Thursday, April 15, 1943

The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 15, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Secretary of War Henry Stimson, the front page reports, decried suggestions that the American troops had been somehow remiss in not pursuing onward to the coast from their staked positions in the hills west of the coastal plain in recent days. He stated that General Alexander, commander of all North African ground operations, had ordered General Patton in central Tunisia instead to hold a 100-mile line between El Guettar and Fondouk, that General K.A.N. Anderson, commanding the British First Army, likewise maintain his position in the north before Tunis and Bizerte, and that the French in the Ousseltia Valley hold their positions, all in concert to contain Axis forces in those areas rather than proceed to the coast. These holding operations thus behaved to occupy Rommel’s flank and cause him to distribute forces along those lines for protection against encroachment.

The forces had performed their tasks magnificently, said Secretary Stimson. The operations had, since mid-March, shortly after Patton took control of Army II Corps on March 6, cleared the way for General Montgomery's Eighth Army to breach the Mareth Line, the Akarit line, moving the whole steadily northward, now fighting for Enfidaville, just 50 miles south of Tunis.

Had he been so ordered to take the coast road and cut off Rommel's northward retreat, continued the Secretary, General Patton would have cherished the idea, given his natural tendency to take the fight to the enemy.

But Georgie Patton was not to command the boldest newsprint on these fighting lines, this time. Montgomery would continue, as he had since late October, to obtain the laurels while Patton and his forces held the line in the desert dust and mud.

The Secretary offered two reasons for the command decision of General Harold Alexander, (presumably neither of which stressed that he was British), to cause Rommel to redistribute his troops over a wide area, making Montgomery's drive easier, and to afford a means by which traps and resulting attrition could occur along the way of his northward retreat, finally into the pocket of no escape save by sea, locked within the northern corner of Tunisia, the avenues of retreat by sea being heavily guarded both by the Royal Navy and by the RAF and American Air Corps, ready to lay their claim on the Nazi prey in retaliation for Dunkerque.

Meanwhile in Tunisian fighting, the French took a key hill, Djebel Sefsouf, on the westernmost edge of Rommel's new line before Tunis and Bizerte, now dubbed the Enfidaville line for its origin about 40 miles inland from that coastal town. Djebel Sefsouf was 30 miles west of Enfidaville and fifty miles southwest of Tunis.

The First Army also captured a hill, Djebel Ang, located eight miles north of Medjez-El-Bab, thirty miles west of Tunis.

Official figures announced the capture of 30,000 Axis troops since the breach of the Mareth Line during the six-day period, March 23 through March 28, through the time of the present fighting. Of those, 23,000 were Italian.

Further Allied air attacks took place on Axis airfields in Tunisia and on Sardinia.

General Giraud ordered a purge of all pro-Vichy and pro-Axis officers from the French Army in North Africa--after five months had passed since the Operation Torch landings of November 8 in Morocco and Algeria, as the handwriting, alas, re the outcome in Tunisia, was now plainly painted for him in bold headlines. The time for fence-sitting had expired. This announcement followed by a few weeks the decision to repeal all anti-Jewish laws in place during the Vichy rule in Algeria.

From the southwest Pacific came more reports from General MacArthur, accompanied by a like assessment by General Thomas Blamey commanding the Australian forces, that the Japanese were seeking to amass air superiority north of Australia, accumulating naval forces at Rabaul on New Britain, to the northwest of New Guinea, and on the island of Truk, and yet further north in the Philippines, all in naval preparation to support the air attacks should enough pressure be brought to bear on Allied air and naval facilities in the region. MacArthur had learned the harsh results of lack of air parity the hard way, firsthand, in the losing Japanese Battle for the Philippines in December, 1941 through early May, 1942.

The statement, though not expressly referring to advice by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox that the Japanese had insufficient naval forces in the region to encompass and take Australia, was nevertheless a due warning that the same sort of encroachment might be effected which had caused the loss of the Philippines, through combined efforts of superior air and naval forces of the enemy. General Blamey reiterated the advice stated Monday that the Japanese had amassed some 200,000 infantry troops in the islands north of Australia, who might be deployed in the event of such combined forces of air and navy inflicting enough damage on Allied air and naval strength.

In responding to MacArthur's pleas for more Allied airplanes in the Pacific theater, Secretary Stimson stated that, while the military command structure was well aware of the need and would supply, to the extent possible and in ever-increasing amounts, this need, the capabilities of supply were taxed elsewhere, primarily by the war in Europe. He indicated that the Japanese had in the previous three months, since losing their toeholds on Guadalcanal and the Papuan Peninsula, stressed "aggressive defensive" operations in lieu of further concerted offensive strikes, with the design to keep pressure on the Allies to prevent counter-offenses and thus to preserve under Japanese control the East Indies and points to the west at Shanghai and to the north in the Philippines, to enable realization of the original purpose for those territorial acquisitions a year earlier, to plunder their rich mineral and agricultural booty, primarily oil, rubber, tin, manganese and mercury, to sustain the Japanese war machine in its attempt to establish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

For the first time since March 11, the RAF was reported to have attacked the German industrial center at Stuttgart in a raid from which 23 bombers failed to return, suggesting, based on usual 5% attrition rates, an original force of about 400 to 500 bombers.

