Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Comparing the "Marshall Plan" to the "Bush Doctrine"

by: Bryan Baumgart - May 28, 2012

“It is logical that the US 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 one country or doctrine but against the hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.” - George Marshall, address at Harvard University in 1947 about the post-war process that eventually became known as “The Marshall Plan”.
Marshall understood the importance of world stability to our own lasting security which meant forgiving and even helping the enemy we had just fought. I read this statement and it amazes me to still see so many out there who claim agreement with the “Marshall Plan” and claim to understand its precepts, but vocally oppose and fail to understand the similarities of the “Bush Doctrine”. I am not an avid supporter of everything that President George W. Bush did, but perhaps his most important legacy and lesson is that of the Bush Doctrine which mirrors the principles of the Marshall Plan.

Bush stated and believed (as do I), that putting up walls on our borders and instituting TSA and highly intrusive security measures at our airports and even hunting down known terrorists and bringing them to justice will not be enough to guarantee our security. It will not win the “war on terror”. It must be dealt with at the source and Bush believed that we must offer economic, political, and social stability to a region full of the opposite. We must offer a better alternative to al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO, etc. We must offer a better alternative to terrorism if we hope for long lasting stability and peace in the world. And he proposed to do so by strategically planting the seeds of democracy throughout the Middle East. He believed that it would take off and spread like fire once the people got a taste. And it has to a degree. I believe it will take much time, but democratic elections in the Middle East have been successful.

We must remember that it is an area with a long tradition of oppression. The people don’t know or understand democracy, freedom, equality and opportunity. But they will, and the more taste we give the more they will desire and fight for it. In return, we can expect a rise in resistance from the oppressive governments in charge who will wish to retaliate against the rebellion and those who caused it (the United States and its allies), but in the long term I believe democracy will win out and lead to a stable and more peaceful Middle-East, and United States."

William Pfaff wrote: “The public turned to Churchill and de Gaulle (French military leader whom opposed collaboration in favor of nationalism) only after all the combinations of appeasement (and collaboration) had failed…Governments that are passively dependent upon public opinion, as are the democracies, as a general rule are incapable of dealing with long-term threats requiring the sacrifices of life, or even the serious risk of lost lives, even when a reasoned case can be made that this will save lives in the longer term.” 

Even though at times pacifism can lead to greater loss of lives, public opinion sways and unfortunately favors pacifism and ultimately more violence and destruction than need be. Even though the US is a Republic rather than a democracy, we are not immune. Public opinion (often controlled by the media) has the same unfortunate effects as those democracies that William Pfaff speaks of in the quote above. An example is the current war on terrorism. We have turned our backs too early I fear, and I can only hope the seeds of democracy have been planted well enough to grow and spark in the future."

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