Remarks on Receiving the Report of the Commission on Security and Economic Assistance

February 21, 1984

Secretary of State Shultz. Mr. President, I want to thank you for giving us a chance to present you with a copy of the report of the Commission on Security and Economic Assistance.

I think this is an extremely important report on a subject of tremendous moment. I asked Frank Carlucci to be Chairman of it, and Larry Silverman, Lane Kirkland, and Cliff Warden to be Cochairmen, and many others to take part. It's notable that nine of the Commission members are from the Congress. You can see that by looking around. They served as members and members ex officio; joined in very strongly in the discussions.

Others on the Commission, many of whom are sitting here, are representatives of business, of labor, of private voluntary organizations, the university world, and others professionally interested in our foreign policy. And they produced a thoughtful and bipartisan statement.

The last time there was a comprehensive review of our security and economic assistance programs was in 1970. I think we all know, Mr. President, that there have been profound changes since then in the world out there that we're working with. There are countries in the family of free nations today who can point to our security assistance as a key ingredient in their struggle to remain free. And we can similarly point with pride to many countries where our assistance is promoting economic development and is essential for that end.

Our efforts in science and technology have contributed to such successes as the Green Revolution. Still, Mr. President, as you are only too aware, threats to the security of friendly countries are around us throughout the world. Some are military in nature; others stem from their inability to meet the aspirations of their peoples. So, it is very much in the interest of the United States -- and this report emphasizes this -- to help these countries grow into free, open, and self-sustaining societies.

Mr. President, I've reviewed this report and talked with Frank and other members of the committee a great deal about it, and I commend it to you. It's the collective insight of a most knowledgeable and distinguished group of people, and its recommendations will help us design a more effective program. In fact, they already have done that. As we were working through the budget process, as you know, we had the benefit of seeing these recommendations evolving. So we will have an improved program, grounded in our national interest, and meriting the full support of the American people.

I think among the things that they call for that's especially important and welcome -- which we've been trying to do -- is to emphasize the importance of a close integration between the security assistance and security needs that we're trying to serve, the problems of economic development, and the political aspirations of the countries that we're working with. We can see that all around the world and, most notably, it sounds like a refrain of the bipartisan Kissinger commission -- the same kind of emphasis.

A number of the recommendations in this report are already being carried out. We are asking in your fiscal '85 budget -- or you are -- for more resources. We proposed some new initiatives in Africa and in the Caribbean Basin, with particular emphasis on reform in economic policy and private sector growth. We've sought greater flexibility in the terms of military assistance where circumstances warrant, and we're increasing our emphasis on training, science, and technology and institutional development. And we want to make all of this go by working with the congressional leadership in a bipartisan spirit to put across this very important program of foreign assistance.

The Commission has made a number of other major concerns and recommendations, and we're reviewing them and giving everything a great deal of thought.

Mr. President, finally, I'd like to thank very much Frank Carlucci, who is one of those enduring public servants. I first knew him when he was running the poverty program. I got him to come over and help me run the Office of Management and Budget. Then he worked with Cap over in HEW and had a great hand in the CIA and then in the Defense Department. And he's no sooner in the private sector when we call him back. And when you say, ``Frank, there's something important for you to do to serve your country,'' he says, ``Yes.'' And that's the kind of public servant that we really need in the private sector or public sector.

So, I want to thank Frank and, also, all the other members of the Commission. But Frank gave it the leadership, and I appreciate it very much.

Frank also has the copies of this report, and so here is a copy, Mr. President, of this report. And just so the Vice President doesn't fail to read it, I want to be sure he has a copy, too. [Laughter] I understand he's a very influential guy around here. [Laughter]

The President. Yes, he is.

Well, George, I thank you very much. And many thanks to you, Frank Carlucci, and to all the people who put this together.

When economic misfortune creates instability or external threats endanger our friends, our response can make the difference between peaceful development or chaos and violence. And that's why we've put such emphasis on our own defense and on foreign assistance programs.

The Commission's concern regarding the significant decline in support for foreign assistance is well-founded. Our assistance program is not an end in itself. Yes, we seek to help people build better lives economically and across the whole spectrum of human needs and aspirations. Americans can be proud of our tradition of helping others in need. Whether it be humanitarian aid in response to natural disasters, economic support for struggling countries, or security assistance to friends threatened by external aggression, America has always been there.

Economic and security assistance are not just a moral duty; they also serve our national interests. When conceived and administered well, assistance programs strengthen our foreign policy and enhance the security of our nation. By promoting economic development in needy countries, we bolster the vitality and security of the free world. Well-conceived assistance programs create stronger partnerships, establish mutual confidence, and make for a safer world.

When our friends face threats to their security, investors shy away and economic growth weakens. So, we must work hard to provide the right balance of both economic and military assistance. The key to success, as it is with all elements of our foreign policy, rests in our ability to forge a bipartisan consensus.

This Commission has searched for reasonable ways to better use our scarce resources and to generate greater congressional and public support for foreign assistance programs. It's now up to all of us to take advantage of what the Commission has done. We will -- if we go forward in the same spirit -- strengthen our national security and offer the promise of a safer, brighter future to millions of people all over the world.

I thank all of you very much for being here and, again, I thank the Commission for their fine work. Sometimes when the going is rough and sometimes when we wonder with our own problems whether we can keep on doing this help, maybe we should all read the words again of a former Prime Minister, some years ago, of Australia. And I can't quote him exactly, although I have the quote in a drawer upstairs, but where he said he wondered if the smaller nations of the world had ever thought where they would be if it were not for this United States, so willing to come to their aid and to help wherever help was needed. And it was a beautiful tribute, delivered very sincerely, by someone saying what maybe sometimes we forget about ourselves and something that should be a great source of pride to all of us.

So, again, I thank you all very much. Frank, thank you.

Note: Secretary Shultz spoke at 1:34 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.