The Charlotte News

Thursday, September 5, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Give us a D.

Give us an R.

Give us an I...

Anyway, you can't put lipstick on a pig and thereby change its essential character.

"Cap and Bells" tells of the first impact from the nightly bombing raids over England--a drop of 5 per cent in production, quite insufficient to allow Hitler any realistic optimism of an early invasion of England. Yet optimistic he was the night before with his threats to bomb English towns out of existence. Grotesquerie in burlesque form, indeed.

Judging by the concluding sentence, predicting Hitler had already reached and passed his zenith, perhaps as Cash wrote this piece, referencing along the way "Mein Kampf" in an effort further to understand Hitler's voluble and dissociative statements and reactions to events, he had in mind the same portion of that volume from which we quoted just four weeks ago in association with the editorials of August 7, 1941.

"Maker, Breaker" tells more of the transfer to England of the 50 destroyers and its actual violation of the terms of neutrality set forth a year earlier by President Roosevelt himself. But it concludes nevertheless that the deal was indispensable to the continued viability of Britain against the attack of the Nazi horde and so was the only step possible, one which could not in practicality be limited by rigid rules of neutrality set forth at an earlier time when matters stood very differently at the invasion of Poland the previous year.

"Nazi Style" explains the process by which the Nazis were looting France, not by force, but rather by chicanery, paying worthless paper to the French for the booty shipped back to Germany.

"Modern Times" of Chaplin, to which Cash appears, whether consciously or unconsciously, subliminally to allude in "Cap and Bells", might be the better benchmark by which to gauge all of the pieces of this date's page on the war. Hanging somewhere by a thread off the hands of Big Ben.

The letter from Mr. Kennington, seeking to refute the emotional letter from "A Reader" of three days earlier, sets forth perhaps the best argument as to why President Johnson and Secretary of Defense McNamara chose in 1964 after the Gulf of Tonkin incident to step up the draft immediately and begin to send men to Vietnam. In hindsight, we are not suggesting for a moment that the policy was a good one; obviously, history would show it not to be, as eventually, in 1975, South Vietnam fell to the Communists without any other domino in that region of the world being likewise impacted. But whether at the time it was the only one reasonably to follow, given the lessons of history known then, is certainly subject to debate.

The theory justifying the sending first of advisors, then troop personnel to Vietnam, had it thusly: that if Vietnam fell, the whole Pacific region was subject to Communist incursion. The reason for that theory was based on the World War II model. For, as soon as French Indochina was handed, with Vichy's approval, to the Japanese for occupation in July, 1941, the next major step for the Japanese was Pearl Harbor less than five months later. It was not quite that simple and clear-cut, as many things happened in the interim within the Axis complex between July and December, mainly the bogging down of the Russian campaign, necessitating more oil and rubber for not only the Japanese army in China, but also the Nazi army in search of death and blood on the killing fields spread from the Ukraine to the Baltic, where death by wholesale would occur the following summer. But, the picture nevertheless presented was one of territorial and booty acquisition for the creation and sustenance of empire. And fear of repetition of that model drove the policy of defending at all costs Vietnam in the 1960's, beginning in 1958 with the Eisenhower Administration's determination to send advisors.

Was it right at the time? We thought so as a country, in 1964-65 and into 1966. But, by 1967, and especially by 1968, the mood had vastly and markedly changed. Not unlike the trend with Iraq. We are a very impatient country with respect to war. The next President who seeks to wage one best keep that central fact in mind and that, no matter how easy the plan looks on paper, execution in the field, especially of an offensive war on the other's turf, is a very different proposition. These also are lessons of history to be obeyed.

Anyone later who tries to inform you that Iraq is a success today first ought to have his head examined, but certainly is not worth much attention. That person is dodging the reality of the previous five years and dodging the fact that there was never any real objective in that war from its beginning which lends to it the least bit of justice in the end. If the notion was to make an example of Iraq to threaten other rogue countries, which, in hindsight, the Administration and its shills appear to be seeking to claim, then only time will tell. But again to claim "Mission Accomplished", as we seem now to be hearing from the Republicans, seems to us rather short-sighted, not only with respect to the history of Vietnam, but moreover with respect to the immediate history of the last two decades of the Middle East. Their memories tend to be longer than ours because it is their homes which have been bombed, not ours.

And the end result of this war has been to creep this country slowly toward totalitarianism and certainly vastly away from its democratic foundations. The country's respect abroad is in tatters. The Nazis were feared; that was not the equivalent, however, of respect. No pre-emptive campaign is worth that, the destruction of respect and replacing it with fear. Iraq did not threaten the security of the United States in 2003. That it does not today does not then suggest "Mission Accomplished". Whether it will sometime in the future, twenty years on, we don't know.

