Oral History Interview with
B.S. (Agriculture), University of Missouri, 1933; M.A. (Rural
Public Welfare), University of Missouri, 1934; Ph.D. (Rural Sociology),
Cornell University, 1939. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1939-51: Bureau
of Agricultural Economics, in charge of Community Organization Research;
Director, Rural Sociology Extension, Federal Extension Service; Coordinator,
Foreign Training with land-grant colleges; Member, Food and Agricultural
Organization Commission to Mexico on Rural Development and Land Tenure;
Member, F.A.0. Latin American Extension Conference; in charge of International
Conference on Extension; and Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations.
Ford Foundation representative for India and Pakistan, 1951-53; Representative
for India and Nepal, 1954-70.
June 16 and July 7, 1976
by Harry S. Taylor
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry
S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee
but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember
that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript
indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced
for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission
of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened February, 1977
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
June 16 and July 7, 1976
by Harry S. Taylor
TAYLOR: Dr. Ensminger, at the time the inaugural address was made, of
course no one knew exactly what the Point IV program would be. Do you
remember what a general consensus in the Department of Agriculture was
regarding Point IV?
ENSMINGER: Both Stanley Andrews and I believed that Point IV was extending
our know-how, but interpreted to mean our know-how in terms of
how one solves problems. Very early in the
interpretation, operationally given to Point IV in extending know-how,
meant that we take to the other countries our institutional structures,
our approaches to doing things, and in the field of agriculture increasingly
over the years, it has meant somehow another taking our agricultural technology.
At that time of Truman's inaugural address in 1948 John Hanna was president
of Michigan State University and was president of the Land-Grant College
Association. It was in this capacity he sent President Truman a telegram
offering the cooperation and assistance of the land-grant colleges in
carrying out what he interpreted to be the meaning of Truman's Point IV
program. At that time it was Hanna's interpretation, and this was the
reason for offering the land-grant institutions cooperation, that Truman
had in mind a far more simpler approach
to Point IV development than the people who related to the European Recovery
Program and economists later injected into the program which was economic
development. Hanna saw really the role of the land-grant universities
in this, going back to their early history and the role they played in
helping farmers find solutions to problems, and in helping this nation
understand the kinds of policies and programs that we were going to need
to have our own agriculture succeed.
This is very much what Hanna had in mind in offering the service of the
universities back in 1948, which is to help these countries develop a
technology which meets their needs, rather than transport our technology
TAYLOR: Was there any discussions concerning the possibility of transferring
of the American land-grant college of this period to the institutions
of higher learning in the underdeveloped world?
ENSMINGER: Well, there was very much of this in Hanna's point of view,
because Hanna shared the basic philosophy of M. L. Wilson, whom I was
then an assistant to. Wilson was Under Secretary of Agriculture. He is
given credit for having designed most of the New Deal programs. M. L.
Wilson said over and over again, and this was echoed by Hanna in the early
period, "It was not then, it isn't now, our institutional structures and
our advanced technology, that the developing countries need. What we had
to offer then is what we have to offer now -- a philosophy of an educational
institution helping to find solutions to problems and in helping design
programs to solve those problems."
TAYLOR: Well, do you think that the problem-solving approach of the American
university, particularly the land-grant institutions, and as Extension
developed around it, do you think this would have been compatible with
the English concept of higher education that was quite literally transported
into the countries of the Third World?
ENSMINGER: Well, we all found very early that it was practically impossible
to build anything that was applied into the existing institutions of higher
learning that were from British heritage.
TAYLOR: Historically we'd been involved in several types of programs
at the Institute for Inter-American Affairs through the World Bank. Did
anyone at that time envision that perhaps Point IV would bring a lot of
together, and perhaps give some simple directions to our foreign aid
to underdeveloped areas?
ENSMINGER: I don't think we were that far along in our thinking. At the
time Truman enunciated the Point IV program, we were very much involved
in the ERP, European Recovery Program. The ERP was a program to provide
money as resources. The European community had traditions of doing things,
they had leadership, they had the institutional structures and what they
needed was massive inputs of money. And that was the Marshall Plan.
Well, I have repeatedly felt that if it had not been for the very
recent experience with the ERP, which was a program of money, that Truman's
Point IV program would have become quite a different program. But it's
interesting that in the very early stages it was the county agents and
agriculture teachers who were sent abroad. I used to say that the people
who were then looking at the program were talking about sending county
agents and vocational agriculture teachers and maybe a pocketful of nickels.
In other words, we were not then oriented to massive economic aid in terms
of the developing countries.
Well, as I look back on this process in terms of what happened, many
of the people who were actively involved in the ERP began to drift home,
began to find themselves involved in the State Department carrying out
of the Point IV program, and they just couldn't quite see how we could
make a contribution to these developing countries unless we really talked
in terms of economic aid. And it didn't take very long for their point
of view to prevail. And the interesting thing to me is
that if you go back to my own experience in India, I went over there
in 1951, which was three years after Truman enunciated the Point IV program,
and Ambassador [Chester] Bowles came over, arriving there within weeks
after I arrived, with a very clear mandate from the President to find
appropriate ways to help India with its development.
Bowles was oriented to what he interpreted the Truman concept to be of
helping develop people and helping people carry out their own development.
It's also of interest, that when India gained independence, out of the
colonial period into independence, Nehru and the other political leaders
very early began to look for ways and means of keeping your pledge to
the masses of the people that they made in the struggle for independence,
which was essentially this: "You join us in the
struggle for independence and freedom and when we become a free nation,
I pledge that as your leader, the resources of government will be devoted
to improving the conditions of the masses of poor people.
Well, India was moving to formulate programs to really carry out the
Gandhian concept: the Gandhian philosophy of village and rural development.
So, when Bowles came along, looking at India in the concept of the Truman
Point IV, he sought the opportunity for the U.S. to play a role of providing
considerable technical help in terms of how do you do something, and limited
financial help enough to get started in carrying them out.
So, Bowles jumped on this idea of U.S. aid, tied to community development,
and this got a very great response in India, because it was not
a U.S. imposed program. The U.S. was not dangling large sums of money
in front of
India to try and influence her to buy a change of policy, but of helping
India carry out its own programs and its own commitments to the people.
This started the community development in 1952. The Ford Foundation was
also involved in the community development program. We're talking now
about Truman and Point IV, and Bowles coming along as the Ambassador with
backing from Truman, and the State Department, in terms of U.S. making
financial and technical inputs and commitments into helping India carry
out its community development program.
This big program was launched on Gandhi's birthday, on October 2, 1952,
with national enthusiasm, and continued through the next five years. But
increasingly the Congress leaders began to get restless, saying that India
needed massive economic aid and that community development was too slow,
that India needed to put its foreign aid into big economic development
projects. And interestingly enough, this began to happen in the developing
countries throughout what we called the Third World.
TAYLOR: The period, from '48 to '51 is the period when the Point IV program
was floundering in Congress. Why?
ENSMINGER: This is my personal observation that in Point IV we had the
very inklings of a stratified organizational approach to foreign aid that
never got off the ground.
TAYLOR: But there was such a protracted discussion in Congress for almost
18 months in developing a program, what were the problems?
ENSMINGER: I'll tell you one of the problems
that came out. I can identify one specifically and it was very widespread.
In order to help sell this thing to Congress, one of the tasks that Stanley
Andrews was caught with; they were looking for success stories.
Let me tell you one success story that created more problems than it
ever solved. There was a man in India by the name of Horace Holmes, who
had been a county agent, and he had been recruited to go over there by
a fellow by the name of Albert Mayer who was doing their rural development
program in a district called Itaoa, and they'd had about three years of
experience and really had visible evidence of change.
Well, Point IV persuaded Life magazine to send photographers over
there, and they did a four-page spread on him. But what did they show,
they showed Horace Holmes doing everything, they didn't show the Indians
one damn thing, and when this document came out
Nehru and the government said if this is what they are going to do, they'll
destroy our people. If the Americans are going to say every time, every
place they have a person, they are going to get credit for it, we get
this in our effort to sell it to Congress, and we hurt the program tremendously,
he wasn't even shown -- didn't even show an Indian plowing and him showing
him how to use it.
In our efforts to sell it to Congress we just completely destroyed the
very concept we were trying to promote, which was the self-help program,
to help the people help themselves.
