Is a new Marshall Plan coming to Ukraine?
As the ruling class nationwide continues debating what to do in Ukraine during a time when its main forces are being surrounded by Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine, there are now talks about how Ukraine will look like after the Russo-Ukrainian War.
While there are conflicting narratives on how the war is going for Russia in Ukraine, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Ukraine has taken significant damage. This has prompted American leaders such as Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to float the idea of setting up a Marshall Plan for Ukraine.
On May 24, 2022, Buttigieg said to the UK paper The Guardian that the U.S. supports a plan to rebuild Ukraine after Russia withdraws. The United States government will do so by carrying out a “Marshall Plan” that will consist of doling out billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine in efforts to rebuild the country after having gone through a harrowing war.
Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has pushed for a similar Marshall Plan. Poroshenko was president of Ukraine from 2015 to 2019. His time in office was marked by significant corruption.
Current president Volodymyr Zelensky was able to exploit the dissatisfaction taking place in Ukraine during the Poroshenko administration and cruise to electoral victory in 2019. Zelensky ran on an anti-corruption and pro-peace campaign at the time.
Buttigieg said to The Guardian: ““With the memory of the Marshall plan in mind, what we’re talking about is not only about how we fund immediate needs and support their ability to maintain the war effort, but how we support the ability of Ukraine to be economically viable and generate a sustainable future for themselves, even as they’re under attack.”
The Transportation Secretary made the case for providing financial aid to Ukraine on the grounds that it would bolster the country’s transportation infrastructure and lessen the impact of global food and fertilizer shortages.
The Marshall Plan was first implemented in 1948, which was designed to help Western Europe recover from the devastation of World War II. Roughly $100 billion — in 2018 dollars — of aid was sent to these countries. Most court historians argued that this aid program was instrumental in getting Europe back on its feet.
Now, there’s a renewed push for bringing a Marshall Plan to developing and even war-torn regions such as Ukraine.
However, there’s one problem with the assumption that a Marshall Plan-style aid package will bring immediate success to Ukraine. Most of Europe prior to the passage of the Marshall Plan was already prosperous. The Marshall Plan effectively restored an equilibrium, territorial integrity, and stability that was in place prior to World War II. This aid allowed these countries to quickly get back on their feet and balance against the Soviet Union.
Even prior to the Maidan Revolution of 2014, Ukraine was incredibly corrupt and marked by a significant brain drain of its most talented professionals. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine was ranked in 122nd place.
All things considered, a Marshall Plan for Ukraine might not be the magical cure some think it will turn out to be. While the Russo-Ukrainian War should briskly come to an end, Ukraine has had multiple problems prior to this invasion. Given the well-entrenched corruption in Ukraine, a massive aid program will only allow corrupt actors in Ukraine to rent-seek and continue to loot the state at the people’s expense. It’s going to take a fundamental restructuring, not government handouts, to get the country back on its feet.
Given Western elites’ ideological inclinations, it stands to reason that they will continue to push for a massive aid program, negative consequences notwithstanding.
In a post-national political context in the West, the interests of foreigners usually trump those of the working class. Things will continue to be that way until a proper populist governing coalition is able to take power in Western countries.