Economic cooperation among the West European nations via the Marshall Plan had been one of the desired features of the Plan from the outset. The Berlin Blockade, as a part of the cold War, reinforced this aspect. Not only was there a necessity for economic cooperation to the point of economic integration, but military cooperation could provide safety from subversion in Western Europe. Therefore, mutual defense pacts were instituted as a part of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO).
This was the first long term military alliance that the United States had ever entered into (Kunz par. 3). It meant a recognition that American interests, necessitating a continuing American effort, were at stake in the Cold War in Europe. It meant that Western Europeans had to have a greater degree of economic and military cooperation than ever before to thwart the Soviet threat. Marshall Plan aid gave the West Europeans room to maneuver for opposition and bought time to further this maneuver.
The Marshall Plan pushed the recipient countries toward financial stability; to fewer controls than a planned economy would have, and opened these countries to trade. For every dollar the West European country received, the provisions of the Marshall Plan stipulated that the country also put up a dollar of their currency and the administrators of the Plan ensured that external and internal expenditures of that country went to further the goals of the Plan.
Relatively soon after the Marshall Plan was proposed and certainly by the time it was signed into law, the Plan led the United States charge in the Cold War against Soviet interests. If Western Europe had succumbed to Soviet pressures, the Cold War might have continued to this day and perhaps a worst outcome than that would now be a part of contemporary history. The Cold War was also waged by means other than the economic ones since propaganda, assassination, and proxy wars were going full blast until the fall of the Soviets in 1991.
The existence of launch codes and the practice of scenarios for nuclear war were in place during the Cold War. Fortunately, the Marshall Plan succeeded. In fact it has been called an extraordinary success with the resulting stable countries as being the envy of the world (DeLong and Eichengreen 1). The Plan alone did not save Western Europe. It created and helped to maintain an economic environment that allowed of a mix of market forces and government regulation. Too much either way could have made for many difficulties. It did allow victory in the Cold War in Western Europe.
Communist influence in the region was greatly reduced. The cooperation on economic matters within Western Europe was extended to NATO. NATO survived the end of the Marshall Plan. The Plan ended in 1951, as scheduled. Its continuance was prevented by the rising costs of the Korean War and increased opposition to the Plan in the US Congress. By then the Marshall Plan had done its work. It had become the basis for the political and economic Western alliance as it waged the Cold War.
Cold War. 19 Nov. 2005. Wikipedia. 17 Nov. 2005. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War