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The New International, September 1941


The Editor’s Comment

Allied-Russian Relations in the War


From New International, Vol. VII No. 8 (Whole No. 57), September 1941, pp. 195–7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


From the military point of view, the involvement of the Soviet Union in the war was a great boon to Great Britain. The main strength of Nazi arms is completely involved on the Eastern Front, and while the German armies have made great headway they have so far failed in this essential aim of crushing the Red Armies. The break-up of the Russo-German alliance bringing about a new turn in the war, had, naturally, to bring about a complete change in the diplomatic front. As a junior member of the Axis camp, the Soviet Union was regarded as a non-belligerent enemy. Diplomatic reasons forestalled a complete break between the Allies and the Soviet Union.

Now, everything has changed. On the theory that anyone who fights Hitler is a “friend of democracy,” Great Britain and the United States proceeded to work out plans for joint action with Stalin. In the beginning it was the opinion of the general staffs in England and the United States that the Red Armies would be smashed in a few weeks. Their hopes were otherwise, but they had no great faith in the ability of the Red Armies to fight the kind of battles that would, despite losses, withdrawals and retreats, and the surrender of important areas of Greater Russia and the Ukraine, keep intact the armies as fighting organizations. The Red Armies, however, have fought beyond all expectations. In spite of enormous losses, they are taking a heavy toll of the Germans and making Hitler pay dearly for every advance.

Allied Needs in Russia

The struggle of the Red Army brought about an immediate change in the attitude of the Allied camp, and from a faithless attitude toward the Eastern Front has now grown up the determination to establish such a front in permanence. The Red Army has demonstrated fighting ability and considerable strategical resources. But they have lost great numbers and, more important than that, they have lost enormous quantities of war machines and materials which they cannot easily replace. The loss of important industrial centers and the immobilization of others has created the grave danger that the Red Armies will be unable to wage the kind of war they have carried on heretofore.

Roosevelt and Churchill were and are keenly aware of this fact. That is why, shortly after their meeting, immediate and effective aid to the Soviet Union became one of the principal occupations of the two governments. The problem is not one of means by which such aid can be transported to Russia; it is rather one of producing sufficient war goods to supply both the Soviet Union and Great Britain on their widespread and multiple fronts.

The situation is somewhat desperate but very clear. Great Britain cannot and does not produce sufficient materials for its own armies and navy. It cannot therefore produce anything for the Red Armies. If it does send materials to Russia, it must be at the expense of the British armed forces. So acute is Britain’s industrial position that without American aid, it cannot prosecute the war. It would seem, after all that has transpired in the past two years, that anyone would understand this simple situation. But apparently this isn’t so.

The Workers’ State Again

The very eminent, but amateur, war strategist of The Militant of September 27 (Cannon group), Felix Morrow, has discovered the essential reason why no real material aid is given the Soviet Union and why Great Britain does not open up a new Western Front and thus compel the German armies to really carry on a war on two separated sectors. Says Morrow:

“Churchill and Roosevelt will not do for the Soviet Union what they would have done tor the Czarist Empire. They accept the Soviet Union as an ally – but only on their own terms. They look upon the Soviet Union not as an ordinary imperialist ally, but as a WORKERS STATE, and they would not dream of doing for that worker’s state what they would do for the Czarist Empire. Renegades from the revolutionary movement may call the Soviet Union imperialist or fascist; Churchill and Roosevelt know better.” (Emphasis in original – Ed.)

This is a specious argumentation in the main idea it professes. The theory behind this thought is the following: England and America desire that the German and Russian armies tear themselves apart, waste each other’s reserves and thus bring about a military collapse for both camps. What is contained in Morrow’s theory is a resurrection of one part of the pre-war Stalinist analysis of the war. Morrow’s view is false because it does not conform to what is the real situation. Such an opinion is possible because it springs from the false and outlived theory that Russia is a workers’ state. Adhering to this theory, neither Morrow nor his comrades have been able to understand the war from the very beginning. They have hopped from one analytical error to another.

While there are small elements of truth in Morrow’s article, the main line of thought is preposterous. In its larger aspects, it does not truly see the line-ups in the war, that is to say, it does not see the situation in its dynamic aspects.

