tv George C. Marshalls World War II Strategy CSPAN January 1, 2017 5:00pm-5:58pm EST
democrats, who said these women should be home making putting. announcer: ronald schaffer, author of the book "the carnival campaign, how the campaign of tippecanoe and tiger to change presidential elections forever." president franklin d roosevelt appointed general george c. marshall u.s. army chief of staff in 1939. up next, king college london visiting professor andrew roberts discusses marshall's role in america's world war ii victories. he argues that general marshall's skills as a strategist transformed the u.s. army despite opposition from president roosevelt and winston churchill. the new york historical society hosted this event. it is just over 50 minutes. >> we are so very pleased to welcome back andrew roberts, the distinguished lehrman fellow at
the new york historical society. tessa roberts is a fellow of the world historical society in london and a recipient of the 20 16th bradley prize. he also served as visiting professor in the war studies department at king's college london. in 2012, he was awarded the william penn prize. in 2007, he delivered the prestigious white house lecture. for his book "napoleon alive," professor roberts was the 2014 winner of the los angeles times biography prize. . he is the author and editor of 12 books, and he is now writing a biography of winston churchill. before i invite andrew roberts to the stage, i would like to ask you to make sure anything that makes a noise like a cell phone is switched off. now, please do join me in welcoming andrew roberts to the stage. [applause]
prof. roberts: ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor to be invited to address you again this evening. thank you very much indeed, louise, for those very kind words. i too have read lou lermon's book on churchill and roosevelt. it is a fantastically impressive work. beautifully written. as somebody who's writing a biography of churchill, it really was incredibly irritating to see all this new information [laughter] prof. roberts: which has forced me to go to archives i had not factored in at all. [laughter] prof. roberts: there we are. i do recommend it highly to you. i'd like to take you back to tuesday, the 16th of december, 1947, to a dinner party that winston churchill's wife
clementine gave in london for the u.s. secretary of state general george marshall, who was in britain for the london conference on germany. the conference opened on the 25th of november but had broken down in discord three weeks later on the same day as the dinner party over the city -- over the soviet government's demands for debilitating reparations against germany. basically, the russians had shipped half of germany's heavy industrial plant back to russia in 1945. but that was not enough for them. the other guests at the dinner included churchill's godson, freddie, the second earl of birkenhead, lord and lady camrose, who owned the daily telegraph and were great friends of the church owes. after the war, lord camrose got together a fund to buy churchill a rolls-royce.
jolly jealous of him. also general sir robert laycock and oliver stanley. the conference ended in dismal failure half an hour before clementine reported to her husband, but mr. marshall did not refer to it once. churchill -- the reason he was not there was he had taken four weeks off his work as leader of the opposition at the time to go to the wonderful hotel in marrakesh in morocco to write books and work on his memoirs and paint paintings. the idea of somebody today, a leader of the opposition, to be able to take off four weeks in a freezing cold london winter is quite remarkable. sometimes i rather wish jeremy corbyn, the british leader of the opposition -- [laughter] prof. roberts: he could take longer, if he needed to.
