126. Letter From Acting Secretary of State Richardson to the Chairman of the President’s Task Force on International Development (Peterson)1
I appreciated your coming in to see me on Tuesday last. Nat Samuels and I were very glad to have an opportunity to talk with you and Ed Fried about certain aspects of aid policy, and we welcomed the opportunity to elaborate further on the views which Secretary Rogers had previously expressed to you. I thought it might be useful briefly to recapitulate our views.
The major task confronting about 70% of mankind and over 100 countries is economic development; therefore, US foreign policy must be directed toward a significant and vigorous assistance to developing countries. The decision on our part to undertake development aid is a political act intended to assist developing countries by economic means to carry through their often painful tasks of nation-building. Development aid is an instrument in our search for an orderly evolution in the world’s continuing processes of change, and simultaneously is a manifestation of our own system of moral values. We must persist in it for external reasons and as an expression of our inner moral compulsions. When our people are sometimes excessively critical of aid, it is often a consequence of their impatience with the frustrations of nation-building rather than with aid itself or the means of implementing it.
In carrying out an aid policy, both multilateral and bilateral instrumentalities are important. The World Bank and the IMF dispose of large funds, trained and professional personnel, accumulated experience and international prestige. The same is true of certain other multilateral organizations. We should take maximum advantage of these assets by increasingly directing our assistance through appropriate multilateral channels.
At the same time a bilateral assistance program is an element in US foreign policy. The Secretary of State has the principal responsibility for carrying out the President’s foreign policy, of which aid to the less-developed countries is an important element, and thus he must be able to coordinate foreign policy and development assistance. Moreover, our less-developed country relationships are increasingly involved with our developed country relationships as we try to harmonize our trade policy, private capital flows and development policy with those of other industrialized countries.
We agree, however, that the administration of development assistance in a separate, identifiable entity is feasible as long as there is a direct link between the operating entity and the Secretary’s policy direction.
Supporting assistance and military assistance programs, as distinct from long-term development aid, have short-term political aims although they often contain elements of long-term economic value. The United States is reducing its overseas military involvements and its political/security presence in developing countries and, in fact, supporting and military assistance programs today pertain largely to South Viet-Nam, South Korea, Laos and Thailand. These programs should be administered separately from the long-term aid entity, with policy direction also in State.
On one other point, that of technical assistance, our AID people are convinced that it is undesirable to separate the administration of technical assistance from capital aid. It is their strong view that the US experience and that of other bilateral donors, and that of the World Bank group and UN assistance systems, lend support to the case for greater, rather than lesser, integration of capital and technical assistance.2[Page 306] [Page 307]
I hope that the above comments will be useful to you and the task force. We undoubtedly agree on a great deal but probably approach some coordination and organizational concepts somewhat differently. I can assure you that our views are offered after much reflection and derive from the Department’s accumulated experience during a quarter of a century with aid policy and its implementation through various organizational forms.
The Secretary and I are both confident that your task force report will be a major contribution to our renewed aid policy. I know that the Secretary hopes to be in touch with you on his return from Africa.3
With best wishes to you and your colleagues,
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, AID (US) 1. No classification marking.↩
- On February 19 AID Administrator Hannah wrote Peterson to expand on Richardson’s “brief reference” to separating the administration of capital and technical assistance. Hannah described how a separation had been tried in the United States in the 1950s, the resulting decision to consolidate the functions, and how other donors were designing their assistance programs along the lines of the U.S. model. He noted that, with the possible exception of a “narrow range of scientific specialists,” separation risked losing some of the best foreign assistance managers, who often had broader interests than either a technical assistance foundation or a development bank would accommodate. (Washington National Records Center, Agency for International Development, AID Administrator Files: FRC 286 75 A 13, Chrons February 17-February 27, 1970)↩
- Secretary Rogers traveled to Africa February 7-22. His itinerary included six sub-Saharan countries, the first such visit by a Secretary of State.↩