The Charlotte News

Tuesday, October 24, 1939


Site Ed. Note: It is interesting to note Cash's confidence in "Counterpoint" in the erroneous notion that "[I]f Italy fights at all now, she is not likely to fight for Germany". His analysis was usually uncannily correct, but in this instance, while well thought out, he failed to consider the illogic and unpredictability at times of megalomaniacs.

Scrambled Logic

A Pair Of Statesmen Fail To Follow Through

The logical part poverty of the pro-embargo group in the Senate is admirably revealed by the arguments they are using.

Thus, about the only logic William Edgar Borah has been able to muster is to the effect that repeal would make Germany sore and that she would be sure to attack us. That is to say, we must let Germany make the rules for us, and surrender all our rights under international law. That being the case, the next logical thing for Germany to do is demand that we employ the navy to break the British blockade and convoy ships through to Germany, under penalty of being regarded as an aggressor--for Germany has already explicitly claimed that the blockade is illegal.

Then there is Mr. Rush Holt, from West Virginia. He doesn't want to "soil our hands with blood money." Selling arms, you see, would be blood money.

But it happens that at this moment the brass industry in this country is running at full blast for the first time in years. And ships are daily moving out of our harbors loaded with brass tubing for Britain. Maybe Mr. Holt doesn't know it, but if you take that tubing, cut it into links, pour powder in one end, insert a small piece of steel at the other, you have a bullet. The steel can be bought here. The powder can't, but the nitrates which make powder can be. And though Mr. Holt does not seem to know this either, Germany has that brass tubing, the steel, the nitrates down on her contraband list in full equality with bullets and arms.

Money spent for these things is as certainly "blood money" as money spent for the completed product--as Germany well understands. And the only way Mr. Holt could be logical about the matter would be to demand that everything on the German contraband list--everything that helps England stay in this war and continue to kill Germans--be embargoed. But does he do that? Not at all. It would wreck commerce in this country, increase unemployment. And there is a great deal of unemployment in West Virginia already. Mr. Holt might lose his seat in the world's best club--the last dreadful calamity, to be averted in any cost, of course.

Two Spoons

This Sort Of Thing Will Aid Our Neutrality

The swift action of the State Department in setting in motion an investigation of the seizure of the City of Flint owned by the U.S. Maritime Commission and operated by the U.S. Lines, has its ironic aspects.

For no such swiftness of action has been evident in the case of ships taken into tow by the British. First, in September, there was the Black Osprey with a "mixed cargo." The owners of the ship kicked up a big fuss, and eventually after five days, the State Department got around to applying pressure, with the result that she was freed and allowed to proceed, on the ground that it was not satisfactorily established that more than 51 per cent of her cargo was contraband intended for Germany--the requirement for seizure under international law.

Not so lucky was the Waterman Steamship Corporation's Warrior, out of Mobile, Ala., with a cargo of rosin and pebble phosphate bought and paid for by Germany. Her cargo was ordered seized and sold at auction.

Well, there is no use in pretending to the impartial sympathies of our State Department. And it has general American backing for the hope that the Allies will win the war. Nevertheless, if we are to retain our status as legal neutrals, we must be careful to observe the rules of international law and to avoid gratuitous offense to Germany. The investigation of the case is, of course, quite in order. But a little more alacrity in investigating the cases of British seizures in the future would make the business of our frankly unneutral neutrality a bit more seemly.


European Scene Has Shifted Rapidly In A Single Week

This remains the weirdest war in history--one which is actually being waged principally along the diplomatic front. All the military moves so far made by Hitler at least are mere pawns in the game. And the balance swings back and forth with kaleidoscopic rapidity.

A week ago it looked as though Germany were going to hold all the aces. A Nazi submarine had just sunk the battleship, Royal Oak, and Nazi planes had raided British naval bases in Scotland with some success. And on the heels of that circulated a great many rumors to the effect that Italy had decided that Germany would win, that Turkey had decided the same thing, and that the two of them were preparing, in company with Russia, to strike England's empire on many fronts at once.

But in the week all that has pretty well changed. The sinking of the Royal Oak now appears to have been a combination of extraordinary luck for the Nazis and extraordinary carelessness on the part of the British. And at sea the submarine is faring badly. It appears probable that, while it may be able to inflict a good deal of damage on Britain, it is not going to be able to defeat her. The bombing plane remains a question mark. But the small-scale raids which have been executed seem to have cost too much to make them very effective. What big scale raids would do is still to be seen.

If Italy fights at all now, she is not likely to fight for Germany, and Russia is no longer in a position to greatly threaten the British Empire.

Altogether, it looks as though Mr. Ribbentrop will probably make that new bid for peace today. And if that is turned down, we shall probably see still more angling and maneuvering before the war settles down into a serious conflict to the hilt--if it ever does.

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