The peace-loving nations of the world, which had tragically demonstrated their inability to prevent World Wars I & II, again showed signs of an inability to head off World War III. They had before them the bloody example of their past failure to unite on a common program. Now, facing the vital necessity for a common program, they were still unable or unwilling to unite.
The central problem was Russia. The appalling lack of political and military liaison so far established by the U.S. and Britain with the U.S.S.R. became more pronounced and embarrassing with every victory the Russian armies rolled up. It handicapped U.S.-British strategists in their plans for a continental invasion. It created worries which stemmed as much from the sins and lacks of Anglo-American relations with Russia as from the mysteries of Russian policy. The chief worries were that: 1) Stalin might withdraw from the war when the invaders were driven from Russian territory, thus leaving Hitler free to face the U.S. and Britain; 2) Stalin might let the momentum of his armies spread over the entire Continent.
Germany Loses. Germany had to be defeated first. But this defeat could be best accomplished, and quite possibly could only be accomplished, by coordinated Allied action. For that reason it was necessary for the U.S., Britain, Russia and China to get together on their war plans. Britain and the U.S., through the "unconditional-surrender" conference at Casablanca and through last week's North African High Command agreement, were in close liaison. The Russians still remained aloof. The Chinese, looking in the Anglo-American window, may well have moved, closer to the Russians.
Russia was as uncommunicative about her plans for postwar Europe as she was about military details. Common sense indicated that Russia, for her future security, will demand European concessionspossibly Petsamo in Finland, warm-water ports in the Baltic, a sphere of influence in the Balkans, access to the Black Sea straits. Common sense also indicated that, unless a general and open agreement is reached soon on joint postwar policies, the Allies' present comradeship-in-arms may turn into a barracks brawl. The first chairs were already being thrown by pro-Soviets and anti-Soviets in the Balkans.
Clear Thinking. It was unfortunate but true that this growing state of apprehension played directly into Germany's hands, and would continue to do so unless Washington and London grappled intelligently with the problem. In his weekly magazine, Das Reich, Propaganda Minister Goebbels picked up the ragged theme of recent speeches by Hitler and Goring. He predicted the end of Western civilization if Germany did not remain as a bulwark against Communism, adding slyly: "Perhaps even in London there are a few clear-thinking men who could imagine what that would mean for Britain."
Some U.S. newspapers whose sense of responsibility is confined to their comic strips echoed the Goebbels line. A section of U.S. public opinion was prepared to revive the Red menace.