thumbnail of Special of the week; Dr. John C. Kuhl
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
From the offices of the State Department in Washington D.C. The National Association of educational broadcasters brings you a recorded press briefing with Dr. John C. coul director of the Community Development Division of the United States mission in love. Dr. kool a graduate of Northwestern University joined the International Cooperation Agency in 1952 as an anthropologist in one thousand fifty eight. He was assigned to VMT on love. He was questioned by the press on his experience in Laos during an emergency leave in Washington and now here is Doc.. SIMON LAUDER community development advisor and with. The job add to that of our mutual security program. Thankfully my crew and someone within the government government whatever country and to assist them in developing a meaningful program in
the professional field and allow the commissioner to establish a program. Our program started in January of 1959 with a project under this project. Instead of controlling our activities at the national level we established a provincial Development Council in each of the capital province of the law and involved in the county. Many of the leaders as we could. We included in the council calquing the provincial governor and representatives of the ministries who were serving in the province. The program is as is common with our community development project one that is centrally on the initiative and the. Needs which the village people feel that they wish to fulfill
in this regard. A little different than most project which I have in their very nature have to be pre-planned activities because they read the people with a record of the people happen to be pretty flexible and good. We started as I think two years ago with that which the first provincial Development Council. And Rian invited the leaders of the villages in that province to submit their request for assistance. I would guess in 1959 we operated on the premise that we would meet after five and contributing up to 50 percent of the cost of any individual project activity the other 50 percent we thought had to be a contribution of the local people either in terms of their contribution labor or in local material
such as they have available principally in the system. Would they have a good deal and can contribute. The kind of thing that they were interested in having us assist them in we're going to bring. Them through where we were able to get to some places building airports more open and then marketplaces and access at least a fairly rudimentary type projects. We thought that it was much better to concentrate on these rather than to get involved in anything of a grandiose nature for a number of reasons. One is we have a very limited amount of funding available and we want to spread it out graphically as we could throughout the country the second reason was that we found in community
development that it's much better in the out not to get involved in anything that can't be completed in a reasonably short time because people lose interest they lose heart they become dissatisfied with the project. Better do something so they can realize right away in the first six months of 1959 accomplish them nine hundred twenty five good projects. And throughout the remainder of the year another 500 We had fourteen hundred projects by number one thousand fifty nine. And of course the numbers really are not happening because of the project form and working we can do that two or three thousand people think we value our contribution only read up on a cure for Billy in the initial phases of galvanised grouping I went through the market and I
demand to make pretty great many goods. Meeting with the objective of this project is obviously to create community facilities that are developing of the people the longer range object. Is obviously. Not only economic but it is political. Another has indicated that unless people are permitted to participate in the path of the government that government becomes real to them meaning that they have little reason to identify with it or support it. And by the way
you're probably. Our nation is made up of a great many minority groups in fact there are identified at least 25 separate cultural groups with each with their own tradition kinship organization and language. Our people of our country are a minority they comprise 45 percent of the population and they do have unity with the kingdom politically but the other mountain people have little reason to identify themselves with what we have come to know as the kingdom of Lao part of our problem has been to get the hour to recognize the problem and then having got to recognise the problem for them in finding the means of bringing these people into the pattern of the government and rather than trying to run the French
in a highly centralized ministration the establishment preventor count. Given the opportunity. County Council alternately one would hope village councils throughout the country seem to be the best means of broadening the belief that the participation in the process. Giving people the ability opportunity if you like to feel what they have in controlling their resources and their problems and then allocating the resources to meet the problem and that they don't have to be totally dependent on magical religious beliefs and superstitions for control of their environment on the remote and power government that has no real interest in them. Doing one thing.
The conditions under which we have had to operate have obviously been. That we would like to have the year we're upset because of the coming election. During the time of the election nobody in the government was particularly anxious that they were anxious to but they were preoccupied with the political situation. Something the government came into power and actually got organized. And they indicated very clearly that the program had the highest priority in their administration and we went out into the field in late July and began actively in fact during July and the early days along with every province of the country with the perception of you know a fed up agreement a project to proceed with
during the next six months. Unfortunately on the 9th of August the government was overthrown here and the following was one in which the national government really was able to do very little to control or direct any activities in the province are fewer people. Anything wrong until December when under pressure of military circumstance we were forced to bring them out. People continue to work with the provincial council and the national government were not able to provide any financial support or give any direction to the program at the national level. We found Dr. gratification when we visited the provinces after the liberation of the end that. The provincial council go ahead and work actively to carry out the program
in the absence of any federal government support of this obviously indicated indicates to me that this is the right approach. We've made a lot of them. You're not long enough to bring about the kind of. Input who will change which provide the basis for a stable semi autonomous local government body. But if the right direction. And I'm I thought rather less than I think than perhaps people who are closer or only familiar with the military and I feel that the kind of progress we've made in the very short period that we've had the opportunity to work clearly indicates that this is a positive approach. My mate they've been picked up on a number of occasions by the by the protests and they bring in put down remember where they have been released to and they've been given bags of rice.
