The Marshall Plan and the Shaping of American Strategy

Brookings Institution Press
Free sample

How the United States helped restore a Europe battered by World War II and created the foundation for the postwar international order

Seventy years ago, in the wake of World War II, the United States did something almost unprecedented in world history: It launched and paid for an economic aid plan to restore a continent reeling from war. The European Recovery Plan—better known as the Marshall Plan, after chief advocate Secretary of State George C. Marshall—was in part an act of charity but primarily an act of self-interest, intended to prevent postwar Western Europe from succumbing to communism. By speeding the recovery of Europe and establishing the basis for NATO and diplomatic alliances that endure to this day, it became one of the most successful U.S. government programs ever.

The Brookings Institution played an important role in the adoption of the Marshall Plan. At the request of Arthur Vandenberg, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Brookings scholars analyzed the plan, including the specifics of how it could be implemented. Their report gave Vandenberg the information he needed to shepherd the plan through a Republican-dominated Congress in a presidential election year.

In his foreword to this book, Brookings president Strobe Talbott reviews the global context in which the Truman administration pushed the Marshall Plan through Congress, as well as Brookings' role in that process. The book includes Marshall's landmark speech at Harvard University in June 1947 laying out the rationale for the European aid program, the full text of the report from Brookings analyzing the plan, and the lecture Marshall gave upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. The book concludes with an essay by Bruce Jones and Will Moreland that demonstrates how the Marshall Plan helped shape the entire postwar era and how today's leaders can learn from the plan's challenges and successes.

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About the author

Bruce Jones is a vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at Brookings.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Feb 7, 2017
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9780815729549
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / World / European
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Winner of the 2019 New-York Historical Society Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History
Winner of the 2018 American Academy of Diplomacy Douglas Dillon Award
Shortlisted for the 2018 Duff Cooper Prize in Literary Nonfiction
Honorable Mention (runner-up) for the 2019 ASEEES Marshall D. Shulman Prize

“[A] brilliant book…by far the best study yet” (Paul Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal) of the gripping history behind the Marshall Plan and its long-lasting influence on our world.

In the wake of World War II, with Britain’s empire collapsing and Stalin’s on the rise, US officials under new Secretary of State George C. Marshall set out to reconstruct western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly, and ambitious undertaking would confront Europeans and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions. In the process, they would drive the creation of NATO, the European Union, and a Western identity that continue to shape world events.

Benn Steil’s “thoroughly researched and well-written account” (USA TODAY) tells the story behind the birth of the Cold War, told with verve, insight, and resonance for today. Focusing on the critical years 1947 to 1949, Benn Steil’s gripping narrative takes us through the seminal episodes marking the collapse of postwar US-Soviet relations—the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade, and the division of Germany. In each case, Stalin’s determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe is vividly portrayed. Bringing to bear fascinating new material from American, Russian, German, and other European archives, Steil’s account will forever change how we see the Marshall Plan.

“Trenchant and timely…an ambitious, deeply researched narrative that…provides a fresh perspective on the coming Cold War” (The New York Times Book Review), The Marshall Plan is a polished and masterly work of historical narrative. An instant classic of Cold War literature, it “is a gripping, complex, and critically important story that is told with clarity and precision” (The Christian Science Monitor).
There is no greater foreign policy challenge for the United States today than the reconstruction of Iraq. The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings recently assembled a small group of experts to consider U.S. policy toward Iraq in all of its dimensions—military, political, and economic. Saban Center director of research Ken Pollack took the recommendations of the Iraq Policy Working Group and combined them with findings from trips to Iraq and to U.S. Central Command in Tampa to produce A Switch in Time, a comprehensive strategy for stabilizing Iraq in the near term and setting it back on the path toward political and economic advancement. The current U.S. approach is encountering considerable difficulty and appears unlikely to produce a stable Iraq within the next few years, not only because of the military insurgency but also because of government failure in Iraq: the overthrown Saddam regime was not replaced by effective military or political institutions. The alternative proposed by some Bush administration critics, however—a rapid withdrawal—would not serve U.S. interests. While many thoughtful experts have attempted to offer a realistic third course of action, none has so far succeeded. This report proposes such a strategy by detailing the essential need to integrate military, political, and economic policies in Iraq. This concise and straightforward book offers a comprehensive, alternative approach to current U.S. military, political, and economic policies in Iraq. Iraq Policy Working Group: Raad Alkadiri (PFC Energy Consulting), Frederick Barton (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Daniel Byman (Saban Center and Georgetown University), Noah Feldman (New York University), Paul Hughes (United States Army [ret.], United States Institute of Peace), Brian Katulis (Center for American Progress), Andrew Krepinevich Jr. (United States Army [ret.], Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments),Andrew Parasiliti (Barbour, Griffith & Rogers), Kenneth M. Pollack (Saban Center), Irena Sargsyan (Saban Center), and Joseph Siegle (Development Alternatives)
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