U.S. Foreign Aid Program Needs 'Radical Reshaping,' Report Says

From Associated Press

A government report released Monday calls for a "radical reshaping" of U.S. foreign assistance programs because current aid concepts are based on a world that no longer exists.

"The challenges of today's problems, and tomorrow's, cannot be met with yesterday's solutions, suitable as they may have been to yesterday's problems," said the report, issued by Alan Woods, the administrator of the Agency for International Development.

The 158-page study said the aid program no longer seems able to fulfill its original mandate of helping poor countries achieve the transition from dependency to self-sufficiency.

Somewhere between 1949 and the present, the concept of aid as a transitional means of helping countries become self-sufficient was lost, it said.

"Is today's U.S. foreign aid fostering healthy development toward independent prosperity--or simply postponing the day of reckoning for governments unwilling or unable to take the politically painful steps needed for their own development?" the report asked.

"All too often, dependency seems to have won out over development," it said.

A principal conclusion of the report calls for "radically reshaping" future assistance programs to face new realities and to complement the contributions to development of the U.S. private sector in providing humanitarian aid, education and overseas investment.

This reshaping "must be both an immediate concern and a major long-term national priority. Nothing less will serve the national interests of the United States," the report said.

Woods noted in comments to a group of reporters that no country has "graduated" from less-developed to developed status in the last 20 years.

Contrast to Marshall Plan

All this is in sharp contrast to the postwar Marshall Plan, when an ambitious U.S. aid program helped put Western Europe on its feet after World War II.

One problem highlighted by the report is that "succeeding Congresses and administrations, prodded by the dominant crises--and interest groups--of the moment, have piled differing and often conflicting foreign assistance objectives on top of each other.

This "dizzying" array ranges from winning friends for the United States, to alleviating poverty, to countering the Soviet Union, to finding markets for American farm products, the report said.

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