TAYLOR: The initial appropriations for the TCA, I believe thirty-even
and a half million dollars, was that a sufficient beginning?
ENSMINGER: Well, it was a beginning, and at that particular moment it
probably was all the
money they could effectively use, because the orientation in the beginning
We were talking about technical assistance with a little money to help
get ideas started, that's quite different from now in terms of big development
projects and loans. Now we found that you could -- I helped do some of
the early recruiting. We didn't have much trouble recruiting in the early
period because people wanted to go, it was a part of a great adventure,
I didn't have much more trouble recruiting for the early period than you
did for the Peace Corps, and then they didn't have all of the bureaucracy
in terms of what's involved in recruiting. So more of the responsibility
in the early period was placed on back in the countries and India with
Bowles having a direct line to Truman, there wasn't very much bureaucracy
involved in getting approval of things.
TAYLOR: What about the influence of the missionary work in terms of self-help
and Point IV in this initial stage?
ENSMINGER: Well, very much of the missionary work was drawn on to document
that the approaches they were talking about would work. In India, for
example, there were several very important agricultural missionary programs
sponsored by the YMCA. Spencer Hatch, and there were many others, so that
in the early period a country like India would have -- first it had the
very great documentation of Tegor and Gandhi's rural development programs,
and it had the programs of the missionaries, so they had experience to
draw on. And the interesting thing, during that period there was no stigma
of drawing on these missionary programs because these were not dictated
from outside, these
were not dictated from outside, these were very much oriented to the
people, and the people involved; they were what you call low-key programs.
The missionaries were not seeking headlines in terms of things they had
TAYLOR: Was there any initial negative response from trying to Christianize
Moslems, or to work with them, or similar problems.
ENSMINGER: Yes, but then you see, you get into a different kind of --
one there were missionaries over there who were development oriented,
and then there were missionaries who were proselytizing.
TAYLOR: What breakdown would you -- would you give a percentage?
ENSMINGER: Well, most of them were proselytizing and now the countries
did object to this once
they became independent, and India wrote into its constitution a provision
against any form of proselytizing for this mass of untouchables, the poverty
ridden group, so that missionaries or anybody else couldn't go out there
and say that if they were converted to join -- became Christians that
all their problems of poverty would be behind them, so there was some
TAYLOR: There was a beneficial help and a hindrance at the same time.
ENSMINGER: That's right, there was a great deal of tension in the early
period against certain of the missionaries, and this got misinterpreted
back in this country, that India and other countries were against Christianity,
or against missionaries, but this wasn't so at all. Prior to 1948 and
before the period of
decolonization, most any church would rally to support any member of
their church who wanted -- who simply said, "We feel the call to be a
missionary," anyplace in the world they'd raise money to support him.
Well, what we found in that early period an awfully lot of people who
are missionaries had no business being over there as missionaries. And
just like we found in the recruitment of peoples to go abroad in technical
assistance, a lot of people wanted to go shouldn't have gone and later
on we found out a little bit more about what was involved and said no
to a lot of people. And the churches now are taking the attitude that
the people go abroad and they will recruit, therefore have a voice in
who should go abroad. An awful lot of missionaries in India got into politics,
in the hill areas. So yes, there were positive and negative aspects.
TAYLOR: When the program was announced you had an outpouring of editorials,
many members of Congress were endorsing it, but six months after the announcement
there is virtually nothing; and when the proposal reaches Congress, there's
a year of indecision. Through this period you were in the Department of
Agriculture. Was there any internal strife between the State and Agriculture
ENSMINGER: Yes, there was strife in terms of who was really going to
manage it. Agriculture felt that if this was really going to be oriented
to self-help programs, oriented to the people, and since 80 to 85 percent
of the population in these developing countries lived in the rural areas
and were dependent upon agriculture, that Agriculture should have the
leadership for it. And State Department, yes, there was a great deal of
bickering on this
TAYLOR: Did you meet personally with Ben Hardy, who developed memoranda
for Point IV?
TAYLOR: What are your reflections of him?
ENSMINGER: He was like all the rest of them, and here we are 25 years
later, still not understanding and accepting that when we talk about the
developing countries we're talking about distinctly different cultures.
The reason I'm bringing in this orientation is that, in this whole area
of giving and receiving aid as related to the developing countries, it
would be very easy to document failures, to document mistakes we made.
I happen to believe that there was no way through this except to try.
Now, my main quarrel has been that the
things that haven't worked, people have jumped on them as failures, and
what we should do is look upon these as experiences. I don't see any more
reason why, when you're moving in this whole broad area of human behavior,
cultural change, why we have to assume with all the uncontrolled variables,
that everything we put together can be made to work.
TAYLOR: What prompted you to enter Government service with the Department
of Agricultural Economics in 1939?
ENSMINGER: Well, I would say that it was circumstances and decisions
of other people, not mine. When I graduated from Cornell in 1939, the
top rural sociologists around the United States were expressing concern
because they did not have a rural sociologist in the Department of Agriculture,
particularly the Bureau of
Agricultural Economics. And since the field that I was following, the
rural community, was at that time considered to be the heart of the contribution
of rural sociology; and since I was being trained under the top rural
sociologist in the United States, Professor Sanders of Cornell, they all
decided I was going to Washington under a Civil Service appointment. I
don't have any regrets that I did it now, but I was upset about it then
because somebody else was making the decisions for me. I feel sorry for
people who try to work in foreign countries just out of an academic background
and without Government experience because they blame everything
that doesn't work on that country's government, failing to understand
there are certain norms about government.
TAYLOR: You were with the USDA from 1939 to 1951.
During any period of this time were you connected with the Office of
Foreign Agricultural Relations?
ENSMINGER: Yes. My last 18 months I actually moved over to OFAR. I was
over there in the middle of '48, and the reason I moved over there again
was M. L. Wilson. Howard Tolley, then the Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural
Economics, and Stanley Andrews, all prevailed upon me to move over to
OFAR and put together an organizational structure to coordinate and manage
the training of foreign nationals who were coming to the United States
to study agriculture. At the time they asked me to take on this assignment
there were about four thousand foreign nationals in the United States,
nobody knew who they were or what they were doing. The land-grant institutions
complained to Washington: "We just simply can't live with this any longer,
a group of ten people which show up in a Dean's office, or a head of a
department unannounced saying, 'We're going to be here for three months
to study some aspects of agriculture.'"
So, I moved over and stayed on this assignment until I went to India.
During this period I developed a close working relationship with John
Hanna and with Stanley Andrews. John Hanna was in charge of land-grant
State Department aid, and a policy committee on training procedures. Together
we worked up the policies that said to an institution: "We will pay half
the salary of a person to coordinate the training programs on this campus,
and we pay a certain amount per diem for each foreign student who was
at the institution taking courses either undergraduate, graduate, and
we paid the tuition." I then formed a staff and we sent instructions out
to the foreign countries before people could leave
the country to come here for study, they had to send in certain information.
We had to know who was coming, what their backgrounds were, the assignments
that they were being trained for and how long they were to be here so
that by the time they arrived, we had a draft program agenda. We then
sat down face-to-face with them, and determined their training and program.
On this basis we began to get training programs, coordinated and tailored
to the needs of the country and we got the cooperation of the institutions.
TAYLOR: Was this approach in turn reversed when the TCA began to send
people to underdeveloped areas?
ENSMINGER: To a certain extent.
TAYLOR: Margaret Meade made some studies in this
particular period for the U.S. Government in regard to the cultural differences
between developed and underdeveloped areas. Did these reports ever reach
you and, if so, were they used?
ENSMINGER: I knew Margaret Meade personally and was aware of her efforts.
I was always fortunate during my period in Washington working with people
who understood culture, for example, Howard Tolley, one of the top agriculture
economists, M. L. Wilson, Carl Taylor, Stanley Andrews all were very savvy
people in terms of other cultures.
TAYLOR: In the USDA, and more specifically in OFAR, was there any consideration
of political objectives in terms of long-range goals in economic development
and technical assistance programs? Was there any kind of a unifying goal
that could be
identified in this particular period, 1948 through '52?
ENSMINGER: I don't think so. I think at that particular period the orientation
was pretty heavily humanitarian. I think it was then simply recognizing
these countries had come into being. They had great poverty and the leaders
had great commitments to improve the living conditions of the poor people.
I have thought about this a great deal but I never detected that there
was any great design. I think if you look at Truman's background he just
felt that we needed to offer to help these people succeed.
