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The Militant, 4 April 1942

M. Stein

Is Everybody Happy?

The Soviet Union and Its Democratic Allies

From The Militant, Vol. 6 No. 14, 4 April 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


New Attitude Toward the Red Army

The racket of cashing in on somebody else’s success is a very old one. Ask any prize-fighter who had the good fortune of rising to the top. He is an unknown, trading punches with his opponents, pretty lonely while on his upward climb. While he’s receiving and meting out punishment, there are very few friends rooting for him in his corner. But as soon as he is proclaimed champion, he is surrounded by all sorts of would-be friends, seeking to bask in his reflected glory. The people who had no use for him, and had no hope that he would ever amount to anything, are the very ones who become the loudest in their praise, the ones who say, “I always knew he had it in him.”

The Red Army won the championship in the early winter on the longest continuous battle line in the history of warfare. Against great odds the Red Army maintained this championship throughout the winter. Not only did this heroic Red Army fight a powerful, well-equipped enemy, but it was at the same time burdened with an incompetent General Staff, which was responsible for the early and very costly defeats. This army was furthermore weakened by the policies of a corrupt regime in the country – a regime which systematically exterminated all the leaders and inspirers of the revolution who made the Red Army possible.

The Red Army’s climb to championship has been a very difficult one indeed. Many were the times when it looked down-and-out, and many were the people who said it would never come up before the count of ten.

Everybody Seems Happy

How different everything is today. Everybody is a friend of the Red Army! Everybody seems happy at its successes!

Is the Conservative Mr. Churchill happy? Why, certainly. He above all! This most class conscious opponent of the Soviet Union is not averse to cashing in on the successes of the Red Army. When the storm broke loose over the inglorious defeat of Singapore, Mr. Churchill was quick to run for cover under the victorious banner of the Red Army. His words drip with honey in the message on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Red Army, which he says “is being celebrated today after eight months of a campaign which has reflected the greatest glory on its officers and men and has enshrined its deeds in history for all time.” (New York Times, Feb. 24)

And our own President does not merely join in the sentiments of the Prime Minister at the successes of the Red Army – his is a greater mission. His is the heavier responsibility. He speaks not in his own name alone, not in the name of his country alone: “... all the United Nations salute the superb Russian Army as it celebrates the twenty-fourth anniversary of its first assembly.” (New York Times, Feb. 24)

Yes, how much water has run over the dam since “its assembly.” We even remember the circumstances under which it occurred. We recall the dispatch of American troops in Siberia to cooperate with the Japanese troops and to coordinate their efforts with the British troops in Archangel and the French in Odessa – all there to help in “its first assembly.”

Mr. Roosevelt has the distinction of setting political style, just as the Duchess of Windsor at one time had the distinction of setting the fashion for ladies’ hairdos and dresses. It is no wonder then that the President’s apparent enthusiasm for the Red Army should become the fashion. The Red Army is hailed in the most unexpected circles. Everybody seems to be for the champ; businessmen, industrialists, army dignitaries, clergymen, and even the so-called labor leaders, the Greens and the Wolls.

Stalinist Business Booms

There is, of course, in addition, that gang which has been exploiting the prestige of the Soviet Union as a profession. For them business is truly booming. All the penthouses which since the Stalin-Hitler Pact had shut their door in the face of the Stalinists, have been opened wider than ever. What a chance to rub shoulders with the elite of society and to drink toasts of oldest champagne to the Red Army soldiers and the guerrilla fighters who know of no limits in their sacrifices. After a few toasts intermingled, naturally, with toasts for the President or the Prime Minister or Sir Stafford Cripps, one gets perhaps the feeling of being a participant on the far flung Russian battlefield.

In the midst of all the cheers for the Red Army, there are nevertheless some people who insist on bringing in a sour note. We refer here to none others than the Soviet Ambassadors in Washington and London. Mr. Litvinov made a speech at the Hotel Astor in New York on March 16; Mr. Maisky echoed his remarks in London on March 25th. The two ambassadors keep on harping on one thing, they ask for a diversion, such as the opening of a western front, and they want this done immediately. Says Maisky, “The decisive moment is 1942.”

A reading of the text of these two speeches gives one the feeling that the Ambassadors are polemicising against somebody. And then it occurs to us that Mr. Churchill after his Washington conference with the President was the one who spoke about decisive action in 1943 and not 1942. Would it be too impertinent to inquire what is the difference between the two dates? Is it merely a difference in temperament, a tendency towards restlessness and impatience on the part of the Soviet representatives? Or is it purely a question of strategy?

But here too our memory serves us in good stead. We remember ah address made by Wendell Willkie, unofficial ambassador of Wall Street, who sometimes speaks out what others dare not say. Said Willkie at the Conference of Mayors (New York Times, January 14): “But democracy cannot, be saved by the armies of Russia. Democracy must be saved by the democracies themselves.”

So you see, while they are cheering for the champ and their hearts, yes and their purses, are with the new contender for the championship, they are now in the process of training. This is the meaning of the different dates. The question of who is to defeat Germany is to them the decisive one.

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