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Henry Judd

Africa: On the ‘Diplomacy’ of the Invasion

(November 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 47, 23 November 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

American forces have taken over huge portions of North Africa and are well on their way to seizure of the remaining area (Tunisia). From the standpoint of the American war leaders the whole campaign is indeed a great military success, for:

  1. Hitler has been forced to extend himself to even greater areas and to take over a territory whose population is intensely hostile to him (Vichy France). Many hundreds – of miles of coastline, huge cities and centers must now be policed and controlled by the overtaxed and heavily drained German army.
  2. Springboard positions of immense value for landing in Europe and deluging helpless Italy with a shower of bombs have been gained. Thus, the United Nations forces are in a much better position for their REAL offensive of the war: the open invasion of the European continent and the march on Berlin.
  3. The supply route to Egypt, the Near East and India may well be shortened if the aim of regaining control of the Mediterranean Sea is achieved. Furthermore, the Italian and German hopes of African Empire will be destroyed forever.

These and other military and strategic victories have been described in detail in all the capitalist newspapers. But here we are interested in the POLITICAL aspects of the new American front in North Africa.

A Victory for Political Reaction

In the short space of less than two weeks, Roosevelt and his supporters have revealed to the world the sort of post-war Europe they favor. It is a Europe based upon reaction, militarism and foreign occupation; a Europe in which “law and order” will be preserved and revolution distinctly frowned upon and crushed.

  1. The whole policy of keeping up relations with Vichy, instead of breaking and making an effort to go directly to the French workers and people, was a deceitful, “clever” game – as Secretary of State Hull now brags. In the words of Dorothy Thompson, we played a “Kurusu mission” with Vichy! Dirty politics, horse-trading, open bribery (one correspondent spoke about the “well greased” French officers), raw deals, etc. – this was American “democratic” diplomacy, according to the very words of the diplomats.
  2. When the invasion began, “the British radio and General de Gaulle’s headquarters broadcast frequent warnings to the French population to refrain from premature uprisings ...” (New York Times) That is, the Anglo-American forces dreaded (almost as much as Hitler) a rising of the French masses against the forces of occupation and tyranny that sit upon them!

Is not that strange? We are supposed to believe that the Americans and English are coming into France ONLY in order to help the people get rid of Hitler, to aid them in their revolution. Is that the way to encourage the French to obtain their freedom? It shows, once more, how accurate is the Labor Action accusation directed against both Churchill and Roosevelt that these gentlemen only want uprisings in France and the other occupied countries when they (the military forces of America and England) are ready to land and to take over. That is, they want the European revolts against Hitler to serve only in a military, auxiliary capacity; to aid them in their imperialist reconquest of Europe from Hitler.

  1. Look at whom the Americans have negotiated with and are helping to set up in a new “French” regime in North Africa. Collaborator, pro-Nazi Darlan; reactionary General Giraud – and now the open French fascist, Pierre Flandin, has arrived on the scene! America wants a “free” France, under the reactionary tutelage of hated French imperialists, reactionaries, open fascists and monarchists.
  2. And what did Roosevelt say was his object in seizing the Vichy colonies? In addition to inflicting a blow upon the Axis, he said twice that he wishes to see the French Empire restored.

We may be very skeptical about the sincerity of his wishes, since we understand that American imperialism is likewise interested in grabbing off a few valuable colonies in this war, but even if we accept him at his word: such an objective is reactionary through and through! The French Colonial empire is and was viciously imperialistic, exploiting and oppressing tens of millions of Algerians, Moroccans, Negroes, etc.

Liberation – Or Imperialist Deal?

What happens to the Atlantic Charter, under whose auspices we are supposedly fighting? If the American soldiers come as a force of liberation, does that not mean that they must liberate the millions of Berbers, Moors, Arabs, Negroes who reside in these colonies? In what sense is restoration of these areas to French reactionaries and imperialists a progressive, democratic step? Isn’t it rather an imperialist deal between French and American capitalists?

If America was occupying North Africa for revolutionary, liberating purposes, it would restore those areas to the colonial peoples who live there! It would say, in effect, to the Arabs and the Moors: “We have helped you win freedom. Now govern and rule yourselves as you see it. That’s what the Atlantic Charter says.” Instead, it negotiates with Darlan, Giraud and Flandin to set up, in another form, the old colonial, dictatorial regime of French imperialism – this time resting upon American bayonets.

Labor Action says: Turn over these colonies to the people and their parties. In Algeria, a powerful nationalist and socialist organization known as “Etoile du Nord” (The Northern Star) once existed. It stood for an independent, workers’ and peasants’ Algeria. This is what we have in mind.

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