Just six months into his term, U.S. President Barack Obama is already modeling himself after the country's most transformational Democratic leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Africa this month, now would be the perfect time to follow in the steps of Roosevelt -- and the most transformational Democratic secretary of state, George Marshall -- by announcing a second Marshall Plan. More than half a century after the United States helped rebuild a war-torn Europe, it's time Africa got the same chance.
The Marshall Plan was fundamentally different from the aid that Africa has received over the past four decades. The Marshall Plan made loans to European businesses, which repaid them to their local governments, which in turn used that revenue for commercial infrastructure -- ports, roads, railways -- to serve those same businesses. Aid to Africa has instead funded government and NGO development projects, without any involvement of the local business sector. The Marshall Plan worked. Aid to Africa has not. An African Marshall Plan is long, long overdue.
Aid groups will argue that such a plan, grounded in building up the local African economy, can never work. Here are the objections they'll make to an African Marshall Plan -- and why they're wrong.