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Henry Judd

Big Four Talks Get Nowhere

(22 July 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 29, 22 July 1946, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

About the only item agreed on at the recent Paris Conference of the Big Four was that the meeting had gone on long enough and the time had come to adjourn. So, after endless talking, the Foreign Ministers have all returned to their respective countries, each anxious to blame the other and explain how his own proposals were the only true “peace” plans put forward.

In his speech to the American people on July 15, Secretary of State Byrnes presented his standpoint on the Paris Conference, and the coming Conference of the 21 victor nations scheduled for July 29. After an apologetic speech, Byrnes concluded with the hope that the new 21-Power conference will produce more substantial results towards a real, international peace. But the very tone and content of his talk denied his own belief in this. Actually, this new conference will have little power to change or alter previous decisions or “deals” of the Big Four.

No Problems Solved

The fact of the matter is that while some progress was made toward drafting peace treaties with Italy and the Balkan powers, not a single one of the basic problems of Europe was resolved. The questions of Germany; the disposition of the Ruhr; Austria’s future; economic and trade rights in the Balkans and more than a dozen other questions related to the Italian and Balkan treaties were not resolved.

Germany still stands as the major obstacle in the strenuous efforts of the Big Four imperialists to agree among themselves. So far apart are the powers on this question that after a presentation of the opposing points of view, the whole conference wound up without the slightest effort to make a “deal.” Austria was not even discussed.

The imperialist nature of each of the participants is revealed in the various proposals on Germany. France wishes to carve living chunks of German territory out of that occupied nation – the Saar and the Ruhr – and force millions of Germans into producing solely for the French capitalists. Molotov, Stalin’s no-man, is opposed to this (to the intense embarrassment of the French Communist Party), but he “merely” wants $10 billion in reparations from Germany, in the form of the produce of German workers. How many billions he has already looted from German-occupied territory Mr. Molotov has not yet reported.

Milking the German Cow

America and Britain, working closest together, propose a loosely-federated Germany of all the occupying powers as the most favorable method of achieving a harmonious milking of the German cow. All Four Powers are motived solely by the desire to keep Germany in bondage, prepare strategic strong points in their maneuvers against each other and suck what they can out of the defeated people.

The imperialist character of the Conference is further underlined by the nature of the agreements actually arrived at Italy is, to put it mildly, given the works. Her Navy and merchant fleet are divided up among the Allies, and the question of the Italian colonies – final settlement of which has again been postponed – has been settled at least in so far as Italy is concerned. Furthermore, Italy must pay $200 million in reparations to the Russian “Workers’ State.” The process of driving Italy further toward the status of a tenth-rate nation has been all but accomplished.

On the question of Trieste, Stalin’s Russia has again won a partial victory for its imperialist practices, and taken a big step forward toward domination of another area in the Balkans. The compromise over Trieste gave Russia a foothold in this area, denied the Trieste population the elementary right to express themselves on the matter, and in creating a so- called international zone, merely succeeded in legalizing the New Danzig area of the present war. Nobody considers the question really settled, and the city is already claiming leadership in the scramble for the area to have the “honor” of setting off World War III.

In general, the Paris conference marked the continued victory of Stalinist Russia on the diplomatic and strategic field. The Russians held firm in central and southeastern Europe (Germany, Austria, Poland, the Balkans). This accounts for the apologetic tone of Secretary of State Byrnes. In the sinister game of preparing bases and achieving diplomatic successes as preparatory measures for the next war, imperialist Molotov is still one up on imperialists Byrnes, Bevin and Bidault.

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