For John, BLUF: Refugees are best served in situ. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The sub-headline, and focus of this article in the magazine Foreign Affairs is "Why It's Time to Eliminate Cargo Preference"> The authors are Messrs Vincent H. Smith and Ryan Nabil. They are both from the American Enterprise Institute. Here is the key paragraph:
It should come as no surprise that when competitive bids by foreign companies are permitted, food aid becomes less costly to ship. U.S. Marine Administration data indicate that shipping food aid on U.S.-flagged vessels under cargo preference costs 46 percent more than aid shipped at internationally competitive rates. Cargo preference alone increases annual shipping costs by at least $60 million. Combined with the United States’ food sourcing requirements, the policy adds up to $300 million a year to food aid transportation expenditures, according to studies by scholars at Cornell University and the American Enterprise Institute.I agree with the authors about the costs of the US providing US food in US bottoms, but I believe that is the cost for getting buy-in from members of Congress. And, shipping US food means US farms and farmers are sustained. And, shipping in US flagged ships is important for keeping the US Shipping Industry going, an industry we need if we decide that we are going to send lots of US forces overseas. The US Navy doesn't have the ships needed, just as the Air Force doesn't have enough aircraft for such a deployment and thus has contracts with airlines to help out—The Civil Reserve Air Fleet, or CRAF.
This is the case of better being the enemy of good enough. Should we do more? Yes. Should you write your Representative and two Senators? Yes, but the sausage making factory♠ needs to accommodate a lot of interests.
Regards — Cliff
♠ The US Congress. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck captured it: "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."