AMERICANS seem not to realize what an important place dependent peoples and underdeveloped areas hold in the world today or what urgent problems are raised by their desire for independence and a larger share in the prosperity of our modern age. There is a tendency to consider these as secondary questions, not comparable in importance to the acute political problems of the day. But anyone who has served, as I have, as United States Representative in the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, wrestling with the problem during more than five crowded years, will know the contrary. The policies which we adopt toward the backward areas of Asia and Africa will have consequences quite as far-reaching and profound as will the more spectacular decisions which we make in the stupendous struggle now raging between Soviet Russia and the free world. On their outcome hangs the future of civilization.
The situation is perilous today in large parts of Asia and in most of Africa because of the conjunction of three poison-breeding factors:
First, a condition of appalling human need. Living standards in most of Asia and Africa are the lowest in the world. In many sections, life expectancy at birth is only 32 years. One out of every three babies dies before reaching its first birthday. Those suffering from malaria in Asia today equal the total population of the Western hemisphere--and every year 3,000,000 of these sufferers die. Tuberculosis, malaria and yaws are rampant: all are controllable diseases. Monstrous illiteracy bars the door to spiritual or technological advance. More people in Asia and Africa are unable to read a word from a printed book or direction than inhabit the whole of Europe and of the United States.
Second, embittering memories of the cruel racial discrimination and exploitation which often accompanied nineteenth century colonialism. These have left livid scars. The feelings of racial inferiority which have been generated offer serious hindrances to Western attempts to build bulwarks for freedom. Racial hatreds have bred among many
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