Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The shores of Darwin


"The turning point in the war came with the Battle of Derna (April–May 1805). Ex-consul William Eaton, who went by the rank of general, and US Marine First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led a mixed force of eight United States Marines and 500 Greeks from the island of Crete, Arab, and Berber mercenaries on a march across the desert from Alexandria, Egypt to assault and to capture the Tripolitan city of Derna. This was the first time in history that the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. This action was memorialized in a line from the Marines' Hymn — "the shores of Tripoli."

The First Barbary War

Eight Marines and 500 mercs: Blackwater foreseen.

"MacGuire and the plotters had made a fatal mistake in their choice of a leader, however. "With incredible ineptitude," states Jules Archer in The Plot to Seize the White House, "they had selected the wrong man." The plot, and the men behind it, represented everything Smedley Butler now despised. Over the years his youthful passion for battles abroad had given way to an equally fierce desire to fight hypocrisy at home. He had come to believe that war was a product of corporate greed, that his men had fought for no higher ideal than profit. On August 21, 1931 - a full two years before MacGuire first approached him - Butler had stunned an audience at an American Legion convention in Connecticut when he had said:"

I spent 33 years...being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism...

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street...

I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....I had...a swell racket. I was rewarded with honours, medals, promotions...I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents.

Joel Bakan
The Corporation
Penguin Canada, 2004
pages 92-93

"Far more troublesome was the role of the Department of State. Knowing that the war could come to an end, sooner or later, the Department of State should have prepared a plan that had the concurrence of the War Department and the approval of the White House. By not having developed a plan, it was forced to acquiesce to the course of action proposed by the War Department. In other words, it subordinated itself to the wishes of the War Department in carrying out foreign policy.

"In subsequent years this condition has been allowed to grow in an alarming manner. Military people can always rationalize almost any problem's becoming military and thus susceptible to a military solution. They dislike interference on the part of the State Department when that Department sees serious political consequences stemming from the use of military force. I have discussed problems of this nature in the Pentagon, and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on many occasions. I remember quite vividly a senior office in the Pentagon referring to State Department officers who were raising questions about the political aspects of Alaskan statehood. The General referred, rather derisively I thought, to State Department people as "those field marshals in striped pants." Actually, it was the generals who were were wearing the striped pants. The State Department acquiescence in the policies of the War Department was a most alarming portent of what was to come. The State Department translated this into a foreign policy described as "brinkmanship." Obviously this was not a policy. It was a slogan.

"It was not long thereafter that the State Department acquiesced in the Pentagon's desire to intervene in south-east Asia. As a general who opposed the Southeast Asian involvement from the outset, I found this deeply disturbing. Surely there must have been, among the more thoughtful people, some who saw the ultimate consequences, from a political if not military point of view of our venture. Ultimately, this proved to be one of the greatest foreign policy and military disasters in our nation's history.

"But the abandonment of foreign policy initiative to the War Department at the time of Berlin, and afterward, is profound in its implications. There have been outstanding State Department people who have opposed such policies, such as George Ball and Averell Harriman, among others. And there have been State Department junior officers who have given up their careers because they believed that they could not continue to serve with the policies of the Department. This has resulted in considerable paralysis and ineffectiveness that has troubled every President in recent years. President John F. Kennedy was very much concerned about this, and in my last conversation with him on October 21, 1963, when we were discussing a forthcoming visit of General de Gaulle, he tilted his head toward the State Department and said to me, "But first I must straighten out that State Department." Earlier, in the summer of 1961, President Kennedy is reported to have remarked to High Sidey of Time, "The State Department is a bowl of jelly." The condition of the Department, whether it began with World War II, or much earlier, as believed by many, is one that must be corrected as a matter of highest priority."

James M. Gavin
On to Berlin
"A fighting general's true story of airborne combat in World War II"
Viking Press, 1978, pg. 355-357