The Significance of the Marshall Plan

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How significant was the Marshall Plan in contributing to the outbreak of the Cold War in Europe? The 1947 Marshall Plan was an economic outline put forth by George Marshall and the United States, a large-scale programme to provide aid to Europe and reconstruct flagging economies. It was a bold move that the Soviets rightly saw as infringing on their sphere of influence, and only served to heighten the tensions that had seemingly simmered down. A major turning point in the course of history, the Marshall Plan inflamed relations and crystallized the divide between Democracy and Communism, setting the stage for the ensuing Cold War. The main reason for the Marshall Plan as a turning factor was in its forthrightness. It can be seen as the United States throwing down an economic gauntlet to the Soviet Union, challenging its authority in Eastern Europe by offering economic aid to countries under the USSR. Despite altruistic claims of helping states grow, the United States was really engaging in dollar diplomacy, attempting to harness the developing economies for their own use. Due to the continual expansion of their own economy, the Americans needed to find emerging markets through which they could both import and export goods, and found them in the Eastern European states. This, however, was seen by the Soviet Union as a form of economic expansion through which the Americans were bringing Eastern European states into their own sphere of influence, and was a direct challenge to their authority. It is possible to argue that the Americans were indeed trying to help struggling states with their growth and that the aims were purely altruistic in nature. However, it must be noted that the Marshall Plan did have strings attached, forcing the countries that it provided aid for to open their markets for American goods and not advancing it to countries who did not do
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