Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Unity Organization

Sooner or Later

Questions & Answers on War, Peace & the United Front

Section C: The Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism in the Context of the United Front Against Hegemonism

1. Do you support the retention of American bases overseas, in particular those in Third World countries such as Taiwan, the Philippines and Puerto Rico?

These are not questions which can be answered generally and in the abstract. They can only be answered in the context of the struggle against both Soviet and American hegemonism, in the context of a concrete military program of American communism, and in the context of the concrete political and military situation in each instance.

One danger of course is that U.S. bases would be used not to oppose Soviet hegemonism but to suppress Third World liberation movements. Another is that American withdrawal could, in the absence of strong independent political alternatives, create a vacuum which could be filled by the more aggressive superpower, or that an American withdrawal could create a favorable military situation for Soviet expansion in a particular “theater” of operations. As a general rule of thumb we might say that when U.S. withdrawal would lead to Soviet absorption, it should be opposed. But when it would bolster the independence of a Third World country, then we support it. However, this is very general. If we look at particular cases, things are more complicated.

The case of Taiwan is fairly straightforward. There the American presence represents support for a comprador, counterrevolutionary separatist faction. It is an incursion on the independence of China, weakens the economy and defense of socialist China and goes against the wishes of the Chinese people. The presence of the American military in Taiwan inhibits the process of reunification with the mainland. A Taiwan reunited with the mainland as a whole would be stronger and better able to defend their independence.

The cases of the Philippines and Puerto Rico are more complex and in similar ways. Both are of extreme strategic importance. The Philippines is the gateway to the South Pacific and Oceania. It was a key strategic point in the Pacific theater in World War II, forming an essential part in both Japanese and American strategies. It stands directly in the Soviet line of advance in the Pacific with the acquisition of Cam Ranh Bay as a refueling base and probably as a full-fledged naval base in the near future. This means that the Soviets can threaten the maritime routes between Southeast Asia and Japan and eventually those between Japan and the U.S. The Philippines thus become a rich prize in their stategy of encircling Japan. In addition, it would enable them to put pressure on China from yet a fourth side, adding to the pressure from the north (Mongolia, Manchuria), west (Sinkiang), south (Vietnam, Afghanistan, India). In addition the Philippines are the gateway to Indonesia and Australia.

But the strategic importance of the Philippines and of U.S. military bases there does not at all preclude struggle within the united front against hegemonism over the role of these bases. This struggle is at one and the same time a struggle against U.S. imperialism and a struggle to strengthen the united front and to contend for Third World leadership of it. After the defeat of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam, the Philippines were among the first in Southeast Asia to recognize South Vietnam’s revolutionary government and in 1975 the Philippines established diplomatic relations with China, Roumania, Cuba and North Vietnam, thereby strengthening their ties with the Third World in implicit opposition to U.S. imperialism. Moreover, on December 31, 1978 the Philippines and the U.S. agreed on a six-point amendment to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement which included formal recognition of Philippine sovereignty over these bases. Marcos told newsmen that this amendment prohibits U.S. troop involvement in the case of civil strife but allows the Philippine government to request U.S. assistance in the event of external aggression. The enforcement of this provision of course depends on the struggle of the people of the Philippines and of other participants in the united front.

Puerto Rico is also a rich strategic jewel. It was the object of a Nazi submarine attack in World War II as the Germans attempted to cut Puerto Rico off from the U.S. and would have constituted an excellent base from which to realize Hitler’s aim of blowing up the Panama Canal.

The Soviets have extensive strategic aims in the Caribbean – perhaps chief among them to be able to disrupt the U.S. “swing strategy,” shifting forces from Texas and California to relieve Western Europe in case of Soviet invasion. The Soviet-Cuban axis now has military missions in Jamaica, St. Lucia and Grenada and several commercial and scientific agreements with Guyana. They are rapidly developing a capacity to put tremendous pressure on the Panama Canal and the Gulf of Mexico, to cut Europe off from U.S. troop re-supply and to isolate the U.S. from Latin America.

