- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Apr 1959, p. 299-308
- Williams, Governor G. Mennen, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The free world's stake in the underdeveloped countries, particularly the emerging nations in Africa and Asia. Cooperative international action that could be taken by Canada and the United States. Some remembrances of past cooperative actions by Canadians and Americans. A proposal for a new approach to economic aid. The need for a common foreign economic policy by the nations of the free world; a similar need for a common defense policy such as NATO has. The speaker's conviction that underdeveloped countries must be assisted to move into self-sustained economic growth. Why free world nations should do this. The contrast between the rich, prosperous Western nations and the depressed mankind in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Benefits to the highly developed countries that the underdeveloped countries be able to secure independence and stability through the building of strong and growing economies. Wide differences in the present stages of development; tailoring foreign economic aid to reflect these differences. Taking a look at the size and cost of the job. The importance of dependable continuity. Undertaking programs which offer the opportunity to achieve a purpose intrinsically worth achieving, and at the same time strengthening the bond which unites the Free World nations.
- Date of Original
- 9 Apr 1959
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- Full Text
- "THE FREE WORLD'S STAKE IN THE UNDER-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES"
An Address by GOVERNOR G. MENNEN WILLIAMS Governor of the State of Michigan
Thursday, April 9, 1959
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. Bruce Legge.
LT.-COL. LEGGE: When the important young ruler of one of the richest sovereign states of the American Union chooses to speak to The Empire Club of Canada on a subject concerning the needs of others in remote far-off places, then that leader is demonstrating a wise humanitarian and statesman-like concern. Today His Excellency G. Mennen Williams, the Governor of the State of Michigan, will describe "The Free World's Stake in the Underdeveloped Countries".
Governor Williams is a graduate of Princeton University and of the University of Michigan Law School. He has received honorary doctorates from several universities and has been honoured by the Governments of the Netherlands and of Greece. In public life His Excellency has served as the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Michigan and as the Executive Assistant to the United States Attorney General. As Governor of the State of Michigan, he is one of the powerful leaders of the Democratic Party. Since the Second World War, Governor Williams' Party has shown a strong determination to assist other countries, not only with the famous Marshall Plan but with support for all the other ingenious devices which affluent governments have offered for the development of economically primitive countries.
Governor Williams is one of those brilliant practical politicians who looks beyond the luxury of North America and remembers that in Calcutta, the second largest city in the Commonwealth, about thirty per cent of that city's population have no homes and live, sleep and die in the streets the year round. He knows that in India the rate of economic growth is only two per cent, whereas in the rising new China it is almost ten per cent. He is aware that the Soviet Union has made long-term credits available to India, and this assistance received a favourable Indian press--at least until the recent Chinese war in Tibet. Hunger, poverty, disease and oppression are the daily lot of the majority of people in the world and the statistics show that the annual per capita income of each American is thirty-two times that of each Indian and the average unemployed British family on National Assistance is six times better off than the average Arab with a job.
Now it takes courage for the Governor of any American State to remind people of their blessings and the danger of their wealth contrasted with the cruel suffering others have to bear. But Governor Williams has never shirked his duties. For almost four years of war, he served on carriers in the United States Navy and received ten battle stars and the Legion of Merit. Even more heroic is the stand he has taken for human dignity in these days of acute controversy. He once cancelled a major speech for the Jefferson-Jackson-Day dinner at Birmingham, Alabama, when a negro party leader was refused an invitation. On that occasion Governor Williams simply said, "I cannot in good conscience attend this meeting". Our speaker's strength and merit have been recognized in a remarkable way by the people of Michigan who elected him Governor at the age of thirty-seven and thereafter for an unprecedented total of six terms.
Gentlemen, I have the honour to present to The Empire Club of Canada His Excellency G. Mennen Williams, the Governor of the State of Michigan, who will speak to us on "The Free World's Stake in the Under-developed Countries".
