Hal Draper

Truman Waves A-Bomb;
Leaders Plan U.S. Garrison
in Europe

(18 April 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 16, 18 April 1949, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

How will the Third World War start?

The Man-in-the-Street is convinced that it will be by Russian aggression against a perfectly innocent West. Let us accept that for the moment, for the sake of argument, and ask the same question again. Russian aggression – against Norway? Against the Duchy of Luxemburg? Even against Western Germany?

There is a campaign going on now to make sure that the first shooting starts against the forces of none of these countries alone or their similar small fry, but that it starts directly with the armed forces of the United States.

This campaign is being carried on publicly by high level American spokesmen. It reached a high point during the week of the Atlantic Pact signing. It has not yet been officially blessed but its sponsorship leaves no doubt of the source of its inspiration.

The plan is simple enough: American troops are to be stationed at all the danger points all over the world, ready for the shooting. The excuse is simple enough: “we” can’t allow Europe to be overrun, “we” therefore have to guard their borders. The buildup is more than simple – it has been accomplished: the plan is put forward as a necessary consequence of the Atlantic Pact.

It seems this innocently peace-loving Atlantic Pact, which sounds merely like a joint pledge of defense against aggression, has consequences. First, the United States has to arm Europe to the teeth. Second, U.S. troops have to become its border patrols. Let us take a look at this public campaign.

Four Speeches

It was blared out this past week by four well-publicized speeches: by General Lucius D. Clay, head of the American Military Government in Germany; by General Omar Bradley, army chief of staff ; by Secretary of the Army Royall; and by ex-Undersecretary of War William H. Draper. No mean lineup!

The keynote was sounded by General Bradley on April 5. He made a fervent plea to “funnel the great strength of our New World to the ramparts of the Old” and “thus challenge the enemy where we would transgress.” (Bradley emphasized in this speech that he was acting at the request of the State Department.) Picking up and quoting this appeal, the editorial columns’ of the New York Times on April 7 dotted the i’s: “we must ‘funnel the great strength of our New World to the ramparts of the Old’ by stationing in Europe a team of army, navy and air forces strong enough to keep any aggressor in check.”

If this had appeared in the Hearst press, one might laugh off as mere puff the phrase about “a team ... strong enough to keep any aggressor in check.” Because this is quite a “team”! It means the permanent occupation of Western Europe in force, not by token garrisons.

The next day Secretary Royall made a speech in Chicago which “was an obvious sequel to that delivered in New York last night by General Bradley” (says the AP dispatch). “Obvious sequel” puts it mildly; Royall didn’t have to read Bradley’s speech in the newspapers.

Royall’s theme was that it will take more than the ground forces of the European countries themselves to withstand any future attack on the Continent. Like Bradley, Royall did not dot the i’s himself. William H. Draper was freer-tongued in St. Louis, since he no longer has official government responsibility. According to the AP, Draper “stressed the prospect that U.S. forces will have to stay in Europe for a long time after the occupation period is over in order to stand guard against any lightning aggression.”

Troops Demonstrate

And that may certainly be a long time. Anyone who thinks that Draper and the editors of the Times (the latter a notorious channel, for officially-unofficial trial balloons) are speaking on their own is self-deceived. The coordination is pretty good.

In Germany General Clay spoke briefly at “the biggest demonstration of United States, troops in Europe since the end of the war” in Grafenwoehr. The headlines tell the story:

“Clay Tells Our Troops They’d Fight Attack,” and “Clay Terms Pact a Pledge to Fight.”

“General Clay stressed the fact that six months ago American arms in Europe were light. Today, he said, the constabulary was ‘heavily armed and still highly mobile.’“ (N.Y. Times, April 7)

The real story from Europe in this connection, however, was not what Clay said; it was what he was looking at.

“Hundreds of guns, tanks and armored vehicles passed before Clay, who stood on a reviewing stand from which the flags of Britain, France and the United States waved. The Russian flag was conspicuous by its absence ...

