Felix Morrow

Why Churchill Doesn’t Open
a Western Front

An Editorial

(September 1941)

Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 39, 27 September 1941, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Felix Morrow Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2016. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

After three months of the Soviet-Nazi war, the British Stalinists are compelled to admit that their support of the Churchill government has failed to secure from the “democracies” adequate aid for the Soviet Union.

At one of the open air mass meetings being conducted by the British Communist Party, demanding that Britain open up a western front, Harry Pollitt summed up the Churchill government policy

“Churchill’s policy announced on September 9, completely failed to satisfy public disquiet ... Taken in conjunction with statements by Lords Moyne and Clement Attlee in behalf of the government, we have a declaration of definite policy which can be summed up as limited assistance to Russia, rejection of military action and ‘ceaseless study of the whole problem.’

“It is in this connection that Col. Moore-Brabazon’s statement takes on the greatest importance,” he continued. “It becomes not an isolated episode or ‘indiscretion’ but a test of government policy. The fact that his statement was not repudiated emphasizes that what Moore-Brabazon said and what the government explained as its policy may have been differently phrased, but from a viewpoint of practical effect were not very far removed.” (Daily Worker, Sept. 22, 1941)

It will be recalled that at the British Trade Union Congress, Aircraft Production Minister Moore-Brabazon was accused of having said that the Russians and Germans should be left to kill each other off, leaving Britain master of the Continent.

Pollitt, in short, is now implicitly charging that the Churchill government has no desire to see the Soviet Union victorious.

Why doesn’t the Churchill government want to see its Soviet ally emerge victorious? Pollitt dare not ask, much less answer, that question. The Stalinists must avoid that question at all costs. For the answer to that question would condemn the Stalinist policy of supporting Churchill and Roosevelt.

Instead, the Stalinist call for continued support of the Churchill and Roosevelt governments’ war and for “public pressure” as a means of securing adequate aid from Churchill and Roosevelt for the Soviet Union. That is, the sole explanation offered by the Stalinists for the failure of the “democracies” to aid the Soviet Union is that as yet there has been insufficient “public pressure” on the rulers of the “democracies.”

We can see the problem a little more clearly, perhaps, if we examine the demand raised by the Stalinists for the opening of a western front.

Is it militarily possible for the British to open a western front – that is, land a major expeditionary force on the European continent? The Stalinists insist that it is not only possible, but the best move now open to the British in the war against Hitler. Some Stalinist commentators refer particularly to Spain as the best place for a British landing. With Gibraltar already in British hands, and with the Spanish people utterly opposed to Franco and his collaboration with Hitler, a British landing could easily be effected, say the Stalinists. It is undoubtedly with reference to opening up a western front that Litvinov, in a telegraphed article to a British paper, pointedly warns that humanity is following with deep interest “not only the military events on the eastern front but also the relations between the Allies.”

The Stalinist insistence on opening up a western front is supported by certain obvious facts. The main forces of the Nazis, both on the land and in the air, have been for three months involved on the eastern front. The weakness of the Nazi air resistance to British raids on Germany and occupied territory indicate that the Nazis for the present do not have a major air arm in the west. Under these conditions it is certainly plausible to argue that a western front could be opened by Britain.

Under infinitely less favorable conditions the British landed an expeditionary force in Greece, Why, then, couldn’t they land an expeditionary force now which will, at the very least, draw off a considerable section of the Nazi forces from the eastern front and thus ease the situation of the hard-pressed Red Army?

Why? Is it merely a difference of military opinion? If that were all, then the British military authorities might be convinced by the arguments of the Red Army staff. But the form of argument in which the Stalinists put their main hope is not the opinions of military experts but mass demonstrations in Britain. That means that the difference of opinion is not one between military experts but of political outlook.

Why, if it is militarily possible, don’t Churchill and Roosevelt agree to open up a western front? Even if Churchill and Roosevelt didn’t think it is the best step new to be taken in the war against the Nazis, there would ordinarily be the problem of making concessions to a valuable ally. The Soviet Union is now bearing the brunt of the struggle. A demand from such an ally should be acceded to if the demand is one which can physically be carried out. One could cite instances from the World War where the insistence by the French government or the Czarist Empire for a certain form of aid was acceded to by Britain, even though the British High Command would have preferred to do something else.

Here, then, is the heart of the question. Churchill and Roosevelt will not do for the Soviet Union what they would have done for the Czarist Empire. They accept the Soviet Union as an ally – but only on their own terms. They look upon the Soviet Union, not as an ordinary imperialist ally, but as a WORKERS’ STATE, and they would not dream of doing for that workers’ state what they would do for the Czarist Empire. Renegades from the revolutionary movement may call the Soviet Union imperialist or fascist; Churchill and Roosevelt know better.

Harry Pollitt is absolutely correct in asserting that there is no real difference between Moore-Brabazon’s brazen statement and the more diplomatic formulations of the Churchill government. The rulers of the “democracies” have no desire whatsoever to see the Soviet Union victorious. They want the Soviet Union to expend its life blood in weakening Hitler but simultaneously they want to see the Soviet Union weakened to the point where its fate will be at the mercy of the “democracies.” As the Daily Worker’s own military expert said on July 13, “The (British) idea might be to see the Soviet Union win the war with one division left.” What would happen to the Soviet Union if it “won” the war with one division left? It would be at the mercy of the “democratic” imperialists who would then destroy it. This is the objective of Roosevelt and Churchill, and no amount of “public pressure” will cause them to drop it. The only way to “change” their war aims is to overthrow the capitalist class they represent.

If Leningrad and Moscow fall, as Kiev has fallen, and the Soviet Union is left depleted of its industrial resources, then the “democracies” will probably forward large quantities of armament to the remnants of the Soviet Union. That is, they will arm the Red Army in the same sense that China is now being armed – under conditions where the Red Army would be completely at the mercy of Churchill and Roosevelt. Unable to provide its own arms dependent for arms upon its “allies,” the Red Army would then be subject to the orders of Churchill and Roosevelt, its strategy dictated by them, its objectives dictated by them. It would, like the Chinese forces, have the second-class status of a colonial army, forced by the weakness of its industrial resources to bow to the dictates of its imperialist allies.

If this strategy is carried out, the defeat of Hitler would not save the Soviet Union. Hitler’s removal from the scene would only mean that the “democracies” would take his place as the destroyers of the Soviet Union.

This is the terrible prospect, yet it is along this road that the Stalinists, by supporting Churchill and Roosevelt, are travelling.

These latest developments eloquently testify to the correctness of the Trotskyist program for defense of the Soviet Union. We do all we can to defend the Soviet Union. But we do so in the spirit of Lenin and Trbtsky. It is not the task of revolutionists to “demand” that the imperialists open a western front. It is our task to call upon the workers to continue irreconcilably the class struggle against the rulers of the “democracies.” For only the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Workers’ and Farmers Governments in the “democracies” can save the Soviet Union from destruction at the hands of Hitler or the “democracies.” The Stalinist program surrenders the Soviet Union into the hands of those would be destroyers. Our program is to extend the October revolution to the rest of the world.


Last updated on: 22 May 2016