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Sal Santen

Review Article

How Washington Prepared for
“General War on Communism”

(Winter 1959/60)

From Fourth International (Amsterdam), No. 8, Winter 1959–60, pp. 52–57.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Arms and the State
by Harvey C. Mansfield and Walter Millis
New York

“‘Disengagement’ may be a meaningful term in the Middle East; perhaps, by a narrow definition of its meaning, in Europe but hardly for the Soviet Union and the United States,” says Mr. Stein in his introduction to Arms and the State, published by the 20th Century Fund, New York, 1958.

It is not necessary to have read the book to have few illusions about “disengagement” in the Middle East, and Europe too. But one thing is certain: there is not one single person in the leading American administrative and military circles who has any “tendency” to disengagement. Their main preoccupation is, how to halt the revolutionary tide in the world, and to drive it back by all means. Arms and the State, based on research in government files, Congressional hearings, military writings, presidential memoirs etc., gives, willingly or not, clear proof of this.

The first part of the book, on the pre-war decade, written by Harvey C. Mansfield, faithfully follows the official pattern of pre-war American foreign policy. Only when Mansfield, though rarely, tries to look “behind” it, his chapters get some interest. Thus we learn that in the USA until the autumn of 1942 “no firm strategical plan existed.” It is of importance to note this, not only for having an idea of the empiricism of the ruling American circles both administrative and military, but also in order to get a clear idea of the enormous changes which have taken place since then.

This empiricism did not only complicate military planning to the utmost. It was characteristic for all fields of activity:

In this course the service chiefs were only emulating their chief, the President. For Roosevelt too, though he was ready enough to proclaim bold production goals in big round numbers, had little patience to follow through the details and problems of their achievement. He is recorded as once telling Marshall that “planners were always conservative and saw all the difficulties, and that more could usually be done than they were willing to admit.” [1] Military strategists, in turn, called supply problems logistics and relegated them to others to solve. Top strategists, in uniform or not, regarded production and supply as a lower order of activity except when shortfalls or mistakes directly jeopardized specific operations (p. 88).

What an enormous difference with the conception of Leon Trotsky, who, when leading the Red Army, said in a speech to the Third World Congress of the Communist International:

Let me state quite candidly that I have had a great deal more to do with the Red Army’s statistics than with its sword [...] I have had a great deal more to do with counting up the numbers of boots, trousers, and with your permission drawers, than with wielding the sword. Generally speaking I believe that there is no contradiction whatever between swords and statistics, and that statistics relating to military equipment play a very big role in war. Napoleon used to say: “Dieu est toujours avec les gros bataillons” – “God is always on the side of the heaviest battalions.” And statistics as you know, also takes in the strength of battalions. (The First Five Years of the Comintern, p. 227).

It is not necessary, however, to go back to Trotsky for making a comparison between the empiricism of the imperialist rulers and the enormous advances of planning in the workers states. Even under the catastrophic leadership of Stalin, in the first years of the war, Russian policy, based on a plan, seemed a miracle to the Americans:

Only the Russians seemed to know consistently and specifically what they wanted. The United States needed to transform its attitudes and traditions about war and foreign affairs to correspond to its new role (p. 92).

This, in reality, is the meaning of the book. To show how the US leading circles are wrestling in order to “correspond to its new role”; empirically once more, but nevertheless arriving at a plan, as it moves at the head of a world coalition, directed against the workers states.

During the second imperialist war, such preoccupations only existed in an embryonic form. The main direct enemies, in that period, for American imperialism were Germany and Japan. The United States’ alliance with the USSR, after Hitlers’ attack on Russia in 1941, completely flowed from the “necessity” to beat these imperialist rivals:

Thereafter (June 1941), and almost to the end, Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs continued to regard the Russian fighting contribution as essential to the defeat of Germany, and of Japan later also; they continued to be apprehensive until after the Russian victory at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–43 that Russia might be forced to a separate peace; and they continued accordingly their firm support of Russian lend-lease.

