The Charlotte News

Monday, October 16, 1939


Royal Oak

Submarine Gets Warship, Warships Get Submarines

There is no reason for undue alarm on the part of friends of Britain and France--which includes most Americans--over the sinking of the battleship, Royal Oak, by a German U-boat. Loss of ships is to be expected in laying down and maintaining a blockade, and this is especially true in this case, when the blockade is already more effective than at the end of the last war.

And there is plenty of experience from the World War to show that the same thing has happened before. On August 5, 1914, a German submarine sank the British light cruiser, Pathfinder, and on September 22, a single submarine, U-9, sank three British heavy cruisers, the Aboukir, the Hogue, and the Cressy.

Moreover, against the battleship is to be placed the British destruction of the three German submarines on the same day. According to the best available authorities, Germany had only about 37 submarines capable of operating at any distances at sea when the war broke out. The British and the French have already reported the destruction of at least a dozen of these, and the three brings the score to fifteen.

In view of the apparent frankness of the British Admiralty about losses, and of the only eye-witness account of the North See battle last Thursday (turned in by a fishing boat captain who was caught in the middle of it), it appears that even wholesale attack by German air forces (150 bombers were involved) has been unable to inflict any considerable damage on the British ships. That had been a far more ominous threat than the submarine.

The one really disturbing factor in the case is that this time it was a battleship, and the battleships have been supposed to be all but impervious to attack by torpedo. The Royal Oak was over age, to be sure (she fought second in line at Jutland), but she had been reconditioned and her armor was very heavy. This suggests that the Germans may have developed a new and more powerful torpedo. Even in that case, however, it by no means follows that the British Navy is in great danger of being destroyed or even crippled.


This Distinction Would Make Neutrality Bill Useless

If it is true that the Administration is about to compromise on the proposed revision of the neutrality law to the extent of allowing the distinction, alleged by Lindbergh, Hoover, Vandenberg & Co., as between "offensive" and "defensive" weapons, it may as well throw the whole program in the ash can.

No comeptent authority subscribes to the notion of this distinction. Nor does common sense. It is the plain fact that the one thing that can be counted on to restrain Adolf Hitler from taking to the murder of babies in London and Paris is the fear that the British and French will promptly reply by destroying babies in Berlin and the Rhine cities. In view of the reports of Ambassador Biddle and the American photographer, Julien Bryan, it is no longer possible for anyone to pretend to believe the Germans tried to observe the rules of humane warfare in Poland and only killed civilians to the extent that it was inevitable in bombing proper military objectives.

And only if England and France can get bombers enough to inflict certain and sanguinary punishment on the civilian population of Germany is it possible to keep those standards from breaking loose in the West. It is precisely these bombers the proposed distinction would ban.

What we have here is a tour de force executed by the Republican high command, with a view to saving itself from a stunning defeat and the elimination of the Presidential ambitions of various stuffed shirts such as Vandenberg, and the snatching of real victory under the guise of the "compromise." It is an ominous sign from the viewpoint of the national welfare that this move has been achieved by trotting out a man who has no claim to pass on the subjects, save that he once flew an airplane across the Atlantic, in order to start mass hysteria. If the Administration can be stampeded as easily as that, it certainly does not deserve the confidence of the people in time of national peril.

War On England

That's What The Great Peace Boys Are Asking

The uproar in the Senate from Lundeen, Robert Rice Reynolds & Co. for the adoption of Lindbergh's proposals for heaving Britain out of this hemisphere, is of course an attempt to capitalize on the speech while it is hot and set going a mass demand for retention of the arms embargo.

Give Lundeen credit for two things: he has never hesitated to assert his open sympathy with the Nazis; and he has the courage to confess that the only way the thing could be done would be by forcible seizure.

But it knocks into a cocked hat the whole claim that these men are primarily interested in keeping us out of European wars. The seizure of the British islands and Canada would be an overt act of war on the British Empire, and not only against the Empire but against Canada and every one of the islands. The people of none of these territories have indicated any desire or willingness to come under the flag of the United States. On the contrary, all of them would certainly fight to the last breath in defense of the right of self-determination.

What is proposed here is (1) that we shall adopt the principle upon which Josef Stalin is now acting and cynically taking advantage of the fact that nations are at war to indulge ourselves in the grossest imperialism ever proposed on these shores; (2) that we must at any cost stay out of war with Germany, and (3) that we must lend our active aid in Nazifying the West by making war on Britain and our American neighbors!

Moreover, it may well be doubted the seizure of this territory would be beneficial to us. The West Indian islands are the bases from which any enemy in the West must attack us--the bases they must seize to begin with. So long as England is at war in Europe, there is no possibility of anybody getting to them and attempting to seize them. And if such an attempt were made when England was at peace, she would be bound to come immediately to their defense.

In effect, that is, the possession of these islands by Britain gives us two navies for the defense of our shores. And if we took them over, we should have to proceed at once to spend billions of dollars to build an Atlantic navy to protect them.

Further still, the commercial possession of these islands is such that they would immediately become liabilities were they to take them over. The great Robert Rice Reynolds himself once reported of the Virgin Islands, which we bought from Denmark during the last war, that after inspecting them, he was convinced the best thing to be done was to give them back to Denmark as quickly as possible. None of our island possessions, save Hawaii, flourishes greatly are adds anything to our wealth; most of them, indeed cost us money. And some of them, like Puerto Rico, fare so badly under the shadow of our economy, that they are already muttering about the desire for independence.

The tempest about war debts in these possessions serves only one purpose: to strain our relations with England and France and enormously to encourage the Nazis.

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