Unity for Peace
THE KEY TO EUROPE'S FAILURES
By BURTON K. WHEELER, U. S. Senator from Montana
Delivered in the Senate, March 20, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 446-448.
H. R. 1776—a bill granting the President the right to give billions of American tax dollars to finance foreign wars for any country on any continent in the world "and for other purposes" is now the law of the land. The bill was debated fully. A majority of both houses voted for it. The President signed it. It must and should be respected by all our people regardless of their previous opposition to it.
The opponents branded the bill a measure authorizing the President to wage an undeclared war. Its friends in Congress declared it a peace bill—a bill to keep this Nation out of war.
Whether the opponents or the proponents were correct will depend almost entirely upon the future actions of one man—President Roosevelt himself. It is for him to determine by his future course whether or not his spokesman in Congress misled the people. Vast powers are vested in him and all right-thinking Americans will pray that those powers will be used wisely and in the interest of 130 million people here in the United States of America.
To many of us, the President's recent speech carried dark forebodings for the future of the Republic.
To you, Americans who waged a valiant fight against the lend-lease bill, I say—continue the fight—not against the bill—now a law—but against war and against every step which gives dictatorial powers to the President. I am opposed to Nazism, Fascism, Communism or one-man Government in any country under whatever name it may be designated.
I think it is fair to say that nearly all—if not all—proponents of the bill in Congress are agreed:
1. That the President is not authorized to use convoys under the present law.
2. That the law does not authorize the sending of sailors, airplane pilots, or soldiers into combat areas.
3. That the President of the United States has no right—though he may have the power—to authorize or direct our armed forces to wage offensive war.
4. That nothing forbids citizens from continuing to petition their Senators and their President to fulfill campaign pledges to keep the United States out of a foreign war.
5. That Congress may still—if it will—refuse to give billions of your tax dollars to Great Britain without first obtaining Mr. Churchill's war aims—without knowing if the objectives are the extermination of Hitler or the annihilation of 80,000,000 German people.
6. That Americans should still insist that Congress carefully scrutinize all appropriations to the end that no tax dollars are squandered.
Before going further I want to give full credit to the British propagandists and the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies upon the deadly effectiveness of their propaganda. They have nearly attained their objective-active American participation in a foreign war. They have accomplished it adroitly. Their work has avoided detection by the Nation as a whole—and this notwithstanding the fact that they followed the identical methods of 25 years ago.
Someone has said, "Fool me once, shame on you—fool me twice, shame on me."
In 1812 the British invaded the United States. With men and arms they ravaged our Capitol. We fought force with force. It was army against army. Today in March 1941—just as before the last World War—the British have again invaded Washington—not with redcoats—but with some 2,000 agents and employees. In New York City they have an official propaganda agency for the United States. It is called the British Library of Information. It is a vast network for dissemination of war propaganda.
We can see and recognize armed forces. We can and would conquer a foreign army—but insidious and vicious foreign propaganda can be recognized only by those armed with a knowledge of the facts. Clever propaganda can be combated only with reason and sanity—and even these are ineffective weapons during periods of hysteria.
To illustrate some methods of war propagandizing, I want to read a letter received a few months ago from a responsible former publisher of a daily paper—Mr. A. P. Whiteside, of Foristell, Mo.—I quote:
"He (the American professor acting as a British agent) told me that he had recommended my paper for free newsprint and that his recommendation has been approved. All I had to do was to file my application with J. P. Morgan & Co. of New York and print paper in carload lots would be shipped to me."
Is history now repeating itself?
It is not difficult to secure a congressional investigation of German propagandists, of Russian propagandists, of Italian propagandists, or of the activities of peace organizations or labor unions in the United States. But a proposal to investigate all foreign propaganda—which would include the British—dies slowly but surely in congressional committees.
