The Charlotte News
Saturday, August 10, 1940
Where Punctilio Remains An Important Matter
The old Empire might be rocking on its foundations, but in Bermuda punctilio stood up as straight and firm and rigid as ever.
In England people anxiously scanned the skies and thought about what to do when and if the Germans began to land.
But in Bermuda, the important news was that:
The Duchess wore a printed satin-black crepe of pink and blue of all-over design with a full length coat of royal blue crepe, its elbow-length sleeves hanging straight from her shoulders. Her hat was a callot of opalescent pearls with a chou in front. She had elbow-length white gloves and white shoes.
The Duke wore a tab-collared shirt with his gray suit, an Oxford University tie, and tan and white sports shoes. He carried an ordinary straw hat with black band.
In England people thought about whether or not they would be living next week, whether England would survive. But in Bermuda people thought about what two unimportant people had on.
And code stood up straight and tall and firm as ever. From "two of the highest placed matrons of Bermuda society, Mrs. Hastings Brooks, sister of Major General Dennis Kirwan Bernard, Governor of Bermuda, and the wife of Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis, commander of the Royal Navy's American and West Indies squadron," the Duke who was once a king got curtsies. But the Duchess got only a bow.
One Vote Keeps Us From Being Made Helpless
An amendment to the National Guard bill passed by the Senate which would have confined the use of the troops to the continental United States and to U.S. possessions, was killed by a vote of only 39 to 38. Charles McNary, the Republican candidate for Vice-President voted for it.
The spectacle is far from reassuring. The danger, as everyone knows, comes from Adolf Hitler. And it comes by way of Latin America. Already his agents have tried to pull a revolution in Uruguay. And they are busy in every Latin-American country, and particularly in our back door neighbor, Mexico, and the land surrounding the Panama Canal. If England falls, Nazi-inspired revolutions in those lands are as certain as the rising of the sun. And if those revolutions succeed, we shall be pretty well at the mercy of the Nazis. The Canal can be closed at will, sealing our navy in one ocean or the other. And the Nazis will have bases from which to operate with great effectiveness against us.
Yet in face of this plain fact, 38 out of 77 Senators, apparently mainly for partisan reasons, voted to make it impossible to send troops to aid the Latin nations before it was too late both for them and for us--voted to allow the Nazis to establish themselves in Mexico and all around the Canal without any opposition from us. And one of the men who voted that way is a man who might possibly be President in the hour of greatest crisis. It is to be said for him that his motive probably wasn't merely partisan, for he has long been one of the chief exponents of the ostrich "extreme isolation" school. Nevertheless, as we say, it is far from being reassuring.
We Need a Clear Decision On Shanghai at Once
Of all the various packets of dynamite the State Department is juggling, Shanghai has suddenly become one of the most dangerous.
The withdrawal of the British troops from the International Settlement of that city is a cool piece of realism, a recognition by London that for the time British strength is unequal to the task of holding all the various British possessions, and that the least important must be abandoned.
But it also shows how inevitably our own interests are interwoven with those of England. With the British troops gone, a thousand United States Marines compose the guard left for the Settlement, apart from the Japanese, who mean to gobble it up, not guard it.
If the old Japanese government were still in power, we might look for a conciliatory attitude toward the Marines and toward American interests in the Settlement for the time being, in pursuance of the old Japanese policy of attempting to drive a wedge between the United States and Britain. But the present government is immensely aggressive.
It has dealt Western prestige a terrific blow in forcing England to withdraw, and will almost certainly follow it up by attempting to deal it a harder blow in forcing the withdrawal of the United States. And relations between the Japanese military authorities and the Marines are already badly strained.
The time has come when we had better quit drifting and acquire a definite Far Eastern policy. The British withdrawal itself is a commentary on the vagueness of our policy--is equivalent to a judgment that we could not certainly be depended on to take any predictable course of action.
It is too late to remedy that now, however. What we have to decide now is whether or not it is best for us to follow suit and withdraw also.
There are only two reasons to keep the Marines in Shanghai. One of them is to protect the American citizens residing there. But we have ordered American citizens home from other countries before now, and we can just as well do it for those in China. We certainly should not risk becoming involved in war merely to protect the relatively small interests our citizens hold in China.
The other reason is weightier. If we retire from the city now, our prestige is going to take a terrible beating. And the Japanese themselves are sure to take it as a great triumph, to conclude that we can be kicked around at will, to hasten on to the grabbing of French Indo-China, and the Dutch East Indies, with the Philippines to follow. All of which will ultimately involve grave consequences for us.
On the other hand, the position at Shanghai is wholly untenable from a military viewpoint. We could not support the Marines there if conflict broke out, and all that could happen would be a gallant stand before destruction by way of emphasizing our refusal to be browbeaten.
It is a nasty dilemma into which we have drifted. But it ought to have a clear-cut answer one way or the other. To go on drifting is unthinkable. For if we do we may suddenly find ourselves with an incident on our hands which will hurl us into war without any real examination of the facts or choice of position.
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