The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 29 prosperity, argued that it should be limited in scope and not place an undue burden on American taxpayers. The final authorization placed much of the onus of planning on the Europeans themselves, restricted the plan geographically, limited its scope and prescribed a delimited appropriation and duration for the disbursement of funds. This approach brought congressional Republicans on board as stakeholders in the plan. The deep involvement of the Senate Foreign Relations Com- mittee, chaired by Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich.), was critical. Vandenberg permitted the committee hearings to be a forum for dissenting views, which enabled senators on both sides to hear frommany experts. It also demonstrated the close partner- ship between Vandenberg and Marshall in forging the legislation. Ultimately, congressional Republicans, including key isola- tionists like Taft, calculated that accepting a modified Marshall Plan, with a final allocation cut down from Truman’s request of $17 billion to $13 billion, and implementation mechanisms external to the State Department, like the Economic Cooperation Administration and the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, was better than opposing the ERP outright. Thanks to bipartisanship and the Truman administration’s willingness to make some concessions, the legislation passed overwhelmingly in both houses. The Marshall Plan represented not only a moment of consensus within the executive branch on foreign policy, but also a domestic U.S. political success. Implementing the Marshall Plan Given that the Marshall Plan was an important diplomatic venture, the State Department had originally assumed that it would take the lead in the administration of the recovery pro- gram, both in Washington and overseas. High-ranking officials, including Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett (who held the second-ranking position at State at the time), recommended establishing a new bureau within the department, led by a new assistant secretary, to oversee Marshall Plan operations and other foreign assistance programs. Initial State Department recommendations also envisioned U.S. embassy staff administering the program, with Marshall Plan personnel falling under the direct purview of the Foreign Service. However, interagency competition and the threat that congressional pushback might result in restrictions on funding led to the decision to locate the European Recovery Program bureaucracy within the independent European Cooperation Administration, rather than within the State Department or the Foreign Service. Thus the ECA’s administrator, Paul Hoffman, oversaw all operational aspects of the Marshall Plan with the assistance of the Office of the Special Representative, which was based in Paris to orchestrate the various ECA missions in the 16 aid-recipient countries. Former Secretary of Commerce W. Averell Harriman served as the first Special Representative and oversaw the work of more than 600 Americans and 800 locally employed staff in Europe. Although it did not directly oversee implementation of the Marshall Plan, the State Department played an important role continuing the usual business of main- taining bilateral relations with host nations and negotiating the bilateral agreements necessary to set up each of the ECA country missions. The ERP also required that the European aid recipients play an active role in their own recovery. The 16 Marshall Plan nations established the Organization for European Economic Recovery as a regional organization to help coordinate the assistance program, and also to present a coherent assessment of their individual and regional needs. Each recipient country U.S.NATIONALARCHIVESANDRECORDSADMINISTRATION/WIKIMEDIACOMMONS Rebuilding in Germany, circa 1948. The sign on the wall says “Berlin Emergency Program, with Marshall Plan help.” Despite its popularity in later years, the European Recovery Act generated genuine political opposition in the United States.