April 03, 2009

"danger­ous to base long-range policy on temporary military success"

I was trying to find by this quote by George C. Marshall yesterday, which I had seen in the book The Wise Men. It was said to Dean Acheson, I think, who was encouraging him to resign over the recognition of the State of Israel, and Marshall snapped and basically said, "Dean, the last time I checked, I am the Secretary of State and not the President."

I mentioned this episode because folks in our comments section were being pretty harsh on Colin Powell for going along with the Iraq War, and I had a more charitable view of the man.

In my search for that Marshall quote, though, I found this really interesting feature with Richard Holbrooke and Clark Clifford on the U.S. decision to recognize Israel. There is a really good quote from Marshall at one point -- and I include this quote not as commentary on Israel or Palestine (so don't everyone get all excited) but because I find it wise in general:

Marshall interrupted Lovett: he was strongly opposed, he said, to the behavior of the Jewish Agency. He had met on May 8 with Moshe Shertok, its political representative, and had told him that it was "danger­ous to base long-range policy on temporary military success."