Wednesday, July 23, 2003

An expert speaks

As I've mentioned before, I contacted Prof. Mark Stoler, author of an excellent biography of George C. Marshall, once I heard that Ann Coulter's new book was badmouthing that great general and humanitarian. He commented at the time that anyone who would attack Marshall must have their facts wrong, but he would need to read the book before commenting further.

So, as guilty as I feel about his having to wade knee-deep in rhetorical crap, I'm glad to report that he has expanded his comments and sent me this:

Yesterday I read the section on Marshall in Coulter's new book and thus can now respond to your previous query. I found just about every sentence to be factually incoorect and/or the type of smear McCarthy himself would have been proud to author. Listed below are a few examples:

1) McCarthy did not call Marshall a traitor, communist or coward, Coulter argues--"He simply detailed Marshall's record." I have read McCarthy's 60,000 word diatribe and he implicitly calls Marshall all three;

2) Coulter claims that Marshall believed Mao was merely an agrarian reformer. I have never seen any evidence to support that conclusion and have seen plenty to counter it;

3) Coulter claims Marshall won the Nobel Peace Prize for "losing China." That is incorrect on two grounds. First, Marshall won the Nobel prize for the European Recovery Program (i.e. Marshall Plan), not for China. Secondly, neither Marshall nor any other American "lost" China, as none of them ever had China to lose;

4) Coulter also claims that Marshall opposed the Marshall Plan--which is of course an absurd statement. What she really means and says a few sentences later is that Marshall never envisioned it as a weapon in the Cold War. That is simply and factually incorrect and reveals her ignorance of the documents available on this subject. Her "evidence" consists of Marshall's public statement regarding the meaning of the Marshall Plan and the fact that he wanted to include the USSR within it. Again, she reveals her ignorance of the internal State Department and White House memos on all of this--inviting the Soviets was a propaganda ploy used with the knowledge that the Soviets would turn it down and thus be blamed for the division of Europe. Many if not most of Marshall's public statements were similarly propaganda ploys designed to win public support for the program. If Coulter truly believes such public relations statements, I have a bridge to sell her.

Beyond these specifics, the entire section on Marshall is a smear and diatribe unsupported by any facts. Indeed, the comments I made about McCarthy's attack in the middle paragraph on page 189 of my Marshall biography unfortunately hold true for Coulter's comments. Since she thinks so highly of McCarthy, that is far from surprising. I remain flabbergasted that some of the most absurd charges from one of the worst episodes in American history would surface again in 2003--and within a best-seller no less!

What a terrible commentary on the state of our nation...


Mark Stoler

What could I add?


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