Obama in major foreign policy address invokes legacy of Marshall





Sixty-one years ago, George Marshall announced the plan that would come to bear his name. Much of Europe lay in ruins. The United States faced a powerful and ideological enemy intent on world domination. This menace was magnified by the recently discovered capability to destroy life on an unimaginable scale. The Soviet Union didn't yet have an atomic bomb, but before long it would.

The challenge facing the greatest generation of Americans - the generation that had vanquished fascism on the battlefield - was how to contain this threat while extending freedom's frontiers. Leaders like Truman and Acheson, Kennan and Marshall, knew that there was no single decisive blow that could be struck for freedom. We needed a new overarching strategy to meet the challenges of a new and dangerous world.

Such a strategy would join overwhelming military strength with sound judgment. It would shape events not just through military force, but through the force of our ideas; through economic power, intelligence and diplomacy. It would support strong allies that freely shared our ideals of liberty and democracy; open markets and the rule of law. It would foster new international institutions like the United Nations, NATO, and the World Bank, and focus on every corner of the globe. It was a strategy that saw clearly the world's dangers, while seizing its promise.

As a general, Marshall had spent years helping FDR wage war. But the Marshall Plan - which was just one part of this strategy - helped rebuild not just allies, but also the nation that Marshall had plotted to defeat. In the speech announcing his plan, he concluded not with tough talk or definitive declarations - but rather with questions and a call for perspective. "The whole world of the future," Marshall said, "hangs on a proper judgment." To make that judgment, he asked the American people to examine distant events that directly affected their security and prosperity. He closed by asking: "What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?"

What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?

Today's dangers are different, though no less grave. ...


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Raul A Garcia - 7/18/2008

Obama's drive for American leadership must be matched by real actions, this cannot be rhetoric alone, the problems are too serious to retreat to isolation. A Marshall Pla-like project is questionable given the economic fissures- how do we extend credit to foreign policy when our own people and economy is so stymied?

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