Did the USA gain more from the Marshall Plan than Europe?
As the Assistant `Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Will Clayton, admitted in a `policy planning meeting concerning the ERP: “our objective has as its `background the needs and interests of the people of the United `States. We need markets–big markets–in which to buy and sell. ” `(Freeland:P. 17) The American economic policy objective became the `pursuit of a liberalised multilateral trading pattern. With `multilateral trading patterns the United States superior technical `skill, productive capacity and enhanced market share would ensure it `of a supreme position in world finance, commerce and industry.
A `prerequisite for multilateral trade was the abolition of exchange `controls and the curtailment of ‘imperial preference’ especially by `Great Britain and its Commonwealth partners. Through what can only be `called ‘dollar diplomacy’ Great Britain and other European nations `were under constant pressure to liberalise trading patterns and allow `American access to previously protected markets. The Marshall Plan `money, and the supranational agencies which were created to `distribute it, were used as both a carrot and a stick: to push `Western Europe into a form of multilateralism and show the
`participating nations the advantages of institutionalised `interdependence and supranational cooperation. The benefits from this `increase in intra-european trade, and consequently trans-atlantic `trade, would accrue not only to the United Staes, but to Western `Europe as well. `Many revisionist scholars have cast the Marshall Plan `as a natural product of the emergence in America of the corporative `neo-capitalist state. This new form of twentieth century capitalism `was highlighted by cooperative competition, national economies of `scale, bureaucratic planning and administrative regulation.
The `national governemt would not only intervene in the national economy, `but would form international institutions with other governments, `which would then regulate the world economy. All of these policy `goals were facilitated by the Marshall Plan and the administrative `agencies needed to run it. “An integrated single market promised the `benefits that inhered in economies of scale, with the ultimate result `being a prosperous and stable European community secure against the `dangers of communist subversion and able to join the United States in `a multilateral system of world trade.
” (Hogan:P. 427) The hopes of the `policy-makers in Washington, were that Congress would lower US trade `barriers and allow America to act as the lynch-pin and dominant `partner in this global system. But, whatever the outcome of these `hopes, first and foremost, the Marshall Plan was needed to allow `Europe to rehabilitate and reform its economic institutions which `enable it to compete in a multilateral world. `However, there were also short-term political `interests, both domestic and international, which dictated a need `for a comprehensive recovery programme for Europe.
On the domestic `front, Truman was facing a presidential election in 1948. Already `quite vulnerable and facing repeated attacks from the Republicans on `being ‘soft’ on communism, a recession, predicted by many economists `for 1948, would have further damaged his chances for reelection. `Therefore, a massive foreign aid programme would tie in with other `policy goals and ameliorate any recessionary tendencies in the US `economy. However, it was the complex problem of Germany which needed `to be resolved quickly and efficiently.
The task of propping up the `Germany economy was proving a serious and damaging drain on American `tax-payers and an almost intolerable burden on Great Britain. Both `the Russians and the French were worried about a resurgent Germany `and were demanding significant reparations which ultimately would `keep the Germany economy divided and weak. The proposed terms of the `Marshall Plan served two American foreign policy goals: it shifted `the emphasis of dividing Europe onto the shoulders of the USSR, by `incorporating into the ERP conditions which Moscow would be forced to `reject. And secondly, solving the German problem by locking the `development of the West German and French economies into an `institutionalised interdependence, from which all of Western Europe `would benefit.
Thus, Truman sold the Foreign Aid Bill to Congress by `linking it to anti-communism, a strong Europe would be a powerful `bulwark against communist expansion; and also by emphasising that an `expanding European market would take more US goods. Truman himself `highlighted the close association between the Truman Doctrine and the `Marshall Plan, calling them ‘two halves of the same walnut’. `
Therefore, we must conclude that the Marshall Plan was an integral `part of the Truman presidencies domestic and foreign political `aspirations. `However, basic to all kinds of national self-interest `is survival, or self-preservation, for upon national survival depends `the achievement of all other self-interested ends. The resurrection `of Western Europe as a viable and prosperous economic unit was deemed `vital, by America’s defence planners, to its long-term strategic `interests.
