Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hey, Europe: Think We Could Make the Marshall Plan Reciprocal?

This week, in a speech in France, President Bush (god I'll be glad when I can quit typing that) invoked the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan to illustrate our history of support and amity with Europe. When I read it in the Times, a couple of things occurred to me.

First, it seemed to me that he was making a particular point of saying, "Don't forget: the US lay the groundwork for the economic benefits that the EU now enjoys." And you know: nothing endears a speaker to a group of listeners like hinting (or more than hinting) that they're in your debt. Europe has never been fond of Bush—my favorite headline of all time (after "Ford to City: Drop Dead") is the London Daily Mirror's "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" —so I can't imagine that he scored any points there.

The next thing that I thought was that it seemed slightly disingenuous: had there been a Bush administration in power after WWII, would there even have been a Marshall Plan? Instinctively, I thought probably not: the idea of this administration providing economic aid for other countries (other than the ones where they're waging wars, of course)  just seemed too philanthropic. But then I realized that I didn't know much more about the Marshall Plan (or more accurately, the European Recovery Program, as I learned from the wikipedia link above). After reading up on it, I've came to the belief that they would have supported it, for two reasons: the anti-communist aspect of the Plan, and the fact that most of the aid was used to purchase US-made goods. Call me cynical (and I am cynical), but both of these facts certainly would have appealed to this bunch of hawks/hacks.

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