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Jack Weber

British Bosses Are Worried About
Aims of U.S. Imperialism

(29 November 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 48, 29 November 1941, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

British Export and the Lease-Lend Act

The Lease-Lend Act has been quite useful to American business in more ways than one. The English manufacturers and exporters do not accept it as an entirely unmixed blessing for this very reason. The finished products of British make which require steel or metals or other materials that are being shipped to England by the United States, bear no sign which labels them as made of strictly English resources. American business used this simple fact to exert pressure on England to stop exports for the duration of the war ...

This export policy change has been far from palatable to English exporters. The English government set up a special Export Council at the beginning of 1940 before the passage by Congress of the Lease-Lend Bill. This board was created to encourage export in every possible way, since this was the only way by which England could mobilize foreign exchange with which to pay for its tremendous imports of war materials. But Churchill was forced to yield to American pressure and the board has become a mere ornament, designed to maintain a kind of “token” export so as to keep in touch with the foreign markets.

British business has not failed to recognize the implications of the export situation. A great debate has been earned on in the press and in the English journals over this issue. The wording of some of the articles on the subject has been quite cautious, as the writer’s did not dare to make a frontal attack on the United States in view of British dependence on her fellow-democrat. But it is not difficult to read between the lines and see the real fear of future subservience to the American colossus. The sub-title of one article of discussion is, in fact: Must Victory Be Bought at Cost of Economic Subservience?

They Have ‘Two Enemies to Fight’

Under this title we find the following remarks: “To the oft-repeated statement that we must win the war first, we must say that defeating Germany is not all that is meant by the phrase ‘winning the war’. We must also defeat Germany’s object, which is to destroy the British Commonwealth of Nations. We have two enemies to fight – Germany and destitution. After beating German arms, must we face defeat, by an equally destructive enemy, accompanied by German derision, namely, economic subversion?”

German derision has indeed been aimed straight along at the fact that England is becoming the forty-ninth state of the United States. It is clear, from the very nature of the discussion – the suppression of major exporting for the duration of the war – that it is the chafing of British capitalism under the yoke of its new taskmaster, the United States. The English fear that they will not be able to recover the markets which they are forced by their kindly ally to give up for the time being. But there is nothing for it but to endure American aid for the present. The stage of revolt is hardly practical at this juncture.

Nor is the field of exports the only one eyed with utter mistrust by the realistic Britisher. He can feel nothing but misgiving at the influence exerted by this country inside the British Empire. He notes that Australia and New Zealand have indicated a certain independence by sending their own ministers to Washington. In the negotiations being carried on with Japan, Secretary Hull has met hot only with Halifax to keep this Ambassador informed, but with Casey of Australia as well.

What Will Happen to Canada?

Then there is Canada to which the United States pledged military aid the very first thing. The setting up of a joint defense board of the Ogdensburg Conference meant the bringing of Canada all the more closely into the orbit of United States imperialism. The English conservative magazine, Round Table, comments on this situation in the most frank manner imaginable:

“It is a common observation that Canada is steadily becoming more North American ... Canada’s continuance in the British connection (that is, in the British Empire) may therefore depend on the capacity of British statesmen to build a new Europe with a reasonable chance of peace ahead of it.”

This magazine sees the tight spot in which the Empire finds itself. Everything depends on the further course of the war, of course.

“A very long war into which the United States eventually entered and which caused it to put forth every ounce of its strength, might well burn out American isolationism entirely, but it would almost certainly replace it with Imperialism. Any peace that would follow such a war would be an American peace, with Great Britain influential, but far from dominant. The way would then, as has been hinted above, be open for a new English-speaking synthesis about the Republic.”

This conservative organ is under no illusion about “Union Now” or any kind of federation of the Republic and the Empire on a world scale. It recognizes cold-bloodedly that such a federation would in actuality be nothing but the domination of the empire by American imperialism. The war threatens to become precisely the kind of war feared by the British; namely, a long war in which victory by the allies can be achieved only by the actual entry of the United States with the sending of another AEF wherever necessary in the world to defeat the Axis. Already writers envision the first American force being sent to the Near East to help England meet the threat to its lifeline through the Mediterranean; The British are quite right. The peace after such a war will be a peace imposed on the world by American imperialism. Unless, of course, the working class of the world says its word about the whole matter.

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