The Marshall Plan is the largest successful geopolitical project of the United States in post-war Europe.
It is of enormous economic importance in the restoration of the economies of 16 Western European countries affected by the Second World War. In its political essence, this plan is an instrument of American ideological expansion. In particular, its implementation was artificially (based purely on US foreign policy) politically opposed by Western European bourgeois states with Eastern European socialist countries. Let us note that this distancing, which was the beginning of the Cold War, was deliberately put into the plan by the American "hawks".
Development of the Marshal Plan
He received his name in honor of the US Foreign Secretary George Quetlett Marshall, who presented on June 5, 1747 the famous program for the restoration of Europe at Harvard University.
With interest took the leaders of Western European countries an American initiative. After all, the crisis of the economies of their states could not be overcome by their own efforts. A month later, on July 12, a meeting of representatives of 16 states with the American delegation took place in Paris. An agreement was reached with the American side. The size and timing of financial assistance were discussed.
The "Cooperation Committee", established after this meeting, established the necessary amounts of assistance in the context of each of the 16 recipient states, developed a timetable and a designated purpose.
The plan was carried out immediately after the adoption by the US Congress in April 1947 of a special law "On Economic Cooperation."
The objectives of the US project, which is transforming Europe
The goals of the Marshal's plan were strategic. According to the statement of George Marshall, there were four of them:
- restoration of the economic potential of Western Europe;
- elimination of barriers to trade;
- reconstruction and modernization of industrial facilities;
- development of the European infrastructure as a whole.
However, no less important for the US were the political goals, which were not publicly announced in the minister's speech:
- implementation of the doctrine of Truman (global confrontation with communism) in the European market;
- depriving Western European countries of their foreign political sovereignty, including their economic obligations to the US "special political subparagraphs" of the plan;
- the reformatting of the internal political process by the United States in Western countries, characterized by the arrangement of democracies similar to the US in them.
The essence of the project is pro-American pragmatism
What is the essence of this document? The Marshal's plan was to clearly understand and realize the US's pragmatic interests in Europe. America after World War II proved to be an indisputable economic leader. It sought to launch a large-scale economic expansion against the spread of Soviet influence in the world.
But primarily the program prevented the emergence of an economic crisis of overproduction in the United States itself by significantly stimulating American exports to Western Europe. The significant industrial postwar superiority of the United States over European countries, not provided with solvent markets, led the leader to a crisis of overproduction. It is characteristic that US financial investments in European countries (most of which were loans) helped pay for the supply of American goods. To the credit of the Americans, it should be pointed out that their imports for Western Europe were selective: import-substituting capacities were created, and export production was formed.
However, this effective assistance by special treaties placed European countries in dependence on the United States. The dollar was their mutual settlement currency. The economic ties of each European country were adjusted from Washington. The essence of the Marshal's plan, thus, was reduced to the implementation of the American foreign policy of economic expansion.
An important aspect of the effectiveness of the project is monetary reform
The efficiency of the subsequent modernization of the industry and GDP growth was ensured by a properly conducted monetary reform that transformed the inflationary currencies of Western countries into a powerful financial resource of economic growth.
The financial basis for this was synchronously conducted monetary reforms of democratic countries to reduce cash in circulation. In Italy, prices after the war increased 50 times, in France - at 18, in the Netherlands - 6 times, in Belgium - 3 times, in Britain - 80%. Germany's Reichmarks in general lost their purchasing power.
The monetary reforms within the framework of the Marshal's plan were two-stage. Initially, they assumed the exchange of a fixed number of old bills for new ones. Thus, the money supply in circulation was optimized. In 1949, postwar inflation was finally defeated by devaluing all currencies relative to the US dollar. At the same time, the rate of each Western European currency was tightly tied to the US dollar at a pre-calculated value, optimal for further economic development.
Why President Truman signed the Marshal's plan
The project, as an economic component, was the first step in the strategy of Atlantic integration and was carried out within the framework of President Truman's doctrine. As you know, the priorities of the president - revisionist in the revision of the system of international relations were reduced to building a unipolar world led by America. Economic and political expansion was ideologically justified by the communist threat.
