JMcD – Comecon and Cominform: The Soviet Response to Marshall Aid

Paris Negotiations

The Paris negotiations were a set of meetings between sixteen Western European nations that began on the 16th July 1947, with the aim of formulating plans for the acceptance of financial aid by the United States. Foreign Minister, Molotov, was also present, however upon his understanding that the programme outlined by the Americans was one of joint aid shared out among the countries within it, he left abruptly, since the Soviets were seeking an agreement that wouldn’t provide the allies with influence in the East. It should be noted that although many Eastern states were invited to attend the negotiations, they were prevented by Stalin’s command, partially simplifying the agreements. Bevin was happy about the leaving of the communist representative as he felt this separated the Eastern and Western powers, which he had been pushing for previously. By August that year, little headway had been made, aside from many of the states drawing up a list of the aid they were seeking, of which revolved heavily around their own needs. Jefferson Caffery, the U.S ambassador, argued that this would form 17 separated economies as had been present prior to the Second World War, despite being dismissive of the countries’ determined attachment to their independence. The US officials, therefore, set up an Advisory Steering Committee to bring European demands further in line with the American government’s criteria and by September it had achieved a few definite successes:

Firstly, it was agreed for trade to be liberalised and a customs union to be created, although such obligations were made with protection of national independence in mind. Secondly, German industry in the Western region was to be revived under heavy supervision of neighbouring countries. Thirdly, the coordination of resources (hydroelectric sources) and setting up of targets to which America would send goods were agreed upon.

The soviet Response

The end of cooperation among the Strange Alliance was marked by Stalin’s refusal to allow Eastern European states to partake in Marshall aid. He and Molotov believed that the programme was a means for America to spread its influence across Europe through utilising large-scale transportation of goods and ensuring the use of the American dollar within Europe: this was called ‘Dollar Imperialism’. Stalin’s response was to strengthen the stability of the Soviet bloc, as a group of communist states, in his decision to create Cominform (Communist Information Bureau)- a cooperative organisation of all countries within the Soviet sphere of influence that would aim to coordinate the polices of all the states. In addition Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) was put into use in order to ensure the correct movement of goods and sharing of money within Eastern Europe. In terms of Stalin’s specific choice of action in response to Marshall Aid, the communist leader became unwilling to allow coalition governments to exist in the Eastern bloc and began to utilise salami tactics in order to establish totally communist governments, and chose to sustain the presence of his Red Army in Europe.

 

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