George Marshall, fully George Catlett Marshall, Jr.

George
Marshall, fully George Catlett Marshall, Jr.
1880
1959

US Army Chief of Staff, General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel Laureate

Author Quotes

Its purpose is to avoid war, not to provoke it, he explained to his goddaughter, Rose Page Wilson. The deterrence factor was vital. The only way to be sure of winning a third world war is to prevent it, Marshall warned.

There were three corps to come in there [to invade Japan], as I recall... there were to be three bombs for each corps that was landing. One or two, but probably one, as a preliminary, then this landing, then another one further inland against the immediate supports, and then the third against any troops that might try to come through the mountains from up on the Inland Sea. That was the rough idea in our minds.

Morale is the state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty. It is élan, esprit de corps and determination.

These opening remarks may lead you to assume that my suggestions for the advancement of world peace will rest largely on military strength. For the moment the maintenance of peace in the present hazardous world situation does depend in very large measure on military power, together with Allied cohesion. But the maintenance of large armies for an indefinite period is not a practical or a promising basis for policy. We must stand together strongly for these present years, that is, in this present situation; but we must, I repeat, we must find another solution, and that is what I wish to discuss this evening.

Passive inactivity, because you have not been given specific instructions to do this or to do that, is a serious deficiency.

Tyranny inevitably must retire before the tremendous moral strength of the gospel of freedom and self-respect for the individual, but we have to recognize that these democratic principles do not flourish on empty stomachs and that people turn to false promises of dictators because they are hopeless and anything promises something better than the miserable existence that they endure.

The cost of war in human lives is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones.

We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.

The decision-maker must not be distracted by problems his subordinates should resolve for themselves.

When a thing is done, it's done. Don't look back. Look forward to your next objective.

The great lesson to be learned in the battered towns of England and the ruined cities of Germany is that the best way to win a war is to prevent it from occurring.

You know, I know, all of us know that the time factor is the vital consideration — and vital is the correct meaning of the term — of our national defense program; that we must never be caught in the same situation we found ourselves in 1917.

The maintenance of peace in the present hazardous world situation does depend in very large measure on military power, together with allied cohesion. But the maintenance of large armies for an indefinite period is not a practical or a promising basis for policy. We must stand together strongly for these present years ... but we must, I repeat, must find another solution.

The one great element in continuing the success of an offensive is maintaining the momentum. This was lost last fall when shortages caused by the limitation of port facilities made it impossible to get sufficient supplies to the armies when they approached the German border.

The points I have just discussed are, of course, no more than a very few suggestions in behalf of the cause of peace. I realize that they hold nothing of glittering or early promise, but there can be no substitute for effort in many fields. There must be effort of the spirit — to be magnanimous, to act in friendship, to strive to help rather than to hinder. There must be effort of analysis to seek out the causes of war and the factors which favor peace, and to study their application to the difficult problems which will beset our international intercourse. There must be material effort — to initiate and sustain those great undertakings, whether military or economic, on which world equilibrium will depend.

The refusal of the British and Russian peoples to accept what appeared to be inevitable defeat was the great factor in the salvage of our civilization.

The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and restoring the confidence of the European people in the economic future of their own countries and of Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer throughout wide areas must be able and willing to exchange their product for currencies, the continuing value of which is not open to question.

The time has come when we must proceed with the business of carrying the war to the enemy, not permitting the greater portion of our armed forces and our valuable material to be immobilized within the continental United States.

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.

There has been considerable comment over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a soldier. I am afraid this does not seem as remarkable to me as it quite evidently appears to others. I know a great deal of the horrors and tragedies of war... The cost of war in human lives is constantly spread before me, written neatly in many ledgers whose columns are gravestones. I am deeply moved to find some means or method of avoiding another calamity of war. Almost daily I hear from the wives, or mothers, or families of the fallen. The tragedy of the aftermath is almost constantly before me.

There is a phase of this matter which is both interesting and serious. The farmer has always produced the foodstuffs to exchange with the city dweller for the other necessities of life. This division of labor is the basis of modern civilization. At the present time it is threatened with breakdown. The town and city industries are not producing adequate goods to exchange with the food-producing farmer. Raw materials and fuel are in short supply. Machinery is lacking or worn out. The farmer or the peasant cannot find the goods for sale which he desires to purchase. So the sale of his farm produce for money which he cannot use seems to him an unprofitable transaction. He, therefore, has withdrawn many fields from crop cultivation and is using them for grazing. He feeds more grain to stock and finds for himself and his family an ample supply of food, however short he may be on clothing and the other ordinary gadgets of civilization. Meanwhile, people in the cities are short of food and fuel, and in some places approaching the starvation levels. So the governments are forced to use their foreign money and credits to procure these necessities abroad. This process exhausts funds which are urgently needed for reconstruction. Thus a very serious situation is rapidly developing which bodes no good for the world.

In my country my military associates frequently tell me that we Americans have learned our lesson. I completely disagree with this contention and point to the rapid disintegration between 1945 and 1950 of our once vast power for maintaining the peace. As a direct consequence, in my opinion, there resulted the brutal invasion of South Korea, which for a time threatened the complete defeat of our hastily arranged forces in that field. I speak of this with deep feeling because in 1939 and again in the early fall of 1950 it suddenly became my duty, my responsibility, to rebuild our national military strength in the very face of the gravest emergencies.

There is one point that was missed, and that, frankly, we missed in making our plans. That was the effect the bomb would have in so shocking the Japanese that they could surrender without losing face... we didn't realize its value to give the Japanese such a shock that they could surrender without complete loss of face.

A great proponent of much of what I have just been saying is Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the world humanitarian, who today receives the Nobel Peace Award for 1952. I feel it is a vast compliment to be associated with him in these awards this year. His life has been utterly different from mine, and we should all be happy that his example among the poor and benighted of the earth should have been recognized by the Peace Award of the Nobel Committee.

Because wisdom in action in our Western democracies rests squarely upon public understanding, I have long believed that our schools have a key role to play. Peace could, I believe, be advanced through careful study of all the factors which have gone into the various incidents now historical that have marked the breakdown of peace in the past. As an initial procedure our schools, at least our colleges but preferably our senior high schools, as we call them, should have courses which not merely instruct our budding citizens in the historical sequence of events of the past, but which treat with almost scientific accuracy the circumstances which have marked the breakdown of peace and have led to the disruption of life and the horrors of war.

Author Picture
First Name
George
Last Name
Marshall, fully George Catlett Marshall, Jr.
Birth Date
1880
Death Date
1959
Bio

US Army Chief of Staff, General, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Nobel Laureate