GOVERNOR WILLIAMS: For several years, I have been looking forward to speaking to this audience, but each time something has intervened to prevent my accepting your kind invitations. This time, however, I was able to accept, and I consider it a real honour to be your guest today.
The subject of my talk is "The Free World's Stake in the Underdeveloped Countries"--those countries particularly in Africa and Asia which are frequently described as the emerging nations, whose people are caught up in what has been called a revolution of rising expectations. This subject was chosen because it embraces an area wherein Canada and the United States can take further steps in the cooperative international action which has marked the history of our two nations.
When I spoke in this city before the Ontario Legislature in 1952, I was proud to recall the glorious history of Canada in the defense of human freedom, and how the Canadian fighting men and the armed forces of my country have fought shoulder-to-shoulder against those who sought to destroy our way of life.
We remember the Canadian bayonets that stood between us and the German submarine bases on the Atlantic in the First World War. We remember how for a time Canada and Great Britain virtually alone, withstood the Nazi fury in the Second World War, holding the bastions of human liberty while the United States slowly gathered her great strength to aid in the ultimate victory of the Free World.
We remember Dieppe, when boys from Windsor first breached the walls of Hitler's Fortress Europe. We in Michigan recall very vividly the day of Dieppe, and the wave of sorrow that swept over our whole people as the bloody sacrifices of that engagement became known. The Windsor boys who died on the beaches and in the streets of Dieppe were not just the soldiers of an allied power--they were our sons, as well as yours, and we felt their loss as keenly as if they had been boys from Detroit, Port Huron or Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
After the War, we worked together through the United Nations Rehabilitation and Relief Agency--UNRRA--to help rebuild war-devastated areas of the world. We are shoulder-to-shoulder in the North American Treaty Organization--as yet another evidence of common effort in pursuit of our common goals.
Today I'm going to suggest another area for common action. My speech today will propose a new approach to economic aid, which will join our nations, and the other free nations as well, into a common policy for action.
My choice of subject reflects my deep personal conviction that the free world needs a common foreign economic policy just as much as we need a common defense policy such as we have in NATO, for example.
It is my conviction that we must assist underdeveloped countries to move into self-sustained economic growth. We should do this not only because our Judeo-Christian heritage requires that we help our brothers in need, although this is reason enough. We should do it because our own future--your country's and my country's--depends on whether the underdeveloped nations have the opportunity through viable economies to move their societies toward independence and democracy. After all, what we are seeking--your country and my country--from our foreign policy? I think we're seeking to create and maintain a world environment which will permit freedom and justice to grow, which will expand economic opportunity for everyone, and which will help achieve a genuine and durable peace. As we do this, we will at the same time be creating and maintaining a world environment which will allow our domestic progress to continue in as much safety as a dangerous world permits, and in accordance with our fundamental commitment to human freedom and to free institutions.
So quite apart from our military activities and alliances, and our parallel efforts to achieve international control of armaments, we must work ceaselessly to help bring about a world environment of independent, and progressively more democratic, open societies.
As Chester Bowles, the able and experienced former United States Ambassador to India, and now a Congressman from Connecticut, has pointed out, two great revolutions have been taking place in the world in the last 15 years. One is the revolution of national self-determination.
The other is the revolution of rising expectations. Together they are having a tremendous impact on two out of three persons in the world. In Asia and Africa millions and millions of people are seeking to realize a national identity.
Further, an exploding technology in agriculture, public health, engineering and communications has encouraged even people in backward and far-away villages to nurse the hope of a new and better life. But capital resources and trained technicians are not available to them on an adequate scale. The crawling increase in production that they have realized has been barely able to keep up with the growth of their population, let alone make possible an increase in real living standards. The more fortunate countries of Western Europe and the American continent, on the other hand, are enjoying the highest living standards in world history.
The contrast between the rich, prosperous Western nations and their 15 per cent of the world's people, and the depressed 70 per cent of mankind in Latin America, Asia and Africa is made all the more striking by color differences. The first group is largely white. The second group is largely colored.
