The Charlotte News
Wednesday, May 8, 1940
Moves Like This Are Dangerous Now
The Hon. Thomas C. Hennings, Jr., representative in Congress from Missouri, wants Congress to investigate Mexico--has gone so far (in all seriousness) as to introduce a resolution in the House calling for such an investigation.
He doesn't like the way Mexico is behaving about the oil seizures. (Neither do we, for that matter.) He suspects, not without reason, that Mexico has turned to a philosophy which smacks more than a little of Moscow. And so Mr. Hennings wants Congress to investigate Mexico.
Precisely how that is to be done is not clear, seeing that Mexico is a sovereign state and the Congressional ukase to stand forth and be investigated does not run there. But in practice, that of course does not matter, for not even Congress is likely to be foolish enough actually to adopt any such resolution.
For all that, the matter is not without some importance. Such moves play directly into the hands of the forces in Mexico which Mr. Hennings doesn't like--in a delicate situation add up to the proverbial bull in the china shop.
There is pretty good reason to believe that Nazi and Red agents are very active in Mexico just now with a view to pulling a revolution there when Cardenas steps out of power and turning Mexico into a threat to the United States. And anything which gives them an opportunity to paint the United States as the Big Bully of the North, intent on nothing but "dollar diplomacy," is perfectly calculated to help their purposes along.
It is undoubtedly this which explains the great caution and restraint with which the State Department is treating and continues to treat the oil dispute. And the Henningses have no business gumming up the case by ill-considered calls for fire-eating tactics.
Keyes Bears Out Popular View of British Failure
If the Chamberlain Government can survive the attack of Admiral Keyes (himself a Tory) it can survive anything. For what the Admiral said perfectly bears out the popular analysis of the case, that the Norwegian expedition failed because battleships were held to be too precious to risk, that it need not have failed had the British Navy stormed into Trondheim Fjord.
And that success might well have been worth the cost of a good many ships, not only because it would have made certain that Hitler could be thrown out of Norway but also because of the effect on the psychology of neutrals. And, indeed, even if the attempt had failed, it might still have been worth it, as proving that the British at least were prepared to war to the hilt.
What is most startling of all is that he seems to infer that Churchill was primarily to blame. At any rate that is what the dispatches assume. And it may be so. After all, it was Mr. Churchill who got the blame for the terrible Gallipoli disaster in the last war. In reality, he does not seem to have deserved it, since the planning unquestionably would have worked if he had been given the forces he asked for in the first place. Nevertheless, it is easy to understand that as a result he might have grown over-cautious on the subject of naval attacks on land fortresses.
On the other hand, it is entirely possible that he is not really directly guilty. Admiral Keyes directly blamed the "naval staff." And it is to be remembered that it was precisely that staff which, along with the army brasshats, hamstrung the Churchill plan for Gallipoli--precisely on the ground that battleships were too precious to be risked there, an opinion they did not revise until it was too late.
Being head of the Admiralty in London is even further from meaning that you have an absolutely free hand with the navy than being Secretary of the Navy in Washington. High naval officers are an immensely crotchety, egotistic, and jealous clan, and are contemptuous of orders from civilians. And a man in charge of them has pretty much the same sort of task as a man in charge of a stable of grand opera stars or trained lions--has continually to walk softly and appear to give ground if he is not to find the whole spirit of the service shot to pieces on his hands.
Ultimately, however, it is hard to see how the Chamberlain Government can escape responsibility. Whatever the barnacled old man of the Admiralty thought, Churchill plainly should have over-ruled them if there was good reason to believe that the attack on Trondheim Fjord might succeed. And Chamberlain ought to have backed him to the limit.
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