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The Marshall Plan was created by President Harry S Truman on April 3, 1948, and was known as the Recovery Act officially. This gave American allies from 1948 to 1951 financial support to remain independent nations after 1945. With the rise of the Iron Curtain, a total of $13.3 billion in aid in today’s currency is $160.10 billion in US currency today. The recovery program made up 3% of the GDP in nations like France, West Germany, and other countries such as Greece and the Netherlands after the Second World War in 1945. To understand why the Marshall plan was created and launched in the first place, it is first necessary to understand the nature of the geopolitical environment after two world wars within 20 years of one another, one being 1914 to 1919 and then 1939 to 1945. However, these dates can be debated by historians. For example, typically, the First World War is remembered as 1914 to 1918, and the Second World War technically lasted from 1931 to 1945 for the people of China.

This is a guest post by writer Jonathan Riley. Find out more about him on his Medium page, as well as his LinkedIn, and his blog.


Marshall Plan

With the end of the great wars, the United States controlled 50% of global trade and manufacturing and had the world’s largest navy by the end of the war due to the British Empire being exhausted and no longer tenable due to the growth of nationalism in the Indian subcontinent and sheer practicality. For example, if the world’s strongest power, the United States, could not win the war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2022, then it’s a joke that the old empires of France, England and Portuguese, and others could maintain their colonies. What all this meant, in reality, was that the United States had two choices. If there was ever an opportunity for global domination, then the Americans in 1945 could have ceased this; however, unlike the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, the Americans chose a far more wise and strategically savvy policy at the end of World War II what the Americans did with the Bretton Woods agreement (1944), which is connected to the overall strategic strategy of the Marshall plan of containing the Soviet Union after relations quickly soured after the Second World War. What this grand plan was and still is to a diminished extent was the first truly global free trade order protected with American blood and American finance for the United States to win the Cold War. The geopolitical writer and geopolitical strategists Peters Zeilhen stated that “the Russians never stood a chance” this was because the American stratagem was to create the world’s first global trading order.

For the Americans to win the Cold War, they needed strong allies that would be a buffer for the United States regarding the main conflict zones. The USA is located in North America, its geographic position having no true rivals in the region, with the Canadians to the north and only serious population zones around Québec. To the south of the USA, there is the nation of Mexico which had not been a threat since the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848. Finally, there is the British being the old boogie man of the USA due to the fears of being reincorporated into the old Empire, with the last major conflict being in the war of 1812, which lasted until 1815 and the burning of the White House in 1814. What this means psychologically from an American viewpoint is that North America is secure, and the establishment of the Bretton Woods agreement and the Marshall plan made it, so the Empire no longer being politically, financially, and realistically sustainable threat. The United Kingdom became permanently hitched to American foreign policy after World War II. However, it can be argued that this did not truly hit home to the political establishment until after the Suez crisis of 1956, when the French and British attempted to take control of the Suez Canal.

Why is it relevant to the Marshall plan? The answer is that the Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods agreement and American strategic foreign policy after World War two are all interlinked and relevant to the Marshall plan. The United States needed the old empires to be neutered or contained, in the case of the Soviet Union. The USA did this by guaranteeing the security of the global markets; what this meant in practical terms before the order was that there was no universal transport in terms of measurements. For example, it was until the 1950s that shipping crates became standardized, which reduced transport costs and moved goods from the ship to the Teamsters from a three-week job to 24 hours. What was even bigger was that previously to have access to goods and resources, nations/kingdoms had to take the resources from nations that had them. For example, one of the reasons for the wars between France and Germany was that Germany had the coal and France had the steel. That’s one of the reasons the coal and steel community was created in 1952 with the Treaty of Paris to share the resources of industrialization with the nations of Europe. The Marshall plan provided each nation access to resources from other alliance members against the Soviet Union and even neutral nations included in this agreement. With this change came industrialization and urbanization for countries that previously would not have had access to industrialization and food supply resources unless it was in their local neighborhood. This can be seen in the population boom since 1900. The world population increased from 1 billion in 1800 to around 8 billion today.

With the Americans re-energizing the European economies and developing train networks, and ending the cycle of war and violence which has existed since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, what the Americans Marshall plan did and their overall strategy for defeating the Soviet Union is create peace in Europe. It is a piece that has existed from 1945 until the present day. The Marshall plan and what is owed to the Americans either love them or loathe them; they have created an environment where humanity and the light of civilisation could truly prosper. This is what the Marshall plan truly is a geopolitical and international trade-boosting plan that is linked to a strategy of developing a global marketplace where nations and individuals can sell goods and services. America did not win the Cold War and secure peace in Europe with the Marshall plan through war and bloodshed, but through the power of capitalism and trade, it was the American security blanket and revitalizing the economies of his defeated enemies and allies which was the true success and outcome of the Marshall plan.


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"The Marshall Plan: The American Strategy To Win The Cold War" History on the Net
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June 15, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/the-marshall-plan-the-american-strategy-to-win-the-cold-war>
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