clementine continued in this letter to reporting to her husband. he talked much about you and mr. roosevelt. with him, it seems he often disagreed and sometimes did not consult. he said he, the president, would direct his mind like a shaft of sunlight over one section of a subject to be considered leaving everything else in darkness. he did not like his attention called to aspects he had not mastered or which from lack of time or disinclination he had disregarded. mind you, he did not actually use those words, wrote clementine, but the gist, and i thought much more was implied. clementine was right. he had never slipped in the dangerous vortex of friendship with fdr. as several other cabinet members and political cronies had, but always insisted on being called general rather than george and not once visiting hyde park until the president's funeral. it is a marvelous story of a
meeting in july 1939 at the white house to consider the issue of sending airplanes to britain in the case of a french and british defeat on the continent. the u.s. army staff was looking that far ahead, and this was before the war had even broken out in july 1939. all of the generals at the meeting agreed with the president that it was very important to get as many planes over as quickly as possible. only george marshall stood out and said, no, there has not been enough training. they have not worked out where the airfields are going to be. the logistics have not been gone into, and so it could not be made into a plan until more work is done. he told the president he was wrong. and as they came out of the meeting, one of the more senior generals said to marshall, chief
of staff of the army, said to marshall, that is your chance of being the u.s. army chief of staff dead and gone. you were the only person to stand up to the general. sure enough, two months later, it was indeed marshall that was chosen. it is good example, i think, of the way fdr, as did winston churchill with alan ruschel, actually went against choosing a in this absolutely key role. at the dinner party at the dinner party i was talking about, marshall was abroad and amongst admirers and friends. he was relaxing after the disastrous conclusion of the conference. it is depressing and a dangerous moment in the cold war. he was reminiscing about the war as he and the other surviving figures understandably did a great deal after the conflict. of course, he was speaking about somebody who is dead and could not gainsay him but crucially
never cowed him. he was also probably changing the subject from the demise of the conference. churchill replied to clementine eight days later, saying,," im glad you have had such an interesting friend in general marshall. i think we have made good friends with him. i have always had respect for his really outstanding qualities, if not as a strategist, an organizer of armies, a statesman, and above all, a man." if not as a strategist. in my lecture tonight, i would like to examine churchill's extraordinary backhanded compliment to marshall and look at the grand strategy marshall wanted to be adopted for winning world war ii. for the u.s. army chief of staff needs to be a statesman and an organizer of armies and much else besides, but he also primarily needs to be america's chief military strategist. there is no more important duty
for chief of staff dan to -- fan n to formulate the strategy by which america wins its wars. did marshall fall down on that area? as churchill, lord alan brooke makes it clear in his diaries and general montgomery says that -- make it clear that they did. all three believe he was not a good strategist because he incidentally advocated a return to german occupied northwest europe and they wanted to land there. so who was right? in my lecture, i will speak briefly about what everyone, including churchill and brooke and monty, except that marshall was superb that -- creating a massive army at scratch, dealing with the congress and the president, sacking no less than 16 individual commanders and so want. and then concentrate on the major question, the only question hanging over his reputation, which is the largest question of imaginable. it is about the timing of
operation overlord, which he wanted to take place as early as the fall of 1942 and, failing that, certainly in 1943. as the distinguished military historian elliott cohen has stated, the invasion of france in 1942 or 1943 was "a course of action pressed by the american chiefs of staff, which it now appears would probably have led to disaster." does that therefore mean that despite his other talents, george marshall was a bad strategist and thus a bad chief of staff? although i fully agree with cohen, i have a personal theory about marshals often professed demands for a 1942 or 1943 cross channel invasion, which i can approve because no evidence can exist for it, but which i would like to propound tonight after have got all the other
attributes of his outstanding leadership established in your mind. on the 9th of march 1946 in a speech delivered at the pentagon only four days after his iron curtain speech in missouri, winston churchill paid great tribute to marshall, saying there have been many occasions when a powerful state has wished to raise great armies and with money and time and discipline and loyalty that can be accomplished. nevertheless, the rate at which a small american army not long before the war created the mighty force of millions of soldiers is a wonder in military history. i was here two or three years ago and visited with general marshall. i saw the creation of his mighty army. victorious in every theater against the enemy in so short a time and from such a very small parent stock. this is an achievement that soldiers of every other country will always study with admiration and with envy. it was true.
marshall had increased the u.s. armed forces by a factor of 40 in only four years. from fewer than 200,000 to 8 million. when the war began, the u.s. had the world's 14th largest army. smaller even than romania's. by the time it ended, it had 60 million people in uniform. of one sort or another, 8 million of them in the army. in the process, marshall had become so central to the american war effort that despite having been the prime proponent of operation overlord since its inception -- the early operation overlord -- president roosevelt told him i could not sleep at night with you out of the country. dwight eisenhower got the job as supreme allied commander instead.
if marshall had lifted so much as an eyebrow over roosevelt's decision, the job would have undoubtedly been his and with it all the fame and glory which is eisenhower's today. if he had become supreme allied commander, the memorials and malls and medical centers, military bases, ships, aircraft carriers, trophies, golf clubs, mountains, schools and colleges, tunnels, monuments, state parks, camps, plazas and boulevards, and the executive office building next to the white house presently named after eisenhower would instead be named after george c. marshall. but he put his duty first, knowing that no one else could guide congress and the press and certainly general douglas macarthur out in the pacific or
admiral ernest j. king, the navy chief of staff, and the president in the way that heat, marshall, could. not even eisenhower. abnegation of self was a true market greatness. the graduate of the famed virginia military institute, after serving in the spanish-american war in the philippines, marshall became an excellent director of training and planning for the u.s. first division in world war i. he was involved in the planning of the highly successful 47-day muse-argonne offensive that led german surrender in november 1918. he learned many important lessons and caught the eye of the american visionary force, general jack pershing, who made e camp after d germany's defeat.