TAYLOR: In this period was there any concern about the long-range plans
that were being formulated for economic development, in particular effecting
population growth, or did we look beyond the
immediate problems that we perceived, that perhaps in solving these problems
we might create additional problems?
ENSMINGER: I didn't sense any discussion on population until I went to
India in '51, and it's interesting to me since I did have a continuous
dialogue with people in India on it, and interestingly enough it was in
the middle fifties that I saw an opportunity to help India create a non-government
institute on population and family planning. At that time the government
of India was in a position to consider it, and send back a proposal to
the Ford Foundation. They ducked it. They have been the ones since then
who are so strong for everybody to do something about population, but
they weren't ready then, nobody was ready on this side at that point to
deal with this
question of population.
TAYLOR: Well, it seems like in '39 through '52 that one should have realized
that increased aid, and better living standards was going to decrease
the mortality rate, and in some proportion brought this population question
to the forefront.
ENSMINGER: We had at the time of Truman's announcement of the Point IV
program just coming to the end of our major role in the ERP: a program
of money because they had institutions, they had the know-how, and our
basic concern was to get them back on their feet for international trade.
Okay, when we looked then over at the developing countries I would say
there were very few people who really understood at that particular
moment what the implications were, because the people who began to come
Point IV were the people in the ERP. It took us a long time to really
understand the gut issues.
TAYLOR: Wasn't some of this problem compounded by the developing countries
expecting aid on the level of the ERP?
ENSMINGER: Yes, many of them felt that we were being stingy in contrast
with what they knew we spent in ERP. I think that all of us might have
faced up to these realities, and much earlier. They didn't have to face
the gut issues, we weren't pressing them to face the gut issues.
TAYLOR: While you were in the USDA were you in contact at any time with
the SERVICO program of the Institute for Inter-American Affairs in Latin
ENSMINGER: I was very close to them. In fact, I was in the process of
being employed by them to be in charge of their agricultural program for
Latin America in 1951. The only reason that I didn't join them is that
the Ford Foundation hired me a week before I was to transfer over there,
so I know a great deal about them.
TAYLOR: Explain their approach and its success or failure?
ENSMINGER: Well, their approach was very much like what had been developed
in Taiwan. It was a joint approach. The SERVICO had a representative in
a country and the local government designated a person and together they
made the decisions. They were not down there in an advisory capacity,
they were in a partnership capacity. It was quite different,
from Africa, Asia, and other areas.
TAYLOR: The State Department appears, on the face, to be a stumbling
block on Point IV. Were you familiar with Willard Thorp, who was in charge
of the Point IV program? Bob Lovett, Acting Secretary of State had turned
down Hardy's memorandum several times. From your view, what was the thinking
in the State Department that just absolutely would not let them grasp
ENSMINGER: Well, I think that one has to answer this with a sympathetic
understanding that State Department traditionally was political oriented,
not development oriented. And I don't think that the State Department,
then nor now, has shown great understanding in terms of the differences
TAYLOR: I'm assuming that your saying in terms of
priorities in foreign policy, that in this period the Third World just
received a low priority.
ENSMINGER: That's right. And, the interesting thing is that's still true.
We didn't have any great difficulty giving the kind of money appropriated
for the ERP because that was our first priority in terms of the world,
and if you wanted to really find out how slow we are in terms of recognizing
the existence of the rest of the world.
TAYLOR: Was there any consideration of expanding this type of program
in the underdeveloped areas of the Third World?
ENSMINGER: Well, there was some discussion, but I can tell you why it
never did. You can't imagine how deep were the scars of colonialism in
these countries emerging from the colonial era until you got inside one
of them. India would have been in trouble politically if Nehru would have
developed a cooperative program with a country like the United States,
a major power, where we were participating openly in policy and program
decisions. He just couldn't have accepted it.
TAYLOR: Well, how were we able to effect this in Latin America then?
ENSMINGER: In Latin America you had pretty high percentage of dictators
-- they weren't vulnerable to political opposition, it's quite a different
political mix from other areas.
TAYLOR: In this period of when the ERP was passed, the Rockefeller Foundation
and the Ford Foundation were actively engaged in economic development
Also OFAR was actively engaged in these types of programs. What was the
major problem that the Agriculture Department did not get more input into,
not only the Point IV program, but these other programs that were slowly
evolving in this post-World War II period?
ENSMINGER: I was in the Office of Foreign Agricultural Services at that
particular time. And it's interesting to me that the early implementation
of the universities' involvement that Hanna offered to the Point IV program,
Agriculture handled. Actually I participated in drawing up the first cooperative
agreement between the universities in this country and the universities
in Latin America.
Very early there developed a conflict between Agriculture and the Point
IV office in terms of who was in charge.
TAYLOR: Anybody in particular involved in this controversy?
ENSMINGER: No, it was just normal bureaucracy.
TAYLOR: Was it at the Secretary level, or was it at the department level?
ENSMINGER: It was at the top in foreign aid. At that particular time
Point IV aid was also struggling for a position of prestige, power, and
influence. In the Agriculture Department, we had a very aggressive fellow
in the office of Foreign Agricultural Relations, Denny Moore. He pulled
for this program over in Agriculture, but it's the old story of those
who control the money, more frequently than not, if there's any question
who's going to follow the tune, they call it.
TAYLOR: Did Truman or Acheson either one ever intervene
on behalf of Point IV?
ENSMINGER: I don't think so, I think this was just a strictly bureaucratic
struggle and AID [Agency for International Development] won.
TAYLOR: How did OFAR react to the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford
Foundation's efforts in terms of private enterprise and private capital
in the direction of American foreign aid in this very early crucial period?
ENSMINGER: So far as I could determine then, highly supportive, because
they weren't a threat in any way to the Department of Agriculture.
TAYLOR: Was there any transmitting of knowledge back and forth, if the
Ford Foundation was going to do such and such in India, was the Agriculture
Department aware of it?
ENSMINGER: Interestingly enough in that particular period we carried
out cooperative projects to the advantage of everybody. The Ford Foundation
for example preceded Point IV aid in India, and we were engaged in providing
funds for what turned out to be ten pilot bloc development projects and
five training centers to train people to fill these.
When Point IV came along, Chester Bowles was the Ambassador and he wanted
to be sure that continued funding was available for India, and he wanted
AID to participate in what Nehru considered his priority program -- rural
It didn't make any sense to me for the Ford Foundation to say, "You guys
stay out of this." They had money and wanted to participate. I worked
out an arrangement with the two governments -- where this was a cooperative
effort, and AID provided people with county agent background who went
into these ten blocs and they provided people from extension and vocational
agriculture to go into these training centers.
This approach was rejected, and at that time, we didn't have the bureaucracy
we have now. I made clear to everybody that these were not the Ford Foundation's
projects, these were the Government of India's and so there was a great
deal of cooperation.
TAYLOR: Would you care to comment on the transition when the State Department
began the Agency for International Development?
ENSMINGER: When we moved away from the earlier Point IV program formation,
priorities were more country determined. When AID came along and began
to build a big structure, Washington
increasingly said these are our priorities.
TAYLOR: Now when you say "Washington," you mean the State Department?
ENSMINGER: State Department and AID said these are our priorities, and
this is where we'll put our money.
TAYLOR: What were those priorities?
ENSMINGER: They moved the approach into the big development projects.
That's when foreign aid began to move into the philosophy of economic
growth measured by GNP, on the theory that the big projects would create
a base for increasing employment opportunities by generating wealth, and
the effects of this would trickle down to the poor.
TAYLOR: Was this decision by country or area?
ENSMINGER: It was all over.
TAYLOR: Was there any continents or geographical areas that were excluded?
ENSMINGER: Not that I know of.
TAYLOR: Just randomly by political objectives?
ENSMINGER: Yes. To me it was a real tragedy because in the process by
which funds were appropriated on a year by year basis, and many times
appropriations never being made until you are half through the year, it
was always to me a rather crude process by which programs were imposed
upon countries. And I was embarrassed by seeing my own government in a
situation where they would drive the best bargain to use the money before
they lost it.
But if you had ten million dollars at the end of a year, or 20 million,
or 50 million or a hundred million, uncommitted, and then ask
for a large appropriation next year, Congress would say, "Well, you can't
manage the money we're giving you." So it's the old story, if you're going
to get money from Federal or State appropriations you better not have
money lying around at the end of the fiscal year.
