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Marshall Plan Impact on the Cold War

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The Marshall Plan was America’s principal plan for rebuilding and creating a stronger foundation for the allied countries of Europe, and repelling communism after WWII. The Marshall Plan became a four year program that would cost the American people approximately $13 billion dollars before it ended in 1952. Although it’s impact on the Western countries was a promising one, its impact on the relationship between the two former allies the Unities States and the Soviet Union would mark an important stage in the development of the Cold War.

Following the destruction of WWII Western Europe now faced famine and economic crisis and was unable to generate the means to recover. It was therefore imperative that the United States act, not just in American economic interests, but in the interest of a new international liberal order – an order which would involve the global dominance of a capitalist economy based on multilateral trade. The Marshall Plan aimed to defend against the threat of communism in Western Europe and to ensure that the post-war American Economy was not sent into recession by unfavorable economic conditions. .(Young & Kent, 74) It was thus partially geared to the requirements of US businesses and to the problems facing the American economy, which had expanded dramatically during the second world war.

On June 5, 1947 in a commencement address at Harvard University, Secretary of State George C. Marshall first called for American assistance in restoring the economic infrastructure of Europe.(Young & Kent, 74) Later that month, a conference was held in Paris by the British, French and Soviet foreign ministers where they were expected by the Americans to coordinate a more specific response to Marshall’s initial proposal. However, it was believed by some members of the Soviet government that the plan was an attempt to undermine their position in Germany and Eastern Europe. Molotov became more convinced that the main American aim was the creation of an anti-soviet bloc including the revitalized western zones of Germany. It is for this reason that the Soviets walked out of the Paris meeting and urged other Eastern countries not to become involved.

The Marshall Plan reflected the American belief that the economic rebuilding of Western Europe, which required an economic contribution from Western Germany, was more important than attempting to maintain cooperation with the Soviets (Young & Kent, 77). The same conclusions were drawn in Moscow where it was assumed that the Plan was designed to

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