Soviet, US Economists Propose Joint Foreign Aid Projects

By David R. Francis, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 30, 1990 | Go to article overview

Soviet, US Economists Propose Joint Foreign Aid Projects


David R. Francis, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


A POPULAR comic strip, "Kudzu," has been making fun of right-wingers in the United States supposedly suffering in agony as the fading of the cold war requires them to strip from their auto bumpers such slogans as "Better dead than red."

More adjustment may lie ahead. A pair of economists, one Soviet, the other American, has proposed the two superpowers drop their rivalry in the third world and cooperate on foreign aid projects.

W. Donald Bowles of American University in Washington, and Elena Arefieva of the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations in Moscow, write of "a growing sense that Soviet and US interests converge in the long run on peaceful alternatives to the political instability and economic deprivation that now characterize many developing countries."

Their paper, proposing various kinds of joint ventures in developing countries, has been circulating in the foreign ministry in Moscow and at high levels in the State Department. But it is not known whether or not any of their suggestions will be adopted at the summit between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev that starts tomorrow.

In a letter last July to French President Francois Mitterrand as chairman of the Group of Seven Economic Summit, President Gorbachev urged "collective assistance for development" in the third world.

During the cold war, the Soviet Union and the US in particular viewed the developing nations as battlegrounds for influence. But Ms. Arefieva, in a telephone interview, held that the Soviet Union is so occupied now with raising its own economic efficiency that it has left behind its old ideological goals and is no longer an expansionary power. So superpower conflicts in the third world are pointless, she argues.

John Sewell, president of the Overseas Development Council in Washington, notes in an introduction to the Bowles-Arefieva paper: "Just as the industrial democracies jockey for political influence and market shares in third-world countries, so, too, will the United States and the USSR. …

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