TAYLOR: This leads in turn to a very interesting approach to foreign
policy in this period, and I'm speaking specifically of Dean Acheson and
John Foster Dulles, who attempted to formulate a foreign policy against
communism. In that particular time frame, we had Point IV, and the Technical
Cooperation Administration was operating, when Eisenhower takes office
the whole emphasis of the program is switched to the Mutual Security Pacts,
and at the same time we are still publicly announcing that we want to
prevent the Third World from
succumbing to the Communist threat, but then we're unable to provide
programs in terms of outreach. There's a basic inconsistency in this.
ENSMINGER: I saw all this unfold.
TAYLOR: Explain that.
ENSMINGER: Okay, first let me tell you that I went over to India really
under Paul Hoffman who had been one of the key administrators in the ERP
and took over the presidency of the Ford Foundation, in January '51. When
he went to India in August of '51, people said, "Why are you in such a
hurry to take the Ford Foundation to India?" And he said, "Well, I know
the European community, I don't know the subcontinent, but it's my feeling
the peace of the world for generations to come is going to be determined
by what happens on the subcontinent.
And therefore, I want to go there and see if there's a role for the Foundation."
Well, he went there, and he was invited by India for the Foundation to
come there. He came back to the U.S., recruited me, and sent me there.
Now, during the '51, '52, '53 he came into India at least twice a year,
not to see me, but to see Nehru, but because I was there with the Ford
Foundation, he always took me along. Why did he come see Nehru? He went
to see Nehru to see if they couldn't find some way to keep the John Foster
Dulles approach from really blacking out and blocking out mainland China.
TAYLOR: Again, can we carry that to the other nations of the Third World,
towards Africa, towards the Mid-East?
ENSMINGER: Okay, but now you see, the John Foster
Dulles approach, and again one has to recognize he couldn't have done
it if it hadn't been a setting where he got a following. As we came out
of World War II, we came out of World War II with a psychosis about communism,
we also extended this over to anything and everything that had the word
"socialism" in it. One of the reasons why we've always had tensions with
India, they used democratic socialism, and socialism to us means the same
things as Mussolini and Fascism.
Now, the Paul Hoffman, and the Truman approach earlier, was that poverty
is the ground on which communism feeds, and if you really want to make
the world safe for democracy, and without communism being a threat, you
must make it possible for these poor people to achieve some of the essentials
of life, and opportunities to earn a living
free from fear and hunger. That was why Paul Hoffman said if India could
do it, other nations would come along. Now, here Eisenhower came along,
and John Foster Dulles, with military security pacts. At that point we
mixed up, all in one package, economic aid, military aid, and technical
assistance. I was in India when India was offered the opportunity for
a military pact, to join us, and Nehru said no.
Well, at that particular moment, Dulles and the rest of the people back
here said, "Well, if India isn't with us they must be against us." The
fact that India wouldn't join us in the military pact, we interpreted
as India was against us. Nehru simply said, "We've struggled too long
to gain our freedom. If we join any major power in a military pact we're
back under colonial rule again, it's still colonialism.
So, Nehru said no. This was at the period when the Kashmir issue was
a red hot issue between India and Pakistan. Pakistan said, "Well, we'll
join you in a military pact."
They hadn't the slightest notion, I knew it then, and I know it now,
of using our military aid for any other thing than hopefully to settle
the Kashmir issue, which history has proven to be true. but we were prepared
to put guns and ammunition in the hands of any of these governments that
would join us in some sort of military alliance because this was our way
of saying the military alliances were going to block off the march of
TAYLOR: Don't you find in John Foster Dulles' activities a consistency
with Dean Acheson under Truman, or not?
ENSMINGER: Well, I think there's some consistencies
there, but my own feeling is that Dean Acheson's understanding of the
world, the culture, was considerably different from Dulles'.
TAYLOR: In what ways?
ENSMINGER: Well, Dulles just had one approach to this. I think Dean Acheson
saw people. I think Dean Acheson understood Nehru's problem with dealing
with poverty, I don't think Dulles did. I think Dulles felt that if you
had political leaders that were committed to defending themselves and
using our military, this would prevail. But I think Acheson saw something
more than this.
TAYLOR: Well, you know, Acheson never was warm to Point IV and in his
memoirs he refers to it as "the Cinderella of foreign policy."
ENSMINGER: He was more oriented to the economic
TAYLOR: More like Europe.
ENSMINGER: Yes. Now, the thing that has gotten in our way over the years
in terms of really being effective in foreign aid, I think one of the
greatest disservices to international economic assistance was Eisenhower
and Dulles mixing these two together with military, economic, and technical
assistance, because we used the economic aid to -- bargained with countries
that would take our military aid, give them back economic aid. Look at
the amount of economic aid we poured into Pakistan. We simply underwrote
their economy to underpin that military establishment. That's exactly
what we did.
TAYLOR: Do you see, in that particular aspect,
an internal consistency in our program that would allow a country to
look at economic aid as exploitation, or colonization of another form?
ENSMINGER: Yes. During this early period when we were having trouble
getting appropriation through Congress, even for the simplest economic
aid, before we got all tangled up with military, U.S. Senators, Congressmen,
cables from the State Department went back to Bowles, people went over
there, flew over there to talk to Nehru to get Nehru to make a public
statement begging, asking, urging, U.S. Congress to pass aid so India
could be helped.
I saw Nehru on one occasion and he said, "Ensminger, your country will
never understand." He told me of these people that had been to see him,
Congressmen, Senators, representatives
from the Embassy over there, pleading with him to make some kind of a
positive statement, publicly. He said, "Look, as the leader of this country
with all of our problems and all of our poverty, if I now stand up and
say we have to be helped, that doesn't mean we can't -- we don't need
help. It doesn't mean I wouldn't be grateful for it, but if I now stand
up and publicly plead for help," he says, "I've lost my influence in saying
to this country of mine that we've got to learn to stand on our own feet."
And then he gave me this illustration, he said, "It's kind of like this
morning," he said, "if I had gotten up this morning and not feeling very
well, and had called my doctor and said, 'You bring a nurse along,' and
the doctor came over to see me, and if I had said to the doctor, 'Now
is it all right if I get up if the nurse is with me?"'
He said, "My doctor, if he had any sense would say, 'You stay in bed.
If you're not well enough to get up, stay in bed.' Now," he said, "if
I had done what you people wanted to, then I would be simply saying right
off we can't do it without your help," and he said, "the other thing is
I would then very quickly find myself having put my country back in terms
of a kind of sub-role of a colony, because then we would be saying, 'We
are dependent upon you.'"
Well, you see, just to show you how this whole question of how deep these
scars of colonialism are, in the early sixties there was a great movement
to get India to build fertilizer plants, and the Bechtel Engineering Corporation,
one of the finest international engineering corporations in the world,
they were motivated to become interested in State Department aid and others,
so they sent a big
staff over there and staffed it out, and were prepared to build eleven
fertilizer plants and had the money backed up to do it. India turned them
down. And people said, "Well, if we can't help a country on this basis,
let them go."
Well, okay, here's what Nehru said, "If any one giant corporation has
eleven fertilizer plants, they can control the fertilizer policies, the
pricing of fertilizer in India. This is a form of colonialism, and," he
said, "we can't live with it."
TAYLOR: But could we on a foreign policy level come down one on one,
increase food production on the county agent model in India and overcome
this built-in fear?
ENSMINGER: Yes, because, you see, when you're down at that level, in
other words, if we'd
have stayed by the Truman concept it was their program it was under their
leadership, and we weren't pouring in enough money, nor did we have any
intention in the first period of trying to buy a change of policy.
Let me give you an illustration of what I'm talking about when we talk
about buying policy changes. When I first went to Tanganyika, now
three and a half years ago, the State Department, and AID in Washington,
they told me and the other members of our team in very clear language,
"Don't you get over there and get caught supporting that Uganda village,"
which was a commune type of an approach.
Well, we got over there, and with all my background I looked at this
whole thing and said, "Well, okay, here's a country that McNamara talks
about 40 percent of the people in the Third World being in poverty, they've
got about 94 to 96 percent of them in poverty. And what they were talking
about in this Uganda village was simply saying that if they followed the
traditional approach of big money into industry, that 96 percent of the
people are going to be poorer than ever. So they simply had policies,
they simply said all the people must be beneficiaries, so we came out
in support of it.