In 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression, Lenin gave his opinion that "the road to Paris lies through Calcutta and Peking". He might just as well have said "the road to Washington and Ottawa" because if all of Asia falls to the Communists, our nations would be in grave jeopardy. In 1933, Stalin gave a similar opinion when he said "the backs of the British"--and by British, Stalin meant the western world--"will be broken not on the River Thames, but on the Yangtze, the Ganges, and the Nile".
For a quarter of a century, Communist Russia's efforts to expand its influence in Asia and Africa met with failure. This failure was a compound of lack of understanding and a deficiency of resources and of what we now call technical know-how. These deficiencies no longer exist. Today, the Kremlin has the wherewithal to implement Lenin's strategy. We must not permit this to happen.
Yet, our policy must not be based merely on the negative concept of blocking the Communists. Nor should we base our policy on the futile hope of trying to buy friends and allies, nor on the simple-minded proposal that we can avoid revolutions by merely filling hungry stomachs. The sensible policy is to accept realistically the fact that it is clearly to the long-range benefit of the highly developed countries of the Free World that the underdeveloped countries be able to secure independence and stability through the building of strong and growing economies.
This means we should be willing, indeed anxious, to join other countries--yes, even the Soviet Union--in supplying the underdeveloped countries with economic aid. We should be willing to do so because world peace will be determined more by ability of the underdeveloped countries to be economically stable and politically independent, than by any sense of obligation these countries might feel toward us. Governmental economic aid from the industrialized nations of the Free World can help to create a climate of opportunity for later private investments. This in turn is one magnet to draw these nations toward the Free World in their political development.
Obviously there are wide differences in the present stages of development, and foreign economic aid must be tailored to this fact.
Some nations are just beginning to create conditions for regular economic growth. Other nations are one or several steps beyond that stage. India, for example, which contains 40 per cent of the total population of the underdeveloped areas of the Free World, is making a strong effort, an effort which has already created some of the conditions necessary for sustained economic growth. In Latin America, there are several countries which are well along to achieving regular and self-sustained economic growth. And Last Sunday's New York Timer reported that "for the first time since her establishment as a State, Israel will need no direct United States Government economic support next year"--an illustrative example of where foreign aid paid off in helping a new nation achieve a stable economy of its own.
Obviously the problems are different for each country. Some can absorb more aid than others. Each needs somewhat different things from us. But the overall goal is recognizable and definable.
We are not seeking to redistribute income throughout the world so that all people are equally rich. We are seeking to help other people to move into regular, self-sustained economic growth, and thus raise living standards everywhere. Self-sustained economic growth means that the national income is sufficient to maintain the individual standard of living at existing levels and in addition provide savings for capital investment. This capital investment, in turn, will permit an increasing standard of living for each individual with further capital investment despite population increases. As things stand now, any increase in wealth due to capital investment is too frequently swallowed up in increased population, which means there is no real increase in the individual standard of living.
Economists I have talked to estimate that to achieve a two per cent increase in output per person in the underdeveloped countries--and surely that is a modest objective--there will have to be a substantial increase in capital investment in these countries. If the Free World fails to help fill this need, we are turning our backs on an opportunity which may never come our way again. If we fail in this, we betray one of the deepest beliefs of our Judeo-Christian heritage, the belief in the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God, a belief which gives vitality to the democracy of my nation and yours.
How big a job is this that I'm talking about? Can we afford to do it--that is, can the United States, Canada and the other industrialized countries of the Free World give sufficient aid without dislocating our domestic economies?
Let's take a look at the size of the job. The best expert analysis I have seen estimates a total of $5 billion in additional economic aid annually would be required to begin to achieve the capital development needed for self-sustained economic growth in the underdeveloped countries in Latin America, South Asia, the Near East, the Far East, and Africa. Five billion dollars is only a little more than one per cent of the Gross National Product of the United States alone--and I am not going to propose that the United States foot the entire bill.
