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International Socialist Review, May-June 1968


Dick Roberts

The American Dilemma in Vietnam


From International Socialist Review, Vol.29 No.3, May-June 1968, pp.23-35.
Transcribed & Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


This article is the greater part of a speech given at the Philadelphia Militant Labor Forum, April 5, 1968.

The major military and political defeat which the United States imperialist forces suffered in Vietnam during the month-long Tet offensive in February plunged the rulers of America into their deepest division since the Civil War of over one century ago. This brilliant victory of the revolutionary armies demonstrated that Washington could not achieve its military objectives without a gigantic escalation of troop strength – if at all. It demolished in one blow the myths upon which the Johnson administration had invaded Vietnam – Johnson’s contention that he was aiding a government that had the support of its people against an external aggressor. The indigenous guerrilla forces which swept through all the major cities were repulsed, not by the armies of the Thieu-Ky regime, but by US troops and devastating US bombing. A war that was already hated by millions of Americans became a war opposed by a majority of Americans. The New Hampshire and Wisconsin primaries were repudiations which no US president had ever before incurred in time of war.

These developments brought to a head four fundamental problems of American imperialism which have become hotly debated by the ruling class and its political agents in the Democratic and Republican parties:

  1. It focused attention on the possibility that US military forces were overextended on the world arena. Massive concentration of the armies in Vietnam might make the capitalist hold elsewhere on the globe exceptionally vulnerable to a new escalation of the colonial revolution. Without a sharp increase in the draft, Washington had already reached the point where reinforcements to Vietnam required calling up the reserves or transferring occupation forces from other bases around the world.
  2. A world monetary crisis caused by the whole postwar extension of US armies and investment into foreign lands was already in the making. Banking authorities agreed that the cost of a further major escalation of the war would be dollar devaluation and a potentially disastrous disruption of world trade.
  3. The Vietnam war exacerbated the already explosive tempers of the Afro-American ghettos in every big city. On one side it deprived the city administrations of even their token reform programs; so-called “war on poverty funds were slashed in one city after the other. On the other side the war forced young blacks to fight and die disproportionately for a racist system blatantly hostile to them.
  4. The rising opposition to the war and the racist capitalist system was pointing tens of thousands of young radicals in a political direction outside of, independent of, and opposed to the capitalist political parties. The two-party vise on the American electorate was being challenged and this estrangement was certain to widen if the war deepened.

The questions I propose to discuss go beyong the sharp twists and turns of the capitalist politicians that have held the headlines. They concern the policy of the opponents of American imperialism. What effect do these fundamental crises have on the socialist and antiwar movements? What attitude should socialists and opponents of the war take towards these critical problems of capitalism?

The Foreign Relations Committee Dissents

On February 21, Senator Frank Church, one of the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made an extremely sharp attack on administration policies in a speech on the floor which was given little press coverage. He began by telling a story about a pilot who announced to his passengers that he had two pieces of news for them, one bad, the other good. The bad news, the pilot said, is that we are lost. The good news is that we are traveling at a record-breaking rate of speed.

This analogy is so horrifying because it applies to the rulers of this country with a stockpiled nuclear arsenal whose destructive power is the equivalent of one thousand pounds of TNT for each person on the earth. These atomaniacs are prosecuting a war in Southeast Asia, the ultimate logic of which is to employ those weapons not only in Vietnam, but also in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and China.

On top of this, the administration’s response to the NLF offensive which began in February, proved that these men are capable of pulling the nuclear trigger. The Orwellian logic of their genocidal bombing counteroffensive was frightfully summarized in that single sentence of the major in Bentre who declared “we had to destroy the city in order to save it.”

In the concluding remarks of his speech, Church stated that “it is only a myth that aggression occurred in Vietnam which can be compared with aggression elsewhere. It is a myth that we have developed for our own convenience to rationalize our own policy.” And Senator Gruening, after describing Church’s speech as one of the greatest made on the Senate floor since Daniel Webster, stated, “I fear there is only one way out ... and that is to confess our error and make plans to phase out our occupation, leaving the Vietnamese to settle their problems.”