Well, the interesting thing was, and we were told then, they were seeking
a big loan, they were going to use this loan to buy a change of policy.
But when I went over there three years ago in September, I got a completely
different story, in which they said very clearly, "Go there and look at
this loan." This was the 11 million dollar loan I was over there evaluating,
"This time we want to make clear we're talking about a loan to
help underwrite the things they want to do, not to use this to change
Now, this was a State Department, in September a year ago, was still
anti-Socialism in this socialistic approach. My guess is, if I were back
in the State Department now with Kissinger's visit over there, that they
are also now in support of what Tanganyika is trying to do in terms of
Uganda village, but somehow or another you know we have used military
aid to support our policies and influence theirs. And one of the things
we do with this big economic aid, is to buy policies, and it's interesting
that we were doing it with our food.
Now, Congress has written into the legislation that 70 percent of this
food aid has to go to the countries most in need of food. But I
tell you, I just think we would have
a different world scene today if the Truman Point IV program had really
been understood as we're now talking about it, and had been implemented
consistently through the last 25 years.
TAYLOR: This raises another question, getting back to the 1949 through
'51 period when Point IV was in Congress. Was there any input to Congress
from the USDA?
Now, what I'm referring to specifically is that the IIAA was funded to
extend through 1954, in this period when Point IV legislation was before
Congress. Congress enacted that legislation, but did not act on Point
IV. Was there any problems that evolved in that action between Congress
and the USDA?
ENSMINGER: Not that I could ever determine. There seemed to have been
an early acceptance that there
was going to be one type of a program in Latin America for that commitment,
and I never saw any evidence that that was ever challenged.
TAYLOR: How much influence did Nelson Rockefeller have on that particular
ENSMINGER: Well, I don't think there's any question but what Nelson Rockefeller
had a great deal of influence.
TAYLOR: What about Averell Harriman and Christian Herter?
ENSMINGER: You mean in terms of leaving that program alone? My guess
is that Rockefeller had a great deal of influence over them. Rockefeller's
motives have never been questioned on terms of what he tried to get out
of it personally, and he has always been a very astute public relations
man, with a competent staff around him.
TAYLOR: Did Rockefeller actively support Point IV at the lower level?
ENSMINGER: As a concept, yes. I was never aware that he gave it any push,
but he was always highly supportive. For example, one time in '52 when
I came back home from India, he had been in touch with the Ford Foundation
and wanted to see me. I went up to his house in Washington to have dinner
with him one evening. He had his key staff there on the Latin American
program. He was openly supportive of assistance in these developing countries.
TAYLOR: Looking back to that crucial 18 months after the inaugural address,
who do you think was at fault? Was it in the Executive Branch, was it
in the Agriculture Department, the State Department, was it in all of
ENSMINGER: Well, I think this came out of the White
House in terms of the whole period of the Eisenhower-Dulles military
assistance, and then, of course, we found that if we were going to give
them military assistance I'd say that we had to pour enough into the economies
to prop up the economies, and the people who were making the policy decisions
simply didn't believe that the world poor were any great threat to the
world. You know, there was a -- and there still is -- but it's changing.
When I first went to India and began to understand poverty, people always
said, "Well, history tells us that the revolutions never come out of the
rural areas, they always come out of the urban areas, so you don't have
to worry about this."
The interesting thing in these developing countries -- blame is not the
issue, it's understanding. The political leaders in these developing countries,
while they initially had
a commitment to the poor people that grew out of their struggle for independence,
they very quickly began to find their position of leadership was attached
to the things that had a prestige symbol, a big dam, a fertilizer plant,
a steel plant, these were politically prestigious. Smokestacks were the
symbol of moving toward industrialization. I used to have the very distinct
feeling that if we had of talked to India 25 years ago about staying by
the bullets and doing more to provide the small farmers a better hoe,
they would have thought we wanted to keep them a peasant society. So,
we've got to be careful that, as I said earlier, blame is not what we
are trying to get at, we're trying to get at understanding.
TAYLOR: Briefly, are you familiar with Nelson Rockefeller and the Rockefeller
Foundation efforts in the post-World War II period in
ENSMINGER: Yes, because I was in the process of being recruited by Nelson
Rockefeller to head up his agricultural program in Latin America and would
have joined them had the Foundation delayed one more week to recruit me.
So, I'm very familiar with this.
TAYLOR: Would you expound on their approach?
ENSMINGER: Their approach was very similar to the approach in Taiwan,
where we and the government formed a kind of a joint policy
management unit to decide what needed to be done and to share in the decisions
in terms of carrying out the programs.
In terms of the way we've operated from the Point IV on, in all these
other countries, except in a few cases in Africa, where we did move in
to key positions because they didn't have anybody
to move in, the general orientation has been the countries administer,
in U.S. whether it's through the Government aid or the Foundation, or
an adviser and consultant to it, but the Latin American was a joint operation.
They set up their corporations, and that approach had a lot of merit.
TAYLOR: Rockefeller made a fact-finding mission for Truman when Point
IV bogged down in Congress, the Rockefeller report, he didn't win any
enthusiastic support, and that was a key period.
ENSMINGER: It is just quite possible though that as he traveled around
the country and looked at this, he saw this psychosis about colonialism.
What you could do in Latin America and what we were able to do in Taiwan
under -- I think one would have to say a semi-dictator type of government
-- and what we were able to do in South
Korea and in Japan really under military rule for a period of time, just
couldn't have been done in other countries.
I've been greatly impressed at the way these countries as they developed
political parties, had to be very careful in terms of giving an indication
that somebody else is calling the signals.
TAYLOR: Briefly, in this post-World War II period, do you think the underdeveloped
areas themselves recognized the cultural shock problem?
TAYLOR: In other words, we pointed out that our Government didn't understand
what the level of foreign aid needed to be. Did the countries themselves
ENSMINGER: No, you see, I think the greatest shock
they came to was this. There was a general feeling in all of these countries
and I saw it very clearly in India, a feeling that all of their problems
were related to colonial rule. And once they became free to manage all
affairs, all these problems would disappear.
What they found, and what became very bitter and disillusioning for them,
was to recognize that if anything, their problems became more complex,
because the demands of the people became more pronounced and that they
had few solutions. And that they were going to have to face up to -- that
the problems that they were dealing with were going to be with them for
generations, and not something that would go away in a two or five-year
plan. Country after country has had to face up to the fact of this phenomenon
that someone or another thought that -- and many times I saw their problems
have been more difficult. Now take Tanganyika, when that country became
free practically all of the key positions were occupied by foreigners,
and when the new government felt it could not honor their pension, most
of them left.
So, from a manpower point of view they were worse off than they were
under the colonial period. At times in the past there were eleven people
in a country of fourteen and a half million who had some training and
competence to carry on agricultural research.
TAYLOR: Well, I think our discussion has led us to a very important point
of foreign aid that perhaps has not been given the attention due, and
I just ask for your general reflection and take it however you want.
Can private enterprise and government direction, be it through
Department of Agriculture or the State Department, can they be united
into an effective program towards the underdeveloped world? Particularly
in that postwar period we've got a tremendous controversy of the role
of private enterprise, and I'm thinking specifically of the controversy
in the Senate on foreign investment guarantees.
ENSMINGER: Well, this has been an issue. Now, just reflecting back on
this, when India made the decision in the second five-year plan which
began -- the first plan started in '52, the second one in '57 -- to move
from an emphasis on agriculture to an emphasis on heavy industry, India
actually invited help from the U.S. in building the first public
government steel mill. They wanted to build two steel mills. Well, this
one couldn't be sold back in the United States even though many people
TAYLOR: They'd go for fertilizer plants but not for
ENSMINGER: But they didn't want this, when the people kept saying, "We
will be building up competition, we'll be further underwriting their socialism,
and" -- it was during that period that Brezhnev visited India and while
he was in India said, "Oh, you want some help on steel mills, we'll help
Well, he began to see how influence and the critical role of our deep
commitment to private enterprise as the only approach, and their commitments
to socialism. And because we would not help them with the public sector
steel mill, this had an effect of moving India increasingly to where they
are today, very closely allied with Russia.
This question of socialism is an interesting thing. At one time one of
the influential trustees of the Ford Foundation was Donald David, who
was then the dean of the Harvard School of Business, and was a member
of the board of a number of large industrial corporations: General Electric,
Ford Motor Company, you name them, he was on their board, and, as you
would imagine, a very committed private enterprise man.
