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World Politics

Inter-Imperialist Conflict of the Big Three

(15 January 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 3, 15 January 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“If there is one fundamental, underlying cause of the rift in Allied relations, it is in the basic differences of their national aspirations and outlook. It is strange that this flaw in the Grand Alliance was not obvious sooner to the peoples of the Allied nations. If it had been; there would not have been so much stunned surprise in the Allied countries when it first began to show itself on the surface.”

In these words, Raymond Daniell, writing in the New York Times, explains the difficulties which the Big Three are now encountering in their attempts to “settle” among themselves the reorganization of the world. Actually, this rift, which is at last being recognized by everybody, comes as no surprise to revolutionary socialists. It was there from the very beginning for all who wished to see it. If the people did not see it sooner, the news analysts, who think it strange that it was not obvious sooner, played no small part in obscuring this fact, which even today Mr. Daniell treats as a “flaw” rather than as THE motive of the war itself.

Inter-Allied Competition

What is this “fly in the ointment” of Allied unity, which, if gently removed, would insure freedom, security and peace? What is this “basic difference in their national aspirations and outlook” mentioned by our Times reporter?

Each of the major belligerents entered the war in furtherance of its national imperialist interests, which conflicted with similar interests of the others.

Defeated in the 1914–18 war to end wars, capitalist Germany sought to regain its world position through the only way possible in the capitalist scheme of things, through force. In preparing for war, the German ruling class first crushed the German labor movement, and thus made the German workers and their organizations the first casualties of World War II.

Fascist Germany began its second great attempt at imperialist expansion in the territories nearest at hand, in Europe. In order to obtain a position of at least equality with its imperialist competitors, let alone world domination, Germany sought mastery of Europe.

British Aims

But a dominant position in Europe is necessary to satisfy the imperialist appetites of several other, powers. Holding together the Empire is the motive force of British policy. Success in this regard is directly dependent upon England’s strength on the European continent. Since she cannot dominate by direct occupation, England has always sought to operate in Europe through the formation of blocs and governments friendly to her interests.

As long as German fascism confined itself to crushing and exterminating the labor, movement, imperialist Britain raised no objections, but even looked on with admiration and approval. The attempt of German fascism to push England from its position in Europe led to war between the two.

If England was unwilling to yield her position to Germany, she is no more eager to yield .it to any other power, even to a “dear” ally. At present she aims at the organization of a bloc of western countries friendly to her, from the Scandinavian countries down through Belgium, Holland, France, Spain and Portugal. Hence her support of the reactionary Pierlot government in Belgium, the monarchy in Holland, fascist Franco in Spain, and de Gaulle in France. In eastern Europe she wants to retain her control of Greece in order to safeguard her position in the Mediterranean lifeline to Egypt and India. She seeks not merely anti-German governments but strongly pro-British ones.

Russian Imperialism

Russia seeks to enhance her interests or, more properly speaking, the interests of her ruling class, through control of at least the eastern half of Europe. At the expense of the liberties and democratic rights of the peoples of Europe, she demands half of Poland, control of the Balkan countries, in addition to the annexations already made of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. For the Russian ruling class, this is but a stepping stone to the domination of Europe which every imperialist power seeks.

Churchill delivers Poland to Russia and gets Greece. Or so it seemed. Each of them yields reluctantly and tries to hold out for as much as possible. Churchill holds off recognition of the Lublin set-up, hoping to strike a better bargain: Stalin withholds approval of British action in Greece, hoping to lop off a piece of that country, Macedonia and placing it in his sphere of influence, perhaps in the Balkan Federation.

De Gaullist France is allowing herself to be wooed by both sides – England, which seeks to involve her in a western bloc, and Russia, which wishes to prevent this bloc from becoming too strong and threatening. France doesn’t wish to be a mere junior partner of the western bloc and therefore signs a treaty with Russia to strengthen her bargaining powers with England. The two big allies vie with each other for France’s support. In the end it will go to the stronger, the one which can offer more.

Role of the U.S.

And the United States?? The inner-Allied conflicts strengthen the position of U.S. imperialism. A Europe torn within itself, war weary, half destroyed, starved, helpless, looking for help from the outside, is the perfect place for intervention through money investments, lend-lease and, if necessary, armed force.

With no single European power dominating the Continent, and without a voluntary and harmonious unity of the European peoples, U.S. domination of Europe and the world is made easier. That is, provided the conflicts with England in the Far East, over India, in the Near East, in aviation and shipping can be fought out to the advantage of United States imperialism.

The seeds of World War III are already planted.

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