Questions by Gene H. Hogberg
Translated by Dr. David Wainwright
Part 3 of 6. (For the rest of the interview, click here.)
Question 4: The Soviet Union is no longer only a land power. “The Bear has learned to swim,” having developed an ocean-going navy, thanks to Admiral Gorshkov. What is the significance of Soviet naval power should Europe and the Soviet Union become more closely allied in the future?
Jean Thiriart: Russia’s interest in a navy began with Peter the Great. In his youth, he played with a small sailboat. Later, as an adult and after becoming Czar, he spent time in Holland learning about shipbuilding. At the time, Holland had the second largest navy in the world. In today’s world, the Soviet fleet is still at a disadvantage because it sadly lacks a good quality network of naval bases. Remember that the British fleet was supported from one end of the Mediterranean to the other by the naval bases at Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus, and the Venetian fleet had bases on the Dalmatian coast as well as in Crete and Greece. The Soviet fleet today finds itself in a similar position to that of William II in 1914; with a painful absence of a worldwide network of land support bases. In 1939 the German submarine fleet was totally unprepared for the war. It did not become effective until the beginning of 1942, which was too late.
The USSR is not making the same mistake. It is in a state of constant readiness with its submarine fleet. Today’s aircraft carriers are worth little more than the battle cruisers of 1941–42 in the Pacific. Admiral Rickover, the creator of the nuclear-propelled submarine, stated at the time of his retirement in 1982: All the American aircraft carriers would last about two days if war broke out. Even so, Soviet submarines would still need to have easy access to the high seas. Such is not the case at the moment because of NATO’s network of bases stretching from Narvik to Istanbul. In matters of naval strategy, a clear distinction must be made between cold war and hot war. In times of cold war, the visible presence of the Soviet Navy plays an important role in the world. It’s a political tool.
But in a hot war, the Soviet surface fleet will have no role to play. The submarine force alone will be effective, provided that it is able to leave its northern waters as well as escape the clutches of the Black and Baltic Seas. In a hot war, the naval power of the West (the USA with its Japanese, English, and German lackeys) would be reduced to something of little consequence as far as its merchant marine is concerned. Japan would be cut off immediately, and almost instantaneously her industrial might would cease to contribute to the military power of the United States.
As you can see, there are two opposing and contradictory strategies applying equally well to both the Soviets and the Americans: What is true in times of cold war ceases to be so in a hot war, and vice versa. History and military science provide us with a large number of scenarios that could be readily listed. Yet only one will be played out at a given time and place. In 1981 I considered the possibility of the Sixth Fleet being pressured out by the land-based forces of Spain and Morocco as the result of an insurrection. Essential to this scenario was the destabilization of the King of Morocco’s regime — a tenable hypothesis in view of spreading Islamic militancy. With very minimal land forces, the Rota base (next to Cadiz) could also be made indefensible and uninhabitable.
But American counterattack to such threats is a viable possibility more or less anywhere in the world. The United States has an arsenal of puppets drawn from the entire political spectrum, ranging from the extreme right in Chile to the socialist left in Madrid. Two of my young disciples, Luc Michel and Cuadrado, have published an excellent booklet on the “Communists of Washington” (in Italy and Spain). Washington is quite promiscuous in its choice of puppets.
A practical naval strategy is not possible in a time of hot war. The Russian fleet will get no farther than the fleet of von Tirpitz. The whole picture changes if Western Europe swings over to the Soviet camp, either as a result of conquest or through a combination of association and fusion (which is what I hope to see happen). The USSR’s naval strategy is only possible by enlarging the present geographic dimension into the Euro-Soviet dimension — as far as Dublin.
This would change the Mediterranean into a lake. In such an event there would be a great deal of activity between Senegal and Brazil. Look at the map and compare distances. Do not forget that the Panama Canal loses any value whatsoever in a hot war because of long-range missiles with pin-point accuracy, or even with intermediate-range missiles. Panama was the intense preoccupation of the American General Staff in 1938–40. You will fight the next war without the Canal. The Canal Zone will be vitrified from the start. Naval strategy is pivotal to the final solution between a Euro-Soviet bloc and the United States. In this respect, the United States will be handicapped by the extreme length of her maritime lines of communications. Especially in the Pacific.
Many are unaware of the fact that it was at sea that Rome finally destroyed Carthage. The French historian Leon Homo wrote in 1941: “Rome (traditionally a nation of land-lubbers) was to destroy Carthage only by itself becoming a great maritime power and by gaining mastery of the seas.” At the battle of Mylae, in 260 BC, the famous “Ravens of Duilius” [grappling ladders] terrified the Carthaginians. Then, in 256 BC, came the battle of Ecnomus to the southeast of Agrigento in Sicily. Rome had drawn up 130 ships and 40,000 legionaries under the orders of the consuls Atilius Regulus and Manlius Vulso.
