Robert S. McNamara, a former defense secretary and World Bank president, attacked the Reagan Administration today as increasing only military help to other countries and cutting all other aid.
“As secretary of defense I told Congress repeatedly that the United States could buy more security by shifting a dollar of military aid to development aid,” he told a House Banking subcommittee. “I felt that way 20 years ago and I feel that way today.”
McNamara headed the Pentagon under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson during the war in Vietnam. Afterward, he spent more than 12 years as head of the World Bank, the biggest source of loans for raising the living standards of poor countries.
“It is a clear lesson of the postwar period that political stability does not ensue from military strength, in the absence of broadly shared economic development,” he testified. “Building up military hardware . . . is not a substitute for building viable economic institutions.”
McNamara presented figures showing that the Reagan Administration budgeted $16.7 billion in foreign aid for the year beginning Oct. 1, down from $20.4 billion the year before. All the elements were down except military aid, which he figured as rising to $6.7 billion from $5.8 billion this year.
Only $2.5 billion, about 15% of total U.S. aid, would go to the poorest countries, he calculated.
“Indeed, if by foreign aid we mean what is commonly understood by the term--financial assistance to low-income countries, allocated on the basis of need and the most effective contribution to long-term development--the U.S. does not have a foreign aid program,” McNamara said.