Marshall Plan II
They say that there isn't any war there.
We say that there isn't any war there.
The League of Nations says that there isn't any
But the guys getting shot at, says that it's the
best imitation that they've seen yet.
— Will Rogers
The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the
dark abyss of annihilation.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
According to a recent editorial by former senator
(and presidential candidate) George McGovern in the SF Chronicle (January
30, 2005), the U.S. is now spending $5 billion a month for the "conflict"
More than 10,000 Iraqi and more than 1,200 U.S.
troops have been killed to date in the Iraqi conflict. That is not
counting the men and women from other countries who joined the alliance in
a war where our president ensured us the Iraqis would welcome us with open
We are still waiting for that to happen.
People are dying from cholera, dysentery, and other
diseases and injuries brought by the war conditions. As the sanitary
services continue to fail, the number of innocent lives lost will continue
In an inspiring speech last Tuesday, former
Supervisor Matt Gonzalez stated that in this fiscal year, the City and
County of San Francisco has been forced to spend $120 million dollars
because of indirect costs from the war effort. That sum would eliminate
our anticipated deficit of $84 million this year. Multiply the amount by
all of the other cities in the country, the fifty states, the District of
Columbia, and U.S. territories — and we are talking billions of dollars
that could be spent on education, health, job training, and other
There is one lesson that we can learn — and that
comes from former Colonel Harry Truman. A decorated soldier from the First
World War, Truman was very mindful of the massive debt that the "victors"
imposed on Germany and how it created the massive inflation that brought
Hitler to power.
So he, along with retired General George Marshall,
created what was later termed the Marshall Plan. The program poured money
into rebuilding (and even building) roads, sanitary services, factories,
and other infrastructure throughout Europe, for foes and friends alike.
An example would be Greece. After World War II,
Greece was a "protectorate" of Great Britain (the Greek king was related
to the British royal family). With the change of the country's leadership
from Tory to Labor, Great Britain withdrew its support — and Greece
eventually fell under the protection of the U.S.
The U.S. first started a road-building program,
putting the locals to work. Many people had fled from the countryside to
Athens in search of jobs. With funds from the U.S., the Greek government
continued the program, building more roads to accommodate the growing
population of its capital city. U.S. also sent low-interest loans and
equipment to retool factories, putting more people to work.
The key to the Marshall Plan was employment, so that
economies would stabilize and people would have jobs to go to — rather
than planning revolutions. For the most part, it worked. The last 50 years
have been the most peaceful in the greater European Union in any time in
There were problems. Some U.S. contractors took money
from the top. The U.S. government was usually heavy-handed (some things
never change) and it interfered in free elections. It was not above
dismissing governments that it had trouble working with.
Truman also got a lot of flak for spending the money
outright, without making loans to our former allies and enemies.
Editorials were written, condemning him for taking money from the U.S. to
feed hungry children in Europe while there were hungry children at home.
But Truman held firmly to his commitment — and his (and Marshall's)
contribution helped to create the strong European Union that we see today.
George W. Bush isn't Harry Truman. But we as an
electorate can demand that money spent in Iraq be spent on building the
infrastructure, rather than blowing it up. It should be used to provide
medicine and food to children, rather than housing prisoners. It should
create construction jobs for locals, rather than giving lucrative
contracts to Dick Cheney's buddies at Halliburton and Bechtel.
once before to create long-lasting peace. It could work again.