The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 3, 1940


FIVE EDITORIALS

 

Site Ed. Note: Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. led a long and interesting career. He started out as a Boston journalist and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1936. He quit in 1944, two years into his second term, to serve a hitch in the army, and then was re-elected to the Senate in 1946. John F. Kennedy defeated him for the position in 1952 in Kennedy's first bid for the Senate. After serving under Eisenhower as U.S. representative to the U. N., Lodge ran for Vice-President under Richard Nixon in 1960. In 1963, President Kennedy appointed him Ambassador to South Vietnam. In 1969, President Nixon sent him as the U.S. representative to the Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam.

His brother, John Davis Lodge, served two terms in Congress from 1947 to 1951.

His grandfather of the same name had been a Massachusetts Senator from 1893 until his death in 1924.

One of his great-great grandfathers, John Davis, had been Governor of Massachusetts and was Senator from 1835 to 1841 and again from 1845 to 1853. Another great-great grandfather, Elijah Hunt Mills, was Senator from Massachusetts from 1820 until 1827.

His great-great-great grandfather, George Cabot, had been a Senator from Massachusetts from 1791 to 1796 and then declined appointment by John Adams as Secretary of the Navy.

All of which was why the young John F. Kennedy's victory over Lodge in 1952 was a stunning watershed, symbolic of the passing of the old guard Federalist/Whig family in Massachusetts politics.

The grandfather had strongly favored the Spanish-American War and acquisition of the Philippines in its wake but later opposed entry of the United States into the League of Nations after World War I. In his speech to the Senate in 1898 favoring intervention in Cuba, he exhorted:

"The great island lies there across the Gulf of Mexico. She commands the Gulf, she commands the channel through which all our coastwise traffic between the Gulf and our Northern and Eastern states passes. She lies right athwart the line which leads to the Nicaragua Canal. Cuba in our hands or in friendly hands, in the hands of its own people, attached to us by ties of interest and gratitude, is a bulwark to the commerce, to the safety, and to the peace of the United States.

"We should never suffer Cuba to pass from the hands of Spain to any other European power. We may dismiss that aspect of the subject. The question is whether we shall permit the present condition of affairs to continue. The island today is lost to Spain. They may maintain a guerilla warfare for years. They may wipe out every plantation and deluge the island in blood. . . . Spain may ruin the island. She can never hold it or govern it again.

"Cuba now is not fighting merely for independence. Those men are fighting, every one of them, with a price on their heads and a rope around their necks. They have shown that they could fight well. They are now fighting the battle of despair. That is the condition today in that island. And here we stand motionless, a great and powerful country not six hours away from these scenes of useless bloodshed and destruction."

President McKinley, at first against intervention, eventually acquiesced and the short war of 1898 liberated the island from the Spanish insurgents, leaving Cuba as a U.S. protectorate and ceding, from Spain's colonial possessions to the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, the latter for a payment of 20 million dollars.

That Lodge's grandson would be twice defeated by a man of the same state, descended not of the blue blood Massachusetts founding aristocrats but of 1850 Irish Catholic immigrants, who would over 60 years hence grapple twice in his first two years as President with the subject of Cuba and its struggle for freedom from a then new form of tyranny, provides both the poetry and continuity of history in this country across party lines. It also points up the nature of a changing world, from 1898 to 1961 to the present, and the passing of one form of economic and diplomatic relationship to the world around us and its various sovereignties--Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders storming San Juan Hill on horseback to honor the Monroe Doctrine--to that of an era of vast change in the post-wars world possessed not only of tanks and airplanes but of missiles with nuclear warheads, to that of the present, in the aftermath of the forty-five year war we fought to prevent the true war to end all wars; from an era where economic and geopolitical satellites were thought to be essential to the survival of the United States, to an extension of the Monroe Doctrine to Europe and Asia, to a realization, born from the immense resourcefulness of the World War II years coupled with the immense tumult which followed from our intervention in Vietnam, that we are a country with sufficient resources and sufficient means to harness those resources to sustain on our own, not in an isolationist world or one where we free other nations only to exploit their resources but one in which we live in peaceful cooperation with nations, aiding them to thwart tyranny when necessary for our own security as well as their own but with the realization that ultimately it must be their fight to free themselves, leaving them ultimately to manage their own affairs of their own sovereign territory, for better or worse. We have learned that lesson since World War II and its aftermath and we have failed that lesson at times, in Vietnam, and again in the present. There is a vast difference in declaring war on a sovereignty which has declared war upon us and attacked us and intervening in the affairs of another country which has not.

