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Address by the Secretary of State Before the National Conference on International Economic and Social Development

April 08, 1952

[Delivered by the Secretary of State]

Dr. Hannah, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I cannot tell you how much it means to me to come and meet with you tonight. You have come here from all parts of the country, and from all sorts of organizations--church groups, business groups, labor unions, and farm organizations. You have come to discuss ways and means of going ahead with our plans for point 4.

Point 4 takes its name from the last point of a fourfold program for peace in the world--the program I set forth in my inaugural address, 3 years ago last January.

We have been working on that program, and we have been making progress.

We have done well on the first three points.

First, we have supported the United Nations.

Second, we have carried forward our plans for world economic recovery.

Third, we have strengthened free nations against aggression.

But these three points by themselves will not bring us the permanent peace we desire. The fourth point, helping the free peoples of the world to help themselves--to produce more, to raise their living standards, and to achieve decent, satisfying lives--this fourth point is in the long run the most important of all. Without it, we cannot reach the goal.

Through the measures we have taken in the last several years--aid to Greece and Turkey, the Marshall plan, the North Atlantic Treaty, the Pacific treaties, the defense program, the resistance to aggression in Korea--through measures like these we are preventing conquest and world war. We have bought time--we have bought it at a great cost in lives and money.

Now it is up to us to use that time intelligently and courageously. We must use it to wipe out the root causes of war. We must use the time we are gaining by defense to campaign against hunger and disease and human misery.

Mass suffering has been used by every dictatorship of our times as a stepping stone to power. It was used by the Japanese war lords. It was used by Hitler. Today it is the weapon of Soviet imperialism. Unless it is wiped out, it may be used in the future by some new dictatorship more terrible even than the Soviet.

To have peace, we must strike at the conditions of misery that envelop half the people of the earth. That is the purpose and the meaning of point 4. It will help us to understand point 4, if we step back and look at it in the light of history. In this century, scientific progress has brought us to the point where mankind, for the first time in human history, can wipe poverty and ignorance and human misery clean off the face of the earth.

Yet this cannot be done unless scientific progress is linked with political freedom. That is the lesson of history. Without political freedom, scientific progress can become a menace, rather than a boon to humanity. In the hands of totalitarians, scientific progress can be used to destroy civilization.

But working together, scientific progress and political freedom can open such a future as mankind has never dreamed of.

We have seen what this means in our own country.

What we did here in the United States was to create the kind of political system in which men could breathe freely and work freely--the kind of government in which the energies of human beings could be released to make the most of the material resources around them.

This is why our country has become the center of industry and science. This is why we have been called upon to lead the fight for freedom. We have given greater opportunity to the individual than has ever been known before. We have given more material well-being to all our people than any earlier society was ever able to achieve.

That is what scientific progress and political freedom have done for us--and for many other countries founded in the traditions of our Western civilization.

Moreover the tremendous developments that have taken place in the Western World in modern times are having a profound effect upon the ancient civilizations in Asia and Africa.

The people of these areas have learned that they need not suffer hunger, disease, and poverty. They know that something can be done to put a stop to these things. They also have learned of the ideals of political liberty and self-government.

These peoples have watched us and learned from us. Now they are determined to share as equals in the benefits of modern progress.

They are determined that their resources will no longer be developed in the interest of foreigners on the pattern of the old imperialism. And they don't want them developed for the benefit of Soviet imperialism either. They insist that these resources be developed for their own benefit.

They are determined to establish their own free political and economic institutions-institutions which will make use of the best of our experience and will, at the same time, retain the best of their own cultures, and their own great traditions.

This, I believe, is the mood and the temper that has come to Africa and Asia in my lifetime. It is real. It is good. It holds tremendous promise.

At the same time, it has great dangers. Such a movement can be easily misled. Communists or reactionaries can exploit the hopes and aspirations of these peoples for their own evil ends. Unscrupulous agitators can use these forces of change to bring about disorder and bloodshed. We must do all we can to keep this from happening.

We want to help the people of these areas. We want them to learn the methods of our science and our industry and use these methods to develop their own resources.

Above all, we want to help them find out and apply the secret of our own success, the secret of our American revolution--the secret that the vitality of our science, our industry, our culture is embedded in our political life--the secret that only free men, freely governed, can make the magic of science and technology work for the benefit of human beings, not against them.

Now, what does point 4 have to do with this? It has everything to do with it. It is the way we have chosen to give our help and share our experience. It is the right way--and the only way--this can be done.

There is nothing of imperialism in our concept of point 4. We do not propose to dominate other people, or exploit them, or force them to change their ways of life.

The two ideas that guide point 4 are first, cooperation, freely sought and freely given, and second, help to those who want to help themselves.

Those are the only methods that can succeed today. We must never forget them, or depart from them. In no other way can we work as friends and brothers with the awakening peoples in the underdeveloped regions of the world.

This is what point 4 means in the perspective of history. It is the way to prevent human progress from going off the rails, to prevent a smashup of civilization, and to kelp bring mankind to the threshold of a brighter, more wonderful future.

This is not starry-eyed idealism. It is just plain, practical commonsense. If we fail to do this job, we will never have world peace. We cannot survive as an island of prosperity in a sea of human misery. But if we do the job, the world will be transformed.

Just take one specific example. If we could help the people of the Orient get a well-balanced diet--three square meals a day--instead of the few mouthfuls of rice that most of them eat now, just that one change alone would have more impact on the world than all the armies and battles of history.

It is not easy to do a job like this. To raise the level of diet means more than sending seeds and hoes abroad. It means that the people of these countries must develop farm credit institutions, and irrigation projects, and roads and railroads, and new industries and new employment for the millions who live in cities. This will take technical assistance and capital development.

It will take work by the United Nations and by the governments of other free nations. It will take work by many of our Government agencies. Point 4 is not just the concern of the State Department or the Mutual Security Agency, but of the Department of Agriculture, and the Public Health Service, and other agencies.

But point 4 was never meant to be just a government program. It is a program of people, our people, helping other people throughout the world.

Individually, and through our organizations, there is much to do and no time to be lost. Many private organizations are carrying on point 4 programs overseas, and they need all the help and support they can get. We can send them tools and books and medical supplies. Our young people can train themselves as technical experts to go abroad. We can welcome students and visitors to our country; we can learn from them while they learn from us.

In all we do, we must remember our great tradition. The American revolution has never stopped. In almost every generation we have overturned old ways of life, and developed new ones--always moving toward more freedom, more opportunity and a better life for all our people. We have had setbacks on the way--but in the end we have always moved forward.

Now, through point 4, we can help the people in the underdeveloped regions to move forward along the same path. We can help them to adapt the principles of freedom, which have inspired our development, to their own needs and circumstances.

This is the way for us to live up to our ideals as a Nation, and fulfill our destiny as the greatest and most favored Republic God ever made.

Note: In the absence of the President who had a prior commitment, the address was delivered by Secretary of State Dean Acheson. The Secretary spoke at 9:45 p.m. at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington. In his opening words he referred to Dr. John A. Hanna, president of Michigan State College, and chairman of the conference.

Harry S Truman, Address by the Secretary of State Before the National Conference on International Economic and Social Development Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231632

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