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Can He Block It? drawing by Edwin Marcus, March 7, 1948

The Marshall Plan was the United States’ large-scale effort to aid Europe’s recovery from war and thwart the spread of communism by providing economic stability to key Western European governments. This cartoon shows Soviet leader Joseph Stalin trying to block a ball labeled “Marshall Plan” from a basket labeled “European Recovery.”

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Can He Block It?

Providing Aid to Europe

After World War II, Congress approved foreign aid for war-torn nations and grappled with the Soviet Union’s aggressive efforts to impose communism on sovereign nations. As the United States faced a new “Cold War” with the Soviets, Congress approved $400 million of military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey in 1947. Less than a year later, Congress authorized legislation to provide $13 billion of aid to Western European nations, known as the Marshall Plan.

The bill constitutes the foundation of a long delayed and desperately needed foreign policy, for the guidance of our nation in discharging the inescapable responsibilities as world leader in behalf of universal, personal, and national freedom, security, and peace.

Representative Charles A. Eaton of New Jersey, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives on the Economic Cooperation Act (Marshall Plan), March 23, 1948