From Fourth International, Vol.10 No.4, April 1949, pp.100-101.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
As we go to press the signatures of twelve European nations are being affixed to the North Atlantic Pact. The immense significance of this event transcends by far its effect on the “cold war” for which it is immediately designed. Four years after the collapse of Hitler’s “New Order” a new balance of power is being forged on the old continent. At the head of the coalition, for the first time in. modern history, stands a non-European power – American imperialism, chief victor in the recent war, inheritor of the mantle of the British Empire, unrivalled pretender for the role of master of the world.
Columnists and editorial writers in the kept press euphemistically characterize this open transformation of US foreign policy as “the end of isolationism.” The description is a mixture of ignorance and deceit. Despite the survival of isolationist opinion among capitalist politicians, isolationism received its death blow as the policy of the capitalist class after World War I. Transformed by that war from a debtor to a creditor nation, American imperialism deployed its great technological superiority between the wars to supplant England as the manufacturing and financial center of the world and, as Trotsky said, “to put Europe on rations.”
If this new role as dominant world power was not clearly visible nor consciously translated at the time in terms of state policy, it was primarily because of the continued although declining strength of the British Empire and the remaining vitality of European capitalism. The Second World War marked the definitive end of that epoch. Far from being a rival, Britain had to be saved from collapse by an American loan. And the annihilation of Germany smashed to bits the last attempt to redivide the world for the benefit of a continental capitalist power.
In speaking of the dangers inherent in the upholding of the anti-civil rights filibuster by Congress, the New York Times warns editorially that isolationists might attempt to obstruct the North Atlantic Pact by similar methods. It is a debater’s point, devoid of all reality. There will be no genuine clash on this question. Bi-partisan foreign policy is a firmly established institution because the capitalist class has been solidly united in its new world role. It has, indeed, no other choice. Although it is conceivable that the capitalist rulers, in deference to the 160-year tradition of “non-interference,” would prefer to hire out the task of maintaining “order” and policing the world, the candidates for this position no longer possess the required qualifications.
Great Britain, France and the Netherlands and the others are rapidly becoming colonial powers in name only. Their efforts to “pacify” the insurgent peoples of the East is proving one of the most costly and colossal failures in history. How could it be otherwise when it has become well-nigh impossible for them to achieve “stability” at home with their own resources alone. They are admittedly impotent without outside help, either individually or collectively, to cope with the power of the Soviet Union.
Life itself has obliged American imperialism to become the caretaker of world capitalism. But it can only fulfill this role effectively on a global scale, i.e., provided private property fights are restored in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. For this reason we have predicted time and again that the road, to world domination must be the road to world war. It is well to”recall here that the liberal toadies and the labor lackeys of the State Department hailed the Marshall Plan as a great humanitarian effort to feed starving people. (Even a section of the trembling Shachtmanites joined in the chorus.) What have they to say now that it has become plain as the nose on your face that the price of Marshall Plan aid was subordination to the military plans of the North American imperator? Not a word of protest. Not a gesture of opposition. Like good salesmen, they have quickly adapted themselves, to the change in the company line.
What has happened to the rights and integrity of the “small nations”? Not a murmur about this from the swarm of ex-radical apologists of the Pentagon-Wall Street gang. Yet the diplomats of the State Department have been only slightly more delicate in lining up these countries than was the Ribbentrop crew. We still do not know the full story behind the type of “persuasion” used to convince Norway and Denmark to join the pact, although they would inevitably be the first victims of a US-Russian war. A Swedish writer for the New Republic raises the curtain just a little when he describes the pressure of “American representatives in Stockholm” comparing with “the pressure business ... German agents had been heavily engaged in ... a few years earlier.”
The North Atlantic Pact is not just another military alliance. The coordination of weapons and the unification of the military staffs of the participating powers under a centralized command cannot be achieved without the regimentation of all economic and political life in harmony with this martial plan. In effect, the political form of this coalition can be nothing else than a world-wide military dictatorship taking its orders from the Brass Hats in Washington.
While the pact will hasten the demise of the United Nations, it is important to note, as the architects of the alliance continually assure us, that the pact is legally sanctioned by the UN charter itself. Once again the class character and class aims of a bourgeois institution has dynamited the illusions and demagogy of liberals, social, democrats and Stalinists. Just as Miller was able to use the statutes of the Weimar Constitution, “the most democratic in the world” to create his Nazi dictatorship, so American imperialism is establishing its juggernaut of war in the very bosom of “the organization of world peace.” The UN, like its predecessor, the League of Nations, as we predicted long ago, has been the breeding ground for war.
The general staffs have carefully calculated all contingencies and eventualities – all but one. That one is the alliance of the peoples of the world who above all want peace. Not the maneuverings of the Kremlin, but the class struggle in Shanghai and Indonesia, in Milan, the Ruhr and Detroit will prove the Achilles heel of this unholy compact of death, reaction and dictatorship.
Last updated on: 4 March 2009