* One of the greatest pieces of mythology to ever be produced in America is the “Marshall Plan”.
* It’s right up there with the idea of glorifying the “Founding Fathers”, who were actually just tax dodgers who orchestrated a bloody coup.
* It’s also of course one of America’s greatest pieces of foreign policy.
* The Marshall Plan is sold to Americans as the greatest gift mankind has ever received since Jesus died on the cross.
* Even today, 70 years later, it’s almost impossible to find analysis of the MP that doesn’t position it as a ‘gift’ or ‘humanitarian aid’.
* But the truth is, it was really neither of those things.
* The Marshall Plan was completely self serving.
* You will often hear it it was about stopping the Soviets from spreading Communism and stopping another World War, and those things are partially true.
* But that’s also missing the point.
* Both for the U.S. as a whole and, particularly, for Truman.
* And it was a genius move.
* It was, at the time, the biggest transfer of wealth from the public treasury into the hands of the wealthy during peacetime probably in history.
* But nearly nobody understands it.
* I’ve been researching this topic for years and the lack of understanding of it blows my mind.
* But let’s go back a bit and provide some background.
* The European winter of 1946-47 was the worst in a hundred plus years.
* widely believed to be the snowiest winter since 1813-14
* Not the coldest, but it was the snowiest winter in a long time.
* Known as a “hunger winter”
* And of course everyone was still living in the aftermath of war.
* The Germans, Brits and Americans had been terror-bombing civilian populations for years.
* railways, bridges and roads were blown up, factories smashed, farms and fields ravaged by tank battles and firefights
* The war had also forced the old European colonial powers, most notably Britain and France, to begin the painful and, they soon learned, financially costly process of withdrawing from some of their overseas possessions, either as a result of military retreat or simply because they could no longer afford their imperial commitments.
* Or because the Americans insisted on it.
* Open door policy, free trade, and all that.
* Apart from complete destruction of their economies and infrastructure and the deaths of tens of millions of their people, Europe had to contend with something else.
* The realisation that they sucked.
* At the beginning of the 20th century, European countries prided themselves on their superiority.
* But In the space of thirty years the most powerful nations in the history of the world had set upon themselves in two ruinous wars.
* They had killed tens of millions of their citizens, injured tens of millions more, and had stripped from each of themselves of the rank of first-class power.
* Even Great Britain who was victorious in both wars.
* At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a belief in the superiority of European civilization.
* Now that seemed like a cruel joke.
* Superior civilizations don’t elevate warmongers to absolute political power in order to destroy themselves in unremitting industrial warfare.
* They don’t bombard defenceless civilians, or send conscripted soldiers to certain death in battle after battle, or massacre ethnic minorities, or attempt to commit genocide.
* So The conclusion seemed inescapable: the European way of politics had wrought disaster.
* So across Europe, people wanted dramatic changes.
* And political movements arose to drive those changes.
* And most of them were left leaning.
* Because these superior European countries had all been capitalist.
* Yes, even Nazi Germany.
* Nazi Fascism was extreme capitalism.
* They believed in private property and a market economy – they just wanted it to serve the State.
* And the monarchies were all capitalist.
* So after WWII, people are exploring new ideas, creating left parties, which were being supported by Moscow.
* Because who else is going to support left-leaning parties?
* These parties were in a good position to seize political power in places like Greece, Italy, and France, where they had huge political credibility as a result of their dominant role in resistance campaigns against fascism.
* And those parties talked about the economic state of affairs in Europe, which was obviously atrocious.
* In France, you could only buy meat on the black market, and bread was almost as hard to get.
* And hard when you got it
* In Britain, which suffered far less than most of Europe, the economy had hit rock bottom.
* Even in the once-mighty British realm, two years after a war they had technically won, people lived on bare rations and in unheated homes, often without electricity.
* The worst suffering by far, however, was taking place in Germany.
* So it’s all well and good to contain the Soviets.
* But what do you do if the people in Europe are starving and looking for new political leadership that only the Soviets can provide?
* The argument from American strategists was that America needed to get directly involved in re-building the economies of Europe.
* Truman thought it was only common sense to “spend twenty or thirty billion dollars to keep the peace” over the coming four years than to spend multiples of that annually fighting a war.
* WWII had cost the U.S. $350 billion.
* Here’s how one economist put it in 1948:
* Another war would cost considerably more: not only because the war would not be paid for out of additional output as was World War II, but also because warfare is going to be much more devastating in the future. We can be certain that after the next war, we shall not raise our income from $70 billion (as in 1939) to $160 billion (at War’s peak) and $205 billion in 1947. Even in stable prices, our income is up almost 75 per cent since 1939. Another war should cost us at least twice the last war, say $150 billion a year over 5 years; or if it is a knock- out war, an optimistic guess would be the loss of half to three- quarters of our income over a period of at least 10 years or, say, $1, 500 billion. It is well to ask whether we should take the prudent risk of spending $25 billion over 10 years in order to save $1, 000 billion (say), on the assumption that the stabilization of a democratic Europe will contribute substantially to saving us from a war.
