This is Part Two of a special series of articles about global approaches to poverty eradication and economic development, written by the South African president, Thabo Mbeki. Here, he argues that European reconstruction after World War II was deliberately engineered by the US through aid and generous loans, and not through foreign direct investment by the private sector as demanded of Africa today by the same US, Europe and the Bretton Woods institutions. Part One appeared in New African, December 2004 (p36-38).
Let us consider the post-war European Recovery Programme, the Marshall Plan. Speaking at Harvard University on 5 June 1947, US Secretary of State George C. Marshall said: "The truth of the matter is that Europe's requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products--principally from America--are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help, or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character."
This had been preceded by President Harry Truman's 12 March 1947 address to the US Congress, when he asked for funds to help Greece and Turkey, which the US government believed would fall victim to socialist revolutions.
Truman said: "The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive. The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the …