Economic Security and the Origins of the Cold War, 1945-1950

By Robert A. Pollard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
NATURAL RESOURCES AND NATIONAL SECURITY: U.S. POLICY IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, 1945-1950

AMERICA APPEARED to have become a "have-not" nation in 1945, its self-sufficiency in natural resources at an end. The war had depleted the most accessible reserves of numerous minerals, and many experts concluded that the United States would require increasing raw material imports to survive militarily and economically. Another widely shared view was that the interwar scramble for raw materials had helped to drive the powers (especially the Axis) to war. During the 1930s, the erection of closed spheres in the Third World by Japan and Britain in particular had exacerbated the already tense relations among the powers. An interdependent, multilateralist regime providing for free access to the world's natural resources was thus a key aim of U.S. policy.

A related, and increasingly important, American goal was to protect developing areas from Soviet and Communist encroachment. By promoting development in Third World countries, the Truman administration hoped to immunize pro-Western governments against the "virus" of Communism. Both the Cold War and the raw material imperatives often worked to the advantage of American business concerns as the U.S. government helped them to exploit foreign sources of natural resources. In the Middle East especially, the interests of Washington and Wall Street closely paralleled one another. By expanding abroad, American corporations helped to contain Communism and to meet U.S. commodity needs. Yet the Truman administration, for all of its concern about resource scarcity, did not act decisively to secure its goals in the Third World. While American officials readily disbursed billions in

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