As in the case of the Philippines, the strategic importance of Puerto Rico cannot be seen as obviating the need for struggle against U.S. imperialism. In Puerto Rico American bases have caused grave damage to the economy and the livelihood of neighboring inhabitants, while their military exercises, such as shelling and bombing practice, are an everyday experience for the Puerto Rican people.

The solution, however, is not the unilateral withdrawal from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Such a withdrawal, in the face of a Soviet global offensive, would open the peoples of these regions to even greater dangers and bring the world closer to a Third World War. The long-term demand is that all foreign troops be removed from the Caribbean and the Pacific (and indeed from all foreign countries). But such long range aspirations are no substitute for concrete political programs, and this is what is needed. It is necessary to demarcate and constrain the U.S. presence without thereby weakening the defense against Soviet penetration. American military bases must become outposts protecting these countries’ national independence from the social imperialists, as they were against the fascists in World War II, not spearheads against their national liberation struggles and their livelihoods.

2. Isn’t it just wishful thinking to call for “constraining” the United States in the context of approving the utilization of its military bases?

Because of America’s objective situation in the world today, there are real possibilities for winning this demand. American policy in Africa, Nicaragua and Bolivia has demonstrated that it is possible to constrain the U.S. and obtain policies which respect national independence. But the U.S. will only adopt such policies in the face of a strong anti-imperialist movement in the countries involved and the pressure of the American people.

This demand should be actively taken up as part of a whole military program which defines concretely the uses of American military power which are acceptable and in the people’s interests and those which are not. We must develop such a program and we must take it to the American masses. It would be a significant tool for politicizing the American masses. It would point out to them the nature of both American and Soviet imperialism; that the United States is an imperialist country, is capable of using its military to oppress other countries and prevent national liberation; that the Soviet Union is imperialist and hegemonist and not socialist. Clarity on the nature of the Soviet Union and the United States is of utmost importance in mobilizing the American people to build the united front against hegemonism.

3. Do you also support increasing the military strength of the NATO alliance?

The political, economic and strategic importance of Europe has long made it a “bone of contention” between the two superpowers. Its status as part of the Second World means that it is an economically developed part of the world, with rich industrial and financial resources. Control of Eastern Europe already provides the Soviet Union with the industrial potential and military strength to contend with the U.S. in every sector of the globe, but the addition of Western Europe to the Soviet empire would mark the beginnings of an onslaught – against the U.S., China, and the rest of the Third World.[1]

For the people of Western Europe, opposition to U.S. domination now pales in significance compared with the need for opposition to the Soviet Union. While U.S. domination continues, it is indisputable that the last two decades have seen great strides in European independence. The European Economic Community is the most prominent feature of growing European strength, unity and independence. In part because of its reliance on U.S. military protection of its interests (against both the Soviet Union and the Third World countries struggling against its imperialism), Western Europe has experienced rapid economic growth compared with the U.S. The combined Gross National Product of the nine-member E.E.C. now rivals that of the U.S.

1979 saw new steps forward: the European Monetary System went into effect in March; the European Parliament opened in July; Greece, Portugal and Spain, having re-established bourgeois democratic elections, were accepted into the community in principle and will join in the 1980s; the need for cooperation with the Third World was reasserted in the second Lome agreement signed by the E.E.C. and 58 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in October.

The growing independence of the countries of Western Europe from “their” superpower is in marked contrast to the political and economic domination of the countries of Eastern Europe. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 demonstrated all too clearly the practical meaning of the Soviet doctrine of ”limited sovereignty”, and the economic exploitation of the COMECON countries exposes the true meaning of the so-called “socialist division of labor.”

For the peoples of Western Europe, national independence rather than proletarian revolution is now the main question. The path to proletarian revolution lies through the struggle for national independence, as it did for the communist-led partisans in Europe in World War II. European countries in general lack strong independent working class parties, due in part to the corrupting influence of the imperialism of these countries and in part to the strength of revisionism in recent years.

In this struggle for national independence, the U.S. has an important role to play, particularly in the military sphere. Warsaw Pact forces currently enjoy a vast superiority over NATO forces in most categories; moreover this superiority is growing annually.

The Warsaw Pact Threat

To appreciate the seriousness of the current situation it is important to have a detailed knowledge of the military threat to Europe. This includes an understanding of what the Soviets themselves tell us about their military doctrine and strategy in their published articles and books.

