A considerable number of Congressional lobbyists returned home this year with a wide grin of content, while a group of foreign policy experts sadly shook their heads. The chief reason for the lobbyists' "job well done" expression was the Congressional cutback in the Administration's foreign aid bill. The conservative business, manufacturing, and extractive industries which these men represent feel safer from economic competition from the "developing world" and feel somewhat more secure about a tax rate rise with foreign aid cut by a billion dollars.
The lobbyists with short-sighted Congressional legislators made it impossible for the President and the State Department to get pleas for larger and more flexible Foreign Aid funds. Eisenhower has noted that "one third of all mankind" was awakening to wants and potentialities. The importance of guiding the rising restlessness and energies of underdeveloped peoples into democratic channels of progress could not be overemphasized, for either humanitarian or security reasons. If the national leaders of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America are not successful in leading their people into the twentieth century they will be replaced, and in all probability by more extreme and opportunistic leaders. To maintain domestic rule, uneasy leaders may resort to more extreme external adventures.
To channel the development of these countries, the Administration requested a two-million dollar loan fund, rather than earmarked grants which leave little room for flexibility, discretion, and long term planing.
In the Congressional battle of the budget, not one of the points recommended by the Administration was accepted intact. Total aid was cut from 4.3 billion to 3.4 billion. The proposed loan fund of 2 billion over a three year period received only 300 million this year with no guarantee of any future addition. As a result, the ICA's long range development plans were crippled. Congress thus displayed disregard for the advice of the Fairless and Johnston committees which urged the importance of giving the ICA greater leeway in terms of time limits for aid programs, and in regard to giving the ICA experts greater ability to determine for themselves who should receive the aid.
While it is unfortunately too late to repair the foreign aid program for 1958, it is hoped that next year Congress will attempt a better understanding of the complexities inherent in long range economic development. Rather than making its allocations on a defensive year to year basis, Congress should give its foreign aid administrators a positive program with more funds and increased flexibility.