The American Leaders

It would be a mistake to underestimate the capacity of the American ruling classes to produce leaders fit “for the new role.” Marshall was such a man, no doubt by far superior to Eisenhower, who is a compromiser much more than a coordinator:

Roosevelt’s regard for Marshall was perhaps best expressed in Cairo, at the time Eisenhower was selected for the supreme command in Europe against the known preference of Churchill and Stalin and the strong recommendations of Stimson and Hopkins, very simply in the President’s words as Marshall recalled them: “I feel I could not sleep at night with you out of the country” (p. 111). (Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 803.)

Eisenhower’s capacities when “out of the country” in Europe – proved to be of quite another, inferior character. Unscrupulous compromiser as he is, whilst starting from the interests of American imperialism (his task today is to find a “compromise” between the military and civil interests), he was not hindered by some “democratic conception” when looking for allies. It was he who put Darlan in charge of French civil affairs, and later gave the following explanation:

I believe in a theater commander doing these things without referring them back to his home Government and then waiting for approval. If a General makes a mistake, he can be repudiated and kicked out and disgraced. But a Government cannot repudiate and kick out and disgrace itself not, at any rate, in wartime [2] (p. 120).

At any rate, his conception did not differ much from Roosevelt’s, who at the end of the war

thought a military government was needed in France; he expected a civil war there when troops were withdrawn, and wanted no provisional government in office and making reprisals until conditions permitted free and orderly elections (p. 123).

It would be easy to give more examples of the completely counter-revolutionary, reactionary conception of the “democratic” American ruling circles in that period. Compared to the present role of American imperialism, that of “super-Wrangel no. 1,” to use Trotsky’s words about Hitler, there is a qualitative change. How this change took place is the subject of Part II of the book, written by Walter Millis, which gives a rather vivid (though far from complete) picture of the efforts of the American state machinery “to correlate its attitudes about war and foreign affairs to its new role.”

Military Conquer the State

A great deal of part II is dedicated to the increasing (even dominating) role of military men in American administration and policy.

Neither civil nor military policy could exist and prosper in isolation. They were now deeply interlinked, not only in theory but in human fact, by a host of already existing joint boards, committees, policy-forming groups, in which professional soldiers, civilians temporarily in uniform and civilians still in their gray-flannel suits combined to make policy decisions both great and small (p. 142).

Such was the situation in 1945. At that moment, the book relates, there were “three major and urgent issues’”:

  1. The administration of the occupied territories, in which “commanding generals were final sources of civil authority”;
  2. The atomic bomb, the “future management of which” demanded that “political and military considerations must be closely integrated,” and
  3. The reorganization of the military establishment in the following sense:

We should adopt the organizational structure best suited to fostering coordination between the military and the rest of the government. Our military policy, for example, should be completely consistent with our foreign policy (Truman, Memoirs, Vol. 2, pp. 48–49, Arms and the State, p. 154).

The Atomic Bomb

In 1945, already, the atomic bomb played an enormous role in American foreign policy. Its use against Japan was much more a threat against Russia than a means to make Japan capitulate. Stalin may have welcomed its criminal “usefulness” in the cases of Nagasaki and Hiroshima; the American politicians had quite other preoccupations And so, no doubt, had the Russian. On September 11, 1945 (a month after the dropping of the bomb), Stimson wrote to Truman:

In many quarters it [the atomic weapon] has been interpreted as a substantial offset to the growth of Russian influence on the continent. We can be certain that the Soviet Government has sensed this tendency and the temptation will be strong for the Soviet political and military leaders to acquire this weapon in the shortest possible time [...] The result will be a secret armament race of a rather desperate character. There is evidence that such activity may have already commenced. (On Active Service, p. 643, Arms and the State, p. 157).

And not without reason, Stimson pronounced the expectation that the relations with Russia “may be perhaps irretrievably embittered by the way in which we approach the solution of the bomb with Russia.”

