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“Defend Our Shores”

(29 March 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 13, 29 March 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

We’ve been reading in the past few weeks the testimony of the military experts on how “weak” the U.S., armed forces are. True enough, the atomic bomb is in mass production. But this country is being “threatened” and where is the “trained manpower” to “defend our shores?”

Probably you are one of the many millions of Americans who think “our shores” or “our borders” can be located on any standard map. Defined on the north and south by treaties with Canada and Mexico; fenced in on the east and west by Acts of God, the Atlantic and Pacific.

But there you are in error, according to the military-experts. “Our borders” are very elastic. They stretch like a big rubber band and include about every habitable and uninhabitable portion of the globe. You can take Secretary of State Marshall’s word, for that.

“Our responsibilities” and “our leadership” and “our interests,” he told a Berkeley, California, audience on March 19, “are not confined to Europe.” Not even to Europe! “They exist in the Middle East, in Indonesia, in China – and we cannot ignore Latin America, or our direct responsibilities in Japan and Korea.”

When you take this broad view of “our borders” which we must “defend from aggression,” it becomes clear why Russia is such a grave menace. We are entirely surrounded by Russia, like the drunk who felt his way all around a tree and exclaimed, “Trapped!”

We are “contained” on the Danube, the Persian Gulf, the Japanese Sea and beyond the Yangzte River. We stand guard at Tierra Del Fuego and glare eye to eye with the “red hordes” across the Antarctic reaches. And let us not forget “our border” in – Indonesia – now patrolled by U. .-equipped-and-trained Netherlands troops fighting the good fight for “American democracy” against the Javanese republican “bandits.”

Of course, if you don’t look at “our borders” with the sternly patriotic eye of a Wall Street imperialist or militarist, you are apt to see the political map in a different perspective. You might be tempted to say, “It looks like we’ve got those Russians squeezed in a vise.”

You might even be led to the further conclusion, “It looks like Russia is surrounded and threatened on all sides by American imperialism. It looks like the U.S. has its hooks in most of the world – and Russia is next.”

You’d be right, too.

The next time you hear that radio propagandist or read the testimony of that brass hat before a Senate committee telling you we need UMT and the draft and more billions for arms to “defend our country” – remember he’s not talking about “from the rocky shores of Maine to the sunny strands of California.” He means the whole planet.

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Last updated: 2 February 2022