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Point Four Program

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Countries in the Point Four Program as of 1 July 1952
Countries in the Point Four Program as of 1 July 1952

The Point Four Program was a technical assistance program for "developing countries" announced by United States President Harry S. Truman in his inaugural address on January 20, 1949. It took its name from the fact that it was the fourth foreign policy objective mentioned in the speech.

Background

By 1947 the United States found itself in a Cold War struggle against the USSR. With White House assistants Clark Clifford and George Elsey and State Department official Ben Hardy taking the lead, the Truman administration came up with the idea for a technical assistance program as a means to win the "hearts and minds" of the developing world after countries from the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa had complained about the emphasis on European aid by the U.S.[1]

By sharing American know-how in various fields, especially agriculture, industry and health, officials could help "third world" nations—i.e., those not aligned with NATO nor the Soviets—on the development path, raise the standard of living, and show that democracy and capitalism could provide for the welfare of the individual. In his inauguration speech on January 20, 1949, President Truman stated the fourth objective of his foreign policy as follows:

"we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate. They are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas. For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve suffering of these people. The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for assistance of other peoples are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible"[2]

Truman denied that this was a colonial venture to dominate other countries. Rather, he insisted, "The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing. All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources."[3]

This was not a call for economic aid—on the order of the Marshall Plan but for the US to share its "know-how" and help nations develop with technical assistance. There was bipartisan support led by Republican Congressman Christian A. Herter of Massachusetts.[4]

Point Four was the first global U.S. foreign aid program, yet it drew some inspiration from the nation's wartime Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), which extended technical assistance to Latin American countries. Nelson Rockefeller, the administrator of the OCIAA, strongly supported the establishment of Point Four in congressional hearings.[5]

According to the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, it was the initiative of the then legal counsel to the president Clark Clifford, who suggested to president Truman to initiate an assistance on a worldwide basis, and to include the issue in his inaugural address.[6] According to Robert Schlesinger's book, White House Ghosts, it was Benjamin H. Hardy who first came up with the concept. After the suggestion was as good as lost in the foggy miasma of the State Department's bureaucracy, Hardy decided to bring the idea to the attention of Truman aide, George Elsey. Elsey and Clifford went on to herald the abstraction into policy. Hardy eventually left the Department of State and became the new Technical Cooperation Administration's Chief Information Officer.[7][8]

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Cold War

Cold War

The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported opposing sides in major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict was based around the ideological and geopolitical struggle for global influence by these two superpowers, following their temporary alliance and victory against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945. Aside from the nuclear arsenal development and conventional military deployment, the struggle for dominance was expressed via indirect means such as psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns, espionage, far-reaching embargoes, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

Clark Clifford

Clark Clifford

Clark McAdams Clifford was an American lawyer who served as an important political adviser to Democratic presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. His official government positions were White House Counsel (1946–1950), Chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (1963–1968), and Secretary of Defense (1968–1969); Clifford was also influential in his role as an unofficial, informal presidential adviser in various issues. A successful Washington lawyer, he was known for his elite clientele, charming manners, and impeccable suits.

George Elsey

George Elsey

George McKee Elsey was an American naval commander who was an advisor to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. He also served as a speechwriter and political strategist for Truman during the 1948 election.

Marshall Plan

Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan was an American initiative enacted in 1948 to provide foreign aid to Western Europe. The United States transferred over $13 billion in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II. Replacing an earlier proposal for a Morgenthau Plan, it operated for four years beginning on April 3, 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-torn regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, improve European prosperity and prevent the spread of communism. The Marshall Plan proposed the reduction of interstate barriers and the economic integration of the European Continent while also encouraging an increase in productivity as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.

Christian Herter

Christian Herter

Christian Archibald Herter was an American diplomat and Republican politician who was the 59th Governor of Massachusetts from 1953 to 1957 and United States Secretary of State from 1959 to 1961. His moderate tone of negotiations was confronted by the intensity of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a series of unpleasant episodes that turned the Cold War even colder in 1960–61.

Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

The Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, later known as the Office for Inter-American Affairs, was a United States agency promoting inter-American cooperation (Pan-Americanism) during the 1940s, especially in commercial and economic areas. It was started in August 1940 as OCCCRBAR with Nelson Rockefeller as its head, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, sometimes referred to by his nickname Rocky, was an American businessman and politician who served as the 41st vice president of the United States from 1974 to 1977. A member of the Republican Party and wealthy Rockefeller family, he previously served as the 49th governor of New York from 1959 to 1973. Rockefeller also served as assistant secretary of State for American Republic Affairs for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (1944–1945) as well as under secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) under Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1954. In 1980, HEW split into 2 cabinet level agencies: Health & Human Services (HHS) & Department of Education. A son of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller as well as a grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, he was a noted art collector and served as administrator of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City.

