FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

The Foreign Policy of the American Communist Party

Henry A. Wallace. Wikimedia Commons

One of the few men who can claim to have called the turn on the gyrations of Communist foreign policy over the last decade is Dr. Eduard Beneš, President of the Czechoslovak Republic. In his memoirs, recently published in Prague, he has carefully and reasonably explained his belief in the spring of 1939 that the Russians would buy time from Hitler if an agreement with Great Britain and France should prove impossible, but would eventually be drawn into the war against Germany. This belief was based, he writes, on intelligence reports he was receiving from agents in the German Army and in the anti-Nazi underground. But it was also based on his knowledge of Communist doctrine and practice, which convinced him that the Soviets would preserve their basic revolutionary aims and directives, even though they should be forced along a course of action which "would, in western Europe, produce the impression of being either a series of sudden, unexpected and sensational changes in policy and tactics, or some kind of amoral Machiavellism."

Dr. Beneš called the turn on Moscow's policies, as the war developed, far more accurately than the Czech Communists, who were busy denouncing him as one of the "Guilty Men of Czechoslovakia" for aiding "the British imperialist war effort." Now that the wartime alliance is ended, and both the sudden changes and the impression of cunning duplicity have returned, the American Communists may well be as bewildered and as wrong about the future as the Czech Communists were in 1940. It is true that the problems are strikingly dissimilar. America has no students, either of Russia or of the revolutionary movement, in the tradition of Masaryk and Beneš. The agents available to American leaders are too often lapsed or dissident revolutionaries whose disloyalty to Stalinism is clear but whose new loyalties may be a matter for some conjecture. Yet it remains urgent to understand both Soviet foreign policy and the world revolutionary movement, and the American Communist Party is one point

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