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Carl Davis

Rivals Fight Over Share of Post-War Profits

(October 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 43, 25 October 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the interesting and explosive products of the upturn in the military fortunes of the Allies is not merely the sharpening relations between the Anglo-American coalition of the United Nations and their partner, Russia. That deep differences exist between these powers on military and political questions, particularly those which concern domination of the European Continent, is now a matter of public knowledge.

But that is only half the story. It has now become clearer than ever that almost as sharp a conflict exists between Great Britain and the United States. While the competition between these two powers has always existed; their antagonisms in this war have usually been subordinated to their main aim of achieving a military victory over the Axis.

Now, however, the deep differences between Great Britain and the United States have come out into the open, and the opinions expressed by spokesmen for both countries have been extremely sharp.

What are these differences about? Economic interests, that is to say, the hunt for profits!

American Business Winning

The war enabled American big business to deliver some heavy blows against their British capitalist competitors. British participation in the war for two years before this country became a belligerent and the heavy demands made on British industry by the war effort, enabled American business to drive her business out of the South American market. And it took over a large share of British business in other parts of the world.

The heavy British losses in shipping have been compensated for by the tremendous construction program laid out by Washington. But while the early losses have been replaced and many new ships added to the total Allied merchant marine, these new ships have merely given the United States the greatest merchant fleet in the world. Thus, Great Britain has been replaced as the leading maritime nation in the world.

This has meant that most shipping now carried on is by American boats.

America has likewise “leased” a number of British bases throughout this hemisphere. The British are deeply concerned whether they will be returned and how soon, after the war; whether the United States really means to keep these bases after the war.

We Intend to Stay”

British business interests are gravely worried over whether American capitalists will permit them to participate in the economic life of Latin America, from which they have been forced to retire since the war.

Rear Admiral Vickery (speaking for the Administration) told the British, on the question of the merchant marine:

“Yes, and I told them we intend to become a maritime nation and intend to stay one. I said we would do it by cooperation, but if they didn’t want to cooperate we’d stay one anyhow.”

That’s only another way of saying: British rule of the sea – military and commercial – is over. From now on, this role belongs to the United States. The United States will take over the lion’s share of the rich international trade. Such a shipping tonnage which America now has will not only enable her to handle the biggest share of trade, but it will make it much easier to penetrate new areas not previously within her “sphere of influence.”

What the business interests are doing – and shipping is a key need in this affair – is preparing for post-war world domination of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.

Such post-war world domination would not merely mean that Britain will play second fiddle – for that is the instrument she now plays – but it would be devastating to the future existence of the British Empire.

A Plea for Cooperation

The British have recognized this all along. From the very beginning of lend-lease, they objected to the restrictions placed on her trade, which she sought to continue, because a vast supply of lend-lease material reached her shores. They asked that assurances be given that once the war is over British business can continue where it left off. Needless to say, no such assurances were given to her.

Her shipping monopoly is obviously gone. South America is now a “colony” of the United States. The United States has begun its penetration of Asia (Indian independence is very popular in this country precisely because it will enable American business to bust the British monopoly there) and aims to play the first role there. That is why the British yell so much for post-war cooperation. They will fare better thai way!

Each new stage in the war reveals that behind the nice phrases is the reality: a struggle for trade, territory, resources, all of which can be summed up in one word – PROFIT!

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