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Old 12-17-2001, 05:57 PM   #1
War Child
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Anyone Want to Read about the Marshall Plan?

No, of course you don't. But I just finished writing a paper about it and I'm going to print it anyway and sadly watch as this post goes unnoticed. If any kind soul is at all interested, perhaps you could just read my thesis paragraph (i.e. the first one ) and let me know what you think?

On a late spring day in 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall took the podium at the Harvard Commencement ceremony. In a brief, 12-minute speech to the graduating class, Marshall outlined the approach that would dictate American foreign policy for at least the next decade, and arguably the next generation. The Marshall Plan, as his ideas came to be known, represented a striking departure from the isolationist strategy that the United States had adopted after World War I. Marshall called for massive U.S. economic assistance in the effort to rebuild post-war Europe. The plan relied heavily on the belief that the health of the American economy was directly correlated to the health of the European economy , and was also employed as a tactic to repel the Soviet Union from Western Europe. In order to garner political support for the unprecedented notion of large-scale financial assistance, the government undertook numerous activities to educate and persuade Congress and the American public of the necessity of the program. Winston Churchill termed the plan the “most unsordid act in history.” Ultimately, however, support for the plan from Congress and from the public was derived from two overriding factors, based largely on an argument of self-interest. The first source of support developed from the increasing realization that isolationism was no longer a viable option following the turmoil of the preceding decade. The second, and more influential, cause was the advances made by the Soviets from late 1947 to early 1948, including the creation of the Cominform and the Soviet coup in Czechoslovakia.
Six years of war had decimated the European economy. By 1945, the final year of World War II, Britain’s international capital position had declined by almost $17 billion. Germany, which had produced nearly 42% of chemicals, metals, and engineering goods in European trade, was in disarray: its Western Zones, a major coal supplier, by 1946 was producing at less than a third of the prewar rate. Steel production fell as a result, limiting the output of machinery vital to the reconstruction. Inflation was rampant. French wholesale prices rose more than 80% in 1946, inducing labor strikes calling for higher wages. “Long-standing commercial ties…disappeared. Confidence in the local currency has been severely shaken,” Marshall noted in his commencement address. “The breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete.” The harsh winter of 1946/47 aggravated Europe’s financial troubles. A lack of agricultural machinery combined with a poor spring harvest to create severe food shortages, bringing large numbers of people to subsistence levels, and others to starvation.
Officials in President Harry Truman’s administration recognized the importance of a strong European economy as a partner in a multilateral system of world trade. Policymakers saw the vacuum in Central and Western European countries, caused by the Germany’s defeat and the human and economic costs to Britain and France, as an opportunity to implement a federalist system modeled after that of the U.S., a system of liberal capitalism which would lead to democratic principles and hopefully democratic governments.
More important, however, was that this vacuum should not be filled by a hostile power; namely, the Soviet Union. The economic agenda of the Marshall Plan, or European Recovery Program (ERP) as it was officially called, was seen as vastly important both to the rehabilitation of Europe and the continued economic success of the United States, but it was the national security aspects of the program that won much of the support. These security issues—and especially those issues concerned with the feared Soviet expansion across Western Europe—were given top priority. In the July 1947 Foreign Affairs appeared an anonymous article entitled “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” Popularly called The “X” Article, the piece was later shown to have been written by George Kennan, Director of Policy-Planning at the State Department and former charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Kennan suggested that “[the] United States [should] enter…upon a policy of firm containment…at every point where [the Russians] show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful and stable world.” Though Kennan prescribed “counter-force” to restrict Soviet “expansive tendencies,” the ERP sought to prevent Soviet expansion by bolstering the economies of threatened European nations to be able to withstand Communist aggression.
Marshall was not the first to champion economic integration and political federation as the paths to rebuilding Europe, but his 5 June 1947 speech at Harvard was the first by a top ranking official to receive widespread publicity. (Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson had first addressed the issue a month before, in an 8 May 1947 address to the Delta Council) . It immediately sparked debates across the nation, from the pages of The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, to the floor of the U.S. House and Senate. Congressional and public approval were not won easily, and required continuous dialogue within the government and between the government and the public on the cost, drawbacks, and possible efficacy of the program.
