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Roosevelt Now Imitates
Wilson’s ‘14 Points’

Fate of 1918 ‘War Aims’ Shows
What Will Happen to FDR’s Eight Points

(August 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 34, 23 August 1941, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Roosevelt-Churchill eight-point statement of “war aims” invited immediate comparison with Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, enunciated before a joint Congressional session on January 8, 1918, in the fourth year of World War I. The comparison is apt – and devastating.

Wilson’s Fourteen Points, of which the Roosevelt-Churchill statement is a pale copy, has been proved the most fraudulent promise in all history.

The declaration of Wilson included several claims significantly omitted from the present eight-point statement. Roosevelt and Churchill cannot attempt to justify their war even to the extent that Wilson did.

“Open Covenants Openly Arrived At”

Wilson’s first “war aim” called for:

“Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed frankly and in the public view.”

The “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at” was the monstrous Treaty of Versailles, drawn up in secrecy by the representatives of the four largest Allied powers, Wilson, Clemenceau Lloyd George and Orlando. This treaty simply looted and dismembered the conquered nations for the aggrandizement of the victors. Not even the people of the victorious powers, let alone those of the defeated nations, participated in the establishment of this “peace.”

An FDR-Churchill Omission

After World War I, diplomacy did not proceed “frankly and in the public view.” On the contrary diplomacy became more secret and devious, on tbe part of the “democracies” as well as the totalitarian nations. The diplomatic dealings of the American and British governments have always been conducted behind closed doors. The very statement of “war aims” just announced followed discussions and decisions of which the American and British peoples had no advance knowledge and in which they did not participate.

The Roosevelt-Churchill statement cautiously excludes Wilson’s first point. A mere mention of open diplomacy would expose the shady character of the negotiations between the American and British “democratic” governments. It would embarrass future negotiations for an imperialist settlement.

Freedom of the Seas

Wilson’s second point, for “absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas,” is the model for the Similar statement in the new eight-point declaration. What was meant by “freedom of the seas” was demonstrated after the last war, when the Allies destroyed German sea power, seizing the German merchant marine as well as navy. American and British imperialism then established the policy of maintaining an absolute naval supremacy over the combined navies of all the other nations. “Freedom of the seas” meant freedom to rule the seas.

No “Economic Barriers”

The fourth “war aim” of Wilson was the removal – “so far as possible” – “of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace ...”

During the years following World War I, there was an unparalleled extension of “economic barriers” and a frenzied competition between all the imperialist nations for trade advantages and control of world markets. Every European country erected insurmontable tariff walls. For its part, the United States raised tariffs to a point which virtually excluded imported competitive products from this country.

Roosevelt and Churchill repeat this pious pledge of “trade equality,” with the qualifying phrase, “without disregarding their (American and British) present obligations.”

“Present Obligations” Excepted

What are these “present obligations”? They are the real war aims of Roosevelt and Churchill, embodied, no doubt, in a secret agreement designating American and British “spheres of influence” with respect to world trade, colonies and markets, in the event of an Allied victory.

Wilson’s fifth point was another grim joke. This promised the establishment of “guarantees ... that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.”

Disarmament Hoax

This pledge was carried out with the disarming of – the Central powers. But the armaments race did not slacken. It grew more feverish and intense. Wilson’s “peace” – as every imperialist peace – served merely as the interlude for increased preparations for the next war, World War II.

Related to Wilson’s disarmament pledge was his proposal for a “general association of nations,” his fourteenth point. This was the genesis of the League of Nations, which, the United States scorned to join. The League was fashioned merely to further the hegemony of British and French imperialism on the European continent. It crumbled to dust with the impact of the violent resurgence of German imperialism.

The Roosevelt-Churchill “disarmament” proposal frankly states that their “future peace” is based on the disarmament of “nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression outside their frontiers” – that is, the imperialist competitors of Wall Street and the “City.” All else is reduced to the nebulous promise to “aid and encourage all practicable measures which will lighten ... the crushing burden of armaments.”