Under any circumstances, no matter the degree of aid given to the Soviet Union from the very start, no matter how many fronts were opened up by British-American action, the Soviet Union could not extricate itself from the situation it was propelled into by the Stalin-Hitler pact. Hitler’s purpose in attacking Russia was governed by larger aims in the war: preparation for American entrance into the war by the occupation of the Ukrainian granary and the Russian oil territory, and the destruction of a possible threat from a mass army on his eastern front. Action by Hitler on other fronts would be purely subordinate and defensive actions to mark time until his armies inflict a final and decisive defeat upon the Red Armies. His main military strategy may be reduced to nothing by failure, but this in no way affects his daily conduct of the war.

British Inability to Establish a Western Front

It does not appear likely, no matter how exhaustive the Russian campaign may be, that Germany will thus be pitched into a condition where it will be unable to wage large-scale warfare on any other front. At least the military staffs of Britain and the United States are not of the opinion that Hitler is destroying himself in the Russian campaign. Quite the contrary, it is their expressed feeling that a victory for Hitler in Russia would be calamitous in many ways.

Why, then, doesn’t Britain establish a Western Front? We do not know what plans are being developed by the Allied staffs, but it seems apparent that a Western Front is not established because the British are unable to do so. The British Army is notoriously lacking in the necessary over-all training and arms to establish such a front. This was clearly evident in the Libyan and Middle East campaigns. American production has not yet reached the state where supplies are available for grandiose military actions by the Allies. The attempt to establish a Western Front by Britain now would undoubtedly end disastrously for them.

Nothing would better suit the “democratic” camp than the establishment not only of a Western Front, but of an African front as well, in the midst of the Russian campaign. This winter may well see the beginnings of such skirmishes. But to say that Britain and America do not want to establish such fronts because Russia is a workers’ state is the height of idiocy.

Do the Allies Fear Russia?

The United States and Great Britain do not fear the Soviet Union because it is a workers’ state, or for any other reasons. Unlike Morrow, they really do not believe that Russia is great shakes as a workers’ state. They have nothing to fear from Russia militarily. And above all, they have nothing to fear in the way of a Stalinist world revolutionary resurgence. Whatever fears they may have entertained prior to the outbreak of the Russo-German war have been quickly dissipated by the conduct of the Soviet Union, the moribund Communist International and the Stalinist parties throughout the world. Their policies are determined entirely by Russia’s war needs and not those of the international proletariat and the world socialist revolution.

Moreover, Russia’s diplomatic and political conduct since the Roosevelt-Churchill sea conference has been such as to cause no worry to the ideological-military front of the Allies. The pragmatic Stalinist regime, in the interests of its bureaucratic survival, has fitted in completely With the larger endeavors of the Anglo-American front. More than that, it has become an integral part of this front and exerts its own measure of influence, simply because it is at war with Germany.

Anglo-American Aid to Stalin

For these reasons the United States and Great Britain have already agreed that, in the coming period, the British will have to do with less war supplies than hitherto in the interest of keeping up the Russian front. This was one result of the sea conference. If no great amount of supplies has as yet been sent, it is because there are none in large quantities to send. But war materials are going to Russia and they will be increased, for, even if Stalin should lose the Ukraine and western Russia, the war will continue in the East. Britain and America want it continued until the final victory over Hitler.

Not only are American supplies beginning to go to Russia, but the British themselves are sending materials. One week’s production of tanks has already been sent to the Soviet Union. One British air squadron is fighting on the Russian front. The British are prepared to aid in the defense of the Caucasus. And now that the early difficulties in Allied-Soviet relations, arising from the Hitler-Stalin pact, are overcome a new cementing of relations follows. Trade commissions from England and America are already in Moscow; Russian commissions are in Washington and London, and there is a constant interchange of military information and plans.

The war, in addition, goes beyond mere military conflict. The Allies are developing an all-around strategy which concerns itself with the ideological and diplomatic struggle against the Axis. This is no less important than the war fronts. Here, too, the Soviet Union has become an integral part of the Allied camp.

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