Given that former adversaries almost never provide ANY aid to the defeated, do you think there was no value in making the gesture?
Probably was some value, but the US did a lot of things as both gestures and real aid. It also did a lot to make the situation worse. You know for the first two years of the occupation it was fucking official allied policy to reduce German productivity and standards of living to what they’d had before Hitler was in power, to those of the middle of the great depression?
Still any way you cut it, Western Europe was going to be strongly in the US camp in the face of the Iron Curtain unless we openly rejected them. Japan meanwhile was literally going from upgraded feudalism to a modern state, and was equally paranoid as fuck about the communists whom it had indoctrinated its people to fear far long before the war, while the US was basically ignored until 1940.
And if that money was so insignificant, why so long to repay? Last I heard, among our allies only Finland and Great Britain ever paid us back in full (thanks, guys!)
Finland was not part of the Marshal Plan in the first place, and no, Britain did not pay us back in full because the vast majority of the Marshal Plan was in the form of grants. Britain did pay back its lend lease debts (only in 2006), which involved three times more money then the entire Marshal Plan, but it still owes us billions from WW1 which will never be paid. That’s why I made the specific point that Germany alone was given most of its Marshal Plan money in the form of loans, though in the end the US decided to effectively cancel them anyway because we felt bad about having Germany looted even while Marshal aid was delivered. The US actually provided more aid to Europe in 1945-1947 before the Marshal Plan anyway, but in the case of German the occupation tax exceeded the value of the aid and a huge number of Germans died in prisoner of war camps from disease, while much of the civilian population starved.
But of course, history is written by the victors, and so the Marshal Plan is played up as a miracle while all the details are ignored.
As for Japan - even "token" gifts like flying a few mutilated women to the States for reconstructive surgery had considerable PR value.
Yeah, it helped counter balance all the bad press from US troops raping thousands of women upon arrival in the country, something which was so bad that US units were confined to barracks when not actually on duty. Course in 1946 while Japan was starving so badly our local commanders were letting Japanese women take half drunk glasses of milk from our dinning halls we made the Japanese take out loans to pay for basic food imports.
A little kindness goes a long way. We could have been vindictive bastards and made the Japanese impoverished vassels. We didn't. We helped heal the wounded, helped them rebuild, gave them back their country, and swore that in exchange for them renouncing anything but a purely defensive military force we'd protect them from everyone else.
It also sure helped that we let Hirohito and the entire Imperial family get away with fucking mass murder so that they could praise the US publicly for being so kind, and then cut short the trials of the handful of war criminals we were actually willing to go after. None of this changes the fact that all of this happened only after both Axis powers were not just beat, but utterly defeated and shoved into the ground, then occupied and stripped of armaments making any call the continue resistance look insane.
I can't help but wonder if some of the adversaries in the Middle East were less focused on revenge for the past they might achieve actual peace. That doesn't make the bad stuff go away - there is still
a lot of bitter animosity in the WWII generation between the US and Japan - but going forward the odds of us being on opposite of a shooting war are considerably less than they might have been otherwise and I can't see that as anything but good.[/quote]
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956