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Walter Jason

The War Theories –
After Six Years of Fighting

(30 April 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 18, 30 April 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Those analysts of the war who based their whole orientation on a firm belief that sooner or later the war in Europe would turn into,a combined, struggle against Russia, because it was a “workers’ state,” must be completely disoriented by recent events, or else assume an ostrich-like attitude. In the February issue of the English Socialist Appeal these views were present in glaring fashion in an editorial. It stated three major points. (1) The Allies couldn’t smash through the western front. (2) Russia was achieving, the greatest military miracle in history because it had the resources created by the October Revolution. (3) It had a morale based on the October Revolution. If the editorial had only named the "organizer of this world-shaking victory,” I am sure it would have been reprinted in Pravda. But the analysis was wrong on all three counts.

The collapse of the western front speaks for itself. As for point (2), even Stalin has grudgingly admitted that lend-lease material made the recent offensive possible (not to speak of Allied air power, and the other two fighting fronts). As for point (3), neither the huge toll of Russian prisoners nor the thousands who fought in German uniform, especially in Southern France, nor the repressive discipline in the Russian army argue for a morale similar to that which repulsed Yudenich against greater odds in the defense of Petrograd during the Revolution.

Earlier some ultra-lefts argued for a concept characterized best perhaps by the term, “short war theory.” War-weary masses would soon end the world conflict by the overthrow of ruling regimes. Last spring, this view went so far as to assure a quick end in Europe based on a German revolt. This view I rejected for two sound reasons. If the French workers, bound in a magnificent resistance movement, were unable after freeing Paris, to seize and keep power, how could one expect anything from the German people, who are not only leaderless, like the French, but also pulverized, atomized and brutalized by the regime to an extent almost unbelievable? Besides, the politics of the Allies were calculated precisely to prevent any such occurrence. Italy, and above all, Greece, were lessons for the Germans on that score.

Currently, the war in Europe has not ended despite military disaster for Germany (1) because of the repelling politics of the Kremlin, (2) the terror regime of the Nazis (3) and because the strategy of the “war of annihilation” refuses anything but piecemeal surrender. Refusal to accept Von Runstedt’s offer was in conformity with that strategy. The German people are going to be taught the hard way what it means to take arms against the Allies.

In this connection, Eisenhower’s memo to Roosevelt, recently made public, is not so much a prognosis as a plan. In my view, it is unlikely that the Nazis will make things so simple as some hope, namely that they shall band together in a final Götterdämmerung. This is too simple a solution. The strategy of chaos, Hitler’s last bet, can make more skillful plans, as witnessed by the decree separating the party functionaries from the state administration.

In passing, one can’t help but laugh at the ignorance of those who argued, or continue to argue (1) Only the Russian offensive was responsible for the defeat (2) only the Allied offensive is causing the disastrous defeat of Germany. Without the victory in the battle of France no Russian offensive would have been possible. Air power, too, played a considerable role. Conversely, the eastern front gains made possible the Western break-through. Even today, the Russian army is occupying the attention of the bulk of the Wehrmacht. Chauvinists, Russian or any other brand, might argue in terms like the editorial writer of the Socialist Appeal, but this method has nothing in common with a serious military analysis, or an internationalist who understands thing in their totality.

A third view, and one which was much closer to reality, was that which prevailed fortunately in our movement. A stalemate was considered probable, and a “long war” view was held. The long war indeed has been with us, but an amendment is necessary in the prognosis. Europe is confronted with a military victory, and a decisive one at that. The weight of material and men has been decisive. The Big Three have conquered Europe.

Before the battle of France it was legitimate to pose these questions, for events hadn’t settled the issue: Would the resistance movements be able to utilize the conflict to assume a dominating role, or would their inspiring struggles be fully subordinated to the Big Three? Temporarily, at least, the second question became the reality. This is how the fundamental relationship in Europe. It determines the course of political events in the next period.

A Russian Revolution

The war in Europe ends with the decisive elimination of, one of the major contenders for world empires. The grand prize of the war, the fabulous colonies in the Orient, and decisive influence in China stands before the Big Three. It is here where the sharpest differences exist among the Big Three.