Self-Determination in the Colonies

“Wilson’s fifth point has no parallel in the present, Allied statement. It deals with the disposition of the colonies. Wilson called for “a free, open-minded, absolutely impartial, adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.”

This did not disavow the principle of colonial exploitation, but it did give some “recognition” to the rights of self-determination of the colonial peoples. After the last war, the victorious imperialist nations fought for colonial spoils like jackals over a piece of carrion. Germany was stripped of her colonies, which were parcelled out mainly to Britain, France and Belgium. The possessions of Turkey in Asia Minor were divided up between England and France. In all these transactions, “the interests of the populations concerned” not only did not have “equal weight,” they had no weight whatsoever! One imperialist marched in as the other marched out.

Nor did American imperialism pay more attention to the “interests of the populations concerned” in imposing its domination over colonial nations, in the period following World War I, American bullets sang the tune of Wall Street imperialism in Nicaragua, Haiti, Porto Rico, the Dominican Republics, the Philippines and in China.

A Significant Silence

Roosevelt and Churchill dare not mention the colonial question in their “war aims.” That might raise the question of the “interests of the populations concerned” in the enslaved colonies of American and British imperialism, the questions of India, the West Indies, the Malay States, the African colonies.

Seven of the Wilsonian Fourteen Point dealt with specific questions of the restoration of nations and self-determination for nationalities conquered or ruled by the Central powers.

Subject Nations

After the war, each European nation found itself confronting some counter-claim. The need for alignments had induced the lead ing Allied imperialist powers to promise the same territories to different nations. The Versailles Treaty and the other “peace” treaties revamped but did not alter the system of subject, peoples, in Europe. The Austrian Empire oppressor of half a dozen subject peoples, was ruthlessly pared down to a weak dependency of 6,000,000 inhabitants from a country of 60,000,000. Czechoslovakia was established as an independent nation to play the role of pawn for French and British imperialism in Central Europe, and this new nation became in turn the oppressor of national minorities.

An independent Hungary was set up, which included subject Rumanians. Rumania was re-established, with rule over a largc group of subject Hungarians. Poland, which Wilson declared must be established as an independent state “which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations,” was given domination over 15,000,000 Ukrainians. “Poor little Serbia” became Yugo-Slavia, the persecutor of the Croatians. Wilson’s “self-determination” resolved itself into a post-war Europe that groaned with the new sufferings of oppressed nationalities.

What the 8 Points Slur Over

Wilson was more specific about the restoration of nations in Europe. Roosevelt and Churchill have already made too many conflicting commitments. They have undoubtedly, parcelled out Europe twice over in bribes to win over the small nations to the side of the imperialist democracies. And above all, there are the inevitable conflicting claims between the democratic imperialists and the Soviet Union, a, delicate point which Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin now prefer to slur over.

The most fraudulent of the Fourteen Points was the sixth, dealing with the newly-founded Soviet Union. Wilson declared for:

“The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing ...”

The “Sincere Welcome”

The “fulfillment” of this promise was the imperialist armed intervention against the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1921. American troops, sent by Wilson without the consent of Congress, participated in this war. And the “sincere welcome” accorded the Soviet Union by the United States government was the refusal to recognize the Soviet government for 15 years.

The Roosevelt-Churchill statement fails to mention their new “ally,” the Soviet Union. They dare not place themselves on record, as Wilson did, for the “unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development” of the Soviet Union. Wilson risked that “concession” solely because he believed the Soviet Union of 1918 would not survive for a year.

Imperialist “Peace”

History has proved that. Wilson’s Fourteen Points were compounded of hypocrisy and fraud. They were the veneer covering the ruthless imperialist aims for which this nation was thrust into World War I.

That is the character of the present Roosevelt-Churchill eight-point statement of “war aims.” Like Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the Roosevelt-Churchill statement will be blown away by the harsh winds of any future imperialist “peace.”

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