Paper written for the Charles F. Kettering Foundation

1.         Introduction
2.         Interdependence
3.         The Problems
               a.    Population
               b.    Food Production
               c.    Energy
               d.    Health
               e.    The Budget Process
4.         Remedial Efforts
5.         Recommendations
6.         Notes


Tripoli, Lebanon 1973


      In colonial Africa, wildlife, when threatened by excessive hunting, could be protected by drawing a line on a map and defending the reserved area against poachers. The animals, safe from human predation, could thrive as before, migrating with the rains, their numbers fluctuating in natural cycles with the abundance or stringencies of the habitat. But today spreading human settlements have pressed the larger animals into habitats so limited that they do not permit the evolved rhythms of decline and renewal to maintain natural communities. Protection, though still possible, now demands more complex procedures and the attention of range management specialists, ecologists, and ethologists-—scientists of all kinds who can contribute the detailed knowledge of plant and animal behavior needed for the design of protective strategies.

      Science has replaced lore as the underpinning for the technologies and management policies necessary for wildlife protection.

      Something similar is happening to the human habitat under pressure of numbers and production. We seem to be depleting our soils; consuming our forests; filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid, and noxious fumes; polluting and overfishing the oceans; draining the pools of oil and natural gas; and mining the earth’s minerals at a terrifying rate. The Panglossian view of relentless progress which would allow each of us to commute, Buck Rogers style, with individual rockets strapped to our backs and to tend machines which do all the work has been replaced by a cloud of gloom. Many persons believe that even if we avoid a nuclear catastrophe, the world will be less livable in the year 2000 than it is today.

      Within our national boundaries the picture seems less grim. Fertility is near the replacement rate; 3 percent of our population can produce enough food for ourselves and our animals and still export more than any other country; our air is cleaner than it was, and we know its purity is a function of how much we are willing to pay for it; we replant the trees we harvest; and, if necessary, we could again become self—sufficient in energy. We have brought our intellectual resources in science and technology to the task of conserving and enlarging our resource base. While there is no cause for complacency in our achievements to date and while we still consume at a rate that clearly cannot be sustained forever, we do have command of the technical capacity in public and private institutions to promote both increased production and improved conservation.

      Beyond our shores, however, the trends of population growth, food production, energy supplies and forest resources appear more threatening. There human fertility undermines traditional life-styles and forces painful changes in established patterns of food cultivation, construction, energy use, and social organization. In short, the developing countries need scientific knowledge and technological innovations to deal with the worsening conditions of our global habitat. But those countries are least equipped to deal with these problems; only about 3 percent of the world’s scientific research is conducted there, where 75 percent of the people live.

      The research and the technology developed for our own use have generally been available for export, and in fact large—scale transfers have taken place. But only about 1 percent of the research in industrialized countries, such as the United States, is undertaken with the needs and applications of developing countries uppermost in mind, and technology shaped to the needs of one society can seldom be transferred to another without undesirable social and economic dislocations. Typically our production methods are capital—intensive, our agricultural and medical techniques suit the markets as well as the climates found in the temperate zone, and our strategies are founded on the efficiencies of a mass production economy. Our institutions are orchestrated to respond to and serve the needs of their domestic clientele.

      A mismatch now exists between our institutional research and development arrangements and our national interests. The policies and organizations we have employed successfully to deal with our own scientific and technological problems are now inadequate for our purposes. Our interest in fertility, food production, disease, and energy creation has broadened beyond our borders, but we still manage our publicly-financed research and development as though we were a self—contained island. By widening the focus of our scientific and technological endeavors, not only can we contribute to the preservation of the quality of the earth’s environment, but we also can serve our national economic, security, and political interests.

      We live in a world already overpopulated in some places, where people are threatened by food shortages, energy scarcities, environmental deterioration and poor health. It is a world we can’t escape or wall out; we know we are part of a global economy and live in a global environment. As a nation, we enjoy recognized world leadership in science, technology, management and the analytical skills of the social sciences. These assets give us the power, the opportunity, and, I believe, the responsibility to attack problems that threaten the quality of the lives of our own children and grandchildren, as well as the inheritors of the Third World.

      The argument presented here is based on national interest, not on humanitarian or religious principles, although those would reinforce the point. National interest means different things to different people, however, depending upon one’s view of the world and the dangers that lurk abroad. To many, the dangers are primarily human beings who are guided by a hostile, godless ideology, to which the only convincing response is increasing our military might and arming our friends abroad.

