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Jack Wilson

GI’s in Philippines Protest
New Demobilization Delays

(14 January 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. X No. 2, 14 January 1946, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The first serious and organized political opposition to the present world policies of the Truman Administration from within the ranks of the Army came with dramatic and violent suddenness in the GI demonstrations in Manila and throughout the world.

In demanding their return home and their non-interference in Philippine politics, the 20,000 GI’s who held a series of protest meetings in the islands raised a series of political questions which are causing consternation in Washington.

The language the GI’s used was expressive of the new kind of thinking that is going on in the Army. They didn’t get up and just gripe. They spoke about the imperialist character of the United States foreign policies. Some talked about being used as pawns. Others warned against conscription. It was just the kind of I&E (information and education) program that the brass hats never wanted the soldiers to hold.

The cables and letters of thousands of other GI’s stationed everywhere confirmed the seriousness of this situation.

This crisis reached a peak when the War Department announced a drastic revision in the demobilization schedule which would force veterans to remain overseas for a long period. The brass hats calmly announced they were cutting the rate of discharge from 1,000,000 men a month to less than 300,000, thus assuring that at least 1,500,000 soldiers would still be stuck overseas next summer!

“Our overseas forces would be dangerously under strength in occupying hostile countries if all eligible men were to be returned," the brass hats said, in trying to explain their broken promises to the combat veterans.

In a radio broadcast, Drew Pearson, whose exposés of the brass hats have won him a wide hearing among GI’s, added the information that another reason the brass hats were slowing up demobilization is because they wanted to blackmail the American people into supporting peacetime conscription.

In the Philippines, this news combined with some local developments to create a fever heat of excitement and indignation among the veterans. One division was alerted for duty after President Truman spoke of the “danger of unrest” in the Philippines.

GI’s everywhere knew that the Army was beginning to lag in its own already announced program of returning soldiers home. The pouring of more men into China to intervene in China’s internal political situation was a disturbing sign. The use of American marines to guard British property in China was common knowledge.

The news of American government- controlled ships transporting Dutch marines to suppress the Indonesian fight for freedom was known. The usual Army snafu in handling demobilization aggravated the situation.

And, finally, Secretary of War Patterson aroused the ire of the Pacific veterans when he stated in an interview with the Pacifican that he didn’t know the details of demobilization. To be exact, he didn’t know that points were frozen as of September 2. This ignorance and contempt for the real problems and concerns of the GI’s added fuel to the flames of resentment.

When the series of demonstrations followed, Lieut.-Gen. Styer added his nickel’s worth by saying via radio to a jeering and booing audience of GI’s that the “changing international situation” caused the War Department to revise demobilization schedules.

How GI’s Feel

The unprecedented nature of the GI protests and their worldwide scope served to emphasize the bitterness and hatred the GI’s feel for the Army and the foreign policies which make pawns of them.

Of course, the demands of the Manila demonstrators don’t answer all the questions. When they ask for their own return, and not the return of the men stuck in Japan and Germany, they are short-sighted. Those men have an equal right to come back home. The policies against which the Manila soldiers protest are carried out everywhere. There are a few thousand GI’s stuck in the Persian Gulf, for example. And in India. And elsewhere. All the American troops should be withdrawn from overseas, for all of them are being used as a police force against the common people and their struggle for liberty. The Philippines are not an exception. They are the rule.

The insidious attempt of the War Department to foist conscription on the American people to build a large army and to continue the present imperialist policies must be fought as part of this struggle. There is no point in, freeing some men from the grip of the Army only to penalize others.

The duty of every person is to back the demands of the GI’s to get home and to continue the fight against the source of this demobilization scandal, U.S. imperialism.

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