The simple explanation for Vietnam always was the domino theory, that if Vietnam or Laos fell to the Communists, then so would Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan--all of Asia. Of course, it didn't turn out that way. Indeed, the fight for sovereign independence in Vietnam though based on a communist ideal in the North was not at all friendly to either the Chinese a few miles to the north or to the Soviets. They were as suspicious and disdainful of encroachment by the two forces as they were of the French colonization effort from 1883 through the fifties, the Japanese during World War II, and eventually the U.S. in the sixties. The South was born of compromise in the mid-fifties from the long struggle with the French, after the decisive defeat of the French by revolutionary Vietnamese forces at Dien Bien Phu in the north in May, 1954, and was hardly becoming by the sixties any model for democracy. Special elections scheduled for 1956 to unite the country were cancelled by President Diem of South Vietnam, with the concurrence of Eisenhower, as it was feared that Ho Chi Minh might win.

The more complicated explanation, the French explanation--for a hundred years before the U.S. became embroiled in Indochina--lay in rubber, gold, and ports for access to other ports deeper south, with tin and oil. This quest for booty was not just the ultimate source of the imbroglio which became Vietnam of course; the same booty quest was the reason Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, so that it could have free rein to plunder Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, already having established its ports in Indochina.

Perhaps, it is not an accident of history that the grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. authored a work in 1895 with Theodore Roosevelt, entitled Hero Tales from American History, and that in 1955 John F. Kennedy authored a work, dissimilar in the type of heroism celebrated, but of heroism nevertheless, of which the former work also admits, that of political fortitude in the face of unpopularity, Profiles in Courage.

In Hero Tales, there is the account of the Battle of King's Mountain, located just a few miles from Cash's birthplace in Gaffney, S.C., a decisive turning point in the struggle for independence in the early fall of 1780, in which the vaunted Redcoat rifleman, Ferguson, led his men to the woody heights of the little hill to vanquish the simple farmers of the backcountry down below:

"Sevier, Shelby, Campbell, and the other colonels of the frontiersmen, led each his force of riflemen straight toward the summit. Each body in turn when charged by the regulars was forced to give way, for there were no bayonets wherewith to meet the foe; but the backwoodsmen retreated only so long as the charge lasted, and the minute that it stopped they stopped too, and came back ever closer to the ridge and ever with a deadlier fire. Ferguson, blowing a silver whistle as a signal to his men, led these charges, sword in hand, on horseback. At last, just as he was once again rallying his men, the riflemen of Sevier and Shelby crowned the top of the ridge. The gallant British commander became a fair target for the backwoodsmen, and as for the last time he led his men against them, seven bullets entered his body and he fell dead. With his fall resistance ceased. The regulars and Tories huddled together in a confused mass, while the exultant Americans rushed forward. A flag of truce was hoisted, and all the British who were not dead surrendered.

"The victory was complete, and the backwoodsmen at once started to return to their log hamlets and rough, lonely farms. They could not stay, for they dared not leave their homes at the mercy of the Indians. They had rendered a great service; for Cornwallis, when he heard of the disaster to his trusted lieutenant, abandoned his march northward, and retired to South Carolina. When he again resumed the offensive, he found his path barred by stubborn General Greene and his troops of the Continental line."

It might be ventured that to the British, the colonials, we colonials, were mere rebels--in modern parlance, terrorists--fighting for a fledgling heathen nation against the cause of the King and the Church of England...