It is interesting by comparison that during the long years of British development of her overseas empire, the British invested each year at least 10 per cent of their gross national product in foreign enterprise. The British, moreover, invested some of their ablest men and women as well. This was the era of Pax Brittanica, which while not suited to today's world, served in its time of history to advance world peace.
A further interesting comparison is that under the great UNRRA programs one per cent of the national income of each contributing nation was considered fair, a precedent not only for a one per cent rule of thumb--which is more than I shall propose--but a precedent as well for combined action through the United Nations in major programs looking to the development of other nations.
Taking the $5 billion dollar figure, let's say that the United States agreed to pay 60 per cent of this amount of $3 billion dollars per year, which amounts to six-tenths of one per cent of our gross national product. Let's say that all of the other industrialized nations together--those in Western Europe, plus Canada and Japan, agreed to pay the other $2 billion. Certainly this reduces a $5 billion dollar Free World economic aid and public investment program to proportions that each of us could assume without strain. And not all of this amount need be in hard, cold cash, or in equipment. Some part of it could take the form of those surpluses which burden us, and which, unfortunately, through their unilateral disposal have sometimes damaged the friendly relationship between Canada and the United States. In short, I am proposing that the Free World undertake a joint foreign economic aid program of $5 billion dollars a year, designed for at least a five year period at the outset, and for as long beyond that as the need exists.
Foreign economic aid is now at matter of national action by each individual government. There is no overall foreign aid program operating through the United Nations. I propose that this new program be administered by and through the United Nations.
There are, I recognize, some people in my own country, and indeed in my own political party, who do not want to keep even the level of foreign economic aid provided in the proposal now before the United States Congress. I hope the Congress will turn down these views and act affirmatively on the recommendation before it. The majority of people in my country, I am sure, give their full support to adequate economic aid, and they would give full support to a United Nations economic aid and public investment program, subscribed to by free nations, and adequately financed.
Canada's splendid reputation for full support of all United Nations undertakings indicates, I believe, the fundamental desire of your people to continue to develop the U.N. into an ever stronger instrumentality for world development and world peace. And using the United Nations, I am convinced, would assure more readily the participation of more countries than could be obtained by any other means.
One obvious objection is that the Soviet Union might hamstring the program in the United Nations, or benefit unduly from it. This argument, I do not think, stands up under close examination. Participation by the Soviet Union could be conditioned by its financial support. If the Soviet Union failed to support the program, their loud claims to be the friend of the underdeveloped nations would be considerably weakened. If the Soviet Union did participate, the value of their bilateral aid programs would be blunted.
The essence of successful planning is dependable continuity. We cannot turn our aid on and off, year by year, and expect the leadership of those underdeveloped countries to call on their own people for, and to commit their own political positions to, economic development. It's not realistic to undertake the development of major resources like factories and dams except over a period of years. This is why I suggest as a minimum that we commit ourselves to a five-year program of the annual magnitude that I have outlined.
The Kremlin, I am convinced, sees as one of the weaknesses of the Free World that we are going our separate ways in economic aid programs and policies, and we are not--taken together, and certainly not singly – doing enough to make it possible for the underdeveloped and the uncommitted countries to take their place by our side. In my judgment, we must at the irreducible minimum maintain the present levels of national programs. And then we must do more. The adoption and successful execution through the United Nations of a cooperative economic aid program for the underdeveloped areas would be a powerful force to counteract the lure of Communism and Soviet Imperialism.
And it would do more than that. The Free World needs a sense of purpose in its mutual undertakings. To the degree that we undertake programs which offer the opportunity to achieve a purpose intrinsically worth achieving, we strengthen the bond which unites us. Foreign economic aid is such a program. It enables us to reach out our hands to help other people who need our help. It enables us to open opportunities for self-development to people all over the earth. It enables us to be the instruments of God's will on earth.
When free nations are aroused by the call of immense undertakings we achieve goals of prodigious magnitude. Thus it was in two World Wars. Thus it can be, I firmly believe, in the cause of peace through common programs of action toward worthwhile goals.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. J. Palmer Kent.