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Henry Judd

The Militaristic Overtones
of Marshall’s Foreign Policy

(17 February 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 7, 17 February 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last week, in an interview with 150 press correspondents in Washington, the new Secretary of State General Marshall restated his understanding of U.S. foreign policy. While this declaration was essentially a reaffirmation of previous policy, certain characteristics in the Marshall statement are worthy of note. Above all, the militaristic overtones of his remarks (his broad use of military terminology as, for example, his reference to Europe as “the European theatre”) must be pointed out.

General Marshall covered a whole variety of subjects in his talk: America’s role in the United Nations; the problem of the atom bomb and disarmament (disarmament under General Marshall!); the question, of Europe and Germany; the Far East and South America, etc. Above all, he restated the unambiguous intention of American imperialism to continue its widespread activities in every part of the world; to participate actively in all developments and events; and to bolster and maintain the full economic, naval and military power of the American worldwide system. Let us briefly examine some of the highlights:

The United States, Marshall said, will “avoid unilateral disarmament.” To emphasize his point, he called again for universal military training to be adopted by Congress and put into immediate effect. But, he said, any implementation of the general resolution on disarmament passed by the recent session of the United Nations must be based upon a preliminary acceptance of the American proposal (Baruch plan) for atomic energy control. This plan, as is known, is stalemated by the dispute between the American and Russian governments over its terms. Thus, disarmament even of the dubious kind proposed by the United Nations, becomes an impossibility in the given circumstances.

To further dash any naive or pacifist illusions that general disarmament would not begin (didn’t the United Nations – hope of the world – just vote for it?), Marshall added that “the tremendous issues of the peace settlements must be solved before any real disarmament, or even any substantial reduction of armaments, can take place ...” General Marshall, meanwhile, has a solicitous and friendly eye on the size of the military budget for 1947.

On other important problems of American foreign policy, Marshall bluntly reaffirmed the general policies of his predecessor, Byrnes. America will have a worked out plan to advance its interests during the coming Moscow negotiations over the treaties for Austria and Germany; a middle-of-the-road policy will be pursued in China and Asia (Marshall took a crack at the French for their role in Indo-China), but meanwhile the Kuomintang reactionaries and Chiang Kai-shek will get lend-lease in China. In South America, Secretary Marshall reiterated the “importance of forging a hemisphere security system among the twenty-one American nations.” He was conciliatory, in line with the new policy, toward Dictator Peron of Argentina.

The first great test of Marshall in action will come in March, at the Moscow conference, when he crosses swords with Molotov over the prostrate body of Europe and Germany. But it is clear that Marshall represents a hardening of American policy all along the line, with respect to Russia. This does not mean that American imperialism is planning or preparing an immediate war with its rival, Russian imperialism. It means that the long and complex task of preparing the basis for such a war, or carrying out successful maneuvers at the expense of Russia, continues.

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