General George C. Marshall, "the organizer of victory," as Winston Churchill called him, developed and implemented a plan to raise up Europe out of the ashes of WWII and, not incidentally, provide Americans with trading partners, thus to establish a route from a wartime to a peacetime domestic economy. Of course the European Recovery Program was intended also to provide a solid capitalist foundation for the economies of western Europe, then being threatened and harassed by local communist parties, the Comintern, and outright belligerence by the Soviet Union.
By all accounts the Marshall Plan was a huge success, bringing European economies back online and multiplying their growth beyond even the wildest expectations of President Truman, the Congress, or Marshall. The formal Marshall Plan was ended in April 1952. But in a very real sense the set of reliances and relationships that were coaxed and developed out of the Marshall Plan continued, if not in precise formal understandings, but in deep values and assumptions throughout the second half of the twentieth century and at least until yesterday.
Yesterday, President Obama announced to the world in London that the United States could no longer be expected to be the sole engine of world economics. The
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