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Normandy: They did it anyway

It was a moment captured with a photograph a decade ago, at the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings. The young paratrooper said to my father. "I'm a professional soldier. I volunteered and get paid for the risks I take. You guys were conscripts but you did it anyway"

I hadn't really thought about that until that moment, but this was my father  What he and his generation had done was somehow natural. he was a pacifist and ardent socialist . A year earlier we'd been together at the protests against the Iraq War in London.

Often today,  we seem to live in a very different world. One of self-service and personal gain. The kind of culture exposed by the recent arrests over corruption at FIFA are a classic example. For many that a despotic regime like Quatar should host the 2022 World Cup is outrageous..

Though it was seem by many, including my father, as a move to block socialsm, the Marshall Plan of 1947 was social investment on a major scale  Fascism had been seeded in the economic hardship that followed WW1. The economist John Maynard Keynes had resigned over the punitive reparations enforced on Germany

"Keynes, horrified by the terms of the emerging treaty, presented a plan to the Allied leaders in which the German government be given a substantial loan, thus allowing it to buy food and materials while beginning reparations payments immediately. Lloyd George approved the “Keynes Plan,” but President Wilson turned it down because he feared it would not receive congressional approval. In a private letter to a friend, Keynes called the idealistic American president “the greatest fraud on earth.” On June 5, 1919, Keynes wrote a note to Lloyd George informing the prime minister that he was resigning his post in protest of the impending “devastation of Europe.”

The 1947 Marshall Plan had not included Eastern Europe

Near the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, a 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine was published in prominent web journal quoting General George Marshall's 1947 speech at Harvard:

"Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this Government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative. Any government that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find full co-operation I am sure, on the part of the United States Government. Any government which maneuvers to block the recovery of other countries cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States."

It came from a man who in 1996 had warned President Clinton of the collapse of capitalism and violent uprisings. It said this about the urgent need to address the problem:

"This strategy places adequate funding for social benefit under control and management independent of government and the very obvious vicissitudes and conflicts inherent therein.

This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for "people-centered" economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine's poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a "top-down" approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first -- not secondarily, along the way or by the way. "

Through his "Death Camps, For Children" series of articles for Maidan, author Terry Hallman had exposed the appalling level of suffering and abuse in childcare institutions and involvement of organised crime.  

It is through the soft channels of government, organisations like USAID and The British Council that both governments engage with regimes like Ukraine as Quatar. Both were invited to support this 'Marshall Plan' and their responses had been telling:

From USAID we'd learned that there was insufficent budget to deal with the problen of these "handicapped and retarded children".

In a response from Martin Davidson of The Briitish Council to my MP Mark Harper was more revealing. Partners with the British Council were expected to make a financial contribution, I learned.

We weren't asking to host a football match in the expectation of financial returns, but to save children from instititutions and defuse a civic crisis.

What we got instead was a war to which Britain and the US have already committed considerable public funds.

As Hallman commented after the rebuff of his call on USAID  and the Council on Foreign Relations:

"Opening up the reality of that situation resulted in threats against me and anyone else interfering with that system.  I came under direct assault by tax police, government's primary enforcement arm if anyone steps out of line.  This is not a research activity where many, if any, other people dared to participate.  UNICEF was willfully blind to the matter because it was just too dangerous to bother to intercede  Powerful interests remained entrenched with enforcers to make it dangerous.  Jurists were correct, in my view.  It was more a mafia operation than anything else, aimed at misappropriation and laundering of large money.  That was perfectly congruent with how Ukraine operated before the revolution.  USAID wanted nothing to do with it, nor would they fund any organizations or activists who might try.  Some things could be done and some things could not be done.  Helping these children was something that could not be done.  So, I exposed it and made it the central focus and metric of Ukraine's microeconomic development blueprint.  In that context, it was far more difficult to ignore, dismiss, or argue about.  For about six months, I really did not expect to survive.  Nevertheless, Ukraine's government finally conceded the point and announced the opening of more than four hundred new treatment centers for children who were theretofore invisible under tight and deadly enforcement."

4 years after his death in 2011, the fight continues. An oligarch driven proposal in which Lord Mandelson had become involved is the conception of Bernard-Henri Levy who says:         

"I am speaking of economics underpinned by an intellectual and moral reform of the entire society.

I am speaking of economics as understood by my professor, French philosopher Louis Althusser, who would say that economics is never solely a matter of production, finance, and accounting -- these parameters always imply profound choices about the spirit of laws, about biopolitics and the health and possible suffering of human beings, and about one's idea of time, space, and the very nature of being.

It is for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, that for the next 200 days you will be called upon to make proposals and suggestions about Ukraine's finances, to be sure, but also about public health, about strengthening the rule of law, and about fighting the open wound, the leprosy, that is corruption."

Really, in such company? One wonders why this philosopher did not lend his support earlier.

What those like BHL, Lord Mandelson, Martin Davidson and others that intend to "profit politically or otherwise" don't understand is that there will always be those ready to do it anyway irrespective of personal risk because its the just thing to do. They leave behind values which propagate, unlike personal greed which can not. 

The 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine is defended by a Creative Commons licence. Profit will be made over the bodies of these children, the body of my colleague and perhaps my dead body too.

The men who left for Normandy in June 1944 were given a special film performance of Henry V , with its memorable scene of men being urged to fight at Harfluer. Corruption and greed today are no less an obstacle for those who have the spine for it.

 "Now attest that those whom you called fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood, and teach them how to war"