The Charlotte News
SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 1937
Mr. Wells Points Out:
The Gangster Nations
Site ed. note: Perhaps no historical analogy fits better the present Yugoslav government's official policy of purging of Albanians in Kosovo than the Spanish civil war and its contemporaneous events in Ethiopia which were kinds of precursors to the broader conflict in Europe--at least Cash saw them as such, and his predictions were entirely correct. One can look on the Spanish civil war as a kind of practice ground for Italian and German infantry troops in 1937. (Remember that at this time the Germans had done no more imperialistically than reoccupy without resistance the Saar and remilitarize the Rhineland.) And then there was the Italian purge in Ethiopia going on simultaneously futher to steel the savagery of the Italian troops. Cash recommended swift police action on the part of the United States out of nothing more sentimental than self-interest. It is too bad that no one heard him but persisted in the long-proven false isolationist notions of the frontier past that any conflict "over there" is "their business". And even the frontiersmen recognized the validity of the Monroe Doctrine. (One does, however, have to defend pragmatically the policy of the latter Thirties to some degree in hindsight on the ground that the Great War had just been fought twenty years earlier and the country was still only very slowly and erratically recovering from the Great Depression. No one wanted more death and potential economic upheaval. Nevertheless, the lesson of history offorever valid.)
Can Slobodan Milosevic be compared to Hitler or Mussolini? Hitler wanted "peace", too. Remember Munich? Remember his non-aggression pact with the Soviets? Remember his repeated "peace" tenders to England during the Battle of Britain? "Peace" anywhere with dictators bent on imposing their will can seldom be had without the sacrifice, in time, of freedom and democracy just about everywhere; it merely starts small with their own people. It is, in short and in little, the product always of a little perverted sentimentalist with a perverted psychosis of vindictiveness for perceived and usually non-existent wrongs toward his or her neighbor simply to "balance the slate" for the wayward wrongs the cruel world has hurled at the poor little pervert and his or her poor little perverted boot-kicking pals. Little more. And to such perverts, the slate is never balanced, for, possessed of no creative imagination, it is their grand raison d'etre, after all. Methinks, as did Cash, that gentle doses of art and humanities, in varying forms, throughout the first twenty-two years or so of life is the answer to avoid the need for tanks later on.
IN HIS recent "Anatomy of Frustration," H. G. Wells suggested pointedly that there are governments in the world which the nations interested in the preservation of civilization and the establishment of a tenable world order may have to destroy by force--not by way of vengeance but simply as a police measure--simply as we execute murderers and rape-fiends.
Apropos of his proposition, I invite your attention to two sets of what are apparently true facts which figured in the news report during the last weeks:
Foreign Colors In Spain
First, there is the sudden appearance in Spain of an army of a hundred twenty thousand Italians and Germans--80,000 Italians and 40,000 Germans. These troops appeared to have been landed at Cadiz somewhere about the end of February or the first of March--at exactly the same time, that is, when the Italian and German governments were pledging their solid word to England and France that they would refrain from sending further "volunteers" to Spanish soil, that they would aid in enforcing an international ban on such "volunteers," and that they were ready to enter into an arrangement for the withdrawal of such "volunteers" as were already there. As regards these troops, however, the term "volunteers" is of course no longer even a bad joke. It is plainly and obviously a brazen lie, since these troops are marching under the regimental colors of their native lands, and since they carry all the equipment of regularly organized battle corps.
We have here what is probably the most cynical and brutal, the most insolent and outrageous, incident which has disgraced Western man since the days of that Machiavellian whose philosophical account of the Cesare Borgia Signor Mussolini used for the theme of his doctor's thesis. When the struggle in Spain started, we were assiduously told, and many people who knew little about Spanish conditions believed, that the fight was one of patriotic gentlemen (the Fascists of Franco) to save Spain from a dreadful Red government. Most of us have learned by now that the Spanish government was not and is not a Red government--and most of us are gradually waking up to the fact that what is going on in Spain is not a fight between Spaniards but the deliberate conquest of the Spanish nation by Germany and Italy under the cloak of the Spanish traitor, Franco.
The Cynical Excuse
In view of this astounding performance, there is good ground to believe that the Madrid government is simply alleging the truth when it alleges that Italy and Germany have agreed to the international patrol merely by way of drumming up an excuse to attack--and of course take--Barcelona and Valencia.
The other thing to which I had reference is the story coming out of Ethiopia, under the signature of reliable correspondents, to the effect that, in retaliation for the attempt on the life of Graziano, Mussolini ordered open season on all Ethiopians who belong to tribes even remotely suspected of looking upon the Italian regime with secret dislike--that for three solid days every such Ethiopian who could be found was shot down on sight--to the story that in these three days not less than 6,000, and perhaps two or three times that many, were murdered in cold-blood.
It seems to me that we have pretty conclusive proof here that Wells was right. Negotiation and compromise with such completely amoral, such completely insolent, such completely criminal regimes as these is plainly out of the question--is plainly impossible. There is only one way that we can restore order and trust--the prime requisites of civilization--in the world. And that is, of course, by the use of the big stick.
No Affair Of Ours
But we in the United States--we at least, have nothing to do with it? It is no affair of ours? We can simply stay at home, mind our own business, and let the rest of the world go hang if it likes? Alas, I think that sort of thinking has not one drop of realism in it--though it commonly poses as eminently hard-headed. Nothing is more certain than that war in Europe is perfectly sure to come out of the activities of these criminal governments in Italy and Germany. And nothing is more certain than that we will eventually have to go into that war--not out of any sentimentality but out of mere self-interest. We shall only escape long enough for the powers with which we will inevitably be allied--England and France--to be pretty well bled white: just long enough, in other words, that it will cost us the lives of several million Americans to settle the business.
I think myself that there is one way in which that outcome might be avoided. I mean that I think we ought to put aside the kind of sentimentality which imagines we can dispose of war by sticking our head in the sand, the kind of sentimentality which imagines that the American nation is still a remote backwoods community and not one of the most important wheels in the world machine. I mean I think we ought to take the way pointed out by Mr. Wilson--who was a better realist than most of the men who have denounced him for a sticky sentimentalist. I mean that we should accept our inevitable responsibility as policeman.
Let's Use Our Navy
More, I mean that if the weight of our threat cannot restore reason to Mussolini and Hitler--and it probably would--, that if nothing else will serve, we ought to steam the American Navy into the Mediterranean alongside the British and French navies and wipe the Wop rag off the sea. And into the Baltic and unlimber upon the Nazi rag. And thereafter I think we should lay down a blockade until civilized government is restored in these unhappy lands, and Mussolini and Ciano and Hitler and Goering are handed over to be shot.
I am proposing to avert war by making war?--Far from it. There would be no war. There would simply be swift execution upon the sea--for nothing floats that can stand for more than a few hours before the combined weight of these navies. And thereafter, with the Maginot line and the French Alps as nearly impregnable as they are, with starvation hard upon them, there would be nothing for these powers to do but yield. Not all their armies could help them one jot.
But we shall not do it, of course. We prefer our sentimentality--and payment, to our blood.
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