The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 18, 1941



Site Ed. Note: "In the Open" and "Toughest Foe" suggest the difficulty of events leading up to Pearl Harbor and why the United States was not prepared for the attack. Cash's normal astuteness is present in "In the Open" but then seems to leave him, swayed away by Admiral Stirling's view, in "Toughest Foe". On the other hand, if Stirling's points had been adopted, then there would not have been a prime objective target in the Pacific for the attack on December 7. Of course, it is not clear that, assuming dubiously that Japan had remained quiet on its Triple Entente promises to Italy and Germany through the joinder with the Allies by the U.S. in attacking Hitler, adding the British navy to the American navy in the Pacific could have made any shorter task of reclaiming from Japan any islands it had taken in the meantime, presumably the same ones taken by Japan in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the reclaiming of which took over three years to accomplish and in the end came about only with the development and deployment of the first two thermonuclear bombs. If the U.S. had become involved in the War prior to Pearl Harbor, would the position of the Allies in Europe have been so superior as to quickly vanquish Hitler while Japan sat stoically in the Pacific? Undoubtedly, that is simply absurd. While it is easy enough to argue that the U.S. could have made a huge difference had it become involved in the War in 1939, it is an argument which also ignores history, the history of the hard economic realities of the time for the United States, the reluctance of the country with a mere twenty years since the last World War to become involved in another, and the fact, which Cash always pointed out, that the armed forces of the United States were simply not ready for such involvement. It also ignores the unvarying historical reluctance of the United States to fight in foreign wars, unvarying at least until August, 1964--and, it would appear, in the year 2003.

And anyone today who compares Iraq to Hitler's Germany and its rampant European aggression during the five years preceding American involvement in the War is slightly daft and deaf to history. Best read and study before making such absurd analogies. They do not in fact exist--not in the least.

The Witnesses

Concerning the Experts Who Will Inform the House

One of the most curious things which has come out of Washington in a long time is the list of men who will be heard by the House Foreign Affairs Committee during the next few days. It follows:

Herbert Hoover, Wendell L. Willkie, William C. Bullitt, Joseph P. Kennedy, Hanford MacNider, Norman Thomas, William J. Grace (chairman of the Citizens Keep Out of War Committee of Chicago), Gerald L. K. Smith, (national chairman, Committee of Million), Verne Marshall (national chairman, No Foreign War Committee), Tom Dewey, General Hugh Johnson.

Rational primary purpose of any congressional hearing is to gather facts, expert opinion. A secondary permissible purpose might be the hearing of opinions of responsible leaders of large segments of opinion, especially when there is doubt about the prevailing public view.

Under one or the other of these purposes Bullitt, Kennedy, Hoover and Willkie might get by, though everybody already has heard everything they have to say.

But what about the others? Norman Thomas is no expert on foreign affairs, is the leader of a minuscule minority which is professionally for peace at any price, as everybody knows. Hanford MacNider is merely a disgruntled Republican--American Legion politico. Tom Dewey trained as a foreign expert by missing out on the Republican Presidential nomination.

And what is Hugh Johnson going to say that we haven't heard ad nauseam? Is he appearing as a naval expert instead of the admirals?

Grace is a Catholic priest of Chicago tarred with the Coughlin brush. Gerald L. K. Smith is a notorious Fascist who runs with Coughlin and openly applauds the Nazis. And LaVerne Marshall is a dizzy country editor who contends that he has never read Hitler's speeches.

An astounding collection. And one which would be inexplicable if it were not for the fact that it develops that some, or all of them, were invited to testify at the hearing by Ham Fish, without the consent of the rest of the Foreign Affairs Committee, including its chairman, Sol Bloom. Fish has shown a great tenderness for the Fascist idea in the past, is out now to defeat aid-for-Britain at all costs. The bringing of this motley and highly vocal crew into the hearing will enable them to use it to sound off to the nation and further confuse it. And it will also serve to drag out the hearing interminably and so delay action on the President's proposals.


In The Open

Japs Candidly Confess Aims Mr. Hull Laid to Them

From Tokyo yesterday the Associated Press reported:

Secretary Hull's statement Wednesday before the U. S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, in which he asserted that danger to the United States would be "multiplied many fold" if Japan, Germany, and Italy gain control of the high seas, was described by the (Japanese) newspapers as "a clear challenge to the Axis, short of an ultimatum..." Referring to Hull's assertion that the United States had made no threats toward Japan, (the newspaper) Yonnilurri asked: "Has a more transparent, barefaced lie ever been uttered...?" Asshi, which headlined its editorial , "Outrageous Utterances by the American Secretary of State," accused the United States of seeking to control the East Indies, Austrailia, New Zealand and Singapore...

All of this means of course that Japan is apparently resolved to play the Axis game through to the end and represent simply the standard Nazi brand of propaganda.

But it should be illuminating to American isolationists who are not complete ostriches like Burton Wheeler.

If Mr. Hull's remarks about the high seas constitutes "a clear challenge to the Axis," then that statement is tantamount to a candid admission that the Axis does intend to get control of the high seas.

Japan joined the Axis, boldly uttered the threat that if the United States attempted to interfere with any member of the Axis, Japan would attack her. To that Mr. Hull replied that the United States would regard any attempt to change the status quo with regard to the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, etc. very seriously. That is a threat only if Japan has designs against the status quo. And If Mr. Hull is to be said to have "lied" in denying any threats to Japan, then it is plain that Japan lied when she promptly informed the United States that she had no designs on the status quo.

And the statement that the United States is trying to control the East Indies, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore is obviously a dead give-away that Japan wants to seize them by force. For neither these territories nor the nations to which they belong, the Netherlands and Great Britain, have expressed the slightest fear of the United States wanting to control them.


Toughest Foe

Logic And an Admiral Say To Make Him First Object

Despite Japan's candid confessions of her intentions, our course toward her at present probably should be determined on the lines laid down yesterday by Admiral Yates Stirling, U. S. N., retired.

The fate of Hitler, said the Admiral was necessarily our first objective. And to allow ourselves to get involved in the struggle with Japan now would be very foolish, would play directly into the hands of Germany and Italy which are plainly sicking Japan on in the hope of demobilizing the fleet in the Pacific. The fleet, thought the Admiral, should be brought to the Atlantic immediately, save for the small part necessary to screen Hawaii and the West Coast against Japanese attack, possible but highly improbable because of the difficulties of operating over such distances without established bases.

To the lay mind, that argument seems clear and logical. If the Navy is to fight, then it ought by all means to fight the most powerful and dangerous foe first. Once he was disposed of, as the Admiral said, the combined British and American navies can make short work of heaving Japan out of anything she had grabbed in the meantime.

But rational as that argument appears, there are many naval officers who think that Japan should be disposed of first. That is due to the fact that, with Germany temporarily knocked out after the last war, officers were trained on the theory that Japan was the nation we were most likely to fight, and that the naval mind by and large changes only with an earthquake. Admiral Stirling seems an exception to the rule.


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