Certain Aspects of the European Recovery Problem from the U.S. Standpoint

Here Helps the Marshall Plan, not ‘Courtesy Of’ (Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-20671-0014 / CC-BY-SA)

On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall delivered a “routine commencement speech” at Harvard University. The only pomp and circumstance was for the graduates and the lone reporter in the crowd was there only because of a friend. It was, however, a speech that changed history as the retired General of the Army proposed a program for Europe based on building local economic strength, governance, and self-confidence.  Continue reading “Certain Aspects of the European Recovery Problem from the U.S. Standpoint”

Recalling history: the 1947 Smith-Mundt CODEL to Europe

For two months in the Autumn of 1947, a Congressional delegation (CODEL) traveled Europe. Their purpose was to study America’s current information and educational exchange service, the conditions affecting it, with the goal of formulating recommendations to shape and make more effective US programs which “can fully implement US foreign policy.” Led by Congressman Karl Mundt (R-SD) and Senator H. Alexander Smith (R-NJ), the delegation was sponsored by the special Mundt subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of the pending Smith-Mundt Bill.

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The Intended ‘Psychological By-Products’ of Development

On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall delivered a "routine commencement speech" at Harvard University that would change the course of history. On that day, the retired General of the Army (5-star) proposed a program for Europe based on building local economic strength, governance, and self-confidence. 

It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.

The program, called simply the "Marshall Plan" by the media, was based on the recommendations of Marshall’s Director of the Policy Planning Staff, George Kennan. In a declassified (formerly Top Secret) supplement to a July 23, 1947, Report of the Policy Planning Staff titled "Certain Aspects of the European Recovery Problem from the United States Standpoint," Kennan succinctly explained that success of the proposed plan would be determined by the Europeans themselves as they felt self-empowered and secure.

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