Economic Development as a Postwar Goal
It is difficult to identify the exact course that the United States and the Allied nations traveled toward declaring world economic development as a postwar goal. Indeed, neither the coalition of United Nations nor individual states ever issued a proclamation or held a conference dealing exclusively with this subject. Yet, from the Atlantic Conference in 1941 to San Francisco in 1945, public and private officials and organizations discussed the necessity of promoting development in poor, agrarian areas.
Wartime discussions of world development consisted of two parts. First, policymakers considered the desirability of world development. Everyone recognized the advantage of some degree of development in the periphery. The crucial question became how such development would affect the core nations. The lessons of depression and war and the doctrines of free trade and comparative advantage led policymakers to conclude that the positive effects of controlled world development would far outweigh the negative effects. Within the framework of the capitalist world-economy, peripheral economic development might serve as the engine for growth in the core.
Policymakers shared a common view of the benefits of development to both poor and rich nations. Disagreement arose over how the advanced nations could aid the development of poor, agrarian countries. Answers to this question varied according to one's understanding of the nature of development and underdevelopment. Political and economic leaders in the periphery who believed that Western policies contributed to Third World underdevelopment contended that the core had an obligation to provide loans and grants as well as technical aid and exports to poor regions. American officials, on the other hand, viewed development as the sole responsibility of the Third World's private and public sectors. Those sectors had to openly and completely embrace the capitalist world- economy in order to benefit from direct foreign private investments, capital goods, and technical knowledge. Classes in both the core and periphery favored the establishment of an international development agency that might guarantee the advanced nations' investments from expropriation, while protecting the Third World from imperialism.
The U.S. government tentatively expressed a commitment to economic development in the Atlantic Charter. Although the