Church’s and Gruening’s remarks do not sound very different from statements made by a number of antiwar spokesmen, not only in the ruling parties (where they are on the extreme left wing), but also in the “peace and freedom” movements. Without taking them at face value, they are extremely symptomatic.

It will be easier to understand the present disagreements in ruling circles if we step back from the immediate context of the Vietnam war and place the problem in the context of US post-World War II policies in Asia and the Pacific. A pertinent historical precedent to the current conflict is the controversy which took place between 1944 and 1949 over US policy in China.

US Imperialism in the Pacific Arena

The cornerstone of American foreign policy in the Pacific arena since the “Open Door” of the end of the last century, has been to open up the vast markets of China to US exploitation. This broader context holds the key to the present tactical disagreement over the war in Vietnam.

In the Pacific, the second world war was primarily a struggle between Washington and Tokyo over control of Asian territory and above all, China. But this encounter was rooted in the nineteenth century imperialist subdivision of Asia.

Britain had conquered India and Burma, had an outpost in M alaya, had pushed into Hongkong, and carved out spheres of interest in China. The Dutch had clamped the vise of colonialism on Indonesia – at that time the Netherlands East Indies. France had seized an empire in Annam and Tonkin, Indo-China. Czarist Russia and pushed into Manchuria. The Unite’d States had occupied the Philippines.

The latecomer in this scramble for Asian markets and sources of raw materials was Japan. Tokyo began her imperialist conquest of Asia by seizing Korea and Formosa. In 1905 she made war on Russia to pave the way for seizure of Manchuria and later the grand prize, China. While the US was beset with devastating economic crisis in 1931, Tokyo’s armies marched into Manchuria. They invaded China in 1937.

With the fall of France in 1940 and Hitler’s seemingly successful invasion of the Soviet Union, Tokyo believed that the hour of her destiny had arrived. In less than six months, Japan had carved out a far richer imperial prize than Hitler in the course of the entire European war – even though it pales in contrast to Washington’s empire today. Tokyo destroyed a good part of the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, seized the Philippines from Washington; Hongkong and Malaya and Burma from Britain; and Indonesia from the Dutch.

There are two documents of special interest, relevant to this mighty expansion of Japanese conquests and the subsequent war in the Pacific. The first is the notorious Tanaka memorial – an exceptionally important document because it is one of the very few in history wrested from the archives of the ruling class. It was drawn up in the early 1920s by the Japanese general and premier, Baron Tanaka, outlining precisely the step-by-step plans for Japanese world conquest which imperial Japan proceeded to follow.

The document was obtained by Soviet intelligence in 1925 and leaked to the American press. Leon Trotsky held the post of chairman of the Soviet foreign policy committee for the Far East at that time, and his account of how its intelligence service obtained the Tanaka memorial, published in the June 1941 issue of the Fourth International, provides an informative glimpse into the machinations of imperialist strategy.

The Tanaka memorial is significant today because it shows that imperialist powers, over the course of time, do and must make blueprints for foreign conquest. The US hasn’t constructed bases all over the world and giant armies without drawing up plans about how to use them. The existence of such documents, as Trotsky pointed out, does not by itself prove that the imperialists are going to use them. What proved the authenticity of the Tanaka memorial was what Japan actually did and what lent credence to its validity in 1925 was the emergence of a new capitalist power, Japan, with inadequate markets to sustain its expanding economy in a world already divided between the capitalist powers. Nevertheless, the existence of such plans is pertinent to our discussion because of the recent revelations about the “Pax Americana” study [1], a Pentagon blueprint which Senator Fulbright has demanded be made public.

The second document was signed and dispatched on November 26, 1941, two weeks before Pearl Harbor. This is US Secretary of State Hull’s terms for a secret treaty with Japan, which was made public in the US State Department’s China White Paper in 1949. The key passage from the secret treaty proposal reads: “The Government of Japan and the Government of the United States have agreed that toward eliminating chronic political instability, preventing recurrent economic collapse, and providing a basis for peace, they will actively support and practically apply the following principles in their economic relations with each other and with other nations and peoples:

“1) The principle of non-discrimination in international commercial relations.