he was with pershing's four years after the war. of course the open warfare and the high maneuverability of the armies in the summer and fall of 1918 was very different from the static trench warfare for the four years before the americans arrived in the spring of 1918. the lessons that marshall learned from the great war were very different from the ones that churchill and brooke and have, whose experiences comprised mainly static trench warfare, had taken away from the same conflict. belgium.h, i was in that was where winston churchill was stationed for four months in the beginning of 1916. throughout that period, the trench lines stayed totally static. it did not move at all. people were getting killed
pretty much every day, but they were not moving at all. you don't get that in the second world war. you don't get that anywhere, even at monte cassino. there is no active theater of war where the front lines stayed totally static for as long as four months. marshall learned plenty of lessons aside from the strategic ones. he learned about what general hamilton has called the arctic loneliness of command. especially by watching his boss, blackjack pershing. years later, he recalled how pershing had once leaned back in his car as he returned to his headquarters after a long tour of inspection during the first world war. those who saw him took his attitude for discouragement. as he wrote to his wife, from that small incident the rumor spread things were going very badly. as he told catherine, "i cannot allow myself to be angry.
that would be fatal. it would be too exhausting. my brain must be clear and i cannot afford to appear tired." it was astonishing that marshall never did seem tired considering the massive areas in which he has responsibility. yet, he had a highly ordered mind, a talent for total concentration on the matter before him, a skill of delegating once he filleted the general staff of incompetence, leaving only his trusted lieutenants, and a redoubtable work ethic. this courtly pennsylvania gentleman with beautiful manners was incorruptible, single-minded and astonishingly calm considering the pressures on him. few were the times when he had to slam his fists down on the desk during joint chiefs of staff meetings, but when he did, his antagonist -- usually the u.s. navy chief of staff admiral king -- never failed to back off. in the interim years, he was a planner in the war department
commanding the 15th infantry regiment in china for three years. he taught at the army war college, he was commander at fort benning, where he organized command procedures. he commanded district one at the civilian conservation corps. and he commanded the fifth brigade of the third infantry division in washington state. it was in july 1938 he came back to the war plans division of the war department and became deputy chief of staff. although he never led troops in combat, he had a wide and comprehensive grounding of many aspects of military life before he got the top job, over the heads of many other generals who were not expecting it. marshall's first strategic decision after america entered the war was his greatest. indeed, perhaps the greatest act of world statesmanship in the 20th century, besides churchill's decision to fight on against the nazis in 1940.
marshall and president roosevelt resisted the natural instinct of the american people and certainly the anglophobes in the war department, to punish japan for its infamy, instead, to put the defeat of germany first. although attacked in the pacific by the japanese, the united states responded with a germany -first policy, which landed a quarter of a million allied troops in north africa within a year. the first american air raid from england against germany started even earlier, on the 4th of july, 1942. to take on the more powerful of your enemies first, despite hitler not having provoked the word beyond declaring war on america for days after pearl harbor -- was a farsighted act of greatness, even if marshall was not happy about precisely where in the west the first blow was going to fall. marshall preferred a cross channel attack into northwest france as soon as the forces
could be built up under operation valero. the torch landings, operation torch landings in north africa , where therefore anathema to him and his planning staff. he didn't believe in circling germany under the peripheral strategy preferred by the british, which the americans derided as a policy of scatterization. some of the more anglophobic planners, of which there were no shortage, by the way, led by general alford whitmire, felt that the united states was being lured into the mediterranean by the cynical, wiley, imperialistic british who needed to protect their bases as well as their route through the suez canal to their asian and far eastern colonies. they were suspicious that churchill wanted to invade italy, not only to knock out hitler's ally mussolini, but also to open up further
operations across the adriatic into the balkans, also apparently for selfish british ends. although britain has never had any interest at all in the balkans. nonetheless, this was a fear in the war department. marshall much preferred the more direct route to berlin via northwest france, which he hoped would result in a gigantic battle of the decisive kind that he had helped plan in the muse-argonne region 24 years before. indeed, he supposedly erupted in what was described as a rare but also rage when he heard in the spring of 1942 that brooke and churchill were not serious about an early invasion of europe, which he thought they had agreed to before that, when they came over to washington in december
1941. at least, churchill came over. brook stayed in britain, but he of course signed onto the policy before churchill left. marshall was sent to london to negotiate the strategy that july by fdr, who told him it is of the highest importance that u.s. ground troops be brought into action against the enemy in 1942. he didn't want an entire year to go by from the german declaration of war on america to the point where american troops were going to fight back in the western theater. when marshall discovered in london that the british chief of staff and prime minister were not about to support a second front in mainland europe in 1942, thinking the germans were too strong in the americans too untried and too few in britain,
