November 17, 2004

Marshall Plan

In the context of Debt Relief in history it occured to me the other day that one of the greatest examples of historical debt relief was the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan. The US set up these two systems in order to pull Western Europe and Greece and Turkey out of debt following World War II in hopes of saving them from the Communist vacuum. The US gave aid and then sold American goods in return so not only were the war torn countries getting relief but the American economy was also benefiting. A plan like this I don't think would work so well today with the state most third world economies are in but following WWII the Marshall Plan was an ingenious way for the US to appear as the watchful big brother whilst making a profit off their charges.

- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Looking at the Marshall Plan is a really good idea (there are some excellent websites with material all about it). The big problem with the idea seems to me that the countries which received Marhsall Plan aid had until recently been allies in the war against Germany (Spain did not get assistance, nor did West Germany for several years until political reconstruction was well advanced). By contrast, most countries recently have done all they can to frustrate the foreign policy and war objectives of the USA. They would have to change their position on Iraq, Israel and the Middle East before the US could be expected to start providing the money to reconstruct their economiesm, surely.

    17 Nov 2004, 13:01

  2. Didn't the folks who were part of the Marshall plan have to pay all the money back with interest? PS: Hiya!!

    09 Jan 2005, 16:53

  3. Indeed they did but apparently it worked, witness Western Europe. Those crazy Americans! =) HI!

    09 Jan 2005, 18:52

  4. I actually lied in that last comment. oops! None of the countries receiving aid from the Marshall Plan were expected to repay in any way but they did use most of their money to buy American goods and technology so most of the money went back into the American economy anyway. Seems like free gifts or perhaps debt forgiveness might not be such an outlandish idea at all… just a thought.

    22 Jan 2005, 15:42

  5. Annie Get Your Gang

    So glad someone is talking about this. Hearing people talk about the obscene concept of "African debt" makes my hair stand on end. I doubt I need waste much time explaining why here, but here's just three relevant stats I can throw out and cite a source for:

    1) In 1861, at the outset of the U.S.A,'s Civil War, the value of human capital in the U.S.A. —i.e., slaves captured and imported from Africa, by the British, the French, and, I believe, the Dutch—was of greater value than the capital invested in this country's railroads, banks, and industries combined. '
    (Source: National Geographic. Except for the note about who imported slaves to the Americas. I should know this, but weren't the Dutch heavily involved in the slave trade as well?)

    I do know that 3/4 of the slaves auctioned in the Americas first stood on the auction block in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the jewel of the French Empire until the Haitian slave revolt finally defeated the French in 1804. Many were sold to middlemen slavers who smuggled them into the U.S.A. after importing slaves but not slavery itself had been abolished here.

    2) George Washington, the father of the American Empire, sent $400,000 worth of munitions, valued in 18th century dollars, to the French to help them suppress the Haitian slave revolt. Then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson signed the executive order .

    Washington and Jefferson collaborated in this despite the fact that the French volunteer Henri de Lafayette had led a battalion of escaped Hatian slaves against the British in the American Revolution.
    (I may lose this whole reply to Amy's blog if I go looking for a citation for this, but there are many all over the net and the actual document that Jefferson signed should be in the Library of Congress.)

    Now I could start raving about Patrice Lumumba and the fact that the last time I did a Google search for "Democratic Republic of the Congo," I got a message saying it was temporarily residing in the U.S.Embassy, but we all know these things, don't we?

    Several weeks ago, when the BBC was making my hair stand on end again, going on about African debt, it hit me like a bounlder that Europe never repaid what was negotiated as its "debt" for the Marshall Plan. As Amy points out, the U.S,A. did very well on that debt and on the end of that war, so I probably never would have given it another thought if my hair were not standing on end every time I hear people talk about "African debt."

    Does anyone see a strategy for pointing to Europe's unpaid Marshall plan debt to end this obscene discussion of African debt once and for all, perhaps even begin a discussion of African and African-American reparations?

    I am not—or at least not to my knowledge—African-American. The only European forebears I have any knowledge of are an Irish immigrant who married a German immigrant in a Kansas farming community three generations back.

    Glad someone else is talking about the unpaid Marshall Plan debt and the "African debt" continuing to bleed the life out of Africa. —Annie Get Your Gang

    18 May 2005, 00:54


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