Another historic feature of Empire, and this a structural feature, is: A system of satellite nations.
We use that word only for nations that have been captured in the Russian orbit, with some inflection of contempt. We speak of our own satellites as allies and friends or as freedom loving nations. Nevertheless, satellite is the right word. The meaning of it is the hired guard. When people say we have lost China or that if we lose Europe it will be a disaster, what do they mean? How could we lose China or Europe, since they never belonged to us? What they mean is that we have lost or may lose a following of dependent people who act as an outer guard.
From the point of view of Empire the one fact common to all satellites is that their security is deemed vital to the security of the Empire; from the opposite point of view the common fact is that a satellite nation is one that is afraid to stand alone and wants the Empire's protection. So there is a bargain. The Empire, in its superior strength, assumes responsibility for the security and well being of the satellite nation, and.the satellite nation undertakes to stand with its back to the Empire and face the common enemy. It may desert and go over to the enemy. That will be a change of position only, not a change of status. There will be one more satellite on the other side and one less on this side.
By this definition our principal satellite is Great Britain. Since that relationship began, in 1940, the American government has contributed first to her defense and then to her postwar recovery gifts and loans equal to more than one-fourth of her entire national wealth, and there is yet no end in sight. That would not have been for love. It could be justified to the American people only by the formula that the security of Great Britain is vital to the security of the United States. Nor is it sentiment that causes Great Britain to lean her weight against us, or to prefer, in the words of Lord Halifax, "a relationship which cannot be dissolved," something like Mr. Churchill's proposed political wedlock. If she could stand alone she would. She would sooner have more satellites of her own than to be one.
And by the same definition, all the thirteen foreign countries that adhere to the North Atlantic Treaty are satellites. First of all, the United States assumes responsibility for their security. By the terms of the treaty, if any one of them is attacked, that shall be deemed an attack upon the United States itself. A fighting matter. Meanwhile, we give them billions for armaments, on the ground that if they will use the armaments to defend themselves they will at the same time be defending us. We do more than that. We underwrite their economic welfare and their solvency, on the theory that a wretched or insolvent satellite is not much good.
President Truman says: "We must make sure that our friends and allies overseas continue to get the help they need to make their full contribution to security and progress for the whole free world. This means not only military aid—though that is vital—it also means real programs of economic and technical assistance. It means helping our European allies to maintain decent living standards."
On the other side of the world, by the terms of the Pacific Pact, we assume responsibility for the security of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines; and by treaty we undertake to protect Japan from her enemies in return for military privileges.
It is a long list, and satellite traffic in the American orbit is already pretty dense without taking into account client nations, suppliant nations and waif satellites, all looking to the American government for arms and economic aid. These are scattered all over the body of the sick world like festers. For any one of them to involve us in war it is necessary only for the Executive Power at Washington to decide that its defense is somehow essential to the security of the United States. That is how the Korean war started. Korea was a waif satellite.
This vast system of entanglement, which makes a war anywhere in the world our war too, had its origin in the Lend-Lease Act, passed by Congress in March, 1941. That was in the second year of World War II and nine months before Pearl Harbor. The American people were resolved not to get into that war. Mr. Roosevelt persuaded them that the only way to stay out of it was to adopt "measures short of war." Churchill had promised: "Give us the tools and we will do the job."
The Lend-Lease Act was entitled, "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States." It was the single most reckless delegation of power by the Congress to the President that had ever been made or imagined, amounting in fact to abdication. Literally, under the law, the President could have given away the United States Navy. When at a White House press conference that extreme point was made, the President disposed of it derisively saying: "The law doesn't forbid the President of the United States to stand on his head, but he doesn't expect to stand on his head."
Under this law the President was free, without limitation, without accountability to anyone, entirely by his own will—to give not only economic and military aid of any kind but secret military information also to any country "whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States," and this "notwithstanding the provision of any other law." On the day the bill passed the President declared the defense of Great Britain vital to the defense of the United States; four days later he added China. When the war ended Lend-Lease goods were flowing to every non-enemy port in the world. The total cost was roughly fifty billion dollars. The principal beneficiaries were Great Britain, Russia, and France, in that order.
Lend-Lease was for friends and allies during the war. After the war the American government distributed billions for the relief of human distress everywhere. Then came the Marshall Plan, which has already cost more than twelve billion dollars.
At first the Marshall Plan had no political meaning.
The idea was that we were willing to share our wealth with Europe as a whole, to promote her postwar recovery.
All European nations were invited to participate in that supernatural windfall, Russia included. But when Russia and her satellites spurned our capitalistic dollars, and then as the Russian mask began to slip, the character of the Marshall Plan changed. Its subsidies and benefits were for those countries of Western Europe that would align themselves against the Russian menace. The Marshall Plan was to have expired in 1951. It did not expire. Its name was changed.
It is now the Mutual Security Plan. The Marshall Plan countries have become the North Atlantic Treaty countries, all looking to the American Empire for arms, economic aid and security.
"What we have tried to accomplish," said the Secretary of State on returning from the first Brussels meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Council—the British, French, Belgian, Dutch, and all the other North Atlantic Treaty nations—"what we have tried to accomplish has been in the light of a clear conception which we have all held. That is that the security of each one of us is tied up with the security of all of us, and therefore strength and security is a common problem and a common task. So far as the United States is concerned, that is a really national policy."
Mr. Acheson made that statement at a press conference on December 22,1950. That was the beginning of the first officially organized evangel of fear to which the American mind was ever exposed.
A year later Senator Flanders was saying: "Fear is felt and spread by the Department of Defense in the Pentagon. In part, the spreading of it is purposeful.
Faced with what seem to be enormous armed forces aimed against us, we can scarcely expect the Department of Defense to do other than keep the people in a state of fear so that they will be prepared without limit to furnish men and munitions Another center from which fear is spread throughout our people is the State Department. Our diplomacy has gone on the defensive.
The real dependence of the State Department is in arms, armies and allies. There is no confidence left in anything except force. The fearfulness of the Pentagon and that of the State Department complement and reinforce each other."
Senator Flanders missed the point.
Empire must put its faith in arms.
Fear at last assumes the phase of a patriotic obsession.
It is stronger than any political party. Any candidate for office who trifles with its basic conviction will be scourged. The basic conviction is simple. We cannot stand alone. A capitalistic economy, though it possesses half the industrial power of the whole world, cannot defend its own hemisphere. It may be able to save the world; alone it cannot save itself. It must have allies.
Fortunately, it is able to buy them, bribe them, arm them, feed and clothe them; it may cost us more than we can afford, yet we must have them or perish. This voice of fear is the voice of government.
Thus the historic pattern completes itself. No Empire is secure in itself; its security is in the hands of its allies.
At the end of World War II General Marshall, then Chief of Staff, reported to the President, saying: "The security of the United States now is in its own hands."
We had won the war and were coming home. Five years later, as Secretary of Defense, he was returning American troops and American armament to Europe as our contribution to an international army which, it might be hoped, would defend the security of the United States somewhere between the river Rhine and the Pyrenees.
RISE OF EMPIRE: THE ANCIENT DESIGN: II
RISE OF EMPIRE: THE ANCIENT DESIGN: II
RISE OF EMPIRE: PROPERTIES OF EMPIRE: V