The Eclipse of Postwar Optimism

December 4, 2009 | | Comments Off on The Eclipse of Postwar Optimism

The Marshall Plan was the main part to rebuilding Europe.  Named after Secretary of State George Marshall, the Plan was to give a massive amount of add to Europe.  A little know fact about the plan is that the USA offered relief to USSR and its satellite states.  Because of the strings attached to getting aid from the plan, the USSR rejected. Those strings were: 1. that the US government had a say on how the countries spent the money and be able to view budget records. 2. That the money was used to buy goods produced in the USA. The USSR viewed the plan as the USA trying to push capitalism on the rest of the world. The plan started in 1947 and ended in 1952.

To counter act the Marshall plan, the USSR started the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance which provided aid to rebuild Eastern Europe. The Marshall Plan was a huge success as there was fast economic growth in the 16 nations that received USA aid from the plan.  I Western Germany in particular there was a production growth of 50% over prewar levels. By the end of the plan, the USA had given over $650 billion dollars (in today’s money) in credit and grants.  The successes of the Marshall plan swayed a lot of people in Europe towards capitalism rather than communist.

The Truman Doctrine was put in place by President Truman and was meant to stop the spread communism through the world. This is when the policy of containment was made.  In Iran, USA and British presences force a pull out of soviet forces. Russia also demanded access to the Mediterranean by Turkish waters. This led to the USA sending a permit navel force to protect the area.  Russia also backed communism rebels in Greece.  This led to a massive amount of USA aid to Greece that amounted to $700 million.  By the end of 1949, the USA started to use this policy of containment on a global scale rather than just in Europe.

The Creation of Israel happened in 1948.  The international community after the war ended agreed that a new area in Palestine was needed for the Jewish community. The British had promised the Jewish a new homeland. In 1947 the British passed on the responsibility of the Arab/Jewish clash to the UN.  The USA eagerly recognized the new state Israel. This led to the USA becoming the main backer of Israel throughout the cold war. On the other side of the spectrum, the USSR started to back the Israel’s enemies, such as Syria or Iraq.

After the war ended, Soviets accelerated their nuclear program with captured German scientists. By 1949 the Soviets successfully devolved an atomic bomb. After that the Soviets were only months behind when the USA devolved hydrogen bomb. These weapons when combined with ICBMs led to the prospect of MAD (mutually assured destruction).  Both countries spent untold billions of dollars on these advancements. The nuclear clubs eventually included France, England, China, Pakistan, and India.


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