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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States, 1947. The British Commonwealth; Europe
(1947)

Europe,   pp. 196-654 PDF (168.7 MB)


Page 399


THE MARSHALL PLAN
        II. CAUSES OF THE LIMITATIONS OF THE PARIS CONFERENCE
  Before we attempt to draw conclusions from this state of affairs let
us examine more carefully the causes of it. The main causes may be
summed up as follows: (1) England, (2) Germany, and (3) general
political conditions on the continent.
(1) England.
  As late as September 3 the Committee was not intending to include
in its report a breakdown by countries of the over-all balance of pay-
ments. I understand that the British opposed the inclusion of this item.
The reason for this seems obvious: a breakdown would show the great
extent to which western European viability, as a whole, is a question
of the viability of the combined zones of Germany and even more of
Britain itself. I do not have the exact figures; but I am sure it is no
exaggeration to say that if these two areas could be eliminated from
the calculations, the problem of most of the remainder would not be
formidably difficult of solution.
  Britain's position today is tragic to a point that challenges descrip-
tion. Her problems need no treatment here, except the reiteration that
they are deep-seated and grave, and require for their solution all the
coolness, the realism, the energy and the unity the British people can
muster. In the face of this fact, as a body politic Britain is seriously
sick. She is incapable of viewing her own situation realistically and
dealing with it effectively.
  This view is not confined to outsiders. It is admitted and even volun-
teered by individual Englishmen who have retained some clarity of
vision; and it is coupled with an appeal to us, pitiable in the cost to
national pride which it implies, to take responsibility, to find and
announce the answer-to treat the British, in short, as a sick people and
to tide them over until "they can recover their balance."
  In these circumstances, it can be no great wonder that the largest
component of the European recovery problem could not be treated on
a basis which would satisfy our "essentials". The tragedy of the
Labor
Government lies in the fact that after waiting several decades for a
chance to put certain principles into effect, it has finally come into
power at precisely the moment when those principles became essen-
tially inapplicable. It is too much to expect the leaders of that move-
ment to recognize that, as an intellectual proposition, and to take the
consequences out of their own logical deduction. Only the most dire
practical necessity can push them to that point. But when they finally
arrive there, they will have lost their justification for undertaking to
rule the country; by that time conditions in England will have become
quite intolerable; and the present leaders will be forced either to yield
or to share governmental power with others. Only then, perhaps, will
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