The way the “approach” was made is too well known to everybody. Stimson resigned completely, as his warnings did not fit with the tendency of American imperialism to prepare for an “approach” of quite another character.

The implications of the “bomb” were several. It accentuated the influence of the military on the American state apparatus to the extreme, while undermining democratic bourgeois traditions. The House “was less suspicious of the professional military services than of their appointed civilian superiors”:

A similar attitude was reflected in the unbounded confidence which the congressmen were coming to place in the professional police of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. One could trust the professional soldiers and policemen; one could not trust the civilian administration to have sufficient regard either for the national security or the preservation of a free enterprise economy (p. 168).

The National Security Act and the Cold War

In 1947 the National Security Act was introduced. By this “the post-war reorganization of the American military, diplomatic and political system was substantially complete”.

It put the capstone, so to speak, on the new governmental structure deriving from the experiences of the Second World War. Subsequent developments were to flow, not from the experiences of the war but from the harsh lessons of the post-war period to which it led (p. 178).

In spite of its weaknesses, which would appear later on, “as it could not transfer the real world into one of order and precision,” it armed American imperialism for the cold war.

Among the many problems which worried the American rulers so intensely, the revolutionary development of China was most burning. What to do against it? Dean Acheson had reported in 1945, already, that

while the policy of refusing in any way to cooperate with the Chinese Communists was “diplomatically correct,” it was also practically “dangerous.” He felt that “if this situation continues [...] the probable outbreak of disastrous civil conflict will be accelerated and chaos in China will be inevitable (p. 190).

Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley, in his turn, sharply opposed a policy of “cooperation with the Chinese Communist,” and for this he based himself upon ... Stalin:

Hurley returned to Chungking by way of Moscow; there he received from Stalin himself what Hurley thought were assurances that Russia, wanting only a stable government in China, was uninterested in the Chinese Communists and would firmly support Chiang Kai-Shek. This seems to have convinced the Ambassador that there was no need to make concessions to Mao Tse-Tung in order to avert “disastrous civil conflict” (p. 191).

Happily, both Hurley and Stalin appear to have been mistaken, as “nearly everyone seems to have been mistaken in this crisis, at once so vast and so vaguely apprehended for what it really was.”

Moreover, the situation was “complicated” by the desire of the soldiers to go home. A proposal on November 20, 1945, of the secretaries of State, War and Navy, “to get the Japanese out of Manchuria and establish the authority of the Nationalist government over the whole country” was “obscured” as: “They were under heavy pressure to ‘bring the boys home’” (p. 192).

Under those conditions Byrnes finally suggested “the wise course would be to try to force the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist to get together on a compromise basis.” And he added that it might even be well “to tell Russia what we intend to do and to try to line them up with this policy” (p. 194, The Forrestal Diaries, p. 113).

Wedemeyer the soldier, however was of the opinion that they “either have to support the Generalissimo in full-scale warfare, with many more American troops than anyone dreamed of committing, or in effect surrender the colossal population of China to Communist conquest.” According to Millis, “our total policymaking machinery – military, diplomatic, administrative and legislative – was simply incapable of facing and clearly resolving such a dilemma.” And, whilst referring to the concrete “communist conquest of China,” he formulates: “It was just such failures in basic policy-formulation which it was hoped that the National Security Act would correct.”

The Crises of 1948

The complete disdain of American government and military leaders for “planning,” still so evident in the course of the Second World War, had changed rapidly. It was no longer possible to face the problems of the world in a purely empirical way. America had to give “leadership” to the “threatened free world.” In accordance with this mission, people also changed:

The top administrators of American civil and military policy in these years were all friends; they shared a common apprehension of the Soviet Union and a common conviction that the answers were to be found primarily in foresight, planning and cooperation (p. 202).

