chapter  5
26 Pages

Reconstruction after the Marshall Plan

The above quotations illustrate what had become clear in the era immediately

after the Second World War – the United States has become, and remains, the

country most identified with the idea that economic, political and even ideologi-

cal reconstruction is the way to embed liberal ideas in a defeated illiberal state.

To be sure, the nature of reconstruction as an idea has developed in significant

ways since the end of the Marshall Plan. Often that has to do with the changing

nature of the domestic liberal polities that have indulged in the practice. But it is

difficult to disagree with the view of that great admirer of Woodrow Wilson’s

ideas, Michael Mandelbaum, that ‘this is the stage of reconstruction’, the apo-

theosis of Wilson’s ideal of a world where liberal ideas could conquer the world

and put an end to war.1