“2) The principle of international economic cooperation and abolition of extreme nationalism as expressed in excessive trade restrictions.

“3) The principle of non-discriminatory access by all nations to raw material supplies.

“4) The principle of full protection of the interests of consuming countries and populations as regards the operation of international commodity agreements ...”

Open markets, free access to raw materials, open trade – those were the imperialist guarantees Washington wanted to refrain from war with Japan. Tokyo’s answer, of course, came two weeks later with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That event could hardly have surprised the Secretary of State when Washington’s policy – as this document reveals – was to box Japan into a corner which would, in fact, stifle the Japanese economy – in order to free Asian markets for penetration by US capital.

A closer look at the pattern of fighting between the “Free World” armies over domination of the Asian continent indicates that early in the war Roosevelt had his eyes set above all else on China. The Japanese armies were engaged in Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Hongkong by the British; and in Amman, Tonkin and Indonesia by a combination of French, Dutch and Australian armies. Washington, however, seized the important Pacific bases, the Philippines and China. This division of “liberating crusades” already testified to the emergence of Washington’s military might.

It did not go unnoticed. A May 1945 New York Times dispatch from London stated that “qualified British quarters” complained that “Britain desired to play a considerably larger role in the Far Eastern war than the United States was disposed to allocate to her.” If liberation was the real aim, one might well ask what it mattered whose troops performed the role.

The dropping of atom bombs was not at all inconsistent with Wall Street’s plans for Japan. In the last days of the war, that country was devastatingly bombed,, her fleet utterly crushed – in a word, her armed potential for empire, destroyed, entirely in accord with Roosevelt’s own dreams of empire.

But the fall of Japan only set the stage for the contest over China. Here the major combatants were not the United States and other imperialist powers, but the United States and the Nationalist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek on one side, and the Chinese peasant armies under the leadership of the Communist Party on the other.

The Chinese revolution began long before World War II paved the way for its victory. By 1937, when the Japanese armies invaded China, the revolutionary Chinese peasants had already established bases of dual power. Side-by-side with Chiang’s Kuomintang government, there existed deep in the Chinese interior the Yenan government of the Chinese Communist Party – with a massive army numbering over 500,000 troops at its command.

In the face of the Japanese invasion, and under Moscow’s direction, the two governments entered what the Maoists called the “Peoples Anti-Japanese United Front.” They explicity shunned the perspective of overthrowing Chinese capitalism. Under the terms of this coalition, the Yenan government would stop fighting the Kuomintang – even stop criticizing it – and together both sides would fight the Japanese. In the secret pacts Stalin made with the imperialists at Teheran and Yalta, he agreed to allow capitalism to prevail in China for the low price of a port in Manchuria.

Washington’s Ambassador to China, Hurley, in April of 1945, interviewed Stalin and reported back to Washington,

“The Marshal was pleased and expressed his concurrence and said in view of the over-all situation, he wished us to know that we would have his complete support in immediate action for the unification of the armed forces of China with full recognition of the National Government under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. In short Stalin agreed unqualifiedly to America’s politcy in China as outlined to him during the conversation.”

After Roosevelt had secured Stalin’s agreement regarding China, he attempted to stabilize the coalition between Mao and Chiang. This adds a most elucidating chapter to the history of the cold war. Roosevelt feared that if Chiang did not accept a deal with Mao, Chiang would be destroyed by the revolution.

With Stalin’s agreement and Mao’s support, such a deal would seem to be a foregone conclusion – a deal which would have sealed the death of the Chinese revolution and would have paved the way for American finance capital in Peking. Between June of 1944 and May of 1946, everyone from Vice President Henry Wallace to Secretary of State Marshall went to China to try to consummate the deal. But it never worked out. In essence, fulfillment of the agreement was beyond the control of its architects.

