Weekly Geopolitical Report – The Marshall Plan: A Review (May 14, 2018)

by Bill O’Grady

We occasionally run across a book that we deem important enough in the arena of geopolitics to warrant a full report dedicated to its review.  Recently, we happened upon a book that fits this requirement, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War by Benn Steil.[1]  This book details the history of the Marshall Plan, discusses how the plan developed and identifies the major historical figures who created the strategy.  Furthermore, more importantly for the present, it shows how this generation of policymakers addressed the geopolitical problems of Europe, issues that have resurfaced since the Cold War ended in 1991.

In this report, we will review the state of Europe after the war, focusing on U.S. and Soviet goals for the postwar era, and discuss the important figures of the era and the legacy they left behind.

Postwar Europe
Prior to the official end of WWII, Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had begun negotiating how the postwar world would be managed.  Roosevelt believed voters would not accept a permanent American military presence in Europe and thus intimated to Stalin that the U.S. would exit two years after the German surrender.  Churchill was mostly focused on maintaining the British Empire, a position Roosevelt seemed determined to undermine.  As the three drew up plans, Stalin sought to create a security buffer as far into Western Europe as he could press it.

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[1] Steil, B. (2018). The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.