This is exactly the kind of program that the country needs. I know that we want to certain amount of loyalty to our government to our program among the law with whom we've been working. I would highlight the living example of the kind of sacrifice that for the hour when during the period when we were a. Group Captain and were threatened with immediate extinction one of those who had worked with us as they can bury you in your field and left his home came over to stay with us and leave troops with machine guns. Having taken a bazooka round down the door and come in and shut down the doors of the apartment he thought between them and that if you're going to kill Americans you'll have to kill me because these people came here at the request of our government. They've done nothing to harm you. They're
here to help us develop our nation. I don't think we can expect any higher than it. But I think we've made a lot of thanks to the country we've got a lot of things probably that we. Couldn't have done but I would like to believe that this particular program have answered a real need and that perhaps it has given up in faith in the kinds of things that we must do to maintain a positive civil presence behind whatever military activity that takes place any path of the casing of the hood and they might be followed up. It must be pursued immediately with a vigorous approach you know robbing the people in the part of the government. I think me that my experience that this is the only way we can take the event in a meaningful and to get the common that after we've got security
for the curity in these areas. We are now as a result of our experience responding much of our mission activity and the task force if you like of the operational force has now been drawn up. We've reduced our mission we've got out a good many because there's no real point in and people working at the national level of activity. We've cut down the size of our mission. Twenty five people have volunteered to go back into the country and to work at the provincial level to assist with technical resources we have to help mentor community development count on their work between now and the end of this drive which is the first. By that time perhaps it will be possible for us to go back into many of the other activities that we
have in the past pursuit but. In the immediate offing we feel that it can be directed at the rule in an attempt to give some part of the mouth that they can not only a president of the United States in the civilian way but of the Lao government the ability to react in the kind of the situation. Obviously. I feel that I program is not only economic Our program is political Our program has immediate economic benefit but the long range range objectives are those of contributing semi autonomous self government which can be the long range work against militant file Soviet aggression and security are more than bazookas Obviously the condition of mind and if you have the rule of people having confidence in their leadership and identifying with that leadership I think we we do defeat communism in the political.
A question asked of Dr. cooled by press representatives was how much time is left to do any good in face of military activity in Laos. Dr Cool replied I think we have time now to work but found the northern part of the problem and ought to happen to our provinces where we're pretty severely restricted and working quite honestly are our development workers can go to these areas the only thing your government is not particularly anxious to provide to support activities in areas that they don't. Another question to which Dr Cool replied dealt with the amount of communist indoctrination of the citizens of Laos. Dr cool said perhaps 10 percent of them have that any real hard core indoctrination perhaps 10 percent at the maximum than they have been selling.
That majority of them obviously follow a left wing pro-communist line but they don't have the indoctrination the hard core communist they are. They identify themselves with the national interests of brown. They preach that they could get control of the government. They were the people they were the people. Therefore when we come along with people who are actually doing it really difficult for them to overtly and publicly in the face of the villagers resist this program in some way the communist communist agitator would have been among the best in the country because they created the desire for change. If we can capitalize and I don't I think in 1939 we do. They were actively out there they after the agreement that unified the country
transformed into this new year our political party and I think throughout the country preaching change. It wasn't three months before we came along with bags of cement and trucks of galvanized iron and that if you want change we will give you assistance to bring it about. This completely took the wind out of the day and it was not until after this got going that they began to report them to a very overt military campaign tactic. I can't I don't really know you. You're asking me to make judgments on things I can only give my personal Thank you know. Dr. cool stated these feelings in response to a question concerning the theory of starting their assistance at the provincial levels of the government and working down to the county and the village levels as opposed to the other approach of starting at the lower governmental units and working up to the provincial unit.