The basic principle of Soviet military doctrine is the necessity of winning by launching a surprise, high-speed offensive of great power. Almost all analysts agree that should war break out in Europe this is how it would happen. The Soviet objective would be to bring about the rapid political collapse of their opponents and thus a quick and decisive end to the war. Many people assume that we will know when the Soviets are likely to launch such a war, that we will have a period of several months to several years of increasing tension before a war breaks out. But this is not the case. The longer the warning time, the more likely it is that NATO forces will mobilize, and the more difficult it will be for the Warsaw Pact forces to succeed. In all likelihood we will not know when the war will begin until it actually begins. It is very possible that the offensive will begin in the middle of a Soviet “peace offensive”.

Surprise is achieved by confusing the enemy of one’s intentions, by keeping secret the overall purpose of the forthcoming actions and preparations for them, by rapid and concealed concentrations and deployment of forces in the region of making the strikes, by the unexpected use of weapons, and particularly nuclear ones, as well as by the use of tactical procedures and new weapons unknown to the enemy.[2]

For many years Soviet writings have emphasized the initial use of tactical (short and intermediate range) nuclear weapons to strike at the vital center and troop concentrations of the enemy as the most reliable way of achieving victory. However, conventional (non-nuclear) weaponry is still very important in any invasion.

In the first place wars without the utilization of nuclear weapons are possible. In the second place, if nuclear weapons will be used, then with their help it is not possible to solve all problems of armed combat; one cannot, for example, occupy the enemy’s territory. Thirdly, on some objectives the utilization of nuclear weapons can be simply inadvisable.... Finally, many conventional forms of weapons can be used very effectively for the annihilation of nuclear means of the enemy.[3]

An additional reason that should be added is the need for conventional capabilities to intervene in the Third World.

The development of the Soviet armed forces and the increasing emphasis on conventional war exercises (which reappeared beginning in 1965) have led many experts to believe that a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact would be a tremendously destructive war fought primarily by conventional means. British analyst C. N. Donnelly states in the Military Review of July 1979, that the Soviets consider it essential that they win the war before it develops into a global nuclear exchange.

This means that the war must be won very quickly indeed.... If war breaks out in Europe, NATO is committed to fighting a conventional delaying battle for several days before the use of nuclear weapons will be condoned. The faster the Soviet forces can advance into NATO territory, therefore, the more likely is a rapid political collapse and the less likely is the escalation to nuclear war. Even if nuclear release is given to NATO troops at an early stage, a rapid Soviet advance will bring Soviet forces into the heart of Western Europe and into close proximity with NATO forces or centers of population, thus making the effective use of nuclear weapons much more difficult.

That, in brief, is the Soviet strategy. The question is: Can the Soviets actually do it? As the graphs show, the Warsaw Pact enjoys overwhelming superiority in most categories – and this superiority is growing annually. To offset Warsaw Pact strength NATO for years relied on the threat of a U.S. intercontinental nuclear retaliation. As Soviet strategic nuclear capabilities grew, however, NATO switched to the “flexible response” strategy of meeting any attack with a rising level of counterattack – from conventional to tactical nuclear weapons, all the way to the U.S. launching its strategic nuclear missiles and bombers. Further, NATO leaders believed that the West’s superior industrial base would give NATO weaponry a technological superiority that would compensate for Warsaw Pact numerical advantages. All this has changed in the past ten years.

First, most experts now agree that Soviet ground combat firepower, mobility, and staying power have been beefed up to such an extent as to eliminate the former U.S. and NATO technological edge. The best Soviet equipment is shipped to Europe including the T-72 tank, the BMP-76 armored infantry carriers, the MiG-25 and MiG-27 fighters, the new anti-tank missiles and self-propelled artillery (Soviet guns in general not only outnumber, but out-range NATO’s and have higher rates of fire).

