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So: World War II. That was messed up, right?
Turns out that, in the battle against what everyone can pretty much agree was pure evil, everyone kind of wrecked Europe. And it's really difficult to put people back to work, post-war, when factories and railroads have been specifically bombed to oblivion. In fact, it's hard for people to do much of anything when their homes are piles of rubble.
Enter the Marshall Plan. Its mission, should it choose to accept it: pump money into Europe in order to rebuild the dang continent.
And this plan was pretty awesome for a few reasons.
First, it's the right thing to do: a bunch of people who had nothing to do with the rise of Nazism, etc., were lacking schools, homes, and jobs. Second, a booming economy in Europe helps pretty much everyone. And third (and maybe most importantly), we don't want World War III. What's that? Oh, right, when you have terrible economic conditions, you're practically begging for totalitarian rule, and that could mean another war.
The Marshall Plan was a bold solution that worked exactly as it was intended to. Without it, there would have been a large possibility of Europe falling to the communists.
The Marshall Plan was a grotesque overreach of power. The United States should have used that money to help the people in their own country first before looking outward.
Marshall's point: things are really bad, you guys. If the United States doesn't help Europe's economy, we're going to be staring down the barrel of another world war with so many communists.
Turns out that war is bad for places. (We know; we're surprised too.)
Even before the actual outbreak of fighting, the Nazis had pretty much destroyed their economy by shifting everything over to manufacturing tools of war. Since we just fought those guys, and don't want to again, they're not allowed to do that. So what's next?
It gets even worse once you factor in the whole idea that manufacturing and transportation hubs were military targets. So in winning the war, the Allies pretty much crippled Europe's economy. Go team.
The trick, according to Marshall, is to help bring the economy back and restore the spirit of people who've been bombed. A lot. The answer: cold, hard cash. The U.S. was pretty untouched by the war, so there's cash to spare. And, if we help Europe recover, it does good things for the world and keeps them from going over to the communists.
The U.S. doesn't want a communist Europe, so we should give them money.