      A different view is taken here. Our national well-being is threatened as much by global population, poverty, environment and resource problems as by the Soviets, and by dealing effectively with those problems we will at the same time lessen the lingering attractions of the Soviet system to other nations. It is, of course, no novel notion that the best antidote to communism is economic advancement. Similar thoughts motivated the Marshall Plan, that historically significant foreign policy innovation which won with capital what we would probably have lost had we depended upon mere muscle.

      But the Third World differs from Europe, and capital alone is not enough to ensure economic gain. Despite truly impressive advances in Asia and Latin America, we have wearied of the problems of the poor and now devote less of each dollar to foreign assistance than any other major industrial state, apart from the Soviet Union. Development problems are complex, and much of the aid we send abroad often has disappointing and unintended results. We tend to regard aid as charity, and seek to reduce its levels to the minimal acceptable in the society of nations. It is mainly due to pressures from European states that aid levels are not lower than they are at present.

      This book, however, is not primarily about foreign aid and development. Those terms are inadequate to describe the nature of relationships to the Third World or the breadth of our objectives. The term foreign aid is unpopular in the United States and abroad; it connotes a one-way flow of benefits and implies an unwelcome dependency relationship. As used by our government, foreign aid covers financial and material transfers for many purposes, including payments for military cooperation and for political agreements such as the Camp David accords. Development assistance is a fraction of the funds labeled foreign aid. In Fiscal Year 1980, for example, U.S. economic assistance totaled $7.6 billion. Of that amount, bilateral development assistance accounted for only $1.9 billion.

      The term development acceptably describes the process through which societies learn to increase their productive capacities and raise their living standards. U.S. bilateral development assistance, administered by AID, contributes effectively to the process in the poor countries eligible for it. AID generally succeeds in using its limited development assistance funds to alleviate the worst aspects of poverty.

      The problem is that our interests in the Third World transcend the poverty issue, and the resources we could bring to bear in support of these interests are not always best deployed through AID. We are interested in the efficient utilization of the earth’s natural resources, in the quality of the global environment, in the adequacy of the earth’s food supply, in the rate of global population increase, in the price and supply of energy resources, and in the control of infectious diseases, as well as in the alleviation of poverty. Our greatest contributions to the resolution of these problems will come from the effective use of our scientific, technological, analytical and managerial capacities. These resources may not be best mobilized by an agency dedicated to combating poverty. In any case, the resources devoted to these problems, which are our problems as well as theirs, should not be called foreign aid.

      I believe we must come to the realization that our participation in the worldwide efforts to combat global problems is as much in our interest as in the countries hardest hit by these problems. We should stop thinking about cooperation with the Third World as simple charity, and begin thinking about the ways in which our national strengths can contribute best to problem resolution.

      I come to the view that we are underutilizing our scientific and technological assets with a perspective born of field experience. After a close association with Africa and the Middle East for twenty years, most of them in the Ford Foundation, I found myself this past four years engaged with our own government. In 1977, I participated in a study of foreign aid at the Brookings Institution, after which I spent two years planning the creation of an Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ISTC), as recommended in the Brookings study. Then, when Congress shelved the ISTC, I worked for a year as consultant on North/South issues to the President’s science advisor.

      Congress erred, in my opinion, in aborting the ISTC, but the error is understandable. The circumstances are discussed in Chapter III, but, simply put, Congress got the idea that the proposed ISTC was to be another foreign aid agency and decided that it was not a propitious time for adding yet another bureaucracy to an already overextended government. Rather like the broccoli taster who said, “I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it,” Congress found ISTC easy to discard once it could be categorized as foreign aid.

      We need to get beyond the point of thinking of the Third World as spinach. We need to recapture the sense of the post—war era that American power could be used to make the world a better place for all to live. We can, if we will, again offer leadership in global problem-solving through the power of our scientific and technical resources.

      This book attempts to make the case for the application of more U.S. efforts to global problems in collaboration with developing countries. Chapter II examines some of the reasons why developing countries are of growing importance to the United States; Chapter III looks at some global problems where greater U.S. efforts could make a difference; Chapter IV discusses some of the institutional constraints on government action; and Chapter V contains conclusions and recommendations.

