Clinton Administration Forging Population-Foreign Policy Links

Popul Today. 1994 Dec;22(12):1-2.


PIP: In the US, the Clinton administration has renewed the link between global population and national security issues. These so-called "soft security issues" receive attention from the Under-Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Tim Wirth, and the senior director of the Global Environmental Affairs branch of the National Security Council, Eileen Claussen. Wirth and Claussen draft the US response to soft security issues such as environmental security, refugee and migration movements, political instability, and religious and ethnic conflict as well as the other nonmilitary threats of illegal drug trafficking, terrorism, and international organized crime. Population was first considered a foreign policy concern in the 1960s. By 1965, President Johnson decided that the US would provide family planning supplies and technical assistance to any country which asked for help. The initial justification for assuming a leading role in developing innovative population strategies for less developed countries was a humanitarian desire to forward economic development, the self-interest of maintaining access to resources, and concern that rapid growth produced more communists. Today the US remains concerned about resource access and economic development and is also wary of spill-over environmental effects, economic migration, diminished US trade opportunities, political asylum seekers and refugees, and increasing demand for US peacekeepers. It is also believed that rapid population growth leads to political destabilization. Critics of these views blame the development difficulties of less developed countries on poor governing decisions (inadequate institutions, trade barriers, or indifference). Women's reproductive rights advocates fear that using security as a rationale for population assistance could lead to restrictions on women's rights to choose the number and spacing of births. Despite such objections, the belief that population growth is an underlying problem in imploding states like Haiti, Rwanda, and Somalia has turned the attention of US policy-makers to these soft security issues.

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Demography
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries*
  • Economics*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Financial Management
  • International Cooperation*
  • North America
  • Politics*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Population Growth*
  • Public Policy*
  • United States