-- he threatened to swing u.s. strategy towards a japan-first policy, directing 70% of american resources there and 30% towards europe rather than the situation under the germany-first policy, which was almost exactly vice versa. admiral king, who always supported japan-first anyhow, which was always going to be a naval campaign primarily, was delighted. but marshall was bluffing. there were no long-term plan for any such thing and marshall knew he did not have the president's support. knowing this, churchill and brook were able to call his bluff. much the same happened next year with the decision taken at the casablanca conference in january 1943 to attack italy that july. marshall continued warning not to go into italy after that
because it was a paradise for the defense and a nightmare for the offense, but he was overruled there, too. it is not always easy to work out precisely what was going through marshall's mind at these vital meetings and moments , because he was not given to introspection or diarizing, let alone to grandstanding or ex post facto self-justification. he had the olympian self-confidence to feel responsible to his conscience, and his god, not to public opinion or the media. soldiers, no less than politicians, wrote memoranda with an eye to history, their memoirs and posterity during world war ii, as much to convey information at the time of writing. many of the times and archives that i have felt conscious of some subtle attempt at manipulation going on -- that i'm being spoken to as a historian rather than merely eavesdropping on the correspondence of others. especially when the situation on the ground seems to bear little
relation to what is being described in the letters and memos. working in george marshall's archives at vmi is different. he did not write war memoirs and remained generally modest about his achievements, in a way that montgomery, mark clark, and lord mountbatten were unable to be, ultimately to the detriment of their own reputations. he was built on a different scale of greatness than they. i mentioned mark clark, who marshall chose and promoted. of course, there were many other generals who largely owed to their promotions to marshall, including george patton, leslie mcnair, and omar bradley, not to mention dwight eisenhower. he was a good picker of talent. when america entered the war, the former british chief of imperial general staff field marshall sir john dill, who preceded alan brooke, wrote from
washington to brooke, "never have i seen a country so utterly unprepared for war and so soft." the british did not rate highly america's hastily raised conscript armies. their tactical doctrine or their efficiency grade they -- efficiency. they did not support their belief in daylight bombing of german cities and did not believe it could lead to anything but massacre. churchill did not share the british general's pessimism. his extensive reading about the american civil war convinced him that once the nation was fully engaged, extraordinary productive capacity would be unleashed as well as the vast armies recruited. in a country more overprotected by its oceans from the kind of disruption suffered by british industry. churchill was soon proved right. while in 1940, the u.s. produced less than half the amount of the munitions produced by the u.k.,
in 1941, it was two thirds. in 1942, twice as much. in 1943, nearly thrice. and in 1944, almost four times as much. that in such a short period of time, those three years. produced 59% of the maximum military output in the war, the united states, only 12%. overall, 13.4 million munition workers in america produced four times more than the 7.8 million british ones. whereas in 1942, 1/10 of british munitions came from america. by 1943 to 44, this was over a quarter and in certain important areas, up to half. this meant that when it came to strategy making, by the time of the washington conference in may and june of 1943, marshall had the upper hand over the british and was able to impose his own timeframe for operation
which inof may 1944, the event only slipped one month because of the lack of landing craft. the hard-fought nature of the strategic debates does not mean that elliott roosevelt, fdr's son, was being honest when he wrote his book, which claimed to report his father's view of churchill. if there is one american general that winston cannot abide, it is general marsh or, elliott suggested fdr said during the tehran conference in 1943. needless to say, it is because marshall is right. small wonder the roosevelt family abhorred the book. has stressed the complete unreliability of this account of the roosevelt-churchill relations. churchill in fact liked and admired marshall very much, even when they were disagreeing most strongly. one suspects the word "he" in the title of "as he saw it,"
refers to elliott roosevelt and not his father. in early april 1945, churchill had the south african prime ministers staying. after dining on eggs brought by the chief of the air staff and the finest south african brandy, "there waspines that no greater exhibition of power in history than that of the american army fighting the battle of ardennes with its left hand and advancing from island to island tour japan with its right." the fact that america was capable of such extraordinaire feats came down to george marshall, who churchill generously hailed as the organizer of victory, a wonderful phrase he stole from the french revolution. it was originally given to carneau. the british were fortunate that in both marshall and eisenhower,
they had to such good friends of britain at the top of the u.s. military hierarchy. from early 1945, both men were ordering their respective staffs to go through the records and delete the more extreme anti-british statements, which which suggest there must have been enough venom to worry them. both men understood the problems of coalition warfare, so pertinently summed up by the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without them. churchill was ultimately a better friend to marshall even than eisenhower, who marshall had appointed to every senior position he had held. as you will hear in my next lecture on tuesday, january 17, eisenhower had not commanded troops in action himself and had no chance to distinguish himself on the battlefield.