“The displays were in sharp contras to the 1948 observance [of Army Day] when there was no attempt to make a show of U.S. military strength.” (AP, N.Y. Post, April 7)

“At more than twenty other cities in France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Austria and the Free Territory of Trieste, American arms and equipment also were displayed in ceremonies marking Army Day. The biggest parade was here [Grafenwoehr]. Some 3,500 men participated in formations ...” (N.Y. Times, April 7)

It Adds Up

Writing in advance, the Times dispatch of April 4 stressed the political aspects more heavily:

“Most of the estimated 93,000 [U.S.] troops in Europe will take part in displays of military equipment, including new guns and tanks, that have been brought over here recently for the reorganized constabulary. This force is now a crack combat outfit with its strength reinforced by a tank division ...

“The political overtones will be more marked in Trieste. Against a background of decorated U.S. navy ships anchored in the bay, the U.S. naval and marine contingents will join the infantry, and tanks in full field equipment .. .

“The chief difference between this year’s Army Day celebration in Europe and that of last year is the decision to hold major formations. Last year while all the troop centers participated, the parades were only a token display of military strength.”

Last year the Atlantic Pact, which “ensures peace,” had not yet been signed.

These speeches, these American troops marching over the face of Europe – what does it add up to?

For fear that the reader will ascribe a summary in our own words to “propaganda,” we quote the editorial of the N.Y. Times again, keeping in mind its inspired character:

“The fundamental strategic concept underlying all these pronouncements ... is clear and unanimously agreed upon. It is that we must at all cost prevent Western Europe from being overrun by a new conqueror, and that in consequence our military frontiers are not, as some Europeans have feared, on the Atlantic, or in Britain, or at the Pyrenees, or even at the Rhine, but at the Iron Curtain itself, I which means Berlin, the Elbe, the Danube, and Trieste.

“They are there, for one reason, because that is where our occupation troops stand today.”

The hardheadedness of this imperialist strategy cannot be denied.

Rather one should wonder at the softpates who think that Germany is under occupation in order to “teach the Germans self-government,” or something of that sort. For one thing, it is clear, from the viewpoint of the “strategic concept” outlined, that the occupation of Germany is today only a part of .the whole. It is Western Europe which is under American occupation.

The “Strategic Concept”

But the hardheadedness of this strategy does not lie in purely military considerations. A case for this could be made out only if the Times demand for an occupation army “strong enough to keep any aggressor in check” at the moment of the aggression, could really be realized. But it would take the major part of the whole U.S. armed establishment even to make a show of such a promise, considering the size of the Russian land forces!

We venture a different answer. Frankly it is not much of a venture since its role in Washington policy has already been documented to the hilt with regard to Roosevelt’s strategy for getting the country into the Second World War (in the devastating expos6 by Professor Charles Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War.

The problem before the Washington war planners is in the first instance political and not military: how to make sure that the U.S. jumps into the war on the first day. Atlantic Pact or no, the start of hostilities between Russia and Norway is not going to stampede Congress into declaring war, at least not easily. As Professor Beard proved, Roosevelt deliberately set about drawing blood. The “sneak attack” at Pearl Harbor (that is, some attack on U.S. forces) was a political necessity for him in order to accomplish what he had already decided: throwing the country into the war. There were no U.S. troops in Europe then to be attacked.

The U.S. troops peppered along the borders of the iron Curtain will not be there to “keep any aggressor in check.” They are a stake-out – the fat calf tied to the tree to draw out the bear!

Such is the “fundamental strategic concept” of the occupation of Western Europe. This is how the Third World War is planned to start.

Vicious Circle!

The United States frontier is at the Iron Curtain, says the Times, “because that is where our occupation troops stand today.” And why, in turn, do the occupation troops stand there today? Because, forsooth, our frontier is at the Iron Curtain. And so on, round the circle.

The vicious circle has got to be broken. The “strategic concept” makes sure that any and every “incident” on the Iron Curtain frontier automatically becomes the war between the U.S. and Russia – if indeed it does not sooner ensure the possibility of the provocation of such an incident! The occupation of Western Europe by American troops ensures that justified hatred of the Stalinist tyranny by the occupied peoples will tend to be shadowed by equally justified hatred of the foreign “cold invader” whose “crack divisions” and tanks march and countermarch over their lands.

The “strategic concept” of Washington is no longer built on the now familiar “cold war.’” It is for a “cold invasion” of Western Europe.

As General Clay boasted, this cold invasion has already gotten under way. Opposition to the Third World War now means: Demand the withdrawal of the armed forces of the United States from Europe!

Last updated on 1 August 2019