The Marshall Plan Essay

2131 words - 9 pages

The Marshall Plan and its Legacy

The Marshall Plan, which pumped $13.3 billion into the European economy between 1948 and 1952, was probably the most effective piece of lasting cultural propaganda of the twentieth century, despite stiff opposition from the Nazis and the Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism, and the possible eventual winner of the Chinese version of Communism. Learning from the mistakes of the First World War, when the allies of America, principally France sabotaged Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a League of Nations, President Truman ensured that not only did Europe re-emerge as a strong economic force, but that American culture has been the dominant force in the world ever since ...view middle of the document...

As Paul Hofmann, the administrator of the Marshall Plan, frequently if slightly disingenuously stated, there was no intention of charity. Indeed Marshall himself had declared, “The truth of the matter is that Europe’s requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products -- principally from America -- are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social and political deterioration of a very grave character. ” It was, however, even unclear to the administrators of the plan, where business stopped and foreign policy began. How much would affect economic interests, and how much would affect world affairs. But it was known to all that the Marshall Aid was going to bring enormous change to the status of America . Marshall even candidly admitted that the “whole procedure affects the foreign relations of the United States. ”

If America, already the largest economy at the time, was to find buyers of its products it needed a healthy Europe. If Capitalism was to thrive, there needed to be a buffer zone against the new enemy, the Soviet Empire, with its ideology that undermined everything America stood for. It also sealed the fate of its major economic rival, Britain, which had effectively been given some $30 million pounds of supplies by America during the War. In September 1945 the US abruptly announced an end to the Lend-Lease program. Goods already in Britain or in transit were sold to the UK government at heavily discounted prices — one-tenth of their value — the amount paid being in the form of a loan. The amount, together with a line of credit, was $4.34 billion with a 2% interest rate, originally intended to be paid back over 50 years beginning in 1950. Some critics, including Lord Keynes, saw the loan as a means used by America to subjugate Britain after the War. Britain was to enjoy the benefits of the Marshall Plan, but the bulk of the money was poured to the most War-torn countries: Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece and Italy.

The Marshall Plan was particularly focused on the free countries with the most effective Communist threat: France and Italy. An important part of its aim was to show the advantages of Capitalism over Communism. Even in his speech to launch the Plan, Marshall could not disguise this slant. He may have said, “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. ” But everyone knew which country he was talking about, the Soviet Union. The Marshall Plan helped polarize the division between America and the Soviet Union. Stalin and Molotov, His Foreign Minister, recognized its danger. When the Czech government showed interest in the Marshall Plan, Stalin...

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