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Truman Urges War-Time Air Force

Wants to Add Billions of Dollars
to Present Huge Military Budget

(26 January 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 4, 26 January 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

American capitalism is gearing its economy and military machine for another world war. That is the clear meaning of the report issued on Jan. 13 by Truman’s Air Policy Commission.

This report, released with Truman’s letter of commendation, projects a vast increase in U.S. military air strength. It sets Jan. 1, 1953 as “A-Day” – the dates when American imperialism must be in position to fight an all-out atomic world war.

The Air Policy Commission proposes for this purpose that expenditures for the air forces, totaling four billion dollars in 1948, be increased starting this year until they reach an annual total of 11 billion dollars in 1952.

Truman – in his 40 billion dollar budget message – asked for more than 11 billion dollars for the military establishment, 28% of the total budget. But his Air Policy Commission the very next day called for an additional sum for military aircraft if more than 1½ billion dollars annually for the next two years. This would bring the direct military budget total in 1949 to 13.2 billion dollars to be increased progressively to 18 billions by 1952.

Only the Beginning

This is only the beginning, however, as Hanson W. Baldwin, military expert of the N.Y. Times, points out in his Jan. 15 article, Huge Arms Costs Loom. Direct military costs between 1948 and 1952 will range from 15 billions to 25 billions annually – and not the 11 billions Truman told the public in his budget report.

Universal compulsory military training as proposed by Truman and the Big Brass will cost two billions a year (400 million dollars in 1949 just “in anticipation,” Truman’s budget message says.) The National Guard is to be brought to a peak strength of 723,000 with a yearly federal expenditure of 700 million dollars. The Army’s Organized Reserve Corps will get 400 million dollars as against 60 million now.

No estimates have been made by the Navy of what it is going to demand to bring its forces up to full wartime peak. The Atomic Energy Commission, now operating on a budget of 600 millions, is asking for another 2 billion dollars for production expansion in the next “four or five years.” A five-year program of “strategic stockpiling” of war materials has already been approved by Congress – cost 2.1 billions.

Billions more are being asked for various forms of military construction – new National Guard armories (600 million) new transonic and supersonic wind tunnels (500 millions); new laboratories, testing centers and proving grounds for guided missiles and new weapons (500 millions); modernized merchant marine adaptable to war purposes (600 millions).

“These lists are by no means complete,” says Hanson Baldwin.

What it all adds up to is this: American imperialism is deliberately and systematically preparing for war. The swollen war budget, growing more gigantic each year, prevents any possibility of halting or controlling the price inflation that is tearing down the living standards of the American people.

Will Increase

Tm Truman’s Air Policy Commission doesn’t only propose to expand the war establishment now but expresses belief that if conditions do change “substantially for the better” by 1950. “the 1950 review will increase the size of the establishment rather than decrease it.” In other words, the present proposals just a beginning!

But suppose conditions do change “substantially for the better?” According to the Air Policy Commission (and that’s Truman and the Big Brass speaking), that will make no difference!

Because “our will to carry the financial burden, which will increase from year to year for several years, may weaken, especially if we should have a period of depression combined with calculated changes for the better in the public attitude of a possible enemy. That is our gravest danger.”

As I.F. Stone commented in the Jan 15 P.M., “Heads or tails, higher appropriations win.”

Quick support for the major proposals of the Air Policy Commission is anticipated in Congress from Republicans and Democrats alike. Senator Edwin C. Johnston, Colorado Democrat who has frequently lined up with Taft and the Republicans, has introduced a bill to increase air force appropriations by 4 billions in the next two years. His bill contains no profit-limitations clause. “I just overlooked it,” he breezily told reporters.

Quick Support

The Republicans, who talk “economy,” are likewise expected to back the demanded gigantic expenditures. In a recent speech in providence, R.I., Senator Taft demonstratively called for an expanded air force.

Truman’s war budget, his Air Policy Commission’s report, plus the tremendous increases in military expenditures envisaged in his universal training’ program, reveal the ominous trend. It is the trend to higher and higher prices, to a war-bolstered economy, to scarcity and want, to militarist regimentation, to atomic annihilation.

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