22. Statement by Secretary of State Vance Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations1

It is my pleasure to begin today, before this distinguished committee, my testimony to the Congress on the Carter Administration’s approach to foreign assistance.

Our foreign assistance programs are diverse in substance, serve a variety of objectives, and are aimed at a wide range of targets. In reviewing our foreign assistance program we should ask ourselves certain key questions:

—How do these programs fit together?

—What are the results of our aid in human terms?

—What ends are served?

—In short, is our aid money being wisely spent?

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I hope to begin this difficult process of self-examination and cooperative dialogue with the Congress today—to provide you with a sense of how the Administration sees the total range of our foreign assistance programs as part of a broad foreign policy framework including:

—Our efforts at development cooperation in the context of an increasingly important North-South dialogue;

—Our ability to play a constructive role in the resolution of regional conflict in the Middle East, southern Africa, and other trouble spots in the world; and

—Our basic national security.

Our Basic Objectives

The foreign assistance efforts of the Carter Administration are guided by some fundamental foreign policy objectives:

—To demonstrate America’s compassion for the poor and dispossessed around the world—those who, through no fault of their own, are exposed to daily suffering and humiliation and are struggling to survive;

—To make our fair contribution to the enormous task of the social, economic, and technological development of poor countries, an investment which in this interdependent world can pay us handsome dividends;

—To foster a climate of constructive cooperation, dialogue, and reciprocal benefit in our North-South diplomacy;

—To contribute to the cause of peace by providing incentives, in terms of economic and physical security, for the resolution of old, and potential, disputes;

—To maintain and foster the environment of international peace and security essential to social, economic, and political progress through selective military assistance that assures our friends and allies adequate self-defense, while preserving regional arms balances;

—To take the lead in encouraging the evolution of a world order based on an open economic system, a political structure reflecting a just balance of rights and obligations for all nations, and social progress and human rights for individuals wherever they might be.

This wide range of objectives is essential to the national interest of the United States in the complicated interdependent world in which we live.

Our own economic welfare is vitally affected by what happens elsewhere in the world. The standard of living of the American worker and the American consumer requires cooperation with the developing world—in expanding supplies of food, energy, and raw materials and in controlling population growth and wasteful use of scarce natural re[Page 90]sources. The stability of the U.S. economy depends greatly on responsible economic policies in the rest of the world, including the developing nations. The fortunes of all national economies, including our own, are linked to continued expansion of the highly integrated international system of trade, investment, and finance. And in a world in which social and economic progress has become a central issue of our time, our national security is linked to progress in the rest of the world.

In addition, economic issues have assumed increasing political importance. Disadvantaged people everywhere are rejecting the proposition that poverty must be their fate, and governments everywhere are putting the goal of economic development at the top of their national agendas. We have experienced severe worldwide economic dislocation: simultaneous inflation and recession and abrupt increases in energy prices have curtailed economic growth generally, but most painfully in the poorest countries. Equality of economic opportunity has become the paramount goal of diplomacy for 150 developing nations, just as it has been the goal of disadvantaged citizens and regions in American history.

We cannot effectively promote multilateral diplomacy, control the proliferation of nuclear arms, defuse international terrorism, reduce the buildup of conventional weapons, or protect our security interests in the oceans or space in a hungry, angry, and bitter world. We can achieve cooperation on these security issues only if we are doing our fair and reasonable share in the process of international development cooperation—only if we are seen as encouraging, not frustrating, the development aspirations of others.

In an imperfect world, the objectives we pose for our foreign policy are not always consistent. We cannot pursue all of them as fully as we might like all the time. In concrete instances we face a series of difficult choices. Some of these choices pit our best intentions against our most pragmatic calculations.

For example, both we and the poorer countries favor economic development, and we generally agree that development requires sound domestic policies as well as international transfers of resources to the poor countries. Moreover, one of our principal objectives is to see that the poorest people of the developing nations benefit from our assistance.

Our task is to achieve those ends without interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, mindful of the fact that there are limits to what we can achieve no matter how noble our motives.

Similarly, we hold strongly to the principles of basic human rights. We are working to fulfill both the letter and spirit of current legislation relating human rights concerns to foreign assistance. This committee it[Page 91]self spoke to this issue when it wrote in its own report last summer that:2

. . . should we profane our ideals in the interest of short-term security, we would cause the erosion of our greatest strength—that of a nation guided by dictates of reason and moral principles.

But in that report the committee also noted that we can best achieve our purpose through conscientious and systematic review of assistance programs on a country-by-country basis. In each case we must balance a political concern for human rights against economic or security goals. No formula can resolve the larger conflict of commitments, but prudent and dedicated attention to both the basic objectives and the day-to-day operations of our programs can make specific problems tractable.

This committee and the Congress have advocated “new directions” in our bilateral foreign aid programs.3 These directions call for increasing emphasis on the poor majority, increasing attention to human rights, and adherence to the moral principles that give us pride and dignity as a nation. The spirit of “new directions” underlies our general approach to all our aid programs.

The Carter Administration accepts the challenge that Congress has posed. We ask your cooperation in making “new directions” a reality—and in helping us resolve the difficult policy choices we face.

The challenge of the “new directions” means that, in 1977, we cannot talk simply in the dry terms of this or that funding level as if the power to budget and spend were the power to wish ourselves into a perfect world. We are interested in results in human as well as economic terms.

[Omitted here is a description of the various development assistance programs.]

  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, March 14, 1977, pp. 236–241. In his February 24 evening report to the President, Vance noted that the questions posed “covered the broad range from policy considerations to details on the financial composition of several of the items in our AID budget.” He added, “Human rights was the subject of a number of questions, with the Committee appearing to understand the difficulties that one faces in balancing human rights objectives with security and development objectives.” (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 37, State Department Evening Reports, 1–2/77) Vance provided similar overviews of the administration’s assistance programs to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations on March 2 and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Foreign Assistance on March 23. These statements are printed in Department of State Bulletin, March 28, 1977, pp. 284–298 and April 11, 1977, pp. 336–339.
  2. S. Rept. 94–1009, June 29, 1976; report of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, together with additional views, to accompany H.R. 14260, foreign assistance and related programs appropriations bill, 1977. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Section 102 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1973 (S. 1443; P.L. 93–189) on Development Assistance Policy contains the provisions of the “New Directions” mandate, which set out functional categories—such as population planning and agricultural production—as criteria for foreign assistance. (Congress and the Nation, vol. IV, 1973–1976, pp. 851–852) See also Implementation of “New Directions” in Development Assistance: Report to the Committee on International Relations Prepared by AID . Committee Print, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 1975.