August-September 1985 Home   Newsletters

October 1985

November 1985

October Unit Meeting
Speakers' Bureau
President's Message (Dorothy Lum)
Financing the Federal Government
LWVUS Position on Federal Tax Policy
Questions and Answers on Federal Tax Policy
H Power (Welcome Fawcett)
Vote Count Flash
League Co-Sponsors "Pau Hana Preview of Marine Legislation"
State Studies
Channel 20
Running to Win
Aloha to... New Members
America in the Third World (insert) (Helen Whorton)

America in the Third World

You have seen on your TV screens something of the tragedy of thousands of our fellow humans, who because they live in Ethiopia, are dying. You are reading in your news-papers of the alarming developments in the Philippines -- the erosion of democracy, the violation of human rights, economic stagnation and growth of communist insurgencies.

But what has this to do with us? These things may be unfortunate. but do they really matter to our lives and to our children's future? LWVUS thinks it does, and in the current phase of its National Security Study, it calls on members "to evaluate US economic and political interests", to appreciate the importance of developing countries and the interdependence of nations in an increasingly complex and shrinking world.

For our study background, we have received a publication from LWVUS entitled, "America in the Third World: Collision or Cooperation ". I would like to share a few thoughts with you from this study in this and future issues of the Aloha Voter.

Developing countries -- or the Third World, as the nations of Asia) and Latin America are collectively known -- present both opportunities and challenges to the US. It is enormously complex and confusing: 141 countries that are not an homogeneous group, presenting a different set of economic and social development. Economically they range from very poor countries such as Haiti and Bangladesh, to upper middle-income nations such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Socially they range from the African bush pigmy to the cosmopolitan oil-rich sheik.

It is a global segment with great economic potential and an increasingly important factor in US economic, political and strategic policy decisions. It is where new industrial powers of the future are expected to be located, and where great market opportunities wait to be developed. Already, financial flows between the US and the developing world have exploded: their long term debt now totals more than $600 billion (much of which is owed to US banks) and as of 1983 accounted for nearly 1/4 of all US private investment abroad. They are our fastest growing market ! And they are key suppliers of important metals and minerals for our own strategic and industrial needs and those of the rest of the developed world.

But it is also an area beset with political conflicts with political flash-points (such as the Middle East and Central America) with the potential for escalating into a direct US-Soviet standoff, And the proliferation of nuclear technology in these countries increases the risk of a nuclear confrontation.

Complicating the situation, the Third World is uniting through various movements and are challenging the power structure established at the close of WW II. They cite the enormous disparities in human well-being and economic opportunity between them-selves and the North, and are demanding a more balanced distribution of global resources. These demands will not go away.

Of course US/Third World relationships do not rest solely on our economic and political self-interests. Humanitarian concerns consistently have ranked high in dealings with these countries.

The League study suggests that the country-specific aspects of our current policy, with its funding applications, can be illustrated by Ethiopia and the Philippines.

ETHIOPIA, formerly a primary recipient of US aid for many years, fell increasingly under Soviet influence after failure of Selassie's regime in 1974, and is now a Soviet ally. US quickly countered by supporting neighboring Somalia, once a Soviet ally. Why were we so concerned? It is because of its location on the Horn of Africa with its proximity to the oil shipping lanes from the Middle East -- that life-line of the industrial world. It is also of much military significance to the Indian Ocean region.

And, of course, what interests us in the Horn of Africa also interests the Soviet Union -- thus making a setting for US-Soviet rivalry. Further, under the Soviets, Ethiopia has probably become Africa's strongest black state militarily and politically -- a regional power with the potential to threaten other US interests in the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa (Sudan and Kenya for example).

And what of the Philippines? Despite years of promoting democracy and giving aid

to the Philippines, the US has been unable to ensure the stability of our "showplace of democracy in Asia". There are social/cultural factors involved of course, such as our nearly century old close relationship and that more than a million Filipino-Americans live in the US. There are our economic stakes -- our exports to the Philippines total about $1.8 billion and theirs to us about $2 billion a year. US investors have a $5 billion stake in the Philippine economy, and nearly 1/3 of the Philippines' foreign debt is owed to US banks.

But of even greater importance are the two large US military installations there -- Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base -- located there as a consequence of geography. The US considers these bases of paramount importance in its military obligations to the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Recent events in the two regions mentioned above have taught us two lessons: (I) It is difficult for the US to cope with change in developing countries and to influence policies of autonomous nations; and (2) the US has trouble extricating itself from disadvantageous situations (such as distancing ourselves from the Marcos regime while the necessity for our base rights tie us there).

LWVUS directs Our attention to the "interdependence of nations". We are all inhabit-ants of one small planet -- with the necessity of achieving satisfactory solutions to a global food system, a global energy system, global protection of the environment, population change, etc. We may tend to be isolationist in our daily lives, but we cannot ignore the Third World where the majority of human-kind lives, or to deal with it randomly.

A principal mechanism for molding all of our varied interests in the, Third World into specific policies is the federal budget process. Here, in the debating and actual budgeting for foreign aid funds, is a. most comprehensive look at US/Third World relations -- and I hope to cover some of LWVUS's thinking on this in my next report.

Helen Whorton
Reporter, International Relations

We have ordered 50 copies of the publication America in the Third World: Collision or Cooperation (Publ. 553, $1.00 for members, $1.50 for non members).

We will be distributing about 40 copies to the heads of the Social Studies departments of our larger public and private high schools.

About 10 copies will be available for purchase by members. Presently, there is one copy available for circulation.

August-September 1985 Home   Newsletters November 1985