In my current work visit one of the virtues I feel of community development is that it is an approach and not a packaged program. Community Development has a particular operational operational program to the reality of the country in which we're operating in now. We unfortunately are handicapped in not having. Human resource we don't have the administrative capacity to start a program that would reach out to 11 villages right away. We are under the mutual security act also apply to work through the host government and we will be there for them to play in strengthening the existing provincial council or the provincial administration by creating the council. Now this is not to say we are doing anything at the village level. We simply haven't formalized the machinery of local government at the village level. What we have done is said to the people of the meeting with your head and the fact
of many things you think you need to have their requests through the district through the county council up to the provincial council. And with a request that is acted upon by the provincial government and there's obviously a lot of freedom here for the provincial council to present themselves politically by approving projects in the areas that they get support from it. I mean normal political and I going on but at least we have been centralised level now we're setting up this year. One of those provinces where we will have some element of stability and particularly I think we were fed up with development. The county Development Council then let them handle it that. The next question was a rather fundamental significance. How can one fight bazookas with bags of cement and how long can this be done effectively if at
all. Dr Cool made this comment. We can't fight directly with bags of cement. We can fight them without the bazooka then I think we can win. I would hope it would develop into a holocaust of this nature but. Behind the bazookas we contain areas with weak. We have I suppose. And you're pacified large parts of the northern part of Laos from time to time but we haven't been able to move. When I say we I don't mean the United States I mean the royal government has not been able to move in a positive way to consolidate the gains and the bags of cement are simply a political manifestation of what I feel is the way you do this and that is to involve the people in their own government. If we can get them to start on the in the process of doing something for themselves the more people have an inherent right of a lot of things that you control your desire to live within the framework of a
inherently harsh environment rather than doing as we do trying to go out and control the environment for the fattest buyer desires. So you're up against the kind of not necessarily out but they but a philosophical approach which can lead to different conclusions than ours. It was pointed out to Dr. cool that communist infiltrators coming from Hanoi and other places were willing to fight their way through the villages in order to gain their philosophic goal. The question asked of Doctor Who was with the people with whom he and his associates had contact. Be willing to resist this communist effort. Dr Cool replied. It would be I think it would be off. Hoping for great relief. Remember Grossman had only came into the country forty three and forty four Japanese were occupying the country the communists have been in there for a long time. They had an active militant group in the 1940s. They got along a map or two here
big unrealistic profits of the two thousand villages we've had some activity they are automatically going to now identify with our program and with the royal government. These kind of things don't happen in two years and maybe maybe we're going to lose the country. But let's for goodness sake learn from Russians anyway and react or at least Restylane operations that we will be able to react effectively and collectively and with a wafer because allowed to happen again some place next year or the year after and the year after year after and what I'm saying to you is that the community development approach seems to me that consolidating. The position that our military can provide for us in terms of military stability we've got to get something positive on the civil side to move up behind the bazooka. A reporter asked Dr. cool what he personally would recommend in order to save
Laos. Would it be more bazookas more Americans more funds or what he said. Well we do not need a rare thing. I mean we've got to have guns in order to give a precondition for the work we do that I think you must know about something on the order of the I think out of 34 million dollars thirty three million dollars we had last year about 25 of them went directly into military support. A portion of our military support effort. About 80 percent so when people criticize us for not having done more in the economic field I think they're being a little unfair because the technical cooperation part of our program of them out of the something less than 20 percent of the overall record going into debt. I think that's very unfair. I mean they talk about this down the drain because. And neither Tyler Berman if we hadn't been here. Even with the blunders we have
prevented from getting in. Ten years ago if we had them without Americans we wouldn't have we wouldn't have needed to fight them or we might not have. I would think it likely we wouldn't have nothing we have to do with it I don't think really the fact that we have retained. It's certainly the case for every penny we put into it. To conclude this program with Dr. cool he relates a story which describes the various hazards they confront the loyalty generated through their efforts and the sometimes humor found in the events they encounter the story deals with the time they were
captured during a battle. We normally every new one in a bad record got word that the battle was in the offing and had taken off. So I proceeded to drive my lot with my American secretary home and we got in the middle of the first hundred five millimeters shell began bursting in. That of taking them to the large apartment where all lead single American and the following morning after shell hit the building and I went out to try to see if there'd been a fire and they spotted in the window as they went by in an armored car and yelled immediately. There they are there are people who have been shooting at us because behind our building popping up with a bend in the rear during the night.
Then they threw it on the tank. The army around them and we got on the floor me got back into the room where they put them in the bathroom and then they got three people groups and they turned to go on the front front door down near collapse and I'm sure the other American boys in the bathroom. There you are. And I think we more like the end. And the lab where then when they got about two doors away said to me I think we better go to them. The last thing I wanted to do were more frightened rabbit come out. They haven't done anything I didn't want to become. They came and broke the door down. Yeah
that is very aggressively thinking that we might have done. When they thought we have to. I think that perhaps altered the balance in our favor somewhat They were terribly nervous when they first came together obviously. Right. So we went out into the hallway then and at that point one of their noncommissioned officers came up and killed a kid who got there jumped in front of us. If you're going to kill them you'll have to kill me first. They want to search the apartment of the people in the party to see that they didn't have any gun and the leader of one of the girls went back to her room with a couple of the troops and opened the door for them in the path of the family toward the door. And when she was coming out one of them had to go back and change her. We were going to be shot immediately.
Special of the week
Dr. John C. Kuhl
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-4746tw5k).
Episode Description
This program presents Dr. John C. Kuhl speaking about rural self-help as chief community development adviser for Laos in Southeast Asia.
Other Description
Special of the Week #2. Dr. John C. Kuhl, director of Community Development Division of the U.S. Mission in Laos.
Broadcast Date
Public Affairs
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Kuhl, John C.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-Sp.Wk.-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:39
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Special of the week; Dr. John C. Kuhl,” 1961-03-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021,
MLA: “Special of the week; Dr. John C. Kuhl.” 1961-03-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 7, 2021. <>.
APA: Special of the week; Dr. John C. Kuhl. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from