Perhaps, it is no coincidence that Ho Chi Minh, a student and admirer of the American Revolution, one of the initial sources of his revolutionary ardor, once commented in mid-1944 to his Vietminh forces staked out in the jungles: "Stealth, continual stealth... Never attack except by surprise. Retire before the enemy has a chance to strike back..." (Our Vietnam, A. J. Langguth, Simon & Schuster, NY, 2000) Ho advocated patience with regard to an attack on the weakened French and Japanese forces occupying his native country. 

In the foreword of one edition of Profiles in Courage, John Kennedy wrote:

"This is largely a book about politicians who were failures.

"Most were deprived of any hope of achieving their most cherished goals in public life...

"But what is important about these men is not their failures, but why they failed--not the goals they did not reach, but what kept them from these goals. Each of them had some principle or idea which he believed in; and when the time came, each of them chose to act according to his beliefs even though to do so meant unpopularity and criticism and often defeat in elections.

"That is why this book is called Profiles in Courage. For it takes great courage to do what you think is right even though it may mean the end of your career and the dislike and criticism of your friends and neighbors. Many people never have the opportunity to show such courage. But all of us have the opportunity to recognize such courage in others, to respect the person who is doing what he believes to be right even though we think he is wrong.

"That is why this book is more than an exciting story of great men. It is a lesson to all of us that courage is much more than courage on a battlefield; that it can mean acting according to your beliefs whatever the consequences. And it is also a lesson that we can all share in such courage by refusing to join with those people who make unreasoning attacks on the man who is doing or saying what he honestly believes to be right."

Both JFK and FDR were strong proponents for the end of British, French and Dutch colonialism, in Vietnam and other places. FDR once commented to his son Elliot circa 1942 that men would not be dying then in the Pacific were it not for the colonialism by these three countries.

Colonialism leads, soon or late, only to revolution by the native population--anytime, anywhere. It is just a matter of time.

Perhaps, in this election year, rather than spending heaps of time in the press exploring whether Mr. O'Neill and his cadre of adjurators are correct in parsing the unassailably brave military record of Mr. Kerry--whether he turned this way or that way, whether he turned his swift boat around in the river and returned after fleeing the fire zone while other boats stood by pulling men out of the water or whether he stopped in the river in the fire zone while other boats stood by pulling men out of the river, whether his boat suffered damage from a mine or whether there was only one, another boat that suffered damage, whether he saved a man's life under fire or whether he saved a man's life amid mines in the river, whether he shot a man fleeing with a loaded rocket launcher while the man was immediately able to position himself to fire it or whether he shot a man fleeing with a loaded rocket launcher while the man would have had to take a moment or two to set it up, etc, etc.--it would be far more salutary to the public weal to dig deeply--as long as we are digging at all--into why we fought, why both Mr. O'Neill and Mr. Kerry fought bravely in their youth at the behest of our leaders. That, it seems to us, is an issue with prime currency to teach the present. The rest, the carping of the adjurators, suggests in bold that indeed Mr. Kerry's issues in 1971, which he courageously brought before the Congress, quite without any hope that it would gain him anything but the scorn of the commander-in-chief--as it did--were indeed quite real, even if second-hand. The whole affair reminds one of a football game where the hometeam lost 50-12 and the players sit around the locker room berating the star player because he was the only one on the team to gain yardage in the game while they did all the blocking and got snubbed by the homecoming queen.

Mr. Kerry, it seems to us, would have fit well into Mr. Kennedy's or Messrs. Roosevelt's and Lodge's book on the meaning of courage, both in battle and in politics. Mr. O'Neill and his fellows, while meeting the test well in battle, appear instead in politics to be that sort "who make unreasoning attacks on the man who is doing or saying what he honestly believes to be right". So it was 33 years ago when we first saw through the long tube Mr. O'Neill and Mr. Kerry one night in June, 1971, and so it is today. But life goes on... Ob-La-Di.

