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George Breitman

U.S. Aims at World Rule, Says Knox

Will “Police Seven Seas” for Next 100 Years

Admits This War Will Be Followed by Other
Imperialist Struggles for World Domination

(11 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 41, 11 October 1941, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

American imperialism does not have and cannot afford to have a perspective of peace after the defeat of Hitler in this war, for it must work for world domination and the assurance that this domination will be maintained for ‘a hundred years, at least,’ Secretary of the Navy Knox told the American Bar Association in Indianapolis on October 1.

Knox’s warning that an American-British victory in World War II would not usher in a period of lasting peace but would be only the first step in the direction of world domination by the victorious powers, came in the course of a speech pleading for support of a naval expansion policy that would permit the United States, together with Great Britain, to “police the seven seas” after the war.

Knox, authoritative spokesman for the Administration, in this intimation of the imperialist war aims and problems of the American bosses, avoided much of the high sounding camouflage and talk about “four freedoms” employed by Roosevelt and Churchill to decorate their Eight Points.

America is already in the war, he said, and “the world has now grown so small, so interrelated, so interdependent that, try as we will, we cannot escape from this task” (of insuring American domination of the world).

“It is by no means sufficient that we take those steps necessary to clear the sea lanes of the bandits which now infest them. We must do more than that. We must do our full share and more, to guarantee that they shall be kept clear of pirates in the future ... (It means) that the great law-abiding, peace-loving nations (United States and Great Britain) must take the power into their hands and keep it there for a long time to come to prevent the inauguration of. another world war ...”

No Promise of Peace

Knox makes no promises that such a course will mean peace. As a matter of fact he strongly indicates that other wars will have to be fought by the master nations of the world if they want to maintain supremacy.

“We will not engage in any idle dreams of a millennium. We are not going to stop all wars. But I am convinced we, for our own safety and protection, and for the maintenance of our way of life, shall have to provide an interregnum in which we will not only devote ourselves to the pursuit of peaceful aims, but provide the essential might to enforce such a peace on those who are not willing voluntarily to pursue such a course.

“If we must fight, and mark this well, there will not be for many years to come a time when we may not have to fight, then with modern weapons what they are, let us determine that we will fight elsewhere than our own soil ...”

Knox has no illusions that the victory of either the “democratic” or the fascist imperialists in this war will bring in any lasting period of peace. Nor does he pretend that any World War II edition of the League of Nations will do away with imperialist war or imperialist peace.

“Sometime, somewhere, an international order may emerge which need not rely on force, but that time, unhappily, is a long way off.

“In the interim, a justly conducted, peace-loving force must intervene to save the world from self-destruction. The foundation of such a force, as I have indicated, must be the control of the seas by the United States and Great Britain ...”

What “Freedom of the Seas” Means

In this speech Knox dwelt at great length on the imperialist concept of “freedom of the seas,” and stressed its use not only as a slogan for complete entry into the war, but for world domination after the war.

“The objective of all naval operations is control of maritime communications and the ability to preserve such communications for one’s own use, whether military or commercial, and to deny them to the enemy ...”

“I hope that what I have said does make for a better understanding of how vital to us is the principle of the freedom of the seas. This freedom means that the great historic highways of the nations are free for the use of all alike, on even terms, save only those activities which are designed to be hostile and aggressive ...”

“Freedom of the seas” is not an abstract principle for Knox and the capitalist class he represents. In their double talk it becomes monopoly of the seas by the United States and its satellites. The seas will be “free” to them, but they will be “controlled” for other nations whose activities “whether military or commercial” may be regarded as hostile or aggressive to the dominant powers. Thus, for example, the United States and Great Britain will be able to shut off the use of the seas to any nation that tries to compete with them commercially in any foreign market, for that would be regarded as hostile or aggressive.

“Aggressor nations must not be allowed to deprive other powers of the free use of the seas upon which their lives and futures depend. This is the essence of the meaning of the principle of the freedom of the seas ...”

Nations which the American- Anglo controllers of the seas consider “aggressive” will not be permitted to deprive other nations of the use of seas – only the United States and Great Britain will be able to do that, says Knox.

Who Will Run the World After the War

And who else besides the United States and the British Empire will decide these questions when the second “war for democracy,” is over? Knox makes clear that no other nation will have any say in this matter unless it is completely subservient to the interests of American-Anglo imperialism. “Other nations of similar peaceful inclinations, and lacking in aggressive designs, could be joined to them, and thus the beginning would be made leading toward the restoration of international law ...”

Here then is the American version of the “Versailles Treaty” for World War II. Here is the program for which American imperialism is spending billions and preparing to enter the armed conflict. These are the conditions Knox referred to in his speech when he said:

“When we have defeated Hitler, and destroyed this Nazi bid for world dominion, we must set up conditions which will prevent the rise of new Hitlers ...”

But Hitler was able to rise in post-war Germany precisely because of the efforts of the Allies to crush and dismember Germany. The economic destruction which Knox proposes for the rivals of American capitalism by its domination of the seas will in turn inevitably bring forth a new era of reaction and imperialist war. It is no wonder that Knox warns that American imperialism must be prepared to back up its war aims with “the essential might to enforce such a peace”:

Wars for boss profit followed by imperialist “peace” which will give way again to new wars – this is the perspective of American capitalism for the next hundred years. A true and lasting peace is indeed “a long way off” in the calculations of the warmongers in Washington.

Those who want to fight against the war must understand that Knox’s words describe the real war aims of the administration – that the talk about “democracy” and “war to end war” are only the sugar coating used to win support of the masses for a war that has no interest in democracy and no end in sight so long as the capitalist system remains.

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