1960s >> 1960 >> no-676-december-1960
Peace a Profession?
“Peace Is Our Profession. Headquarters Strategic. Air Command,” states the giant notice board outside the U.S. Strategic Air Command H.Q. at Omaha, Nebraska. From this base, under the command of General Power, are directed the activities of 250,000 personnel in seventy bases throughout the world, over 2,000 bombers and jet-tankers, and 90 per cent. of the Western Alliance’s nuclear striking power.
In the event of war over 1,000 bombers, each one capable of more destruction than all the bombers involved in the whole of the last war, would be sent aloft. The crews of these bombers have pre-arranged targets and are constantly on the alert; at least once every twenty-four hours the alarm is sounded. The entire fleet of aircraft can be airborne within a quarter of an hour—the first within three and a half minutes.
Under a system of warnings and controls the crews are able to fly to predetermined points on their target routes; if they have a final go-ahead, on the express orders of the American President, they would continue on their routes and press home their attack. (If this final order is not given the bombers are instructed to return to their bases). Simultaneously intercontinental ballistic missiles—the long range rockets with H- bomb war-heads—would be released.
And so it goes on, this melancholy tale of potential destruction on a scale hitherto undreamt of.
These facts and figures apply more or less equally to the Soviet bloc and, of course, to Britain’s R.A.F. and the air forces of other powers, all of which are on a permanent war footing. It’s all for peace and for the defence of righteous principles—they all say.
The American ruling class and their allies allege that it’s a case of safeguarding freedom, democracy, “a way of life,” a heritage; and, to help things along, they are never shy of enlisting the Almighty. Krushchev and company’s tale is a little different. Apparently they have to offer defence against imperialism (particularly the American variety) to keep safe the “People’s State” and “Socialism.” So in order that people should remain “free” (both sides having their own peculiar definitions of this term), opposing capitalist powers are prepared if necessary to take part in the possible wholesale destruction of mankind.
What can be done to end this terrible state of affairs? Capitalist politicians can only talk on terms of a third world war and local conflicts (which may or may not remain localised) as long as they have the unquestioning support of the world’s workers. Without this they would be impotent.
Modern wars are caused by property conflicts between rival teams of big business, arrayed on a national level, the private bosses of America and the state bosses of Russia being at present the major contestants. The stakes are high: vast resources, natural and man made, markets for an ever increasing volume of goods, to protect or capture these, capitalist states need strategic bases and political spheres of influence.
With these real, material, profitable bones of contention the alleged principles are clearly demonstrated to be something less than principles. Former enemies who were never, never to be re-armed, become military allies, and personal association with the previous regime is no impediment in this unsavoury process. Franco Spain and Salazar Portugal help to protect “democracy,” as does Chiang Kai Shek and as did Syngmann Rhee. Dubious Latin American regimes are supported, so as to ensure stability; that is, the status quo on investments. The Soviet hierarchy with their commercial, and therefore, military commitments, are not at a loss in the game; in fact, they are racing neck and neck, if not leading by a short head.
Fidel Castro seems to be a friend in need at the moment; strategy and oil are more than remarkable coincidences (Batista, his more sadistic predecessor, was a stabiliser of Uncle Sam’s). Nasser was the lad sometime ago, and new faces representing new aspiring ruling classes are constantly arising from the colonial struggles.
And so this dirty game of power politics goes on, over issues which are not worth the shedding of one drop of working class blood. It is now 21 years since the beginning of World War II. It began with Allied indignation at German bombing of “open cities,” like Warsaw, went on with indiscriminate aerial bombardment by both sides, and concluded with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Are you going to allow an even greater catastrophe, or are you going to wake up NOW!