The Charlotte News
Saturday, March 11, 1939
Hiram Looks at Guam
The Naval Committee is going to look into the allegations that Japan has been dredging and fortifying harbors of the Caroline and Marshall islands--which under the Washington Naval Treaty she is bound not to do--with a view to its bearings on the question of improving the harbor at Guam.
Senator Johnson, Republican, California, raised the question
as he urged restoration in the Naval Air Base Bill of the $5,000,000
Guam item previously cut out by the House--A. P. report for Friday.
But hold on there! That's our old friend, Hiram Johnson, the great isolationist. And as everyone knows, it was the isolationists who led and won the flight on the Guam item in the House. And however does it happen that we find him deserting the ranks of his comrades?
The answer is easy, mates. Hiram lives on the West Coast. And while he is perfectly willing to pooh-pooh the danger of anybody's ever dropping bombs or landing on the Eastern coast of these states, while he is extremely anxious to have it that the borders of the United States end on this side somewhere about Ambrose Lightship, he sees matters in quite another perspective at home. All his days he has lived obsessed by fear of the Japanese--first came to national fame with his Japanese exclusion act in 1916. And he thinks extending the American border 6,000 miles into the Pacific is not at all too far.
An isolationist, you see, is a man like another. He thinks it perfectly silly to be imagining bogeys, unless the bogey happens to be those he himself takes stock in.
Toward Real Appeasement
That the attitude of Great Britain toward the axis powers is genuinely stiffening was pretty well proved yesterday when two destroyers of the royal navy took a British freighter away from Franco's warships in the waters off Spain.
It was probably a better stroke for genuine appeasement than a thousand Munich pacts would have been. Franco had been warned. Britain had not granted him belligerent rights despite the formal recognition of his regime. She would, Halifax said, take measures for the protection of any ship interfered with. But Franco thought he knew better. Britain had warned and warned before, but Italian and German submarines, masquerading under Franco's flag, had gone on sinking British ships with impunity, though their status under law was strictly that of pirates. So he went ahead--to find the destroyers steaming into action.
Now he is very angry. And angrier still, no doubt, are his masters in Rome and Berlin. They will, they announce through the mouth of Franco, go right ahead with their blockade, with the seizure or sinking of any British freighter which comes within their orbit. But the chances are that they won't. They had counted all along on having their way, not by force but by the threat of making a war. Now at last they begin to get an answer they can understand. And if Britain makes good on what she has begun, the era of piracy in the Mediterranean is probably over. For the destruction of Franco's whole Navy is a matter of thirty minutes work for a single British battle-wagon. And the Italian fleet itself, if it ever dared to steam into the open to attack, would not last much longer--as Mussolini and Hitler are well aware.
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