Remember the Marshall Plan

Copyright gettyimages. “A Greek farmer, Dimitrios ARAVOSSIS is leading a horse, testing the new American piece of machinery furnished by the Marshall Plan. Thanks to American industrials, Greek peasants had the possibility to get equipped with cheap agricultural devices such as ploughs.”

In April of 1948, the US launched its most successful foreign policy initiative in history.

Over a 4-year period, President Truman, supported by a Republican-dominated Congress, gave some $120 billion (in today’s dollars) to European countries for economic reconstruction following the devastation of the WWII in which 60 million people were killed. By providing aid at the time of their worst humanitarian crisis, the US eventually helped rebuild the global economy, defeat communism, and bring about a peaceful set of alliances that have prevented an outbreak of another world war since then.

Back in 2016, the US Congressional Research Service reported $1.6 trillion was spent on the Iraq and the Afghanistan wars, although other economic reports put the cost at $4-$6 trillion.

After almost 15 years of the war in Afghanistan, and some 20 years after the US intervention in Iraq, the outcome of this US foreign policy initiative (today seen not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in the broader Middle East, the ideological extremist threat the US faces, and the prospects for long-term peace) sadly doesn’t come close to the results of the Marshall Plan back in 1948.

As Mr. Trump’s administration gears up for a new chapter in US foreign policy, it may be worthwhile to look back and try to re-discover how and why America can succeed abroad in bringing about democracy and peace (in addition to making friends for generations to come), while making Americans at home safer.