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Fourth International, December 1948


World in Review

Marshall “Aid” Program Aims to Convert
Western Europe into an Armed Camp


From Fourth International, Vol.9 No.8, December 1948, pp.229-231.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The main resolution adopted by the Thirteenth National Convention of the Socialist Workers Party last July predicted that “the Marshall Military Program for rearming Western Europe ... most presently supplement the Marshall ‘Aid’ Program.”

How squarely this prediction hit the bull’s eye can be judged from the announcements which have appeared in the capitalist press the past few weeks. The Sept. 30 New York Times declared: “A plan for military aid to Western Europe, patterned on the Marshall Plan, will be submitted early in the next session of Congress, Washington dispatches reported ...”

This mouthpiece of Big Business revealed that “some experts” say

“Congress next spring may be more interested in arming Europe than in restoring its peaceful economy. If so, they believe, a new Lend-Lease plan to equip the defense forces and to stimulate Europe’s war production may supplant the Marshall Plan ...”

Confirmation of this report on the decision to launch a huge arms program for Western Europe appeared in the October 1 Foreign Policy Bulletin, an influential circular on foreign affairs:

“One result the United States might hope to achieve during this period would be consolidation of the Western European nations into a closely knit political, military and economic unit which today is still in the blueprint stage.”

The bulletin explains why little publicity has been given as yet to the projected arming of Western Europe:

“Although the issue has been developing since last winter, the Administration has put off until after election day open presentation to the public of the question whether we should assume responsibility for supplying arms to Western Europe.”

The bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans did not care to discuss such an explosive issue as this before election day:

“Until June President Truman hesitated to discuss the problem because Congress had not taken final action on the bills putting into effect the Marshall Plan and the new draft law. Since the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in June, the President has avoided public consideration of the issue from fear of starting a vehement national controversy which, in spite of the sincere efforts of both the Republican and Democratic parties to maintain a united front on foreign affairs, might foment intense partisan debate during the Presidential campaign.”

While the Republicans and Democrats shadow-boxed through their election campaigns, skillfully avoiding debate on the real issues confronting the American people, the rulers behind the scenes continued methodically to shift the axis of the Marshall Plan from economic to military aid for Western Europe.

“Since neither Britain nor the other Western European countries possess the industrial capacity to manufacture all their estimated armament requirements,” declares the Foreign Policy Bulletin, “they have been discreetly sounding out the Truman administration on the possibility of obtaining new weapons here, perhaps through a modified lend-lease arrangement.”

Sir Stafford Cripps, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, is mentioned as among those visiting the United States to explore this question with American officials.

Not all these military moves have remained on the “discreet” level. On September 23 an official announcement was made that five Western European nations, France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, had formed a permanent common military organization. Present at the two-day meeting of the National Defense Ministers of these countries were Maj. Gen. A. Franklin Kibler of the US Adjutant General’s office and observers of the US military attache’s office in Paris.

The dominant role of American imperialism in this military move is obvious.

“The reports of the American and Canadian observers probably will determine the extent to which the United States and Canada will seek to arm and supplement this Western European military effort,” said the September 29 New York Times. “One result of the conference, it is understood, will be to halt demobilization in the Western countries and set plans for progressive training and rearmament programs of the five nations.”

Hanson W. Baldwin, military expert ot The New York Times who is kept well informed on the Pentagon’s viewpoint, summarized the move as follows:

“The alliance among Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg can have little meaning without United States armament, United States military aid and a United States security guarantee. We have gone far along this road; the Vandenberg resolution was, in effect, a commitment of aid, and the participation of American observers in the London military staff conferences has made our alliance with the countries of the Western Union virtually a de facto, if not a de jure one.”

The British general Viscount Montgomery was named permanent military chairman of the new military organization, the French general Jean de Lattre de Tassigny was made Commander-in-Chief of the ground forces, a British marshal was placed at the head of the air forces, a French vice-admiral was named naval representative and other appointments promised for high ranking Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg officers. Thus Anglo-American imperialism took another ominous step in preparation for the pror jected war on the Soviet Union – setting up the general staff whose immediate duties will be to implement the military phase of the Marshall Plan. The “cold war” is proceeding step by step toward armed conflict.

As the military buds of the Marshall Plan swelled to the bursting point under the ministrations of the Brass Hats and political strategists of Big Business, liberal opinion suffered a severe shock. Since the final aim of the plan is to strengthen reaction throughout Europe and provide a firm economic and military foundation for American imperialism preliminary to launching the attack on the Soviet Union, it is to be expected that every foul dictator and blood-smeared fascist of importance will be brought under the provisions of the Marshall Plan sooner or later.

However, the liberal supporters of the Marshall Plan have attempted to draw an air-tight line between its economic and military aspects. They support economic aid for Western Europe but not the obverse side of the imperialist coin. Thus a great outcry occurred when the Brass Hats in Washington, adhering to their imperialist policy, pushed the rehabilitation of condemned Nazis and extended the olive branch to General Franco of Spain. They appeared outraged that Ilse Koch the “Beast of Buchenwald” could receive clemency from an American Military Government and that both a prominent Republican spokesman, Senator Chan Gurney, and a prominent Democratic spokesman, James A. Farley, as well as Secretary of State Marshall could openly press for inclusion of Franco in the Marshall Plan and the United Nations.