In Europe, once Germany is eliminated, a compromise on differences is not too difficult. The Allies remain, united on one major principle; defeat of any social revolutions. The reduction of Europe into spheres of influence is accomplished.

War in the Pacific

In the Pacific, precisely the major differences, real and impending among the Big Three, assure full and joint participation in the campaign, to exterminate Japan, which will learn an unforgettable lesson of the Genghis Khan variety.

England needs desperately to regain colonial conquests lost to Japan, if it is to remain among the Big Three. The resources of China, and its potential market have not escaped the eyes of the merchants of Manchester. Britain will participate fully in the Pacific. The problem is not whether she will participate, as some falsely argue, but rather how to remove the imperial flag from a recaptured Singapore, Hong Kong, the Indies, and elsewhere.

Stalin’s regime needs badly some substantial compensation for the losses sustained in the European war. Manchuria, Korea, and perhaps China are not exactly trifles. Besides, a Russia which needs a chunk of Poland for protection must obviously safeguard its approaches from Japan by seizing all adjacent territory. In China, there exist already pliable allies, or puppets for Stalin’s Far Eastern plans. The almost indecent haste with which the Stalinist regime breaks with Japan indicates simply how much faster the timetable in the Pacific War has moved than was expected.

In its “open door” policy, and the new version of “trusteeship” of the colonial lands, the USA clashes with the interests of both England and Russia. The rubber and oil resources already belong to a large degree to the American industrialists. Why not friendly governments? Or trusteeships, which mark the decline of the imperial flag, and exclude the Kremlin?

The truly grandiose plans of the USA in the Pacific are the surest sign that Washington understands thoroughly the politics involved there, and what the basis for decisions at a “peace” conference shall be. The connection between the vast armadas and armies concentrated or “ear-marked” for the Pacific, and the “peace” conference are not fully understood by many. The large-scale landings planned on the China coast, the shifting of the greatest military might in world’s history to the Pacific; these are not moves only for, or necessary, to smash Japan. The time-table in the Pacific is over one year ahead of schedule. And the pace of Japan’s complete defeat accelerate.

The tremendous gains of the USA against Japan, in contrast to earlier military prognosis, arise from two factors: In the first place, Japanese military strength was greatly overestimated. In the second place, the ability of American industry to produce a super-military machine was vastly underestimated. This is reflected in the present relationship between the two nations in two basic arms: Airpower and seapower. In each it is a matter of a giant against a. pygmy. In landpower, also, the Japanese are suffering fantastic losses. If Iwo was a shock to the victorious nation, imagine how the Japanese people felt? The Okinawa operation reveals the glaring weakness of the entire Japanese military structure.

In view of this strategic picture, the grandiose plans hardly make sense. They make less sense when one adds coming British and Russian military intervention. Already, half the Japanese army is immobilized by the threat of Russia. When Stalin moves at the propitious moment, the days of Japan are numbered. But the scope of American planning does make sense viewed against the conflicts and clashes of interest in the East. China will not be a Poland if American armies are in control of decisive areas. Or, more exactly, a Lublin government is excluded. There is also the military occupation of Formosa, the Indies, etc., etc. to be considered. Decisive influence will rest with that power among the Big Three which has reoccupied the territory involved in dispute. No doubt, just as “guerilla warfare” in Europe can justify use of more security troops, a similar phenomenon will exist in the Far East.

Just as the end of the war in Europe didn’t bring demobilization, so the collapse of Japan and. its reduction to a colony will not bring that peace which the people yearn for. Huge naval and land forces will remain in the Pacific.

The kink in these grandiose plans rests not only in the colonial masses, but, above all, in the people of USA and England. The views of the serviceman shall also play a considerable role. Already the non-fraternization law has failed. Everyone recognizes the “letdown” problem after VE day, both at home and in the army. The extent and scope of this reaction is the modifying force to big plans. The process of disillusionment expands. But greater disappointments still are ahead.

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