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Mary Bell

President Waves “Big Stick”
in Foreign Policy

(5 November 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 45, 5 November 1945, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

President Truman’s Navy Day speech, hailed by the reactionary United States press with “At last we’ve got a foreign policy,” is a continuation of the basic U.S. policy to dominate the world. If Truman’s speech is stronger than any of Roosevelt’s war speeches, it is because the United States has emerged from the war unquestionably the supreme power in the world. If Truman’s speech is tougher with Russia than any of Roosevelt’s during the war, it is because the war is over and the military necessity of unity among the Allied nations is gone.

Obviously, Truman did not say openly that the U.S. is out to dominate the world. That would be too much to stomach for the little people who fought, sacrificed and died for what they were told was democracy, freedom, security and international peace and good will. But the circumstances in which the speech was delivered and a translation of its abstractions into their concrete meaning will prove our contention.

A Show of Force

Speaking on Navy Day, accompanied by the display of a huge flotilla of warships, Truman bragged that:

“By that day (V-J Day – Ed.), ours was a sea power never before equaled in the history of the world,” He added: “In addition to that naval power, we shall still have one of the most powerful air forces in the world. And just the other day, so that on short notice we could mobilize a powerful and well equipped land, sea and air force, I asked the Congress to adopt universal training.”

Later in his speech, the President flourished the proud product of the “arsenal of democracy” – the atomic bomb. He will deign to discuss it with Great Britain and Canada – not Russia, as yet – “But I emphasize again, as I have before, that these discussions will not be concerned with the processes of manufacturing the atomic bomb or any other instruments of war.”

The President stated that our huge military forces were not designed for war or conquest but for peace, and that our possession of the atomic bomb is “no threat to any nation.” But this is precisely what Russia, Britain and all the other lesser Allies who have defeated the “aggressor” nations are saying as they, too, preserve their military power and embark on programs of military training of youth. If all the Allies are arming to preserve the peace – why don’t they disarm and truly “renounce war as an instrument of international policy”?

The truth is, of course, that the war was not fought to end war, but was a contest between two sets of imperialist nations. Now that one set has been subdued, the victors are beginning to quarrel among themselves over the booty and are beginning the preparations for the next world war.

Else what is this huge armaments race for? Against whom is it directed? Weren’t the “criminal, aggressor” nations defeated by the “peace-loving” powers?

The brunt of the President’s talk was directed against Russia when he said: “We shall approve no territorial changes in any friendly part of the world unless they accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned,” and “We shall refuse to recognize any government imposed upon any nation by the force of any foreign power.” This refers to Russia’s imposition of governments upon Yugoslavia, Rumania and other Balkan territories which have been the seat of discord in recent Big Three power talks.

How fundamental and enduring these “principles” are is shown by the fact that when the exigencies of war so demanded, Roosevelt ceded Poland, whose government bad been “imposed,” to Russia, just as before the U.S. recognized the incorporation of the Baltic countries into Russia. How all-embracing this “principle” is, is further underscored by the fact that the U.S. has never, withdrawn recognition from the British-imposed government of India, the Dutch-imposed government of the East Indies, the French-imposed government of Indo-China or the Axis-imposed Franco government of Spain.

The U.S., Truman proudly affirmed, does not seek “one inch of territory in any place in the world,” “Outside the right to establish necessary bases for our own protection,” of course. That’s an easy principle for the U.S., because its tremendous wealth, its productive power and its strength to compete favorably with any other nation do not compel it to grab anything except a few military bases for “protection.” But Russia maintains, from the Stalinist-imperialist point of view, that it is just as necessary for her “protection” that she have a friendly cordon sanitaire of satellite governments ringing Russia.

Russia Understood

That Russia understood what lay beneath the surface of Truman’s beautiful generalities about freedom and democracy was manifested immediately. While Russia does not possess the same military might and won’t develop the production of the atomic bomb for five years or so, she, too, has a big stick to brandish. Despite the fact that amity between Yenan and Chungking had been signed, sealed and delivered, as soon as the London fiasco of the foreign ministers was over, “civil war” broke out in China. This is Stalin’s warning to the U.S. The actions of his foreign legions serve a similar purpose to the armed strength of the U.S.

While it is impossible to dragoon the war-weary peoples of the world into a new war tomorrow, none of the victors is intent on preserving world peace, feast of all the United. States, If she were, why wouldn’t she really internationalize the knowledge of production of the atomic bomb with her allies of yesterday instead of announcing that an atomic armaments race is already on?

Why wouldn’t she demand that all the victors renounce war and armaments and embark upon genuine international collaboration?

Why wouldn’t she have spoken for the genuine and immediate independence of all oppressed peoples – India, Indo-China, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, as well as Poland, the Baltic and Balkan countries, instead of reiterating the mocking phrase, “independence when these people are prepared [they’re never prepared by their imperialist masters] for freedom”?

She wouldn’t because she is not genuinely interested in peace, freedom and security. That is not the way of imperialism, democratic or totalitarian. That is why the job is, up. to the little people, the colonially oppressed people, the exploited workers and farmers of all nationalities.

The final liberation of mankind, from imperialist war and oppression is a socialist task.

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