The Truman Administration worked tirelessly to garner majority approval from Congress. Eventually, two important contributions from the Administration and one from Congress began to sway popular and government opinion in favor of the ERP: The Harriman Committee, The Herter Committee, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s bipartisan endorsement. Finally, in order to sell the idea to the American people, Truman began a large-scale public relations campaign through various avenues, including committees, special interest groups, and the media. It was not until two major Soviet actions in late 1947 and early 1948, however, that even the original opponents of the plan began to embrace it. The ERP required these two Soviet developments for Congressional approval.
The Government Debates
By the end of World War II, the future of American foreign policy was uncertain. The general sentiment that a return to isolationism would be disastrous. The turbulent 1930s had led to global depression and ultimately, global war. Only a small, staunchly Conservative contingent of Congress, led by Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio and Former President Herbert Hoover, still espoused an isolationist outlook. An extreme leftist coalition, headed by Former Vice-President Henry A. Wallace, also voiced concern about the emerging American foreign policy—specifically about the growing divide between Communists and noncommunists. Thus the Marshall Plan was attacked by both the traditional right and the progressive left. It was the more vocal and more powerful Republican faction, however, that the ERP defenders had to convince in order to elicit support from the majority of Congress and the country. Bipartisan backing was critical.
Both Taft and Hoover supported the notion of aid to restore the economies of Western Europe, and more importantly to construct what Hoover dubbed “a dam against Russian aggression.” The Republicans worried about two major issues, however. Firstly, the conservative coalition voiced their concern that a European Recovery Program that failed to create economic unity in Europe would lead to a dangerous reliance of Europe on the U.S. that could lead the U.S. into “entangling commitments” and possibly another European war. Any recovery program, the republicans maintained, should have as its primary goal the reintegration of Europe, so as to avoid any future involvement in European affairs.
The second, and perhaps more conspicuous, concern of the Congressional Republican opposition was that the financial costs of the program could have a negative effect on the economy of the United States. In the 8 October 1947 New York Times, Taft scoffed at the amount of aid currently being considered in Congress: “…Taft expressed doubt today that Congress would approve more than $4,500,000,000 a year for foreign relief under the Marshall Plan.” Taft added that, by 1950, all foreign aid “should be entirely eliminated.” Hoover, in an 18 January 1948 letter Vandenberg, supported an equally modest plan: $3 billion in aid for the first 15 months, with “more safeguards.” Hoover was convinced, however, that any aid would simply create a “false prosperity which cannot be permanently maintained,” while necessitating “serious taxation on our own people.”
The Harriman Committee
To address this question of the impact of foreign aid on the domestic economy, President Truman appointed several fact-finding missions to determine the capabilities of the U.S. to support such a program. The most important of these committees, The President’s Committee on Foreign Aid, was headed by Secretary of Commerce W. Averill Harriman and advised by professional economist Richard M. Bissel, Jr. Otherwise, however, the Committee consisted of “private citizens drawn from industry, commerce, banking, finance, the intellectual world, labor... It was a group with very wide opinions,” stated Harriman in a 1971 interview with Richard D. McKinzie. Indeed, it was intended to be a bipartisan group.
The findings of the Harriman Committee, as it was called, were reported in the 2 November 1947 edition of the New York Times. The commission concluded that “the general impact of a new foreign aid program of the assumed size on the American economy could be sustained because a larger impact has already been sustained.” The report gave support to the ERP for two reasons. The primary reason was “the realization that [the ERP] is an investment in the continued survival of a world economically stabilized…” In addition to the self-interest argument, however, the Committee included a plea for aid based on humanitarian compulsion: “There is deeply rooted in the hearts of most Americans…a will and a wish to give whatever is possible to those who are in dire need of help…”
President Truman, having received the support that he had been seeking, stated: “…our national resources, if intelligently utilized, are physically sufficient to support a considerable foreign aid program, while preserving the national security and the American standard of living.” The report endorsed $5.75 billion in aid for 1948 alone, and a four-year program totaling roughly $20 billion.
