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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

The Shadow Before

(18 October 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 42, 18 October 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

The creation of a western European military organization is an ominous reminder of the speed and seriousness with which U.S. capital is driving toward war. The circumstances surrounding its establishment afford a clear view of the cold-blooded course which the U.S. intends to pursue. The recent events should prove of special interest to those persons whose revulsion against Stalinism is making them full or reserved supporters of the government’s foreign policy.

The problem attacked by the representatives of France, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg was primarily set by the necessities of the struggle of the U.S. against Russia. At the present moment the U.S. finds itself without a military force on the continent strong enough to throw on the scales during the political haggling with Russia. Soon political expediency will dictate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany. This will be impossible without a native German militia of some sort, backed up by serious allied troop concentrations elsewhere in western Europe. More distantly, in order to conduct a war with Russia the manpower resources of the countries in the U.S. orbit will have to be utilized. These reasons, immediate and more distant, have motivated the creation of the new military body.

According to Hanson W. Baldwin, who has very good sources among the military, were war to break out now or in the relatively near future, the obvious tactic would be to fall back upon the Rhine. To defend this line would require from forty-five to fifty heavily armored divisions. At present only about fifteen could be mobilized. Hence the recently evinced interest in Spain, where, if worst were to come to worst, the Pyrenees would form an excellent defensive line permitting the build-up of a bridgehead in Europe.

The recent return from Spain of Chan Gurney, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, where he had conferences with Franco and his chief of staff, indicate that despite the denials all around, the qualms of the English labor party, and the cries of injured innocence by the liberals, sooner or later Franco is going to have a democratic coming-out party and be furnished Marshall Plan aid – and armaments.

It is reported that already arms have been earmarked for the five participating countries in case of emergency. The next Congress will inevitably be presented with a new armaments program. Implementing it will further increase the tax burden, cut into consumer goods production, and augment the inflationary trend.

Don’t Look Now, but ...

Heading up the new organization are some of the finest authoritarian brains of our times. First chairman is Field Marshal the Viscount (“I am a cad”) Montgomery of Alamein, K.G., G.C.B., D.S.O. During World War II Montgomery achieved the neat distinction of being as cordially hated by the British as by all others he came in contact with. His dispatches were conspicuous for the number of references to himself and God, with considerable ambiguity as to the order of precedence. General de Lattre de Tassigny has been appointed commander in chief of the ground forces. He is notorious in France as a disciplinarian whose inspections are so thorough, so intimate as to raise questions among the enlisted men as to his intentions. These two characters will find themselves right at home with Franco and the survivors of the German general staff in the fight against Russian totalitarianism.

Command of the air forces was given to the British and command of the naval forces to the French. This latter appointment was a sop to the French, who have been worrying that if the British were too much in control they might tend to pull out of the continent and conduct the defense of Europe from England. The Netherlands had difficulty making the first team not only because of its size but because all of its officers are in the East Indies introducing democracy to the natives by force and violence.

Of such is the crusade against Stalinism composed.

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