The Charlotte News
SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 1938
The Douhet Theory
General Franco has steadily maintained that the heart of Barcelona, which hasn't a fort or an ammunition works or a magazine or a war materials factory of any sort in it, is full of "military objectives." That has puzzled most people, since it obviously wasn't true under international law as it stands.
But the General is a fascist, and it is characteristic of fascism that it sets up its own international law. So what the General is probably basing his claims upon is the so-called "Douhet theory." In 1926 one Giulio Douhet, Italian Fascist General of Aviation, published a book called "Mastery of the Air." It argued simply that the proper"military objective" of an air force is the civilian population behind the battle front. Murder them by wholesale said the pleasant Signor, and you would rapidly break the morale of a country, force it to surrender, and impose your sovereign will upon it.
The book has been the Bible of Italian Fascist aviation since it was published--as it has been the Bible of German Nazi aviation since Hitler came to power. More, reporters on the ground advise that the theory is undoubtedly working well at Barcelona, which is described as hysterical and ready for peace at any price. But perhaps it will prove, after all, to have a hole in it if the fascists decide to test it on a first-class power. For the grim fact is that, if needs must, two, given the planes, can play at this game.
Needed: Some Corns
Economists, statesmen, politicians, big business men, little business men and plain people who search for an answer as to what is the matter with the world have overlooked what may be the real cause--not enough immediate worries.
Things have been made so easy for everybody, with resultant lack of worries, that everybody looks for trouble. Everybody knows now what happens to a fellow seeking trouble; he finds it.
Civilization has progressed to the point where a man hasn't any really absorbing troubles. There was a time when a gadget on his car, called a timer, worried him. Cars may have them now but one never hears of them. People used to have corns; now they have only the Japanese situation to worry over. No person, nor 100,000,000 persons,with good corns and a wet spell coming on, would give a hoot about the Japanese situation, Hitler or the reorganization bill.
The fellow who used to repair six punctures during a Sunday afternoon drive now rides 20,000 miles without ever taking off a tire. What does he do with his spare time? He puzzles his brain and agonizes his soul over the Crime against Spain. Once a man had indigestion but that has all been changed. He takes a stomach test and a pill and from then on he thinks he has to settle the armament race or do something about the fall of the peso.
After all, the people in the Gay, Sad Nineties perhaps knew best. They had cramp colic at $2 a visit from the medico. When they decided to call it appendicitis at $150, they were simply paving the way for Mussolinis, streamlines and queer things to drink.
*Add: Senator Bailey
Sunday we examined the philosophy and the record of Senator Bailey as he himself set them forth in a speech before the American Academy of Political Science in New York last Friday. We concluded that he was a disciple of Adam Smith in economics and of Jefferson and John Stuart Mill in politics, and that in general his record fitted fairly well with that philosophy and that he was a liberal by their standards.
But we are minded now to make an additional note we were tempted to set down in the first place. It is this, that dislike for the President can also become a principle of action--a principle of action so powerful as to distort any philosophy, including that of a believer in Jefferson and Mill and Adam Smith--and to spoil the usefulness of their disciple. And the Senator seems in danger of' allowing exactly that feeling to obsess him. For Monday the Senator voted against the reorganization bill. And it is difficult to understand that vote. Essentially, the bill is simply one to reduce the number of agencies and bureaus for the sake of efficiency and, mayhap, economy. And the simplification of government and the reduction of its cost are exactly consonant with the notions held by and advocated by Jefferson, Mill, Smith--and Senator Bailey.
But he feared such a grant of power might make the President a dictator? That is nonsense, for, in the nature of the case, any actual reorganization can only be brought about by the President, because of' the vested interests of Congress in every agency now existing. And if the Senator did actually believe this dictator stuff, then it is final proof of precisely the distortion we were talking about in the first place.
*Forest of Figures
If the Federal Government spends many millions on useless printing jobs like those libraries of fat books about the WPA, fitted out with fancy borders and half-tone plates, still not all its printing work is useless. As we are reminded by the fact that there has just come into our office the 1937 edition of that old stand-by, "Statistical Abstract of the United States," compiled by the Department of' Commerce and for sale, at $1.50, by the Superintendent of Documents.
After the World Almanac, it is perhaps the most useful of all books in a newspaper editorial office. Its form, alas, is forbidding--page after page of solid columns of figures. But no one should be deterred by that. There are all sorts of stimulating stories lurking in these dusty pages if you conquer your initial chills and dive in. Are you interested in the current debate about the railroads, for instance? You can read half a dozen pages in this book and know more about the fundamentals of the case than if you had digested a dozen run-of-the-mine tomes.Would you like to know the truth about that "balanced state" stuff? You can find an immense amount of light here if you go about the job with a little imagination. Would you like to know the story of American ships and shipping from the beginning to the present? The story of our foreign commerce? Of the Federal Reserve System? Of our public debt? Of our farm and factory resources and their distribution? The status of your insurance? The exact truth about the economic status of tenants and croppers? Or our crime and insanity rate? Or what happened to Louisiana's public debt under Huey Long? All this and ten hundred million other things you can get at here, if you dig for them.
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