You say that the Bear has learned to swim, and it’s true. The she-wolf also learned how to swim 22 centuries ago. But before destroying Carthage, Rome had to take over Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily. Today, Sicily is the whole of Western Europe.
I will conclude my answer by expressing my personal opinion on the matter:
a) Without Western Europe, the USSR will become a second-rate power by 2025.
b) Everything will finally have to be decided at sea. The land cannot be conquered without the ocean.
Question 5: How do you foresee relations developing between the Soviet Union and China in the next decade?
Jean Thiriart: I have already partially answered this question in an interview you have. It was in July 1984, and the question was: “What are your thoughts regarding a conflict between Russia and China?” Read my answer again. The concept of Asia as taught to school-children in geography classes is of no great value when it comes to geopolitics. The Ural Mountains do not exist. The Urals are not a coastline or even a frontier. Siberia is Russian, which means that it’s European. The true frontier between China and Europe (Russia being a province of Europe) was established clearly and openly by the most powerful Chinese emperor, Shih Huang-Ti (3rd century BC). In general outline, this wall [the Great Wall of China] defines the limits of the European continent (The Eurasian continent, from Ostend to Vladivostok — the Eurasian plain).
As a capital, Beijing is off-center just like Washington, and as Moscow will be tomorrow. A possible capital for a future Euro-Soviet empire is undoubtedly Istanbul. The geopolitical capital of China is Canton or Hong Kong. For the time being, China is sick because of its stupid Marxist economy. Imagine what a normal China would be like from an industrial point of view. And appreciate its demography. Right now the Chinese nation numbers one billion individuals. This billion multiplied by Marxist economic deficiency doesn’t as yet give much cause for alarm. But imagine a China that is economically normal. Everyone is fascinated by Japan. This is because they’re all thinking in terms of what is rather than what could be. “A normal China ” and this is what it will become — will awaken to the usual thoughts aroused by the eternal libido dominandi [desire for domination]. China is incomplete. It is incomplete without Formosa, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaya.
Geopolitically, everything clearly separates the United States from China. The bones of contention between these two countries are numerous. To an intelligent Chinese, the American presence in the Philippines must be just as unacceptable as the American presence in the Mediterranean is to me, a European. In both cases it’s a provocation. The golden rule of Soviet, and later of Euro-Soviet, politics is: “Never have a conflict with China.”
This brings us back to that short-lived, genial interlude of the Non-Aggression Pact between Ribbentrop and Molotov, between Hitler and Stalin. In October 1940 Moscow and Berlin did not do what needed to be done, that is divide up the British Empire. It was a tragic mistake, to say the least. Now there is another empire to divide. This time, it’s up to Moscow and Beijing to divide up America’s Pacific empire. The Americans in Tokyo and Manila are a geographical and geo-political aberration — as is the Soviet presence in Vietnam.
Moscow must exchange Vietnam for the two Koreas: The USSR, to begin with, then the Euro-Soviet Empire, must have a window on the North Pacific. In time, Japan will rejoin the Euro-Soviet Empire and the whole of Indonesia will have to rejoin China. If Moscow and Beijing manage to come to an agreement, times will become hard for you Americans. The USSR will no longer have its hands tied in the direction of:
a) the Indian Ocean
b) the Middle East
c) the Mediterranean and
d) Western Europe.
The “geo-historical spoils” to be won are the Thalassocratic [ocean-ruling] Empire and the New Carthage — that is you, the United States. Soon the time of arrogance will be over. You will no longer be able to bomb Libya or massacre Lebanon with impunity. And remember Dresden!
I hope there will be Ribbentrops in Moscow and Beijing. Reread the history of China. Its axis of expansion has always been from northeast to southwest — for 3,000 years. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, during the Ming Dynasty, China began to turn toward the sea. Study the Chinese sea-going expeditions between 1405 and 1433. The Kremlin must consign the anti-Chinese antics of Khrushchev to the past. All indications suggest that it is making a concerted effort in this direction since Andropov and Gorbachev appeared on the scene.
One more digression, a subject I shall amplify later, but it is important to at least mention it at this juncture. The schoolroom concept of Asia must give way to a more rational geography. Let’s say then that there is a Eurasian continent, from Dublin to Vladivostok, a Chinese continent, from Beijing to Java (or at least as far as Singapore) and an Indian continent, from Karachi to Rangoon.