Newstalgia Reference Room with an address by President Harry S. Truman at the 17th Annual Convention of The Newspaper Guild on June 28, 1950, discussing his Point Four Foreign Aid/Empowerment Program.
June 28, 2011

Looked good on paper, but it did have Cold War written all over it.

One of the most glowing examples of the Cold War was the 100 yard dash on the parts of the U.S. and the Soviet Union to win "hearts and minds" throughout the world during the Post World War 2 reconstruction and Developing Nations period. President Truman first introduced his Point Four Technical Assistance/Foreign Aid program during his Inaugural address. Simply put, it was Truman's idea to not just throw vast wads of money at the problem, but rather to create a stable environment by introducing American technology and assistance along with a vast array of other goodies in an effort to promote goodwill and well . . . .converts and allies against the Iron Curtain.

During his address at the 17th Annual Newspaper Guild Convention, Truman continues making his case for the Point Four Program, which included something of a Freudian slip at this excerpt:

President Truman: “Point Four is not new and should not become a matter for partisan differences of opinion. However, some critics have attempted to ridicule Point Four as a “do-good” measure. Others have said it is a waste of money. This is the most foolish kind of short sightedness. We fail to carry out a vigorous Point Four program we run the risk of losing to Communism by default, hundreds of millions of people who now look to us for help against their struggle against hunger and despair. And what we won’t do is to teach these people how to help themselves. Point Four is a successor to the old Colonialsim idea. The exploiting idea of the middle 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. We want to have a prosperous world that’ll be interested in buying the immense amount of surplus things that we’re going to have for sale. In order to do that, they’ve got to have something to give back to us in order that they can buy our goods. I want to keep this factory organization of ours going at full tilt. And in order to do that we must help these people to help themselves.”

After a reasonably quick recovery (from "We won't teach these people how to help themselves" to "We must help these people help themselves"), the speech sailed into a successful conclusion.

Carefully pointed out not to be an extension of the Marshall Plan, the Point Four Program was instead set up to cultivate a technical assistance program and it was the first of its kind to be introduced. The program was implemented in October of 1950 and, although modified and discarded in places, remained a cornerstone in Foreign Aid by the U.S. throughout the 1950's and is now known as the Agency For International Development.

So now you know where it got started and who started it.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.