After two decades of bloody repressions, including the slaughter of one peasant army after another Chiang and his followers were well aware that they could not survive a coalition unless the revolutionary armies were disarmed and disbanded. And the revolutionary armies, in their turn, were well aware of the fate that the landlord butchers would mete out to them if they followed Stalin’s and Mao’s advice to agree to disarm. While Mao procrastinated over the treaties, Chiang proceeded to take every opportunity to sabotage them. Mao turned one army over to Kuomintang “leadership” and Chiang massacred it. Furthermore, in spite of Mao’s faithful adherence to the coalition pact, peasants continued to seize the land and a militant strike wave erupted in the cities.

While Washington talked about peace, it continued to aid Chiang Kai-shek’s forces and began a mass mobilization of US trooops in the Pacific. Right at the end of the war, Washington rushed 55,000 marines into the Chinese area vacated by Japan to hold Eastern cities until Chiang’s arrival. At the same time it supplied US airplanes for Kuomintang troop movements and it armed and supplied Chiang’s troops – to the tune of well over one billion dollars in direct military aid.

When Marshall’s final attempt to patch things up between Mao and Chiang in the mid-summer of 1946 proved unsuccessful, however, Truman was prevented from carrying out US troop reinforcement of Chiang’s armies by two interrelated and undreamt of crises for American imperialism. These were the threat of eruption of successful social revolutions in the key capitalist states of France and Italy which necessitated US military occupation of Europe – and the coincident irresistible demand of the American troops themselves to return home.

This rebellion, which Mary-Alice Waters fittingly calls the “Hidden Chapter in the Fight Against War” in a pamphlet published last year [2], was of crucial significance in the further unfolding of the Pacific war. Briefly, the American GIs refused to become counterrevolutionary occupational troops and conducted a “Bring the Troops Home Now” movement on their own initiative. They had been sent to China ostensibly to help disarm the Japanese troops, but soon realized they were taking part in a Chinese civil war.

They saw the miserable, half-starved Kuomintang conscripts and the misery of the Chinese people. Then, as they wrote in letters home, they were ordered to blast small Chinese villages unmercifully, not knowing how many innocent civilians were slaughtered. On January 29, 1947, after a one-and-a-half-year struggle organized by the American soldiers and supported by demonstrations of their parents and wives in this country, Truman was forced to order a unilateral withdrawal of American troops from China.

Even so, the arms and money supplied by Washington to Chiang enabled him to hold out for over two more years. It was not until June of 1949, after more than 22 years of struggle, that the Chinese revolutionary armies marched victoriously on Shanghai and Chiang took refuge in Formosa. Washington’s public responses are well-known. The “loss” of China was used as one further piece of evidence in the McCarthy anti-communist hysteria and as a justification for Truman’s intervention in Korea only one year later.

US bases in Asia and the Pacific have been armed to the teeth with SAC bombers ever since. It is those bases, under the SEA TO pact, that paved the way for the US support to the Diem regime – setting the conditions for the present war in Vietnam. They necessitated the partition of Korea, the support of puppet dictators in Thailand and Laos, and so forth.

A turn of the magnitude of the US withdrawal from China in 1947 was inevitably preceded by discussions, splits and disagreements, in ruling-class circles which also have to argue out their tactics. They often perform this task with more class consciousness than some of the self-appointed representatives of the working class.

Ironically, this particular ruling-class discussion was brought to light thanks to the anticommunist fanatics of the postwar period. In 1949, the State Department released a number of the secret documents in its celebrated White Paper. Most instructive is the speech General Marshall made in a secret session of the Senate and House foreign relations committees in the spring of 1948, a year and a half before Chiang’s collapse.

Marshall began by explaining why the statement he was making couldn’t be made public: It “would be destructive of the morale of the [Chiang] Government and its army ... it would actually be helpful, even stimulating, to the morale of the Communist Party, and especially the Communist army.”

”In the opinion of virtually every American authority,” Marshall went on, it is “impossible to conquer the Communist armies by force.” Additional major military aid to Chiang, Marshall argued, had to be ruled out because of the effect it would have on American public opinion.

“It involves obligations and responsibilities on the part of this Government,” he stated, “which I am convinced the American people would never knowingly accept. We cannot escape the fact that the deliberate entry of this country into the armed effort in China involves possible consequences in which the financial cost, though tremendous, would be insignificant when compared to the other liabilities inevitably involved.” (Emphasis added).