But to go out looking for war, as we have for the past seven years, is problematic and must never occur again. For any society which goes looking for war, just as did the Nazis, just as did the Japanese, just as did the Italian Fascists, will surely eventually find it.

As to Mr. Kennington's proposition that since one well-trained German soldier equaled in World War I two and a half Allied soldiers in killing power, it was "proved conclusively" that early conscription prior to actual war, to enable a well-trained fighting force, was a necessary concomitant to waging war effectively, we think the premise may be somewhat flawed, even if the conclusion is probably an accurate one. For the notion of the kill ratio of 2.5:1 in favor of the Germans in World War I has first to take into account probable German superiority to the rest of Central Europe at the time in terms of industrial capability to manufacture better armaments and weaponry than France or the low countries, and that when compared to either Britain or the United States, the war was being fought on relative home turf to the German. Home turf is an incalculable advantage. For the American or the British soldier, the concept of the enemy literally attacking home had to be pretty much an academic notion, that he was defending any more than the immediate turf behind him, an exercise in forced calculation. But for the German, the concept was quite real in his own mind.

Yet, after the fall of Dunkirk two decades later in June, 1940, followed hard on by the Battle of Britain now in September, the British soldier no longer had illusions that literal defense of home, street to street and house to house, against the Hun warrior was anything less than the stake for which he fought. After Pearl Harbor, the illusory notions of protection by oceans was forever destroyed for the American soldier.

It is a concept worth keeping when calculating out a war strategy in places such as Vietnam or Iraq. The emotion instilled by the concept of defending military objectives set by colonels and generals is one thing; the concept of defending one's own abode, quite another.

Indeed, underlying the current of Hugh Johnson's advice set forth in his column of this date re the desire for control of the draft to be local rather than determined, except as to the lottery, by Washington, is this very same principle.

And, we find Raymond Clapper's piece of interest today, worth reading in any election year. It is likely no accident that the editors of The News chose to place beneath it the little piece on the intransigent morning glory and its twisting directions, one way south of the equator, the other way about above it. The average voter might be seen to do likewise, as between being intransigently Republican or equally intransigently Democrat. Whether that intransigence or even breaking the pattern temporarily, however, always equates to the glory of morning in America, well, by experience of our own account through time, we would have to just say, probably no.

"Visitin' Around" has earmarks to it today which cause our ears to perk up also. Perhaps, we have reached the high water of the Confederacy and the stone-walling is about to end. But that remains to be seen. Don't foresake your Ark yet. We refrain from comment about the repetition of the lost cows. But there was that green-screen at the Republican convention behind Senator McCain the other night. Along with lots of red, and blue, and white. That's okay though. We sometimes chew our cud, too.

$11 a Month*

Housing Authority's Rents Fit Poor Man's Pocketbook

The Charlotte Housing Authority scale of rents for its Piedmont Courts tenants, like that of Fairview Homes, the Negro apartments, emphasizes again what a masterly job has been done in keeping rents within the reach of the people for whom the projects were designed.

Three rooms for $9.40 a month, including $1.60 for water and electricity, is genuinely low-cost housing. Negro rents are even lower, and the two scales show that the Authority approached its job with a realistic mind. It knew that the first thing it had to provide was cheap quarters.

Opponents of this new venture in slum clearance may say, of course, and not without reason, that the housing projects do not stand on their own bottoms, that they have to be subsidized by cheap Federal money and grants and the remission of taxes by local governments.

But if the rents had not been low, strictly comparable with what is being paid now for shot-gun houses, they would have charged that the whole thing was a piece of the New Deal's fancy-work and that the people it was meant to help just couldn't afford the boon.

The Housing Authority, however, has silenced any such criticism. Whether or not the flow of Federal money ceases and though the slums continue as an undecorative feature of the American style of living, Chairman Jones and his associates have taken the money allotted for these two local projects, made it go 'round and converted a dream into an entirely practicable reality.

Cap And Bells

Adolf Does His Best To Laugh Something Off

Bluster has always been characteristic of Adolf Hitler, but the heavy attempt to be facetious yesterday suggested he has got himself mixed up with the hero of Chaplin's "The Great Dictator." A more grotesque performance has not been staged in modern times.

It may be that he was at heart what he offered himself as being, a man so sure of his power to carry out his brag that he can afford to make a joke of the enemy. But in view of his own repeated warnings in "Mein Kampf" against just that sort of thing, it is a good deal more probable that he was a very uneasy man out to cover up some embarrassment.

