The Marshall Plan was the most successful U.S. foreign policy program of the Cold War, and arguably the most successful in all of U.S. history. In France, Italy, the United Kingdom, West Germany, and beyond, the plan’s $13 billion in aid expedited economic recovery, buoyed morale, and eroded the appeal of communism. All that is well known. But what is often forgotten is that the Marshall Plan also ratcheted up Cold War tensions. By spurring the economic revival of the western occupation zones in Germany and their eventual merger into the country of West Germany, it rekindled fears across the continent, east and west, about the specter of renewed German power. That, in turn, led to the establishment of NATO and the division of Europe.
These are the themes of Benn Steil’s well-crafted new book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War, which puts the initiative