      I am grateful to the Kettering Foundation for affording me the time for research. The views expressed are, of course, my own, but I hope they will become widely shared.


      In 1960, a senior official of the Kennedy administration toured several countries in Africa, ending his trip in Addis Ababa. There he was asked by a young Foreign Service wife which of the countries he had visited was most important. He responded with a candor reserved for the lighter moments of his schedule, “Honey, none of them is important.”

      The answer, one hopes, would be different today. Africa, Asia, and Latin America are more prominent in our thoughts now than they were twenty years ago, and will be still more so twenty years from now. Why? In a word, interdependence.

      We live in a world economy; our own well—being and standard of living depends upon access to natural resources abroad, to markets and investment opportunities in developing countries. We live in a world polity; our security is affected by invasions of sovereignty anywhere in the world, from Afghanistan to Cambodia, from Angola to Lebanon. We have an interest in preventing the spread of Soviet influence, and in gaining sympathetic consideration by other countries of our views on economic, environmental, and international political issues. We live in a global environment. The destruction of forests and the pollution of the air and water of any major region of the earth affects the quality of our existence.

      Economic interdependence is not new. No country was immune from the global depression of the 1930s, nor can any escape the impact of the rising energy costs of the 1970s. Access to natural resources, to markets and manufacturers, and to investment opportunities abroad are of particular importance to the United States today.

      Despite the attention commanded by successive oil crises, we are even more dependent on some vital minerals found only abroad. Alexander Haig, when president of United Technologies, told the House Subcommittee on Mines and Mining that if Africa’s mineral-rich countries ever allied themselves with the Soviet Union, the Soviets would control 90 percent of the world’s key minerals. The following chart indicates the degree to which we import a number of important industrial minerals.

      The African continent, especially the Republic of South Africa, is the most important source of many of these materials. Zaire produces over 40 percent of the world’s cobalt, which is needed for turbine engines in aircraft, and has well over a third of the known reserves. South Africa produces 35 percent of the world’s chromium, an important ingredient in stainless steel and jet engines, and has two—thirds of the reserves.

      Similarly, South Africa produces half the world’s platinum and holds three—quarters of its reserves. Manganese needed in steel-making is plentiful in the Soviet Union, but in the free world South Africa produces 40 percent and has three—fourths of the reserves.

MINERAL                 U.S. IMPORTS*          MAJOR SOURCES

Columbium               100 percent           Brazil

Strontium                100                      Mexico

Industrial Diamonds    100                     Ireland, South Africa

Manganese                98                      South Africa, France, Japan

Tantalum                   96                     Thailand, Canada, Malaysia

Bauxite                      93                     Jamaica, Guinea, Surinam

Cobalt                       90                     Zaire, Belgium, Zambia

Chromium                   90                     South Africa, Philippines, Soviet Union

Platinum Group            89                     South Africa, Soviet Union

Asbestos                    85                    Canada

Tin                            81                    Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia

Nickel                        77                    Canada

Cadmium                    66                    Canada, Australia, Mexico

Zinc                          62                    Canada

Mercury                     62                    Algeria, Spain, Italy

Tungsten                   59                    Canada, Bolivia, South Korea

Selenium                    40                    Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia  

*1980 estimation 

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Sinclair Group Cos. Reprinted by permission of Newsweek in World Development Letter, November 26, 1980, Agency for International Development

      We may develop strategies to lessen dependence on imports, or guard against politically motivated interruptions in supply. Stockpiling is a useful device for ameliorating temporary shortages, and the Reagan administration has authorized the expenditure of $100 million for fifteen materials to expand the national defense stockpile. A growing “synterials” industry seeks to ease strategic materials shortages by creating substitutes or developing processes that do not require the scarce resource. The metals industry remains skeptical, however, about the economic viability of synterials for other than militarily strategic purposes, due to the amount of energy required to create these materials. Any strategy for lessening dependence on imported supplies of scarce materials will, of course, bear a price. Economic independence is not impossible, it is simply very expensive and to be avoided if possible.

      In international trade, we seem to hear more about the penetration of our markets by consumer goods manufactured in low—wage economies abroad than about the market the developing countries provide for U.S. exports. In fact, the industrial market economies had a surplus of $34.5 billion in manufactures trade with developing countries in 1978.

