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Henry Judd

Atlantic Pact Terms Bind Europe
to U.S. in Sweeping War Alliance

(28 March 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 13, 28 March 1949, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The North Atlantic Security Pact has been published and the world has been presented with an accomplished fact – a grand and sweeping war alliance. Among the numerous comments heard, surely that of Belgium’s Prime Minister Spaak is the most absurd. This ex-socialist proudly announced the public nature of the document which, according to him, was not conceived in “secrecy,” unlike previous pacts and alliances. The fact is, of course, that only long after the terms had been agreed to was any publication permitted. Is it conceivable that such a document would be announced without a prior understanding, for example, by the American Senate that it would give its almost unanimous approval?

It is true that most of the terms had long since been rumored and bruited about by reports and newspaper commentators. But a reading of the pact as a whole and not piecemeal indicates that (1) this is the most significant document to appear since the end of World War II; (2) it is one of the most significant steps in the history of the United States, and (3) its full implications can only be partly seen today. Just as the Marshall Plan is the overall economic and social strategy of American imperialism, so the North Atlantic Security Pact is a concretization of American military and war-alliance strategy in terms of that same imperialism.

The terms of the pact have been publicized and it is hardly necessary to repeat what is so well known. Above all, little or no attention should be paid to the propaganda barrage intended to calm disturbed nerves by emphasizing the “defensive” character of the pact and its alleged legal justification in terms of the United Nation’s charter clause permitting “regional agreements.” If we stretch the term “regional” to include just about half the world (and the most important part of it, to boot!), then perhaps our new slick Secretary of State Acheson can get away with that one. The already famous Article 5 of the pact signifies that the United States, as well as all other powers involved, will automatically and assuredly find itself precipitated into war provided the initial action is considered sufficiently important to warrant such steps. The wording which formally retains the Congressional right to declare war has not only that purpose in mind, but also the more important objective of permitting the American government to decide whether this or another concrete move by Russian imperialism warrants the blow-up of a Third World War.

Major Implications of Pact

Let us try to list some of the broader implications of the new pact which will largely determine American action and policy in its relation to the rest of the world. Here are some of the more striking ones. The others will turn up in practice as we move along to the inevitable war now planned by both American and Russian imperialism.

(1) The world is now launched in a new armaments race which, in its effect, will make all others insignificant both in the sum of moneys to be spent, and the disastrous nature of the weapons to be employed. Greater percentages of national budget will be devoted to armaments. Already Russian expenditures have jumped to 20 per cent of the new budget; American expenditures stand already at 40 per cent and French at one-third of the budget.

The first steps toward European rearmaments, to be concentrated on the organization of new armored divisions in France and the British jet-propelled air force, will cost between $1 and $2 billions. It is claimed this will not interfere with the European Recovery Program expenditures (ERP), but this is absurd. Priorities will be disrupted necessarily, and the old adage that a nation (even America) cannot produce both “guns and butter” in equal quantities and indefinitely still holds true. Furthermore, what contribution will billions in guns, tanks and planes make toward the desired goal of Eurppean economic recovery? We propose, instead, that the quantity and quality, of the essential raw materials, food and machinery still needed by Europe shall be added to by this billion dollars. We will oppose the forthcoming presidential bill for European rearmament and support instead any move to divert it into non-military, economic aid.

(2) Secondly, American policy is no longer that of an external force which intervenes in European affairs at moments chosen by it. America now becomes an organic and integral part of Western Europe as a whole; the most important member of the Western European community, in fact! Just as the economic consequences of the Marshall program meant the intermingling of European and American responsibility and leadership for rearmament, military organization and leadership of this area. Who doubts that America will determine strategy, the importance of Russian counter-American actions, etc.? It is not merely the fact that traditional isolationism is dead and buried (that has long since occurred). The fact is that even so-called “neutrality” doctrine is cast aside and a most openly interventionist and, in fact, decisive role is deliberately undertaken. When and if World War III comes, is it not obvious that America will be involved in it, in a leading capacity, from the very first day – no, from the first minute!

Legal Cover for “Cold War”

(3) The European rearmament program about to be undertaken does not mean that millions of men are about to be drafted, organized, trained and equipped for an all-out attack on Stalinist Russia tomorrow. Such a program would take about ten years’ time and would still be greatly handicapped by the weakness of the European economies. A more limited objective is in mind – the internal strengthening of the nations involved by a bolstering of their home forces and divisions against any possible Stalinist actions. There is no real fear that Russian troops will march today or next year. The central governments of France and Italy must first be strengthened to crush any Stalinist adventures within those countries.

(4) In this respect, it is significant that Acheson has laid down the principle, in his interpretation of the pact, that “a revolutionary activity inspired, armed, directed from the outside” (and this holds true of all Stalinist actions) would be considered an armed attack on a nation and therefore, under the pact, terms, intervention would be permissible. The current civil war in Greece, of course, is an example of what he had in mind. In other words, America considers itself justified and ready to intervene in any civil strife involving Western Europe under the pretext (alleged or real) of “outside direction.” Quite a different principle from the FDR “non-intervention” policy in the Spanish civil war, and indicative of how far American imperialism has gone in recent years.

In summary, then, the North Atlantic Pact must be considered as a kind of constitutional and legal document covering the terms and formalities of the present “cold war” between the two great world power blocs. It defines the arena of conflict, the opponents and their allies involved, the terms under which today’s “peace” will remain “peaceful” (that is, a line has been drawn beyond which Russian imperialism is advised not to advance – the Berlin airlift is that line), and the circumstances under which war will come.

In this respect, all of us now know all facts we ever need know. Antagonists, motivations, intentions – all are clearly before us. The trend is clear and its meaning is obvious: war on an international scale between Russia and America within five to ten years. Let us hope that the reaction of people everywhere will be more intelligent and not half as scurrilous as the shameful endorsement given to the pact by the top council of the American CIO.

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