The Marshall Plan

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World War II left Europe in a state of complete crisis. More than 30 million lives were lost during the war, cities lay in ruins, and as a result of violation of agricultural lands and people, food supply remained dangerously short. After barely surviving the Nazi threat, Europe was now faced with the threat of Soviet communism and expansion. This new threat divided the continent into pro-Western and pro-Soviet spheres, and some started to look towards communism to save them from total destruction and to progress towards rebuilding and restructuring of the post-war economy. European states were trying desperately to mend the damages of the war without having to resort to communist or socialist methods. However, the results lay short of expectations for capital was very limited and shortages of basic resources such as coal and steel restrained production. In addition, in many European countries such as France and Italy, the deterioration of the economy led to serious political problems, such as the undermining of the governmental authority. The only logical choice for Western European states, given that they did not desire to give in socialism or communism, was to get together and cooperate towards recovery. However, the individual aims, plans, and ambitions of major Western European states were keeping them from sacrificing or compromising towards such a cooperation. This is where the United States became an active player. Encouragement and provocation of European integration had been a constant characteristic of American foreign policy in the post-World War II era. The contribution of the United States to the process of European integration has manifested itself in many different contexts, such as economic aid and being a model for Europe in terms of institutions and structure. The first official sign of post-war commitment of the United States to Europe was the Truman Doctrine outlined by US President Harry Truman in March 1947. The Truman Doctrine granted military aid to Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean and it acted as the confirmation of the launching of better and stronger political relations between Western Europe and the United States. The same year saw the shift in aid to the economic area. Observing the constantly deteriorating state of European economy, the United States decided to provide Europe with financial assistance. This decision was aimed at helping Europe recover, but had to do with the States national interests as well. Since Western European economies were lacking the financial means for developed trade with the United States, the US was suffering from a huge export surplus caused by its booming economy. The recovery of European economies and improved trade relations with Europe would mean a significant export outlet for the United States. With these considerations in mind, in June 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan, generally known as the European Recovery Programme. This was ...


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