The Charlotte News

Wednesday, January 8, 1941



Still Clumsy

Can a Divided Command Speed Defense Fast Enough?

The defense administrative machinery remains complicated under the new set-up announced by the President yesterday, despite the fact that it is obviously a great improvement on the past. Authority is "equally" divided between Knudsen and Hillman, with Secretaries Knox and Stimson sitting in on decisions with undetermined power. And before laying down priorities, this board must consult another consisting of Stettinius, Leon Henderson, Donald Nelson and one other not yet named.

The President's reasons for clinging to such an arrangement are pretty clear. Labor is many more times more powerful now that in the last war, and for a united front in the country it is imperatively necessary it should be convinced that the national emergency is not being used as an excuse to break down the unions and the reforms that benefit labor.

That is why Hillman was given "equal" authority with Knudsen. The latter is said to be no labor-baiter himself but he has been associated with Alfred Sloan and others who are definitely regarded by labor as its enemies. And the priorities check is obviously intended to placate suspicious elements on both sides of the fence.

Maybe it will work. Let us hope to heaven that it does work, for there is no time left for further fumbling. All these men are men of good will, and the President says that Knudsen and Hillman see absolutely eye to eye. And so perhaps it will work. But it will be the first time in our history that such has been the case. In the last war we began to get production results only when Bernard Baruch was given absolute authority, without check, to act upon his own responsibility.


Setting Stage

Bulgarian Move Will Be Perilous for Hitler, Too

If Adolf Hitler is planning to strike at Greece and the Dardanelles through Bulgaria, it probably is by way of setting the stage for a final terrific effort to invade England.

Originally, Adolf's plan seems to have been to move through Turkey, Syria and Palestine against Suez at the same time the Italians moved upon the canal through Egypt. But the collapse of Graziano's schemes makes that an extremely dangerous and difficult operation and one which Hitler probably has no intention of undertaking now.

But the Italian debacle makes the problem of invading England far more complicated. If matters keep up as they are going it will not be long until the British are in position to withdraw the better part of the naval force now in the Mediterranean for home defense. And the presence of virtually the whole of the British navy about England will makes the chance of successful invasion of that country very slim.

Hitler, however, has plenty of troops. And by striking toward the Dardanelles, he may well be able to force the British to keep a good part of its naval might in the Eastern Mediterranean. Whatever his intentions, the British can hardly afford to risk the chance they might strike on through Turkey. For that would endanger not only Suez but also the vital British oil supplies from Persia and Mesopotamia.

Nevertheless, it is an extremely hazardous move for Hitler also. The mountains, the cold, and the absence of roads will make the Nazi mechanical equipment of little use, and if the Turks elect to fight and live up to their past, the Germans well have met their match as ferocious fighting men. And if Hitler fails to win the Dardanelles and Greece then the British will have a bridgehead on the Continent and the road to Germany's backdoor through Rumania will be open.


Open Letter

Concerning Some Good Work in Commerce Department

The Hon. Jesse Jones,
Secretary of Commerce,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Jones:

This is a plug, entirely unsolicited, for some of your employees.

For a long time the Foreign Commerce Weekly, issued by your department, has been coming to our desk, but we have never paid it more than lackadaisical attention. It was mainly statistics in fine print, you know, and somewhat forbidding. But recently we begun to read it with more attention because of a series of highly informative articles your editor, Mr. Wilfred L. White, and his collaborators have been publishing.

Take the article in the December 28 issue, on "Economic Effects of Rumania's Territorial Losses," for instance.

There had been a lot of questions in our minds about exactly what effect these territorial changes had had on Rumania. Was she now reduced to a mere rump state, her economic independence entirely gone? Had she been stripped of her best agricultural resources, her industrial resources? And how fair to racial groups had it all been?

Your Mr. Harry W. Newman, of the Division of Regional Information, answers them all admirably.

Rumania, we learn, has been weakened economically, but still remains a self-sufficient unit. Her greatest loss has been in forests. Her food-producing lands largely remain. Her small industrial establishment has been sharply reduced but her oil and her minerals are still hers.

The overwhelming majority of the population of Bessarabia, annexed by Russia, was Rumanian, we discover. Hence, it seems to us, though Mr. Newman does not say so, that the annexation may be set down as unjust, despite the fact that Russia exercised political control over it in the century before 1918. On the other hand, the Hungarians and Bulgarians seem to have formed the majority in Transylvania and southern Dobruja, and so these countries perhaps had a fair claim to their return.

An excellent job. Dissemination of this kind of information is most helpful and your men are to be commended for it.

Sincerely yours,


Charlotte, N. C.


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