Planning, and American Foreign Policy
The U.S. government position on world population growth as it emerged in the early 1960s was a fundamental departure in both content and commitment. We embraced the idea that one of the goals of American foreign policy should be the simultaneous reduction of both mortality and fertility across the Third World. It was not simply rhetoric. As the years passed, we committed a growing portion of our foreign aid to that end. The decision to link U.S. foreign-policy objectives with the subsidy of family planning and population control was truly exceptional in that it explicitly aimed at altering the demographic structure of foreign countries through long-term intervention. No nation had ever set in motion a foreign-policy initiative of such magnitude. Its ultimate goal was no less than to alter the basic fertility behavior of the entire Third World! Whether one views this goal as idealistic and naive or as arrogant and selfserving, the project was truly of herculean proportions.
It should not be surprising therefore that U.S. assistance for family planning programs overseas has engendered sharp opposition both at home and abroad. Initially it was fear of foreign domination and the implicit racist implication of such an initiative that brought an angry reaction from overseas. As time passed, hostility toward family planning declined across much of the Third World. As opposition declined overseas, however, the political forces opposing the subsidation of family planning programs in the United States increased. Ironically, domestic opposition forced a major reevaluation of U.S. policy in the Reagan administration at the same time worldwide support for population planning was finding its greatest support. More recently, with the election of Bill Clinton to the presidency, the policy pendulum has swung in