The necessity of it became clearer from day to day. Before even the Policy Planning Staff (set up by Marshall in 1947, and a forerunner of the National Security Council Staff) could meet, on April 29, 1947, “the Secretary of State demanded from Kennan a policy adequate to meet the impending crises of Greece and Turkey, of a collapsing Europe and a collapsed China”:

The next day the Secretary called Kennan in and said he wanted the policy within ten days or two weeks. One result was the “jelling” of what was later known as the Marshall Plan (p. 202).

The extreme rapidity with which the American imperialist governors learned to react (a “policy within ten days or two weeks”) in order to face the problems, gave clear proof of their decided intention to resist to the utmost any tendency to “capitulation.” “But in spite of the new machinery of the National Security Act, there was no easy way in which to reconnect the two,” military demand and civilian economy.

In order to “grapple with the underlying issues confided to them by the Security Act,” a Conference of the Joint Chiefs was planned:

The conference was to meet at the isolated Key West naval base on March 11, 1948; before it could do so, however, there intervened a series of startling and ominous events which were to lend to its deliberations an unexpected urgency. Our efforts to defeat Communist rebellion in Greece were going badly. In early February the Communists in South Korea had precipitated a wave of strikes, riots and sabotage which, though not widely noticed in the United States, was menacing for the future. On February 24, 1948, democratic Czecho-Slovakia was captured by her internal Communist conspiracy in a coup which did profoundly shock the United States and the whole non-Communist world. And on March 5 there arrived a top-secret telegram from General Lucius D. Clay, commanding in Berlin:

Within the last few weeks, I have felt a subtle change in Soviet attitude which I cannot define but which now gives me a feeling that it (war) may come with dramatic suddenness (The Forrestal Diaries, p. 387, Millis, p. 210).

Faced with this situation, the Joint Chiefs agreed, amongst others, “that the President should ask for a supplemental military appropriation to bring the armed forces as a whole to a state more nearly commensurate with the ominous “realities of the world” (Forrestal, p. 393, Millis p. 212).

How many times since then will they have repeated such “requests”?

Everything was moving then. In the midst of the Key West conference “a telegram was handed in announcing that Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Minister, was proposing the expansion of the Brussels Pact (which was signed on Friday) into a larger structure of Atlantic Security.” And indeed, one year later, the NATO pact was signed.

The Key West conference appeared to be a turning point:

On Monday afternoon Forrestal found the President prepared to make a strong statement favoring some measure of rearmament and a revival of the draft. The Secretary had gone to Key West mainly with the idea of beating the Joint Chiefs’ heads together on the technical issues of service functions; he returned to find that the Key West decisions were expected to provide the basis for an immediate strategic plan to meet the suddenly urgent immediate issues (p. 213).

And on March 16, after studying the Clay telegram, the Central Intelligence Agency predicted “that war was not probable over another sixty days.” On the last day of the same month, however, “there had come the first hint of what was to become the Berlin blockade.” The very same day a meeting took place with Forrestal, the Service Secretaries and Chiefs of Staff, in which “Several possible courses of action were considered, starting with an idea that the President might send a message direct to Stalin threatening war” (p. 221).

With such perspectives, the Berlin crisis was faced. For the first time, American imperialism knew how to react promptly to what it considered to be the “Russian threat”:

While mastering the blockade the United States achieved at least three fundamental decisions. The first was to found the military security of the United States upon a military defense of Europe. [...] The second strategic decision was that Nationalist China could not be saved. [...]

[...] The third basic strategic decision arrived at by the latter months of 1948 was never clearly stated and many of its aspects are still obscure. But it amounted to committing American defense and foreign policy ultimately to the atomic bomb [...].

The Formation of NATO

On the formation of the NATO, in 1949, the book gives only a little information. As is clear from the above, it was a creation of American imperialism, and “in the event of war” there should be a “Supreme Allied Commander-in-Chief (West)” who should be an American (p. 237).

It started from the conception, however, that “the defense of the West had to be unitary.” By shaping the NATO, American imperialism had succeeded in unifying the imperialist world, and to dictate to it her policy of “containment” in her own terms. By doing so, quantity changed into quality. And though still much had to be done to forge the NATO into the force it was expected to become, its realisation was of fundamental significance for the aggressive policy of the world imperialist bloc since then, under the leadership of the United States.