In a somewhat cynical digression, Marshall explained how much US military aid had already been given, countering the right-wing charge that Chiang had been abandoned. At the time of the US marine withdrawal, Marshall said, the marines “abandoned” certain military materiel, including munitions, to the Chinese government forces.

Marshall was particularly worried about over-extending US military forces: “We could spread our influence out so thin that it could be of no particular effectiveness at any one point.” And he concluded by emphasizing the priority of US interests:

“We cannot afford, economically or militarily, to take over the continued failures of the present Chinese government to the dissipation of our strength in more vital regions where we now have a reasonable opportunity of successfully meeting or thwarting the Communist threat, that is, in the vital industrial area of Western Europe.”

In other words, Washington was militarily and politically thwarted. It could not risk Asian war because this would threaten its interests elsewhere, particularly in Europe, which were more important, and the American people wouldn’t go along with it. There wasn’t a shade of disagreement over the long run perspective of conquering the China market, as events in Korea proved less than a year later.

The crushing of the revolution was inextricablylinked with supporting a corrupt, unpopular and dictatorial puppet regime. No coalition government was possible because Chiang, like Thieu and Ky today, could not survive it. But the landlord clique itself was totally incapable of carrying through any reforms. This couldn’t be sold to the American people, particularly when the opponents that would be ranged against the US armies were not the ten or twenty million Vietnamese peasants, but the 600 million peasants of China. Instead, the US ruling class adopted the two-China policy. They defended Chiang in Formosa in order to provide a political and military staging area for later aggression. They simply undertook a tactical and temporary retreat – and they did so, without putting the subject to an electoral vote. They were quite conscious of the sentiments of American public opinion against such an invasion – even though at that very moment Truman’s anticommunist witch-hunt was already underway. What they needed was time to shift public opinion, if they could, toward war and to rebuild their armies and navies in the Pacific. McCarthyism, which came soon, was no aberration; it flowed directly from the immediate and long-range requirements of the imperialist rulers.

Without filling in the intermediate history, it is quite evident that all the powder-kegs, all the revolutions and counterrevolutions which have dominated the Asian arena for two decades, were the direct result of these imperialist adventures on the part of the United States. Today, the whole of the Chinese perimeter, not just Vietnam and Korea, stands divided. And each case contains the potential for further war.

The division of Korea which followed World War II was not resolved five years later in the Korean conflict. There have been not several but 15 years of inconclusive negotiations following that war. The masses of South Korea are victims of capitalist dictatorship, tens of thousands of prisoners from the war still remain in President Park’s concentration camps. North Korea maintains the revolutionary perspective of uniting that country. The puppet generals are calling on Washington to invade North Korea in retaliation for the seizure of the spy-ship Pueblo in January.

Here is an illuminating clipping from the Los Angeles Times. Its headline reads: “Sabotage of South Korea Economy Seen as Real Aim of Communist Sabotage.” And the kicker headline reads “Might Discourage Millions in Foreign Investments.” The article goes on to relate how six corporations, including Motorola, Gulf Oil and Dow Chemicals, have launched major industrial projects in South Korea.

“Kim Il Sung,” it states, “may have other plans, but this is why South Korea has made the infiltration issue top priority and has now secured an extra $100 million in US aid for military modernization.”

It is not just South Vietnam but the whole of Indochina which stands in the balance of the Vietnam war. Laos cannot remain divided if the victory goes either one way or the other in Vietnam; Thailand cannot be preserved as a military bastion if revolution succeeds in neighboring Vietnam and Laos. Cambodia cannot remain neutral in either case. The fallacy of the domino theory is not in its political and military implications but in the conception of the monolithic “communist conspiracy which is supposed to lie behind it.

The fundamental question posed by the Vietnam war is the same posed by the Chinese revolution and the October revolution in Russia fifty years ago. One system or the other must prevail. Capitalism and socialism cannot exist indefinitely side-by-side and there can be no peace until the world capitalist system is abolished. Recent developments only confirm what has long been evident to revolutionary socialists, that capitalism has exhausted its long range potential for development, that we are living in the stage of its death agony, of its thrashing about here and there in this desperate and hopeless struggle to make the world safe for American investment.

