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A “Mistake in Judgment”

(12 April 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 15, 12 April 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Whooping up the next war for “democracy” is no simple job. In opposing communism in the name of democracy, as James Reston observes in March 31 N.Y. Times, “the United States is constantly finding itself surrounded by allies who know very little of democracy” – to put the matter delicately.

We can appreciate Washington’s dilemma. It ‘s not easy to sell another war against “totalitarianism” when all the dictatorships cling to Wall Street imperialism like iron filings to a magnet. Moreover, as science teaches us, the affinity is natural and the attraction mutual.

Everything isn’t pretzels and beer in Washington, as you can see from how hard Wall Street’s hired hands must work to paint up monarchist Greece and semi-fascist Turkey as Gardens of Eden in the Democratic Paradise. Or take, for instance, the vexing case of Chiang Kai Shek’s China.

The war-lord who has been plundering and butchering the Chinese masses for more than two decades has already received billions in supplies and arms from the U.S. to fight “communism.” Today China is in a more shattered and chaotic State than ever. But who else can Washington find to preserve “democracy” in China?

So on March 26, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report recommending another 463 million dollar handout to Chiang Kai Shek’s regime. The committee wasn’t guaranteeing anything, however. It expressed “grave and honest doubts” as to the probable effectiveness of the aid.

It based these doubts on “inefficiency, corruption and bureaucratic maladies ... ineptitude in military leadership and corruption among army commanders ... lack of popular confidence in the Chinese government,” etc. And it takes a lot to turn the average senator’s stomach.

You don’t need more than a whiff to recognize garbage. The committee’s report said just enough to let everyone know that China is ruled by a stinking dictatorship, and scarcely to be recommended as an ally in fighting “totalitarianism.” Someone had blundered.

The next day Senator Vandenberg, head of the committee, set everything straight again. He suavely explained the report “created an impression which was not intended,” that it was a “mistake in judgment” and that he didn’t want anyone to think that he did not “deeply respect the tremendous patriotic labors and the integrity of the great and courageous Generalissimo who has sustained his leadership for democratic ideals against overwhelming odds.”

So Vandenberg withdrew the report in order to eliminate “a few sentences which do not reflect the viewpoint of the committee or its chairman.” They, unfortunately, had not read the ghost-written report “in full” before it was filed.

The money for Chiang has since been voted. In due course, certain sentences of a Senate report were deleted. By this simple act, U.S. imperialism regained a glorious ally in “defense of democracy.”

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Last updated: 2 February 2022