The principles of the Marshal's plan stemmed from the asymmetric "open door" policy that he declared. The US unilaterally liberalized trade exclusively for the democratic countries of Western Europe. But, on the other hand, the strict, unprecedented in international relations discrimination against the socialist countries included the Marshal's plan.
The Cold War, according to many researchers, began precisely after the signing of the Marshall Plan of bilateral treaties of European states with the United States, which, among other obligations, were obliged to oppose the economic development of the USSR to the policy of the Iron Curtain.
Why did America hastily implement the Marshal's plan?
America was in a hurry to implement it for good. She actively fought against the Soviet Union for influence in the world. Without vigorous measures on her part, the post-war political situation at the European theater developed with the tendency to exacerbate the influence of the USSR.
Macroeconomics of post-war Western Europe was characterized by an intensifying economic crisis, exacerbating the social situation. According to the reports of Soviet consuls Molotov, the West European states found themselves insolvent after the war. Every month for European imports, critically needed for them, European countries underpaid about $ 1 billion. Political changes were imminent.
At the same time, in Eastern Europe, under the influence of the USSR, a system of states of socialist orientation was formed. How can one not remember Marx's words about the "specter of communism"? Immediately after the war, with the help of the USSR, there was a gradual, crisis-free development. The social structure characteristic of socialist countries contradicted the American views on the "way of life" and "form of government."
Formation of the Western bloc of states
It is no accident that the Marshal's plan provided for a mandatory condition for the provision of US financial assistance for the requirement of the absence of communists in the governments of the debtor states. The economic expansion of the United States was accompanied by an ideological cover. The Soviet Union, American political technologists in their concepts represented as the "evil empire", the source of the threat of communism. Thus, the Marshal plan was completely subordinated to the doctrine of building a unipolar world. The goals and tasks solved by him were reduced to the consolidation and strengthening of the so-called democratic world and the isolation of socialist-oriented countries from it.
American politicians really feared that in times of crisis, the countries of Western Europe will choose a socialist path. Therefore, additional funds were allocated for the strengthening of the European middle class, the guarantor of the stability of a democratic society.
The Western bloc of states by the efforts of the United States was ideologically opposed to the Soviet Union and opposed its influence on other countries. Within the framework of the Truman Doctrine, a transatlantic system of international financial institutions isolating the USSR and its satellites was created, and organizationally contributing to the economic domination of the Western world: the IMF, IBRD, GATT. Through prohibitions on the sale of technology, the USSR's containment program was implemented.
All these vigorous measures allowed the United States to critically narrow the international markets available to the countries of the socialist camp. Thus began the Cold War, which ended in the collapse of the USSR after an oil strike (an authorized drop in oil prices) in the second half of the 1980s.
The Marshal's plan was put into practice exclusively competently and purposefully. Historically, the terms of its implementation are determined by a four-year time interval from 04/04/1948 (the date of adoption of the law) to 31.12.1951.
The consequences of the Marshal's plan for the economies of Western Europe were very positive. They received the necessary impetus for further economic development. Over 4 years of the plan, significant funds were invested in the basic production assets. Up to $ 4 billion - in the purchase of agricultural machinery. Up to $ 5 billion - in machinery and equipment for mines. Up to $ 3 billion - in production facilities for the extraction and smelting of iron and steel.
Thus, the Marshal's plan has reached its goals. The economy of Western Europe received long-term growth incentives, increased labor productivity, and trade developed.
Even after the official end of the plan to help European countries, the US continued its policy of assistance to foreign countries. It was the Marshal's plan that laid the foundations for an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual assistance and support between the United States and the countries of Western Europe. By economic measures, it was very effective: annual assistance of $ 5 billion stimulated an increase in output by $ 20 billion.
Only in the economic restoration of post-Western Europe was the Marshal's plan manifested? In short, it can be described as a vivid example of pro-American economic diplomacy.
The consequences of the Marshal's plan turned out to be global: the US received a huge market in Western Europe, the foundations of effective transatlantic integration were laid, the Cold War began.