Hal Draper

State Dept. Line on A-Pact
Wins Out

Senate Committee Gives Rubbery OK

(7 June 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 24, 13 June 1949, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

JUNE 7 – With today’s unanimous vote of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to endorse the Atlantic Pact without any reservation or interpretation, it would appear that the State Department has won a victory for its point of view within leading Congress circles, both Democratic and Republican. There will be no effort to clarify the doubletalk in the A-Pact.

The only – statement to accompany the pact which is proposed by the Senate committee is one reaffirming this country’s “dependence upon Almighty God.” (The N.Y. Times reports that this was accepted “in principle.”) The controversy which has been raging over the signing of the pact has, however, been over more earthly sources of strength.

The nature of this factional struggle within the bipartisan ranks of U.S. foreign policy makers has been quite public. On May 24, for example, a Washington dispatch to the Times reported:

U.S. Wall In Europe?

“Influential members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are considering accompanying its approval of the North Atlantic Treaty with a statement defining and limiting the nature of the American military commitment to Western Europe.

“That was disclosed today by a highly placed informant. He made it clear that the proposed declaration would be to the effect that there was no thought of offering to lay in advance across Europe a wall of security, involving American troops, against any Soviet invasion.”

Referring to the testimony before the committee given by James P. Warburg (a former New York banker and a prominent world-government advocate), the dispatch further said:

“Statements by Dean Acheson, Secretary of State, and General Omar N. Bradley, army chief of staff, were cited as permitting an interpretation offering Western Europe a kind of guarantee against invasion that was not contemplated by members of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan, senior Republican member of the committee, indicated much interest in dispelling this interpretation. Senator Tom Connally, Democrat, of Texas, committee chairman, is understood to be ready to go along with an explanatory statement.”

In a lead article at the time of the signing of the pact, Labor Action gave further details about the pressure from high personages to put through a guarantee of this sort, involving the garrisoning of U.S. troops along the border of the Iron Curtain.

President’s Powers

The reasoning behind this pressure was further highlighted by a dispatch from Germany by Times correspondent Drew Middleton (May 12) concerning a proposed compromise with the German people’s desire to rid their country of the occupation troops.

“[This] compromise device of withdrawing the troops of the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States into Stettin. Hamburg and Bremen, which was drafted by the State Department’s policy planning staff, under George Keenan, is felt here to have several advantages and disadvantages.

“The disadvantage, from the West’s point of view, is that the screen of United States, British and French troops now standing between the Soviet army and Western Europe would be withdrawn.

“This thought disturbs some officials in the Western countries, where the populations have been reassured by the thought that the Russians could not attack them without first attacking the Western occupation troops and provoking a major war.”

Associated with this question of a more or less long-term, screen of occupation troops, guaranteeing the instantaneous entry of the U.S. into the Third World War as soon as the first shot is fired, is the question whether the president of the United States could dispatch troops to Europe in the event of hostilities – without waiting for a declaration of war by Congress but acting under his powers as commander in chief to implement the A-Pact.

This would obviously mean that the power to authorize the waging of war is no longer in the hands of Congress, even formally, but in the hands of the executive – a new high in the long-known process whereby the responsibility for war initiative has been shifting from the elected representatives of the people to that of the government bureaucracy.

Isolationists Yield

The opposition to this at the tops has been coming mainly from unreconstructed isolationists in Congress – an isolationism, or semi-isolationism, partly based on the traditional provincialism of less intelligent representatives of the ruling class, and partly on economic considerations (economy in government expenditures), but not at all on opposition to the world-imperialist drives of the U.S. power. Its chief spokesman in the Senate committee has been Senator George.

The latest news report today on the Senate committee action tells the story of what has happened to this opposition:

“Mr. George, Mr. Connally indicated, had been placated by a committee agreement that its report should state that the treaty was not to be regarded either as increasing or decreasing the president’s war-making powers relative to those of Congress.

“This stipulation plainly caused the State Department no anxiety. Senator George had originally insisted that it be made ‘very clear’ that the Senate considered that the president would be without authority to send American military forces to the defense of a treaty partner without the approval of Congress.

“The language ultimately adopted, it was said on competent authority, simply would leave the extent of the president’s war-making power in the somewhat disputed situation in which it is now, and at all events would put no new check upon him.” (Times, June 7)

To Defend Democracy

In other words, the doubletalk stays in. If and when a Washington administration ever does decide to do exactly what it wishes to retain the power to do, holdouts of Senator George’s stripe will be in no position to object – even if they have not first been carried away by war hysteria themselves.

In the name of preparing for “defense” against Russian totalitarianism, it would appear, the processes of democracy in the United States are wearing thinner and thinner – a direction of development inherent in the death struggle between the two imperialisms.

Independent Socialism opposes military alliances for a third world war, such as the A-Pact, not from the pro-capitalist but stupid angle of the Georges, but because it places no reliance for the defense of democracy against the barbaric tyranny of Stalinism in a degenerating and bureaucratized capitalist system which itself cannot but drift in the direction of militarization and its concomitant of regimentation. The democratic alternative to the Stalinist world threat is not reliance on U.S. imperialism but the building of a socialist Third Camp opposed to both Wall Street and the Kremlin.

Last updated on 2 June 2021