Well, he saw what I was doing in India and being so supportive of things
the Government was doing, so he decided to come over to India and I think
straighten me out. Well, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to try
to tell him what to think, I was simply going to show him a cross-section
So, I met he and his wife, new wife, down in Calcutta, and the first
day I took them 90 miles north to show them a little village where their
industrialization was at the barter level, the blacksmith made a razor,
made a stoop, they exchanged no money.
The next day I took them over to see steel mills, one of the most modern
steel mills in the world; let them see a private enterprise. The next
day I took him over to Madras and showed him a government operated coach
industry, one of the best managed industries in all of India. Showed him
public, showed him private, I showed him poverty, I showed him the elite.
In ten days I made an appointment to see Nehru, and he said, "Mr. Prime
Minister, if I were the Prime Minister over here, I would support what
you are supporting."
He said, "I understand what you are talking about now." He said, "What
you're talking about is equality of opportunity, that's what socialism
means to you."
TAYLOR: But how do you translate the individual
understanding that David was able to obtain?
ENSMINGER: You've got to get that back. Yes, but what I'm saying is,
here these countries were really -- their commitment was that whatever
decisions they take had to have an impact and an influence on the
masses of the poor people. And our orientation was free enterprise.
TAYLOR: For the elite.
ENSMINGER: For the elite, but we didn't understand it that way.
TAYLOR: We tried one thing and did the opposite.
ENSMINGER: Okay, but you see, when we got into the period what you call
"big economic aid," the whole theory that was, "You don't work at the
problems of poverty, where poverty is, you work at building big economic
enterprises, these will generate employment, this will increase your
GNP, and you will have a trickle-down benefit to the poor." Now that
was the theory in which we were operating.
TAYLOR: But there was opposition to that theory, with Benjamin Hardy,
with Bennett, with Stanley Andrews, but where did we fail to get across
from one track to the other?
ENSMINGER: I think one of the most unfortunate things happened to us
was Bennett's death in terms of this concept of the Truman Point IV program,
because I think most people feel that probably he alone, at that period,
understood what Truman was talking about and was committed to it.
TAYLOR: Well, I think the TCA lost thirteen of its top seventeen advisers
and policy men in that one plane crash.
ENSMINGER: Yes and from that point forward, you begin to get the infiltration
of the other point of view.
Now, coming back here to our private enterprise, I'm not anti-private
enterprise, what I'm simply saying is, we've got to look at it from the
point of view of how most of these people are going to be benefited. And
you know the people in these countries that we're dealing with, they're
not the poor, they're the elitest. And I can tell you this, they do not
see their poor people.
I can tell you a conversation I had with -- who was then the Secretary
of Finance, B. K. Nehru, who later became Ambassador to the United States.
I went in to see him when he was Secretary of Finance simply because one
day I had an appointment with him during the lunch hour, I just felt we
were getting no support in terms of agriculture programs, and I went
to see him. And he was stretched out on his divan and said, "Ah, hell,
Doug, we're not going to do anything about it until a couple of million
people die of starvation, then you can do something about it."
And I got up and said, "B.K. so far as I'm concerned you can go square
to hell, I'm not going to have any part of a discussion like this," and
And several years later he said, "You remember that conversation?"
I said, "All I can say, buddy, you've got guts."
He said, "I've also got to tell you you're right."
Now, I used to ask myself why the elitest who run these governments,
the political leaders, don't see poor people. I can only come to one conclusion,
they've always been there,
they're part of the landscape. The things that the political leaders
have not seen as different, they are now responsible for doing something
about this, before they could blame it on the colonial powers.
And the other thing that's in this picture, and this is why I think that
if the Truman approach historically could have been pulled off it would
have made all the difference. At the time these countries gained their
independence the people in the rural areas, which constitute 85 to 90
percent of the people, they had come to accept what they have today was
all they were going to have tomorrow. There was no such thing as hope
for mass expectations.
Now, fortunately, it was fortunate this was so, other words you would
have had complete mental collapse. But very early in the period
of independence, these countries began -- these people began to realize
this was no longer the case. Now, I can go out, and as I did in the early
fifties, and talk to these building people and ask them and said, "Suppose
you carry out these new practices and have fifty rupees an acre profit,
what are you going to do with it?" We got no answer. But today you ask
those people what they want that they don't have and they'll tell you.
TAYLOR: Do you accept the thesis that World War II thrust an advanced
technology, specifically in Northern Africa, in Southeast Asia, in the
underdeveloped areas, that the mechanization that was shown to people
indirectly through World War II created what some authors will call the
"revolution of rising expectations?"
ENSMINGER: Well, what one has to realize is
that they created a revolution of rising expectation primarily for the
middle class, not for this group of people that MacNamara now defines
as the 40 percent of the people who are living in dire poverty, because
those people are still outside all the policies, all the institutions,
all the services, and it was this group that we really started out by
sending it out.
Let me come back to this military thing again, and also to our policies
on economic aid. Because we moved to military alliances and economic aid
in big projects, and because we had surplus food grains which we were
anxious to make available, and even get rid of, and sold them very cheap
concessional rates, the political leaders in these countries in the early
period when they could have been forced by circumstances to provide
for major reforms, didn't have to.
TAYLOR: We're back to 1948.
ENSMINGER: What we essentially did, through the military systems pact,
was made it possible for the small elitist to further entrench themselves,
to further institutionalize themselves, to further exploit their poor
people. And this has also been what has happened in terms of our insistence
that the only way to do this is private enterprise.
Now, we think we are greatly enlightened in this country, but we haven't
always been. Look at the sweat shops in the garment industries, in the
thirties? You go to these countries where we, in this context of the elitist,
where we've helped build these great big industries, we have made it possible
for a few people to get very rich. And they've gotten rich off the
back of the poor. It is going to be many times more difficult, short
of a revolution, to bring about the necessary reforms in these countries
than would have been the case had the Truman approach to this thing been
understood and have been institutionalized and have become our instrument
for helping these countries.
You see, we were very well oriented to land reforms. And look, the land
reforms programs in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, these were ours, but
then when we got over in this other method of assisting, my guess is a
lot of these leaders said, "Look I'll take your military aid, but you
get off my back on land reform."
TAYLOR: Well, it appears that we keep coming to this point, that somewhere
between 1948 and 1951 or ‘52 that the opportunity was present.
ENSMINGER: It was.
TAYLOR: That we failed to grasp it, and then we have been searching for
the last 20 years trying to get back to that. Now, how important in 1948,
was it to examine the Institute for Inter-American Affairs? The World
Bank was functioning yet, I believe, we had the Export-Import Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, Truman eventually gave over to the United
Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Committee, we had so many different
organizations that we were funding and again I think of Harvey Firestone.
ENSMINGER: Well, you know, there was a great deal of discussion about
using the Nelson Rockefeller Latin American approach, which was an independent
corporation, the State Department didn't want any part of it, they wanted
to manage this thing, they wanted it, because it was a new
source of power for them.
TAYLOR: Who in the State Department was particularly influenced by this
massive injection approach of foreign aid? I think we've mentioned Acheson,
and Chip Bohlen.
ENSMINGER: Well, I think Acheson was one of them because I think most
people will give Acheson high marks in terms of being an outstanding Secretary
of State. Acheson I don't think had any way, in his background to deal
with those problems.
TAYLOR: Now, you've touched a very important issue.
ENSMINGER: The ability to identify himself with the poor people.
TAYLOR: Was there anyone in the State Department
at that time that could perceive the problem?
TAYLOR: Where did you lose out? In the Agricultural Department we had
ENSMINGER: Well, this is true, I worked as a special assistant to two
of the people in the Department of Agriculture, one was M. L. Wilson,
who was under Henry Wallace, the Under Secretary of Agriculture, and the
man who designed practically all the New Deal agricultural program. And
as early as 1946, I've got a document here, they just found it the other
day, he put me in charge of organizing, he said, "We can't call it a world
conference, but that's what it'll be." A conference to talk about the
contribution of extension methods and techniques to the rehabilitation
of the war-torn countries
in the new independent countries. Well, this man talked culture, he didn't
talk economic development, and I remember over and over again in the first
period of sending these people abroad under the Point IV program, the
county agents and the vocational agriculture teachers, of M. L. Wilson
saying, "It isn't our extension structure that we have to offer, it's
In the first speech M. L. Wilson gave when he moved from Under Secretary
of Agriculture to Extension Director, was given down in Atlanta, Georgia
and the title of it was, "The Cultural Approach to Extension." Well, at
that time I suspect half of the extension directors in this country had
come into their positions with a background of animal husbandry and they
said, "My God, what do we have now, an extension director who is oriented
Well, now here was a man who was people, cultural, Truman Point IV oriented.
