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George Stern

On the War Fronts

(19 October 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 42, 19 October 1940, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On the Far Eastern front the Axis “squeeze play” against U.S. imperialism failed to register. Japan signed the Axis alliance and for a few days its spokesmen, from Prince Konoye down, voiced open threats of war. Roosevelt moved with characteristic boldness. All Americans in the Far East were asked to leave for home. Lord Lothian, the British ambassador, was asked to remain in Washington instead of going home on a scheduled leave. The U.S. Fleet. in the Pacific was augmented by 4,200 men, bringing it to 82 percent of full strength.

* * *

Meanwhile Hitler began marching eastward in Europe – heading for the Straits, Turkey, Iraq and Suez via the Balkans and with the Italians – via North Africa and Egypt.

This Axis move has again brought the Kremlin’s position into focus. Establishment of German armed force on the Black Sea and probably in the Straits is obviously aimed at the U.S.S.R. but that is the more remote goal. While Germany heads for the Levant, Stalin will be provided with “compensation”, probably at Turkish and Persian expense.

Stalin hasn’t much freedom of choice. He put himself and the Soviet Union in the straitjacket and squirming now doesn’t help.

Little-noticed dispatches this past week reported the arrival of sizeable German forces in Finland – ostensibly en route to Norway. But, Pertinax, well-informed French journalist, reported in the N.Y. Times on Oct. 11 that the Germans are remaining in Finland within reach of Leningrad. On the same day Foreign Minister Halvdan Koht of Norway stated in London that German troops formerly in southern Norway have been shifted to the Far Northern province of Finnmark.

In other words, Hitler is offering Stalin once more what a Times correspondent called a “gratuity” in return for agreeing to the German Near Eastern drive. If Stalin accepts, he will get a temporary reward. At the same time he is given clearly to understand what would happen if he should reject it, or encourage Turkish resistance, or in any way hinder the Nazi advance. Either way, he knows and must know the ultimate fate that Hitler intends for him. But like the faun paralyzed by the approaching boa constrictor, he can do nothing but wait. That is the net result of Stalin’s reactionary policy, at home and abroad.

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