(Incidentally, relevant to the current debate, wherein Mr. O'Neill claims that there was no enemy fire at the time Mr. Kerry saved the life of Mr. Rassmann, for which Mr. Kerry received a Bronze Star; at approximately 34 minutes into the June, 1971 debate, Mr. O'Neill stated, "On those particular [Sea Lords] raids, as you know, from the time you came into the Cua Lon River to the time you left the Bo De, you were receiving almost continuous fire the entire time." [Emphasis supplied.] In fairness, the incident in question occurred on the Bai Hap River, somewhere around the Nam Can, approximately 845' N. by 105 E., not the Cua Lon, but nearby, 10-15 miles away, in the same An Xuyen Province, near the southernmost tip of Vietnam. Of course, whatever else he avers, Mr. O'Neill corroborates that there were mines in the river, one of which had just exploded underneath one of the boats, and that Mr. Kerry came back to pick up his man overboard. Mr. Rassmann states that he was under enemy fire at the time. Others speculate that he merely heard the friendly fire from other patrol boats. But does the latter make sense? Would fire have continued into the trees if there were no fire being returned? Would Mr. Rassmann not have been able to distinguish between fire from the jungle and fire from a nearby boat? And if Mr. O'Neill's version is accurate and there was no enemy fire, why, pray tell, did it take Mr. Kerry returning upriver to pick up Mr. Rassmann? Why couldn't the other boat, supposedly unimpeded by enemy fire, pick up Mr. Rassmann before Mr. Kerry returned?

Mr. O'Neill does not claim to have witnessed the earlier incident, nine days before, for which Mr. Kerry received the Silver Star, and does not contend there was an absence of enemy fire on that occasion. But he does claim that Mr. Kerry should not have received the Silver Star merely for "shooting a fleeing youth in the back"--which he also states, however, was not a wrong action. This incident also occurred on the Bai Hap on the way to an insertion point at the Dong Cung. The award was not given solely for Mr. Kerry's pursuit of one enemy soldier but also because he had directed his craft into enemy positions amid heavy fire and then beached it in the center of the enemy, whereupon the soldier with a loaded rocket launcher sprang from a concealed position about ten feet from the boat and began to flee. The soldier was receiving fire from all sides at that point and Mr. Kerry immediately left his boat and pursued the soldier into the jungle and dispatched him. "Stealth, continual stealth... Never attack except by surprise. Retire before the enemy has a chance to strike back..." "Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself." And Sun Tzu says: "...Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." Ah well, time for a little Otis Redding.)

Retraction

Lodge No Obstructionist, but The Committee Just Won't Do

In an editorial yesterday on the obstructionist tactics of the Senate Military Committee, the name of young Henry Cabot Lodge was listed in an uncomplimentary sense along with Nye and Styles Bridges on the Republican side. He was called not only an isolationist but a son of an isolationist.

There he is. But in justice to him and to his sentiments about national defense, it ought to be said that far from being an obstructionist in sentiment, he is a prime mover for action at once.

Regardless of Senator Lodge, the low estimate of the Senate Military Committee still stands. Its average member is not much better qualified to meet the exigencies of the present world situation than were the politicians of a late country that bore the name of France.

 

A Passenger

Whose Presence on a U.S. Ship May Cause Trouble

It is too late to stop it now but Britain's purpose to have her warships keep the American passenger steamer, Excalibur, under the protection of their guns as she crosses with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on board, directs attention to the fact that under international law, both the Duke and the ship on which he travels are fair game for the Nazis.

The presence of any member of the armed forces of a belligerent makes a ship liable for seizure for contraband.

There have been many stories that Windsor has strong Nazi sympathies and that Adolf Hitler wants to set him on the throne of England. So it is quite within the possibilities that a submarine might attempt to force a passenger vessel to surrender him. Suppose the American captain refused.

Then, by law and having given warning, the submarine would be within its rights in sinking the vessel. On board her, in addition to the Duke and Duchess, are several American diplomats en route home. Some of them might well be drowned.

Or suppose the British destroyers engaged the submarine. In such a fight the American vessel could be damaged or passengers killed and injured. And in any case the Nazis would set up a terrible uproar to the fact that we were operating hand in glove with Britain.

Attempts to placate the Nazis are, of course, mere whistling in the wind. Nevertheless, the Neutrality Law as written represents a deliberate attempt to dodge incidents with them by surrendering our rights to pass on the seas. The carrying of the Duke in an American vessel is not even a right. And if it might have seemed churlish to refuse him passage because of a technicality, it is nevertheless true that he would have been at least as safe aboard one of the British warships trailing the Excalibur. If Britain can spare them for convoy, she could spare them to transport him to his islands.

