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John G. Wright

USSR Faces War on Two Fronts

He Tries to Resort to Policy of Evasion

(13 December 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 50, 13 December 1941, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As a consequence of the extension of the second World War to the Pacific, the Kremlin which has been clamoring so loudly for a “second front” in the west is now faced with the prospect of having to wage war on a second front in the east.

To be sure, the Kremlin has signed a treaty of “non-aggression” with Japan. The latest dispatches from Kuibyshev indicate that the Kremlin hopes to evade being drawn into the conflict through diplomatic maneuvers. A.T. Steele cables from Kuibyshev as follows:

“Allied diplomats here are eagerly awaiting clarification from Moscow of the Soviet government’s policy on the Pacific war. Up to now the Soviet policy has been one of aloof neutrality based on the Russo-Japanese pact of April 13. Russia has done everything possible to avoid a conflict on her Far Eastern front. The Russians are proceeding with extreme caution.” (N.Y. Post, Dec. 9, 1941)

But how is it possible now to continue this “policy of aloof neutrality”?

“Aloof Neutrality”

Any attempt on Stalin’s part to pursue such a policy would hardly be met with approval by his present allies. In the struggle with Japan, England and the U.S. can wage in the period immediately ahead primarily naval and aerial warfare and operate from bases far removed from Japan’s strategic centers. On the other hand, the active participation of the USSR would not only engage Japan on land by setting in motion the Far Eastern Red Army, but also immediately expose to blows Japan’s home centers which are only 750 miles away from Vladivostok.

On the day before the outbreak of war in the Pacific, Carrol Binder, the editor of the Chicago Daily News Foreign Service, wrote:

“If Japan starts hostilities in the Pacific, Russia will play an important role and will influence events by inaction as well as by action. If the United States and Russia find it possible to collaborate effectively, they can cook Japan’s goose in far shorter order than will be possible if they act independently.” (N.Y. Post, Dec. 6, 1941)

This undoubtedly is a semi-official expression of Washington’s views. It is obvious that Allied diplomats have been exerting and will continue to exert increasing pressure on the Kremlin to “collaborate effectively,” that is, to participate directly in the war against Japan.

Japan’s Position

So far as Japan is concerned, the logic of her position calls for an eventual assault upon Vladivostok, and the Maritime Provinces. It is impossible for Japan to conduct the war in the Pacific without safeguarding its flank, The very threat that Vladivostok can be used as an air and naval base against Japan calls for “preventive” military action. Naturally, the Japanese militarists want to choose their own time for this crucial move. The arena for Stalin’s diplomatic maneuvers is thus restricted not only by his “democratic” allies, but also by Japan herself.

It is therefore clear that far from being strengthened by the latest development of events, the USSR has been gravely weakened. The idea propagated by the Stalinists that the extension of the imperialist war would aid the defense of the USSR has now boomeranged on Stalin.

Once again, the march of history is demonstrating the utter bankruptcy of Stalinist leadership and Stalinist policies. The Kremlin is incapable of foreseeing and preparing for anything. It is once again trying to resort to a policy of evasion. Meanwhile, the illusion of a “western front” has translated itself into reality as a war on two fronts for the heroic soldiers, workers and peasants of the USSR.

But whereas the Kremlin could only plead for the opening of a “western front,” Churchill and Roosevelt are in a strategic position to capitalize on the impasse into which Stalin’s policies have brought the Soviet Union. Stalin’s foreign policy, his support of the imperialist democracies, places the latter in a position of being “justified” in demanding the immediate entry of the USSR into the war in the Pacific.

How could Stalin or his lackeys explain away any attempt to maintain “aloof neutrality”? The editors of the Daily Worker not only declare that the war in the Pacific “parallels the Nazi attack upon the Soviet Union” but also agree with the editors of the New York Herald Tribune that only “one war is being fought in the world today” (Daily Worker, Dec. 9, 1941). The only logical consequence of such a policy is to advocate and support the demand that the Soviet Union immediately declare war against Japan. However, the Daily Worker is silent on this point. They await word from their Kremlin masters.

How do matters stand now with respect to the question of material aid on which the Kremlin banks so much?

In the next period both London and Washington can readily explain any decrease, in the already inadequate trickle of supplies to the USSR. Vladivostok, the only Soviet port which is not icebound, has been virtually cut off. Even if they were inclined to run the risk, very few British or American ships could successfully penetrate the blockade so close to Japanese home waters.

Furthermore, both the British and American navies will now require all the available ships in the Pacific for supplying their own needs and maintaining their own land and naval units there. Apart from the icebound port of Archangel, there remains only the land route across Iran, and supplies over this route as well depend primarily on available ships. Any attempts on the Kremlin’s part to maintain “aloof neutrality” will in the long run mean a cessation of all material aid. On the other hand, the Soviet Union faces the prospect of fighting on two fronts with the probability of receiving even less material aid in the future than in the past.

The terrible danger which the Soviet Union confronts as a result of the extension of the war to the Pacific is this quite obvious. Stalinist policies are incapable of doing anything except aggravating this danger.

Once again, history is reaffirming the fact that only revolutionary policy can save the Soviet Union. A revolutionary appeal to the masses of Germany and of Japan could transform the course of developments literally overnight. Such an appeal would have almost immediate repercussions in the white-hot atmosphere of Japan, whose rulers have gambled everything on a desperate military adventure in order to maintain themselves in power.

To defend the USSR successfully it is necessary to summon the workers and peasants of Europe and Asia to struggle for socialism, the only outside aid that can stop war and save mankind.

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Last updated: 23 March 2019