Courtesy Reuters

Foreign Aid and the Brain Drain

Our foreign policies are often much more closely related to our domestic policies than we realize-and not alone through the political struggles over appropriations, or even over Congressional approval of international agreements. Indeed, our foreign policies can come so sharply into conflict with our domestic policies that, unless this conflict is both understood and resolved by governmental leaders, domestic pressures can completely undermine and even nullify our foreign programs.

There is in our contemporary national life a disturbing illustration of this basic rule of statecraft, and it is one which is being discussed more and more widely, with a growing sense of concern. This is the conflict between the objectives of our foreign assistance programs and the requirements of our expanding economy-between our efforts to train people in the less developed countries and our drain of foreign specialists to fill important jobs here in the United States.

In the developing countries we are concerned, of course, with increasing the pool of modern men with modern skills and modern attitudes so central to the prospects for those nations. But on the domestic front our need for these same skills has led us to enact immigration laws that actually encourage the importation of these same men and women. Is it possible that we are draining off this precious talent faster than we are helping to create it? Is it a serious problem? Can anything be done about it-or is it just one of the macabre ironies that illustrate the Biblical prediction, "That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him"?

We must start our exploration with a reminder of the recent history of development theory. Actually, we are talking about a body of literature and a level of sophisticated analysis that is very recent. Indeed, we are talking about the last decade, because the experience with the reconstruction of Europe actually blinded us to the realities of

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