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What lessons have past international efforts in rebuilding war-torn states hold for organizing the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Ukraine?


By David Wessel, Elijah Asdourian

Going back to the Marshall Plan after World War II, the U.S. has spent substantial sums and energy to rebuild war-torn countries. The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and the Center on the U.S. and Europe asked four experts to identify lessons relevant to Ukraine, particularly for donor countries, from the Marshall Plan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Here’s a summary of their answers and videos of their full remarks at the December 15, 2022 event, which also included a report on Ukraine’s economy and the way to finance, govern, and organize reconstruction.

The Marshall Plan: ‘The key is to identify the bottlenecks’

Harold James, Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies at Princeton University, discussed the connections between the crisis Western Europe faced after World War II and the crisis Ukraine faces now. He emphasized that while the U.S. provided necessary funding to Western Europe through the Marshall Plan, the American government paid nowhere near the full cost of reconstruction. The U.S. never spent more than 3% of GDP on the Marshall Plan, and most Western European countries received Marshall Plan funds worth only between 3% to 10% of…

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