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U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen speak at an event marking the Marshall Plan’s 70th anniversary at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany, June 28, 2017 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

Today, the Marshall Plan’s Virtues Are the Stuff of History and Nostalgia

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

If you need a break from the tawdry soap opera of American politics and the twists of national security policymaking these days, 2018 provides many milestones that recall actual American greatness, even instilling some hope for its renewal. Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the formal beginning of the Economy Recovery Plan, commonly known as the Marshall Plan. It was not only a financial infusion to jumpstart the struggling economies of Europe torn apart by World War II, but a demonstration of American planning and organization, as well as the role of visionary public and private sector leaders. It was an economic intervention that served a larger political purpose: to achieve postwar stability in Europe, whose peace and prosperity was key to America’s rise as a global power.

The commemorations of the Marshall Plan and its lasting legacy began last year, when institutions honoring George C. Marshall celebrated the 11-minute speech he gave at Harvard University in June 1947. That’s when Marshall, the World War II general-turned-secretary of state, outlined a new approach to helping restart economic activity across Europe’s ravaged landscape. ...

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