The report, entitled Economic Recovery and American Aid, did warn of a possible “chain of inflationary reactions” , which could be prevented by certain restrictions on domestic consumption and voluntary measures on conservation. The report was optimistic that an effectively managed fund would allow a free market economy, and consequently stability, in Western Europe and the U.S. This last conclusion helped to allay fears, such as those expressed by Senator Walter George of Georgia, of “a wholly new system of trade and commerce through state operation.”
The report was an unqualified success. “…The press reaction was so tremendously favorable,” according to Harriman, “that the opponents who disagreed didn’t come to the last meeting…Vandenberg later told me that it was that report that was really more help than anything else in getting legislation through Congress.”
The Herter Committee
Immediately following the close of World War II, there was very general support of some form of aid package in Europe. The Harriman Committee had the effect of winning the support of a number of Republican policymakers and Congressmen. By assigning dollar values to the plan and proving the economic capabilities of the U.S. to provide such a program, the Committee performed an equally important task: it directed the general support for aid into a very specific and very viable program. The Herter Committee had a similar effect.
On 29 July 1947, the House of Representatives formed a committee to study the Marshall Plan. Representative Charles A. Eaton, the Republican president of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was named Chairman and Representative Christian A. Herter, of Massachusetts, was appointed vice-chairman. It was Herter, however, who led the crucial overseas trip to study the problem first-hand. Consequently, the Select Committee on Foreign Aid became known as the “Herter Committee.”
The members of the Herter Committee, intended to represent a range of political views, left for Europe on 28 August 1947. Every country in Europe was visited by at least one member of the Committee except Russia, Albania, and Yugoslavia. The group returned in the fall, and reported its findings to the Foreign Affairs Committee in November 1947. The bipartisan committee had arrived at a unanimous endorsement of American economic support in Europe. Representative Karl E. Mundt remarked that he was “not only amazed but gratified by the fact that the Members from the two Houses of Congress…equally divided between the two parties…should arrive at such a widespread area of agreement.”
Especially significant was the testimony of those who had been considered isolationists. Representative Lawrence H. Smith of Wisconsin admitted his own “reservation in this matter” before the information-gathering expedition. Upon returning, however, he “join[ed] with the other members…in stating that [he] believe[d] it absolutely necessary to augment the…program.” As Smith testified, “I became a convert on this trip and I want to state that for the record.”
An area of particularly strong agreement among the committee members was the danger of what Mundt referred to as Communist “overlords.” Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, a pre-war isolationist, described the decision that stood before the American government: To stand idly as the Kremlin took over Central and Western Europe, or to give “immediate—adequate—aggressive aid. My formula…is very, very brief. Do it—do it now—and do it right.”
His advice was heeded the following month, when Congress appropriated $597 million in interim aid. The Senate hearings for European Interim Aid, a very preliminary step of the Marshall Plan, reflected the testimony from the Herter Committee. Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett, speaking on 5 December 1947, several days before the bill was passed, was asked whether the aid was intended only as a measure against Communism. “Well, there is a deep humanitarian interest in this,” he replied. “[Which] we have said repeatedly was of cardinal importance…Our particular aim is to restore peace…[Peace could not flourish] in a totalitarian Europe.”
The Vandenberg Factor
The man with the greatest influence on the success of the Marshall Plan, aside from Marshall himself, was undoubtedly the Republican Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg. The Michigan Senator served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1947-49. More than any other factor during the debate over the Marshall Plan, Vandenberg was instrumental in securing bipartisan support for the ERP.
Vandenberg was an unabashed isolationist until the morning of 7 December 1941, when Pearl Harbor shook the very foundation of his convictions. Vandenberg became perhaps the most vocal proponent of the Marshall Plan once the war had drawn to a close, but he faced quite daunting a challenge in convincing his conservative colleagues of the merits of the program. Vandenberg rose to the challenge, and most admirably.
On 1 March 1948, Senator Vandenberg took the podium before a packed Senate. Members of the House stood against the walls of the chamber.
“Mr. President, “ he began, “with the unanimous approval of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I report the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948 [of which the ERP was the major component]…In the name of intelligent American self-interest it envisions a mighty undertaking worthy of our faith.” Vandenberg said the passing of the act would “become a welcome beacon in the world’s dark night” despite being surrounded by “calculated risks. The legislation…seeks peace and stability…by economic rather than by military means.” Vandenberg concluded his address by referring to the growing danger that the Soviet Union posed. “The iron curtain must not come to the rims of the Atlantic either by aggression or by default.”