Although this shakes many of our long-held beliefs in U.S. military superiority in conventional warfare, the Soviet strengths and NATO weaknesses are becoming increasingly apparent and documented. Arthur T. Hadley, a writer for the U.S. magazine New Times, wrote after a recent tour of NATO facilities,

As a society, the West is far ahead of the Soviet Union in computers and electronics. But in the application of technology to warfare it is the Russians, not the Americans, who have the most sophisticated weapons and communications system now deployed in Europe. Many of our most modern systems either are still on the drawing boards, don’t work as advertised or are so complex that the troops can neither use nor maintain them and the generals don’t understand them.

There are three main areas in which NATO must have a “qualitative edge” to offset the Warsaw Pact’s numerical advantages: electronic warfare, tanks and guided anti-tank weapons, and control of the air. In all three areas, the Soviet forces are qualitatively as well as quantitatively ahead.[4]

Other military experts agree with this assessment, for instance, Anthony H. Cordesman writes,

The Soviets have demonstrated superior capabilities to mass fires for a breakthrough that could decisively suppress a NATO forward defense, and a superiority in armored maneuver capability that could envelop and paralyze NATO forces as Germany paralyzed British and French forces in 1940.

Both sides have grave defects in their present peacetime readiness, but the U.S.S.R. can choose its moment of attack, and correct many of its defects without warning NATO.

The major deployment and readiness problems in NATO are so great that the Warsaw Pact could successfully attack out of caserne with virtually no warning and decisively break through or overrun NATO before NATO could effectively organize its defenses. Further, the Warsaw Pact has a strong incentive to do so. The force ratio shifts in favor of NATO with every day it has time to mobilize, and the cost to NATO of escalation to theater nuclear war would be far greater if the Warsaw Pact penetrated through badly organized NATO defenses, intermingled with NATO defenses, and was located on NATO territory.[5]

On January 13, 1979, Le Monde reported that French intelligence now believes the Soviet Union is capable of launching a surprise attack on Western Europe with just 48 hours advance preparation. In the event of such an attack former Belgian NATO General Robert Close argues in his book, Europe Without Defense, that in two days the Soviet Union and its allies could smash through the Rhine and seize the Ruhr industrial basin without recourse to nuclear arms. New York Times military analyst Drew Middleton describes Close’s view as “only marginally more gloomy than those expressed by senior NATO commanders in private.”

Under these conditions, Close believes that the conventional resistance capability of NATO would be “limited to a few days at the most” and the West would be faced with the alternatives of “premature recourse to nuclear weapons” or accepting the accomplished fact of the partial or total conquest of Western Europe. In fact, the only alternative may be surrender since there are grave problems with NATO’s responding to the second level of the “flexible response” strategy – the use of the over 7000 tactical nuclear weapons the U.S. has deployed in Europe to be used at short range against massed troop assaults.

Former Defense Minister of West Germany George Leber pointed out that since NATO’s conventional defenses could not withstand a Soviet invasion, NATO might resort to tactical nuclear weapons. However, in that case the Soviet Union would use its SS-20 missiles and Backfire bombers to destroy nuclear weapons in West Germany while NATO’s weapons are incapable of reaching the Soviet Union. Under these circumstances would Britain or France use their limited intermediate range nuclear weapons and risk being attacked by the Soviet SS-20 missiles? Leber held that this was highly problematic. In the present circumstances, he believes, launching a conventional war against Western Europe – especially against West Germany, was “workable” for the U.S.S.R. (Beijung Review, #15, 1979)[6]

This leaves only the U.S. strategic nuclear forces – the ICBMs, the B-52 and F-lll bombers, and the submarines – as a possible answer to a surprise Soviet thrust into Western Europe. But would, or could, the U.S. use these weapons? As the September 1-3, 1979 conference on NATO’s future showed, many NATO leaders doubt that the U.S. “nuclear shield” which is NATO’s last level of defense is still a credible deterrent. They believe that the U.S. would accept the conquest of Europe rather than wage all-out nuclear war. In large part this belief flows from the changed strategic nuclear balance between the two superpowers.

The Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) notes in their annual report that the Soviets, as part of their modernization program, are greatly increasing the accuracy of their strategic nuclear systems.

