The Spirit of the Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was an audacious, innovative strategy to tackle the most pressing challenges of its time. Breaking Western Europe’s cycle of conflict and rebuilding economies devastated by World War II was an immense task, and the Marshall Plan is a concrete example of the scale of change made possible by imagination, pragmatism, and generosity. GMF’s work carries this spirit into the 21st century.
It is the spirit of generosity and cooperation.
The Marshall Plan dedicated an unprecedented amount of foreign aid—$13.2 billion, over $130 billion in today’s dollars, or 5.2% of U.S. GDP—to European countries to rebuild their war-shattered economies on a cooperative basis. Aid was provided not only to allies, but also to the just-vanquished foes Germany and Italy, welcoming them back to the community of nations.
The spirit of free societies and interdependent economies.
In Marshall’s words: “The farmer has always produced the foodstuffs to exchange with the city dweller for the other necessities of life. This division of labor is the basis of modern civilization....The modern system of the division of labor upon which the exchange of products is based is in danger of breaking down. The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole.”
The spirit of close European and transatlantic cooperation.
In Marshall’s words: “[T]here must be some agreement among the countries of Europe as to the requirements of the situation and the part those countries themselves will take in order to give proper effect to whatever action might be undertaken by [the United States].”
The spirit of enlightened self-interest and understanding that we live in an interconnected world, where desperate and suffering societies create international chaos.
In Marshall’s words: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos…. Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all. It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.”
The spirit of bold vision, leadership, and responsibility.
In Marshall’s words: With foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.