The following day’s New York Times called Vandenberg’s speech a “stirring Senate address that brought members of both parties to their feet in a prolonged ovation…” (The Times noted only “two major exceptions to the general approval…Senator Glen H. Taylor of Idaho, who is running for Vice President on the third party ticket of Henry A. Wallace…[and] Senator Lee O’Daniel of Texas, who has sharply criticized the Marshall Plan…” ) This discourse, in addition to his constant campaigning for the ERP, had a major effect in securing support for the Marshall Plan. Paul G. Hoffman, the Administrator for the Economic Cooperation Administration from 1948-50, called Vandenberg “the giant on the Congressional side. It was his leadership, both intellectually and legislatively, that led to the almost unanimous agreement given to the…program.”
How the Soviet Union helped the Marshall Plan
The Soviet Union recognized that the ERP posed as a very serious obstruction to their plans for westward expansion. It is ironic, then, that the two major Soviet developments in 1947 and 1948—the formation of the Cominform and the Soviet Coup in Czechoslovakia—had by far the greatest effect in procuring support for the Marshall Plan.
By early February 1945, Germany’s defeat in the war was inevitable. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin’s army occupied Poland with 12 million troops, which were ready for an assault on Berlin. Meanwhile, 4 million Western troops, almost at the western banks of the Rhine River, continued their march eastward. It was in this context that the Yalta Conference brought President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Stalin together at the Lavidia Palace, on the banks of the Black Sea. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the future of territory conquered by Germany during the war, and to confer about the continuing war with Japan (a conflict to which Stalin “unquestionably” agreed to contribute Soviet military aid.) The central topic of conquered nations, however, resulted in far more controversial resolutions. Germany was divided into three sections, each to be occupied by one of the nations present. Russia, due to its sizable army, would control Berlin and the eastern half of the nation. Russia was also given all Polish territory east of the Curzon Line. A “storm of controversy” occurred once the results of the Conference became public information. Roosevelt was criticized relentlessly for granting the Soviet Union so much of Central and Eastern Europe. Indeed, many consider the 4-11 February 1945 conference the beginning of the Cold War.
The competition in the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that marked the negotiations at the Yalta Conference greatly intensified in the years that followed. By the beginning of the Marshall Plan discussions, tensions had grown to perilous proportions. The ERP, however, never explicitly precluded the involvement of the Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states in the recovery plan. Indeed, the extremely liberal New Republic editor and former vice-president under Franklin Roosevelt, Henry A. Wallace, was convinced that the Marshall Plan could not succeed if the Soviets were not included. In one of his weekly columns he was prompted to ask whether “the door [would be] open for Russia to join in the effort.” Despite his bias as a likely Socialist sympathizer, he raised some valid points when he stated: “Today there is a grave danger that without Soviet participation, the Marshall program may further divide the world…democracy will be weakened as the two world start an all out war.”
Though others disagreed with this suggestion and thought it absurd to supply money to a possible enemy, the opportunity existed for Russia to join in the integration of Europe and to partake in the ERP. On 27 June 1947, however, a Big Three Summit of French Foreign minister Georges Bidault, British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov ended with Molotov storming out of the conference, thus ending the possibility of Soviet involvement in the Marshall Plan. By the very nature of the program, a Russia that was not part of the ERP necessarily became its opponent. Walter B. Smith, American ambassador in Moscow, expressed the views of many when he described Soviet rejection of the plan as “nothing less than a declaration of war by the Soviet Union on the immediate issue of the control of Europe.”
The Cominform
In 1919 the Comintern, or Communist International, was founded in Moscow to act as the the Communist leadership for the global socialist movement. The Comintern gained strength throughout the 1920’s, despite the notable failure of all attempts to foment revolution, particularly in Germany. In 1936, Germany and Japan concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact, supposedly to prevent the spread of Communism. An additional 11 nations joined a renewed version of the pact, in 1941. Under this international pressure, Russia dissolved the Comintern in 1943.
