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'Hatchet Victims'

September 28, 1986

As The Times points out, American foreign aid has "come to symbolize the American commitment . . . to address the poverty and disease that cripple so many millions of people." Successful and cost-effective foreign aid programs share the goal of helping people to help themselves.

Thus, UNICEF and the Child Survival Fund underwriting of immunization programs around the world not only saves children's lives but also sets up unprecedented social networks for primary health care in countries with backgrounds of social stratification and community disorganization.

And, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the newest U.N. agency in need of increased funding for its Special Program for Sub-Saharan Africa, by tailoring its programs of loans for agricultural improvements to local cultures and economies, is able to unharness the motivations of entire communities toward permanent self-sufficiency.

It is myopic for us to pretend that we exist in two separate spheres, domestic and international. The businesses that makes us prosperous depend on resources and manufactured parts from all over the world, our economic prosperity depending sometimes on the depressed conditions under which they are produced abroad.

Our habit has been, I'm afraid, to look at "human potential" more as "exploitation potential." The short-term effects of this myopia are reflected in continuing high infant mortality rates, immense suffering--both physical and spiritual--and in human rights violations and fighting all over the world.

Is there reason to feel that long-term effects of no aid or misplaced aid will be better than the short-term effects? Is there reason to feel that the leaning of Congress and the Administration to military buildup and military-based economies will produce a more "secure" world for our people at home and our business interests abroad?

Aid will be effective in the long term when it stems from our commitment to identify and help people overcome the obstacles that are paralyzing their communities, whether it be high infant mortality rates, nutritional ignorance, inability of a small farmers to grow enough food for family as well as markets, or the lack of fair interest rates for a $30 loan to help a tiny urban business venture gain a foothold.



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