RFI President Eric Patterson wrote an article published in Providence Magazine this week reflecting on the importance and legacy of the Marshall Plan, a U.S. program enacted in 1948 to provide foreign aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II. In particular, Patterson builds on President Reagan’s observations about the the Marshall Plan, arguing that it “went on to secure the freedom and vitality of not just individual countries, but the Western alliance that defeated Soviet Communism.” He writes:
In 1987 Ronald Reagan, reflecting on the legacy of the Marshall Plan, wisely noted that the first thing that it “generated hope where there was none.” Hope was the indispensable element for European recovery in terms of morale, politics, and enterprise. Reagan went on, “The second and most important goal of the Marshall plan was to provide incentives for Europeans to find common ground, to bring down the political barriers which stifle economic activity and growth.”
Hope and common ground, combined with a long-term vision of America’s welfare and national interest. It was a huge investment and was not guaranteed to be successful. Yet, the approach went on to secure the freedom and vitality of not just individual countries, but the Western alliance that defeated Soviet Communism. Reagan concluded with words worthy of President Truman or General Marshall, words worthy of our attention today: The greatest challenge for those of us who live in freedom is to recognize the ties of common interest that bind us, to prove wrong those cynics who would suggest that free enterprise and democracy lead to shortsighted policies and undisciplined self-interest.
Read the full article: “The Marshall Plan at 75: An Act to Promote World Peace.”