a. Hook: Economic recovery proved a highly daunting task for many of the devastated Western European nations following the Second World War. The destruction of lives and property due to the turn of political events during the Second World War depleted much of the resources of Western European nation, leaving them with so little to build on to enable their people to get back on track.
b. Thesis Statement: The Marshall Plan proved a saving force for Western European nations in their goal to fulfill post-Second World War economic recovery and political reformation, despite its inadvertent effects on consolidating the position of its main benefactor – the United States (US), towards greater prominence in the international community.
II. The Marshall Plan Sealed the Prominence of the United States (US).
a. Paraphrase: Formally known as the European Recovery Program, the Marshall Plan essentially constitutes an economic recovery aid package allocated for Western Europe, amounting to $13 million in funds issued between 1947 and 1951. US Secretary of State George Marshall, the proponent of the Marshall Plan, noted its significance in restoring the faith of the people on the economy as the main crux for effective war reconstruction (De Long and Eichengreen, 2; Vickers 6, 19).
i. Commentary: The Marshall Plan mainly centered on rebuilding Western Europe immediately after the Second World War, yet its instrumentality for enabling the rise of US towards economic, political and cultural hegemony became its unintended yet equally significant result. Nevertheless, the Marshall Plan made economic and political success possible – both for its beneficiaries in Western Europe and the US.
III. The Marshall Plan was an Agent of Liberal Democracy.
a. Paraphrase: The Marshall Plan brought great benefits for the US, as it enabled US presence to become stronger in Western Europe during the economic rebuilding process. Close relations between the US and Western European nations formed resulting from the Marshall Plan (Casey 174-178; Vickers 6, 19, 39-43).
i. Commentary: Albeit inadvertently given the focus on economic rebuilding, the Marshall Plan enabled the installation of the US as a hegemonic figure with strong command for liberal democratic values, in sharp contrast to the Soviet Union and its authoritarian communist ideals. The material progress recorded through the Marshall Plan eventually led the victory of the US in the Cold War, which culminated with the collapse of the Soviet Union due to the failure of authoritarian communism.
IV. The Marshall Plan Transformed the US Economy.
a. Paraphrase: The Marshall Plan catalyzed strong economic growth not only in Western Europe, but also in the US. Rapid economic growth and development in Western Europe brought significant economic returns to the US, alongside the political capital it raised in the region throughout the process. Such fueled the magnanimous rise of the US in economic affairs that time (De Long and Eichengreen 1-5; Vickers, 6, 19, 39-43).
i. Commentary: The foregoing developments prove that the US ensured that its benevolence would not cause it to gain massive losses in the process. Allowing the US to exert its political and economic influence throughout Western Europe while ensuring the region to fulfill economic reconstruction signify that the Marshall Plan provides a win-win situation for all parties involved.
V. Rationalizing the Marshall Plan through its effects of the Western European Economy.
a. Paraphrase: The US intended the Marshall Plan as its main economic recovery framework for Western Europe. The Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) provided four preconditions that operationalized the Marshall Plan: stronger production effort, foreign trade expansion, financial stability and fostering values of economic cooperation. The Marshall Plan raised the Gross National Product (GNP) of Western Europe from 1947 ($120 billion) to 1951 ($159 billion). Financial stability, made possible by urging Western European nations to deposit counterpart funds from their accumulated GNP, reached an accumulated $8.6 billion. The Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), made for generating further funding for the Marshall Plan, accounted for 5% of the funds, while the other 95% went to efforts instilling financial stability in Western Europe (Vickers 39-43).
i. Commentary: Despite the success of the first three FAA preconditions shown in the foregoing, the Marshall Plan notably failed in fulfilling the fourth one. The fact that Western European nations held distinct interests in the form of domestic policies prevented them from fulfilling regional economic cooperation in full force that time.
VI. The Marshall Plan had an Effect on Denazification.
a. Paraphrase: Denazification also became a key result of the implementation of the Marshall Plan, given that it has enabled the further dissolution of Nazi ideology in Germany. Prior to the Marshall Plan, Nazi Germany stood as the dominant figure in international affairs – a position that boiled down to belligerence through the Second World War (Casey 174-178; Vickers, 6, 19, 39-43).
i. Commentary: The benevolence of the US manifested through the Marshall Plan accounted for the success of the latter in repairing the economies of Western European nations. Such resulted to greater alienation towards Nazi ideology in Germany and the rest of Western European nations, which greatly destabilized any possibility of its resurgence.
VII. The Morgenthau Plan was a Supplement to the Marshall Plan.
a. Paraphrase: The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by US Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., helped supplement the Marshall Plan. Centered on the goal of “denazification”, the Morgenthau Plan contains a detailed plan to prevent the military resurgence of Germany in the future fueled by Nazi ideology. Among the goals of the Morgenthau Plan for Germany apart from denazification includes the division of industrial territories for annexation by neighboring nations and the total shutdown of industrial activities in the nation as it is ultimately divided it into two economically distinct areas (East and West Germany) (Casey 174-178).
i. Commentary: Nevertheless, the Morgenthau Plan proved relatively secondary compared to the Marshall Plan, which in turn gained primacy due to its constructive and reformatory intent to rejuvenate the ailing Western European economy.
a. Thesis Restatement: The Marshall Plan proved a massive success both in terms of its main agenda for restoring economic strength in Western Europe and providing inconsequential benefits to the further rise of US prominence in the international community.
b. Final Concluding Remarks: Strategically speaking, the Marshall Plan featured a series of mechanisms ensuring that its agenda for rehabilitating the economy of Western Europe would find sustainable measures benefiting the US. Politically, the Morgenthau Plan supplemented the Marshall Plan in terms of denazification, which quelled any insinuations that a Nazi resurgence would disrupt the progress made.
Casey, Steven. Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public Opinion, and the War against Nazi Germany. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
De Long, J. Bradford., and Barry Eichengreen. “The Marshall Plan: History’s Most Successful Structural Adjustment Program.” Centre for Economic Performance and Landeszentralbank Hamburg Conference on Post-World War II European Reconstruction, Hamburg, September 5-7, 1991. n.p., Oct. 1991. Print.
Vickers, Rhiannon. Manipulating Hegemony. New York City, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. Print.