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R. Fahan

Large Army?

Many Motivations Behind the Program

(March 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 13, 29 March 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

With last week’s announcement of the creation of a special presidential committee to investigate the manpower problem and the speech of Secretary of War Stimson justifying an 8,200,000-man army, great interest has arisen in the question.

There are numerous complications to this problem: the entire policy of the Roosevelt Administration on, the conduct of the war as well as its post-war policy is involved. Here we will indicate what we believe are a few of the political motivations which have led the Administration to champion an army of 8,200,000 men.

1. The Length of the War

Those who direct the war in behalf of American imperialism are not misled by talk of a short war; they are too realistic to be subject to the recurrent waves of optimism which sweep the country with each minor victory. They do not expect the Allies to lick Germany in 1943. Secretary Stimson speaks of “striking the decisive blow a year from now,” which would indicate that a second land front in Europe may not even be BEGUN this year. But since the opening of such a front – dependent on the successful completion of the lagging Tunisian campaign – is merely the beginning of the decisive part of the war, it is clear that the Allies must still retain the perspective of a long war. As for Japan, the BEGINNING of the real campaign against her must wait upon the completion of the war in Europe.

Resultantly, Roosevelt and his generals count on needing a large army; their spokesmen emphasize that there will be many casualties.

The opponents of the large army concept raise these questions, however: Can such an army be shipped overseas? Will not a large section of it stay in American training camps at the very time when crucial labor shortages will develop? If one thinks in terms of a 1943 war (an assumption implicit in the thought of those who believe that this army will not, for the most part, be sent overseas), then only a third or so, according to War Department figures, could be shipped. But if one understands that many of the men being trained now, or six months from now, are not scheduled to see action until 1944 or 1945, then the objection that they cannot be shipped is no longer tenable.

In summary, then, the fact that the Roosevelt Administration is set upon such a gigantic military force indicates that the war will be long; that Allied imperialism, incapable of destroying its enemy by political propaganda which could drive a fatal wedge between Hitler and the German people, can depend only on sheer military means and that such dependence means that, unless there is some startling turn of events, we are facing a long struggle.

2. The Post-War World

A second factor which prompts the Administration to create such a large army is its possible influence on the post-war world. The blunt fact is that America is preparing to “police” those territories in which its armies are victorious. Regardless of what Vice-president Wallace may say about a just peace being essential after this war to forestall a Third World War, the Army is preparing to extend its military domination – as a concomitant of the extension of American economic domination – over the defeated Axis powers.

According to this plan, the helpless people of Germany and Italy, who have already suffered so much at the hands of Hitler and Mussolini, are to be taught the virtues of democracy via the educating influences of American troops of occupation. This means, of course, that many American troops will not be able to return to civilian life even if and when America wins the war. Already. in Fredericksburg, Va., the Army is running a special school, stocked mainly with conservative business men and other “substantial citizens,” to train executives to rule occupied territories. This country is preparing to enter the business of imperialism to an extent that will make all its previous ventures appear picayune.

Some of the American leaders make no bones about it: the large army is intended as a “persuasive force” at the peace table against any possible attempt by Britain and/or Russia to grab what America intends to reserve for itself, the lion’s share of the spoils.

3. America After the War

Finally, not the least important of the motives for a large army is the fear that after the war is over, America will see a series of social convulsions of unprecedented scope. The ruling classes hope to use that section of the Army not overseas for the purpose of maintaining the capitalist status quo, and perhaps of even giving it a more reactionary and dictatorial twist. Sensational evidence along these lines is provided in some articles written by James Wechsler in the New York newspaper, PM, on March 9 and 10 in which he describes a series of special “orientation courses” given by the Army at Fort Leavenworth for big business men. These courses, Wechsler informs us, are designed to inculcate among the big business leaders who attend them the idea of accepting increasing military control of civilian life. Wechsler quotes one of the outlines used as saying that military control may become necessary in many civilian fields. This report becomes even more alarming when it is understood as symptomatic of a trend toward the increased militarization which is a by-product of the present war.

These, then, are some of the political and economic motivations which impel American imperialism to construct such a gigantic military project. American imperialism expects a long and bloody struggle; it hopes to come out on top and will not tolerate any rival playing more than second fiddle; and it expects to remain dominant at home.

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