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Henry Judd

Strategy: Is America Developing Strategy for War?

(July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 30, 27 July 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

It is now approaching eight months since America became directly involved in the Second World War. In that period, as everyone recognizes, the American war machine has not achieved notable success.

In the Far Pacific – despite defeats at Midway and in the Coral Sea – the Japanese Navy and its military adjuncts sail the seas of China and the Indian Ocean more or less at will, exploiting, organizing and building their brutal imperialist empire in the territories they have conquered. For the moment at least, they are unchallenged.

In the European and Asiatic battlefields, the Axis Powers retain an unchallenged initiative and offensive. American production and supplies have just begun to reach many of these fronts. Talk of the Second Front remains – TALK. In the interim, the basic and most important front of all – the Russian front – appears in great danger as the German Wehrmacht drives into the Middle East and Caucasus. At best, America is holding tight (Egypt, Alaska); at worst, America is retreating and withdrawing (Russia, Asia). It is important to note that the really important war fronts are scenes of defeat rather than stalemate or victory.

To top it all there is the incredible Senator May, who recently informed us that the war would be over (won) this year, or next at the very latest! This fantasy came from a responsible and recognized spokesman of the American capitalist-imperialist class, whose war this is!

Strategy or Continued Muddling?

In the welter of confusion and defeat, in the maze of contradictions and conflicting decrees that emanate from the war leaders at Washington, is it possible to make out any organized pattern, any system and strategy by which American imperialism hopes to gain its goal of world mastery? Or is it all, as many believe, a hodge-podge of hopeless improvising, without order? Is the American ruling class staggering along from defeat to defeat in its war program? Do the messing up of the shipbuilding program, the rubber and gas conservation schemes, the inability to organize the skilled labor supply so that one industrial area does not have a tremendous shortage, while a nearby area has 400,000 (New York City) unemployed? Do all these factors indicate that American capitalism will be unable to develop a unified, world-wide strategy to meet the war’s requirements?

The same questions and doubts are raised by examining the war machine itself – the lack of coordination and unification in the various commands; the absurd situation where air forces (separately representing the Army the Navy and the Marines!) participate in battles as independent entities. Certainly the record to date does not speak very well for the future. American imperialism is engaged SOLELY in the military task of holding on; retaining a grip on the Asiatic and African continents.

Eyeing Hitler’s Methods

But it is our business to point out that an increasing section of America’s rulers are turning a more acute and interested eye toward the methods employed by Hitler. These gentlemen, representing the monopolists and the finance imperialists, recognize that in Germany the imperialists and expansionists of that nation have found an organization and institution that DOES have a strategy of world conquest, that HAS succeeded (the methods do not matter to these people) in diverting and centralizing the entire energies of 80,000,000 people toward but one goal – the waging and winning of expansionist, imperialist warfare.

For these men recognize that under capitalism war must be waged with a centralization and a total concentration that is still lacking in capitalist America. Among the American rulers there are many capitalists, industrialists and merchants who are actively struggling against this inevitable militarization of the war economy. Fearful of being wiped out in the process (as were large sections of the German capitalist class when the Nazis were put into power), they resist with might and main. The “isolationist” wing of the ruling class is still strong, still regretting the war, still anxious for a peace and a turning toward South America rather than Europe and Africa.

Individual capitalists in the various consumers’ goods industries (radio, household articles, etc.) hesitate to convert their industries, use every possible method to obtain raw materials for their “business as usual,” and, in general, are ready to sacrifice every last capitalist but themselves.

In a word, there is no organization or party or movement powerful enough to knock together the heads of the American rulers, order them to commit suicide if necessary for the benefit of capitalism as a whole – rather than a section of it – and proceed with a Nazi ruthlessness toward definite imperialist goals.

It is precisely for this reason and to overcome this fatal handicap that the most imperialist-minded section of the rulers have taken the road toward the imposition of a military dictatorship upon America. In their press (the publications of the Henry R. Luce group – Life, Time and Fortune – are the best illustrations) a constant campaign against democratic liberties and institutions (Congress, campaigning, etc.) and, of course, most particularly against the labor movement, are carried on without cease.

Centralization, authority, no mixing up of the commands – these are the war cries of the leading imperialists of our country. The small industrialists and business men must be sacrificed to the big corporations; labor as an independent class with its own institutions must yield to the “greater need” – the winning of the imperialist war. This is their program and they will not hesitate to ape and emulate more and more the dictatorial methods of the nazified states. Hence their current admiration for Stalinist Russia, an admiration based not upon any love for the “socialist experiment,” but respect for the centralized war economy, and the straight-jacketed labor movement of Russia.

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