Unfortunately the representatives of the oppressed on the world scene are fundamentally divided in face of this reality. On one side, continuing the tradition of Marx and Lenin and the October revolution are those who accept the reality that “peaceful coexistence” between imperialism and world revolution is impossible, who believe that world peace can only be obtained when imperialism is once and for all ended, and who make no concessions, no deals which would in any way gloss over or deny this fundamental trend of world history. On the other side are the international tendencies of Stalinist bureaucratism – both the Moscow and Peking varieties – who believe that some sort of status quo with imperialism is possible and desirable. Their tactics and strategy flow from this hugely erroneous misconception. In China, in 1944 through 1949, they actually thought that some kind of coalition government between the capitalist parties around Chiang and the social revolution was possible and they made every effort to obtain it. To the revolutionary concept of a working class and peasant united front against capitalism, they raised the Utopian concept of a united “peoples” front of all three classes. But that is not a united front at all, it is a capitalist government in power. And the capitalists are usually more conscious of the real alternatives than the advocates of peaceful coexistence and coalition governments.

Here is the view of The Economist, Britain’s long standing and influential interpreter of imperialist necessities, on this question in relation to Vietnam:

“The real issue,” it states, “is who controls Saigon. The South Vietnam that emerges from the war may be neutral in a military sense ... It cannot be politically neuter. It will either be a society organized on a marxist basis, or it will not. There is no third option. The peace settlement may give certain secured positions to the people on the losing side. They may be allowed the right to operate as a tolerated opposition; they may even be given a few junior jobs in what will politely be called a coalition government. But the commanding heights – which means the ministries that regulate the armed forces and the economy – will be controlled by men who speak for one system or the other.”

The Split in the Ruling Class

The fundamental problem facing the capitalists today is quite analogous to the problems Marshall was tackling in 1949. Vietnam like China highlights the difficulty of carrying forward the assigned tasks of imperialism under the regime of bourgeois democracy. In order to prosecute this unpopular war in support of corrupt puppet dictators, this unjust war which masses of Americans oppose, this costly war which requires bigger and bigger taxes, lower and lower real wages, the imperialists must establish political stability at home that can only be achieved through outright force, repression against the black community, against organized labor, against critics of their policies. This is why the drive of imperialist expansion on the world arena and toward world war is also a drive toward domestic reaction.

This is not to subscribe to the recent hysteria promulgated by the American Communist Party that “fascism” is around the corner. Immediately, the perspective is clearly the opposite. The capitalist perspective is peace candidates and peace campaigns in order to obscure the fundamental issues, in order to dilute, channel away and neutralize the growing radicalism in this country. What I am projecting is the long run alternatives within which the imperialist system must function.

The unpopularity of the Vietnam war is eloquent testimony to the problems that will beset the capitalists when they are confronted with “two, three, many Vietnams.” And it is in this sense that I point out the only ultimate program fo,r American imperialism on the domestic arena is totalitarian dictatorship.

With that in mind, it should be evident that the question of opposing imperialist expansion over the long run is much more then a moral question for the overwhelming mass of Americans. It means either forward to socialism or backward to barbarism. And the barbarians in this case have at their disposal a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying mankind.

The significance of the “Pax Americana” document which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it is trying to bring to public attention is that it must contain a long range perspective of US global expansion and control which certain capitalist rulers believe to be impracticable if not catastrophic at the present time.

“The unfortunate situation we are involved in in Southeast Asia could have been avoided,” Senator Hartke stated Feb. 16, “if the American people had been aware of what was being planned and what was going on.”

More immediately, as I stated at the outset, American capitalism is facing four crises all of which revolve around the war in Vietnam. These were the subject of Senator Church’s speech which was entitled The Torment in the Land. For one thing, Church tried to drive it into the heads of his colleagues that further escalation of the war along Johnson’s path could do nothing else but jeopardize the two-party control. War opponents, he stated,

“resent the spreading mantle of militarism at home. They have, I must say quite frankly, greater sympathy for Dr. Spock and the ministers now under indictment, than for the Government prosecuting them. And they are skeptical about the freedom in our land.”

