The Charlotte News
Saturday, June 29, 1940
An Industrialist's Views Immobilize Vast Factories
Mr. Knudsen's action in abandoning negotiations with Henry Ford for the building of Rolls Royce engines for airplanes, points up a dilemma in our national life.
Mr. Ford is a great production genius. He has in his power the greatest single block of industrial power, immediately available for making war machines, in this country.
But Mr. Ford, in the hour of the nation's greatest peril, undertakes to specify to what use his product shall be put. He says they must be used for "defense" only. On that everyone will agree with him. But it happens that the Government believes that our defense is best served by doing our best to get England machines enough to stop Hitlerism dead in its tracks before it gets its hands free to work on us. It happens that the overwhelming majority of the nation agrees with the Government.
But Mr. Ford does not agree. He will not make a plane motor for Britain, even though the patents on the Rolls Royce engine, which has been made available to us, are British. Defense, Mr. Ford holds, is only the defense of the continental United States from overt attack. It is a totally untenable theory, held by no military man of importance in the country. But Mr. Ford stands fast.
If the Government yielded, Mr. Ford and not the Government, not the people, would be making the foreign policy of this country. But Mr. Ford will not yield, and so the greatest single block of industrial power in the land stands idle, so far as the national defense goes, in the moment of the nation's peril.
That the People Can't Remember Eight Years Back
The best bet of professional politicoes is that the memory of the people is notoriously short. Without that to count on, they would have tough going of it.
Take Herbert Hoover. In that speech Tuesday night, he had to say, among other things, that:
"We must restore decent life and living to one-third of our farmers and workers, who have been chronically submerged by the New Deal."
The New Deal, that is, is charged with having submerged them in the first place, and with having kept them there. Not a word about who was President of the United States when the Great Depression began, not a word about which party had been in control of the Government for the nine years before it began. Not a word about promises of "Two Cars In Every Garage" and "Two Chickens In Every Pot." Not one about the four years of waiting on promises that prosperity was "just around the corner," while the lot of all of us got worse and worse and that submerged one-third rapidly approached starvation. Not a word about the well-established historical fact that the high tariffs of the Republican Party were mainly responsible for submerging these people in the years from 1880 forward.
The New Deal has utterly failed to solve the problem of these people, but it is a little thick to be told that it invented the problem.
But That He Means To Jump Hitler Is Doubtful
The hopeful thinkers who have been seeing Josef Stalin as about to pounce on Germany from the rear now seem to be little closer to their dream. But it is still too early to lead to the conclusion that he is actually going to do that.
That Stalin is worried about Hitler's conquest of most of the continent of Europe goes without the saying. He understands very well that there is no more chance that Hitler has actually given up the dream of taking over the Ukraine, as set down in "Mein Kampf," than that he has suddenly turned human. The best he can hope for is that Adolph, if he takes England, will prefer to grab Latin-America and settle accounts with the United States before turning back to finish off Russia. But he must take into account the possibility that Hitler may decide that it is best to destroy the potential enemy in the rear before moving against America.
And the rage which breaks out of Berlin over the seizure of Bessarabia from Rumania indicates that the pact between Berlin and Moscow is growing very weak, that Stalin has stolen a march.
As the threats and the promises to Carol that the Russian occupation of the territory will only be temporary, warn Stalin that Hitler may decide to deal with him at once, if he waits until England is out of the way.
Nevertheless, to expect Stalin to act now is to expect him to make a supremely bold decision. What he has done so far may look to nothing but getting himself into position to meet the attack when it comes. That is the most likely explanation of the Polish deal and the Finnish campaign. As of the seizure of the Baltic states and Bessarabia. What he probably wants with the last is to head off an attack on the Ukraine, and to put himself in position to support the Turks if Mussolini moves against the Dardanelles. If such a move came, he might quickly turn into an ally of England's in the Mediterranean area.
But as for taking the initiative against Germany herself, is it likely? According to the observers best qualified to know, Stalin has a much better army than we were led to think during the Finnish war--the difficulties of which were not known to us. It is as heavily mechanized as Hitler's own, and the men are well trained. The air force is old but is very numerous and might do much damage. But the problem of supplying a large offensive army in the field might well prove too much for the rail and road facilities of Russia, as Stalin knows.
It is entirely probable that if he saw a combination formed which seemed to have a good prospect of whipping Hitler in the end, he'd think about joining it. But such a combination depends on the United States, which at the moment is repeating all the mistakes of the dead neutrals in slow motion.
And under those circumstances, isn't Stalin likely to go on doing what he has done before, what all the neutrals did, what we are doing--holding his head in his hands and hoping hard that luck saves him, that England repels the Nazis and sets them on the road to doom (in which case he'll be glad to help, no doubt) or that Hitler slips on a banana peel and breaks his neck, or something?
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