But when this moved over to State and where State was calling the signals,
it really moved very quickly to economic aid.
TAYLOR: Was there ever a movement in Agriculture to get the program?
ENSMINGER: They didn't have the muscle.
TAYLOR: Didn't have anyone that could?
ENSMINGER: They didn't have the muscle to do it.
TAYLOR: You know Hardy put his job on the line to get that memorandum
ENSMINGER: But they didn't -- as I look back on this, the Point IV program
lost its direction and never regained it with the loss of Bennett, and
right after that there was an insurgence for power, and the people in
terms of big economic aid approach and then as I say soon thereafter the
-- four years later when Eisenhower came in we didn't have the slightest
notion what it was all about, or else he didn't care less.
TAYLOR: Well, during the Eisenhower period I would judge that you're
saying that we were just aimlessly drifting?
ENSMINGER: Because Eisenhower gave, at least by implication, Dulles felt
he had a blank check to say whatever he wanted to say at any particular
moment, and he had one orientation and that was to rid the world against
communism through military impact.
TAYLOR: But you know, that also carries that economic connotation.
ENSMINGER: Okay, but I say we found that the countries bargained with
TAYLOR: How much impact do you think the Korean war had on our attitude
in foreign policy, it was changed from preventing Communist revolutions
in the underdeveloped world, and then suddenly over night it became a
shooting war. And Acheson, really, his gut reaction was to stop them.
ENSMINGER: Yes. Well, my feeling is that had the same kind of influence
in terms of souring us on international involvement the same as Vietnam,
of just simply saying, "We've had it, let them manage their own affairs,
let's stay home."
ENSMINGER: Yes, and again coming back to Paul Hoffman,
and then you see when he left the Foundation and went to the U.N. and
he found, was greatly concerned that following that particular period
of Korea that we really wanted to move into a period of isolationism and
he spent a great deal of time trying to -- well, of organizing U.N. groups
throughout the United States. And he said to me at one time, "If we had
25 people in the United States, of stature, and who really understood
the great issues of the world, they could swing public opinion in this
country, but," he said, "we don't have them."
TAYLOR: What is your assessment of the U.N. in this crucial period of
post-World War II? Did it function as envisioned, or could it have?
ENSMINGER: Well, I don't think it functioned as it was envisioned to
function, but I think it's probably its greatest contribution has been,
and there has always been the forum on which there could be the public
TAYLOR: Does its bureaucratic structure, is it internally able to carry
on a significant aspect of economic aid in terms of people to people approach?
ENSMINGER: Okay, let's just take two recent things because I think a
couple of things that have happened recently are significant enough in
terms of what I see them influencing world history to start our discussion.
I had the feeling that the U.N. General Assembly in September '75 on
the new world order, may turn out to be one of the most significant debates
that's ever been held by U.N. in terms of what may come of it, because
this was -- and that was the only forum in which it could have taken place.
That was the
beginning of the debate in which the developing countries of the world
said there's got to be a more equitable sharing of the world's resources.
Now, for the first time, we in this country are beginning to face up
to the fact that we can no longer have the world's mineral resources at
our price, and for us to exploit as we choose.
TAYLOR: But that raises an interesting point that the way they got their
recognition was to take the English colonial model. In other words, they
created a cartel in oil, and that's the way they forced the issue back
to the developed world.
ENSMINGER: Okay, but that was the oil producing countries, I'm talking
now in terms of a hundred and some other countries in mineral wealth.
Okay, they are simply saying, "If you don't agree we'll form a cartel."
ENSMINGER: Okay, but all I'm saying is, the U.N. is the only forum which
out of this could have come. Okay, let's take another one. At the time
people were willing to say that the U.N. World Population Conference held
in Bucharest, Romania, in August of '74 was just a political catastrophe.
The farther we get away from it, the more we can understand. Out of that,
country after country has come to an awareness that they have to face
the population issue. India is now moved from voluntary participation
to openly urging the states to pass legislation to require sterilization
after two or three children, that the World Food Conference, again was
U.N. So now, from the point of view of
economic development I have never thought that U.N. was so effective.
TAYLOR: Were you a participant in the Lake Placid Conference in 1951?
ENSMINGER: No, I wasn't.
TAYLOR: Well, given these massive problems in the underdeveloped world,
and the problems that the United States Government had in effecting change
whether it be through the Point IV or various other programs. Was there
really a chance for the Point IV program to succeed in terms of time limitations?
When you go into a country with technical assistance one on one, the results
are a slow process of change. Do you feel that the Point IV program as
envisioned could have succeeded in that particular period of the early
ENSMINGER: Yes, if there had been a commitment from the top. For example,
if Bennett had lived, he accepted and understood what Truman had in mind
for the Point IV program, it would not have been a program seeking
large sums of money. It would have been a program that wouldn't have been
billed to change the world in a short period of time. Where the Point
IV got into trouble was the very people who came out of the ERP got into
the early Point IV, and their influence got it into economic aid -- TCA.
They were operating on this short time frame.
TAYLOR: Like Western Europe?
ENSMINGER: Yes. And they were totally unoriented to the things that were
going to take a generation to achieve. Also in the very early period we
separated economic aid and military aid, but we got this whole question
of military aid to contain communism and economic aid mixed up.
And then there was the continuous promise out of Congress that these
things were for a short time.
I went to plead with people in Washington and said, "I always maintain
that Congress is made up of basically of intelligent people;" and if they'd
gone over there and testified in the very early period, that we're engaged
in something that's going to take us generations, not two years, not five
years, not ten years, and that we're not talking about continuity, that
Congress would have responded, but you couldn't get a soul to do it.
TAYLOR: When the Point IV proposal reached Congress, there were two specific
parts: the TCA and the investment guarantees for business. This second
aspect of the government guaranteeing foreign investments never reached
What would you attribute that to?
ENSMINGER: I don't know. I'm aware of the fact that there were large
numbers of American industrialists coming to India and working with the
government. When the new government announced that its objective was to
build democratic socialism, our fear of everything that socialism implied,
they just said they weren't going to take the risk without the government
guarantees. I don't know the answer to that question though I'm quite
aware of the fact that it was there.
TAYLOR: Was private capital ready to move into the Third World?
TAYLOR: It seems that the success of Rockefeller
in Latin America would certainly have been of a beneficial consideration.
ENSMINGER: And these countries were trying to avoid anyone (a country
or an industry), to get where they had a controlling interest in something,
and therefore, could determine policies in the country. There was always
a great deal of debate through the whole period in terms of joint venture
enterprises. Who was going to have 51 percent of the stock, and who was
going to control the final decisions.
In the early sixties the U.S. Government and the World Bank, influenced
the Bechtel International Engineering Corporation from San Francisco to
interest itself in building fertilizer plants in India. They sent a staff
over there, got a favorable response from India, and they came up with
a proposal where they were ready
to commit funds and build ten fertilizer plants. India turned them down,
and people were absolutely dumbfounded and amazed. The reason India turned
them down was at that point the Bechtel Engineering Corporation would
have been in position to control policies with respect to fertilizer in
India in terms of prices.
Now, here's the case where the Bechtel Engineering Corporation would
have been well advised to have committed itself to three fertilizer plants,
and after you get three of them working, talk about building two more.
TAYLOR: I interpret this as pointing to an internal inconsistency in
the Point IV program. The specific goal, technical assistance to raise
the living standards within countries indiscriminately in the Third World,
lacked the wherewithal to affect the kinds of change,
which the American Government hoped for in this period.
ENSMINGER: Well, we didn't understand how to do it. The major countries
really can't get themselves in a position where any other major economic
enterprise, government or not, can control policies in that country. They
just can't live with it politically.
TAYLOR: Given this situation, was there any chance then for these technical
programs to affect the desired changes?
ENSMINGER: Well, one thing I think we should understand, money is not
the primary force that brings about change, although you've got to have
money. Through the whole period, we could have made a far greater contribution
to these countries with the same amount or less money
if you'd had more flexibility in terms of how you commit it. Specifically,
in India's rural development program where we had to commit money year
by year, we would have been far better off to use less money and made
a far greater impact with that money for certain purposes if it could
have been put in escrow so to speak.
