The Charlotte News

Saturday, September 2, 1939


Empty Threats

Japs, Confronted By Reds, Have Quite Enough Woe

Premier Abe of Japan is still using big words as to what Japan is going to do to nations which "fail to cooperate"--i.e. give up their established rights to China, a warning primarily addressed to Britain. But it seems likely that the words have become hollow and empty.

Before the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact, Japan had all the best of it. Britain was in a terrible spot in Europe, and so unable to devote herself to the comparatively easy task of taking the little brown man off the seas and out of China. And Russia was too much afraid of Germany to risk attacking him by land.

But that situation has been greatly changed, as the Japanese themselves admit. They are convinced, according to Tokyo dispatches, that a part of the agreement between Germany and Russia is that the latter shall have a free hand for an attack on Japan in the East, and are already hurrying troops north to meet the threat. Under these circumstances, it is not likely that they are going looking for further trouble with the Western powers in China. For if Britain is helpless, the United States isn't.

The prospect of a conflict between Russia and Japan, moreover, is one to warm the cockles of the Western heart. On the principle that when thieves fall out honest men stand to get back their own, the Chinese may have a chance to rid themselves of both the Japanese despotism and the Red Terror.

A Local War

Not A Man Will Have To Die To Settle This One

The new War Between the States as conducted by the Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and the United Daughters of the Confederacy is a sort of relief when set against the menacing European situation.

Not that it is being conducted with any great amenity. The Union girls are out to ban the showing of Gone With the Wind in Pittsburgh on the ground that it is "an outrageous attempt to palliate the treason of the South and smirch the reputation of Gen. William T. Sherman."

And "treason" is a pretty strong word, one which would justify the anger of the U.D.C. if it concerned anything that mattered now. But of course, it is generally realized by all dispassionate people that the South didn't commit treason. No great body of people which is honestly doing what it believes to be right and for its own best interests can be guilty of treason. As for William Tecumseh, he was a soldier, discharging the business of a soldier, and only very silly people any longer harbor any resentment against him, even where his depredations were greatest. It was he, and not the Confederates themselves, who actually burned and looted in Georgia, as the Union daughters may see for themselves in the Yankee histories. But that also is sometimes the distasteful business of a soldier.

Anyhow, there is this about the fight. It is all a matter of words about an old war and long ago. And however much heartburning it may stir up among the assorted daughters, the dead Confederate and Union alike will not sleep the less peacefully for it, and--not a man will have to be killed to settle it.

Boon to Allies

Italy's Defection Greatly Changes Odds in Europe

The defection of Italy puts an entirely different face on the war. Had she gone in, the Axis would have had by far the best of it in the air. The British Navy would have had to divide its forces between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

As it is -- , however, the effective air strength of the British and French is probably equal to Germany--perhaps greater. Hitler has a larger number of planes than the two together, but the number of his first line planes is not much if any larger. Moreover, military authorities say he is pretty weak in pilots--having only enough well-trained men for about 5,000 planes. On the other hand the English and French definitely have the edge in speed and modernity generally. And it seems to be agreed among those who know about such things that the British pilots are the best in Europe.

Thus so long as Italy stays out of the fight and Russia does not come in, Hitler is deprived of his trump card--which was to be the terrorization of the English and French by mass murder of civilians from the air--without the attacked nations being able to retaliate in degree.

But the neutrality of Italy also releases the whole strength of the British Navy to deal with Germany. That raises the sea odds to more than five to one, if we count the French Navy. It is a very different situation from the last war when the German Navy was not greatly inferior to the British in tonnage and almost equal to it in its fire power.

The British this time should be able to cut their way into the Baltic if they desire. And once in that sea, the destruction of the German Navy ought to be short work. It probably cannot be done without some loss of ships, to be sure, but that would be compensated for by the opening up of the way for transporting troops and supplies to Poland. Or it is not impossible that this time the navy can devote itself to an attack on Bremen or Hamburg. That it would succeed is doubtful, but it if it did then troops could be landed for a direct invasion of Germany. In any case, such a move would force the German Navy to come out of the Baltic--with the prospect that it would be destroyed--and would also drive Hitler to divert troops from Poland and the Western Front.

And finally, so far as the naval situation goes, the Italian retreat also means that the Mediterranean is open and that troops could be readily transferred to Poland by way of Rumania provided Carol comes into the Allied front.

Also the retreat leaves the Allies with the greater land strength. The French Army is both larger and better than the German. However, there is a fly in this ointment--that it leaves that army with no place to attack save by way of the Western Front and the Siegfried (Limes) Line unless troops are moved into Poland or unless Italy, Belgium, or Holland can be won over to the Allied side.

Another drawback, of course, is that Italy is hardly yet to be trusted. If the Germans win the initial advantage, as they probably will, Mussolini may rush back into the Axis. Or if the Allies get in a tight spot at any time during the war he may attempt to help himself to the things he wants, such as French Tunisia.

On the other hand, it is not impossible that he may be brought into the war on the Allied side. The price for that will come high. But it might be arranged by promising him Austria, the plum which he has all along most ardently desired. And bringing him in will be worth almost any price, for it will open the southern German border to attack, and force Hitler to fight on three fronts.

Over and behind all this is the Russian menace--the possibility that Stalin may come to the aid of Germany. However, that is an outside possibility and scarcely makes sense. At all odds, the situation at present looks pretty favorable for the Allies.


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