The Charlotte News
WEDDNESDAY, June 19, 1940
Site Ed. Note: "Weakness" and "Same Way" give Cash in crystal clarity on the status of the war and the United States's hesitant, over-hesitant, relationship to it, while recognizing that the problem in going immediately to the fray was lack of preparation and short-sightedness such that the military apparatus was too small and ill-prepared at the time leaving the predicament at hand, the predicament which eventually led to Pearl Harbor. And his comment that Japan might soon attack the United States in the Pacific as a pawn to Hitler to draw us into the war in hopes of gaining our quick obeisance to the beast sums the case--here in mid-June, 1940. It is an intriguing quirk of history that Admiral Stark, mentioned below as requesting from Congress four billion dollars more for the Navy eighteen months before Pearl Harbor, was relieved of his post as chief of naval operations in the wake of the December 7, 1941 attack.
Failure of Decision Has Brought France To Doom
The sentimentalists who sobbed and moaned over the fate of "poor Germany" in 1919 and who have sobbed and moaned over "wicked Versailles" ever since--they have their answer today. The exact terms are not yet known, but the essential fact is clear enough: France is extinguished save as a meaningless and empty name.
Heinrich Himmler has arrived in Paris and the systematic destruction of French culture has begun. Out of that land for four hundred years has come the central light of civilization. Now the lamp is to be snuffed out. French literature to be denied to Frenchmen--for most of it was the work of free men--and perhaps eventually to all the earth.
Out of that land long ago came the burning words which were to light the torch of liberty in the American colonies, and from there spread back to France herself and to Europe. Land and words alike are dead today.
The fact is plain: France has vanished to give place to the rule of the snarling swine, to a culture which is indistinguishable from that which 2,000 years ago Tacitus found among the Suevi in the dark forest about the human sacrificial shrine which is now Berlin, save in that it is armed with all the accumulated knowledge of man to use for its evil ends.
France has vanished because when this hour struck the democracies could not make the decision which would insure their survival, flinched away from it and took refuge in words. Machiavelli knew that for the fatal weakness of democracies. Spengler saw it with fearful clarity as the last war raged. Adolf Hitler saw it with the greatest clarity of all and has acted upon it with dreadful sureness.
With Full Warning, We Repeat the Same Errors
What is worse, far worse, is that it is all too apparent that democracy is still doomed to learn too late. England, with her back to the wall and the sword at her throat, is awake at last. At length she has put away her bickering over secondary interest and has faced the fact that to survive is the first interest and the first law.
But, with the fate of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France before us, we show little signs of really comprehending our predicament.
The fact is clear enough. If England goes, the roof will blow off all over Latin America within a few months, in a number of cases probably within a few weeks or even days. We should face the task of subduing Nazi governments in the coastal cities of these countries by naval action and landing armies of occupation (which we have in only the smallest numbers)--or of submitting to see Nazism brought to our door.
It is far from certain that we can do it at all, but it is certain that if we attempt to do it we shall immediately be at war with the Axis--with every probability that at the same time Japan will strike us from the other side.
And how is this met?
There is a hysteria in the country about "helping the Allies by every means short of war." So far our help consist in these things:
1 -- Allowing our airplane manufacturers to sell them perhaps 2,000 planes at the fat prices the manufacturers saw fit to demand.
2 -- Selling them a mass of old arms, discarded by our Army, at an excellent price.
3 -- Selling them about 150 fighting planes of our Army and Navy, again at an excellent price.
The Congress has hastily appropriated two billion dollars for the Army and the Navy which will begin to make itself felt some nine months from now at the earliest.
The Congress is apparently about to accept Admiral Stark's request and appropriate four billion dollars more, which will make itself felt from a year to four years from now.
The President is playing with a vague and camouflaged version of universal service, which is to be presented to Congress in from three to six weeks.
Does anybody really believe that this meets the emergency with which we are confronted?
Winston Churchill indulged in no mere rhetoric yesterday when he said that if the British Empire falls, a new dark age is probably about to begin for the United States as well as Europe. What we can do to aid England immediately is a question. Perhaps not much. But can it be doubted that it is to our essential interest to see that she is encouraged to fight to the end, that if England falls our own safety requires the withdrawal of the British Navy to Canada, with assurance of backing by our own full power--ships, industry, men, for the ultimate defeat of Hitlerism?
And does anybody suppose England will accept vague cries about helping her as such assurance or that she can defend herself with promises?
Only the Congress can give these commitments, which may prove to be the crucial weakness in our Government. But the President and the other chief spokesmen of both parties can and should point the way to Congress. They don't. Yesterday even Mr. Wendell Willkie came out and started hewing straight down the standard Republican Party line, which is simply "Keep Us Out of War!" A cry that in these times is about as much to the purpose as the nonsense speeches in Alice.
We are trying to meet the greatest crisis in our history by measures carefully designed not to interfere with the sacred and primary business of politics. We are trying to avoid a decision by spinning all around it. That, precisely, is why France is dead today.
What Probably Explains Mr. D. Lacy McBride
Trouble with Mr. D. Lacy McBride, we suspect, is not any lack of ultimate loyalty to the United States but simply that he is one of what William James use to call "the tender-minded."
Mr. McBride seems to be an honest pacifist, one who believes that we can stay out of war simply by making up our minds to that effect. Many other honest pacifists have changed their minds about that. For instance, Bertrand Russell, the most distinguished of them all--a man who went to jail in the last war in defense of pacifism. He has now changed his mind: with Hitlerism before him, concludes that "pacifism is not enough."
But not "the tender-minded." Having decided that the fact of war is too dreadful ever to be faced, they decline to concede that it is beyond our power to wave it away with words--themselves seek to exorcise it by denying that such facts exist.
And to that end they distort every fact in sight. Mr. McBride informs a News reporter that "we have sense enough to know that Germany has nothing to gain from sinking one of our ships, that England has--in order to stir us up to make war on Germany."
The plain sense of the case, however, is that Germany has at least equally good reason with England. If she could sink one of our ships, persuade us that the English did it in order to get us into war she would have eliminated us from the equation. And moreover, the record shows plainly that Nazi Germany and her partners in crime are the only powers on earth who are known to have committed such heinous offenses.
In point of fact, it is almost certain that no sinking was contemplated by anybody. This story was loosed by Dr. Goebbels through the German High Command merely by way of confusing the United States, persuading tender-minded pacifists that England was viciously plotting to betray us. It worked beautifully on Mr. McBride.
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