With technical assistance, all development in the final analysis takes
the place of people, the people's institutions, so that in the process
of working with people in building people's institutions that when money
is needed it could be drawn upon because it's committed. But the other
way around, you started pushing the people to use the money. So, money,
we never quite understood how to interrelate money with technical assistance
because we were always under pressure to spend money.
TAYLOR: I wonder in the context of the 1950s how much
of an influence did the congressional debates, the public opinion polls
in the United States, have on the technicians and the people that were
involved in these programs, be it through the IIAA, Point IV, the World
Bank? Was there an awareness that the American people might not continue
to support these programs?
ENSMINGER: I think there was, on the one hand the staff in AID throughout
the world lived in a continuous environment of uncertainty. At the same
time, after a period of time, there was an acceptance that this thing's
going to go on, and understanding either the Congress blocked it out,
there'd be enough money there to -- for all of them to be safely rehabilitated,
And I think the main concern that the people in the field had was a sense
of frustration over the uncertainties of when the funds were going to
be appropriated and how much in this whole, just kind of like a trapeze
in terms of your priorities. But I don't think there were very many people
who were uneasy that Congress was going to discontinue it. I think the
biggest problem was the political leaders in these developing countries
were not sophisticated enough to really understand the debates in Congress,
and all the things that came out of the hearings.
TAYLOR: What influence did the Korean war have on the totality of our
foreign aid program?
ENSMINGER: Well, I don't think there's any question that the Korean war
had a great deal of influence in terms of we believed at the end of the
Korean war, very much like we believed at the end of the Vietnam, wanting
to forget about the world -- withdrew.
TAYLOR: How did this manifest itself in the AID programs, specifically?
ENSMINGER: I don't think it did. I think this was just a general reaction
and large numbers of Congressmen were voting for aid when their constituencies
were against it. But it had this kind of effect, that people came home
and didn't find very much response to what they'd been doing. Many of
them lived pretty simply and made quite a sacrifice but they didn't come
home feeling that they had been great heroes.
TAYLOR: Well, what I'm trying to get at is when the Korean war broke
out and prolonged itself, was there any initiative within the specific
AID programs that you had contact with to speed up the development process?
TAYLOR: It was just pretty much business as usual?
ENSMINGER: Yes. There's no question that it made it more difficult for
a government and the representatives of our government to deal with the
political leaders in their countries, because they spoke out with considerable
feeling and hostility toward us, and this in turn had a great deal of
effect in terms of Congress in the appropriations.
TAYLOR: Was there ever any encouragement on the part of the United States
Government to bring other countries into a more active participation in
ENSMINGER: Yes, I would say that I saw a great deal of evidence of this.
As we became more understanding of the sensitivities of these new governments,
we ourselves saw and understood that it was easier for many of these
countries to accept AID if more than one country was contributing to
a given project. Again in this question then politically you are not subject
to one country to determine your policies for you. And this was particularly
true when we got into sensitive areas, it was very true when you move
into the area of the whole question of population. The more you could
give of an international mix, the better. But you see, in the early period
we had trouble as a government using our money to bring in third nations
ourselves. I did a great deal of employing as consultants, people outside
the United States.
When you run into foreign exchange problems, this is where one begins
to find himself in trouble in the use of money. At one time there was
some implication that I was going to find myself in trouble with the Ford
contributing large sums of money for third country nationals and bringing
equipment in from outside the United States, but it never came to that,
at least it was discussed at one point.
TAYLOR: What was the relationship between Point IV and the United Nations
as far as USDA was concerned between 1948 through '51 while you were still
ENSMINGER: Well, Agriculture played a major role really in the formation
of the Food and Agriculture Organization, which was a major accomplishment.
I would say many people in Agriculture, myself included, formed working
committees, drafted documents, and contributed in other ways.
TAYLOR: Was it an enthusiastic role?
ENSMINGER: Yes, a very enthusiastic role.
TAYLOR: Later, in 1951, after you went to the Ford Foundation, from the
outside could you look back and see that same enthusiasm?
ENSMINGER: No, because once it got created then people began to see what
was happening. Practically all the colonial powers used FAO and other
U.N. agencies as dumping grounds to find employment for their colonial
officers that they were having to bring home as they lost their colonies.
And these were very outstanding people, but it's quite a different mentality,
and quite different experience to work as a colonial officer where your
job is maintaining status quo, than it is to be trained and oriented and
experienced in being innovative, and FAO is suffering under this even
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List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 42, 47, 48,
Agency for International Development, 37-42, 54,
Agricultural technology, 2, 3, 4,
Agriculture, U.S. Department, of, 19-22, 35-37,
57, 82-84, 104
Andrews, Stanley, 1, 12, 23,
24, 26, 72
Bechtel Engineering Corporation, 52-53, 95-96
Bennett, Henry G., 72, 84, 92
Bowles, Chester, 8, 9, 10,
14, 38, 50
Brezhnev, Leonid, 68
Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 21, 22,
Communism, international threat of, 45, 47
Congress Party (India), 10-11
Congress, U.S., Point IV program legislation, 11,
13, 19, 50, 56-57,
Cornell University, 21, 22
David, Donald, 68-70
Dulles, John F., 42, 44-49, 85
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 42, 46,
European Recovery Program, 6, 7, 29,
30, 33, 34, 43
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 104-105
Ford Foundation, 10, 28, 31,
34, 37, 38, 39,
43, 44, 47, 59,
68, 103-104, 105
Gandhian philosophy, 9
GNP, 40, 72
Hanna, John, 2, 3, 4,
Hardy, Benjamin, 20, 32, 72,
Hatch, Spencer, 15
Hoffman, Paul, 43-46, 86-87
Holmes, Horace, 12
India, 8-15, 17-18, 28,
34, 37-39, 43-47,
50-53, 59-61, 65,
67-70, 73-74, 90,
Institute for Inter-American Affairs, 5, 30,
Korean War, 86, 100-101
Land-Grant College Association, 2
Latin America, 30-31, 34-35, 58-59,
Life magazine, 12
Lovett, Robert A., 32
Marshall Plan, 6
Mayer, Albert, 12
Mead, Margaret, 25-26
Missionary programs and Point IV, 15-18
Moore, Dennis, 36
Natural resources (world), 89-90
Nehru, B.K., 73-74
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 8, 13, 34,
38, 44, 48, 50-53,
Office of Foreign Agricultural Relations, 23, 26,
Pakistan, 47, 49
Point IV: 1-3, 5-15, 19-20,
29-30, 32, 35-39,
42, 57, 59, 62-63,
72, 83-84, 91-93,
96, 99, 104
Agriculture Department, U.S., and, 19-22, 35-37,
57, 82-84, 104
Population (Third World) control of, 91
Bennett, Henry G., death of, loss to, 72, 84,
Congress, U.S., legislation re, 11, 13,
19, 50, 56-57,
Hoffman, Paul, role in, 43-46, 86-87
Latin America, and, 30-31, 34-35,
58-59, 62-63, 80
Missionary programs and, 15-18
private enterprise, role in, 66-72, 78,
State Department, U.S., and, 19-29, 24,
32, 39-40, 52,
54, 56, 80, 81,
TCA, record in, 13-14, 25-26, 42,
Truman, Harry S., and, 2, 6, 8,
10, 27, 29, 45,
54, 57, 72, 80,
Presidential Inauguration, 1949, 1, 2
Private enterprise, 66-72, 78, 93-94
Rockefeller Foundation, 34, 37,
Rockfeller, Nelson, 58, 59, 61-63,
SERVICO program, 30-31
State, U.S. Department of, 19-20, 24,
32, 39-40, 52,
54, 56, 80, 81,
Taiwan, 62-63, 79
Tanzania, 54, 56, 66
Technical Cooperation Administration, 13-14, 25-26,
42, 72, 92-93,
Third World, 5, 11, 27-29,
33-34, 42, 44,
54, 74-79, 94,
Tolley, Howard, 23, 26
Truman, Harry S., 2, 6, 8,
10, 27, 29, 45,
54, 57, 72, 80,
Uganda village,54, 55, 56
United Nations,87-88, 90-91, 104-105
Wilson, M.L., 4, 23, 26,
World War II, 45, 76
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