Can the Marshall Plan Save Europe?
The Economic Struggle Behind the “Two Worlds”
Perhaps the most striking thing about the Marshall Plan was the spurt of galvanized enthusiasm with which it was greeted in Western Europe. British and French reactions were so precipitate that the delay and procrastination characteristic of international assemblies since the end of the war were replaced by an absolutely breakneck speed in rushing through at least the preliminary administrative steps necessary for a conference. It did not take more than a week before a standing committee was set up, largely at Bevin’s insistence, for replying to and briefing the State Department, and by the end of another few weeks the sixteen countries that had responded to the hopes generated by the Marshall statement were deep in the by-play of elaborating claims and counterclaims.
The nature of the American response to this, however, makes it seem almost as though the Marshall Plan had been put forth in a fit of offhanded irresponsibility. As soon as the smoke of European eagerness had died down it was clear that the plan under discussion was no plan, but an offer of aid, and that even as an offer of aid nothing was being said about either its volume or, perhaps more important, the delay likely in providing it.
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