The Charlotte News
Friday, June 21, 1940
Knox, Stimson Probably Had Reason for Acting Now
The bitterness of the Republicans over the Knox and Stimson appointments is understandable. The President did not neglect his politics in his timing of the move, so that it fell just as the Republican convention was getting down to business.
Nevertheless, Colonels Knox and Stimson, who have been loyal Republicans all their lives and who certainly have had enough of public honor in their time not to be dazzled by office, clearly did not think the appointments were primarily political. Indeed, it is possible to guess that they may have consented to the move taking place at this time just because Republicans at Philadelphia are flirting with the idea of nominating some such lightweight as Dewey, Vandenberg, Taft, or Bricker, and running him on a "Keep Us Out of War!" platform.
If we had the time, that would be an excellent thing. It would give the country a chance to indicate fully and squarely whether it prefers to face the facts and try to do something about them or to pull the sheet over its head and sing "Ain't No B'ars Out Tonight!"
But unfortunately, we haven't got the time. Adolf Hitler is a precipitate fellow, bent on giving nobody time to think it over and build two-ocean navies to balk him.
Colonels Knox and Stimson, like the President, are well aware that if England falls, we are going to be in for trouble before you can say Jack Robinson. The peoples of Latin-America seem to be generally in favor of democracy and alliance with the United States. But the governments are all honeycombed--some of them commanded--by arrogant little army officers who dote on the idea of Nazism, and who will swing to it at the first opportunity. Whether we can hold them in line with economic measures is more than doubtful. And if we do, we shall face several revolutions almost as soon as England goes--perhaps even sooner.
That would face us with the necessity of occupying these countries under naval guns, if we are to keep Nazism away from our door.
And what are we going to do about the French and British possessions in the hemisphere if Adolf wins hands down? For our own safety, we shall stand by the Monroe Doctrine and occupy them, of course. But make no mistake about it, we shall be committing the fullest and most complete act of war against Adolf Hitler when we do it. For we will be seizing territory to which he automatically acquires legal title when he conquers its owners. That act of war he may ignore for a little while, as he has ignored those we have already committed. But only long enough to get himself set to act. And when he acts, he will almost certainly act in conjunction with Japan.
It happens that we haven't naval power enough to deal with that combination with much prospect of success. It is therefore imperative for us (1) to do our best to see that England doesn't fall to Hitler, and (2) to make sure that the British Navy is brought over to this side if England does fall. It is plainly on this general basis that the President is acting, and that Colonels Stimson and Knox have taken their stand.
It is the only common sense position, and Republicans are merely indulging in partisan politics when they refuse to recognize it and attempt to confuse the people by crying that the President is warmonger.
The country needs a party of opposition in times of peril. But not one which follows a policy of carping and misrepresentation to purely political ends. Quite possibly and even probably, that is what Knox and Stimson have wanted to emphasize.
Concerning the Reasons For Their Stubborn Stand
As for the professional isolationists in the Senate--some of them may be granted a kind of honesty--the kind a mule displays when, having decided that it is much too hot to pull the plow further and that the best thing to do in this world is simply to stand in one spot and reflect, he holds to it despite the fact that fire has been built under his middle.
And all of them have also got a vested interest to protect. If they ever admitted that the position they have been taking--that the war in Europe and its outcome was not our business--is obviously foolish, what would become of their status as sagacious statesmen?
And some of them, of course, are motivated by memories of the old fight with the New Deal, and particularly the fight over the "purge." In part, they are driven simply by the spiteful urge to get even at any cost. But in part also by the fact that, in the violence of their hate, they honestly cannot conceive that anything Roosevelt favors can possibly be anything but evil.
At least two of them have exhibited pretty definite pro-Nazi sympathies. And several more, especially those coming from the Middle Western states, heavily populated by Germans and people of recent German descent, have at least shown strong prejudice against Britain.
Making Our Policy Is Right of Government
The industrial productive genius and homespun character of Henry Ford has won him great admiration and affection among the people of the United States, despite occasional aberrations such as the scurrilous attack of The Dearborn Independent on Jews, the "peace ship" and his "history is bunk" pronouncement. And so it is to be hoped that he will not hold out on the stand he has taken about the order for plane motors for the British given him by Mr. Knudsen.
Mr. Ford says that he will make no motors "save for defensive purposes," and will have nothing to do with the British or any foreign government. But he must be well aware that the motor he is to make--the Rolls-Royce--is a British patent handed over to us for use for our own purposes as well as England's. And when it comes to "defensive purposes"--who is to decide what that means, Mr. Ford or the Government of the United States?
Obviously, the Government. Else Mr. Ford, and not the Government, would be sovereign. Mr. Ford, and not the Government, would be making our foreign policy.
Nor can it be supposed that in time of peril Mr. Ford can be allowed the right to refuse to make motors save for the purposes he specifies--and so in part to veto the foreign policy determined by the Government. The nation is absolutely behind Mr. Ford and his insistence that he must not be interfered with by bureaucrats and red tape in the production of war machines. But this is quite another matter. In times like these, no man is free to play the individualistic recalcitrant at the expense of the nation. And least of all a man with the great power of Mr. Ford.
As he himself no doubt willadmit as quickly as he thinks it over.
Defense Excuses a Lot of Things That Are Inexcusable
Circumstances alter cases, and the circumstances of this country's war preparation has altered a couple of cases which otherwise would have been something to argue about hotly.
First one was the debt limitation of $45,000,000,000. For seven spendthrift years the Administration worked the debt up from 22 1-2 billions, where Mr. Hoover left it, to more than 43 billions. Regardless of defense expenditures, the fiscal year 1940-41 would have seen expenditures come to a stop or the debt limit increased after a nasty argument.
But the war changed all that. No sense in holding the New Deal to account for its previous extravagances. Money had to be borrowed for new armies and navies, and hang the cost!
Case No. 2 was altered yesterday. By order of Congress the Treasury has been buying all the silver there is and more besides. There is no use for it or need of it, and Senator Townsend had made it his personal business to have the silver-purchase act repealed.
He was making progress, too, but yesterday the Senate voted him down. It had to. The silver purchasing program helps to sustain the precarious economy of our bad little neighbor down on the Rio Grande, and the State Department undoubtedly passed along the word that to let Mexico plop at this juncture would play hob with its whole Latin-American policy.
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