Philip Coben

Secret Diplomacy

U.S. “Embarrassed” by Its Own Policy

(6 September 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 36, 6 September 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Woodrow Wilson coined a good phrase – “Open covenants openly arrived at” – but the coin is as popular as counterfeit money among the statesmen of this pre-World-War-III day. It never was anything but a good phrase for the imperialist wire-pullers, from Wilson down and up.

A dispatch from London in the New York Times last Monday, August 30, by that newspaper’s correspondent Clifton Daniel, makes the point clear enough, though not without pulling some punches. He writes:

“Secret diplomacy lately has been reintroduced in Europe, and the United States, which once stood for ‘open covenants openly arrived at, ‘ is participating in and sometimes [sic] encouraging this closed-door policy.

“Two sets of private negotiations have been going on Simultaneously – the Kremlin talks on the Berlin crisis and the lesser discussions in London on the disposal of Italy’s former colonies in Africa. Information about these meetings has been withheld front the public as a matter of deliberate policy by the four major powers ...

“n the case of the Italian colonies, the deputies wanted to avert disturbances in the territories where opinion on the future of colonies was violently divided. Outside observers also suspected that the United States delegation, which was a strong supporter of the news ban, wanted to avoid the political embarrassment of having to disclose its policy – a matter of keen interest both in Rome and in Italian-American political quarters.”


Now we ask anybody: why should it cause Washington “political embarrassment” to have to disclose its policy? The correspondent is rather delicate. For one thing, while the lords and masters of the earth are haggling over the fate of the colonies, the colonial peoples involved have no more say in the matter than a slave on the block. We seem to remember that there was something about the self-determination of peoples in a gobbledegook document called – what was it called now? – oh yes, the Atlantic Charter.

For another thing, according to all indications, the proposal of Washington’s embarrassed diplomats is to turn the former Italian colonies back to Italy.

Now from the point of view of people with white skins there is a difference between the Italy of De Gasperi, the Italy of Mussolini, the Italy of King Victor Emmanuel and the (possible) Italy of Togliatti – but, “narrow-minded” of him as it may seem to some “liberals,” no native of Africa has been able to detect any fine shades of distinction in the various forms of his imperialist masters. Among their imperialist slaves, all the varieties of imperialists revert to type.

There will be a lot of talk about giving the colonies back to “democratic Italy,” but no country is democratic as long as it rules over vassal peoples, chained in the bondage of empire.

Our own modest proposal is to give the “Italian” colonies back to their own people. This plan is so simple and, above all, so democratic that it has no more chance at the London confabs of the imperialists than the Sermon on the Mount at an NAM convention.

Last updated on 22 May 2018