Let their lives be saved, lest the wrath of the Lord be stirred up against us . . . But so let them live as to serve the whole multitude in hewing wood and drawing water.
Most Americans still believe that their nation\u2019s foreign aid programs supply poorer countries with needed resources as outright gifts, or on easy credit terms at very low prices. Even those who are aware of the link between food aid and U.S. farm surpluses do not widely recognize the ways in which the United States has used food aid as a lever to dissuade foreign govern- ments from achieving self-sufficiency in food to feed their populations. Yet what started out as a system of benevolent grants and loans to under- developed economies, at a real but moderate cost to the ample resources of America, has evolved into a strategy of international client patronage and dependency based on U.S. political and military control over aid recipients. Not only the incidental effect of U.S. aid but its stated purpose has been to restrict rather than enlarge the capacity for evolution of aid- dependent countries toward greater self-reliance.
Since the 1960s a major aim of foreign aid has been to help the U.S. balance of payments, not that of aid recipients. In a travesty of economic terminology, any loan extended by the U.S. or foreign governments is classified as \u201caid,\u201dipso facto, even when the balance-of-payments effect is from aid recipients to donors. Reflecting the self-interest that characterizes U.S. aid in general, payments made by the government to farmers to produce crops that cannot be consumed at home or sold abroad on commercial terms take on the guise of foreign aid. Thus, in the curious system of U.S. accounts, the domestic costs of crop purchase by the government \u2013 outlays intended since the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 to support prices above their free market levels \u2013 are transformed into components of the cost of foreign aid.
\u201cIt is easy,\u201d wrote one agricultural economist, \u201cto rationalize our farm surpluses into international assets. But in so doing, we deceive no one but ourselves. We can go on making a virtue of them, but thoughtful people and informed leaders abroad are not deceived by what we say; they see clearly that we have been making our foreign economic policy fit our
internal convenience.\u201d1 To be sure, Congressmen and aid diplomats are much more aware than is the public of the many ways in which U.S. and World Bank loans are extended to low-income countries on terms whose aggregate effects often prove more onerous than commercial loans.
Over the years, these loans grow into principal-and-interest-payments requirements so large as to prohibit accumulation by the aid recipients of the foreign exchange they need to finance autonomous development of their economies. Additionally, the terms on which aid is advanced often involve recipient nations in expensive military programs that cannot be met out of domestic resources without the imposition of repressive military regimes. Impoverished but peaceful peoples have been transformed into even more impoverished but warlike peoples whose military expenditures filch the resources required for their economic growth and for the democratic evolution of their political forms.
The U.S. approach to foreign aid was appraised in terms ofrealpolitik as early as 1957, in the Senate\u2019s report on the concept, objectives, and evaluation of foreign assistance:
The subcommittee has conducted its study on the premise that the sole test of technical assistance is the national interest of the United States. Technical assistance is not something to be done, as a Government enterprise, for its own sake or for the sake of others. The United States Government is not a charitable institution, nor is it an appropriate outlet for the charitable spirit of the American people. That spirit finds its proper instrumentality in the numerous private philanthropic and religious institutions which have done so much good work abroad.
Technical assistance is only one of a number of instruments available to the United States to carry out its foreign policy and to promote its national interests abroad. Besides technical assistance, these tools of foreign policy include economic aid, military assistance, security treaties, tax and commercial treaties, overseas information programs; participa- tion in the United Nations and other international organizations, the exchange of persons program, tariff and trade policies, surplus agricul- tural commodity disposal policies, and the traditional processes of diplomatic representation.
None of these tools has any particular inherent merit; any of them may be useful in a given situation . . . The proper measure of a program\u2019s cost . . . is the relationship of cost to benefits. International affairs are made up of too many intangibles for a mathematical cost-benefit ratio to be worked out as in the case of a multipurpose dam in the United
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