The Charlotte News
Sunday, June 30, 1940
Site Ed. Note: "Some very pointed hangings in Rome" once the Italian people began to see their armies and navy vanquished. It would take two months short of five more years, but it would come to pass, and with a vengeance--though in Milan rather than Rome.
The Japanese with designs on French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, with an eye to attack on Hawaii. For that, the observers of The News would not have to wait so long.
This Country Must Have No Private Armies
If the American people have not utterly lost their sense of values, they will probably turn thumbs down on the proposal of American Legion officials to form an "army of civilians."
Under that plan, as announced, battalions would be formed in every city, under Legion auspices, and staffed by Legion officers.
It would be to create a private army--which is to say precisely the same sort of organization as Hitler's Brownshirts and Mussolini's Blackshirts were before they seized power.
That is not to suggest that Legion officials have in mind any scheme to grab power and set up a Fascist regime in this country. On the contrary, we are confident that they haven't. This plan is in fact the product of an excess of patriotic enthusiasm on the part of men who fought in the last war.
Nevertheless, private armies are absolutely incompatible with democracy. And whatever they set out to be, they are always susceptible to being seized and used by ambitious and unscrupulous men, inevitably develop an itch to have their power and form perfect seedling for the kind of thing Fascism represents. And in candor we must not forget that vigilantism has before now shown some tendency to raise its head within the ranks of the Legion. Nor is it anything that the proposed army is not to be armed to begin with. Once established it can be armed at will, and with ease.
This country needs to be forming an army all right. But it is the business of the United States Government to form that army. And it should be formed, not under the auspices of the Legion or any other private organization, but only under those of the regularly constituted authorities of the United States Army and who are directly under the control of the Government, and so the people.
It May Turn Too Realistic For the Italian Taste
The Fascist editors in Rome are talking about Italian troops taking part in the attack on Britain and the beautiful "symbolism of emulating Caesar's legions and actually setting foot again on the British isles themselves."
But the bandy-legged boys will be well advised to leave that to the Nazis, who are a good deal more likely to succeed at it because they are perfectly aware that it is no matter of "symbolism" but one of the toughest jobs ever cut out for man.
In point of fact, the legions with which Caesar conquered Britain were entirely made up the, not of Romans or Italians, but of men enlisted from the tribes of Gaul and the Germanic tribes as far north as Batavia (Holland). And in point of fact also, the bandy-legged population of modern Italy is only very vaguely descended from the ancient Romans, who were already growing corrupt by the time of Caesar. For the main they are a mongrel mixture of all the stocks of Europe, with a goodly admixture of Asiatic and African.
In any case, the ancient Britons made Caesar's legions pay heavily for their conquest. And the first result of "symbolism" is pretty likely to be half a million dead Wops washing up along the shores of the Channels. Such a blood-bath will not wipe out Italy's reputation for infamy and cowardice acquired by her entry into this war. But it is very likely to shock the Italian people, who have not been prepared for any such contingency, and to lead to some very pointed hangings in Rome.
On the whole, Signor Mussolini will do well to keep his little soldiers safe and sound at home.
Which Proposes Conquest, Not Safety, for Japan
The promulgation of a "Monroe Doctrine for East Asia" by Japan yesterday was an ominous event for the United States.
There is, in fact, no resemblance between the doctrine set forth by Foreign Minister Arita and the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine simply advises the powers of Europe that the United States (with the backing of the British Navy, without which the United States would have been powerless in 1824) would not stand for the further extension of European power in this hemisphere. It fully recognized all territories and rights already held in this hemisphere at the time and made it quite plain that the United States had no intention of attempting to interfere with them.
The Japanese doctrine offered by Arita is quite another thing. It envisages "East Asia uniting under a single sphere," with Japan as "the stabilizing force." What that language adds up to is a system for East Asia exactly like that which Hitler proposes for Europe, a system under which the nations and islands off East Asia will all be under a higher control from Tokyo and in which slave labor will serve the Master Race.
And that in turn inevitably means that the white man is to be taken out of East Asia. Apparently the Japanese are now preparing to make a test case out of Hong Kong. Blockade or direct attack is likely to begin within the next few days, with a demand that the British give up the colony altogether.
If they yield, if the United States acquiesces, then we shall see French Indo-China taken over, and after that the Dutch East Indies.
All this will be done under the pretext that it is necessary to keep the "Western powers" from "altering the status quo" in East Asia. But the only Western power which may be suspected to having any desire to alter the status quo in Asia is Japan's own close friend and near-ally, Nazi Germany. Britain and the United States want nothing but that the Dutch East Indies shall remain Dutch, French Indo-China French, the British possessions British.
The Arita doctrine, far from being another Monroe Doctrine, is in fact simply a doctrine announcing Japan's intention to seize and hold the whole of East Asia.
In doing that she will come into conflict with our established rights and interests at every step. And when she reaches the Dutch East Indies, she will come into conflict with interests which are fundamental and vital, since it is from these islands that we secure our rubber and tin--both absolutely necessary to the industrial economy of the United States and both absolutely necessary in time of war.
Ultimately, however, her advancements also involve American territory. For the Philippines are a very important part of East Asia, and without them Japan's new empire cannot be complete or safe. And the loss of the Philippines to Japan will be a terrific blow for us. The Philipines free are one thing, the Philippines in Japan's hands are quite another. The latter means the complete closing of the Pacific market to us. And it means that Japan is within striking distance of Hawaii.
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