Art Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Art Preis

“Freedom of the Seas”

(5 April 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Don’t look now, but there’s a red periscope peeping above the waterline in your bathtub. Russian submarines, equipped with schnorkels too, are being sighted faster than flying saucers these days.

It all began at the hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee on March 25. The Big Brass and Gold Braid were basking in the spotlights and smiling at the senators. The senators were nodding and smiling back. It was a wonderful spring day – just right for another big raid on the U.S. Treasury by the military.

Into this idyllic scene burst the submarine scare. Secretary of Navy Sullivan made the sensational announcement that underseas craft “not belonging to any nation west of the Iron Curtain have been sighted off our shores.”

The panic was on. Two august senators fell off their chairs simultaneously. A stenographer swallowed her gum and nearly choked to death. One reporter required emergency hospital treatment after being trampled in the rush of newspapermen to the nearest telephone.

Not another word would Sullivan speak – for “security reasons,” of course. But it didn’t take the kept press more than two hours to dig up the details. By mid-afternoon disaster-type headlines trumpeted the red sub menace and why we need UMT and the peacetime draft.

Th usual “informed sources” and “anonymous naval officers” supplied the usual “reliable information.” In all, seven “purported” Russian Submarines had been spotted “recently.” Five of the seven lurking “off our shores” were vaguely placed as “off the Aleutians” – about 9,000 miles from Seattle and less than 400 miles from Siberia. Two of the reports came from unnamed merchant ships. One saw a “periscope” just “200 miles from San Francisco” – “at night.”

Immediately after Sullivan’s “revelations,” Admiral Louis E. Denfield, Chief of Naval Operations, blandly admitted the U.S. has 35 submarines in the Pacific and 41 in the Atlantic. Four are en route to Turkey as part of the “European aid” program. 12 U.S. destroyers and three aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific are guarding “our shores” a few hundred miles from Siberia. American warships are at Trieste; 17 are in Greek waters.

But as Admiral Halsey said, “We’ll send our ships any damn place in the world we please.” And Air Forces Secretary Symington, following Sullivan at the Senate hearing, boasted that American bombers from Alaska “‘could bomb any part of Russia and return to American bases.”

So you see why we need universal military training, peacetime conscription and more tens of billions for the Army, Navy and Air Forces, not to speak of the atomic bomb development. By God, these Russians are going too far. What do they mean operating submarines in “our” Pacific Ocean? Don’t they know we’ve already fought two world wars for “freedom of the seas”?

Preis Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 2 February 2022