Archive for April 5th, 2007

Vocabulary for April 2-5

eponymous
pretext

Excerpts: The Marshall Plan

THE MARSHALL PLAN (1947)

Introduction:
On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall spoke at Harvard University and outlined what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Europe, still devastated by the war, had just survived one of the worst winters on record. The nations of Europe had nothing to sell for hard currency, and the democratic socialist governments in most countries were unwilling to adopt the draconian proposals for recovery advocated by old-line classical economists. Something had to be done, both for humanitarian reasons and also to stop the potential spread of communism westward.

The United States offered up to $20 billion for relief, but only if the European nations could get together and draw up a rational plan on how they would use the aid. For the first time, they would have to act as a single economic unit; they would have to cooperate with each other. Marshall also offered aid to the Soviet Union and its allies in eastern Europe, but Stalin denounced the program as a trick and refused to participate. The Russian rejection probably made passage of the measure through Congress possible.

The Marshall Plan, it should be noted, benefited the American economy as well. The money would be used to buy goods from the United States, and they had to be shipped across the Atlantic on American merchant vessels. But it worked. By 1953 the United States had pumped in $13 billion, and Europe was standing on its feet again. Moreover, the Plan included West Germany, which was thus reintegrated into the European community. (The aid was all economic; it did not include military aid until after the Korean War.)

Aside from helping to put Europe back on its feet, the Marshall Plan led to the Schuman Plan, which in turn led to Euratom, then the Coal and Iron Community and the Common Market, and pointed to what may yet evolve into an economically and politically united Europe. In many ways, the Marshall Plan satisfied both those who wanted our foreign policy to be generous and idealistic and those who demanded realpolitik; it helped feed the starving and shelter the homeless, and at the same time stopped the spread of communism and put the European economy back on its feet.

Questions for understanding:
1. Outline the main features of the Marshall Plan. What was it supposed to accomplish? What did the US get out of all this spending?
2. What effect did the Marshall Plan possibly have upon the formation of the European Union?
3. Assess the validity of the following quote:
“Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.”

I need not tell you gentlemen that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Furthermore, the people of this country are distant from the troubled areas of the earth and it is hard for them to comprehend the plight and consequent reaction of the long-suffering peoples, and the effect of those reactions on their governments in connection with our efforts to promote peace in theworld.

In considering the requirements for the rehabilitation of Europe the physical loss of life, the visible destruction of cities, factories, mines, and railroads was correctly estimated, but it has become obvious during recent months that this visible destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of European economy. For the past 10 years conditions have been highly abnormal. The feverish maintenance of the war effort engulfed all aspects of national economics. Machinery has fallen into disrepair or is entirely obsolete. Under the arbitrary and destructive Nazi rule, virtually every possible enterprise was geared into the German war machine. Long-standing commercial ties, private institutions, banks, insurance companies and shipping companies disappeared, through the loss of capital, absorption through nationalization or by simple destruction. In many countries, confidence in the local currency has been severely shaken. The breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete. Recovery has been seriously retarded by the fact that 2 years after the close of hostilities a peace settlement with Germany and Austria has not been agreed upon. But even given a more prompt solution of these difficult problems, the rehabilitation of the economic structure of Europe quite evidently will require a much longer time and greater effort than had been foreseen.

There is a phase of this matter which is both interesting and serious. The farmer has always produced the foodstuffs to exchange with the city dweller for the other necessities of life. This division of labor is the basis of modern civilization. At the present time it is threatened with breakdown. The town and city industries are not producing adequate goods to exchange with the food-producing farmer. Raw materials and fuel are in short supply. Machinery is lacking or worn out. The farmer or the peasant cannot find the goods for sale which he desires to purchase. So the sale of his farm produce for money which he cannot use seems to him unprofitable transaction. He, therefore, has withdrawn many fields from crop cultivation and is using them for grazing. He feeds more grain to stock and finds for himself and his family an ample supply of food, however short he may be on clothing and the other ordinary gadgets of civilization. Meanwhile people in the cities are short of food and fuel. So the governments are forced to use their foreign money and credits to procure these necessities abroad. This process exhausts funds which are urgently needed for reconstruction. Thus a very serious situation is rapidly developing which bodes no good for the world. The modern system of the division of labor upon which the exchange of products is based is in danger of breaking down.

The truth of the matter is that Europe’s requirements for the next 3 or 4 years of foreign food and other essential products – principally from America — are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help, or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.

The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer throughout wide areas must be able and willing to exchange their products for currencies the continuing value of which is not open to question.

Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people concerned, the consequences to the economy of the United States should be apparent to all. It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this Government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative. Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find full cooperation, I am sure, on the part of the United States Government. Any government which maneuvers to block the recovery of other countries cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.

It is already evident that, before the United States Government can proceed much further in its efforts to alleviate the situation and help start the European world on its way to recovery, there must be some agreement among the countries of Europe as to the requirements of the situation and the part those countries themselves will take in order to give proper effect to whatever action might be undertaken by this Government. It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this Government to undertake to draw up unilaterally a program designed to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans. The initiative, I think, must come from Europe. The role of this country should consist of friendly aid in the drafting of a European program so far as it may be practical for us to do so. The program should be a joint one, agreed to by a number, if not all European nations.

An essential part of any successful action on the part of the United States is an understanding on the part of the people of America of the character of the problem and the remedies to be applied. Political passion and prejudice should have no part. With foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibilities which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.

Source: Congressional Record, 30 June 1947.

