The Charlotte News

Sunday, September 24, 1939


A Choice of Calamities

Grim Questions For The U. S. Are Posed In The European Struggle For The Balance Of Power

If England and France can win this war in some reasonable time, we may hope to get off fairly light. On the other hand, if the Nazis and their Red allies begin to move toward victory, we are in for it.

We probably could prevent such a victory if we entered in time. Not even that is certain, however. We like to think of ourselves as invincible in arms. But all other nations think exactly the same thing. The poor Poles thought it a month ago. And in reality, it is conceivable that, with all our resources, we might be beaten. What that would mean is too horrible to bear looking at.

But if we went in and won, the price would still be staggering. We had only some 48,000 men killed in action in the last war, because the Germans were already groggy under our economic blows and the physical blows of the French and British armies before our troops were ready to take the field. Possibly, we might have the luck to escape so lightly again. But just as possibly, our cost might run to a million lives, or more.

In any case, the economic price would be out of sight. Counting worthless war debts, soldiers' benefits, etc., it is estimated that the last war will have cost us over sixty-five billion dollars before the record is closed. The next might easily cost a hundred or even a hundred and fifty billions, a third or half of our national wealth. That would certainly mean such taxes as would make the New Deal's look like small change, would likely mean inflation--and all that in turn would mean greatly decreased employment and social disorder.

What also has to be considered is that, in our flight to preserve democracy, that way of life might itself disappear. It had terrific holes put into it even in the short struggle in 1917-18, and to this day has not recovered fully.

On the other hand, what will happen if we decide to let the Hitler-Stalin combination win?

For one thing, it probably would mean the British and French empires would be wholly taken over by the Nazis and the Reds. In self-defense we should have to take over Canada and the British and French West Indies--since to have them turned into Nazi-Communist bases would be intolerable. At the same time, we would have to establish a much more clear and formal protectorate over South America, ultimately one of the Nazis most cherished goals.

Quite possibly, such action might immediately involve us in war with the victors. For if the British and French fleet still existed when the war was over, the Nazi-Red front would be sure to take them over. And if they had remained fairly intact, the combination would have a much more powerful fleet then the United States, particularly if they worked in conjunction with the Italian and Jap fleets. And, if they succeeded in destroying us at sea, the state of our land forces would of course make us far easier prey then the Poles.

Against that, we may hope either that the German and Russian nations will be so nearly exhausted by the conflict that they will need an extended period of rest before taking on more conquest, or that they will quarrel over the division of the swag and set to destroying each other. But perhaps too great dependence had best not be put in these pious hopes. England and France are in the spot they are in today very largely because of their wishful fantasies of the struggle to the death between the Nazis and the Reds.

And if these things didn't happen, and even though we didn't fall immediate victim, we should have to face the prospect of being eternally ready for war to the hilt as long as the Nazi and Red regime continued to dominate the rest of the earth. What that would mean Barney Baruch faintly adumbrated the other day.

When the British navy goes, our naval safety factor is cut into half, for it has long been our first line of defense in the Atlantic. A fleet big enough adequately to protect the whole of both American continents in both oceans would probably have to be at least four or five times as big as the present one. Our present naval bill runs close to a billion dollars annually. In the future it may run to five billion or more.

A standing army of a million men would seem to be about the smallest which the problem of protecting so much territory can reasonably be assigned. And in addition, it probably would be necessary to institute universal military service, with a term of at least one year--the shortest time in which a soldier can be trained in the methods of modern warfare.

Finally, we should have to revive the means for the support of all the soldiers and for the manufacture and maintenance of great stores of guns, shells, bombs, airplanes, equipment, etc., as well as for enormously expanding our fortified defenses. A defense budget of a ten to fifteen billions annually sounds fantastic. But we may see it.

All of which brings us back to that question of the survival of democracy. Can democracy and complete militarization live together for a long period? And what effect would the necessary increase in taxation have on us? Moreover, there is something else. We should certainly be subjected to a constant bombardment of Nazi and Communist ideology--one which would make their present efforts look puny. Could we successfully resist it?

Dead Soldier

Germany Loses Her Ablest General In Von Fritsch

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is to be assumed that Colonel General Baron Werner Von Fritsch died as the German press has reported he died--at the head of the regiment to whose command he had been demoted, in an attack on Warsaw.

Nevertheless, the suspicion will be widespread that he was actually killed by a Nazi, rather than a Polish bullet.

The little man, who was the image of the movie characterizations of Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm on which we were fed in the last war, was a Junker to his fingertips--looked on Adolf Hitler and his Nazis as dirty guttersnipes, not for the reasons that would move us to agree with the verdict but because they did not belong to the military caste. As blunt as his tradition, he took no pains to hide that view, which of course was intolerably galling to a man of Hitler's stamp. And in addition, he dared to do what no man has done and lived long--to challenge Hitler's judgment and even to force his hand.

It was he who drove Der Furious to execute Roehm. And he remained a generally dangerous man, for down to his death he was still the idol of the Junker group, who make up the backbone of the officer class in the German army. And these Junkers in general love Hitler very little.

All of which, of course, will lend color to the belief that he was murdered and not killed in action.

In any case, the German army has lost its best trained soldier, its best bet for a commander if the battle begins to go against Germany. Von Brauchitsch achieved his command, not by great distinction in his field but by bootlicking the Nazi politicians. It may be that he will turn out to be a great soldier, but there is nothing in his record to suggest it. And least of all Poland. All that case demonstrated is that it is easy for big mechanized armies to run over little unmechanized ones. But that sort of thing will settle nothing on the Western Front.

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