The Reagan administration will formally ask Congress this week for an additional $1.67 billion next year in foreign military and security-related aid, including small amounts for the first time since 1977 to Argentina, Chile and Guatemala.
The proposed aid for the three countries is tiny--$50,000 each in military training funds for Argentina and Chile and $250,000 for Guatemala--in comparison to the total $8.7 billion foreign security assistance request. But the proposal is significant because it reflects administration efforts to re-open a military relationship with those countries and because it is certain to stir political controversy on Capitol Hill.
The military aid relationship between the United States and these three countries, among others, was broken off in 1977 as a result of Carter administration attempts to impose human rights considerations and rejections of such conditions by those countries.
Yesterday, in an interview with The Washington Post, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. called Guatemala "clearly the next target" of communist insurgency in Central America and said it "soon will be a parallel case to El Salvador."
Haig said arms for the Guatemalan guerrillas are coming from several sources, including supply routes through southern Mexico.
He explained the absence of major U.S. aid programs thus far by saying that the Guatemalan leadership "has not conducted itself in ways that will permit cooperation." He added that "the extremes of the incumbent regime" have made it impossible to form a consensus in Congress and public opinion for major assistance.
However, he expressed the hope that next month's presidential election in Guatemala will lead to reforms that can facilitate a shift in American policy. The United States is looking for "an appropriate time" to provide substantial assistance, he said.
Other State Department officials, explaining the security assistance budget yesterday, also emphasized that whether allocations for these three countries would be spent would depend on human rights and other considerations.
The administration's increasing emphasis on combating leftist insurgencies and political activism in Central America and the Caribbean is also reflected in what congressional sources say are sizable increases in security aid for Honduras, Costa Rica and Jamaica, as well as the already disclosed increases for El Salvador.
The annual foreign security assistance proposal is meant to help friendly nations bolster their defenses through aid in the form of sales credits, guaranteed loans and free or very favorable loans for the purchase of U.S. military equipment. It also includes an economic support fund, which grows from $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion in the new budget, for countries where the United States has major security interests. This does not include the more traditional foreign development aid, which next fiscal year will come to about $4.7 billion.
The security assistance bill is one of the most complex because a significant amount is in guarantees and does not mean that cash comes out of the Treasury. According to State Department officials, of the $8.7 billion request for the 1983 fiscal year beginning next Oct. 1, about $4.8 billion will require appropriations.
Last year for the first time, with little input from the Reagan administration, Congress approved a two-year security assistance budget for fiscal 1982 and 1983 of roughly the same levels. The revised budget to be sent to Congress this week will be $1.67 billion higher than that already authorized but will only be $992 million higher in actual spending, because the rest of the increase is in loan guarantees.
Within that overall increase, the State Department wants to increase foreign military sales credits that either don't have to be paid back or are granted under very favorable interest terms to $1.74 billion, compared to $800 million now authorized only for the so-called "forgiven" loans, which are given to Israel and Egypt. The other big increase in the new fiscal 1983 request in comparison to the current year is in the guaranteed loans for foreign military sales, which would jump from $3 billion to $3.9 billion.
Although the State Department yesterday declined to give any information about what countries will get the money until Congress is formally notified, congressional sources who have been briefed on the proposal made information available to all news agencies and this was confirmed by State officials.
Israel and Egypt remain the two largest beneficiaries, reportedly with some $2.5 billion in combined aid going to Israel, including a $500 million "forgiven" loan, and just over $2 billion for Egypt, including a $400 million loan that doesn't have to be paid back. These totals are up over the $2.2 billion for Israel and $1.7 billion for Egypt this year.
Turkey gets a big increase in total aid, from $703 million this year to $819 million next year. Greece, which elected a socialist government last year, basically gets no increase. Pakistan jumps from $100 million to $451 million as the administration also seeks to bolster countries bordering Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.
Efforts to strengthen links with a variety of real and potential allies in the Middle East and Africa are reflected in reports of increases in aid to Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal, while Niger, which got nothing this year but which feels threatened by Libya, is said to be on the list for the first time.