Why did the US pursue the Marshall Plan for European nations?
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The European economy was completely devastated after World War II, along with the infrastructure to support economic development in many nations. The United States had already provided some reconstruction assistance, but recovery came very slowly, bottoming out in 1947. As a consequence, Communist parties began to attract more members in many western European nations, especially in Italy and France.
The Marshall Plan was an attempt to inject capital into these ailing economies, which threatened the global economy as well as the US strategic position in Europe. Proposed by Secretary of State George Marshall, it allocated about 13 billion dollars in aid to western European nations. The Soviets and their satellite states in Eastern Europe were also offered aid, but declined. (Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, who had diverged from Stalin, was a notable exception.) The aid helped to underwrite a rapid, almost miraculous economic recovery in Western Europe, as well as fostering a sense of unity on economic matters. The Organization for European Economic Cooperation was formed to cooperate on issues relating to recovery.
The Marshall Plan formulated under the Truman Doctrine aimed to provide economic assistance to European nations that were in the midst of post-war reconstruction. The Americans sought to use the plan as an attempt to contain the spread of Soviet influence on the European continent, especially in Eastern Europe. This was supposedly achieved through the establishment of economic ties with the US, which in effect would break any bonds these states had with the USSR. Policy-makers in the US also sought to use the economic recovery of European nations as an outlet for the excess industrial output the American economy was generating.
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