      Developing countries purchased 36 percent of our exported goods in 1980 (1), and in the decade of the 1970s, exports to them rose at an annual rate of 18 percent, compared with 15 percent to the industrialized countries. Developing country markets also have new importance to other industrial nations. Western Europe sent 38 percent of its manufactured exports to developing countries, twice as much as it sold to North America and Japan combined; and Japan sold 46 percent of its manufactured exports there, a figure which many in Detroit may find hard to believe.(2)

      The developing-country market for American goods and services is important and growing; the World Bank estimates that this market will account for nearly 30 percent of the increase in world trade in this decade. The goods we import from developing nations also benefit our economy and, being cheaper, help to combat inflation.

      International trade benefits both countries, but not every citizen of each. Expanded imports from industrializing countries do put pressures on some of our industries and create serious problems for workers who may be forced out of the only line of work they know. We need better mechanisms to ease the transition of labor and capital from redundant industries into more productive fields. This problem is thoughtfully addressed by Peter Drucker and Lester Thurow, among others, and it is a poser. But protectionism can only lead to stagnation and more unemployment. On balance, trade with developing countries creates many more jobs than it eliminates. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that if developing countries outside OPEC had cut their imports of manufactured goods to meet the increased oil prices of 1973—74, there would have been three million more unemployed in OECD countries, which of course includes the United States. Instead, by maintaining their trade with the newly industrializing countries alone, the OECD countries have gained an average 900,000 jobs in each of the years 1973—77. (3) In effect, their continued importing prevented the recession in the developed world from becoming even worse than it was (WDR, 1981, p. 112).

      Another economic stake the industrialized countries have in the oil-importing Third World countries, and a growing one, is capital. Private direct investment has remained fairly steady at the $4 to $5 billion level (1978 dollars) over the past decade, but commercial lending skyrocketed from under $10 billion in 1970 to nearly $30 billion in 1980 (1978 dollars), nearly all the increase going to middle—income countries (ibid., p. 49). These net capital flows represent a direct interest on the part of investors and the private banking system in the economic viability of developing countries.

      In the future, developing countries are likely to offer greater growth potential than the industrial countries because of such factors as relatively low capital-to-labor ratios, the abundance and relatively low cost of labor, the potential for increasing the education and skills of the labor force, opportunities for applying existing technologies profitably, and under—exploited natural resources. The World Bank and the Overseas Development Council see the developing countries increasingly acting as an “engine of growth” for the rest of the world.(4) Current estimates are that an extra percentage point in the growth rate of developing countries would raise the growth of industrial countries by about 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

      Peter F. Drucker goes beyond most observers in forecasting the degree of economic interdependence to be expected in the future. He finds demographic factors critical in shaping the pattern of future economic cooperation. The coming of age of the last of the postwar “baby—boom” generation in the West signals the approach of a labor shortage in the developed countries. Unskilled young recruits for manufacturing jobs will become scarce in the future, a demographic trend compounded by rising levels of education. The quality of our manufacturing labor force is also likely to decline as the recruitment pool narrows to the group unable to continue in school. At the same time, the continuing population explosion in most developing countries, resulting from the radical drop in infant mortality after the war, makes the creation of employment the top political and economic priority for those countries. And the quality of their labor force is rising with the spread of primary and secondary education. The happy outcome of this situation which Drucker foresees is the growth of production-sharing in which the capital, the technology, and the managerial talents of the developed countries are combined with the labor and natural resources of the developing world to produce rising abundance for both.

      Economic interdependence is thus not only widespread and increasing, it is to be welcomed. International economic cooperation is not a “zero sum” game; in it there can be gains for all.

      Economic interdependence does, however, have political implications which some may find uncomfortable. Our need for access to foreign oil and natural resources puts a premium on maintaining cordial relationships with states that may oppose us on other grounds. The uses of our power internationally are constrained by economic considerations.

      These constraints are not entirely bad. Although we tend to think of ourselves as being uniquely benevolent in the uses of power, it is not surprising that all do not share that view. Our support and protection of internationally unpopular regimes is frequently resented in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, and in time we are likely to find such support increasingly costly. This trend may be deplored or welcomed by segments of our population, but it is a concomitant part of increasing economic interdependence. Our stake in maintaining good relations with Third World countries is going up.

      In terms of our worldwide competition with the Soviet Union, we are somewhat at a disadvantage by growing interdependence. The Soviets are much more self—sufficient in energy and natural resources than are we. This is perhaps their only advantage.

