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Sam Adams

U.S. Landings in Africa Mark New Phase in War

Military Offensive Presses Hitler, but Imperialist War Still a Long Way from End

(November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 46, 16 November 1942, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the twenty-fourth anniversary of Armistice Day, the Second World War has spread to new and greater fronts. American land, sea and air forces, aided by the British, landed this week at a number of points in French North Africa.

With great speed, occasioned by the surprise nature of the landings, key ports and capital cities were quickly invested and occupied. American troops are now moving eastward to attack Rommel and catch him in a pincer with the British coming westward. They are rushing rapidly into Tunisia and toward Tripoli to meet counter-attacks of the German and Italian forces now rushed to North Africa to prevent that part of the Continent and the lower half of the Mediterranean from falling into the hands of the Allies.

Allied forces already occupy the principal cities – Oran, Algiers and Casablanca – and a number of intermediate points. Troops continue to land and a vast amount of weapons is being sent ashore in preparation for the counter-blows expected from the Axis.

Hitler Moves Over France

Reports coming in from the front indicate that the Allies counted upon defections in the French army, both among ranking officers and among the troops. General Henri Giraud at once went over to the Allies and is already being groomed as the leader of the French forces in North Africa. Admiral Darlan, anti-British commander of all the French forces, has been “captured” by the Americans, along with General Juin, commander of the French in Algiers. It is possible that they too will soon join the British and Americans and may already have done so at the time of this writing.

These early developments are overshadowed by the developments on the Continent. Following a hurriedly called meeting of Hitler, Mussolini and Laval, the German army crossed the demarcation point which divided Occupied and Unoccupied France and is in the process of taking over the whole country. They are racing to seize the key French ports on the Mediterranean and to prevent if possible the flight of the French fleet.

Hitler’s occupation of the whole of France has only intensified the national political-military situation. Early reports announce Petain’s plea to the French people to revolt against Hitler – by what means and with what kind of arms and for what purpose, is not made clear by the senile leader of Vichy. The French fleet was ordered to join the Allies. If this should occur the naval situation will be significantly altered in favor of the Allies.

While it is yet too early to pass judgment on the ultimate significance of the recent military developments, certain possibilities immediately show themselves.

The occupation of France by the German army will require for Hitler an ever-greater expenditure .of troops and materiel. And while his land army is still an enormous and powerful organization, it is bound to lengthen and therefore weaken his Continental line of defense. He must guard a sea coast many thousands of miles long, including now the whole Mediterranean Sea. His Italian ally is in a desperate position and without German aid and control would undoubtedly be knocked out of the war.

Germany’s position in Russia remain’s largely unchanged. The fight there goes on unabated with no likelihood, despite German victories, of a decision being reached. The peoples of the Continent are in a state of rebellion and daily resist German occupation.

Allied Position Stronger

The outstanding fact of Hitler’s position is that he remains locked, in the European Continent; he has been unable to cross successfully into other areas.

If the Allies succeed in driving the Axis put of North Africa, Germany and Italy will be completely ringed by opponents. From the military point of view this marks an enormous setback to German aims.

The United States is engaged more actively in the war. The waiting period is definitely over and from now on it can be expected that American forces will be fully involved in the military aspects of the war. Defections in the French Vichy ranks increase daily. Additional military strength from that quarter will undoubtedly strengthen the Allied position in North Africa.

If the French fleet joins the British and American, it will not only insure Allied control of the Mediterranean, but it will permit the strengthening of the Allied fleets in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. British and American sea routes will be shortened, thereby increasing the flow of war materials to their many fronts.

It is clear that the strength of the Allies is growing, while that of the Axis, if not declining, remains stationary. This has an enormous bearing on the war, its intensification and its length.

Already a great hope is felt among the people of this country and throughout the world that this latest action by the Allies will shorten the war and bring it to a speedy conclusion. Nothing in the military situation warrants such a conclusion and already President Roosevelt has found it necessary to warn against undue optimism.

The actions in the .African theater of the war may have something to do with the ultimate end of the war, just as every battle has something to do with it, but it is clear that the war is merely increasing in tempo. The battles promise to become larger, the struggles more intense.

Europe Is Main Front

The Allies understand that the war cannot be brought to an end unless the fight is brought to Hitler in Europe. The purpose of the occupation of Africa is to prepare an assault on the southern coasts of the Continent. Thus, if all of Northern Africa is occupied, a considerable period of time will be consumed in preparing such an invasion. Such an invasion from the South may be a feint to draw off German forces from other part of Europe to permit an attack across the Channel, or by way of Norway, or it may be part of a simultaneous assault on various parts of the European coast.

But the occupation of North Africa cannot lead immediately to an invasion of Europe. It is part of the preparation for a spring offensive.

For the moment, at least, the initiative lies in the hands of the British and Americans. They are now fighting offensive warfare. How long this will last, how soon Hitler will attempt a counter-attack on a large scale, is difficult to determine. But it is clear that Europe is the main front of the war in Allied strategy. The African war is not the second front. It is the preparation for such a front.

On the anniversary of Armistice Day, 1942, the world is an armed camp; the capitalist nations are at each other’s throats; humanity is being slaughtered. The war moves on! It promises to be long and deadly!

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