Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reviewing the Marshall Plan

Writing in The New Yorker, Niall Ferguson evaluates the Marshall Plan. An excerpt:

Flitting across this crowded stage are some better-known figures: Harry Truman, who declined to call the program the “Truman Plan” not out of modesty but for fear of riling Republican opponents; Josef Stalin, whose aggressive action toward Czechoslovakia greatly helped Vandenberg to overcome congressional resistance; Ernest Bevin, the overweight, ebullient, and ineffably proletarian British Foreign Secretary, who was the Plan’s biggest fan; and the diarist and wit Harold Nicolson, whose condescending characterization of the United States (“a giant with the limbs of an undergraduate, the emotions of a spinster, and the brain of a pea-hen”) now reads like postimperial sour grapes. The United States in 1945 was a giant, all right, but with the wealth of a Harriman, the altruism of a Marshall, and the sheer dedication of men like Clayton, Vandenberg, Hoffman, and Bissell, it was surely a benign colossus.

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