Most development programs are run by the wealthy nations, supposedly for the benefit of poor countries. An exception is the Inter-American Development Bank, which is largely under the control of the Latin nations it seeks to help.

Unfortunately, the United States, a member of the bank and a major donor, has taken the attitude that if the U.S. isn't in control, it can't work as well as it should. Now that attitude is threatening to cripple the IDB.After nearly three decades of highly successful operations, the U.S. is trying to wrest control of IDB's lending operations something that is currently controlled by developing Latin and Caribbean countries. In fact, the IDB is the only international fiscal institution controlled by the developing countries who also are the loan recipients.

Because the United States is the organization's largest contributor, it is in the position of wielding incredible power over IDB. Controlling the lending operations would give the U.S. even more power, and now the U.S. is withholding its annual commitment to help replenish IDB funds.

This puts the IDB in a difficult situation. While it is doubtful the IDB will dissolve after 27 years, its role as a viable agent in economic development is being seriously undermined. And once again, the U.S. is seen by its Latin neighbors as the big bully trying to run their lives.

While the U.S. may not agree with some of the loans made by the IDB, and the chief paymaster can undoubtedly call the tune, it is poor policy to twist the arms of one's friends and neighbors. The U.S. ought to treat the other nations in the bank with a sense of equality and stop throwing its weight around.

The U.S. will make more friends and do itself more good in the long run if it lets the IDB continue to function as it has in the past.