On 5 October 1947, however, the Soviet Union announced the re-establishment of the Comintern in a new guise. The Cominform ( Communist Information Bureau), as the new incarnation was called, was created to coordinate the various European communist parties, and was viewed in the West as a very dangerous move towards Communist dominance in Central and Eastern Europe. The creation of the Cominform was the first of two Soviet actions during the ERP debates that had a very palpable influence on American and especially Congressional support for the Marshall Plan. The announcement of the Cominform’s reinstitution was “received…with dismay by many United Nations delegates,” according to the October 7 New York Times, two days after the Soviet declaration was released in Warsaw. The Cominform had as a central goal the defeat of the Marshall Plan, and not international revolution, as had been the goal of its predecessor. Its official statement alleged that: “The Truman-Marshall Plan is only a farce, a European branch of the general world plan of political expansion being realized by the United States of America…” General Andrei A. Zhdanov, second secretary of the Communist party’s Central Committee, declared in Moscow on 22 October 1947, on behalf of the Cominform: “The USSR will put all effort in seeing that the Marshall Plan is not realized.” The Marshall Plan, Zhdanov maintained, was an instrument for “world domination by American imperialism.”
The Cominform, in fact, triggered the opposite effect on opinion of the Marshall Plan. Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett observed that the Soviets “ha[d] made clear their intention to prevent…the economic recovery of Europe.” The New York Times noted the “reaction of many [U.N.] delegates was that the development would much improve the prospect for Congressional appropriations to support the economies of European countries under the Marshall Plan.” James Reston wrote in the same issue, “[the Cominform] is expected to increase Congressional support for the Marshall Plan…[the plan] will undoubtedly be presented to Congress in the strongest political terms—as an answer to the Soviet challenge.”
Public Opinion
Public Opinion has always been inextricably linked with political action. A politician’s own opinions are very important, but will rarely be put into practice unless supported by the politician’s constituency. So was the case with the Marshall Plan—the defenders of the program recognized the vital role of American public and went to great lengths to educate and influence their views. The public relations campaign, combined with news from overseas of Soviet expansion, had very noticeable results. The general public was soon swayed in the direction of support for the ERP.
The most important tactic in public relations was the formation of the Committee for the Marshall Plan to Aid European Recovery, created on 17 November 1947. The Committee was established by private citizens and former government leaders, and was actively supported by the White House. Motivation to create the organization was given by former Secretary of War and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson. In the October 1947 issue of Foreign Affairs, Stimson asserted that a “skillful foreign policy…can develop…with success only if [it] has the understanding support, on basic principles, of the American people.”
Stimson served as national chairman on the Committee, whose membership consisted of over 300 prominent citizens from around the country. The organization promoted passage of the legislation through campaigning in the media and in various labor, business, and agriculture circles to enlist support, and circulating petitions to exert pressure on Congress to pass the ERP. The Committee raised more than $150,000 solely from private contributions. Its final report, issued in April 1948, conveyed the organization’s tremendous pride in aiding “so overwhelming an endorsement of the promising program now enacted into law.”
The media, and especially publications throughout the nation, performed an important role in the public relations push. Editorials in preeminent newspapers educated and influenced the public. Journalist Walter Lippman published a series of columns in the Washington Post stressing the need for the Marshall Plan. “There is still some time left to prepare measures against the postwar crisis,” Lippman wrote in his 5 April 1947 column, entitled Cassandra Speaking. “The danger of a European economic collapse is the threat which hangs over us and all the world…The United States…needs to be awakened, not put comfortably to sleep with assurances that are…not relevant to the practical realities of the case.” On 1 May 1947, more than a month before Marshall’s speech, Lippman continued his plea in a column entitled Marshall and Dulles: “The economy of Western Europe can be kept going only as long as the Western Hemisphere is able and willing to meet the international deficit of all of Western Europe…It will have to be done…to compel the Soviet Union to agree to a general European settlement.” On 18 April 1947 the New York Times printed an appeal for the Marshall Plan by “81 Prominent Americans [to] end the threat of World War III.” The group stated that “nothing short of a European Union, inspired by our American ideals of federalism and democracy can break this fatal chain of wars….A European Union can come only if the European peoples…are given the aid and comfort in their aims which America’s example, and American goodwill, can provide.” The government also used their own publications, distributing pamphlets and packets detailing the need for the program—a well-intentioned and effective form of propaganda.
