Remarks by Administrator Mark Green at the Brookings Institute's "The Marshall Plan's 70th Anniversary and the Future of Development Cooperation" Event

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Archived Video of Tuesday, Jun 05, 2018 Event 

In 1948, drawing upon analysis and recommendations developed by the Brookings Institution, the United States Congress enacted the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe in the wake of World War II. The plan’s success in revitalizing the economy and accelerating peace and prosperity ultimately provided a template for official development assistance and the development cooperation practiced today by the U.S. and other donor nations.

On Tuesday, June 5, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings and U.S. Agency for International Development co-hosted an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and reflect on strategies for advancing cooperative leadership in global development.

 

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thanks, Tony. It's good share the stage with the leaders who are here, and good to be with all of you. As Tony mentioned, we're joined by distinguished international colleagues from the annual Tidewater gathering. Yeah, 50 years, 70 years, 100 years; it seems to be the time for great moments and things for us to celebrate.

You know, the fact that we have gone -- my colleagues and I -- from Tidewater to the Marshall Plan is really fitting because in so many ways the work that we are doing these days and the challenges that we're taking on really do date back to some of the challenges and some of the accomplishments that were undertaken 70 years ago.

So, why is the Marshall Plan relevant today? You know, as you heard there, it was about much more than dollars. And yet, for so many Americans, I think, when they look back, that's all they think of. They think of the large sums of money that did flow to Europe. But if it were all about money, if it were only about money, not only would the plan have faded into the mist of time quite some time ago, but it would have failed. It would not have accomplished what we see today.

First, while compassion was certainly an important element in the Marshall Plan, and you see some of that playing out in the film, it was strategic compassion. It was strategic considerations that ultimately, I think, motivated key voices and key votes in putting all of this together. So, it's true that part of Joseph Stalin's opposition to the Marshall Plan was a blanket opposition to the extension of assistance to countries which in his mind, had caused so much destruction in his country. But what really made his opposition especially fierce was the realization that the Marshall Plan would essentially constrain the westward expansion of Soviet influence and the influence of communism.

And the second aspect of the plan, it seems to me, which comes from that, was how the dollars were tied to key reforms that did create the framework that we see today: economic reforms, institutional reforms, and political reforms. It emphasized a liberalization of trade policy. It included a fostering of responsive governance and democratic structures, which we all realize are so important today.

And I think for Americans who are paying close attention to the Marshall Plan, they eventually supported it so strongly because they saw it not as a handout, but as a hand up. They saw that it essentially seeded new market-based economies. It created commercial opportunities for American businesses, but commercial partners amongst our allies in Europe.

And I think those aspects of the Marshall Plan really do echo today to the challenges and the opportunities that we're talking about, that we've been talking about at Tidewater, we're talking about in many venues in the world today. And there are a number of parallels between the challenges that they saw then and the challenges that we see now. Today it's not the spread of communism, but I would argue it's the lure of authoritarianism. Moscow still seeks influence, but it's really not Moscow that has the juice. It in many ways is China which has the juice. And the wealth that it can throw around from murky ends at best.

And so, I would argue that just as the creation of the Marshall Plan offered war-torn Europe a clear choice for their path to economic growth, the emergence of China's mercantile authoritarian assistance programs, I think, in clear contrast to that which unifies all of us who took part of Tidewater, it also offers a clear choice for nations around the world. You know, we know that China has shown little interest in adhering to the norms of debt sustainability or the principles of development assistance that we believe in.

It offers easy money, it offers quick projects. It offers availability and responsiveness in the sense of being able to act quickly. But it also secures conditions and indebtedness that I would argue essentially mortgage a country's future. And so, the spirit of the Marshall Plan is something that we do need to talk about today, and we do need to bring forward. Because the Marshall Plan reminds us that we can use our tools of leadership, development, international assistance, to really shape the world in very important ways.

At USAID, we're trying to carry this legacy on because it resonates for us today, but it really is something, again, that I think all of us need to be talking about. At USAID, we believe that if countries are willing to make the tough choices, if they're willing to do some of the difficult things that we saw the war-torn nations of Europe do, if they're willing to do that, then we should step forward. We should walk with them on their journey to self-reliance. We should be there to help foster those institutions, which experience has shown us, make all the difference.

Not because we have all the answers, but as I often say, we've probably made all the mistakes over the years. And so, we can say to our friends in the developing world, "Look, you can leapfrog, you can learn from our mistakes, you don't have to repeat them. And you can accelerate and you can aspire to great things, and you can aspire to rising and making that journey from recipient to partner to, yes, fellow donor." And to me, that's the spirit of the Marshall Plan. And at USAID we believe it's alive and well, and it really does animate the work that we do.

Washington, DC

Last updated: June 11, 2018

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