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Imperialists Meet at Geneva

French and Americans Wrangle for Lead in Struggle against U.S.S.R.

(February 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 7 (Whole No. 103), 13 February 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The imperialists are shuffling their cards once more at Geneva. Despite all the bourgeois press comment to the contrary, it appears, nevertheless, that the French proposals are the real trump. Wall Street statesmanship has always been known for its “pacifistic”, for its “democratic” gestures. At the disarmament conference now in session, it runs true to form. The antipathy of the American delegation to the Tardieu offer is easily understood in this light.

In the general comment on the presentation of France’s delegate, a great deal of attention was devoted to the complications in the problems of “eastern Europe”. And it is not idle talk, as the bourgeois press feigns to believe, to say that the French proposals are directed In the first instance against the Soviet government and against an eventual upheaval of the German workers. One needs only to bear in mind the French applause of the Japanese actions in Northern Manchuria, the various diplomatic plots sponsored and initiated by Paris, to realize this.

It is not at all surprising to find Wall Street and American imperialism opposed to the French plans. An “international police force” under the control of the League of Nations, would inevitably have to act under the hegemony of Gallic imperialism. The French army is the strongest and best equipped military force in capitalist Europe. France is, of late, one of America’s most powerful rivals. Wall Street can have no interest whatsoever in a compact European army under French direction. The same holds true for Great Britain, especially if we consider the recent financial obligations of that government to the United States bankers.

Common Action Among Imperialists

However, while we are disinclined to schematically outline a united imperialist front in advance, as the Stalinists do, it does remain important to point out the possibilities of common action among the robber governments in the event of a war against the European working class. While the Americans have not concealed their discomfort and vexation in the face of Tardieu’s proposals, the head of the Washington delegation, Ambassador Gibson, does find it possible to say in its name that it “is perpared to consider any form of military limitation and reduction which promises real progress toward a feeling of international security, protection against surprise”, etc. It is clear that this statement is a reservation on the part of the Hoover regime with regard to the French proposals. And it will be remembered that the United States imperialists once before joined the European vultures in an attack on the U.S.S.R. That was in 1919, although the “Polar Bear” division of Wilson’s troops was sent to Vladivostok without any definite instructions to cooperate with the other Western powers. One could hardly expect less from Hoover than from Wilson.

In liberal bourgeois circles, it is being said rather apathetically, that the current Geneva Conference will be the last before the next war. And, in view of the developments in the Far East and in central Europe it must be admitted that there is a great deal of truth in the contention. The Japanese in the Orient, who can hardly afford the all too costly extension of their Chinese looting expedition, proposed to the other powers the demilitarization of the main Chinese ports, or in other words, a repartitioning of China, The Americans naturally find this Japanese design unacceptable. What they need most is a centralized China, to serve as a reliable market for the inflated American industries. All indications point, however, to some sort of an agreement, between Tokio and Washington, on the one hand, and between Washington and the Quai d’Orsay, on the other.

It is quite indisputable that the most serious danger at present is that of a war against the working class of Germany and against the Soviet Union. As the political crisis develops, the oppressed masses of the Asian continent will look more and more to the European proletariat, for succor. Upon the leadership of the revolutionary European proletariat devolves a role of the foremost historic and world magnitude. To trifle now with a mocking intransigence toward the social democratic workers’ organizations, to heedlessly overestimate the importance of the Red partisan movement in China, to subordinate everything today to the needs of the Five Year Plan alone, means to head for irreparable losses, to drive blindly towards an epoch-making defeat.

The working class of the world must be aroused to the danger facing it. Only international action on its part can save the Soviet Union, can keep the achievements of the heroic struggles of the Russian workers intact and carry them further, beyond the boundaries of the capitalist world to do this, the possibility must be created to speak to the broadest sections of the masses. Every “little” mistake, every obstacle lightly put in the way of reaching the masses, is bound to prove extremely costly not only nationally, but internationally, not only for a year, but for a whole epoch.

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Last updated: 17.5.2013