Marshall’s Plan

Last week my friend Caroline got us tickets to see Naomi Klein here in Amsterdam. Some of you will have heard about her new book, the shock doctrine. It is all about how the government, in this case I believe the US government, uses traumatic events and tragedies as an opportunity to push their agenda’s of privatization and private contracting for the benefit of the corporations that support them. We can surely talk about the doctrine itself in a future post, my focus is slightly different today.

Over drinks at the bar, following the talk, there were people everywhere debating the shock doctrine and who agrees or does not agree with Klein. One particular guy walks up to me, recognizing me as the guy who raised his hand but was not called on, and strikes up a conversation. During that conversation he mentions the Marshall plan.

What about the Marshall Plan? It seems like it was a huge success? In the four years following WWII, the US spent some 14 billion to support many European countries in their rebuilding. Four years later almost all those countries had managed to kickstart their economies to a higher level than ever before.

Yet nowadays we have the shock doctrine. We have blackwater shooting innocent people. We have disappearing palettes of money. A post war rebuilding that never seems to really rebuild anything. What makes the Marshall Plan so different? This is something I want to look into and I would actually like to speak with someone that knows the plan well.

In her talk Klein talked about how what happens after a major traumatic event depends not only on money but also, ideas that are lying around. What were the ideas lying around in post war Europe, and how do they compare to the ideas lying around in Iraq? Or are there more powerful forces than ideas on the ground that prevent a new Marshall Plan from being laid out?

Until I can answer these questions, I’ll keep searching. I’ve also got some audio of George C. Marshall speaking in 1947 at harvard. Perhaps it will help.


  1. October 18, 2007

    I have reviewed The Shock Doctrine (see, and since then I’ve read Tim Weiner’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.

    Weiner tells us that the Marshall Doctrine, in addition to funding the rebuilding of western Europe, also supplied the money for the infant CIA, which it used (among other things) to ensure that the communists wouldn’t be elected to govern Italy.

    The money also went into training and equipping teams who were air-dropped into Ukraine, Poland, Albania, and other newly communist countries, in hopes that some kind of guerilla movement would oust the reds. But all such projects failed.

    The agents were captured and shot, and much of the money the CIA sent with them (drawn from the Marshall Plan) went into funding communist activities in countries like Greece.

    • bicyclemark
      October 18, 2007

      Thanks for sharing Crawford.. Ill check out your review. Certainly that is important to understand… but what about the success of the Marshall plan for countries like France, UK, and Western Germany? Im just wondering what happenned in these cases and if there wasnt something worth emulating.

  2. richard
    October 18, 2007

    You wrote, “A post war rebuilding that never seems to really rebuild anything.” Who considers Iraq to be in a post-war state? Call it what you want: civil war, insurgency, anarchic chaos, but Iraq is not in a post-war period.
    Any current reconstruction successes in Iraq will be the exception rather than the rule unless and until hostilities have ended. A reconstruction plan (Marshall or otherwise) can’t work in the middle of an ongoing conflict.

  3. October 18, 2007

    Another side to what Max wrote about conemporary America:
    Mark, I can’t imagine the scene you described in your post. Even around the colleges in the area, very few if anyone would gather at a public place and openly discuss the ideas of an author(!) from a lecture they all attended.

    Around here most people can barely work up enough enthusiasm to read the street signs let alone a book.

  4. DRock
    October 18, 2007

    Seriously with the insults? What’s the deal here?

    The topic was the Marshall Plan but somehow the comments denigrate into attacks on the “culture” and “skills” of some 300 million people that happen to live within the geographical markings of a particular country?

    While intense discussion and disagreement have been the hallmarks of Mark’s page, rudeness has never been appreciated.

    • bicyclemark
      October 18, 2007

      Yo D — true true.. I don’t like insults. I should have introduced you properly to max ages ago. I vouch for him.. as both a friend and a thinker. He has a unique style that involves sometimes saying shit that is over the top (YOU do MAx!) But i hope that won’t stop you from hearing the points he makes and to respond, cause I like the discussions. I guess the most I can say beyond that is to not take it personally if he refers to the US or talks about the death of americans from starvation, lack of insurance, hypercapitalism or anything like that.

  5. October 19, 2007

    I’ll let the US congressman do my speaking for me…

  6. October 20, 2007

    I have a strong conviction that a 21st century ‘Marshall Plan’ will come in the form of microeconomic intervention to empower people in their communities, rather than their corrupt governments.

    We may argue about the real intentions of the Marshall Plan, but it would not have succeeded without the good will and generosity of spirit of the greater majority who weren’t involved in espionage. Since then, however, we’ve been convinced of the power of trickle down development and spent the last 50 years propping up despotic regimes – the Hippo generation as economist George Ayittey describes them.

    Behind the scenes there’s a new kind of strategy, from the part of the empowered population that decides to make a difference. Capitalism is interpreted too narrowly says Nobel prizewinning economist Professor Yunus and we know that today, even in the US, there is an impoverished section of humanity that trickle down never reaches. It may be as large as 25% in many states and was exposed to the whole world when Katerina visited.

    Right now the conditions couldn’t be more favourable for action in Eastern Europe. What Bill Richardson and other advocate now, originates a decade ago, from an unknown American who chose homelessness rather than countenance corruption and while the Presidential hopefuls support a plan which isn’t actually a plan. One man sat down and put his whole self into constructing one with a powerful incentive, it will pay back the investment and over 5 years, cost only the
    equivalent of one week in Iraq. It is aimed at a transitional democracy whose social fabric is threatened by the widespread poverty it endures and the consequent threat to all of us. We measure these in terms of HIV incidence, economic migration, human trafficking, child labour and pornography.

    From an American who has paid dearly for his patriotism.

    • bicyclemark
      October 21, 2007

      I appreciate the enthusiasm and should probably not complain, but lately my comments look more like a link-shoot out than anything else. Despite hyperinflation and the suffering of the middle class, the US DOES still spend tons of money on so-called Iraq rebuilding (or war). My question relates to how that money is being used and will be used. Say what you want about the economic situation in the US, this money is still being spent at this very moment.

  7. October 22, 2007

    it’s not money.. it’s credit expansion. there is a huge difference; when the US expands credit and spends the loans in Iraq; it causes inflation at home and homelessness at home

    this is why the marshall plan premise is flawed; at the end of world war two america was the world’s biggest creditor, now it’s the world’s biggest debtor.. it is in no better position to ‘help’ another country than zimbabwe. If you have friends in America – the focus should be to try and get them safely out as the US police state takes hold…

    repeat the US is not spending money; it has no money; it has negative savings and virt. zero manufacturing and almost all new jobs (of the paltry few created) are wairtressing, health care workers…

    the US is simply expanding the credit supply and making the situation worse feeding the 450 trillion dollar global derivative markets… and passing those interest payments onto citizens in the form of hyper-inflation…

    food and energy costs are skyrocketing… soup kitchen lines expanding… foreclosure rates increasing sharply…

    oh well, have a cookie! it’ll ease the pain….

    • bicyclemark
      October 22, 2007

      I eat the occasional cookie, I do.

      Money or credit, something is paying the salaries of alot of people in IRaq and for all those weapons. My question was if instead of spending the money on that, there couldnt be a dynamic plan put into action… not just by the US but through a global fund, that would be dedicated to rebuilding Iraq the same way the US after world war two, as you mentioned, used its position AT THAT TIME, to do some massive rebuilding.

      If you put one more link in my comments max P. keizer, I will throw up on my keyboard. NO MAS!

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