Links for more information:
A Reflection on the importance of the Marshall Plan and Iron Curtain speech by the former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt

The Dixiecrat revolt

From the Encylopedia Americana article by Donald B. Johnson: Dixiecrats, a splinter group of Southern Democrats in the U.S. elections of 1948, who rejected President Harry S. Truman’s civil-rights program and revolted against the civil-rights plank adopted at the Democratic National Convention. A conference of states’ rights leaders then met in Birmingham and suggested Gov. J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president and Gov. Fielding Wright of Mississippi for vice president. The group hoped to force the election into the House of Representatives by preventing either Truman or his Republican opponent, Thomas E. Dewey, from obtaining a majority of the electoral votes.

The plan failed. Although Thurmond electors ran and won as the official Democratic candidates in four states—Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina—other Thurmond electors running as “States Rights Democrats” lost to Truman slates. Thurmond polled 22.5% of the total Southern vote to Truman’s 50.1%. Nationally, Thurmond obtained 39 electoral votes with 1,169,032 popular votes. The Dixiecrat movement encouraged Northern blacks to vote for Truman, but it ultimately strengthened the Republican party in the South, for many Dixiecrats became Republicans.

PLATFORM OF THE STATES RIGHTS DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Unanimously Adopted at Oklahoma City, August 14, 1948
1 -We believe that the Constitution of the United States is the greatest charter of human liberty ever conceived by the mind of man.

2 -We oppose all efforts to invade or destroy the rights guaranteed by it to every citizen of this republic.

3 -We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totallitaran, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions.

4 -We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to learn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

5 -We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiatt, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.

6 -We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national orgin in appreciable numbers.

7 -We stand for the check and balances provided by the three departments of our government. We oppose the usurpation of legislative functions by the executive and judicial departments. We unreservadly condemn the effort to establish in the United States a police nation that would destroy the last vestige of liberty enjoyed by a citizen.

8 – We demand that there be returned to the people to whom of right they belong, those powers needed for the preservation of human rights and the discharge of our responsibility as democrats for human welfare. We oppose a denial of those by political parties, a barter or sale of those rights by a political convention, as well as any invasion or violation of those rights by the Federal Government. We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totaltarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominously defeating Harry S. Truman, Thomas E. Dewey and every other candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.

9 -We, therefore, urge that this Convention endorse the candidacies of J. Strom Thurmond and Fielding H. Wright for the President and Vice-president, respectively, of the United States of America.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS
Wm. H. MURRAY
JOHN STEEL BATSON
CLIFTON RATLIFF
M.F. RAY
MRS. ANNA B. KORN
O.L. PENNY
J.K. WELLS
BARNEY WOLVERTON
R.W. MOTT
FRANCIS HASKELL
 
 
OTHER OFFICERS ELECTED
ROSS LILLARD, President
CHUCK HERD, Vice-President
MRS. RUTH LACKEY, Secretary
 
HEADQUARTERS
 
At Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Excerpts: The “Iron Curtain” speech

“Iron Curtain Speech”, March 5, 1946
Winston Churchill

Personally introduced to the audience by President Truman, Winston Churchill gave this speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, after receiving an honorary degree. With typical oratorical skills, Church introduced the phrase “Iron Curtain” to describe the division between Western powers and the area controlled by the Soviet Union. As such the speech marks the onset of the Cold War. The speech was very long, and here excerpts are presented.

As you read, consider answer the following questions:
1. What title did Churchill himself give this speech? What does that title mean?
2. Where exactly is the “Iron Curtain?” Make sure you can find it on a map (Warning: “Stettin” is the German name for Szczecin, Poland).
3. Why does Churchill appeal to the American government and people? Why doesn’t he act, himself?
4. Look up the term “fifth column” and explain what it means.
5. What was going on in Manchuria (China) at the time that Churchill gave this speech?

I am glad to come to Westminster College this afternoon, and am complimented that you should give me a degree. The name “Westminster” is somehow familiar to me. I seem to have heard of it before. Indeed, it was at Westminster that I received a very large part of my education in politics, dialectic, rhetoric, and one or two other things. In fact we have both been educated at the same, or similar, or, at any rate, kindred establishments.

It is also an honor, perhaps almost unique, for a private visitor to be introduced to an academic audience by the president of the United States. Amid his heavy burdens, duties, and responsibilities — unsought but not recoiled from — the president has traveled a thousand miles to dignify and magnify our meeting here today and to give me an opportunity of addressing this kindred nation, as well as my own countrymen across the ocean, and perhaps some other countries too….

The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime.

It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement.
I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain — and I doubt not here also — toward the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships.

It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.

The safety of the world, ladies and gentlemen, requires a unity in Europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in Europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have sprung.

Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the Atlantic to fight the wars. But now we all can find any nation, wherever it may dwell, between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand pacification of Europe within the structure of the United Nations and in accordance with our Charter.

In a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. Except in the British Commonwealth and in the United States where Communism is in its infancy, the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.

The outlook is also anxious in the Far East and especially in Manchuria. The agreement which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extremely favorable to Soviet Russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the German war might not extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japanese war was expected by the best judges to last for a further eighteen months from the end of the German war.

I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable — still more that it is imminent. It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so.
I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.
But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.

For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength.

Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind….
Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations Organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the world instrument, supported by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections. There is the solution which I respectfully offer to you in this address to which I have given the title “The Sinews of Peace.”…

There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my belief, without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool.
We must not let it happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations Organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections.
If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealth be added to that of the United States, with all that such cooperation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe, and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. On the contrary there will be an overwhelming assurance of security.

If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength, seeking no one’s land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.

Links for further information:
Another version of the speech at CNN as part of a special report
The National Security Archive— Declassified documents from the Cold War… and lots of other cool stuff!