A real investigation of British and American war propaganda would have revealed much. It would have exposed the propaganda efforts in the United States of all foreign governments. How much money they spent and to whom it was paid. It would have shown the parts played by Mr. Bullitt and other American ambassadors prior to the outbreak of war. It would have shown the promises that were
made to foreign governments by American ambassadors—roving or stationary. It would have taken the American people behind the scenes in this great game of war.
A congressional investigation would have shown the people of America, that pronouncements by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies foretell the next administration move toward war. This week that war committee advocated the convoy of ships to Britain, American defense of Singapore and the Dutch Indies, and permission for the British to recruit soldiers in the United States for the British Army. William Allen White, then chairman of the Committee to Aid the Allies, unequivocally stated on December 28, 1940, that American convoys meant war.
And what does recruiting American soldiers for the British Army mean? Winston Churchill could best answer that. In his book, the World Crisis, Churchill states: "Nothing will bring America in on our side quicker than some blood spilled in Europe." American youth killed at Singapore, American youth slaughtered on land and sea-war—that is what the Committee to Aid the Allies advocates today.
And this committee, aided and abetted by war makers, have led the American people to believe their only choice today is war or slavery under Hitler. They have been and are creating a war psychology by making it appear that war is inevitable because peace means slavery. Nothing could be more fantastic. But many honest and sincere people believe that to oppose war, to oppose the delegation of dictatorial powers to the President, is no longer patriotic, is no longer pro-American. Propaganda has made honest though deluded Americans actually believe opposition to war and dictatorship in the United States is pro-Nazi.
All of us who can envision the loss of life and the return of American boys from far-away battlefields with bodies maimed and minds twisted, and who can see the financial ruin and the utter destruction of democracy that a foreign war would bring to this Republic, gain courage from righteousness of the cause—the cause for peace. We cannot be deterred or dismayed by name calling. We can take it and we can give it. But more important, we expect to continue the fight to keep this country at peace.
Less than a month ago I spoke to the American people, not over a combined network of all great radio chains but over a part of a single system. At that time I asked, and now I repeat the question:
"Is the forgotten man of 1932 doomed to be the unknown soldier of 1942?"
Tonight I venture another statement—
All-out aid for the British Empire, Greece, and China mean all-in war for the United States.
Let me read from the President's last speech. I quote: "This is an all-out effort—nothing short of an all-out effort will win." During the 1940 Presidential campaign it was all aid short of war—now it is all-out effort—and the opiate phrase "short of war" is conspicuously lacking.
The Chief Executive told us "all-out effort" included ships, planes, tanks, guns, and supplies of all kinds. Just what else does it include? I hope the answer cannot be found in that single line used by the President: "Dollars alone will not win this war." Does this mean, that if supplies are not enough, troops will be dispatched? What is meant by the President's "bridge of ships" across the ocean? Does this mean convoys? Convoys manned by American sailors who will shoot at and be shot by German sea raiders?
The American people have a right to know how many of our warships, airplanes, tanks, and anti-aircraft guns are
necessary to aid England? Obviously, the most competent authority on British needs would be Mr. Winston Churchill. Will it be he who determines to what extent our defenses are stripped? Will it be the British Prime Minister who decides how much of the taxpayers' money is to be given away? China's needs are known best to Chiang Kai-Shek, the military dictator of China. Will the generalissimo be given a blank check on our war and naval supplies? Will he determine whether or not we send troops to keep open the Burma road? If you approve all-out aid to these countries—who knows best what these countries need—the President, Mr. Willkie, or Mr. Churchill?
Is this what the American people want? Do you want our foreign policy, directly or indirectly, dictated by a European imperialist or an oriental military dictator?
Seven billion dollars for Britain, for China, and for Greece. When we are giving $7,000,000,000 to foreign governments let us consider for a moment what seven billion would mean in American terms. Seven billion is 14 times the value of our 1938 wheat crop—14 years of wheat crops! Fourteen times the value of our 1938 cotton crop—14 years of cotton crops!—and it is six times the value of the 1938 corn crop. Seven billion dollars for Britain means an additional tax of $234 on each American family and it means $210,000,000 a year in interest for bondholders.
