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Henry Judd

1943 – Year of the Second Front?

(October 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 41, 12 October 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a recent column, devoted to the political meaning of FDR’s Labor Day speech and attack upon Congress, we explained how this tendency to brush aside Congress is a NATURAL wartime development, something to be expected in the march of American reaction and imperialism toward totalitarian and authoritative forms of rule. Here we want to take up the speech with regard to its MILITARY significance, particularly for the future.

A Second Front for 1943

It is clear to all (except possibly the most dim-witted follower of Joseph Stalin) that the Allies, England and America particularly, have no plans or intentions of launching a second front European invasion this year.

But to conclude from this that the second front (or, more accurately, invasion of Europe – since we do not know whether the Russian front will merit being called the first front next year) will not occur would be radically wrong and false. We start our analysis of the military aspects of the war from two simple premises:

  1. German fascist imperialism is the main rival, enemy and obstacle in the path of American imperialism;
  2. to remove this obstacle (that is, win the war) American imperialism must invade Germany, defeat it by military force and dictate ITS terms of peace.

Although World War No. 2 differs in many important ways from World War No. 1, this aim can only be accomplished in the same manner as last time – a successful march on. Germany and occupation of the key centers of Nazi power.

The sole question before the American imperialists and militarists is the question when, when shall we attempt this? Every one of them knows that it has to be done, sooner or later. This is why it is nonsense to claim – as the Stalinists and semi-Stalinists – that certain reactionaries (Munichmen!) in America and England oppose the very IDEA of a second front. To say that is equivalent to saying that they are willing to lose the war to their rival imperialist enemy, Germany!

For the imperialists, the question is not: shall we or shall we not invade? It is when have we reached the stage, of necessary preparation along military lines (manpower, air-strength, supply preparations, etc.); when have we reached the necessary political preparatory stage (to take over Europe and prevent social revolution in Germany, France, etc.); when have we reached the necessary stage of moral and psychological preparation of our own people (to withstand the shock of the enormous losses and casualties)?

When the British and American rulers feel they have reached the highest possible point on the chart of military, political and morale preparations, then they will launch the second front, come hell or high water! Not one moment before, unless they are convinced that further delay might mean a DECISIVE German breakthrough and world victory. Of this danger they are not yet convinced; of necessary preparations for invasion they still fall far short. Therefore, no second front as yet! But 1943 is different!

FDR’s Speech for 1943

The conclusion of FDR’s Labor Day message spoke of harsher struggles ahead and clearly indicated that next year will be a year of MAJOR American participation on the world military fronts. Here is where his economic program ties in with the second front and 1943. The invasion of Europe may constitute America’s supreme military effort in the war, just as Hitler’s war on Russia marks the high point of the Nazi war machine and its bloody career. A great military campaign, in the era of total warfare, requires a parallel and simultaneous political and economic campaign, aimed at the workers and the people, in general. FDR has embarked on such a campaign in preparation for 1943.

  1. It is characterized by the growing militarization of America’s wartime economy. Real price-fixing power; freezing of labor to the job; plans for universal mobilization and conscription of all male and female labor, etc.
  2. It is marked by a speeding up of the draft, a speeding up of the shipment of soldiers overseas; plans for the induction of new age and status groups (18–19 year olds; married men) into the Army. These new forces will serve as replacements and reinforcements for the losses and casualties of the 1943 second front.
  3. It is marked by new emphasis on the morale front – the spirit of get tough and hard; the emphasis of the steel-like qualities of our opponents (found in the speeches of ex-Ambassador Grew and other government spokesmen); the necessity to sacrifice all; the philosophy of prepare to kill, or be killed!

America’s War Role Only Begun

The real weight of American imperialism in the war is yet to be felt, but it is clear that it cannot long be delayed in coming. That is why the year 1943 may well become known to history as the year in which American imperialism began its great lunge forward for world supremacy. The advance preparations indicated by FDR can mean only this. For imperialism to march forward it must do so over the corpses of its masses, at the same time subjecting those who still live to all the vicious experiences that totalitarian and military forms of rule mean. War economy plus conscription of labor plus an army of 10,000,000 soldiers may thus mean a second front invasion of Europe in 1943.

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