The final element of the Truman Administration’s public relations campaign included the roles played by the high ranking officials themselves. Truman addressed the American people over national radio several times. His 5 October 1947 discourse entreated all Americans to reduce their meat and grain consumption. Truman implored the nation to institute “meatless Tuesdays” and to forego eggs on Thursdays. Truman suggested a 60 day shutdown for distilleries, explaining that “this action alone will feed millions of hungry people.” Distilleries complied with his request, and his program of meat-less Tuesdays and egg-less Thursdays enjoyed widespread observance.
Marshall traveled widely to enlist support for the ERP. In a two month span from January 1948 to March 1948, Marshall gave the opening statements at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ERP hearings and the House Foreign Affairs Committee ERP hearings, and spoke to the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the National Cotton Council in Atlanta, and the National Farm Institute in Des Moines. In a 1952 interview with Harry B. Price, Marshall joked that he “traveled so widely…it almost seemed as though I were running for office…The selling of the ERP to the American people was an exacting science…”
The outcome of the campaign was significant. A Gallup pole released on 7 December 1947 revealed the effects of the public relations push. Between July and December 1947, the proportion of the population that had not heard of the Marshall Plan dropped from 51% to 36%. In the month of November 1947 alone, those in favor of a European aid program rose from 47% to 56%. More than half of this sample favored the Marshall Plan; it would take one final event, however, for support of the ERP to become overwhelming, and to make it possible for the ERP to sail through Congress.
The Czechoslovak Coup
The creation of the Cominform shored up support for the Marshall Plan, and began to dissuade certain steadfast conservatives from their isolationist attitudes. The various Government actions regarding the Marshall Plan, and especially the Harriman and Herter Committees and the Committee for the Marshall Plan, had similar results. Consequently, by early 1948 support for the Marshall Plan was far less vague and far more united and dedicated than it had been in early June 1947, when Marshall unveiled his plan at Harvard. Opposition to the plan, on the other hand, had somewhat declined over the previous year, due largely to the bipartisan push by Vandenberg. Nonetheless, opposition was still very real and still posed a very real threat to the ERP. William S. White reported in the 2 November 1947 New York Times: “Latent hostility to the Marshall Plan is a very real fact [around] the country…” At the end of January 1948, Joseph and Stewart Alsop, political journalists, unhappily observed that the prognosis for passage of the Marshall Plan was “very black indeed.” On February 9, just 16 days before the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia, Lippman predicted that only interim aid would ever pass through Congress. It took a second Soviet incident, the February 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia, to cause the complete disintegration of the opposition to the Marshall Plan. By the time the dust had settled in Prague, the ERP had won support from a vast majority of Congress and from an equally large proportion of the American people.
Before 1939, the people of Czechoslovakia enjoyed one of the most robustly democratic government of Eastern Europe. The 1938 Munich Pact, in which Germany annexed the Sudetenland, and the German invasion in March 1939, however, marked the beginning of Nazi occupation and terrible turmoil for the nation. On 16 March 1939, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, speaking from Prague's Hradcany Castle, proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. Six years of brutal oppression had horrific conseqences on the country, including the virtual annihalation of the Jewish population. Democracy, and with it any form of order, was destroyed during the German occupation.
Eduard Beneš, the former president of Czechoslovakia who was forced to resign on 5 October 1938, resumed the title of president in 1940, while exiled in London. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945, and was reelected in the 1946 elections, which also gave 40% of the vote to the Communist party. Beneš tried to reintroduce democratic ideals to a destroyed nation—he hoped to receive Marshall Plan aid, and fervently opposed Czech participation in the Cominform. His efforts were in vain. By 1948, the nation was completely surrounded by satellite states of the Soviet Union. The setting was ripe for a Soviet coup.
