The Wilsonian vision of an American designed and dominated world order appeared within reach in 1945. Standing atop the global economic hierarchy, the United States controlled almost two-thirds of all monetary gold, produced about 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product, and possessed an industrial base untouched by wartime destruction. These conditions supported the conviction held by the imperial state and capitalist class that the United States could achieve global integration and thus ensure prosperity and peace for other core states and the periphery.( 1)
Government planners understood the difficulty of internationalizing America's political economy. During the late 1940s imperial state policymakers developed three approaches toward world economic integration. One approach stressed the possibility of integrating contiguous areas like Western Europe, Latin America, or the Middle East into regional customs unions or free trade areas. Another plan envisioned major industrial centers becoming poles of development around which semiperipheral and peripheral areas would assemble. Africa and the Middle East, for example, would be drawn to Europe, Southeast Asia and China to Japan, and Latin America and Canada to the United States. The last approach involved the integration of all world markets--the advancement of transnationalism and world capitalism. These plans were not mutually exclusive and many policymakers believed in a natural progression from regional, to polar, to global integration. European and Asian reconstruction constituted an essential element in all these schemes.( 2)
American officials saw little need for special economic programs to assist the poor, agrarian regions of the world. Third World development would follow naturally from the reconstruction of Europe and Japan and from the attainment of free world trade and global specialization. At the same time, the development of the underdeveloped countries would help accelerate the recovery of war-torn areas by providing markets and sources of raw materials.
American policymakers' view of economic development clashed with the perceived needs and aspirations of various classes in the Third World. Irreconcilable conflicts developed between the periphery's working classes and peasantry, on the one hand, and America's imperial state and capitalist