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Henry Judd

Nothing Solved as “Peace” Conference Ends

Hunger and Cold Still Face the European Peoples as Paris Conference Lays Ground for Future Wars, Not for Peace

(21 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 42, 21 October 1946, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Paris Peace Conference, after thirteen unhappy weeks of it, has finally come to an end. This ending, strangely enough, has left the twenty-one participating nations in exactly the same spot where they were thirteen weeks ago, facing the same basic split between East and West and with the same unresolved problems.

The proposed drafts of five treaties, with Rumania, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary and Finland, have now been adopted – each by a vote of 15 to 6. But these treaties are far from being in effect – they are simply drafts, with various recommendations. They must now go to the forthcoming conference of the Big Four foreign ministers, the selfsame crew of diplomats (Molotov, Byrnes, Bevin and Bidault) who called together the Paris conference to smooth over their differences and disagreements.

Complete a Circle

The Paris conference completed a circle of diplomatic maneuver and gab to return to its starting point! The same set of problems handed to this conference by the Big Four has been handed back to the same Big Four. The chasm between the two great world rivals, Russia and America, is as deep as ever.

In his final denunciation of America at the conference, during the discussion over Finland, Molotov declared, “In all votes in the conference it was enough for the American delegate to vote and another 12 or 13 votes were assured.” Thus, proclaimed Molotov, America dominated the conference. True enough, so far as the majority voting went.

No less true was it, as Byrnes might have paraphrased Molotov’s remarks: “In all votes in the conference it was enough for the Russian delegates to vote and another five votes were assured.” That is, the votes of those nations unfortunate enough to be occupied by Russian imperialism, or close enough to fear occupation.

It was clear that these two blocs (15 to 6) dominated the Paris sessions, and that each antagonist used the proceedings solely to score propagandistic points on his opponent, and embarrass the other. The pitiable dove of Peace never had a look-in at the Luxemburg Palace.

Was Anything Accomplished?

What, if anything, was actually accomplished at the conference?

To say that peace has been restored to Europe; that tranquillity and harmony reign once more; that there is real hope for an economic revival and solution of the food shortage – to say that these things, real hopes and desires on the part of the European peoples, were accomplished would be a mockery of the facts. Not the slightest advance was made in one of these directions. The approaching winter is guaranteed to be as cold and hungry for Europe as was last winter; national economics are still stagnant, with absolutely little hope of an immediate revival.

The conference was limited to start with. Its duties were merely to “advise and recommend” changes in treaties whose basic drafts had already been drawn up by the Big Four. The really basic European problems of treaties with Austria and Germany, in particular, weren’t ever on the Paris agenda, and were not mentioned in 13 weeks of endless talk and equally endless hypocritical debate!

At the forthcoming Foreign Ministers conference, even the various recommendations and changes adopted have no actual power, since any one of the Big Four can, by exercising its veto power, ride roughshod over the recommendations. Molotov has already announced his intention to reject the recommendations not suitable to him and Russia. Then why did the conference even bother to meet?

The game had to be played through, the suspicions of the “small powers” had to be satisfied in some manner, the farce had to be completed. Now, once completed, the questions at stake are again posed to those who really decide these matters – the imperialist masters of the Big Four, or – to be more accurate – the Big Two, Russia and America. If the Big Four ministers cannot work out satisfactory deals over the disputes, still disputed treaties, then the whole thing is dropped into the laps of the Security Council of the United Nations – that is, another body where America and Russia equally comfort one another, except through different spokesmen. Such is the actual “achievement” of the Paris conference.

Treaties as Drafted

But the treaties already adopted, or recommended, themselves reveal the nature of the gathering. This holds for the points of agreement, as well as those of disagreement. Here are essential points in the five treaties, country by country.

Issues at Stake

This terse summary of the actually adopted treaty recommendations presents the grasping and reactionary nature of these treaties in full.

The additional points in disagreement, and far from being settled, reflect those issues at stake between America and Russia which have not yet been successfully “arranged” to their mutual satisfaction. They are the, issues of Trieste, and the problem of “free,” that is, American trade on the Danube versus Russian exclusive domination of the Danubian nations.

Not peace, but the preparation of future wars. This is our conclusion regarding the work of the Paris conference. Nothing else might have been expected from this gathering of yesterday’s Allies, but today’s rivals who will drag us into tomorrow’s war unless they are brought to a halt.

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