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Henry Judd

Stalin-to-Molotov “Diplomacy” Confuses Western Diplomats

(18 November 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 46, 18 November 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Every time Stalin grants an interview to some ambitious press correspondent and grunts a few cryptic answers to a few loaded questions, the leading capitalist newspapers break out in the largest size type and propose that a world, shivering in fear over the prospects of a new world war, settle down and breathe a deep sigh of relief. Premier Joseph Stalin, it would appear, is the true, authentic spokesman of Russian foreign policy and he, by contrast with spokesman Vyshinsky and Molotov, is a reasonable, peace-loving man!

Some have even gone so far as to suggest a serious split and division existing between Stalin, the Apostle of a peaceful life; and Molotov, the Apostle of international disorder and world revolution! This split, we are informed, exists within the Politburo – highest body of the Stalinist Russian dictatorship – where one group now dominates, and then another group. This dispute is supposedly the cause of the vacillations and changes in Russian foreign policy.

A Kindergarten Tale

Molotov is stern, adamant and pugnacious. Vyshinsky is sly, tricky and threatening. Manuilsky, the Ukrainian representative, is positively rude, revolutionary and denunciatory. He is the one who mouths all the pseudo-Marxist phrases of caustic criticism of Anglo-American imperialism. This group of Molotov, Vyshinsky and Manuilsky are the “left-wingers” in Russia. So goes this fairy-tale for kindergarten inmates – that is, American liberals.

But Stalin – there is a man of peace, desiring only to live in harmony with the external world. In his interview with Hugh Baillie on October 28, Stalin even denied any increase in tension between the United States and Russia! This reasonable man was “indifferent” toward the presence of American warships, “unconcerned” about the atomic bomb, “hopeful” about concluding a peace treaty with Germany; and, in general, a paragon of calm objectivity about every other ticklish issue. The world had good cause, so we are told, to sigh again with deep relief. Stalin had spoken and given us the “true” Russian foreign policy.

But no sooner had everyone exhaled his sigh of relief than Molotov – nasty old Molotov – spoke out again! Unbending and stiff, Molotov denounced American imperialism, insisted upon retention of the veto power, presented Russian demands in unambiguous terms. At the current meeting of the Big Four Foreign Ministers, Molotov, “The Hammer,” conducts himself with total disregard for recommendations made at the Paris Peace Conference, and refuses to budge an inch on Russian demands. Trieste, treaties with the Balkans, every other issue remains unresolved. Oh, if we only had Stalin here – then everything might be settled amicably! And bristling Colonel General Andrei A. Zhdanov had to make an aggressive, threatening speech at the Moscow celebration of the 29th anniversary of the October Revolution, while Stalin didn’t even open his mouth! Surely something is up.

Division of Labor

Any belief that a serious split exists in Russian foreign policy is naive beyond reason. Certainly there are differences within the top leadership as to how, by what means and methods, certain goals are to be attained – but nothing more than these passing, tactical differences can exist. All these Russian expansionist scoundrels – through Stalin – are firmly united around one another when it comes to increasing their territorial control, consolidating what they have already plundered and taken over, protecting their holdings of today.

Naturally, like any other imperialist power concerned exclusively with its own expansion at the expense of other nations and rivals, the foreign policy of Russia has its ups and downs, its changes and retreats, its maneuvers and digressions. Maneuvering about in the unsettled, chaotic world of today is a difficult, hazardous proposition.

All kinds of doors – for retreats, advances, renewals of old alignments, creation of new ones, etc. – must constantly be kept open, And so, the Russian bureaucratic rulers utilize different men for different purposes. One speaks with stern, thundering tones; another is a bargainer, ready for a “reasonable” deal at the expense of a third party. A monstrous division of labor in the field of foreign policy exists, and some people fall for this myth of “conflict” within the Russian ruling class.


The story is a familiar one. With certain differences, Hitler and his fellow Nazis pulled the same stunts. With other differences, Truman and his fellow American imperialists attempt the same sly game. Hitler was the “hard” Nazi, aching for war and expansion. Von Ribbentrop was his mollifier, ready to cook up a peaceful settlement over a bottle of champagne. One seconded and complimented the dirty work of the other. With Russian foreign policy, the roles are slightly different, the characters speak Russian and make their deals over vodka bottles. But the similarity in hypocritical, reactionary methods and aims – for the expansion and consolidation of a socially reactionary regime at the expense of other peoples – is all too striking. Socialists reserve the same contempt for one as for the other.

Thus, Molotov the intransigent, puts forward the full program of Russian imperialism, in open conflict with Byrnes, the champion of rival American imperialism. Full mastery over Eastern Europe; plunder rights in Asia; control of the Dardanelles; penetration into the Mediterranean, etc. Stalin, master hand in the play, remains in the rear – cajoling, willing to “reason,” ready to bargain, prepared to deal with a spokesman of America. Each supplements the other; each aids the political and propagandistic preparation for what may ultimately be a war between American and Russian imperialism, for world domination.

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