The Marshall Pl An Economic Aid Initiative Proposed By The United States

The Marshall Pl An Economic Aid Initiative Proposed By The United States

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The ‘Marshall Plan’, an economic aid initiative proposed by the United States of America in 1947, acted as a catalyst in the polarisation of Eastern and Western Europe. Seeking to challenge Soviet power and the spread of Communism, the United States acted to ‘contain’ Soviet growth through the ‘Truman Doctrine’ and reduce the appeal of Communism through the Marshall Plan offer. Although aid was offered to both Eastern and Western Europe, the Soviet Union, who rejected the offer, acted to also prevent its numerous Eastern European satellite states from accepting. With this refusal of Marshall Plan aid from Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union began to draw its ‘iron curtain’ in order to prevent outside influence. Unrest throughout Europe in response to the Marshall Plan further deteriorated relations between East and West; resulting in the establishment of NATO and definitive splitting of Europe into two opposed camps.

The Soviet Union and the spread of Communism quickly became a major cause of concern for post-war Europe. The emergence of Soviet-related conflicts in Iran, Turkey and Greece throughout the years of 1945 – 1947 led United States President Harry S. Truman to shift American foreign policy towards worldwide anti-Communism. Fearful of what was perceived as Soviet expansionism, President Truman formally introduced a policy of Soviet ‘containment’ with the introduction of the ‘Truman Doctrine’ in March 1947:

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

With Europe facing dire economic instability amidst widespread post-war destruction, conditions were ripe for Communism to thrive. To combat this, a gene...

... middle of paper ...

...he iron curtain was finally closed and Europe definitively split in two.

The Marshall Plan, while certainly a generous offer, lit the fire that separated Eastern and Western Europe. The Soviet Union, fearful of American influence and scornful of the Marshall Plan’s hidden agenda, sought to protect itself from outside influence by tightening control over its Eastern European ‘buffer zone’. The United States and its allies saw the tightening of control as a snowballing Soviet expansion and the spread of Communism a threat to Western interests. The Marshall Plan truly drove a wedge between the two sides; defining who was ‘with’ the United States and who was ‘with’ the Soviet Union. With each side championing a very different way of life, that each felt was under threat by the other, East and West both drew their lines in the sand and plunged the world into a Cold War.

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