He could have even stayed at home.

 

Epic's End

The Tale of Finlandia Weaves Toward a Close

Now it is Finland's turn.

Molotoff adumbrated the end for her in his speech Thursday when he warned darkly that she must stop "persecuting" elements friendly to Russia. And now the Red press has taken up the cry and expanded it with particular charges which include the great crime of the use by the police of clubs to break up Red rallies in Helsinki and elsewhere.

That sort of bellow always means only one thing in Nazi, Fascist, or Communist language: that the wolf is about to eat the rabbit in order to keep the rabbit from eating him.

The crime of Finland against Russia is quite simple and plain. It consists in her attempt to keep the handful of Reds in her borders from taking over things and handing the country to Russia by a phoney "plebiscite" such as those that took place in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

In the language of the totalitarians, "persecution" always means any refusal to allow Communist, Fascist, or Nazi to have his full way in everything. If England should fall, we ourselves would probably be learning that more fully before long.

The clock ticks out Finland's last hours. She is disarmed now, and can no longer fight. So the "appeasement" of the totos always ends.

The disaster is the most complete which has ever come upon her and may well mean the final extinction of her culture. Under old Russia she was allowed to retain her institutions intact. Under Stalin she will be made over the Moscow image in rapid order.

 

Ducking Out

Congress Backs and Fills To Avoid Draft Issue

President Roosevelt may be given credit for having put politics aside when it came to a showdown about the necessity for a conscription bill. His declaration yesterday puts him squarely and unequivocally on record.

It is something that the rabid Republicans on the Senate Military Committee have been trying to force for several days. Their idea seems to be to go to the country with the charge that Roosevelt is a warmonger and that his desire for a draft is motivated merely by the desire to stir up hysteria and frighten the country with imaginary bogeys. In the present peril, such a game is downright criminal. And it is inconceivable that Mr. Willkie will stand for it.

Meantime, however, Congress shows no positive intention of really getting down to business. More and more of the members, indeed, have been crawling upon the fence in an attempt to dodge the issue until after election. Latest scheme was to "wait and see what a renewed volunteer drive can accomplish."

We know that the volunteer drive is too slow and uncertain. There is not the slightest reason to believe that it would do better in the future--unless--unless the heat were turned on virtually to coerce young men who haven't regular jobs to enlist. And if that were attempted, there would be a terrific uproar and class bitterness would come in for another workout.

We should get no adequate army by that means. Does anybody actually want to entrust the fate of the Republic to an army made up mainly of youngsters from the other side of the tracks, full of sullenness and dissatisfaction? Nobody in his senses does. Moreover, the youngsters have none of the training essential for the modern mechanized army.

This scheme has now fortunately been scuttled, but there may be others. The whole effort to dodge facing the selective service issue serves nobody but politicoes shivering before the coming vote, and it may well backfire on them. 'Twould serve them right.

 

Real Owner

This May Prove Embarrassing To a Pair of Comrades

Mr. A. Hitler may end by proving too much with his novel theory of history

The newest claim is put forward for Master Hitler in Allgemeine Zeitung through a stooge, one Gen. Hugo Wilhelm von Abercron. It concerns Alsace-Lorraine.

But now Gen. von Abercron indicates that it is not merely the province as we know it that Germany is after this time. Old Lorraine, he says, included not only modern Lorraine and Alsace but also all the lands between the Rhyne, the Saone, the Meuse, and the Scheidt--that is, Belgium and most of northern France. The only truth in that is that when Charlemagne died in the ninth century, his empire was divided among his three sons. One of them was named Lothaire: his portion was called Lothairangia, which is the Lorraine the General means. The territory has changed hands a hundred times since.

Charlemagne founded the Holy Roman Empire, which was the only shape in which Germany ever existed as a nation until 1870. But it did it by conquering Germany and he himself belongs to the history of France. The General seems to prove that France is entitled to all Germany.

 


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