The CIA and the Marshall Plan

Sallie Pisani

People have the right to choose their own form of government. That lofty principle, affirmed by Churchill and Roosevelt in the Atlantic Charter, was to guide our post-war foreign policy.

But suppose that people given a chance to choose their government make the "wrong" choice? Suppose they choose a government unfriendly to the United States, an undemocratic form of government at odds with our national interests? What then?

“This work makes a significant contribution, chiefly in its analysis of the rise to positions of power in the CIA of those who advocated a clandestine approach to America’s foreign policy goals. Especially useful are the discussions concerning the relationship between U.S. foundations (e.g., Ford) and the new clandestine organizations within the government, particularly the Office of Policy Coordination; the reasons why key individuals moved from these foundations to OPC; the rising interest in the uses of covert propaganda as an adjunct to the European Recovery Program (ERP, the Marshall Plan); and the way in which funds for these operations were secretly funneled to European assets (notably within the labor movement) through the cover of the Marshall Plan.”

—Loch K. Johnson, author of America’s Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society and A Season of Inquiry: The Senate Intelligence Investigation

“This book is highly original and is characterized by both insight and clarity. Pisani’s link between OPC and the Marshall Plan is utterly convincing and invites reappraisal of even the most recent scholarship. . . . She has a dream of a writing style.”

—Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, author of The CIA and American Democracy

Out of this conflict between idealistic principles and practical self-interest sprang the CIA's first peacetime covert operations. In The CIA and the Marshall Plan historian Sallie Pisani shows how the U.S. added a Cold War corollary to the principle of self-determination: massive foreign aid and nonmilitary covert operations to reshape war-torn Europe in the image of the U.S.

Pisani tells, for the first time, the story of the top CIA operatives who were instrumental in developing the non-military covert intervention policies of the early Cold War years and the Office of Policy Coordination that carried them out. Through interviews with Deputy Director of Plans Richard Bissell (Bay of Pigs), OSS officer and later CIA official John Bross, CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston, CIA field operative Kermit Roosevelt, and Frank Lindsay, head of paramilitary operations for OPC, Pisani traces covert operations from their roots in the New Deal and World War II through the years of the Marshall Plan.

About the Author

Sallie Pisani is assistant professor of history at Monmouth College in New Jersey.