Much earlier than the Americans had expected, the Soviet Union “had the bomb.” To the men in government “the shock was extreme.” “They knew that at a stroke the whole military-political situation had been transformed”:

There was to ensue one of the truly great debates of our times over military and foreign policy, perhaps more significant to history than the great debates over the League of Nations, over the approach to the Second World War or over the United Nations. But in two ways it was extraordinary: it was almost wholly secret, hidden in the upper recesses of government; while its decisions, insofar as they were arrived at, were administrative rather than political in character. The Congress, the press and the public – the great organs of modern democratic government – were only peripheral parties to an argument upon which the whole future of American and Western society might well turn [...].

[....] To thoughtful men, whether in uniform or out of it, the announcement of September 23, 1949, presented a crisis – intellectual, moral and technical – far transcending the usual crises of international affairs [...] (pp. 245–6).

Whilst referring to the hearings In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer (spring 1954), Walter Millis calls it a “tragic record of the actual processes of policy formation in the modern age”:

it records with precision the manner in which some of the more basic decisions of our time are arrived at: at the same time making clear the extent to which all these responsible officers had to operate in secret, to make their decisions in secret, to arrive at judgments on which they knew the nation’s if not civilization’s future might depend without the political officer’s normal support in public argument and expression (p. 247).

The conclusion of all those secret debates and decisions in the “bulwark of democracy” was the H-bomb. “The Russians had knocked our strategic position into a cocked hat; we had lost our “lead” in atomic energy, and the best way to regain it was at once to produce the thermonuclear weapon.” In 1952 the terrible weapon was ready, indeed.

“The first Soviet thermonuclear explosion took place in August 1953; the first “droppable” American bomb was fired in the following March ...

“Thus in the fall of 1949 and the winter of 1950 the nation had faced a major transformation in the world scene and its administrators had secretly made or prepared drastic changes in military and foreign policies.”

One of the main consequences of it, for America itself, was a further undermining of the democratic institutions:

The image arose of a vast and lethal fog of Communist conspiracy, infiltration, espionage and betrayal, at work everywhere in the national community and especially in the Democratic Administration. That this was seriously to distort the more normal processes of policy formation in the military and diplomatic fields can scarcely be doubted. Tightened “security” measures were to divorce the public even further from participation in major policy issues, of which they might now be kept in almost total ignorance (p. 258).

The American rulers themselves had prepared the field for the sinister McCarthy ...

The Korean War

“The Korean War was to bring the most dramatic, the most complex and most illuminating issue of civil-military relationships since the end of the Second World War.”

The great changes in the American civilian/military apparatus began to pay. Washington was prepared for prompt intervention but, as would become clear during the Korean War, not yet on a global scale.

According to Millis, who follows here the very doubtful official version, “the attack of June 24, 1950, upon South Korea came as a virtually complete surprise.” He adds to it, however:

The possibility, of course, had been long foreseen. Only a day or two before, John Foster Dulles (then a special representative of Dean Acheson’s State Department) had been inspecting the South Korean defenses along the 38th Parallel (p. 260).

In Blair House (as Truman revealed in his Memoirs later on), there was “complete acceptance” of the fact that “Whatever had to be done to meet this aggression had to be done” (p. 262).

If both military intelligence and political foresight may seem to have been deficient, the crisis when it did break was handled with courage, skill and effectiveness. Truman maneuvered promptly and adroitly, both to throw in military force and to secure UN authorization for doing so. State and Defense functioned smoothly and cooperatively to bring forth agreed recommendations; Congress raised no objections; public opinion seemed overwhelmingly behind the decisions taken, and Acheson was later to think it probable that he might have got a war resolution by acclamation, and perhaps regretted that he had not risked the attempt (p. 265).

