The Politics Of International Trade In 1948 – Past Daily Reference Room
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1948 was significant – it was an Election year in what was looking to be a hotly contested race between incumbent Harry Truman for the Democrats and a familiar face in the GOP; Thomas E. Dewey. Domestic politics was up and running. What was also significant about 1948 was the intensifying of the Cold War, made abundantly clear by the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the subsequent airlift by the U.S. and Western Allies of much needed food and essentials to the people of postwar Berlin. Tensions between East and West were escalating to all new highs, but so was the increase in International Trade, that key element in the reconstruction of a postwar Europe. What it also signified was a popularity contest of sorts, between the Western Allies and The Soviet Union as to who could win the most hearts and minds with the most goods and supplies. Russia was eager to build on its Eastern bloc, and was doing very well as far as Eastern Europe was concerned. But the desire for greater influence made its presence known in France and Italy, and points west, and later on in the 1950s in Africa, as the independence movements took hold. But trade was the key issue here. America was in a key position to up the ante as far as goods were concerned. America had not suffered devastating destruction of cities and farmland that Europe had.
And as is almost always the case; with trade comes strings. With reconstruction and aid come influence and this was a crucial point in time in what would be the popularity contest in hearts and minds.
This discussion, part Two of a two part series from The University Roundtable program, first aired on July 25, 1948 cover the area of the political aspects of trade; how politics and the art of persuasion factored so much in this escalating Cold War.
To get an idea of what was going on, here is that broadcast from 1948 – and be reminded the quest for influence is never-ending.