THE MARSHALL PLAN: INTERIM AID, THE EUROPEAN RECOVERY PROGRAM, AND THE DIVISION OF EUROPE, 1947-1949
THE EUROPEAN CRISIS in the spring of 1947 threatened to destroy the Truman administration's program for economic security. Washington officials feared that if economic conditions continued to deteriorate, the West European governments might succumb to Soviet influence, if not outright Communist takeovers. At the very least, Western Europe might pursue protectionist, beggar-thy-neighbor policies, in turn reducing American exports, weakening the already fragile structure of world trade and finance, and undermining the economic foundations of the peace.
The containment policy outlined in the Truman Doctrine provided a rationale for American intervention in Europe, but it did not offer positive and practical solutions to the purely economic problems of Western Europe. The U.S. pledge to fight Communism did not warm British homes, feed French workers, or open German waterways. Even in June 1947, when Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the plan that would bear his name, the Truman administration lacked a coherent program for European reconstruction.
The "Marshall Plan" enunciated in the Secretary's speech was not a fixed program for action. By inviting the European countries to initiate their own plan for recovery, Marshall opened the door to significant foreign participation in the planning and implementation of the aid program. Due to its unprecedented cost and scope, moreover, the European Recovery Program was subject to greater domestic pressures than earlier foreign economic legislation. Itself the product of numer-