First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 7, February 21, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The fantastic military growth and war preparations of the Soviet Union have touched off sharp debate within the U.S. ruling class. Certain powerful forces in the ruling class are clearly trying to cover up this growth and appease Soviet social-imperialism.
Along with these imperialist spokesmen for “detente,” the revisionist Communist Party USA and other opportunists calling themselves “Marxists” have also been cranking out “detente” propaganda. They are trying to whitewash the role of the Soviet Union as the main source of a new world war.
After 8 years of the Kissinger-Brezhnev “detente” and “disarmament” fraud, after the Helsinki Pact that was supposed to bring about a “new era of world peace,” the concrete results are being added up by U.S. and European military observers. Overall, “detente” has meant nothing but a more rapid motion towards a new world war and great gains for the Soviet Union.
Europe, which is the main focal point of U.S.-Soviet contention is the most important case in point. Brezhnev promised Jimmy Carter before his inauguration that the USSR would not challenge the U.S. spheres of influence. But in spite of these fine words, the USSR has continued the largest military build-up in history through its Warsaw Pact forces in Europe.
In the last decade, the Soviet Union has added 130,000 men to the Central European front. Its tank force has increased by 40% and artillery by nearly 100%. The new T-72 tank is being shipped to armored units at the rate of 2,000 per year, and large numbers of short and medium range missiles have been deployed.
Furthermore, a major buildup on the Kola Peninsula has put new pressure on Norway’s northern border. The only military force facing the social-imperialists on this border is a 400-man frontier patrol company of the Norwegian army.
Belgian Maj. Gen. Robert Close, who commands a NATO tank division in West Germany, admits that Warsaw Pact troops could advance to the Rhine within 48 hours if they chose to invade. Writing in the New York Times on Jan. 4, U.S. military commentator Drew Middleton points out, “The global military situation that confronts Jimmy Carter as he takes office differs significantly from that faced by any of his predecessors since 1945. The difference arises from the growth of Soviet military strength and the relative decline of American power over the last 10 years.”
Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan, Jr., who retired recently as Air Force chief of intelligence, said: “By every criterion used to measure strategic balance, that is, damage expectancy, throw-weight, equivalent megatonnage or technology, I am unaware of a single important category in which the Soviets have not established a significant lead over the U.S.”
In response to these growing criticisms of “detente” within the ruling class, the Carter administration has taken up where Ford and Kissinger left off. Admitting that “the rate of Soviet military growth has probably been fairly substantial,” Carter defended “detente,” saying, “We’re still far stronger than they are in most means of measuring military strength.” Carter is spreading the myth that the Soviets are only interested in achieving “parity” with the U.S.
Carter’s appointment of Paul Warnke as chief negotiator to SALT talks, even though he is well-known as one of the main theoreticians of “detente,” shows that the administration is pursuing the same line of appeasement as its predecessors. At the new SALT talks, Warnke will propose that the USSR be allowed to omit its powerful Backfire bombers from the category of strategic weaponry.
Despite all the mounting evidence of growing unchallenged Soviet military superiority, the appeasers still claim that this is all nothing but talk to get greater military budget expenditures.
But several points work to disprove this claim. First is the fact that the evidence of Soviet superiority comes, not only from the Pentagon hawks, but from those who have traditionally been the loudest for defense cuts. As a Dec. 26 AP dispatch from Washington pointed out:. “Many congressional Democratic Party members who in the past have strongly criticized defense spending have come around to the view that the Russian buildup in both strategic and conventional weapons is more than a figment of the Pentagon’s budget-time imagination.”
Secondly, a leading force in the exposure of the Soviet buildup has been the People’s Republic of China. A commentary from China’s People’s Daily Jan.22 pointed out: “The Soviet armed forces and arsenal grow year after year. Soviet warships are cruising the world’s oceans. The hands of the Kremlin reach out in every direction. Its global expansionism poses a threat to the third world and western nations and is a challenge to the other superpower, the rival of the Soviet Union for world domination.”
Finally, it is the Pentagon itself which is doing much of the covering up for the Soviet Union. A case in point was the Jan. 28 report to Congress by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in which the top military leaders claim: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff do not agree that the Soviet Union has achieved military superiority over the United States.”
As if to give credence to this viewpoint, the Soviet propaganda machine is turning out article after article vehemently denying that they are seeking military superiority. They attack such charges as “unfounded” and “invented.”
While attacking the anti-appeasement forces within the U.S. ruling class, the Soviet press has been commending President Carter for his “reasonableness” and openly urging the “sober-minded” U.S. rulers to honor their “promise” to “pare down the military budget.”
Echoing the Soviet line has been its faithful servant, the revisionist Communist Party USA, as well as the centrist Guardian newspaper. They direct their main blow at those who have exposed the growing danger of world war, especially the increasingly aggressive role of the Soviet Union.
Defending the Soviet Union, the Guardian ran a front-page article Feb. 9 headlined “The U.S. is Still Ahead.” The article, including its standard frantic attacks on the October League, claims that all talk of Soviet military growth is part of Pentagon efforts to get a larger budget.
To counter reports of Soviet naval superiority, the Guardian quotes a report in Foreign Affairs magazine from newly-appointed CIA director Stansfield Turner. This report tries to show that the U.S. has built more ships of larger tonnage than the USSR. However, nearly all knowledgeable military experts agree that the numerical advantage of the Soviets is not offset by U.S. super-sized carriers. Rather, the U.S. floating fortresses are a weakness in modern day warfare, when missiles, submarines and mobility are such an important factor in sea war.
Secondly, the Guardian picks out the only two areas where the U.S. maintains a shrinking advantage over the Soviet Union (number of strategic warheads and number of strategic bombers) to shove an overall comparison between the two under the rug.
What they refuse to take note of is the overall superiority of the USSR in ICBMs, anti-aircraft missile launchers, total number of military personnel (by a three-to-one margin), tanks (four-to-one) and dozens of other areas. Wherever the USSR doesn’t dominate, it is gaining quickly.
The struggle against the superpower war preparations is a major task of the U.S. working class. It requires opposition to the present frantic arms buildup of both superpowers, not just the U.S., as the Guardian and CP revisionists advocate. This struggle must be based on a realistic assessment of, the Soviet Union. While both superpowers together constitute the main enemy of the world’s people, it is the USSR that is the superpower on the rise, the newcomer to the imperialist feast and the one most geared up for war.
Those who cover up for the Soviet social-imperialists by whitewashing its drive for hegemony or by painting it as an “ally” of the world’s peoples-whether this is done from within the ruling class or from within the people’s movement-are only serving the interests of imperialism.
The growing struggle against imperialist war and superpower contention is heightening the class contradictions in this country and around the world. It is exposing the sources of war for all to see.