Dean Acheson

Dean Acheson

Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As the 51st U.S. Secretary of State, he set the foreign policy of the Harry S. Truman administration from 1949 to 1953. He was also Truman's main foreign policy advisor from 1945 to 1947, especially regarding the Cold War. Acheson helped design the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He was in private law practice from July 1947 to December 1948. After 1949 Acheson came under partisan political attack from Republicans led by Senator Joseph McCarthy over Truman's policy toward the People's Republic of China.

Robert Schlesinger

Robert Schlesinger

Robert Schlesinger is an American writer and liberal commentator focusing on politics and political communications.

Benjamin Hardy

Benjamin Hardy

Benjamin Kirk Hardy is an Australian former volleyball player.

Implementation

In order to implement the program, on February 9, 1949 a new committee was established within the Department of State, known as the Technical Assistance Group, chaired by Samuel Hayes. The program was approved by Congress on June 5, 1950 in the Foreign Economic Assistance Act, which allotted to the program a budget of $25,000,000 for fiscal year 1950/51.[9] Describing the new program, Truman noted that, "Communist propaganda holds that the free nations are incapable of providing a decent standard of living for the millions of people in under-developed areas of the earth. The Point Four program will be one of our principal ways of demonstrating the complete falsity of that charge."[10]

After Congressional approval on October 27, 1950, the Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA) was established within the Department of State to run the Point Four program and the OCIAA became incorporated into the new organization.[11] Henry G. Bennett was the first TCA administrator from 1950 to 1951.[12]

The program was carried out with the countries whose governments concluded bilateral agreements with the US government regarding aid under the program, and the TCA established field missions within those countries, which worked to improve agricultural output and distributed technical know-how on improving the economy in general. The first government to do so was the government of Iran, on October 19, 1950.[13]

The Point Four Program was different from other programs in that it was not confined to any specific region; it was extended to countries such as Pakistan, Israel, Jordan,[14] . The American University of Beirut (AUB) also received funding from the Point Four program to expand its operations.[15]

Among the first nations to gain extensive technical assistance was India. From 1950–1951 India saw the implementation of a penicillin plantation, an increase in schools and medical research facilities as well as dam construction. In addition to economic assistance India also agreed to maintain a democratic government. U.S. Officials hoped this would prevent India forming alliances with the Soviet Union and China.[16]

Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower discarded the Point Four name in favour of simply referring to it as a 'technical assistance program', and reorganized the TCA into the Foreign Operations Administration; its successor agencies include the International Cooperation Administration and the present-day Agency for International Development.[17]

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Henry G. Bennett

Henry G. Bennett

Henry G. Bennett was a prominent educational figure in Oklahoma. He served as the president of both Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University. He was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as the first director of the Point Four Program, a technical assistance program for developing nations.

Iran

Iran

Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north, by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, and by the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to the south. It covers an area of 1.64 million square kilometres, making it the 17th-largest country. Iran has an estimated population of 86.8 million, making it the 17th-most populous country in the world, and the second-largest in the Middle East. Its largest cities, in descending order, are the capital Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz, and Tabriz.

American University of Beirut

American University of Beirut

The American University of Beirut (AUB) is a private, non-sectarian, and independent university chartered in New York with its campus in Beirut, Lebanon. AUB is governed by a private, autonomous board of trustees and offers programs leading to bachelor's, master's, MD, and PhD degrees.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American military officer and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and achieved the five-star rank of General of the Army. He planned and supervised the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–1943 as well as the invasion of Normandy (D-Day) from the Western Front in 1944–1945.

International Cooperation Administration

International Cooperation Administration

The International Cooperation Administration (ICA) was a United States government agency operating from June 30, 1955 until September 4, 1961, responsible for foreign assistance and 'nonmilitary security' programs. It was the predecessor of the present-day U.S. Agency for International Development.

United States Agency for International Development

United States Agency for International Development

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. With a budget of over $27 billion, USAID is one of the largest official aid agencies in the world and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance—the highest in the world in absolute dollar terms.

Legacy of the program

The Point Four Program was the first US plan designed to improve social, economic and political conditions in 'underdeveloped' nations. It marked the promotion of international development policy to the centre of the U.S. Foreign Policy framework.[16]

Although designed to uplift nations, the programme's legacy was one of self-interest as America improved their imports of strategical raw materials, without significantly alleviating the partnered nations of deprivation.[1] The post-war climate and rising threat of communism alongside lack of investment from both congress and American businessmen led to the faltering of the Point Four Program.[18]

Source: "Point Four Program", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Four_Program.