The U.S. Air Force Command in Alaska reported increased air raids on the Japanese-held island of Kiska, indicative of coming operations to oust the Japanese from the area.

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau reported that 5.2 billion of the 13 billion dollar bond drive to support the war effort, initiated on Monday, had already been accomplished, split nearly evenly between banking and non-banking sources.

The News decided to reprint a series of syndicated columns anent Army life, authored by its former reporter Private Marion Hargrove. The series, begun this date, was from late 1941 and early 1942. We do not have those for you, but we shall try to accommodate in the future.

On the editorial page, "Fellowship" criticizes the Republicans in Congress who were assailing the renewal of reciprocal trade agreements, set to expire June 30, on the basis that they were tired of "good fellowship stuff". The piece indicates that the American people were determined to see a better, more cooperative peacetime world after the war and that reciprocal trade was a principal way of insuring such an environment. Good fellowship was a desirable result after this terrible cataclysm, impacting every inch of earth and sea on the entire globe, yet to impact even more and for a generation to come.

"Indian Gift", despite its title, praises the Interstate Commerce Commission’s decision to withdraw from the railroads the previously allowed freight rate increases based on the determination that the railroads were deriving undue profits from the war, leading to inflationary costs of products from increased transportation of goods and raw materials to and from the manufacturer. The railroads had benefited enormously from the war industry and the Administration now simply rolled back that unjust benefit. It did not repeal, however, increased passenger rates. The rates would be reviewed again in 1944.

The piece adds a cautionary note, however, that the trend of President Roosevelt to control profits, prices, and wages to prevent inflation could establish a rueful precedent which, if continued after the war, could inflict serious damage to the concept of a free marketplace.

Note: remember the early 1970's, the way we were...

"The Leader" finds the predictions enunciated by C. L. Shuping, in press releases to North Carolina newspapers to the effect that North Carolina was turning against Roosevelt and the New Deal, to be nothing more than a continuing pattern of anti-New Deal statements issued for many years by Democrat Shuping. While he had managed the 1932 Roosevelt campaign in North Carolina, he turned against him in both 1936 and 1940, on the basis of his avowed determination to oppose New Deal policies, not consistent, he believed, with North Carolina’s version of Democracy. It was just the same old tune, says the piece.

"Here come old flattop…"

"The Exceptions" observes the disconnect between the goals stated by the Atlantic Charter in August, 1941 and the reality now being previewed of the post-war environment by both Churchill and Stalin, Churchill having declared in November that he would not be the first King's First Minister to preside over the dismemberment of the British Empire, manifested in the previous year's failure by the British to strike an accord with the All-India Congress of Gandhi and Nehru, instead jailing Gandhi, and further, in the Soviet determination to acquire post-war buffer states against future recidivistic German aggression by acquiring strips of Finland and Poland, all of the three Baltic States, and Bessarabia in the Balkans.

Such sustenance of rationalized empirical notions was contrary to the expressed goals repeated consistently by the State Department, to establish and extend democracy in the post-war world. Any form of empire, the piece wisely states, was contra this goal.

Samuel Grafton examines the gambit of the President in determining what to say about the prospect of his running for a fourth term. If he stated his lack of intention to run in time of world war, he would lose prestige as a lame duck, both on the world stage and in a new, more Republican Congress bent on re-asserting itself and taking back some of the broad executive power it had ceded to the President in the wake of Pearl Harbor and, domestically, during the Depression years of the New Deal.

Roosevelt would not fare well, opines Mr. Grafton, in talks with Churchill, firmly ensconced for the duration in Great Britain, or with Stalin, the virtual dictator, or Chiang Kai-shek, the generalissimo. Thus, he concludes, FDR's decision to remain mum on the subject was a wise one.

Does the piece indicate a flaw and weakness in the post-war Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, passed and ratified in 1947, limiting the president to two terms in office during his or her lifetime? Should it have allowed for a special exceptional plebiscite in time of congressionally declared war to determine whether to override the amendment during the duration of the declared war? Would that solve the problem? Is there a problem? Would a sympathetic Congress, comprised of enough membership of the same party as the President, declare a war semi-frivolously therefore to afford such a plebiscite? But would such a potential abuse of power not be checked by the plebiscite itself?

Since, unlike times prior to 1976, all states have their own individual primaries or caucuses now, the plebiscite contemplated would not have to be a special election per se, but simply could be the ordinary nominating process through which we now go every four years--not the case in 1947, when only a handful of primaries or caucuses were held in each party, the party leaders and bosses within smoke-filled rooms being primarily the ones left to pick the nominees at the major party conventions, even if not without obvious practical consideration paid to the horse-race results of the primaries.

Moreover, if, hypothetically, to enable the override of the amendment and the ability therefore of the sitting president in his second term to run again for his party's nomination in the primaries as a condition precedent to running in the fall general election, the standard case anyway, the declaration of war had to be passed by a super-majority in Congress, say two-thirds or even three-fourths, then the possibility of placing party fealty and power above genuine necessity in declaring war would be dissipated, if not eliminated.

