By Paul Goble
There may not be the basis for a Marshall Plan for Russia after Putin leaves the scene – after all, that plan for Germany required an occupation – but there are compelling reasons why the alternative, an updated version of the Morgenthau Plan, would be a counterproductive disaster, Yuliya Latynina says.
The Morgenthau Plan, it will be recalled, the opposition Russian journalist says, called for imposing draconian punishments on Germany in the belief that such a destruction of its infrastructure and population would prevent it from engaging in war ever again (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/12/04/plan-marshalla-protiv-plana-morgentau).
Of course, Latynina says, that wasn’t in Germany’s interest or in the West’s. The only country that would have benefited was the USSR – and it is no accident that Stalin, through his secret police agents promoted the idea to American communist Harry Dexter White who pushed it on his boss, US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau.
Stalin would have benefited because such a peace would have left Germany angry and ready to take revenge, thus destabilizing Europe for decades to come. Indeed, even reports about the existence of the Morgenthau Plan was used by the Nazis to encourage resistance because they knew how Germans would react.
The Marshall Plan was based on an entirely different calculation. It sought to rebuild Germany and Europe and integrate the continent in a web of relations so that its former antagonists would become allies and everyone would benefit, everyone except Stalin who opposed the plan and refused to allow the client states he controlled to take part.
Fortunately, it was the Marshall Plan, named for US Secretary of State George C. Marshall, that was adopted. And not surprisingly, some Russians are hopeful that after Russia’s looming defeat in Ukraine and the destruction of the Putin regime the West will come up with something similar.
Something exactly the same is unlikely because the Marshall Plan was predicated on the occupation of the defeated power, something the West isn’t likely to do in this case. But some kind of massive aid program would make more sense than any recrudescence of something like the Morgenthau Plan which would only ensure the emergence of revanchist sentiments.
One can hope that the West will remember this history and choose the right kind of approach, Latynina says. Unfortunately, current efforts to punish Russian businessmen and officials may go too far and have consequences resembling those that would have followed the introduction of the Morgenthau Plan.
That is, these current actions may not only deprive the West of allies who will play key roles in the restoration of Russia after Putin but likely lead many of them to follow leaders who promise revenge, something that would mean that any victory by Ukraine and the West claimed now would be undercut by future Russian actions.