The economics of the Marshall Plan, however, was probably not its most important effect. Europe in 1948 was in considerable turmoil, and the Soviet Union was moving aggressively to consolidate control over the areas it occupied when the war ended. In making this commitment to Western Europe, the Marshall Plan cemented a tight relationship between our nations that has paid all kinds of dividends since then. Had we listened to the America First critics of the Marshall Plan, the Soviets very well might have extended their influence across more of Europe, and the Cold War would have proved even more chilling.
Even before victory was declared, the United States was re-shaping the international economic order in ways that put the United States firmly and advantageously at its center.
Every time you fill up your car, you benefit from that internationalism, and you have since 1971. In that year, Nixon negotiated with other oil producers to make sure that oil would always be priced in dollars, which has made gas prices both more stable and cheaper for Americans that they would otherwise have been.
The Trump White House just doesn’t get it. Globalism is the new America First, and it has been since World War II.
Steven Conn, the W. E. Smith Professor of History at Miami University, is a regular contributor.