      It is worth noting that there is no longer a serious ideological communist threat. In the 1930s, and again in the l950s and part of the 1960s, Europe and the United States felt threatened by the allure of Marxist principles combined with Leninist tactics for gaining and holding power. In the last decade it has become evident that communism holds no strong appeal. The failure of the communist system to satisfy the economic aspirations of the Soviet people, the insecurity of a regime that cannot tolerate free expression of opinions even at home, the evident unrest of the subjugated states of eastern Europe, and the splitting away of the Chinese from the Bloc, all make evident to the peoples of developing countries no less than to ourselves that communism is desirable neither as an ideology nor as a way of life. All it has succeeded in doing effectively is to use its authoritarian control to divert a greater share of the efforts of its peoples to armaments than can states with democratic systems.

      The security challenge to the United States and its allies is from Soviet Russia, the last of the nineteenth century empires. The spread of Soviet influence through force of arms is a real and growing threat to states bordering on the empire, such as Afghanistan. But elsewhere in the Third World, the Soviet Union has few close allies, and they often represent a failure of the United States and its allies in foreign policy. Soviet support is to be desired only out of desperation.

      It is, therefore, surprising that American relationships with developing countries are generally poor, as evidenced by the frequency with which we find ourselves on the minority side in United Nations votes and by the image of the United States in the Third World press. There are often sound reasons for the United States to be in the minority on particular issues, but the general pattern of our interaction with Third World countries seems unnecessarily negative. We have not found common ground for dealing with the serious economic, social, and environmental challenges that confront humanity. We find ourselves too often obstructing or delaying on international negotiations, unwilling to accept the “demands” of the Third World, and unable, apparently, to devise alternative solutions.

      What are the issues?

      Mabub ul Haq, director of policy planning at the World Bank, put forward the following list of essential areas on which the global community should, in his view, take action:

  “...An internationally accepted floor below absolute poverty all over the globe and a concrete framework through which this objective can be reached over the next two decades.

  “...An agreed system of international food security, based on additional investment for less developed countries’ national production, adequate food reserves, and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

  “...A global responsibility for putting in place a new international energy security system, including global understanding on energy conservation, vastly increased investment resources for energy development, and mechanisms for more predictable increases in real prices.

  “...Acceptance of the principle of greater automaticity in mobilization of resources to be channeled through international institutions under genuine international control.

  “...Acceptance of the principle that any international reserve currency should be created only under international jurisdiction and for the benefit of all nations.

  “....Acceptance of the global responsibility for creating adequate recycling mechanisms, particularly to ensure that adjustment in the next few years is not at the cost of either economic growth or social programs, or political survival of developing countries.

  “...Clear recognition of the contradictions between present levels of armaments spending, global population increase, and global environment deterioration for the evolution of a new order.” (6)

      For six years or more, the developing countries, acting in consort through the Group of 77 (now numbering over 100) have maintained that the existing international economic order is not working well for anyone and is functioning particularly to the disadvantage of the poor countries. This is not the place to argue the merits of the various proposals they have put forward, many of which would no longer be defended even by the group: few among the group of 77 expected that they would be accepted as presented. All felt, however, that they had a right to some kind of response and alternatives to discuss. They have had none.

      American reluctance to enter into arrangements which might lead to the automatic transfer of U.S. resources to other countries or to a lessened U.S. voice in vital international institutions may be understandable. However, one approach to many of the problems on the Third World agenda that would be consistent with US principles, and would utilize our main talents, is the application of science and technology to development problems and the strengthening of the competence of institutions in developing countries to understand and deal with their own problems.

      This approach would not respond to all of the issues raised by ul Haq, but most of those issues will require new knowledge and new or adapted technologies for their resolution. Food and energy scarcity, population growth, and environmental deterioration are not problems that will yield to resource transfers alone. Nor can a lasting floor be constructed below absolute poverty without the discovery of better means to increase the productivity of the poor. Greater technical cooperation in dealing with these serious problems would offer a constructive alternative to massive resource transfers or the possible politicization of international economic institutions.

      Third World leaders are now displaying heightened interest in developing their own scientific and technological capacities. They realize that dependence on foreign sources of technology diminishes the freedom and autonomy they sought in the independence movement. Self— reliance has become one of the most potent policy motivations in development.

