War of Worlds 1947-1950 – The Escalation of Fear: 1947. Fearing that a damaged Europe might fall prey to Communism, President Truman launches the Marshall Plan, a major loan package offered to European nations to assist in their reconstruction. It is also a way to help the French in Indochina, where Ho Chi Minh has established a proper government, working from its “bamboo ministries”. His army and his influence grow with each passing day. At the Kremlin, Stalin celebrates his 70th birthday.
The grandiose celebrations organized for him around the world are a testimony to his power. In Berlin, he has imposed a blockade, which is overcome only thanks to the bravery of American pilots and their airlift. But Stalin prefers to focus on the success of his brand new atomic bomb. And the red wave continues to progress… In China, after a long civil war, Mao Zedong installs a totalitarian regime which will kill more than 50 million people in thirty years. In Korea, communist troops from the north have crossed the 38th parallel and are heading south, facing a South Korean army lacking men and supplies. Truman decides to intervene: commanded by General McArthur, the UN troops are sent to the front. A real debacle awaits them. Entrenched in the far south of Korea, in Pusan, Americans are surrounded by the enemy, will they be able to hold out?
War of Worlds 1947-1950 – The Escalation of Fear
The story of this fantastic period of history between 1945 and 1991, which was defined by the confrontation of two worlds and two systems. The capitalist West, dominated by the ever-powerful United States, is pitted against the Communist East, the Soviet Empire. Both sides possess the ultimate weapon, the Nuclear Bomb, which neither can use, at the risk of causing their own peril. This terrifying balance of fear paradoxically ensures a half-century of peace and prosperity in the West.
There are many heated moments during this “Cold War”, and Asia is the chosen place for these “localized” wars in which the Superpowers confront each other through other populations engaged in merciless battles. This brought us to make a series that will be as colorful as it is violent, and which will explore the key wars and interludes of peace and progress.
If there was a noun that encapsulated the “Cold War” best it’s probably “nuclear deterrence”. Both sides of the geopolitical tensions: the Eastern Bloc of the collectivist Soviet Union and the Western Bloc of the individualist United States (and their allies) now had at their disposal nuclear weapons. These weapons made these nations immeasurably powerful but conversely rendered both innocuous to one another. The heavy losses of the first and second World Wars still weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of these superpowers, but guaranteed mutual destruction was the strongest factor that prevented each from declaring all-out war.
What were the superpowers to do? They can’t stand each other yet they can’t fight each other, at least directly. Thus, there were the proxy wars: battles between the allies of nations that represented East vs West without technically being East vs West. The Cold War was a conflict of intimidation, symbolism, grand-standing and agitation: both parties dancing on the edge of war but neither willing to start one. It cost the world millions of lives, but had the nuclear option been used, it would have cost us all our lives. The apocalypse was but a few turning of keys and pushing of buttons away at any moment. No matter how peaceful we are at any given moment the danger of nuclear fallout will always loom over us all.
The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative enacted in 1948 to provide foreign aid to Western Europe. The United States transferred over $13 billion (equivalent of about $114 billion in 2020) in economic recovery programs to Western European economies after the end of World War II. Replacing an earlier proposal for a Morgenthau Plan, it operated for four years beginning on April 3, 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-torn regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, improve European prosperity, and prevent the spread of communism. The Marshall Plan required a reduction of interstate barriers and the dissolution of many regulations while also encouraging an increase in productivity as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.
The Marshall Plan aid was divided among the participant states roughly on a per capita basis. A larger amount was given to the major industrial powers, as the prevailing opinion was that their resuscitation was essential for the general European revival. Somewhat more aid per capita was also directed toward the Allied nations, with less for those that had been part of the Axis or remained neutral. The largest recipient of Marshall Plan money was the United Kingdom (receiving about 50% of the total), but the enormous cost that Britain incurred through the “Lend-Lease” scheme was not fully re-paid to the US until 2006. The next highest contributions went to France (8%) and West Germany (12%). Some eighteen European countries received Plan benefits. Although offered participation, the Soviet Union refused Plan benefits, and also blocked benefits to Eastern Bloc countries, such as Romania and Poland. The United States provided similar aid programs in Asia, but they were not part of the Marshall Plan.
Its role in the rapid recovery has been debated. The Marshall Plan’s accounting reflects that aid accounted for about 3% of the combined national income of the recipient countries between 1948 and 1951, which means an increase in GDP growth of less than half a percent.