* (* https://www-jstor-org.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/stable/pdf/2975441.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A51ed83cc6d9ab6a23c1c636ccb6403ee * Seymour E. Harris Source: The Journal of Finance, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Feb., 1948))
* And so the European Recovery Plan was born.
* It was conceived mostly by George Kennan.
* But it was announced by another George – Marshall, now the Secretary of State.
* And so it became known as the Marshall Plan.
* As Ray mentioned on the last episode, he’d replaced Jimmy Byrnes.
* And Marshall was a very serious guy.
* Remember the story about the time when FDR called Marshall by his first name?
* Marshall apparently responded, “It’s General Marshall, Mr. President.”
* What happened to Byrnes?
* On Jan 6, 1947, Byrnes had been TIME’s Man of the Year.
* A day later he was gone from Truman’s cabinet.
* He’d only been in the position for a 18 months.
* The official reasons were his health.
* He was 67.
* It can’t have been that bad though.
* Four years later he was Governor of South Carolina.
* We know today that there was a ton of tension between Truman and Byrnes, from day one.
* Byrnes died in 1972, at the age of 89 – so he had another 25 years in him after 1947.
* It seems quite obvious that he was pushed out by Truman, as was his predecessor, Big Stetty, Edward Stettinius.
* And Truman wasn’t holding up too well politically at this stage.
* His reputation was pretty damaged.
* Remember the leaks about the Soviet spies, how the Manhattan Project had been infiltrated, the Soviets weren’t playing nice, and the US economy is struggling.
* 14 percent inflation in 1947 and rising unemployment
* The huge growth the economy experienced during WWII, thanks to Military Keynesianism, was over.
* The military budget had been massively reduced.
* Here are Truman’s opening paragraphs when he presented his budget to Congress in January 1947:
* To the Congress of the United States: As the year 1947 opens America has never been so strong or so prosperous. Nor have our prospects ever been brighter. Yet in the minds of a great many of us there is a fear of another depression, the loss of our jobs, our farms, our businesses. But America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. The job at hand today is to see to it that America is not ravaged by recurring depressions and long periods of unemployment, but that instead we build an economy so fruitful, so dynamic, so progressive that each citizen can count upon opportunity and security for himself and his family. Nor is prosperity in the United States important to the American people alone. It is the foundation of world prosperity and world peace. And the world is looking to us.
* But people weren’t buying his optimism.
* According to Walter Lippmann, regarded as the most greatest political commentator of his day, Truman was an embarrassment.
* He said Truman’s bravado and quick decisions were a facade for an essentially insecure man filled with anxieties.
* WOW – does that sound familiar?
* He’s had to fire his Secretary of State for undermining him.
* And there’s an election coming in 1948.
* Marshall, on the other hand, had huge respect.
* His appointment as SOS was unanimously accepted by Congress.
* Even though he’d just come from a massive failure as you mentioned on the last episode.
* He’s been sent to China by Truman to try and negotiate a peace between Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao.
* And there was a report that came out after WWII about the intelligence and operational failures that allowed the Pearl Harbour attack to take place and some of the blame was being laid on Marshall.
* Although modern scholars tend to give him a pass on that one.
* Do you know something Truman and Marshall had in common?
* Both Freemasons.
* According to Lolly Zamoysky, formerly a senior KGB analyst, the Freemasons were responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War.
* ‘Freemasons’, he claimed, ‘have always controlled the upper echelons of government in Western countries Masonry in fact runs “remotely controls’ bourgeois society… The true centre of the world Masonic movement is to be found in the most “Masonic” country of all, the United States… Ronald Reagan has been characterised as an “outstanding” Mason. ‘
* Zamoysky’s explanation of the Cold War was startling in its simplicity:
* The first ever atomic attack on people, the use of atomic weapons for blackmail and the escalation of the arms race were sanctioned by the 33-degree Mason Harry Truman.
* The first ever call for the Cold War was sounded by Mason Winston Churchill (with Truman’s blessing).
* The onslaught on the economic independence of Western Europe (disguised as the Marshall Plan) was directed by the 33 -degree Mason George Marshall.
* Truman and West European Freemasons orchestrated the formation of NATO.
* Don’t we ‘owe’ to that cohort the instigation of hostility between the West and the Soviet Union…?
* So there you have it.
* I’ve met some Freemasons and I can tell you, they were crazy.
* But anyhoodles.
* Here’s Marshall’s June 1947 Harvard Commencement speech https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/05/70-years-ago-a-harvard-commencement-speech-outlined-the-marshall-plan-and-calmed-a-continent/
* He was a pretty boring speaker.
* He hints at the idea of European aid, but it’s just a hint, and most of the media the next day ignored it.
* “Europe’s requirements for the next three or four 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.”
* He said that Without such support Europe would “face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.”
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