Miller Center

Lyndon Johnson and Wilbur Mills on South Korea and Australia

In late October and early November 1966, President Johnson completed a lengthy trip through the western Pacific region, making official visits to New Zealand, Australia, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea. In part, he used the trip to promote the new Asian Development Bank, a regional bank modeled on the World Bank but focused on the needs of developing countries in Asia. After returning to the United States, Johnson reflected on his travels during a lengthy conversation with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills of Arkansas.

Along with commenting on how impressed he had been by the progress of development in South Korea—where progress had earlier been difficult in the immediate aftermath of the Korean War—Johnson observed offhandedly that a key purpose of the development bank “to encourage them to join in the resistance of communism.” Johnson’s statement reflected how much of U.S. foreign aid and development policy during the postwar decades linked modernization theory to the necessities of the Cold War.

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