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14

JUNE 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Happy 70th Birthday,

Marshall Plan!

O

n June 5, 1947, while accepting

an honorary degree from Harvard

University, Secretary of State George C.

Marshall announced the Truman admin-

istration’s intention to submit legisla-

tion to Congress to help the devastated

nations of Europe and their citizens

recover from the ravages of World War II.

Formally known as the European Recov-

ery Program, it was quickly dubbed the

Marshall Plan.

The remarkably brief speech was the

product of three career members of the

U.S. Foreign Service. It was drafted by

FSO Chip Bohlen, a Russia specialist and

interpreter who used memoranda from

George F. Kennan, then the director of

the State Department’s Policy Planning

Staff, and Under Secretary of State for

Economic Affairs William Clayton.

In keeping with his legendary mod-

esty, Marshall instructed his staff to tell

Harvard not to publicize his appearance

or let on that he was about to announce

a historic initiative—for which he would

receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

After accepting his degree, Marshall

briefly sketched the dire state of Europe

before declaring:

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 hun-

ger, 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 condi-

tions in which free institutions can exist.

An essential part of any successful

action on the part of the United States

is an understanding on the part of the

TALKING POINTS

Senator, the [U.S. Special Operations Command] relationship to the

State Department is indescribably critical… We are in 80 different coun-

tries, and we look to have the most enhanced relationships possible with

every one of those countries through our country team. If that is not the

baseline for our United States Government approach, then we are

flawed from the start.

—U.S. Special Operations Commander General Raymond A. Thomas III,

in an exchange with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),

during his

Senate Armed Services Committee appearance

on May 4.

Contemporary Quote

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 will-

ingness on the part of our people to face

up to the vast responsibility which history

has clearly placed upon our country, the

difficulties I have outlined can and will be

overcome.

The

German Marshall Fund

of the

United States is celebrating the 70th

anniversary of that historic speech in a

variety of ways. On its website you’ll find

a slew of informative backgrounders on

the speech, the legislation it spawned, the

relief it delivered to 18 European states

and the example for the future the pro-

gram set—both for U.S. foreign assistance

and diplomacy.

You can also watch an inspirational

video,

“The Spirit of the Marshall Plan.”

The GMF underlines the continu-

ing relevance of this exemplary diplo-

matic achievement: “Breaking Western

Europe’s cycle of conflict and rebuilding

economies devastated by World War II

was an immense task, and the Marshall

Plan is a concrete example of the scale of

change made possible by bold thinking

and international cooperation. [That

spirit] is as needed now as it was 70 years

ago. The values that the Marshall Plan

represents and that the GMF is dedicated

to promoting—democracy, free enter-

prise, universal respect for all—are as

essential in addressing today’s challenges

as they were in 1947.”

—Steven Alan Honley,

Contributing Editor

Muppets Against

Terrorism

I

n Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon,

some two million Syrian children live

in refugee camps to escape the horrors of

the civil war. Aid organizations are strug-

gling to ensure that they get the basic

necessities—food, shelter and safety.

But Sherrie Rollins Westin, executive

vice president of Sesame Workshop (the

non-profit arm of the team behind the

children’s program “Sesame Street”) told ForeignPolicy.com that more can be done

,

and she wants to use the Muppets to do it.

Working with the International Res-

cue Committee, a global humanitarian

aid organization, Sesame Workshop has

been testing programming for Syrian

children in refugee camps. Bringing

Muppets to refugee camps may sound

like the fuzziest kind of soft power. But

it could offer a glimmer of hope to chil-