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Henry Judd

World Politics

England Takes Lead to Form
Anti-Stalin European War Bloc

(2 February 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 5, 2 February 1948, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In a historic announcement before the House, of Commons, the Foreign Secretary of the British Labor Government, Ernest Bevin, proclaimed the intention of England to create an open “Western bloc” of European nations as an essential part of the struggle against Russian expansionism. This statement has been greeted enthusiastically by Winston Churchill, actually one of its originators and long its champion, and by the American State Department, which declared that “the United States heartily welcomes” the proposal.

Bevin’s proposal that a “consolidation of Western Europe” in the form of the organization of a coalition, shaped by permanent and binding alliances with France, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Portugal and Italy – all such alliances to be modeled after the existing Treaty of Dunkerque between France and Britain – marks the final end of so-called British insularity and continental “balance of power” politics.

More significant, the step must be understood as part of a world policy urged upon England by the United States, as supplementary to the European Recovery Program. The Treaty of Dunkerque is an alliance calling for military and economic cooperation and consultation in case of war between any third power and England and France. The intent, therefore, to extend this treaty to all of Western Europe, is nothing less than the creation of a war bloc on a grand scale, aimed at the eventuality of war with Russian imperialism.

The bluntness of Bevin’s speech further signified an end to prior British tendencies to act as “peacemaker” between America and Russia, and the decision definitively to subordinate British foreign policy to that of America. His denunciation of the Stalin regime was deliberate and intended to make this break clear to all.

Although Britain is the formal spokesman in launching this planned Western bloc, the voice of American imperialism and the State Department speaks loudly and clearly through the lips of Bevin. This does not mean that American pressure has forced, a reluctant England to present his stand – in fact, the interests of British imperialism coincide with the creation of such a bloc. But the true driving force behind the plan is unquestionably America, the leader of the anti-Russian world bloc. At a later stage, revived Italy, the Mediterranean countries of Turkey and Greece, as well as certain Scandinavian nations will be brought into the bloc.

The British plan is a logical and expected extension of the American Marshall Plan. It can only be understood in this sense, and assumes a striking similarity to the series of treaties and alliances now being signed, under Russian supervision, by the Balkan nations. The two great world blocs of rival American and Russian imperialism, embracing to one or another degree every last country of our planet, both have lesser blocs within their framework. Stalin is building his Balkan-Eastern Europe bloc as feverishly as Truman builds his Western Europe one. For what purposes? War, surely and inevitably – no one doubts this any longer.

The Elder Statesman

Now, why is the Western Europe entente conception a consistent extension of the Marshall Plan? Why did the American State Department so spontaneously give its blank check endorsement to the plan of the British Foreign Office? Why did Secretary of State Marshall announce his approval after its consideration by the Truman cabinet?

In part, the answer to these questions has already been given. Any plan whose objective is the “creation of a Western European bloc solidly across the path of the Soviet Union” (PM, January 25) cannot but have the enthusiastic support of American imperialism. Yet there is more involved, and for this we must examine the testimony of Bernard Baruch, the 77-year-old American “elder statesman,” who – in his own way – comes as close to presenting the broadest and’ clearest description of the historic destiny American imperialism has set for itself as any individual we know. To realize this, it is only necessary to contrast the sweep and scope of his conceptions with the penny-pinching and narrow-minded ideas of Herbert Hoover, whose imperialist horizon is strapped tight to dollars and taxes. Socialist thought respects the measure of a true opponent, of the Baruch type, but can only have contempt for a Hoover. Let us see what financier-banker Baruch suggests. In the long run, imperialism will tend to follow his plan and reject that of a Hoover.

We are concerned here only with his international program, not his domestic plans, important and bound-up with his other ideas as they undoubtedly are. Baruch speaks out fully for ERP, but realizes that it cannot be held to a narrow economic base but must fit into a much wider strategic conception. It must be broadened out into a far-reaching political and military alliance of America and Western Europe. The United States, said Baruch, must guarantee to buy up all excess raw materials throughout the world and, with this vast warehouse under its lock and key, take the lead in forming the nations of Europe into a “political, economic and defense union,” whose preservation is to be guaranteed by America. In their concreteness, Baruch’s proposals went far beyond the rather vague statements of Bevin at London. As an “elder statesman,” without direct responsibility, his position permits him to concretize what is implied by others. The two speeches must thus be considered together.

“Promise to Go to War”

Baruch lifted the discussion on the Marshall Plan to the heights of international strategy. ERP is but an economic beginning, in his eyes, of a long-range program which must aim at the total reorganization of Europe under American hegemony. “We must develop a global strategy for American peace-making.” The European union under American leadership shall be guaranteed up to the point of “a firm promise to go to war-in joint defense if any of them are attacked.” War with Russia, of course, is meant. The Marshall Plan “must be fitted into a larger structure of foreign and domestic policy, rugged enough for the uncertainties ahead.” Baruch advocated the creation, under Truman, of a general staff to supervise the working out of his international strategy.

In outline form, the Baruch plan presents the goals set by American imperialism over the next decades. European unification under American rationing; global strategy aimed primarily at capturing control of all raw material resources; and preparation for war against rival Russian imperialism. This is a broad program, hardly realizable over a short time. In offering itself as the organizer of the Western Europe bloc of nations, British imperialism, takes its place in the schema laid down at Washington. The unfolding debates on the Marshall Plan continue to serve the function of revealing the theory and practice of imperialism.

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