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The Militant, 31 August 1946

Ultimatum Put to Yugoslavia;
Capitalists Pound War Drums

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 35, 31 August 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The verbal knife-throwing at the Paris “Peace” Conference gave way in the headlines last week to a major diplomatic crisis between the United States and the Stalinist-backed Tito regime in Yugoslavia.

The gravity of this crisis can be judged from the way the capitalist press pounded on the war drums. The widely-published columnist Drew Pearson, for instance, ominously suggested August 22:

“If, in the end, it is clear Russia does not want friendship, we should examine the suggestion that we may have to unloose the atomic bomb as a preventative.”

Dangerous Crisis

Wall Street’s leading organ, the N.Y. Times, August 23 editorially characterized the crisis as having “dangerous potentialities.” The Times recalled 1914 and 1939 when “the dreaded word ‘ultimatum’ leaped out at one from the banner headlines of the press, striking fear in men’s hearts everywhere ...”

The present crisis, however, differs from those on the eve of the First and the Second World Wars. The ultimatums in those wars came from the European imperialist powers. The present ultimatum came from this side of the Atlantic. It constitutes, therefore, a grave warning, of Wall Street’s readiness to precipitate a new world war rather than wait until it has been initiated by other imperialist powers.

The tension with Yugoslavia has been building since the end of the Second World War. The biggest quarrel has been over Trieste. Yugoslav troops occupied this city after the Nazi regime collapsed. Stalin wished to get it as a southern anchor for the Soviet Union's military defense. But the British secured withdrawal of Tito’s armies and today this area is held by British and American troops.

The Ultimatum

Then Washington began persistently violating Yugoslav sovereignty by unauthorized flights of airplanes over Yugoslavia.

Finally the Tito regime permitted itself to be provoked and fired at two airplanes, bringing one down August 9 and the other August 19.

The State Department seized the opportunity to deliver a smashing diplomatic blow at Tito’s regime. On August 21, the State Department issued an ultimatum to the Yugoslav government calling its explanation of the crashes a lie. (The occupants of the second plane “met their deaths not by ‘accident’ but by deliberate acts of Yugoslav authorities.”)

The ultimatum gave the Yugoslav government 48 hours to release the captured survivors at the first plane crash. If the ultimatum was not complied with, the State Department threatened to place the, case before the United Nations.

Tito Submits

At the same time it became known that a “strong” United States naval squadron has been sent into the Mediterranean to put military pressure on Yugoslavia. Tito complied with the ultimatum.

All these facts show that American imperialism is headed straight toward a Third World War. The incidents provoked in line with this objective are used to inflame public opinion against the “enemy” – in this case the Soviet Union.

The Stalinist-backed Tito regime played directly into the hands of Wall Street. What was gained by shooting down American planes? It did nothing to halt Wall Street’s drive toward war, but only gave the Wall Street propagandists grist for the mills of war.

The crisis disclosed once more the way in which Stalinist foreign policy undermines the defenses of the Soviet Union and paves the way for another war. Instead of depending on the international working class to fight intervention as did Lenin and Trotsky, the Kremlin despot and his puppets count solely on military force, possession of “key” cities and strips of territory.

What blindness and stupidity in the age of atomic war! How can a few lend-lease fighter planes in the hands of Tito stop the mightiest military power the world has ever seen when it decides to strike?

The entire experience of the Second World War shows that the Soviet Union can truly be defended and a Third World War prevented only by socialist revolution on an international scale!

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