Sunday, June 5, 2022

On Our "Virtual Route 66" : On the Week That Was in Our World

During our weekly travels in our "Virtual 66" Journey, we were witness to another profound challenging week in our World.   The tide appeared to turn in favor of Russia in the Russia-Ukraine War.   Primaries continue in America as our home state, California, goes to the polls on June 7.   Members of the G-20 (including Brazil and The  United Kingdom) have potential leadership changes in store as profound economic challenges loom large.

We present a compilation of the week that was courtesy of the team at Politico, The Economist of London, The Financial Times of London, Washington Examiner, Heather Cox Richardson, Project Syndicate, and the Bulwark: 

The Gettysburg Address it wasn’t.

Seventy-five years ago, on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had been a five-star general in World War II, gave a commencement speech at Harvard University. 

Rather than stirring, the speech was bland. Its long sentences were hard to follow. It was vague. And yet, in just under eleven minutes on a sunny afternoon, Marshall laid out a plan that would shape the modern world.

“The truth of the matter is that Europe’s requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products—principally from America—are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character,” he said. “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 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.”

In his short speech, Marshall outlined the principles of what came to be known as the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe in the wake of the devastation of World War II. The speech challenged European governments to work together to make a plan for recovery and suggested that the U.S. would provide the money. European countries did so, forming the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) in 1948. From 1948 to 1952, the U.S. would donate about $17 billion to European countries to rebuild, promote economic cooperation, and modernize economies. By the end of the four-year program, economic output in each of the countries participating in the Marshall Plan had increased by at least 35%.

This investment helped to avoid another depression like the one that had hit the world in the 1930s, enabling Europe to afford goods from the U.S. and keeping low the tariff walls that had helped to choke trade in the crisis years of the 1930s. Marshall later recalled that his primary motivation was economic recovery, that he had been shocked by the devastation he saw in Europe and felt that “[i]f Europe was to be salvaged, economic aid was essential.”

But there was more to the Marshall Plan than money. 

The economic rubble after the war had sparked political chaos that fed the communist movement. No one wanted to go back to the prewar years of the depression, and in the wake of fascism, communism looked attractive to many Europeans. 

“Marshall was acutely aware that this was a plan to stabilize Western Europe politically because the administration was worried about the impact of communism, especially on labor unions,” historian Charles Maier told Colleen Walsh of the Harvard Gazette in 2017. “In effect, it was a plan designed to keep Western Europe safely in the liberal Western camp.”

It worked. American investment in Europe helped to turn European nations away from communism as well as the nationalism that had fed World War II, creating a cooperative and stable Europe. 

The Marshall Plan also helped Europe and the U.S. to articulate a powerful set of shared values. The U.S. invited not just Europe but also the Soviet Union to participate in the plan, but Soviet leaders refused, recognizing that accepting such aid would weaken the idea that communism was a superior form of government and give the U.S. influence. They blocked satellite countries from participating, as well. Forcing the USSR either to join Europe or to divide the allies of World War II put Soviet leaders in a difficult position and at a psychological disadvantage. 

With a clear ideological line dividing the USSR and Europe, Europeans, Americans, and their allies coalesced around a concept of government based on equality before the law, secularism, civil rights, economic and political freedom, and a market economy: the tenets of liberal democracy. As Otto Zausmer, who had worked for the U.S. Office of War Information to swing Americans behind the war, put it in 1955: “America’s gift to the world is not money, but the Democratic idea, democracy.” 

In the years after the Marshall Plan, European countries expanded their cooperative organizations. The OEEC became the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1961 and still operates with 37 member countries that account for three fifths of world trade. And the U.S. abandoned its prewar isolationism to engage with the rest of the world. The Marshall Plan helped to create a liberal international order, based on the rule of law, that lasted for decades. 

In his commencement speech on June 5, 1947, Marshall apologized that “I’ve been forced by the necessities of the case to enter into rather technical discussions.” But on the ten-year anniversary of the speech, the Norwegian foreign minister had a longer perspective, saying: “this initiative taken by Marshall and by the American Government marked the beginning of a new epoch in western Europe, an epoch of wider, and above all more binding, cooperation between the countries than ever before.” 

Not bad for an eleven-minute speech. 


Carlyle Holt, “Do You Know What Marshall Plan Is?” Boston Globe, July 11, 1947, p. 1.

James Birchfield, “Why Plan Was Announced at Harvard,” Boston Globe, June 9, 1957, p. A12.

Otto Zausmer, “Santa Claus to the Whole World,” Boston Globe, December 25, 1955, p. 2A.

“Europeans Hail Marshall, Say Plan Saved Nations,” Boston Globe, June 6, 1957, p. 16.

 Biden is in no rush to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine.
Three months in, the war in Ukraine has reached a state of paradox. To a greater extent than at any previous point since Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded, the political establishment is acknowledging that a negotiated settlement is the only way the war can end safely. Yet the prospect of anything of the sort happening also seems more and more remote.

After months of steady low-level negotiations, the diplomatic line between Moscow and Kiev seems to be dead. Ukrainian leadership, emboldened by the unexpectedly effective resistance it has shown on the battlefield, is abjuring any resumption of talks until Moscow hands back the territory it has occupied since the invasion started, saying that “any concession to Russia is not a path to peace.” Russian leadership, for its part, has given no indication it is ready to accept the tacit acknowledgment of defeat implied by serious peace negotiations at a time when its battlefield gains remain so disappointing.

