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Japanese-American Conflict

The Recent Manchurian Incident as a Factor in World Politics

(January 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 2 (Whole No. 98), 9 January 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Outstanding in last week’s news is the diplomatic Incident around the American consul, Culver B. Chamberlin, in Manchuria. Many versions of the story have appeared in the press. There are already “official” Japanese versions and “official” American versions. Developments are not moving with the speed characteristic of such incidents, it is true. The cloud-burst following Sarajevo was much more prompt. But that is not at all sufficient reason to interpret the slowness of procedure in the vulgar and watered manner of the Stalinists, who attribute it solely to the imperialists’ anxiety not to spoil the solid (?) front against the Soviet Union. For the Stalinists, the internal contradictions of imperialism constitute just one more hollow phrase with which to adorn a “thesis” or a manifesto, nothing more.

Every serious observer, every serious revolutionist could not help but see the growing dissatisfaction of the Western capitalist brigands with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. In a world economic crisis like the present, gripping industry as tightly as it does, every scrap of market is the subject of the greatest avarice and envy for every one of the robber states. All the more so, When it concerns so promising and so valuable a market as China. It would be rank stupidity to assume for even a minute, that the United States, Great Britain and the others would so readily cede such a treasure to the Nipponese. On the contrary, a revolutionist, a disciple of Lenin cannot doubt at all that conflicts of a high order among the imperialist powers are bound to result. The tempo in which these conflicts are sharpened and the forms that they take on are controlled by other factors in the world situation, with which we shall deal further on.

At the present time, the United States State Department appears to restrict itself to the invocation of the Nine Power Treaty and the policy of the “Open Door”, in its struggle against the Japanese. There has been talk of action along these lines for some time. The Chamberlin affair has merely served as the pretext for giving this line of action the necessary impulse. The State Department is calling upon Great Britain and France to support its side of the conflict. It is doubtful, to say the least, whether France would give its aid. Strained relations between the bourgeoisies of the two countries in the past few months confirm us in our doubt. The British are confronted with rising revolutionary activity among the Indian masses and in jockeying for position might be more amenable to American plans, especially due to the temporary decline of American “sympathies” for Indian independence. For the time being, American-Japanese relations are characterized by less active hostility than would normally be expected. Imperialist alignments in days of economic stress like the present are fickle things. But it is only a matter of time tor the lines to be drawn.

The community of interests between the working class of the world and the oppressed colonial peoples of the Orient, is the lesson taught by political necessity. Today, this becomes clearer than ever. The imperialist powers are preparing to strike. While centering our attention on the struggle in Germany, we must not forget the danger threatening from the East. The coordination of the aims of the imperialists will undoubtedly be achieved by devious routes.

Clarity on War Danger!

Yes, the Soviet Union is in danger. The capitalist world is desperate. For the present, this danger is most acute on the Western frontier, to be more precise in the menace of Fascism facing the German working class, which is an invaluable ally of the Soviet Union. It is there that the greatest watchfulness is necessary. It is there, that the whole Communist movement is standing a test that will be decisive for the working class and for the oppressed peoples of the entire world for many years to come. But historical development does not proceed along one straight line. Any “incident” is bound to serve as a spark with which to set off the explosive forces inherent in world politics today. That is why all Communists must pay the closest attention to the turns in imperialist policy, that is why they must not underestimate them, distort their importance. The Chamberlin incident and the further progress of Japanese-American relations requires the utmost attention of the workers, not as an incident in itself, but as a factor in the world situation as a whole.

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