Message from Bertrand Russell to the International War Crimes Tribunal



Message from Bertrand Russell to the International War Crimes Tribunal


Long. C.






Bertrand Russell Archives, Box 9.14, 220.148730




McMaster University


Bertrand Russell Archives





The International War Crimes Tribunal has been called into being because the United States controls sixty per cent of the world's natural resources, but contains only six of the world's population. For the purpose of protecting this empire, the United States capitalists have had to create a great army and military machine designed to destroy popular resistance to American economic control. Several techniques have evolved in the course of the United States' efforts to eliminate social revolution in the world. The United States' rulers are in the habit of saying that the modern form of aggression is internal subversion. By this, they mean any demand for social changes on the part of the dedicated and self-sacrificing leaders of oppressed peoples. In fact, the modern form of aggression is the installation of puppet regimes which protect the interests of a foreign power. The basic characteristic of these puppet regimes is that they function as the local guarantors of foreign investment and they crush brutally all political opponents who dare to challenge the Quisling-like behaviour of these same puppets. When the forces of social revolution become to strong for the puppets to overcome, they then call on the United States, as rulers, to use the great military machines created by the United States for the very purpose of destroying social revolution. If countries succeed in overthrowing corrupt dictatorships subservient to foreign capitalists, the United States uses the Central Intelligence Agency, with vast sums of money, who buy, kill or overthrow by coup d'etat the popular government which defies American power.

The United States Government is aware that the cost of this brutal exploitation is mass misery, starvation and disease - the primary features of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The social forces installed or protected by the United States in these countries are not only incapable of solving misery, starvation and disease, but exist to perpetuate these evils. There is only one way to remove starvation and disease in the poor countries - to overthrow the puppet regimes and create a revolution capable of withstanding American power. This is what has happened in Vietnam. This is why the United States has used every form of torture and experimental murder in its efforts to crush the Vietnamese revolution. The United States has behaved in Vietnam as Hitler behaved in Eastern Europe and essentially for the same reasons. The United States recognises that Vietnam is not only an heroic and momentous event in the history of human affairs, but a dangerous sign for American power. It regards Vietnam in the way that Hitler regarded Spain. The Spanish revolution was capable of inspiring revolution in other countries. The Nazis tried to crush this revolution with local
fascists and also used Spain as a proving ground in which they could test inhuman weapons and experimental methods of mass murder. This is the deep significance of what the United States is doing in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the United States is testing toxic chemicals, poison gas, nerve gas, bacteriological devices, white phosphorus, napalm and fiendish fragmentation bombs, not only to destroy Vietnam but also to prepare for other struggles. The gas and napalm tested in Vietnam have already been introduced by the United States Government in several Latin American countries. In Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia these weapons are now being used against peasant partisans who struggle for land reform, food and an end to police torture. The great meaning of Vietnam is that the world revolution is continuous and the world counter-revolution is barbarous. This is the essential lesson and those who try to ignore it only promote painful illusions but sacrifice whole generations of other peoples to agony and death.

It is customary to speak of aggression in terms of the violation of national frontiers by armed forces. This is aggression in the formal. conventional sense convenient for the United Nations, or the World Court, or The Hague. The world market is major form of aggression. The world prices operate against the poor countries and are created by the rich ones for the purpose of pauperising the nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Ten million people suffering from famine in India experience a form of aggression. Powerful states and ruling groups have created institutions such as the United Nations and the World Court, but it is these same states and ruling groups which exploit cruelly the peoples of the world. This is why their institutions cannot echo the demands or the sufferings of the oppressed. This is why the only aggression recognised is the kind which is largely irrelevant to the oppressed peoples of the world. It is true that the United States has committed armed aggression against Vietnam, but this is only the result of the other aggression, the more fundamental aggression, causing the Vietnamese revolution. It is because the Vietnamese revolution has challenged the aggression of the exploiting countries that the United States has moved its armed forces into Vietnam.

The International War Crimes Tribunal will, I hope, encourage people throughout the world to look on world events in the ways I have described here. I hope this Tribunal will remain in existence, so that it may meet when necessary in the future in order to expose and condemn the future war crimes which will be committed inevitably until the peoples of the world follow the example of Vietnam.