For the political education of these disquieted liberals, Hanson W. Baldwin, explained October 10: “The United States’ frontier is on the Rhine, but to keep it there sooner or later it shall probably have to utilize Spanish and German manpower,” To the Pentagon this naturally means accepting fascists as allies and doing everything possible to bolster and strengthen them.

“The mystery behind what is becoming to most Americans the ‘puzzling dualism’ of the Administration’s Spanish policy, and for that matter of its German policy, can, therefore, be explained in one word – security. It is the lack of security – military security – that is the nightmare of Western Europe these days, and attempts to achieve strategic security for Western Europe are driving us to attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable, to align Franco Spain with the Western democracies.”

Actually there is nothing new in Washington’s beginning the Marshall Plan with shipments of powdered milk, cereals and welfare workers and then shifting over to rifles, tanks, bombers and military advisers. This was the pattern in Greece. As the Socialist Workers Party has pointed out, again and again, the events in Greece have given us a preview – a dress rehearsal – of what the Marshall Plan will mean for all of Western Europe.

In Greece, it will be recalled, the Marshall Plan was advanced as the only economic salvation of that war-ravaged land. All the publicity hand-outs emphasized the “humanitarian” aims of the Marshall Plan, and the spotlight was placed on the sacks of grain and cement, the medical goods, the clothing and food that would go to Greece. Then it became necessary, somehow, to support the moth-eaten Glucksburg dynasty and to back hated reactionaries who had served under the Metaxas dictatorship and under the Nazis. Presently to “save” the country from “communism” shipments of arms were stepped up and eventually dollars earmarked for economic aid were diverted to the purchase of arms.

Since that time Greece has been racked by civil war and endless bloodshed under the guidance of American officers.

In view of this record why should anyone feel surprise at a similar development of the Marshall Plan in Western Europe? Or surprise at Farley’s demand to seal a pact with Spanish fascism even though Farley advances precisely the opposite argument used in the case of Greece; namely, guns must be sent to Franco because “Spain has no communism and there is no danger of Communist inroads here.”

As the full reactionary aims of the Marshall Plan unfold, its sinister implications for the American labor movement will become increasingly clear. Those heads of the trade union bureaucracy who backed the Marshall Plan, thinking that whatever evils might arise from it abroad could not affect the unions here at home are due for a sharp lesson on the indivisibility of foreign and domestic politics. The shift of emphasis to the military side of the Marshall Plan will further speed the shift in industrial production from peacetime to war goods. Among other consequences, such as hastening the outbreak of war, we can expect accelerated extension of Brass Hat control in the plants and factories with their military rules and regulations regarding personnel, unions and “security.” What this means to militant unionism is already foreshadowed in the firing of workers at the instigation of the military authorities and refusal to deal with certain unions in plants subject to government control.

In addition a more direct repercussion is forecast. The next Congress is to be asked not only to pass a military supplement or extension of the Marshall Plan, it is scheduled to decide on a blueprint for mobilization that “has been masterminded with the aid of the military services,” according to Hanson W. Baldwin. This “Emergency Powers Act ... frankly recognizes the necessity of ‘total mobilization of effort, of persons and of property’ for modern war, and therefore provides a series of emergency mobilization and control measures much more sweeping than those used in the last war, which could come into effect upon Presidential authorization in time of war or at such other times as the Congress might decide.”

The Nazi concept of “total mobilization” in time of peace for the “total war” to come has thus become the inspiration of American Big Business and the laws it is readying for passage. No good unionism can come from this.

The war-makers are already stockpiling strategic raw. materials as well as atom bombs. “Phantom orders” on a huge scale have been issued to industrialists to give them an idea of what to get ready for when the day comes. Big Business is even charting its course for probable developments after the war has begun: “Present living standards might have to drop ... by 20 to 40 percent,” says Hanson W. Baldwin, in what is no doubt a conservative estimate. “Sooner or later a National Service Act or its equivalent, which would give the Government power to place any man or woman (within certain age limits and with certain exemptions) in any position in or out of uniform, might be passed.” The difficulties and dangers that will face the unions under such fascist-like legislation can readily be visualized.

The unfolding of the Marshall Plan abroad will have its symmetrical counterpart at home. The strengthening of reaction abroad and Wall Street’s open military preparations in Western Europe for war will inevitably strengthen reaction at home and pave the way for outright union-smashing. The same men who offer the hand of friendship to the Nazis and the butcher Franco will foster native fascism with no less hesitation.

The camouflage of humanitarianism and noble ideals is wearing off the Marshall Plan. Its real reactionary aims are becoming visible for all to see as the war-makers press toward atomic war. In the period to come events will reveal how correctly the Trotskyists estimated the Marshall Plan as not intended for the reconstruction of war-torn Europe but designed to construct a military and economic stronghold for reactionary capitalism in Western Europe.

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