Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor: American Economic Development Policy toward the Arab East, 1942-1949

By Nathan Godfried | Go to book overview

developing a comprehensive works program in which refugees would become self-supporting and at the same time create works of lasting benefit to the countries concerned. Short-term and small-scale public works programs and pilot demonstration projects would provide individual governments with vital experience, improve the productivity of refugee areas, and lead the way to larger development schemes. Selected projects had to be labor intensive and thus employ hundreds of refugees" begin operations soon, stimulate spin-off projects, and contribute to "a more complete economic development." Large numbers of refugees could be employed to improve the Arab East's two great resources and needs--land and water--through terracing, afforestation, road, irrigation, and water conservation projects. The Clapp Mission recommended an 18 month combined direct relief and works program at a cost of $54.9 million.( 51)

American officials "heartily endorsed" the report. They found it sensible and perceptive and agreed with its emphasis on "small projects which would train people in multiple skills." Initially, State Department officials believed that the recommendations "provided hope of ameliorating the lot of the Palestinian refugees and pointed the way to more long- range economic improvements of the area." But Secretary Acheson soon began to doubt the efficacy of the Clapp Mission recommendations in light of Arab and Israeli intransigence on resettlement and repatriation, respectively. Acheson, who had earlier put great faith in the economic approach, now contended that Middle East economic development was impossible without a regional political settlement.( 52)

Despite American, Arab, and Israeli misgivings, the General Assembly adopted the Clapp Mission proposals in December 1949. The Assembly established the UN Relief and works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East to implement the direct relief and works programs and to consult with local governments on future programs. The agency's major goal was to employ refugees on demonstration projects in Arab countries on such a scale as to permit termination of direct relief in 1950. But the agency failed to meet the deadline for ending relief. Arab leaders hampered the program. They realized that the program would lead inevitably to the resettlement of the refugees in their countries, thereby undermining both their own domestic policies and the right of the refugees to return to their homes and land in Palestine. Some agency projects benefited local governments, but makeshift schemes did not economically (or socially) integrate the refugees into the indigenous societies. The Clapp Mission recommendations notwithstanding, U.S. officials continued to link American economic aid to the Arabs with a settlement of the refugee problem and with a general Palestine peace treaty.( 53)


CONCLUSION

America's postwar policy toward Middle East economic development roughly followed the 1945 ECEFP paper recommendations. Imperial state policymakers assumed that Middle East development would raise living standards and bring political and economic stability to the region. Economic growth, designed and implemented under the direction of American capitalist principles, would prevent Soviet or British or any

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Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor: American Economic Development Policy toward the Arab East, 1942-1949
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions In Economics and Economic History Series Editor: Robert Sobel ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Prologue 1
  • Conclusion 18
  • Notes 19
  • 1 - Economic Development as a Postwar Goal 28
  • Notes 52
  • 2 - Reconstruction Versus Development: 1946-1949 62
  • 3 - Reconstruction Versus Development: Financial and Technical Aid 96
  • Notes 113
  • 4 - America's Development Policy and the Arab East: 1942-1949 121
  • 4 America's Development Policy and the Arab East: 1942-1949 137
  • 5 - Arab East Development and the United States, 1942-1949: Case Studies 149
  • Conclusion 173
  • Notes 175
  • Epilogue: The United States and Third World Development 185
  • Notes 196
  • Appendix 199
  • Notes 203
  • Select Bibliography 205
  • Index 217
  • About the Author 225
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