Whatever the lofty ideals and the political rhetoric of `democracy and self-determination, it remains a fact that America had `entered two World Wars with the overrriding aim of preserving the `balance of power in Europe and protecting its lines of communication `with the Old World. To now abandon the immense productive capacity `of Western Europe to a nation like the USSR, with a hostile political `system and even more powerful than Hitler’s Germany, would be an `abdication of national self-interest on a massive scale.
As the `policy planners in Washington saw it “the United States could not `survive as a lone democratic island surrounded by totalitarian seas; `a democratic America required democratic values to flourish `internationally. ” (Spanier:P. 5) A report by the CIA in April 1947 `concluded that “The greatest danger to the security of the United `States is the possibility of economic collapse in Western Europe and `the consequent accession to power of communist elements. ” `(Leffler:P. 364)
The natural progression of this geopolitical thinking `was that soviet hegemony in the Eurasian land mass would give them `the means to control the ‘world island’ of the middle-east and `Africa. The United States would become a ‘garrison state’; on a `permanent war footing and cut off from many vital raw materials for `its industries. Therefore, the American defence planners concluded `that the United States must remain not only a maritime power,
`controlling the Eurasian rimlands, but also become a European land `power with a controlling interest in the defence of Western Europe. `This radical ‘defence in depth’ policy required that the European `economies be revitalised, not only as an alternative to communism, `but as a group of wealthy nations contributing to their own defence, `and by association, the defence of America. The Marshall Plan and `American strategic interests were heavily entwined. As Dean Acheson `put it in a secret memo to president Truman in 1950:
The expansion `of trade is an indispensable part of our total effort to create `strength and unity in the free world. Freer trade, economic `development and foreign assistance form together the economic `instrument through which we hope to build up the military strength of `the free countries and offer to their people the hope for economic `progress on which that strength greatly depends. ” (Foreign Relations `of the USA: 1950) `In this essay we asked ‘was the Marshall Plan designed `above all to further the interests of the United States? ‘.
The answer `is an unequivocal yes! Much of the eventual aims of the ERP, such as `greater integration of the economies of Western Europe and the `promotion of multilateral trading patterns, were hammered out by `Roosevelt’s White House staff during the war. Whilst the strategic `aspects where incorporated and upgraded as the relations between the `USA and the Soviet Union deteriorated. The Marshall Plan, and related `initiatives, “fashioned an organic economic order in Western Europe, `one able to pay its way in a multilateral world. The same initiatives `also helped to achieve the political and strategic objectives of `American diplomacy.
Economic growth, modest social programmes, and a `more equitable distribution of production would immunise `participating countries against communist suversion while generating `the resources and mobilising the public support necessary to sustain `a major rearmanent programme. ” (Hogan:P. 429) Therefore, the economic, `political and strategic goals inherent in the Marshall Plan `operated as an integrated, self-reinforcing policy agenda for the `officials of the United States government, who wished to fashion a `world in the American image. However, it must be remembered that the `implementation of foreign policy is a complex interaction between `nation states.
The success of many aspects of the Marshall Plan was `only made possible because it also coincided with the overall `interests of the European states participating in the scheme. The `Western European nations, though temporarily weakened by the ravages `of war, remained potentially powerful entities with their own `national self-interest in mind.
Therefore the Marshall Plan was `essentially a happy marriage of broadly converging self-interests `between sovereign nation states. ` ` `
BIBLIOGRAPHY `HADLEY ARKES BUREAUACRACY, THE MARSHALL PLAN AND THE NATIONAL INTERST `S. R. ASHTON IN SEARCH OF DETENTE `R. FREELAND THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE ; THE ORIGINS OF McCARTHYISM
`S. HARRIS THE EUROPEAN RECOVERY PROGRAMME `M. HOGAN THE MARSHALL PLAN `S. JACKSON JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY 1979 (p. 10423) `PAUL KENNEDY THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREAT POWERS `M. LEFFLER AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW 1984 (p346-391) `H. MAYER GERMAN RECOVERY AND THE MARSHALL PLAN `M.
McCAULEY THE ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR `T. McCORMICK REVIEWS IN AMERICAN HISTORY 1982 (P318-330) `R. OSGOOD IDEALS AND SELF-INTEREST IN AMERICA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS `J. SPANIER AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY SINCE WORLD WAR 11 `U. S. GOVT. PUBLICATIONS FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE USA VOL 1 1950.