His hysterical threat to bomb English towns out of existence is a tacit confession that he hasn't been able to do much with "military objectives" in the Midlands, where most of England's productive capacity is. Taylor Henry of the Associated Press yesterday estimated, after an unescorted tour of the district, that production has not been cut down more than 5 per cent. Unless Adolf can do many times as well as that in the next ten days, the invasion of England this Fall is pretty well out of the question.

Did his threat mean that he will now really abandon all attempts at pretending to bomb only military objectives and go for the all-out terrorization of civilians? It is quite possible. Nothing could be more to his taste. But there are a number of things to give him pause. One of them is the grand fact that the British have demonstrated their growing power to deliver blow for blow. And all the evidence suggests that the British morale is much better braced to withstand shock than the German.

And then he has to reckon on the United States and its reaction to wholesale terrorism. He is very careful these days not to offend the United States and he is manifestly afraid of the effect on the spirit of his people of such moves as the sale of the destroyers to England.

At any rate, he definitely entered a hedge for the benefit of both the world and his people, when he blurted out the news that he had informed Marshal Goering last September to prepare for a five years' war and when he played God by announcing that he alone would settle the hour for the end of the war but explained that it took time.

That is a very different tune than the one he employed on Jan. 1, 1940, when he told the world and the Germans that he positively would end the war in 1940.

He is still an unpredictable quantity and he may yet undertake some desperate enterprise--with a chance that it will succeed. Nonetheless, there is good reason in his speech for suspecting that the invasion of England is not going to develop. And if it does not--that it is altogether likely that Adolf Hitler has already reached and passed his zenith.

Maker, Breaker

The President Violates His Own Proclamation

A good lawyer can always find a law to fit his case. It is no wonder, then, that Attorney General Jackson, set to searching by the President, was able to cite convincing authority both for the transfer of the 50 destroyers to Britain and the President's right to make the deal without the consent of Congress.

Besides, it was good policy to put as respectable a title as possible on this act that was overtly hostile to Germany.

But if the case were to be heard in court, it is more than likely that the verdict would have to be that the transfer was not only a violation of international law but of the President's own proclamation of the terms of American neutrality.

As issued on September 5, 1939, and signed by the President and countersigned by Secretary Hull, this proclamation forbade under the threat of severe penalties, a long list of acts. Defined as a violation of neutrality and this country's "friendship and amity with the contending powers" were the following:

Setting out and arming any ship or vessel to be used in the service of a belligerent.

Setting on foot any military or naval expedition to start from the United States against a belligerent.

Dispatching from the United States any vessel armed as a warship with the intent to deliver it to a belligerent.

Dispatching from the United States any armed vessel to be used against a belligerent power or to be sold to a belligerent.

That seems to have established, so far as the simple citizen was concerned, the high illegality of any such transaction as the President has just put through on his own authority. The proclamation cannot, of course, have restrained the Administration from doing what it chose to do on pain of imposing penalties upon itself, but it certainly laid down a set of rules which the Administration now has freely breached.

And yet, approving of the transfer of the 50 destroyers, we think that the President would have been unequal to his time if he had allowed laws, proclamation, custom or anything else to restrain him from taking any step that was calculated to help Britain, thus helping America, and that was still short of war.

Nazi Style

France Is Being Politely And Systematically Looted

A looting spree that would have made old William Tecumseh Sherman look like a purse-snatcher on his march through Georgia is now going on in France. The Nazi army of occupation is a stickler for behavior, to be sure. Not a single report of pillaging or vandalism has come to our notice.

No, this is a refined form of looting. But the Nazi mind stands trustee for its effectiveness. The boodle is going to be a sight more, too, by reason of the Nazi organization, than it would have been had soldiers been turned loose to loot on their own hook.

The method is simple. Commissaries and soldiers of the army of occupation are supplied with "occupation marks." These have a fixed value in terms of francs, and with them the Germans are said to be buying--this dispatch came out of Switzerland: it never would have got by the German censors in France--everything consumable in the country.

Jewelry, silverware and works of art, all politely purchased with this stage money, are going back to Germany by the truckload.

The cream of the brutal jest is that these occupation marks are to be redeemed by the French as a part of the costs of the German occupation. Taking everything in sight, paying out paper money for it, and compelling the conquered country to underwrite the whole transaction?

Hah! That's a good one! Getting all the boodle and charging it up to the victims.

The ludicrousness of it must set Hitler's mustache to twitching and Hermann Goering's belly to shaking with good Nazi mirth.

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