The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018
30 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL established its own national unit, responsible for liaising with the OEEC in Paris and with the relevant ECA office country director. Their job was to advise the two entities of their specific needs in various sectors so that the OEEC could make allocation recommendations to Washington. As with the initial assessment of assistance needs, the recipient nations each played a large role in requesting and processing the disbursement of Marshall Plan aid—a setup Congress specified in the empowering legislation to save administrative costs. While the various ECA country units evaluated each request against the OEEC allotments, local European entities processed the approved procurements and met local banking and transportation needs. Although the ECA paid U.S. suppliers of commodities in dollars, the program required aid recipients to pay for any goods received in local currency and deposit them in national counter- part funds. A small portion of these funds paid for ECA admin- istrative costs, while the remainder became available to recipient govern- ments for rebuilding their industrial, agricultural and financial infrastruc- ture. Evaluating the Marshall Plan All told, the U.S. provided $13.3 billion (about $140 billion in 2017 dollars) in assistance between 1948 and 1951 to 16 Western European countries through the ECA, with the vast majority of funds allotted to commodity purchases. Histori- ans have generally agreed that the Marshall Plan contributed to reviving the Western European economies by controlling inflation, reviving trade and restoring production. It also helped rebuild infrastructure through the local currency counterpart funds. What is notable about this assistance is that the Europeans themselves played a major role in the planning and implementa- tion of the ERP. U.S. assistance may have provided the margin the recipient countries needed to help themselves get on a path to stable postwar recovery, but the fact that Europeans generally agreed with the basic stipulations of the assistance package—that some form of capitalism should inform postwar economics and governance—ultimately made the Marshall Plan a success. Congress did not renew Marshall Plan funding beyond its originally legislated end date of 1952. With strides already made, it was harder for supporters to argue for additional assistance funds under the ERP. Moreover, following the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, American interest in international assis- tance turned away from a focus on economic development toward defense funding, and supporting military strength and rearmament in Europe as a bulwark against the Soviet Union and international communism. Even so, there is no denying that the Marshall Plan played a major role in setting Western Europe on a long-term path to recovery and political and economic stability. n The final authorization placedmuch 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. U.S.NATIONALARCHIVESANDRECORDSADMINISTRATION/WIKIMEDIACOMMONS Map of Cold War–era Europe showing countries that received Marshall Plan aid. The blue columns show the relative amount of total aid per nation.