Extrapolation of this trend will create a theoretical vulnerability of the U.S. land-based [nuclear] system by the mid-1980s which greater hardening [of the missile silos] cannot redress. It will be 8 to 10 years before the United States could again restore a degree of invulnerability to their land-based deterrent forces.... (The Military Balance, 1979/80)

Even Defense Secretary Harold Brown admits that “the yield and accuracy of Russia’s warheads will be such as to give the Soviets high assurance of destroying most Minuteman silos in a preemptive strike” after present deployments of Soviet SS-18 and SS-19 missiles are completed in the early 1980s.[7] By that time, with or without the SALT II treaty, the Soviet Union will have deployed 820 MIRVed ICBMs – that is, 820 intercontinental missiles each with from 4 to 10 warheads, capable of hitting different targets with an accuracy of better than .15 mile. With these missiles the Soviet Union will be able to destroy over 90% of the U.S. ICBM force while using up only 20-30% of its ICBMs. Other missiles, launched from submarines which cruise off the coasts of California and New Jersey, could destroy in ten minutes the two-thirds of the U.S. bomber fleet on the ground and the one-third of the submarine fleet that is in port. This “counterforce” strike would leave the major population and industrial centers intact.

The U.S. in the early and mid-80s will continue to have its present 550 ICBMs with three warheads each, with similar accuracy but smaller payloads. These missiles, as well as the submarine-launched missiles, are aimed at Soviet cities since they are not capable of knocking out hardened ICBM silos. To counter this threat, the Soviets have pursued an ambitious civil defense program which, by the mid-1980s, could protect most of the Soviet population and production resources from a U.S. counter-strike, if any.[8]

Some experts argue that the Soviets would have a significant advantage in such exchanges since they would launch the first strike and could take suitable civil defence measures. They might then be able to kill large numbers of U.S. strategic systems without risking major U.S. civilian casualties. The U.S. could not strike back efficiently at dispersed Soviet bombers, hit deployed Soviet submarines, or know how to target Soviet ICBM silos which were not empty holes. The U.S. might then have no clear way of responding with a counterforce second strike without expending more U.S. systems than it would kill Soviet systems, and could not escalate to a selective strike on countervalue targets without risking general war and far more U.S. lives than Soviet lives.[9]

This deadly shift in the strategic nuclear balance – which is irreversible before the end of the 1980s and perhaps not even then – presents grave problems for NATO. What, for instance, would be the Western response if confronted with a sudden mobilization of Warsaw Pact forces accompanied by the evacuation of the Soviet urban population to rural shelters? Knowing that the West had no comparable civil defense capabilities, and that they were militarily weaker, would – or could – the Western leaders stand up to the Soviet demands?

Under these circumstances, the agreement of the U.S. to deploy, and the willingness of Britain, West Germany and Italy to accept the deployment of Pershing II missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles to counter the SS-20 and the Backfire bomber deserves the support of all genuinely progressive forces. This and related decisions will undoubtedly mean an increase in the U.S. military budget, but there is no immediate alternative to strengthening European defenses in the short run.

In the long run of course Western Europe must develop its own ability to resist Soviet aggression. Its failure to do so in the past is due as much to political as to economic factors. The strength of the appeasement forces in Europe has not only held back their commitment of resources to their individual and collective defense but impeded their willingness to accept U.S. military weapon systems. In the face of a powerful Soviet Union capable of political and economic retaliation, only a collective European decision, such as that made on the Pershing II missiles, was feasible. But even now, progress is slow. Belgium and the Netherlands still withhold full approval for the most recent measures, and control of the new missiles rests, perforce, with the U.S.

4. If the military situation in Europe is as favorable to the Soviets as you say it is, what is stopping them from invading Western Europe right now?

Several things. First, the Soviet Union doesn’t want to risk a nuclear war. As Clausewitz said, the aggressor never wants war; he would prefer to enter your country unopposed. The Soviets hope to promote a gradual “finlandization” of Europe. They are hoping that through threats and false promises of detente they can use their growing military strength to win countries away from U.S. influence and into their economic and political sphere. The Nazis bullied their way into several countries in precisely that way in the 1930s, and now the Soviets are hoping to use those same tactics with even greater success.

