WHEN on June 5, 1947, Secretary Marshall spoke at Harvard of the terms upon which the United States stood ready to aid European recovery, neither he nor his Commencement audience probably realized that his modest speech would lay the cornerstone of a major reconstruction of world political and economic policy.
Like all pronouncements of genuinely universal significance, the words of the Secretary of State crystallized aspirations already deeply rooted in the minds of men in many nations. After reviewing the wholesale disintegration of the fabric of Europe's economy resulting from the war, the Secretary stated that it was the purpose of the United States to contribute to "the revival of a working economy in the world, so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist." He made it clear that "the initiative must come from Europe," and that the aid of the United States would be offered to those who demonstrated their readiness to collaborate in such a general recovery but would be withheld from those who manœuvred to block it. Finally, he stated that "any assistance that this Government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative" to the ills that had contributed and were contributing to "hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos."
The yeast in Secretary Marshall's words lay in the promise of American aid to an indigenous European Recovery Program, designed not merely to reconstitute the state of unstable equilibrium which had preceded the last war, but rather to establish a solid economic foundation of mutual collaboration and interdependence that would preclude the recurrence of armed conflict such as had engulfed Europe and involved the United States twice in a single generation.
It was no part of Secretary Marshall's intent to make the European Recovery Program an instrument in a war of ideologies between the Soviet Union and the United States. That result came from Russia's refusal to associate herself, or to allow her satellites to
Loading, please wait...