      Imported technology is expensive and often is very capital—intensive for areas awash in surplus labor. For some purposes there may be no viable alternative to top—of—the-line technology, but developing countries need the capacity to analyze and choose among existing technologies or to devise others for their purposes.

      International attention to scientific and technological issues reached a high point at the UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) held in Vienna in 1979.

      The General Assembly of the United Nations approved the convening of UNCSTD in 1975; there followed some of the most elaborate preparations made for any conference since San Francisco. Five preparatory committee sessions were held, themselves conferences of notable size, to plan the agenda and draft a world plan of action for consideration at the main event. Each of the five regional economic commissions held two or more meetings to help prepare their member states for UNCSTD. A host of conferences and seminars were convened by various nongovernmental agencies, with full reports and recommendations forwarded to UNCSTD. Each country, sometimes with UN assistance, prepared a country paper analyzing the role of science and technology in its nation and proposing action.

      The United States, although not enthusiastic about another world conference, took pains with its own preparations. An office headed by Ambassador Jean Wilkowski marshaled data from all federal agencies on their international scientific activities and commissioned a series of studies from the National Academy of Sciences, the Foundation for Multinational Management Education, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a number of individual experts. A U.S. Country Paper was prepared, the centerpiece of which was the imminent launching of the Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ISTC), which would facilitate the access of developing countries to U.S. scientific resources and would help those countries strengthen their own science and technology capacities.

      At the conference, three main issues were addressed: the transfer of technology, the institutional mechanisms for UN action in the field, and funding for multilateral cooperation. Predictably, the committee dealing with the first became bogged down over the question of proprietary ownership of technology, but the other two issues held promise for constructive action. The Group of 77 wanted the creation of a special UN fund for developing scientific technological capacities; the sum of $2 billion over twenty years was proposed. The U.S. delegation engineered an alternative solution, that an interim fund be created experimentally for two years, with agreement on a larger fund held in abeyance until the success of the idea could be tested. The delegation stated that the U.S. was prepared to carry its fair and proportionate share of the financing of the interim fund, or $50 million of the total $200 million, if Congress concurred. Most delegates left Vienna tired after an all-night final session, but pleased with their accomplishments.

      Next, the Carter administration reduced the commitment in its request to Congress from $50 million to $25 million, then to $10 million. Finally the Reagan administration advised the fledgling interim fund at its United Nations Development Program headquarters that it could expect no contribution at all from the United States over the two years.

      Having abandoned multilateral assistance, the United States proceeded to renege also on bilateral action. The ISTC was not funded, and the administration agreed to a “compromise” under which a section of AID would administer funds earmarked for science and technology. As an official of the UN Interim Fund said to me, it would not be easy to convince the representatives of many developing countries that they had not been duped by a double-talking U.S. delegation at Vienna. That was not quite the case. Although Ambassador Wilkowski did begin her report on the conference to a group of American businessmen with proud assurances that “we gave nothing away,” that statement referred only to the issue of proprietary technology. On the interim fund, the delegation acted in good faith but was undercut by those powerful foreign policy strategists in the Office of Management and Budget after they returned to Washington.

      This decision aroused no furor in the ranks of either the Democratic or Republican party, nor was it even mentioned in the press. UNCSTD itself, although followed avidly by leaders of the Third World, was scarcely mentioned in the American press at the time it occurred. It was not an event at which the Soviet Union and the United States were eyeball to eyeball. Nobody blinked because our eyes were already closed.

      This chapter contains a few key points, none of which is very surprising:

·         Relations with developing countries are of increasing importance to the United States: they are the source of vital minerals, a growing market, producers of low—cost goods for our consumers, and potentially a driving force for global economic growth. Strategically, most major power conflicts now occur somewhere in the Third World. Politically, the cooperation of the Third World is essential for the orderly working of international institutions, those of the United Nations and others.

·         Despite its growing importance, American foreign policy vis—a—vis developing countries is extraordinarily inept and unimaginative. We tend to view them in East-West terms, the intensity of our gaze proportional to their susceptibility to Soviet influence. We avoid discussion of the global economic issues that most affect the lives of their citizens.

·         Our national strength in science and technology is used little in confronting the problems of developing countries, either in helping them to strengthen their own capacities or in researching problems of greatest concern to them.

Before discussing why this is so and what might be done about it, we need briefly to review a range of problems of mutual concern in which science and technology can play decisive roles.