as he undoubtedly would have, if he had. he needed a patron in the war department and found a ready one in marshall. he had himself been the most senior general to fdr when he was appointed. on the 14th of june, 1951, when senator joseph mccarthy accused marshall of making ties with -- making common cause with stalin, a conspiracy so immense and infamy so black as to dwarf any such venture in the history of man -- not given to understatement. [laughter] ike did not support marshall. he cut a supportive paragraph out of a speech he intended to give in the upcoming campaign. two months after mccarthy speech in august 1951, churchill published the fourth volume of his history of the second world war.
he felt no need to kowtow to the rabbit, redbaiting -- rabid, redbaiting senator from wisconsin. he included an account of the moments in june 1942 when he and brooke had been in the oval office with marshall and roosevelt when the president had to break the terrible news to him. of the fall of two brooke. -- to brooke. nothing could exceed the sympathy and chivalry of my two friends, churchill wrote. no reproaches, not an unkind word was spoken. what can we do to help? once, give us as many sherman tanks as you can spare and ship them to the middle east as quickly as possible. they were sent by marshall. as well as 100 self-propelled guns. the ones that got through to egypt played a role in helping to win a battle five months later.
a convoy of them was sunk and marshall immediately sent another of the exact number. as churchill wrote in his book, a friend in need is a friend indeed. in that volume and in the successors, published while mccarthy was keeping up his attack on marshall, churchill lost no opportunity to praise marshall, calling him farsighted and devoted even as his own president stayed shamefully silent. coming from a man who had fought the revolution onward and tried to strangle cradle, it wasts an invaluable endorsement of marshall at a difficult time for him, especially as churchill had become prime minister. in june 1953, at the time of the queen's coronation, while
mccarthy was still attacking marshall and even preparing to investigate the u.s. army for un-american activities, churchill stepped out of the procession at the end of the service, holding up the whole line of royalty to stop and shake marshall warmly by the hand. a friend in need is a friend indeed. what are we to make of marshall? ceaselesshall's advocacy of an early cross channel attack in 1942, 1943, a which the germans had complete control over the skies in normandy. at the time the u.s. army had not been bloodied in battles they had lost against the germans. when the u-boats were prowling undetected in the atlantic before the naval code was
successfully broken. -- broken for the second time, and the battle of the atlantic won, which did not happen until july of 1943. what are we to make of his demands for a major assault across the channel before the harbors were ready, before the channel had been swept clear of the german navy, before the pipeline was built, before there were more than a handful of american divisions to take part in it? was marshall deadly serious about wanting such an attack? in 1942, regardless of the raid that august, where 60% of the 6086 men who made it onshore were either captured or killed. my very strong suspicion and it can only be a suspicion because
marshall could hardly vouchsafe to anyone is set of course, a talented strategist as george marshall did not believe in a cross channel attack at all but he did believe in keeping the british and his own president up to the mark as well as keeping the pacific quiet. he knew he was going to be outvoted by the british and fdr but that only by constantly promising to open a second front as soon as possible could the soviets be encouraged to make were makinges they and not to pursue a separate piece. above all, by pressing for an immediate cross channel attack, he could keep the pressure up in the war department and the rest of the u.s. army, navy, and air force at peak efficiency. andwhen american production russian pressure from the east could overrule the president and persuade the british. only by seeming to want an
