Every historic decision of the Truman Cabinet was debated by Congress only after it had been made irreversible

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), the political situation in America after World War 2:

During the war, some members of the government had made an incalculable mistake: they had propagandized the Russians as heroic brothers-in-arms, indicated to the public that Stalin and associates were democrats at heart, and led the people to believe that Russia had fought the war from motives as pure as America’s own.


The problem was that America had fought the war — as she had most of her wars — as a crusade, while Russia had fought first for survival, then for power. Crusades are usually inconclusive; it was no accident that Russia won the peace.


The great decisions — the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine — that gave the earth a hope of eventual order were not instantly popular with the American people. There was no great attempt to sell them — it was significant that every historic decision of the Truman Cabinet was debated by Congress only after it had been made irreversible.


They began, knowingly and cunningly, to contain the spread of Communism through whatever policy, short of war, might be required. This containment was vital to American interests, but it must always be remembered that the mere mention of such a policy would have sent millions of patriotic, well-meaning American liberals into convulsions. Liberal thought, which had scented Hitler early, seemingly remained tragically blind to Communist tyranny.

Before any attack on the morality of the men who formulated the policy of Communist containment may be made, several things should be recalled: these men had no designs on the world. They had no nationalist or imperialist policies to foist on anyone; they wanted to keep order and, so far as possible, the status quo, in an era when the Soviet Government clearly desired the opposite.


Truman’s own tragedy remained that the people on whom he depended for domestic support would simply not support his foreign policy. For the policy that evolved in the 1940s was new to American thought. It was not underprivileged Democratic, nor was it business Republican. It was orderly, world-seeing, pragmatic, and conservative — but conservative in the British or ancient Roman sense, not in the American sense.


Wherever there is rule by consent of the ruled, the rulers must always be salesmen, however difficult the task.


It would be the first war to bring down a government, to oust a party in power, not because of the actions that party had taken, but because the policy makers were never able adequately to explain those actions to a troubled and increasingly hostile public.


They are hard to justify unless it is admitted that power, not idealism, is the dominant factor in the world, and that idealism must be backed by power.


It was hard for a nation and a people who had never accepted the idea of power, not as something immoral in itself, but as a tool to whatever ends they sought, to fight and die for limited goals. In short, it was hard to grow up.


  1. Harry Jones says:

    Idealism considered inherently infantile. I’ve observed that infantile people love their symbols and slogans. Is that idealism? Or just infantile?

    Certainly there’s a moral narcissism to believing God is on your side… unless you can prove empirically that God is in fact on your side. Winning your wars goes a long way toward that.

    When Americans finally turned against the Soviets, it was in a big way. Betrayal will do that. Cold War America was like a jilted lover.

  2. RLVC says:

    The Cold War was fake, lol.

  3. Dave says:

    The Cold War was real, but probably a mistake, seeing as Ludwig von Mises proved in 1920 that communism could never work. Communist victories across Asia were a bonanza for American workers, giving them forty years’ protection from cheap foreign labor. If Mexico went Communist, Trump’s wall would be unnecessary — Mexico would build its own wall and shoot anyone who tried to escape!

  4. Lucklucky says:

    As if we need more evidence of Media and Education Complex malfeasance who knows that Communists all over world protected Nazi aggression from 1939-1941?

    Communists sabotaged the fight against Hitler until 22 June 1941. They sabotaged factories in England and France. For example, the French Communist Party was forbidden in 1939.

    Communist-linked artists like Pete Seeger released Pacifist music to condemn any help that USA would provide to the British. When Nazis attacked Soviets, he retired the album from the market and asked for the return of any sold copies.

  5. RLVC says:

    “…seeing as Ludwig von Mises proved in 1920 that communism could never work.”


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