The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 25, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Today, Old Ironpants persists in advising the United States to stay its present course, to avoid the fight in Europe as not being our own, as he had set forth in Hell Bent for War, his recent book which Cash had reviewed with rue on April 16.

Clapper appears to have the correct explanation for Hitler's perplexing move--a temporary retreat to the east to obtain badly needed wheat and oil to feed his armies, airplanes and mechanized divisions, to shore up final defenses for a major move on Britain in the west, and with it control of the Atlantic. Clapper warns against the tempting argument that Hitler, after all, was only now in the process of defeating Bolshevism. While recognizing that neither the United States nor Britain could do much directly to aid Russia in its fight--albeit not including in his analysis indirect aid via the ability of the British to exert increased bombing pressure on German cities and, as The News had urged two days earlier, the opportunity to the same end for the United States to increase aid or to enter the war full-blush--, he warns that Hitler's threat against the West was as dangerous and imminent as ever. The implication of his column was clear: America should enter the war.

Who had the better of the argument? Any answer is speculative, but the rhetorical exercise nevertheless instructive.

Had the United States entered the war then, as active debate on the issue circulated through Congress during this week, would it have been as prepared to fight as in December? even then of course lacking adequate trained troops and military production as suggested by "War Effort". But, it would likely not have suffered the blow it did at Pearl Harbor either? Or would it have anyway?

Entry into the war at this juncture would have been inevitably only against Hitler, not Japan. The United States did not want a two-ocean war if it could help it and efforts of the Administration were aimed at getting Japan to relent in China and Indochina and join the Allied cause. Hence, the continued limited trade with Japan, especially the continued supply of oil, however ill-advised and downright silly in 20-20 hindsight that policy proved. But the conventional wisdom then was that since Japan had been an ally in World War I and was traditionally organized on more or less capitalist footing, even if feudal in its application, it might yet be wooed away from empire desires inimical to the British, Dutch and American interests in the Pacific, back to a semblance of then present-day reality--that there were moderate forces represented by the Emperor which might yet win out over the hard-boiled militarists of Tojo seeking return to the day of feudal lords and masters and their Samurai warrior mercenaries hired for protection. But the latter mentality was already too firmly rooted in the psyche of Japan to be removed by mere diplomacy. The Uta poem of late 1937 by Empress Nagako, as previously elucidated by Cash, essentially told the tale.

Was the attack at Pearl Harbor therefore not inevitable, once the plan was put in play on July 2 in Japan to go forward with the southward movement in the Pacific, to conquer the Dutch East Indies, focusing on Java? That combined with a contingency plan to attack Russia from the east, should Hitler's advances there continue as they had for the ten days since June 22.

A question arises as to why Japan waited five and a half months to accomplish the attack? Was it simply the needed time to plan and orchestrate the attack? Was it that the Emperor and his moderates still held sufficient sway in the war council to delay implementation of these plans until the cards were played and the outcome in Russia determined? The last thing Hirohito wanted after all was to have a defeated Germany as an ally, with Russia victorious and free to engage the fight with Japan in aid of China, to further Stalin's hope to spread Communism into the Far East, fueled by the natural and geographic enmity between Japan and Russia. And the wildcard to Japan remained the United States. Would it react to a move south? It had not after all yet done more than send aid to Britain. It had not reacted the previous year either to the fall of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, or the bombing of Britain.

Or was the time lag merely one all along gradually to lull the United States back to sleep? Did the May 27 FDR speech, though aimed at Germany, suggest a gradual awakening to action in the U.S. which Japan wanted first to gauge and try to arrest with more lallatio? that is, more instilling of such notions as Japan's recognition of "the international facts and world peace which are the supreme conception of the imperial diplomacy strictly restraining from rash actions"? that is, more honorable double-talk.

Had Japan attacked sooner, say in August or September, to combine a blow to the U.S. with the blow to Russia by Hitler, wouldn't the surprise element have been just as great? Why give America nearly six more months during which to obtain the fruits of its now fully engaged defense industry before pouncing?