Whatever may have been the disillusion for American imperialism in the course of the Korean War, at the outbreak of it it was decided to go to the end. Hesitations, then, come from the side of its allies, before all Great Britain, who feared that an extension of the “conflict” would spread the civil war to the rest of Asia.

Our UN allies were already nervous over the idea that the Korean police action might be expanded into a general crusade against communism in the Far East that would precipitate the third war (p. 271).

The American government, then, tried to maneuver its allies in such a way, that, whilst taking into consideration their argument, the Korean war would become a direct threat against the Chinese Revolution:

If there was no indication or threat of entry of Soviet or Chinese Communist elements in force, the National Security Council recommended that General MacArthur was to extend his operations north of the parallel and to make plans for the occupation of North Korea. However, no ground operations were to take place north of the 38th parallel in the event of Soviet or Chinese Communist entry (Truman, Memoirs, cited by Millis).

The gentlemen preferred to neglect the fact that “the entry of Chinese Communist elements in force” might be provoked, by the extension of the operations North of the parallel. Not without reason, Millis comments:

If Washington was to commit our troops to the “occupation of North Korea” then it should have been prepared to accept the possible consequences, already foreseen; if the risks were too great, then the commitment should not have been authorized (p. 274).

In reality, Washington accepted the consequences. If it began to waver, later on, it was owing to the dynamic force of the heroic Chinese soldiers, to the moral breakdown of the American army in Korea, and to the pressure of the Allies.

Placed before those facts, Washington had to change its plans.

MacArthur’s later complaints of his inability to secure clear policy directives from Washington were not without substance (p. 274).

At any rate, Washington could not be unaware of what was at stake:

Both in Washington and Lake Success there was much division of opinion. Our UN allies were already concerned lest we convert the war in Korea into a general war on communism. The general whom we had appointed as UN commander had rather plainly indicated his leading toward such a course (p. 276).

Then a meeting took place between Truman and MacArthur at Wake Island, in which the latter (no doubt against his own conviction) denied the possibility of Chinese entry, whilst Truman (all too glad) accepted this statement in order to leave a free hand to MacArthur, who moreover stated his “firm belief that all resistance would end, in both North and South Korea, by Thanksgiving. This, he said, would enable him to withdraw the Eighth Army to Japan by Christmas” (Truman, Memoirs, Millis, p. 279).

The Chinese Reply

The Chinese army did not wait long with its reply. Even before MacArthur was aware of it, “they had passed the Yalu many days before and were actually massing in the midst of his own forces. The “trap” had not been avoided; “the real trap had not yet even been detected” (p. 287).

And then it became crystal clear that American imperialism once again had by far underestimated the enormous force of the Chinese Revolution. It had to drop its ambition “to convert the war in Korea into a general war on communism,” and, for the same reason, it had to drop MacArthur. It became clear to Washington, that for “a general war on communism,” it had to prepare better:

Korea could be, and apparently was being, held with the available bits and pieces of the World War II military machine. But to hold the free world itself it seemed suddenly urgent to convert the new NATO alliance into an effective instrument of defense; to raise and re-equip American military forces for its support and, even more, to raise the American military production potential) to a point at which we would be reasonably prepared to face the possibility of a third general war (p. 280).

MacArthur was sent into the wood, only in order to prepare better for what he had propagated. He was replaced by Ridgway, who was

in these hours touring the front lines of the 8th Army. It is not surprising that he was shocked by the state of morale which he encountered. It was an army of beaten, apprehensive men who had lost not only their aggressiveness but their alertness. They were ‘not patrolling as they should’; they knew nothing about the enemy before them; they did not know the terrain; they were not preparing rear lines of defense against the attack which everyone expected to come, and they did not know what they were fighting for or why they should be expected to continue (p. 306).

This was the greatest victory of the Chinese Revolution. It had succeeded in breaking the morale of the troops of the combined imperialist powers. Revolution was victorious over counter-revolution.

