Do MENA Countries Need a Marshall Plan-type Aid Program?

A former U.S. national security adviser is suggesting that the United States consider developing a broad reconstruction aid plan for Egypt and other emerging democracies, similar to the Marshall Plan the country adopted for the reconstruction of post-World War II Europe. But some political and foreign policy experts argue that such a plan may not be what the country and rest of the Middle East and North Africa need.

“From my perspective, it may be time to consider a bold idea which would demonstrate our welcome to the new Egypt by considering a type of Marshall Plan for emerging democratic states like Egypt and which young Egyptians are trying to form,” Politico quotes James Jones, who was U.S. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser until October last year. “Such a plan would be international in scope as the world has much to gain from any security, economic and governmental assistance that can be provided at this critical time in Egypt’s history.”

Jones floated the idea on Monday (May 16) in remarks at the National Press Club, just a few days before Obama is expected to deliver a major address on the Middle East, Politico notes.

The Marshall Plan involved delivering economic aid to help fragile European economies move toward stabilization, and several experts agreed that the Obama administration may want to “lay out some kind of broader framework for thinking about the ‘Arab Spring’ and how the international community can help countries that would like to move toward political reforms.”

But few experts believe that another Marshall Plan is the solution to the MENA region’s problems, Politico notes. There are also a number of experts who note that current political and financial situation in the United States may not provide the ideal environment to make a Marshall Plan-type approach successful.

“There was broad bipartisan engagement between the [Harry] Truman administration and the Republican side,” Politico quotes Rudy deLeon of the Center for American Progress. “Whether we can put that kind of bipartisan reach together in 2011 is a great challenge.” 

Truman proposed the Marshall Plan in 1947 and put a Republican senator in charge of implementing it, the newspaper notes.

Read more about U.S. development aid.

About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.