Secondly, as Stalin said, “It is not so easy in our day suddenly to break loose and plunge straight into war without regard for treaties of any kind or for public opinion. Bourgeois politicians know this quite well. So do fascist rulers. That is why the fascists rulers decided, before plunging into war, to mould public opinion to suit their ends, that is, to mislead it, to deceive it.”[10]

Thirdly, the Soviets need to develop their global military abilities before it would be possible to launch and sustain a world war. As the Chinese point out:

Its purpose is to gradually build up a network of military bases to complete its global strategic deployment before it launches a global war. Because Europe is the focus of its contention for world hegemony with the United States, the Middle East and Africa, an important flank of Europe, has caught Soviet attention. It intends to seize the oil and other strategic natural resources in the Middle East and Africa which the West, particularly Western Europe, cannot do without, and to control the West’s two supply lines – one running from the Indian Ocean to Western Europe via the Red Sea, and the other from the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Atlantic to Western Europe and the Americas. This would put a stranglehold on Western Europe and isolate the United States. The flames of war it ignited in Angola, Zaire and the Horn of Africa are in fact all peripheral wars in its contention with the United States for hegemony over Europe and the world as a whole.[11]

The Soviets are now fighting and contending on a truly global scale. Although their plans have been seriously upset in many instances, in Kampuchea and Afghanistan, for example, overall their war plans have advanced over the past five years. Their growing military superiority increases the likelihood that as the Soviet Union is rocked by its own set of economic and political tremors in the 1980s, they will be increasingly tempted to exploit their military advantage before the U.S. and other countries can reverse the balance and before the contradictions within the Soviet empire intensify.

This increases the threat that while not fully prepared for world war, the Soviet Union could turn a smaller war – perhaps in the Middle East – into World War III.[12]

5. How is it possible to support the united front against hegemonism and still oppose U.S. imperialism?

In the united front against fascism, Stalin and Mao Zedong supported the line calling for “independence and initiative in the united front” – opposing both the “left” and Trotskyite boycotting of the united front and the Browderite “everything for the united front” line. As we have said there is struggle as well as unity in the united front. In the united front against hegemonism communists objectively have unity with the U.S. but there is also struggle. We unite with the U.S. insofar as it opposes the Soviet Union. This is the main aspect. We oppose U.S. imperialism insofar as it oppresses national independence, national liberation and the working class, and when it colludes with Soviet imperialism.

Our struggle with U.S. imperialism occurs within the context of a united front with the U.S. This means a policy of dual tactics, tactics of unity and struggle. The U.S. working class and oppressed nationalities must use the tactics of unity to build the struggle and the tactics of struggle to build the unity. For example, we continue to oppose American interference in the Third World, in progressive and anti-imperialist movements, etc., but in this period we have an additional responsibility and an additional opportunity. Insofar as the U.S. continues to pursue its imperialist objectives, it weakens the united front and thus weakens the ability of U.S. imperialism to counter Soviet hegemonism. This means that the U.S. has an objective interest in making concessions, and our struggle for such concessions is in the interests not just of those oppressed by U.S. imperialism but of U.S. imperialism itself. This struggle then serves to strengthen rather than weaken the united front and is an essential task within the united front.

U.S. imperialism has been and will continue to be forced into compromises in this way. Southern Africa, Nicaragua, the Boat People, Bolivia, Iran... the list is growing. But what about our compromises? Can we expect to be only on the receiving end in the united front? Or should we advocate compromises for the right in the united front, but “no compromise” for the left? United fronts mean compromises for communists too. In the united front with the K.M.T. the C.C.P. restricted its policies on land rent in order to preserve unity with the enlightened gentry and a section of the big landlords. We must be prepared to make similar compromises, to adopt policies different from those which we have adopted in the past when the U.S. was the principal enemy and different from those which we will adopt in the future after the Soviet hegemonist threat has been overcome.

What sort of policies? Well, we shall certainly have to alter our military policies. In proposing registration and the draft, the U.S. is attempting to strengthen its military ability to resist Soviet hegemonism. We can and must struggle over what this military will be used for and over the exact form of a future draft, but we should not let this struggle take precedence over the struggle to build the united front. We should not withhold our support for military measures until those measures are undertaken entirely on our terms. Similarly we can and must struggle over how the burden of increased military spending is distributed, but we should not make our support for necessary military programs conditional on ruling class willingness to accept the entire burden. We must reassess the “progressive” and “reactionary” nature of bourgeois leaders in the light of the overall international situation, rather than let our attitude be determined in a narrow national context. In fact, in this period, all of our policies must be reassessed, individually and in relation to the whole.

