The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 26, 1941


Site Ed. Note: We note another in the long string of potential excuses to precipitate war missed by the President, if war was what he wanted to monger, as charged by many of his detractors in this time. According to Raymond Clapper's column, the latest Gallup poll had showed that 71 percent of the American people supported convoy of aid to Britain should not doing so mean that Britain would fall to the Nazis. Yet, as Cash frustratedly points out in "Sad Show", rather than risk starting a war with the Nazis through convoy of shipments on the high seas, the President declined for the present to implement the policy and instead chose a stance less invasive to neutrality, patrols reporting to the British the location of German submarines.

As with many other opportunities to take the country to war, this one presented itself as particularly appealing for its timing: England, the last bulwark against a probable subsequent putsch toward the United States, stood on the precipice; the people of the United States had announced their favor of aid even though it likely meant clashing arms with Germany and its inexorable casus belli. Yet, the President declined to thump the carom which would set the rest in motion on the high seas. Such restraint again shoots a hole a mile wide in the theories which abound still that FDR consciously desired the attack on Pearl Harbor, failed intentionally to alert his commanders of the known risk, or even concealed knowledge of the approaching Japanese Task Force, all effectively to coerce the country, through appeals to national pride and patriotism after a dramatic attack, into war.

All of the speculation to that end of course is nonsensical. If what the President wanted was war, even in December, then the logical stance would have been to meet the Task Force at sea, or at least prepare strategically for the attack at Pearl, not get caught napping, with planes conveniently lined up at Hickam Field for the picking by the Japanese bombers, half the Fleet in the Harbor neatly sitting like swans asway on a Sunday lake by the belvedere awaiting the band to play, substantially increasing both the risk of damage to the Pacific Fleet and the loss of life. Certainly here was no incentive politically to precipitate a war as the President had just started his third term in January.

But then some thought, too, especially in 1937-38, after the debacle of the court-packing plan, the so-called second depression, the general dissatisfaction with the rate of progress under the New Deal while unprecedented national debt piled up, taxes rose and alphabetic bureaucracy multiplied as rabbits, added to the flack over his first appointment to the Supreme Court being former, albeit briefly, Klan member (and eventually, until his retirement in 1971, long-serving liberal and civil libertarian) Hugo Black, that Roosevelt was a Socialist or even a Communist. So, it is not surprising that the other opinion existed sometimes with this first.

Some will build a case out of thin air on either no facts or questionable facts, stack it on top of a completely illogical premise, and then call it an argument or even proof of some wholly ludicrous point having not a whit of substantiation in the premises, let alone on the actual facts when examined at all deductively and systematically. But take them one at a time, not examining their logical relationship or that of the picture they comprise, as stepping stones to Mount Olympus, Pelion piled on Ossa, and on up the rocky and bleeding slopes--and anyone may prove that the earth is alas flat after all, much as with the riddle of yesterday, re the missing Cash, next to the letter anent the post office ghost.

Since Lend-Lease was a major new policy of the time, and one which was provoking still much debate as to how and to what extent it was to be implemented, it is well to remember what it was. Enacted by Congress and signed into law on March 11, 1941, it enabled the President to lend out equipment, armament, planes, ships, and technical support personnel to service them, as well as a whole host of other goods needed to provide aid to the Allies, primarily of course Great Britain, but also eventually the Soviets after the June 22 invasion by the Nazis. Specifically, it allowed the President to lend "any defense article" and services to any nation whose defense the President deemed "vital to the defense of the United States". The President had enunciated the policy goal of the program, to make the nation the "arsenal of democracy"--so that ultimately the United States would not wind up fighting Nazism alone. Thus, it became an invaluable tool for both practical aid to countries fighting Hitler as well as for enabling a renewal to an extent of the old pre-World War dollar diplomacy--something which failed, however, in the final analysis in the last-minute attempts to ingratiate the Japanese to the fold, as it inevitably included the sticking point, pulling its horns from China and Southeast Asia.

Of the 49 billion dollars worth of Lend-Lease aid provided the Allies between 1941 and August, 1945, 98 percent went to Britain, Russia, China, and the Free French, with two-thirds to the British and one-fourth to Russia. There was also a program of so-called reverse lend-lease, whereby primarily Britain and its various Commonwealth interests in the Pacific provided landing fields, barracks, food and supplies for American aviators, free portage for ships, etc., amounting to a total of 7.3 billion dollars. By 1949, the bulk of the Lend-Lease debts not offset by the reverse program had been settled, or the equipment, where still useable, was returned. The only exception was an 11 billion dollar debt of the Soviet Union which it refused to pay. The total expenditure under Lend-Lease amounted to about 15 percent of the total amount spent by the United States on the war, about 325 billion dollars.

The riddle of the day, apparently, was: who is Will Moore?

Whoever he was, whether through more will's triumph, a Will's mores willing more than will had, Will Moore didn't get a dollar from The News.

Many an American youth, many a British, many a French, many youths, however, did eventually die, but not because of any desire by The News. Rather it was the result of the Nazi-Fascist-Militarist drive for a fistful more.

Speaking of riddles, we once met a Copperhead, as we have before elucidated, right on our front porch, sunning itself in the summer sunlight. Its name, so far as we know, wasn't Lindbergh; its name, they say, came to its namer as it slithered on off through the sand down by the fiery lake.

Let Us Vote*

Unorganized People Need To Assert Their Authority

All the analysts are agreed that the city election issue here is more than a struggle for the office of Mayor and Councilmen. Beyond City Hall lies Washington, and the assumption is that two aggressive political organizations are going to test out their strength in this the most populous community of the new Tenth District, with a third group entering the fray more on principle than anything else.

It does not stand to reason that because a political faction is well organized its intentions are unwholesome. To the contrary, democracy is only another name for majority and minority government, represented by political parties held together by organization. Precisely.

It would be a sad day in Charlotte, even so, if any political organization ever became so dominant that the voters at large were impotent. That day is not yet here or anywhere near, provided the great unorganized numbers of people will take the trouble to turn out a fraction of their strength.

But if they are to continue to stay away from the polls during city elections, as they have in the past, then they have only themselves to blame if their government gets away from them and becomes the property and the perquisites of some tightly organized minority.

It isn't much trouble to vote and it is good example for the privilege of franchise, which has disappeared over a great part of the world. And a large vote is always an exhibition of ultimate authority which cuts political machines down to their true size.

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