The Charlotte News
Thursday, January 16, 1941
Spice Of Life
Two Columnists Debate Roosevelt's Intentions
A rare opportunity for those who like to hear both sides of a question is offered on this page today. Two columnists go to work on the same problem and come out with precisely different answers.
Literally, we suppose, it isn't the same problem. General Ironpants Johnson selects as the object of his venom the lease-lend bill, in particular three rhetorical phases of it which rile him most. And Raymond Clapper hardly more than mentions the bill in passing onto a discourse about the delegation of authority to one man and the probable consequences of this nation's failing to meet the challenge of Hitler.
But when you come down to the basic difference between them, it is in their attitude toward Roosevelt and their clashing estimate of his intentions. Johnson, immediately and violently, is ready to believe the worst--that he craves power to use as a "Fuehrer" in making war impulsively and in subordinating democratic processes to his own petulant will.
Clapper, on the contrary, believes that a democracy which is sure of its passion for freedom and sure of its leadership would be suicidally stupid to let considerations of form and tradition obscure the all-essential purposes of meeting unified, instantaneous action with unified, instantaneous action.
Which of the two estimates of Roosevelt is right or more nearly right, the little reader will already have determined in accordance with his own estimate, which is to say his instinct and his self-interest. But he will enjoy the accidental debate, nevertheless.
The Isolationists Hear Home Truths From Mr. Hull
A lot of the isolationists met a Tennessee mountain man yesterday and came off decidedly second-best.
The House galleries guffawed when Tinkham, the New England Yankee exhibitionist, attempted to insinuate that the State Department was pretending to have a lot of alarming information it didn't have, and got rocked back on his heels with Secretary Hull's tart retort that for eight years Tinkham had not once darkened the State Department's door in search of information.
More important, however, was Secretary Hull's annihilation of the sophism: if Germany cannot cross 20 miles of water in the English Channel, how on earth is she to cross 3,000 miles of water to attack us?
Germany, said Mr. Hull, cannot cross the Channel precisely because that body of water is controlled by the British navy and air force. Let Germany get control of it and she will cross it in an hour. And she will have no trouble in crossing the Atlantic if she gets control of that ocean. If England falls and the British navy passes to Germany, she will have control of the Atlantic beyond all dispute until 1945. That is by far the most lucid analysis of the case yet made.
Just as important was Mr. Hull's sweeping away of the smoke screen of sophism about international law. International law, as he pointed out, is something which rests on agreement between all the nations involved. From the beginning of this war, Germany has ignored all her commitments and has systematically violated nearly every provision of all existing agreements and programs--such as the unratified Hague plan of 1907. To talk of international law with regard to Germany is silly. This sole rational basis for any nation's policy in dealing with Germany is its own self-interest.
That has been plain enough to many observers before, but having it said by a man of Mr. Hull's restraint, his respect for international law and his official status enormously helped in clearing away a lot of artificial fog.
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