Mao Zedung frequently stressed the importance in political work of “considering the situation as a whole” and of grasping the principle of “subordinating the needs of the part to the needs of the whole.”[13] Lenin emphasized the need for the proletariat to “value above all and place foremost the alliance of the proletarians of all nations” and to assess “every national demand... from the angle of the workers’ class struggle.” “The various demands of democracy, including self-determination, are not an absolute but a small part of the general democratic world movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole; if so, it must be rejected.”[14] We must learn to appraise our movement in the U.S. “from the point of view of the actual results, as shown by the balance sheet in the struggle against imperialism, that is to say, ’not in isolation, but on a world scale.’” (Stalin, Foundations of Leninism). Today that means we must evaluate our policies in terms of their contribution to the united front against hegemonism.


[1] For additional discussion of superpower contention in Europe, see Beijing Review #5, Feb. 3, 1978, “Defense of National Independence and Second World Countries”; BR #26, June 30, 1978, ”Europe: Focus of Soviet-U.S. Contention”; BR #15, April 13, 1979, “Soviet Military Menace to Western Europe”; as well as BR #4, Jan. 28, 1980, “Soviet Military Strategy for World Domination.”

[2] Lomov, N.A., ed., Scientific-Technical Progress and the Revolution in Military Affairs (A Soviet View), (Moscow), 1973, trans. U.S. Air Force (Washington: Government Printing Office), 1974, Soviet Military Thought, No. 3.

[3] Zheltov, A.S., Kondratkov, T.R. and Khomenko, Ye. A., Methodological Problems of Military Theory and Practice (Moscow: Voyenizdat), 1969, trans. B. Tauber et al. See also, Sokolovskii, V.D., Soviet Military Strategy (third edition, 1968),ed. and trans, by Harriet Fast Scott (New York: Crane, Russak and Company), 1975.

[4] Boston Globe, July 2, 1978, Section A, p. 1.

[5] Collins, John M. and Cordesman, Anthony H., Imbalance of Power (An Analysis of Shifting U.S.-Soviet Military Strengths), (San Rafael, Calif.: Presidio Press), 1978, p. 266.

[6] This “problematic” is now being intensively discussed in Europe. For example, Mario Rossi, a reporter for European affairs, writes in a column titled ”Europe’s Military Jitters”:

“West European strategic thinking is based on the assumption that, while the territory of the United States and the Soviet Union can be considered safe from attack, the Continent is not...

“General Pierre M. Gallois, internationally renowned French military analyst... believes that 100 Soviet SS-20’s would be sufficient to destroy the German Air Force with one blow. A few hundred more missiles could wipe out all land-based armament. In minutes the entire German military apparatus could cease to exist.

“In case of a surgical strike of the type envisaged for Germany, France could launch a nuclear attack from its submarines. But, if its military targets were attacked, France could retaliate only with an ’anti-cities’ (mass destruction) attack. It has no other capability. Were the Soviets willing to accept the punishment, their counter-retaliation could be such as to eliminate France from the map. So it cannot be excluded that the shock of a Soviet surgical strike would have a paralyzing effect. It can be doubted that a French president would decide to press the button under such apocalyptic circumstances.

“Improbable as this type of military threat may seem, it could give the Soviets considerable political leverage. To a certain extent it already does.” (Christian Science Monitor, August 17, 1979)

These last two sentences hit on a crucial point. The fact that the SS-20’s are actually deployed, are aimed at Western Europe, and are controlled by military leaders who have shown in their writings and in their military exercises that they intend to use these weapons, is enough to serve as a powerful intimidation to any European nation. It is this military threat, as well as economic and trade considerations, that fuels the strong appeasement current in the leadership of France, West Germany and other West European countries.