Dorothy Thompson looks again at American education, especially focusing on history and how it is taught, on timelines, in disparate, memorized facts and factoids, divorced from the overall flow of a society actually living and being in a particular time of world history. She offers that this atomization of history, without final synthesis of its diffuse component parts, without an holistic approach to the study of history, embracing all aspects of society, its cultural, artistic, literary, scientific, religious, even anthropological affinities, of the particular period studied, had contributed to the establishment of a mindset operating on the world stage at that time, as manifested by the way the war itself was being conducted, without sufficient coordination and embrace of the world picture.

She might have added that it was this fault which stimulated Hitler to begin the war, a failure of recognition of holism.

We agree with her analysis and remedial concept. We have before mentioned that during our first two semesters of college life we had the good fortune and pleasure to take a pair of philosophy courses under E. M. Adams, who enunciated the dedicated premise that man in the age of the twentieth century was alienated from his identity, his self, for the very reason articulated this date by Ms. Thompson, that reductionist views of the world, the notions of science prevailing upon the student to examine the parts of the biological specimen, or of the atomic particulate construction, to reduce everything to its constituent parts, increasingly to the point of the infinitesimal--a dedicated position promoted with religious zeal and provided demi-god status in Hitler's Germany--had resulted in man's consciousness being alienated from his whole person. He had become little more than a series of atomic particles arranged into molecules forming then in cohesion the separate parts of his anatomy, soulless, without the muse of poetry or music to infuse his base physical being with a spirit to communicate the parts into one whole.

He lived in the twentieth century thus purposeless, save to earn a living to gain material sustenance and then to acquire more to achieve wealth, fame, and power--to cast his lasting imprint on the face of the walls at Altamira or, its modern equivalent, to bequeath money to a university or college to have the name of someone of whom no one of the college or university had ever heard, or who had never positively in fact contributed to the learning environment, nevertheless emblazoned on a campus building.

This modern phenomenon of alienation from self was fueled, the professor reasoned, by the way in which the college or university taught courses, dividing the humanities from the social sciences, again from the natural sciences, yet again from mathematics, and so on. The remedy he offered was interdisciplinary approaches to learning and teaching, to combine the structured, empirical approach of the natural and social sciences with the spiritual embrace offered by the humanities, to provide the sciences with a soul, so to speak, to infuse the humanities with a sense of the scientific method in going about its labors in search of individual and collective universal truth--thus advocating just the sort of notions promoted in this day's editorial by Dorothy Thompson.

In any event, we strive here, every day, to accomplish that goal to the extent to which we are allowed by the illusion of time, usually impressed upon us by idiots--who have miserably failed in their approach to learning and who embrace the little boxes, hoaxes, and pigeonholes of daily existence as their only refuge for viewing with any discernment any subject, divorced from its overall sensitivities and relationships to the rest of existence, idiots who are afraid to think, so divorced from reality of time and place that they can scarcely muster the ability to think beyond their little boxes.

Raymond Clapper observes again the distinctions to be drawn between the Keynesian view of the post-war clearing union, a world bank to finance war-torn and depressed countries and to regulate international trade via trade credits, as espoused by the British, and the American concept advanced by Henry Morgenthau to establish instead an international stabilization fund for currencies of member nations formed on the gold standard to which they would contribute for regulation and to ward off devaluation of currencies to cheat other countries engaging in trade with the source of the currency, purchasing their bonds and commodities futures on international markets.

Mr. Clapper concludes that between the two concepts, the American was the better. America at the time held 75 to 80 percent of the world's gold, he informs, and did so uselessly. For if one nation has all of it, what good is it in barter with other nations? So, the redistribution of the gold would be the goal.

As we have indicated last week, both concepts, in the form of the World Bank, formed in 1945, and the International Monetary Fund, formed in July, 1944, were eventually adopted to satisfy both purposes enunciated. That they have always fulfilled their theoretical functions is, of course, subject to debate. But, that they have established, in their originally promulgated goals, laudable theoretical pursuits, cannot be doubted without considerable ignorance of those goals or dissembling in the process of re-stating them.

The filler at the bottom of the column proved to contain within its three lines more sooth for twenty years hence than it possibly could have, in 1943, imagined.

Did you ever buy a Beatles wig in 1964? We can tell you that they were awful, smelled of some foul chemical substance, sort of like shoe polish, anyway a petroleum odor, the hair being made of some shiny plastic substance or something of which we probably care not to know too much, which suggested that the Beatles used greasy kid-stuff and eschewed the dry look to come to America in their wake, and that the hair fell out by just moving the thing around a little, just a little. Indeed, the resulting effect was more resemblant to Allen of Allen & Rossi than any Beatle we ever saw. But, for about two bucks, if we recall, what could you expect?

We never got to the boots or Edwardian suits. Some did, though, right in our own neighborhood.

Anyway, the "Side Glances", one might say, was being for the benefit, perhaps paranormally or, maybe, transcendentally, perhaps actually.

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