GMF headquarters honors 60th anniversary of Marshall Plan assistance
On June 5, GMF and the George C. Marshall Foundation co-hosted a panel discussion in honor of the60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan speech. The discussion was based on the Marshall Foundation's new monograph, In Search of a Usable Past: The Marshall Plan and Postwar Reconstruction Today. Panelists were Barry Machado, author of the monograph and emeritus Professor of History at Washington and Lee University, and Ambassador James Dobbins, director of RAND's International Security and Defense Policy Center. Olin Wethington, who is currently Chairman of AIG Companies, China, and formerly the senior U.S. Treasury official at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, moderated the discussion.
In writing In Search of a Usable Past, Mr. Machado wanted to not only give an in depth narrative of the Marshall Plan but also examine aspects of the Marshall Plan wthat could be used for successful postwar reconstruction today. He described the key attributes of the Marshall Plan, highlighting the contribution of indigenous forces throughout Europe in countries which were Marshall Plan recipients, the importance of domestic consensus building and communication, and the multilateral dimensions of the Marshall Plan that helped to unite Western Europe. Ambassador Dobbins continued the conversation by placing the Marshall Plan into a larger framework of nation building, comparing and contrasting the success of the Marshall Plan with U.S. nation-building efforts in Iraq, but also in Bosnia and Kosovo, Somalia, and Haiti, among others. He noted that the current administration has worked to model Iraq reconstruction after the Marshall Plan rather than more recent nation building exercises in the 1990s, but with less success than in either the post-World War II or the post-Cold War eras.
Following Mr. Machado and Ambassador Dobbins' presentation, the panelists and participants, who included representatives from the diplomatic, academic, and think tank communities, proceeded to discuss the current reconstruction process in Iraq. Though there are key regional, historical, and political differences between European reconstruction in 1947 and Iraq reconstruction in 2007, the United States could also learn from the Plan which served as a catalyst to widespread democracy in Western Europe.