Church connected the war with the inner-city crisis:

“The President,” he stated, “expresses the hope that hardened veterans, returning from the fighting in Vietnam, will join the police forces in our cities to help keep order. But even as he issues his appeal, he knows that other veterans, equally seasoned in the black [sic] arts of guerrilla warfare, are returning each day to the slums and ghettos. As whole blocks were burning in Detroit last summer, one such veteran turned to his buddy and said: ‘It’s here, man, that the real war is.’”

Church consequently condemned the administration for spending 55.7 per cent of the budget on military forces and only 12.2 per cent for health, education and welfare.

On the question of the dollar crisis, Church took an interesting position. After pointing out that “retrenchment of government spending abroad is inescapable, if the calamity of the dollar’s devaluation is to be avoided,” he advocated that the Senate refuse to lift the gold cover on the dollar in order to restore to the Senators some control of foreign policies which they allegedly lost in the Gulf of Tonkin resolution four years ago. When that vote actually came before the Senate in March it was almost defeated. Church and Gruening joined forces with special gold-mining interest groups and mustered 37 votes against removing the cover, to the majority of 39 for removing it.

Finally, Church covered the point of the over-extension of US military forces.

“We lack the manpower,” he declared, “to extend to the rest of Asia the policy we pursue in Vietnam. For if Americans must fight on a spreading Asia front, we shall soon run out of both men and money.”

This recalls what General Marshall said in secret session: It is not so much the men and money as the overwhelming price of public discontent.

“I propose,” Church concluded, “that we seek out the rational middle ground, where the limits of our intervention are drawn to correspond to the limits of our resources, and where we reserve direct military measures for those occasions that actually pose a clear and present threat to the security of the American people.”

Church and some other Democratic and Republican politicians, speaking for a sector of the capitalist class, advise a hold back at the present time. They don’t advocate abandoning US bases in South Vietnam, they don’t advise a general retreat from Southeast Asia or anything close to it. They just want to cool it for a time. They don’t want a major escalation of the war. They believe that a bombing halt will gain more politically than it will lose militarily. Going ahead at the previous tempo, they feel, is fraught with too many dangers to domestic and world capitalist rule.

If these representatives of a certain section of the ruling class are successful in maneuvering their class as a whole into adopting this temporary retreat, it can only be emphasized that the retreat in 1949 was followed by almost twenty years of war. Holding back the imperialist war drive is a long ways from ending it.

Only with these considerations in mind can we adopt a realistic attitude toward the split over foreign policy in the ruling class. Revolutionary opponents of capitalism believe that the only lasting solution to the problem of imperialist war is the abolition of the imperialist system itself. Coalitions with the capitalists in any form do not further the advance of socialism towards ending capitalism. Such deals hinder this advance. Genuine socialists do not believe that capitalism can be reformed from within, that you can join sides with capitalism, “infiltrate” it, so to speak, and eventually alter it. The whole history of the last century shows that such infiltration only ends with the socialist spokesmen being coopted by the capitalist regime.

If there is anything that this glance over postwar history should suggest, it is that the basic programs and policies of American capitalism have not changed in any essential aspect since World War II. The capitalists haven’t got any less arrogant, less brutal, less disposed to inflict genocidal slaughters on mankind. They’ve gotten more belligerent, more dangerous. They have bigger armies; they attempt to encompass and control larger sections of the globe. And this is not out of any preference on their part, it is not a question of who they have in office. It is because of the fundamental necessity of imperialism to halt any and all revolutionary advances in order to forward its scheme for world domination and for no other reason. That is what the “Pax Americana” study is about.


1. This document was prepared by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation under army sponsorship. Originally entitled Pax Americana, the name was subsequently changed to Strategic Alignments and Military Objectives.

2. GIs and the Fight Against War, by Mary-Alice Waters. Young Socialist, P.O. Box 471, Cooper Station, New York, N.Y., 10003. 25 cents.

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