In February 1948, the ministers of the three central noncommunist parties of Czechoslovakia resigned, hoping that the government would fall, forcing new elections. The planners of this effort, however, were not sufficiently organized—the number of ministers was constitutionally insufficient to require a new election. In response, the Communist Party assembled hundreds of thousands of their supporters for public demonstrations, while only several thousand anti-Communist protesters staged counter-demonstrations. On 25 February 1948, after 5 days of rallies, the Communist Party took power. Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk died after a plummet from a Foreign Ministry window on 10 March 1948; the Communist Party maintained that he had committed suicide, but an apprehensive international audience was convinced of his murder by the suspicious circumstances of his death.
The dire predictions of Lippman and Joseph and Stewart Alsop, in the wake of the Czech coup, experienced an almost complete reversal, as former opponents of the plan, both left and right, lent support to the ERP. A third concurrent Soviet development—the Russian invitation to Finland to sign a mutual assistance pact—served to reinforce the immediate need for U.S. action in Europe. The Washington Post on March 5 ran a front-page map of Europe with Soviet territories shaded and a caption reading, “Russia Moves Westward—Where Next?” Arrows pointed to Austria, Italy, Finland, and France. The Harriman and Herter Commissions had already shown that The Marshall Plan would not only aid the American economy and the economies of Western Europe, but would function as an ideal means of Soviet containment. The actions of the U.S. demonstrated the way; the actions of the Soviet Union demonstrated the need.
Congressional Approval
This combination of advocacy and events resulted in an immediate swell of support for the Marshall Plan from across the political spectrum. On 11 March 1948, the day after Masaryk’s death, Truman addressed a joint-session of Congress; his speech was carried on nationwide radio. Truman expressed hope “the tragic death of Czechoslovakia, [which] has sent a shockwave throughout the civilized world” would impress the need for immediate ERP legislative action. The simultaneous ERP debates in Congress clearly exhibited a broad attitude of support for the program, despite a handful of Senators that resented the resultant decline of opposition. (Senator James P. Kem expressed doubt that the Marshall Plan would have prevented the Soviet uprising in Czechoslovakia, to which Vandenberg replied sharply, “I do not know how we can apply the Marshall Plan retroactively for purposes of speculation.”)
In general, however, Congressional opposition to the Marshall Plan had collapsed; the Senate approved the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, which embodied the ERP, on 13 March 1948 by a vote of 69 to 17. The House of Representatives voted on 31 March 1948, endorsing the Marshall Plan by a vote of 329 to 74.
President Truman signed the Economic Cooperation Act on 3 April 1948. "This measure," Truman remarked, "is America’s answer to the challenge facing the free world." Marshall issued a statement, stating: “[Approval of the ERP] is…an historic step in the foreign policy of this country. The leaders in the Congress and the membership generally have faced a great crisis with courage and wisdom, and with legislative skill, richly deserving of the approval and the determined support of the people."
Congress appropriated $13.3 billion for European Recovery over the 4-year period of the Marshall Plan. The benefits of the program were immeasurable. The immediate boost to European production helped stave off utter collapse, which had seemed precariously close in early 1947. The ERP succeeded as a method of peaceful containment—the Soviet Union never expanded into Western Europe. Finally, the Marshall Plan created a profound sense of goodwill between Western Europe and the United States, a sentiment that would mark their relationship into the next century.

[This message has been edited by mug222 (edited 12-17-2001).]

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Old 12-17-2001, 07:07 PM   #2
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i would love to read it(i love reading things i have no previous idea about) but i've gotta economics of information & media final tommorow(my final final...of the semester).

we are no closer than we were yesterday.

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Old 12-17-2001, 08:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply and the interest, Kobayashi. I can't change it after tonight, but if you ever get the chance I'd love to hear any feedback you (or anyone else) has.

Good luck on your exam!
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Old 12-19-2001, 06:45 PM   #4
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Oh yes. The infamous Marshall Plan part of the Truman Doctrine and all that good post WW2 history. I can't wait to read this sucker because I love history!
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Old 12-20-2001, 09:09 AM   #5
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Yay! A second person expresses interest (either out of a personal interest for history, which I applaud, or because you felt sorry for me, which I also applaud.)
Anyway, let me know what you think.
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Old 12-20-2001, 09:41 AM   #6
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Well written...
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Old 12-23-2001, 12:09 PM   #7
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I'm just about to that era in time...I am learning American history hard core by myself so I can take the AP test for it in May and not have to take that course in college. good paper though.

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