      Aurelio Peccei and the Club of Rome did us all a great favor in the early 1970s by sponsoring and publishing Limits to Growth. This best-selling account of the crises that await human civilization if present fertility, resource use, and environmental pollution trends are prolonged changed the way in which we view the world.

      The book was based on the systems dynamics method of computer simulation developed by Professor Jay Forrester of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The model, World 3, has been widely tested and found to be deeply flawed. It aggregates data on a world basis, unable to differentiate by region or nation; it is based on a series of controversial assumptions; it understates the potential for human adaptation and change; and it allows too little scope for technology to alleviate resource limitations. (1) Yet it profoundly achieved its purpose, which was to “start a world—wide debate as soon as possible” on the human predicament.(2)

      A number of other world models have been constructed in the nine years since Limits to Growth was published: the Mesarovic-Pestel World Model, MOIRA (Model of International Relations in Agriculture), the Latin American World Model, the UN World Model, and the Global 2000 U.S. Government Model. The methodological strengths and weaknesses of each are instructively discussed in the technical report of the Global 2000 Report. They differ somewhat in their outcomes, but all indicate that we are heading for more trouble than we already have. Volume 1 of the Global 2000 Report sums up the predicament as follows:

“If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world’s people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.” (p. 1)

      These studies are not without their critics, not only on methodological detail but on their overall implications. Herman Kahn, a prominent futurologist himself, calls the Global 2000 Report disgraceful and reprehensible, but he challenges not so much the data as the tone. He cites impressive gains in food production in the past few years in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India as an indication that the outlook is much more hopeful than implied in the several global projections. Kahn’s main objection to the tone of the reports seems to be that they undermine confidence in our socioeconomic system and attract young people to the Sierra Club and Nader’s Raiders rather than to Exxon and General Motors.(3)

      It is fair enough for Mr. Kahn and others to stress positive factors affecting long—term trends in population growth, food production, energy, and the environment, and to extol the role of the market in solving major problems. But in the case of food production in South Asia, Exxon and General Motors had little to do with recent improvements. Those governments, aided by technical assistance, have built their agricultural research capacity to solve farmers’ problems. Market incentives are vital to production increases but so are scientific and technological advances, emerging from international cooperation financed from both public and private sources.

      It is an insufficient response to the message of the Global 2000 Report to observe its possible exaggerations, just as it is no answer to the energy crisis to point to the current unforeseen and obviously temporary glut of oil. Predictions of catastrophe are often overstated, as professional optimists tirelessly remind us. (See, for example, Julian L. Simon’s “Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News” in Science, 27 June 1980.)

      But overstatement is part of the message. These reports are intended less as predictions than as warnings, and less as warnings of a precisely calculated future than of trends that, if continued, lead to increasing difficulties and pain. The objective is to reveal a direction with urgency enough to arouse people to corrective action. The burden on the opposition is therefore to demonstrate that no corrective action is needed. In the face of current manifest problems, such an argument is hard, indeed, impossible to sustain. The authors of The Global 2000 Report present problems in order to spur the search for solutions. The morale factor that concerns Kahn should not worry us unless we conclude there are no solutions or no real problems, as he would perhaps have us believe.

      Mr. Kahn’s choice of South Asian gains in food production as an example on the positive side also happens to be an example of the kind of corrective action for which we are arguing in this paper. It illustrates the role of science and technology in alleviating at least one global problem in one part of the world, and, as later examination will show, it illustrates the value of international cooperation in achieving commonly held objectives.

      Our emphasis on science and technology must, however, be explained. Anyone familiar with the development process is rightly skeptical of the technological fix. There are so many other dimensions of any serious problem: attitudes, distribution networks, markets, traditions, power structures, and the simple lack of funds.

      Science and technology offer attractive avenues for more effective American action in world affairs because our recognized strengths in this area are relatively underutilized in dealing with global problems. We have a large untapped potential for improving relationships with developing countries by taking actions that are in our long—term interests as well as theirs.

      When a society seeks to deal with a problem, the principal tools it employs are policy, organization, and technology. Internationally, our strong suit is technology. Policies are considered by all nations to be their own business. Organization is a function of social and cultural factors, which in developing countries we know little about. Technology can seldom be transferred directly; it needs to be adapted to the circumstances of its use. But innovation and adaptation are among our best qualities, and these skills can be employed internationally without treading unduly on sensitive political and cultural issues.  

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