Recently, when Penick Village screened our PBS documentary on the Marshall Plan, I was reminded again of how America exercised her greatness as it “changed the world” — in the words from the documentary.

With cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, among European countries, and between the U.S. and Europe, liberal democracies and thriving economies replaced the devastated and broken world of 1947. Thanks to Secretary of State George Marshall’s leadership, America won the peace. 

Marshall knew that the U.S. needed Germany to end its wars and to become the linchpin in a peaceful and prosperous Europe, a Europe ready to side with the U.S. as a trading and military partner. America succeeded with calm, measured and intelligent leadership, both American and European. And the Marshall Plan succeeded in isolating the USSR and sowing the seeds of its eventual collapse. 

As President Trump employs opposite strategies, it’s good to remember how the Marshall Plan changed the world. Trump threatens and retreats. He urged Congress to enact new protections for Dreamers hours after deciding to revoke protections. He bullied Iran and the next day wanted to be Iran’s best friend. He threatened immigration raids and then delayed. He wants to be seen as strong, but with a background only in business together with quick mood shifts and bumbling leadership, he shows weakness, indecision, and untrustworthiness.

I wish he could study Marshall’s leadership principles. I would love to send him our documentary so that he could learn how to win peace and friends through cooperation.

Eric Christenson, Southern Pines

(8) comments

Mark Hayes

If handing out money to foreign countries is how America got great, well we are still the greatest.

ken leary

For what it is worth, if it weren't for the USSR we would all be speaking German now.

Sally Larson

"Calm, measured and intelligent leadership" If only we could have that in this country, someone to be proud of.

Conrad Meyer

Haven't had that for over 20 years.

Kent Misegades

‘PBS Documentary’ is surely an oxymoron. Left-Wing Opinion Piece would be more appropriate. Marshall was wise not to seek harsh reparations from Germany as the signers of the Versailles Treaty did after WWI. Nevertheless much of the German industry was dismantled and plundered by the West. German wind tunnels from WWII are found, for instance at the USAF AEDC labs in Tullahoma, TN. Fuel facilities built for the V2 are still in use by the French. The main cause though of the German Wirtschaftswunder however was CDU-led (the party formed by Adenauer, Erhard and other Libertarian/Austrian Economics - leaning post WWII German leaders) reforms in the areas of taxation and regulation. Both saw dramatic reductions unthinkable in modern Germany. Marshalls’s main contribution to this was staying out of the way. In many senses what President Trump is doing parallels the actions of German post-war leaders: re-establish pride in a nation’s people through freedom, liberty and prosperity. In a sense they were telling their people to Make Germany Great Again through liberty, not oppression. Marshall played a role, but in my opinion his contributions pale compared to the brief period of home-grown Libertarian policies in post-war Germany.

Dan Roman

We can hear the soft strains of Deuchland Uber Alles and The Horst Wessel Song playing in Kents head.

Kent still can't accept that his beloved Germany lost both WW I and WW II and committed one of the largest genocides based on religion in history.

Just as well that Germany was divided for so many years so the Kents of the world didn't take yet a third shot at world domination, try to finish what they tried and failed to accomplish in WW II and start WW III in the process.

Jim Tomashoff

dan, kent can't even accept that the south started and then lost the civil war. he insists that the war be termed the "war of northern aggression" and maintains that abraham lincoln started the war in order to subject the south to economic privation by the north. he also argues that no group has been subjected to more government sanctioned discrimination since the 1960's than southern white males. i'm certain that he felt right at home as the skinhead movement grew while he was living in germany.

ken leary

That comment brought tears to my eyes Dan.

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