Book review: "America's Retreat From Victory" by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy
“Glen Beck attacks Sandra Bullock over donations to Japan, Haiti and New Orleans”
Can you imagine the fallout from a headline like that?
A nationally popular activist/commentator attacking an acknowledged hero that recently won major awards would raise eyebrows in each of their camps -- and stir up a mushroom cloud of controversy.
Senator Joseph R. McCarthy delivered a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1950 in which he attacked Secretary of Defense, author of the Marshall Plan, and eventual Noble Peace Prize recipient, George Catlett Marshall. McCarthy’s speech was published in book form in 1951 as America’s Retreat From Victory. The subtitle was The Story of George Catlett Marshall. It only seems logical that if you’re going after someone with the stature of a Sandra Bullock or a George C. Marshall, you better have your ducks in a row. Certainly the analogy with Beck and Bullock was fictitious, but McCarthy’s attack was not.
General George Catlett Marshall
Marshall's Secret Past
According to McCarthy, a friend warned, “Don’t do it, McCarthy. Marshall has been built into such a great hero in the eyes of the people that you will destroy yourself politically if you lay hands on the laurels of this great man.” Did the senator throw caution to the winds? His reply, “The reason the world is in such a tragic state today is that too many politicians have been doing only that which they consider politically wise --- only that which is safe for their own political fortunes.” McCarthy pressed ahead, encouraged by a 1943 article in the New York Times magazine by Sidney Shalett. Shalett quotes Marshall as having said, “No publicity will do me no harm, but some publicity will do me no good.” McCarthy says in the book/speech, “This perhaps is why Marshall stands alone among the wartime leaders in that he has never [as of June 1951] written his own memoirs or allowed anyone else to write his story for him.”
McCarthyism in action!
Throughout America’s Retreat From Victory the reader will notice that McCarthy makes most of his more noteworthy (alarming/controversial) points by quoting other authors. Under the heading of “Source Material”, Appendix A lists more than two dozen bibliographical references from such noteworthy authors as Winston Churchill, General Omar Bradley and General Claire Chennault. Also quoted are a State Department White Paper and several congressional hearings. Magazine and newspaper articles are named and cited by author in the text as is a book written by the subjects own wife. Mrs. George C. Marshall penned a quasi-biography in 1946, Together, from which McCarthy quotes to confirm an incident in 1933 involving her husband’s career.
Time Magazine Cover
“The Tragedy of George Marshall”
Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune (later to become president of the White House Correspondent’s Association) published a story in the American Mercury titled, “The Tragedy of George Marshall”. According to Trohan’s story, in 1933, Marshall, a captain at the time, via an intercession of General Pershing, asked Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur if he could be fast tracked. Marshall’s record lacked sufficient time with troops so he was put in charge of one of the Army’s finest regiments (the Eighth, Fort Screven, GA) to prove himself. In less than a year under Marshall’s command, the Eighth Regiment dropped to one of the worst in the army making promotion impossible. Six years later, President Roosevelt placed George C. Marshall in command of the entire United States Army. Then McCarthy adds, “I know of no other general who served in the military through as many wars as Marshall with less participation in the combat of a single one.”
The liberal senator.
McCarthy chronicles Marshall’s efforts through the Yalta and Potsdam meetings and the post war “Marshall Plan” to diminish American influence. McCarthy details a complicated and far reaching conspiracy naming names and including a two-page list of Marshall’s deeds to accomplish his goal. In the end, Marshall finished his career as Secretary of State, won a Nobel Peace Prize and died a hero. McCarthy was censured by the U.S.Senate and died in Bethesda Hospital supposedly of liver complications from long term alcoholism. In the seventies stories surfaced that the “power elite” had taken McCarthy to Bethesda to “get rid of him” prompting his supporters to advise avoiding Bethesda.
Ironically, a 1997 report by liberal Senator Moynihan’s COMMISSION ON PROTECTING AND REDUCING GOVERNMENT SECRECY vindicated McCarthy. OK, well, maybe "vindicated" may not be the most appropriate word, but Moynihan's commission did confirm that there were communists in the State Department. Here's a summary from Appendix "A" of the Moynihan report: " By 1950, the United States Government was in possession of information which the American public did not know: proof of a serious attack on American security by the Soviet Union, with considerable assistance from an enemy within. Soviet authorities knew the U.S. government knew. Only the American people were denied this information."
The Official Report
"America's Retreat From Victory" online
- "America's Retreat From Victory"
McCarthy's book may be available online via Amazon. Check for availability. Here's an online version.