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See also
References
  1. ^ a b Paterson, Thomas G. (1972). "Foreign Aid under Wraps: The Point Four Program". The Wisconsin Magazine of History. 56 (2): 119–126. JSTOR 4634774.
  2. ^ Text of the Speech in Department of State Bulletin, January 30, 1949, p. 123
  3. ^ Truman, Harry. "Truman's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1949". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Lemelin, Bernard (2001). "An International Republican in a Time of Waning Bipartisanship: Congressman Christian A. Herter of Massachusetts and the Point Four Program, 1949–1950". New England Journal of History. 58 (1): 61–90.
  5. ^ United States Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Foreign Affairs, International Technical Cooperation Act of 1949, 81st Congress, 1st Session, Washington: GPO, 1950, pp. 79–97.
  6. ^ Acheson, Dean (1969). Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-393-30412-1.
  7. ^ Schlesinger, Robert (2008). White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 60–63. ISBN 978-0-7432-9169-9.
  8. ^ "Truman Library – Benjamin H. Hardy Papers." Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Web. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/hstpaper/hardybh.htm
  9. ^ "Point Four Program" Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, volume 15, (1991), ISBN 0-7172-5300-7.
  10. ^ "Texts of Truman Orders to Implement Point 4 Plan; THE STATEMENT Fund Already Set Aside THE EXECUTIVE ORDER". The New York Times. 9 September 1950. ProQuest 111540762.
  11. ^ Erb, Claude C. (July 1985). "Prelude to Point Four: The Institute of Inter-American Affairs". Diplomatic History. 9 (3): 249–269. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.1985.tb00535.x.
  12. ^ "Biographical Sketch". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  13. ^ Shannon, Matthew K. (2017). Losing Hearts and Minds: American-Iranian Relations and International Education during the Cold War. Cornell UP. p. 1801. ISBN 978-1-5017-1234-0.
  14. ^ Robins, Philip (2004). A History of Jordan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59895-8.
  15. ^ Myntti, Cynthia, Rami Zurayk, and Mounir Mabsout. “Beyond the Walls: The American University of Beirut Engages Its Communities.” In Towards an Arab Higher Education Space : International Challenges and Social Responsibilities : Proceedings of the Arab Regional Conference on Higher Education, Cairo, 31 May, 1-2 June 2009, 603–19. Cairo, Egypt, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Macekura, Stephen (May 2013). "The Point Four Program and U.S. International Development Policy". Political Science Quarterly. 128 (1): 127–160. doi:10.1002/polq.12000. JSTOR 23563372.
  17. ^ Hinman, E. Harold (1966). World Eradication of Infectious Diseases. C. C. Thomas.
  18. ^ Paterson, Thomas G. (1988). Meeting the Communist Threat: Truman to Reagan. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504533-8. OCLC 62325745.
Further reading
  • Bose, Tarun C. (January 1965). "The Point Four Programme: a Critical Study". International Studies. 7 (1): 66–97. doi:10.1177/002088176500700103. S2CID 153610906.
  • Lemelin, Bernard (2001). "An International Republican in a Time of Waning Bipartisanship: Congressman Christian A. Herter of Massachusetts and the Point Four Program, 1949–1950". New England Journal of History. 58 (1): 61–90.
  • Macekura, Stephen (May 2013). "The Point Four Program and U.S. International Development Policy". Political Science Quarterly. 128 (1): 127–160. doi:10.1002/polq.12000. JSTOR 23563372.
  • mcvety, amanda kay (June 2008). "Pursuing Progress: Point Four in Ethiopia". Diplomatic History. 32 (3): 371–403. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.2008.00698.x.
  • Paterson, Thomas G. (1972). "Foreign Aid under Wraps: The Point Four Program". The Wisconsin Magazine of History. 56 (2): 119–126. JSTOR 4634774.
  • Pursell, Carroll (1999). "The hoe or the tractor? Appropriate technology and American technical aid after World War II". Icon. 5: 90–99. JSTOR 23786078.
  • Robertson, Thomas (2019). "'Front line of the Cold War': The U.S. and Point Four development programs in Nepal, 1950–1953". Studies in Nepali History and Society. 24 (1): 41–71.
  • Shively, Jacob (3 July 2018). "'Good Deeds Aren't Enough': Point Four in Iran, 1949–1953". Diplomacy & Statecraft. 29 (3): 413–431. doi:10.1080/09592296.2018.1491444. S2CID 158564785.
  • Warne, William E. (1956). Mission for Peace: Point 4 in Iran. Bobbs-Merrill. OCLC 680901641.
  • Doyle, George A (1951). The 'Point Four' Program: Its Position in the History of International Investment and a Consideration of the Economies of Brazil and Venezuela (Thesis). OCLC 1160178691. ProQuest 2130169565.

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