immediate clash against what was the best army in the world at that time could marshall focus the energies of the allies on to properly preparing for one. of course he knew his bluff would not be called. in either 1942 or 1943. he controlled the timetable for how many u.s. troops arrived in britain, without whom the operation could not take place anyhow. he knew the amounts of stores that needed to be shipped over. he knew the president's mind and the way it was slowly turning. brooke and churchill were wrong to denigrate his contribution as a strategist. , outsideet of people his staff, with whom he might've wanted to discuss his plan, were precisely the ones he could not breathe a word to. he would not have wanted to demoralize them which explains the total lack of memoir
evidence to support my theory. helpful, that. [laughter] i believe that marshall was perfectly happy to look like the fire eating proponent of an early offensive since he knew we would be outvoted by the british and he was in no danger of having to make good on his demands. furthermore, he could not have cared less about the verdict of history because all that mattered to him was getting it right. if he had gone along with the british refusal to cross the channel, he would have found it far harder to nail them to the sticking post in 1944. when he did need to get his way, invading the south of france or preventing churchill from adopting the balkan strategy, had no problem in doing so. george marshall secretly
recognized that an over hasty return to the continent could be a disaster that would set back victory in the west by years. he feigned disappointment, anger, and resentment in order to strengthen his hand as time went on. it was eventually delivered at the right place at the right time and in the right strength. very largely down to him. the man in the streets only knows of george marshall, if he has ever heard of him at all, because of the postwar marshall plan, the economic salvation of europe. i believe he should be known for an ambitious secret plan for victory. albeit one that circumstances dictated he had to keep entirely to himself. churchill did marshall a grave disservice with his words. marshall was just as great of a strategist as anyone was a key architect of the strategy
adopted and ultimately victorious. he should be a household name in america today. rather than simply being known as the author of the postwar economic plan. fairness is sadly not a feature of history. the fact that george marshall was oblivious to fame was not a small part of his enduring greatness. thank you very much, indeed. [applause] >> we have 10 minutes or so for questions and answers. if you could -- anybody who wants to ask one, could you come to one of these - line up, thank you very much. >> good evening.
i conduct the history book club here at the historical society and i am delighted to say we will be discussing your masterful masters and commanders. >> how very, very pleasing, thank you so much, indeed. it is interesting, i came here tonight because i wanted to hear you flesh out a little bit more about marshall. after reading the book, several times, i really get a feeling about brooks and churchill and roosevelt and marshall was a little blurry. i want to use the word bland. >> blurry, but not bland. i'll let you have blurry, but not bland. >> what i would like to ask you to elaborate a little bit is about an bill because that --
annville, because that operation was another big discussion between the british and the americans. brook almost wanted to chuck the whole thing. >> yes, i did mention it at the end of the speech. i pointed out that the operation was an american attack on southern france in 1944. have you got a particular question? >> yes, >> in light of your saying here tonight that he was a good strategist, he pushed and -- pushed for annville and of course, it was enacted, and there is a major question among historians as to whether it was necessary or if it did that much for the war effort. >> thank you.
