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Sam Adams

De Gaulle, the Allies, and the Press

(November 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 49 (should be 48), 29 November 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Allied policy toward colonial and subject peoples – not the words they utter about freedom, but their real, practical policies – is covered with hypocrisy. This is clearly revealed by the recent events in Lebanon.

The story is a simple one (see the article in this issue fully analyzing the history of the British-French struggle over that country). The Lebanese Parliament declared its independence.

With amazing swiftness, the French Committee of “National Liberation” (note the title), under the leadership of General Charles de Gaulle, declared martial law, arrested the Lebanese officials and proceeded to rule the country with the gun and the saber.

Why the Attack on de Gaulle

With equal swiftness, the British denounced the actions of the French, demanding the immediate release of the native president and his officials. The United States joined the British in denouncing the action of de Gaulle. Back of the British action was the fear of the whole Arab world, most of which is under the domination of British imperialism.

The French were quick to rescind their actions. De Gaulle charged that his delegate-general in Lebanon, M. Helleu, acted on his own when he instituted a reign of terror in the country.

But even more fundamental than the reaction that might have taken place in the Arab countries (and there were plenty of indications that they were furious about the whole event), is the British determination to dominate all the countries which surround their oil possessions in the Middle East. They got American support, because American oil companies also have large possessions in that area. They want the French out of the Middle East.

World-Telegram Gets Indignant

But listen to the New York World-Telegram, which speaks more or less in the same way as the rest of the capitalist press. On November 23 it wrote:

“The British and American governments should agree to no face-saving device whereby General de Gaulle perpetuates his dictatorship of Lebanon by releasing native officials for some sort of puppet role ... It would leave smoldering the Arab revolt that threatens Syrian and Lebanese bases essential to the Allied war effort, as well as the Iraq oil supply and the entire Near East. The best proof of the depth of native feeling against the French dictatorship is that the usually hostile races and religions have united in their fight for freedom.”

The editorial goes on to say:

“To weaken Vichy-Berlin control of Lebanon, de Gaulle’s commanding general in the summer of 1941 pledged Lebanese independence ... But as soon as de Gaulle got control he tried to prevent independence, which he finally proclaimed only under severe British, American and native pressure ... Unless he is willing to live up to his independence pledges to the Lebanese and to his obligation to co-operate fairly with Britain and the United States, he should no longer expect Anglo-American support.”

Dictatorship – and Dictatorship

But the choice of words in the World-Telegram editorial is indeed interesting. It speaks of the French “dictatorship” and “independence for Lebanon. But this hypocritical newspaper, reflecting the hypocritical policy of the Allies, is silent about other colonial countries.

There is no mention of “independence” for India, nor is there a call for an end to the British “dictatorship” in India. India is the most important example, but India is not alone. There is the whole British Empire, on which “the sun never sets.” There is the Dutch Empire, which robbed and exploited the East Indies for a hundred years or more, until the Japanese army took it over and continued this robbery and exploitation in behalf of its own capitalist class.

There is the French Empire, the Belgian Empire and also there is our own Puerto Rico. Of their independence, the World-Telegram says not a word. Of the dictatorships over these lands the World-Telegram, in its smug and pious denunciation of de Gaulle, is equally silent.

It goes without saying that we are for the independence of all colonial countries and subject peoples. We haven’t the slightest brief for de Gaulle or his gang. But neither are we much interested in editorials of the World-Telegram, or the hypocritical policy of the British Foreign Office. The latter might have some right to speak if it took itself out of India and relinquished its death-like grip on that country.

For our money, they are all in the same camp of imperialist brigands, exploiting the colonials for profit.

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