Isaacs Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page


George Stern

Behind the Lines

(24 February 1940)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 8, 24 February 1940, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Japanese have finally admitted that they are up against it in China.

To be sure, in accordance with the double-talk of modern wartime politics, this admission comes in the form of a summons to Chiang Kai-shek to surrender.

On Feb. 15, the Japanese High Command in China announced that it had won “sufficient areas in China for establishment of the new order in East Asia.” Further resistance, the proclamation went on, was “futile,” especially because of the latest Japanese “victories” in Kwangsi. The Japanese army, therefore, “will not expand our operations but will await your offensive.”

They did not have long to wait. The “victory” in Kwangsi turned into one of those “strategic withdrawals.” Chinese pressure forced a wholesale retreat from the area north of Nanning, the Kwangsi capital, and at this writing, despite Japanese denials, the Chinese forces appear to be on Nanning’s outskirts.

Diet politicians have grown increasingly bold in challenging the army on its course on the continent. The recent “power holidays” – wholesale shutting off of power for all but the most essential war-industry plants – dramatized the sharpness of the pinch, which is putting the barest necessities of life beyond the reach of most of the Japanese population.

Calculating on the transformation of American pressure into an actual embargo, the Japanese have to cast around for possible new combinations before deciding upon a capitulation to the U.S. or an open challenge for supremacy in the Pacific.

One such outlet would be a new Japanese deal with Great Britain. Just as in South America the British are actually engaged in tooth-and-nail rivalry with the U.S. for the markets left open by the involuntary default of the Germans, so in the Far East they are no more willing to permit Yankee imperialism to take advantage of the European war. It goes without saying that the Japanese will do their utmost to exploit this Anglo-American rivalry. The ease with which the Asama Maru incident was settled, the ready compliance of the Japanese with British demands, suggests that the atmosphere is already being prepared for another typical imperialist double-cross.

But for that it has to clear its heels from the Chinese bog – and that it is not finding it so easy to do. Wang Ching-wei’s puppet government is now scheduled for inauguration in March. But even in Tokyo there is little optimism over the ability of this new and ill-fashioned peg to sustain the weight of Japanese control and make it palatable.


Main NI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 11 July 2018