In his speech at Lexington, Virginia on the 8th, Romney made it a point to praise General of the Army George Marshall the Nobel Prize for Peace winner who was also Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and head of the American Red Cross.
Why did he do that? It seems to me that this praise as well as the chosen venue for the speech was calcualted to move Romney's PR and marketing generated image back to the center of the political spectrum where the greatest number of American voters reside.
George Marshall has been a favorite punching bag for the extreme right in US politics since the 1950s.
After the end of WW2, PresidentTtruman sent Marshall to China to attempt to mediate the ongoing Chinese civil war, a war between the communists and the nationalist KMT government. At that time the nationalist government was heavily supported by the United States. Several billion dollars of military aid had been provided. Fifty thousand US Marines had been landed in China to prevent seizure of key facilities by the communists. Marshall found that the nationalist government and its forces had been very severely damaged in the struggle against Japan in WW2 and that the communist forces were far more capable. At the same time he reached the conclusion that the level of money corruption inside the nationalist government was so severe that the money and equipment being provided by the US was serving little useful purpose in defending the country against a communist victory. On that basis he recommended to Truman that the US should not involve itself more deeply in China's troubles. Predictably, the communists won control of China. Chiang Kai Shek, the nationalist president, later said that nationalist China had lost the war because it had "rotted from within." Marshall had resolutely resisted the idea of direct US involvement with its own ground forces in the outcome of the civil war. For that he was pilloried by the extreme right; Joe McCarthy, Joe Alsop, the John Birch Society and by others of that ilk as one of the men who "lost China." This theme has been an ongoing motif of the hard right in the US ever since. Romney moved decisively away from allegiance with that wing of his party in this praise of Marshall.
Today, Steve Clemons and David Ignatius attacked Romney's praise of Marshall in separate columns. These attacks were not on the basis of the old China nonsense. No. These attacks were squarely based on Marshall's advice as Secretary of State to Truman that he not commit the United States to recognition of Israel in 1948 (or any other time). In this advice he was joined by James V. Forrestal, George F. Kennan, Robert Lovett, John J. McCloy, Paul Nitze and Dean Acheson. Marshall foresaw that the independance of Israel would lead to an unending series of wars, the displacement of vast numbers of people from their native lands and a greatly increased burden of hostility to be borne by the United States on behalf of a small country in a far away place. Both Ignatius and Clemons acknowledge the results of American recognition but nevertheless assert that Marshall was "wrong."
He was wrong? How was he wrong in his judgment? He was wrong? Ah, he was wrong from the point of view of columnists who know which side of the bread is buttered. That's how he was wrong.
Romney has portrayed himself as the "next best thing" to an Israeli. You have to wonder what he thought he was doing in this speech. He must have known that the Israel first crowd would react. pl