Or, wasn't it the case that the attack was, as we have suggested, a desperation move in the end, with the Reich and Japan simply running out of war-making resources, primarily the oil, tin, and rubber which the Dutch East Indies and Malaysia held as promising booty? Meanwhile, this move south also would enable Japan, as it did, to take Burma and its road and thereby cut off the primary British supply route from the West via the Indian Ocean to China. Wasn't it a move to be resisted for as long as possible, as being more likely to bring America into the war than to bring them to the peace table, more likely to awake the sleeping giant, as surely as Hitler had held up in the Atlantic campaign after Roosevelt's warnings of May 27?

Or was the move by the Japanese as pre-ordained as that by Hitler? Were these men in such strictly robotic obedience to their own will, enamoured so of their own reflections, that no logical thought dared intervene to corrupt the purity of the wisdom which had entranced them into the wars they waged in the first place--ultimately wars against themselves, the destruction of their normal human self-control, replacing it with steely-eyed, irrational abandon?

Meanwhile, with the weight of the world contemplating the fate of the world, The News found time also to look at such mundane things as whether Winston-Salem's method of dealing with cab fares was superior to that of Charlotte. Whatever the case on that issue, we note that the Blue Bird Cab Company is still around after all these decades intervening. So they must have been doing something right.

Mr. Bluebird on our shoulders.

And a letter writer returns to the issue of open Sunday versus Blue Laws. His citation to Exodus 20:10 suggests that since in accordance with the verse the cattle, too, are not supposed to do any work, Mr. Ickes's plan for gasless Sundays was a good one. For by this commandment, after all, all that horsepower behind the wheel should not be working during the Sabbath. Nor should there be use of any power at all, electric or otherwise, as that, too, has as its source the cattle, manservants, maidservants and strangers within the gates. In fact, show us the Sabbath ascetic--most of whom in the industrial age are probably to be found only among the homeless--and we shall show you the only true adherent to the commandment of which the gentleman makes remark. No doubt, he was himself given to complete asceticism on Sundays or he would not have had the temerity to speak out on this issue without feeling at once hypocritical.

Candidly, however, we cannot figure out why he referenced Isaiah 56:12, (assuming that is the reference, yet no other logical choice among the squigglies makes sense either), as that one talks about getting drunk on wine to make tomorrow more abundant. Perhaps the gentleman's counsel, after all, was to do as the bus rider recounted in the column a few days earlier intended, not to attend church on Sunday but neither to go to the movies or baseball game, rather to stay home, do little or nothing and become politely plastered. (Actually, of course, the bus rider added that he would then go out and "raise a little hell".)

In any event, we stress again that the commandment only refers to the sabbath day and the seventh day, the designation of which depends entirely on which day is the first. The names of the days are pagan and Roman in their origins, not Hebrew or Christian. So, whether God rested on Sunday or Wednesday seems to us to be based on tradition as opposed to the words of that commandment. But you have it your way. Easy on the wine though. As we have advised, too literal interpretation of the Bible has led many a good person into the gates of Hell.

And, the answer to the editor's solicitation for suggestions is, not "Tige'", as that, too, had unpleasant connotations, but rather "She'man". 'Cause "panze'", like, comes from "pants", anyway. So whe'e's our Pulitze'?

Installment 21 of Out of the Night tells us now of certain Americans involved in Communist propaganda activities in the late twenties and early thirties, in America, Europe and even Africa, concentrating on maritime infiltration. The Negerkommittee, for distributing propaganda aimed specifically at blacks, is formed under the control of an African-American named Ford--until he was discovered by the British instigating propaganda against British Empire interests in Africa, whereupon he was sought by the German police, stripped of his authority by the Communists, returns to America. So yesterday we learned of Professor Schwartz, the Nazi infiltrator to Communism; today we learn of the Negerkommittee, seeking to spread Communism throughout the African world. What tomorrow brings or to whom it belongs, we shall have to see. We stress again, however, easy on the wine in getting there.

Meanwhile, someone who greatly resembles Jesse Helms is seeking out Easy in Washington. Must be Wash Tubbs. Popeye, unnecessarily bellicose, after punching a couple of non-resistant guards, rings the bell on the locker.

And, why doesn't Superman simply grab Lois and Lil and fly out of the joint?

Anyway, we agree with Rube...

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