The Global Problem

In the last part, dealing with The Global Problem and The New Look, the book loses much of its interest. Such important problems as the State intervention in industry in favor of armament, and the radical changes in budget, are treated too superficially for having much interest.

As for German rearmament, it might be interesting to quote:

German rearmament, in short, was the condition on which the military command would permit the essentially civilian and diplomatic NATO policy to go forward (p. 338).

But such dominating facts as the Russian lead in ‘’missiles” is only mentioned with a few words, as are Indo-China, Formosa, Suez, because “the facts of these episodes and isuues are still hidden in the top-secret papers.”

For this reason, it is not worth while to follow the book to the end. It would still be possible, to find here and there some interesting details, but there is no line in it.

So we return to the middle of the book, in which Walter Millis says on page 260:

The events of late 1949 and early 1950 were a case history in the reaction of a modern democracy to a revolutionary, but long-range, shift in the international power balance. Korea was a case history in its reaction to an immediate military crisis. The value of the book, though written from the point of the view of the enemy, lies in the fact that it gives an interesting look into those years, in which the “revolutionary, but long-range shift in the international power balance” took place in such a breath taking tempo in favor of world revolution, and to the disadvantage of world imperialism.

It was then, that American imperialism set 1953 as its “target date” for its counter-attack against the revolutionary forces in the world:

In the panic atmosphere of late 1950 the Joint Chiefs had formulated their huge expansion plans on the estimate that by 1953 the Soviet Union would be reaching the peak of its military capability, and that this should consequently be taken as our own target date (p. 396) (Our emphasis).

It will always remain to the honor of the IVth International, that, at the outbreak of the Korean War, it understood immediately the profoundly revolutionary significance of the great changes in the world since 1948. Against the hue and cry of many revolutionaries who were frightened in that period by the complexity of the situation, it concluded that American imperialism would not be prepared to leave the scene of history in favor of revolution, without a life-and-death fight, that it had taken the lead of a world imperialist coalition with the conscious intention to prepare from that moment on for war against the combined forces of world revolution, the Workers States, the Colonial Revolution and the working class movement. It did not hesitate to say that war became possible from 1953, as American imperialism would be ready then for launching it (and indeed, as we see from the above, 1953 was their “target date”).

For the Fourth International, this correct analysis of the real situation in the world, did not flow from pessimism. On the contrary, it understood that the war preparations by American imperialism were a consequence of the enormously increased strength of world revolution, and not a consequence of its defeats, as had been the case before World Wars One and Two. For this reason it predicted, that such war preparations (counter-revolutionary in essence) would give rise to new revolutionary shocks in the world, and that a war, if it would become a reality, owing to its character (being in a distorted form and in final analysis the showdown between world revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces) would and should be transformed from the start into the world civil war against imperialism.

Arms and the State, based on a wealth of material and written by partisans of the American imperialist policy, confirms this analysis even in details.

From the book we understand the enormous force, the will to survive, of the American, ruling classes. Their flexibility has reached a remarkable level, and the way they knew promptly how to react to the enormous changes in the world, every time they reproduced themselves, is unique in the history of imperialism. And indeed, they succeeded in “transforming their attitudes and traditions about war and foreign affairs to correspond to their new role.” There cannot be the slightest doubt about it.

In spite of this, the rising revolutionary forces in the world have given proof of being stronger than the capability of the enemy to halt and defeat them, although American imperialism has not hesitated – since 1953, the “target date” – to bring humanity to the brink of war. In his introduction, Harold Stein concludes:

But Truman and Eisenhower, and all of us alive today, also live with the new problems of that terrifying new world we never made, or at least never meant to make.

And indeed, the time is over when the imperialists “made this world” according to their will. What is “terrifying” now for them, the rise of world revolutionary forces, will be the world of tomorrow. Neither “arms,” nor “the state” will be able to prevent it from becoming a reality.


1. Cline, Washington Command Post, p. 259.

2. Ibidem, pp. 648–655.

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