In the midst of all this, one factor has gone little remarked upon: the role of the West, and the US government in particular. Knowledgeable observers of the diplomatic scene say that there has been little appetite or effort from Washington to prepare for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict, even as it has become more and more deeply embroiled in what both Russian and American voices are increasingly calling a proxy war between the two nuclear superpowers. While there have been no shortage of voices calling for an escalation of US military support for Ukraine, those calling for the United States to take an active diplomatic role to bring the Russian invasion to an end have been few and far between. Yet the war has already become costly for Ukraine. Its indefinite continuation would be a disaster for that country, and potentially for the world.
Read more

Here’s the latest...

A wave of worker backlash to abusive labor practices has hit Dollar General. Workers are fed up with poverty wages and health and safety violations. The retailer may soon make the list of the new organizing movement hitting companies like Starbucks and Amazon.

Sinn Féin’s victory in Ireland’s recent Assembly elections is the first time a nationalist party has been the largest in Northern Ireland. The win makes a unity referendum more likely than ever.

A trial in Italy threatens volunteers who rescued people at sea with up to two decades in jail. The case shows how Fortress Europe is cracking down on even basic, lifesaving solidarity with migrants.

(Composite / Photos: GettyImages)

1. Regimes

On the site today we have pieces by Will Saletan and Bill Kristol which are very much in dialogue with each other. I’d like to talk about them.

Saletan tries to get his arms around what the epithet RINO even means anymore. He notes that pre-2016 it had specific ideological connotations wrapped up in the conservative movement circa 1980. This is no longer the case. Pretty much every live Republican you meet in the wild will tell you that Liz Cheney is a RINO and Elise Stefanik is not.

Will comes up with three boxes that a Republican needs to check to avoid being considered a RINO today:

  • Personal loyalty to Donald Trump.

  • Tolerance of corruption by favored groups and persons.

  • Tolerance for the actions of Vladimir Putin.

That’s it. That’s the Republican program now. And if you’re not onboard with those three positions, then all the ACU scores in the world won’t save you.

In one way, this is a remarkable change. Thirty years of Republican orthodoxy were overthrown in a stroke. We expect revolutions to take longer.

But in another sense, it’s business as usual. A political party is not an organism, it’s a vessel, a tool—a vehicle to be driven in whatever direction its owners want.

FDR was probably the last American politician to “own” a major American political party. From his time until 2016, the universe of power centers in our parties were so diffuse that it was impossible for a single person to command ownership of one of them. That has changed. Donald Trump owns the Republican party more completely that LBJ, or Reagan, or any other figure in our life times.

And with this ownership has come the decision to align the Republican party around different imperatives. We had a long series of debates from 2016 to 2018 as to what “Real Republicans” were. That debate is settled. Real Republicans are what the vast majority elected Republicans and their voters identify with, vote for, and prefer.

They want Donald Tump and all his works.

2. Half-Lives

There are still some former Republicans¹ out there who think they are positioning themselves for a “post-Trump” future.

On the third day, the stone will be rolled back from the tomb and Ronald Reagan will rise from the dead, modified by some sensible populist policy reforms from Yuval Levin. And possibly with some mean tweets meant to assuage the base. But yea and verily, Our Savior won’t actually believe them and he will restore True Conservatism to all the Earth.

What Bill Kristol’s piece points out is that these former Republicans may be waiting a good bit longer than three days:

It’s now blindingly obvious that the Reagan insurgency was so successful, so quickly, that by the late 1980s we’d completed a transition from one Republican establishment to another. By the time Ronald Reagan left office, there was no question that the Reagan insurgency had become the Reagan establishment.

And this group, this new establishment, dominated the Republican party at all levels for the next three decades.

When one establishment replaces another, not everything changes. Quite the contrary. The victory of a new establishment within a party (or in a movement) is marked by lots of assimilation, lots of accommodation, and lots of maneuvering as parts of the old establishment find their place in the new.

So plenty of Nixon-Ford Republicans did fine in the years of Reaganite dominance. Take George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney, for example. And plenty of early- or true-believing Reaganites didn’t do particularly well for themselves. Being an OG Reaganite was not a guarantee of victory in Republican primaries and the most true-blue Reaganite policies didn’t always prevail. But you couldn’t survive in Republican politics if you were anti-Reaganite.

This is what it means to be a dominant establishment.

Politicians who were still suspicious of Reagan’s worldview had to adjust on some key things. They had to silently put their Ford Republican past behind them. They had to sign on to Team Reagan.

This all sounds familiar to you, yes? Depending on your view of Reaganism, you might...

Bill Barr unfiltered: A candid interview with a wild tale of Guinness-drinking starting at age 5

Bill Barr unfiltered: A candid interview with a wild tale of Guinness-drinking starting at age 5

Former Attorney General Bill Barr says Donald Trump should not attempt a Grover Cleveland and run for president again after losing his reelection campaign in 2020.

Read the full story here.

WILLIAM KRISTOL: The New MAGA Establishment.

If you want to understand what an “establishment” is in politics, it is this: A collection of people, institutions, and ideas which are not all powerful but are dominant to the point of being all-encompassing. The establishment can be, every once in a while, circumvented or leapfrogged. But it cannot be successfully opposed. Which is why the Reagan legacy remained in firm control of the GOP for 28 years after Reagan had left office.

Until Trump.


Woodward and Bernstein brand Trump the 'first seditious president'

Woodward and Bernstein brand Trump the 'first seditious president'

Former President Donald Trump has surpassed Richard Nixon as the poster child of corruption, according to Watergate sleuths Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Read the full story here.


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