Little Bits of History

October 19

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 19, 2017

1950: The government of Iran is the first to benefit from the Point Four Program. Harry Truman’s inaugural address was given on January 20, 1949. He listed four primary objectives within his foreign policies. The fourth of these was to offer technical assistance programs to “developing countries” who were willing to enter into bilateral agreements with the US. At the conclusion of World War II, the USSR and US found themselves in what came to be known as the Cold War. Truman wished to win over the “hearts and minds” of the developing world by offering them a way to move forward after the devastation of the global conflict.

His plan was to offer US know-how in a variety of fields, but especial in agriculture, industry, and health. Countries from the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and Africa had complained that help from the US was mostly given to European countries. In order to help what was then called “third world” countries, Truman offered US help with the hope that it would build stronger economies in these underdeveloped countries as well has show that democracy and capitalism could provide for the welfare of the individual. It was not a program of economic aid but rather built on giving technical advice to those countries willing to accept the offer. It was not a colonial venture, according to Truman, but an offer to help with recovery after the War.

Point Four was the first global US foreign aid program but it drew inspiration from the wartime Office of the Coordinator of the Inter-American Affairs which had offered aid to Latin American countries during the previous decade. Secretary of State Dean Acheson urged Truman to make the same benefit to the third world countries of the day. A new committee was created on February 9, 1949 within the Department of State and chaired by Samuel Hayes. The Technical Assistance Group obtained funding of $25 million for the 1950/51 fiscal year.

The Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA) gained Congressional approval on October 27, 1950. Even before this, Iran entered into a partnership with the US to gain assistance in their quest to generally improve their economy. It was never meant to be for a single area, but a global effort and offers were extended to a variety of countries around the world. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the name, but kept the program itself, and placed it under the auspices of the Foreign Operations Administration. Successive programs include the International Cooperation Administration and the Agency for International Development.

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.

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.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. – all from Harry S Truman




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