The Marshall Plan — the U.S. aid program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II — is now regarded as a masterstroke of strategic economic thinking and diplomatic skill. At the time of its implementation, however, it faced significant skepticism. We spoke with Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, about his new book on the Plan. He argues that it was essential for the creation of the E.U. and of NATO and that its success contains lessons modern politicians need to learn.
Octavian Report: What drew you to the Marshall Plan as a subject? Why now?
Benn Steil: I confess that at the time I decided to write this book, I had no idea that the contemporary atmosphere would be what it is.