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Socialist Appeal, 10 November 1939

Walter O’Rourke

American Imperialists Turn
Hungry Eyes Towards China

Hence, the Disapproval with Which the U.S. Looks
upon Japan’s Creation of a “New Order” in the Far East

(10 November 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 86, 10 November 1939, p. 2. [1]
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The announcement by Ambassador Grew on October 19 that the United States looks with disapproval at Japan’s establishment of a “new order” in the Far East once again brought home the fact that American imperialists are turning hungry eyes toward China.

Talking “straight from the horse’s mouth” Grew said the “American people” believe that “... an effort is being made to establish control, in Japan s own interests, in large areas of the continent of Asia and impose on them a system of closed economy.” Such an opinion, he continued, a government (i.e., the U.S.) “... can not possibly overlook and will not fail to reflect in its policies and actions.”

This threat was answered the following day by the Japanese Foreign Minister with an equally blunt statement that Japanese determination to bring about a new order “... in East Asia is too strong to be changed or affected by the interference of a third power.”

South America Insufficient

There is a tendency, even among those who recognize the imperialist character of American economy and government, to believe that the main course on the menu for American imperialists is South America.

“Upper” circles, however, already feel that South America is not enough.

The United States News, Oct. 16, says:

Effort to blow up Latin America into an area of vast new opportunities for U.S. business is more interesting than important. By capturing all of the Latin American market for foreign goods this country would add less than a billion dollars to its business.

Big role of the United States in world-wide maneuvers now under way is likely to be played in the Pacific. Europe’s pre-occupation will increase temptation for Japan to spread her influence; may lead to American restraint. (Their emphasis – W.O’R.)

China More Valuable

The small South American market for foreign goods is far outweighed by the opportunities for imperialist investment in China. i.e. for shipping capital abroad. The ideal country for imperialist exploitation is one with a large population and low industrial development.

One of the best indexes of industrial development is railroad mileage per capita; a glance at a very few statistics shows why China presents such a far more enticing dish than South America for American imperialists. The mileage of railroad for each million inhabitants is as follows. (U.S. and India are included for purpose of comparison):










Here is shown in vivid contrast the reason for the superior worth of China over South America to desperate imperialist nations. South America has 35 times China’s per capita railroad mileage; the steel mills of U.S. Steel (whose chairman Edward R. Stettinius Jr. was appointed chairman of the War Resources Board by Roosevelt) could be kept busy for quite a time “developing” the vast Asiatic continent.

Herein lies the compelling reason why the American capitalists must challenge and eventually fight Japan over the right to exploit China. Herein lies the reason for the entire U.S. fleet being in the Pacific, and for the recent Grew speech and its consequences.

Note by ETOL

1. Walter O’Rourke was one of Trotsky’s secretaries and occasionally Trotsky wrote articles that were published in O’Rourke’s name. However, this article is not included in Pathfinder’s multi-volume edition of Trotsky’s Writings 1929–1940.

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