POINT FOUR was a foreign aid program to assist the poor in so-called underdeveloped countries. In his second inaugural address in 1949, President Harry S. Truman called for this "bold new program" as part of an overall effort to promote peace and freedom. Inviting other nations to participate, he called for the program to be a "worldwide effort" for the achievement of "peace, plenty, and freedom" through technical assistance, private foreign investment, and greater production. In the first phase of the Cold War, and in the wake of the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Point Four was designed as an offer to the emerging nations to decide against communism—to become neutral or non-aligned. Although Truman stood behind this sweeping but illdefined program, almost half a year had passed before he asked Congress for the initial appropriations of $45 million. It then took Congress until the end of May 1950 to pass Point Four as the Act for International Development. For the first year, only $29.9 million were appropriated. Without stable conditions, trade agreements, and guarantees, businesses were reluctant to invest, particularly in those countries needing foreign capital the most. In 1952 and 1953, the Technical Cooperation Administration, which implemented Point Four, received a little more than $300 million to provide technical assistance. By 1954, Point Four was overseen by the Foreign Operations Administration and its budget had reached $400 million. Hundreds of Point Four technicians visited dozens of impoverished nations, and thousands of students from these countries were invited to study in the United States. Like the Marshall Plan, Point Four was directed by the United States and not through the United Nations. This led to criticisms of undue American influence in the internal affairs of developing nations. The ambitious ideals proclaimed by Truman clashed with the realities of the Cold War and the Korean War (1950–1953), and they were largely incompatible with the profit orientation of private business.
Bingham, Jonathan B. Shirt-sleeve Diplomacy: Point 4 in Action. New York: John Doyle, 1954.
U.S. aid program to the Middle East under the Truman Doctrine.
The name refers to the fourth point made in U.S. president Harry Truman's 1949 inaugural speech, wherein he cited the need to support democracy and economic stability where small nations are threatened by outside (that is, Soviet) influence.
Point Four led to unprecedented U.S. military and economic aid to the Middle East, allocated under various programs, expanding aid given to Turkey and Greece under the Marshall Plan since 1947. Of the $2.94 billion in military equipment sent to the region during the 1950s, Turkey received $1.87 billion, with Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia receiving lesser amounts. Aid also went to agricultural projects and to Palestinian refugees.
Bryson, Thomas A. American Diplomatic Relations with the Middle East, 1784–1975: A Survey. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1977.