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R. Fahan

Giraud: Allied Whitewash Is Strictly Ersatz

(April 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 15, 12 April 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Like a running sore with chronic discharges, a new twist of events in the North African political situation is brought to public attention every few weeks. Apparently, the “realpoliltik” diplomacy which began with the deal with Admiral Darlan and has not yet ended – the policy, which is the pride and joy of Secretary of State Cordell Hull – has not been as satisfactory as its sponsors desired. It is therefore necessary for them to add anticlimactic epilogues with the hope of adding a little democratic luster to the reactionary show. Such an epilogue is the recent speech of General Giraud which “adhered” to the Atlantic Charter and promised an end to the Nuremburg anti-Semitic laws which have existed, and still exist, in North Africa.

Despite the pseudo-idealistic prattle of the jelly-spined liberals, who try not to understand what they know very well: that an imperialist war can ONLY be fought by imperialist methods, and who therefore bewail the “treachery” of the Darlanist deals (they are always being “betrayed” – are they not? – these political Uriah Heeps), it is clear, from the point of view of the Allied bloc, that the Darlan and Giraud deals were militarily successful. They aided considerably in the conquest of French Morocco and Algeria.

However, the military asset of the deal with Darlan-Giraud incurred certain political liabilities. For one thing, there was a considerable outcry back home from those deluded folks who thought that this was a crusade for the purest democratic ideals and found themselves marching side by side with a crew of fascist cut-throats and anti-Semitic vermin, as filthy as any of the Hitler progeny, even though these particular fascists bore French names. Nogues, the colonial oppressor and strike-breaker and outspoken Nazi-admirer; Boisson, the fanatical Anglophobe and Nazi friend; Peyrouton, the collaborator of Laval, Pétain and Hitler, and the promulgator of the Nuremburg anti-Semitic laws of Vichy; Giraud, the anti-republican militarist – it was this gang of political blackguards who were now included among the “champions of the Four Freedoms,” together with America.

Applying an Ersatz Whitewash

Many folks back home were disturbed, to put it mildly. But even more important, the reports from underground France indicated what was to the Allies a catastrophic demoralization among the Frenchmen who had been most active in opposing Hitler. The Allies therefore went to work to have a coating of democratic whitewash applied to the Giraud administration. The whitewash, however – as can be seen from Giraud’s speech – is obviously of ersatz material and has been purchased on the black market.

Giraud came out for the Atlantic Charter. Well, that needn’t detain us, since this charter is as broad, vague and mysterious as the sea for which it is named, and can and does mean all things to all men.

But when it came to the question of the anti-Semitic regulations under which the Algerian Jews suffered, there it was that Giraud showed that he retained all of his old reactionary ideas and prejudices. He promised the abrogation of the Vichy anti-Jewish laws, though thus far there has been no sign of the execution of the promise or of the extent to which it will be lived up to. But in the same speech he “abrogated” (incidentally, where is his franchise from the people in either cosmopolitan France or North Africa to promise or abrogate anything?) the Gambetta-Cremieux decree of 1870, under which the Jews were granted equal rights as citizens.

Jews may apply for citizenship individually (sort of a yellow-dog contract!) but do not possess it automatically as a group. As even the conservative American Jewish Congress has been forced to point out, “The abrogation does not restore the Jews to their position under the Third Republic but relegates them to their position under the laws of Napoleon III.”

What is at least as significant in evaluating the Giraud regime – for such, by virtue of the buttress of American bayonets, it has become – is the fact that the same gang of corrupt, reactionary and anti-Semitic fascists remain in power, including Nogues, and Peyrouton. One can well imagine the zealousness with which Peyrouton, the man who brought about anti-Semitism to France at the behest of Hitler, will proceed to abolish it in North Africa!

A Pattern for the Post-War World

Strange are the ways of this war? Strange only for those who fail to see that the Giraud deal – as well as the flirtations with the Spanish murderer, Franco, and the Italian murderer-buffoon, Mussolini – sets the pattern for the post-war world which the Allies plan to establish. It is to be a conservative world, a world in which all the outmoded tyrants will return to power once more, in which any reactionary or near-fascist or actual fascist who is willing to make a deal with the Allies will suddenly blossom forth as a “democratic hero.”

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