For a fuller discussion of the threat to Europe from tactical nuclear weapons see Alva Myrdal, The Game of Disarmament, 1976.

[7] Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 1979.

[8] Princeton Nobel Prize winner Eugene P. Wigner and Joanne S. Gailar argue in the conservative journal, Foresight, May-June, 1974 and elsewhere that crisis relocation procedures would limit immediate Soviet fatalities to 4-5% during a general war, under worst case conditions. A Congressional report, “Analyses of Effects of Limited Nuclear Warfare”, estimates that 50% of the American people would die under similar circumstances.

Other experts on Soviet civil defense procedures, such as Conrade V. Chester, Leone Goure, T.K. Jones, Paul H. Nitze, and Harriet Fast Scott, agree. Jones claimed before the Joint Committee on Defense Production in November, 1976 that “Soviet preparations substantially undermine the concept of deterrence that forms the cornerstone of U.S. security.”

Herman Kahn, Glenn Kent and other analysts pointed out in the 1950s that a U.S. shelter program could reduce U.S. casualties to a percentage lower than the percentage losses the Soviet Union suffered in World War II (this is still a tremendous casualty figure). The U.S. rejected this defense option, but the Soviet Union – and the People’s Republic of China – did not.

[9] Cordesman, Imbalance of Power, op. cit., p. 112. This study is perhaps the best and most readily available survey of the changing military balance of power in the world. For further discussion of strategic nuclear forces see also: International Weapons Development, ed. by the Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies (London: Presidio Press), 1979, p. 132-41; The Emerging Strategic Environment, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (with the Fletcher School, Tufts University), (Cambridge, Mass. and Washington, D.C.), Dec., 1979.; “Strategic Nuclear Delivery Systems: How Many? What Combinations?” John M. Collins (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service), Oct. 7, 1974, pp. 1-84; “Projected Strategic Offensive Weapons Inventories of the U.S. and U.S.S.R.” (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service), March 24, 1977.

[10] J.V. Stalin, “Report to the 18th Party Congress”, in Problems of Leninism (Peking: Foreign Languages Press), 1976, p. 881.

[11] Beijing Review #16, April 21, 1979.

[12] Other scenarios are certainly possible. The Soviet-backed Vietnamese grab for all of Indochina, for example, could thrust all of Asia into war. In that event the Soviets would be reluctant to fight a two-front war and might concentrate their military might against their Asian opponents. It is also possible that dramatic breakthroughs in weaponry – such as laser and particle-beam anti-missile weapons – could shift the balance suddenly. There are those, such as retired Air Force intelligence chief, George Keegan, who insist that the Soviets are close to development of a charged-particle-beam weapon; and there are reports of Soviet progress in the use of laser beams to destroy satellites (in addition to their already developed exploding ”killer satellites”). Meanwhile, several people, including Sen. Wallop of Wyoming, are urging increased U.S. research into the development of a laser-beam defense against Soviet missile attacks. (See Drew Middleton’s article in the Nov. 25, 1979 N.Y. Times, “U.S. Science Seeking Sure Missile Killer”.) However, there is a considerable time lag between development of a new weapon and the production and deployment of that weapons system. So it would be unwise to place too much faith in the ability of U.S. technology to suddenly reassert its military superiority though some ultra-sophisticated weaponry. It takes a great deal more than weapons to fight and win a war.

For more information on technological development and its impact on the global balance of power, see: Adelphi Papers No. 144, ”The Scope and Direction of New Conventional Weapons Technology” (London: Institute for Strategic Studies), Spring, 1978; Adelphi Papers No. 145, ”New Weapons Technology and the Offence/Defence Balance” (ISS), Spring, 1978; The 1977 Strategic Survey (ISS), 1977; The 1976 Strategic Survey (ISS), 1976 (for a good summary of the Soviet emphasis on developing simple but highly effective weapons systems that can be employed quickly en masse); ”Military Technology and Strategy”, Review of International Affairs (Yugoslavia), Jan. 20, 1979.

[13] “Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War”, Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung (Peking: Foreign Language Press), 1971, p. 145

[14] “The Rights of Nations to Self-Determination”, LCW, Vol. 20 (Moscow: Progress Publishers), 1972, p. 411.