yes, as i say, the question among historians is whether or not it was necessary. huge numberlready a of troops in northwest france, so what was the point in coming down into southern france? it was a successful operation. the germans were cooped up there. did it make any huge difference strategically? i do not think it did. i think it was a mistake for the united states. there, you are right, i should have included annville as a critique. marshallrge, i think was a fantastic strategist, but you are right, operation annville -- it wasn't a disaster, because it went well, but it was a waste of resources that could have been more useful
in cleaning out and relieving antwerp. but thank you very much for your book club getting my back. -- book. i have also written a book on napoleon, by the way. [laughter] >> about 15 years ago, a monumental book of writings of george marshall. there was an extensive introduction on that and i read part of it. in that book, which is his greatest compilation, is there any evidence in regard to your theory about -- >> i have all six volumes. all of the biography that he wrote, several volumes he wrote on marshall. i have found absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back up my theory. i promise you i would have mentioned it. [laughter]
>> thank you for a wonderful talk. why did eisenhower abandon his supporter when he got into a position of power? >> politics is a filthy trade. it now seems pretty astonishing quite how successful this --alling redbaiting actually, right now, it is not so surprising, come to think of it. nonetheless, politics then and now was a dirty business and it was the lowest point in the political career of otherwise a very great man. for my money. i look forward to talking to you about dwight eisenhower in january. but yes, he let his friend just
be attacked without coming to his defense. whereas he was the one man who, if he had defended him at that stage, he could have really made a huge difference. of course he was a republican , and marshall was a democrat but they had been so close together in the war and they were personal friends and he admired marshall unreservedly and on this occasion, i'm afraid he showed cowardice. >> you mentioned douglas macarthur. could you expand about marshall's relationship with douglas macarthur? what did he have to do with the strategy in the pacific? >> it was a difficult relationship because douglas macarthur thought douglas macarthur should be the u.s. chief of staff. which he had been earlier in his career. he said he thought he ought to
be the presiding reigning genius over american strategy in the second world war. marshall knew that macarthur felt that way and he found him one of the most difficult problems he had to deal with. he did deal with him extremely well. for much of the work, macarthur was in australia. that helped. nonetheless, he was the recipient of endless letters by macarthur demanding more support. trying to recapture the philippines. but marshall had committed himself to the germany first policy. historians will argue whether it was 70% or 75% of u.s. resources directed to germany. in the western theater. so, marshall was happy to give
macarthur as much as he could but he was not going to overturn the strategy. there were lots of rows, but he did also appreciate the qualities of douglas macarthur as well. he was not in that list of people who had been promoted by marshall because macarthur was very much his own man. marshall did admire macarthur, albeit from afar. >> you have an interesting thesis about why marshall was pushing for the cross channel
invasion rather than putting efforts into the middle east. but wouldn't that strategy been to minimize or put a brake on british pushing for the strategy in the middle east by insisting on an earlier cross channel operation? >> that might've been on his mind. although, really, the fighting in the middle east, if you take the middle east to mean syria, iran, iraq -- >> north africa and italy. >> this was the great question, to what extent do you put men into operation bolero, the buildup prior to operation overlord and to what extent do you send them off?
in drips and drabs on the scatter his asian principle -- scattering principle. they had to do both. i think the way in which they built up an army of well over a million men and you have that entire force in northwest france, it was a miracle. to have been able to have done that at the same time as fighting those three other campaigns, it completely exhausted the british. even though we had the support of many millions of the commonwealth troops, india volunteered, the largest army the world has ever seen.
largest volunteer army the world has ever seen. but it could not be deployed as effectively as it should have been. so yes, i agree with you, , marshall was keen to build up operation bolero as large as possible. i do not think it was in order to minimize what was going on in italy because he had to do both. >> i think he had to do both. but if he had given in and not pushed the overlord, it would have been easier for churchill and the british to put even more emphasis on the mediterranean. >> i think that helps to support my thesis. [laughter] a great friend of mine and a member here is writing a biography of marshall that will be published in april and i know he is coming here to speak. it will be a wonderful book and
i recommend you to read it. >> do you think marshall had the personality that eisenhower had in dealing with the generals like montgomery to get the most out of them as opposed to replacing them? crexendo is really i asked job much more than his. -- ike's jobas really lik much more than his. he did replace generals. he sacked 16 of them. with regard to keeping people like patton pointing in the same direction, that was eisenhower's chairman of the board kind of role in the second world war, which i will be speaking about in january.
>> do you think marshall could have handled that role? >> no, he was in washington. and it was very much the supreme allied commander's job to keep his generals under control, which he did do. despite the way in which these great generals acted like a bunch of 15-year-old schoolgirls. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. [applause]
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past july, american history tv marked the national air and space museum's 40th anniversary with doors -- tour's and interviews. we saw aviation and space artifacts, including the apollo lunar module. here is a preview. >> children look at the space craft and often say that doesn't becausee a spaceship, we tend to think that spacecraft are streamlined and maybe look like rockets more than anything else. this spacecraft has an interesting design. in many ways, it is fairly primitive, given the job it had to do. it did not need to be streamlined on the outside because it was not going to operate in the atmosphere. operate in the vacuum of space. a would not be subject to strong gravitational field on a man.
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