The White House reports that even as sharp increases in defense spending are expected in the president’s budget proposal, foreign aid spending will be sharply reduced [“Trump touts spending plan,” front page, Feb. 28]. This is actually less-than-ideal news for the Defense Department. Foreign aid is instrumental to national security. Spent wisely, it fosters economic opportunity and social stability. Aid enables prosperity and keeps the peace. It precludes the need for military intervention in the first place. John F. Kennedy emphasized this when he observed that nonmilitary aid was a fraction of the military budget and was “as important dollar for dollar as any expenditure for national defense itself.” Foreign aid, which today amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget, is no less vital to national security now than it was in Kennedy’s time.
Matthew R. Auer, Lewiston, Maine
The writer is dean of the faculty at Bates College and a former presidential management fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development.