America’s Emerging Friendship with Russia and China: A Revival of the Henry Wallace Doctrine for the Post-War World?

As impossible as it is for some to conceive of an alliance between Russia, China and the USA, the fact is that such a friendship is embedded within the historical traditions of America and have a strong (though forgotten precedent in the 1941-1944 presidential term of America’s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his loyal collaborator Henry A. Wallace. These men had planned a grand design for a US-Russia-China New world order founded upon principles enshrined in the Atlantic Charter and enunciated in his 1942 “Century of the Common Man” speech.

Wallace’s Fight for a Just World Order

While serving as FDR’s Vice President, Wallace wrote in his 1944 book Our Job in the Pacific: 

“It is vital to the United States, it is vital to China and it is vital to Russia that there be peaceful and friendly relations between China and Russia, China and America and Russia and America. China and Russia Complement and supplement each other on the continent of Asia and the two together complement and supplement America’s position in the Pacific.”

In another 1944 piece Two Peoples-One Friendship (Survey Graphic Magazine), Wallace described the destiny of the US-Russia for mutual arctic development with transportation connections across the Bering Strait: 

“Of all nations, Russia has the most powerful combination of a rapidly increasing population, great natural resources and immediate expansion in technological skills. Siberia and China will furnish the greatest frontier of tomorrow… When Molotov [Russia’s Foreign Minister] was in Washington in the spring of 1942 I spoke to him about the combined highway and airway which I hope someday will link Chicago and Moscow via Canada, Alaska and Siberia. Molotov, after observing that no one nation could do this job by itself, said that he and I would live to see the day of its accomplishment. It would mean much to the peace of the future if there could be some tangible link of this sort between the pioneer spirit of our own West and the frontier spirit of the Russian East.”

Expressing a mode of long term thinking and sensitivity to the Asian psyche rarely seen by westerners, Wallace wrote that 

“Asia is on the move. Asia distrusts Europe because of its “superiority complex”. We must give Asia reason to trust us. We must demonstrate to Russia and China, in particular that we have faith in the future of the Common Man in those two countries. We can be helpful to both China and Russia and in being helpful can be helpful to ourselves and to our children. In planning our relationships today with Russia and China, we must think of the world situation as it will be forty years hence.”

So What Went Wrong?

With the early death of Franklin Roosevelt in April 1945, a positive post-war vision of US-Russia-China friendship was lost. Wallace was quickly demoted to Commerce Secretary, and the Bretton Woods institutions such as the IMF and World Bank were cleansed of all New Deal economists loyal to the Wallace-FDR vision of the post war world. This was done through J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and Senator Eugene McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities which ran a witch hunt that destroyed the lives of countless patriots, labelling them as “Soviet agents”. The 1947 Security Act evoked the Executive Order 9835 that made “reasonable grounds for belief that a person is disloyal”grounds for firing someone from any government position.

One early victim of the witch hunt was the IMF’s first director Harry Dexter White who had been accused of being a soviet spy and died in 1948 after a McCarthy hearing.

Truman’s immediate belligerence to Russia caused the Russia cancellation of its $1.2 billion subscription to join the World Bank agreed to in 1944, and Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech enshrined the bi-polar dynamic of Mutually Assured Destruction as the bedrock of the post war age of nuclear terror. As Truman unleashed the “Truman Doctrine” of US foreign entanglements in the new Cold War against Russian expansion starting with America’s enmeshment into the Greece-Turkey conflict orchestrated by London in the Spring of 1947, Churchill said in Fulton Missouri: “Neither the sure prevention of war, nor the continuous rise of world organization will be gained without what I have called the fraternal association of the English speaking peoples. This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States.” The Truman doctrine and Special Relationship represented the total reversal of the “community of principle” policy to avoid “foreign entanglements” advocated by George Washington, John Quincy Adams and adopted by FDR and Wallace.

Wallace Fights Back

Before being fired from his post as Commerce Secretary in 1946 for giving a speech calling for US-Russia friendship, Wallace warned of the emergence of a new “American fascism”:

“Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.”

In his 1946 Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace said 

“Before the blood of our boys is scarcely dry on the field of battle, these enemies of peace try to lay the foundation for World War III. These people must not succeed in their foul enterprise. We must offset their poison by following the policies of Roosevelt in cultivating the friendship of Russia in peace as well as in war.

Henry Wallace did not disappear as his enemies would have liked, but became a third party candidate for the 1948 presidency acquiring the support of leading patriots and artists, not the least of whom being the great African American activist/singer Paul Robeson who set into a motion a process that blossomed under Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights movement. Wallace’s presidential speeches are a stirring call to action which can educate and inspire today’s generation. It is a tragic reminder that the American people, having just heroically given so much to stop a global fascist movement during WWII, failed to stop the emergence of a new fascism in America itself and did not vote for Wallace when they had the chance.

A Last Chance?

Although John F. Kennedy did attempt to revive the spirit of FDR during his three years in office, his early assassination sabotaged the re-awakening of the true constitutional America.

Today, the great infrastructure programs driven by credit which epitomized the New Deal under Wallace and FDR is alive in the surprising Belt and Road Initiative. Russia and China have thus found themselves in the ironic role of having become more American than the America which has ran roughshod over the world for the past half century. Whether Wallace’s dream finally be revived by a US-Russia-China alliance for a new just economic order will occur or not has not yet been answered.

Adapted from an article written for Strategic Culture


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