitative studies have systematically ignored. The book innovatively highlights the active political agency of Global South states and actors as they negotiate and chart their political trajectories with the United States as the core state of the international system. Drawing from theoretical insights in the humanities and the social sciences as well as a wide range of empirical documents, Aid Imperium is the first multidisciplinary study to explain how US foreign policy affects state repression and physical integrity rights outcomes in Southeast Asia and the rest of the Global South.

Salvador Santino Fulo Regilme Jr. is a Tenured University Lecturer of International Relations at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

Praise / Awards

  • “As someone who has straddled the worlds of human rights advocacy and comparative politics for many years, I have long been hoping to see such a wonderful book, one that is both theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich, and particularly one that combines true academic excellence with genuine experience of ‘how things really work.’ It should be read by scholars and practitioners alike.”

    —Steve Heder, School of Oriental and African Studies
  • “In this clear-eyed and commendable study, Salvador Santino Fulo Regilme Jr. explores whether and how foreign aid can improve human rights outcomes—and sometimes sets them back. Theoretically rigorous, with illuminating case studies of US aid to Southeast Asia, this book opens a new era of debate on a crucial topic.”

    —Samuel Moyn, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World
  • “Does US aid improve physical integrity rights in receiving countries? Through a masterly analysis of American ‘foreign strategic support’ in Thailand and the Philippines, Aid Imperium reintroduces politics to the picture, transforming aid recipients from passive players into key political actors for whom relations with the US and their own security imperatives plays a pivotal role in explaining the human rights impact of aid.”

    —Stephen Hopgood, SOAS, University of London

  • “Does US foreign aid help or hurt human rights in recipient countries? Aid Imperium, with unique scholarly insight, systematic rigor and conceptual care, offers nuanced answers to this important question. This is a must-read for anyone interested in US foreign policy and human rights.”

    —Julian Go, Professor of Sociology, the University of Chicago
  • “Salvador Santino Fulo Regilme Jr. has assembled hard data to support his interpretation of an ‘interest convergence theory’ that quantifies what he refers to as the ‘US Foreign Aid Imperium.’ His excellent reportage also brings the story forward to today’s headlines for readers unfamiliar with his two country cases.”
    —Paul Rodell, Georgia Southern University

  • “Regilme makes it possible to explain why authoritarian regimes seem to continue getting more aid without necessarily changing their repressiveness and human rights record.”
    —Obert Hodzi, University of Liverpool