Not many months past—just a year or two ago—some economy-minded Congressmen and Senators fought appropriations of millions with which to aid our jobless workers, to build schools, hospitals, and homes. Congressmen who fought millions with which to aid America and Americans today sponsor appropriations of $7,000,000,000. Billions for the British—but what for Americans?
A billion for America is rank idiocy; seven billion for the British is sheer genius.
When this administration thought of OUR American people, thought of OUR workers, thought of OUR farmers, then forty, fifty, or sixty dollars a month for a jobless worker on a W. P. A. project was socialism or communism. Then aid to drought-stricken farmers and parity for agriculture meant disaster and ruin to the Republic. Then $2,000,000,000 for the veterans of the last World War meant bankruptcy for a Nation with a debt of thirty billion. Dr. Townsend was a dangerous radical for suggesting his pension plan, but seven billion would pay a million of our senior citizens $200 a month for nearly three years. That was in the days when President Roosevelt—to use his own language—was driving the money changers from the temples of Government and Wall Street lawyers practiced law in New York City.
Today all is changed. Where are the "money changers" and the "economic royalists" now? They have been reinstated in the temples of Government. They have been lured from Wall Street to Washington with White House invitations. They are no longer called economic royalists; they are the dollar-a-year men who dispense billions upon billions of dollars in defense contracts. It is they who sit in the seats of the mighty. It is they who direct the policies of this Government.
It is these fugitives from Wall Street, accompanied and guided by royal refugees and British propagandists, who insist the present war is a crusade against fascism. They told us that Britain entered the present war to crusade against and to crush fascism. Forgotten except to history is official British recognition of Italian conquests of Albania and Ethiopia. Forgotten except to history are British approval of Italian aggression and their own conquests of people and nations. Who believes that Mussolini's Italy
with which England sought to avoid war last June was less Fascist than the Italy Britain fights today?
Before the present war the leader of this so-called crusade against dictatorship entertained some startling views on Italian fascism. Mr. Winston Churchill said, "If I were an Italian, I would be a Fascist." These words from the lips of the British Prime Minister are reported in the Sheet Metal Workers Journal of March 1927. Think of it—Mr, Churchill saying, "If I were an Italian, I would be a Fascist." The same Mr. Churchill who would take your sons to fight Mussolini and Hitler; the same Mr. Churchill to whom you are giving seven billions of your tax dollars.
Britain is today righting Adolf Hitler—the aggressor—not Adolf Hitler, the Nazi. Britain is realistic, not idealistic. So long as the British lion's tail was not twisted, Britain had no quarrel with Nazi Germany. It is difficult to recall that many Britons—including the late Ambassador Lothian—were great respecters of Nazi Germany prior to 1939? The present British Ambassador, Lord Halifax, went to Nazi Germany to visit and go shooting with Goering, and was known to be persona grata to the Nazis—and they apparently were so to him.
Fascism was not born with Hitler and will not die with Hitler. Fascism is something which springs from a certain type of economic and social soil. Nowhere does there exist such fine soil for fascism as a land economically exhausted and unbalanced by a costly war—and disillusioned by the inevitable tragic post-war awakening. That is the soil in which fascism flourishes. That is the soil which produced Soviet Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany. That is the soil which will produce a Hitlerized America—even though Hitler will be dead and buried.
And a nation at war is almost by definition a regimented nation. It operates on the dictatorship principle. The individual is subordinated to one objective—the waging of war. In consequence, civil liberties are curtailed, censorship imposed, industry taken over, labor's right to strike abridged or abolished, and all opposition ruthlessly crushed. Already in the United States we are witnessing the abridgments of precious liberties and constitutional guaranties. What will war and a post-war period do to them? The answer is obvious.
Those of us anxious to preserve civil liberties and peace have been subjected to a smear campaign. Never once has fact been answered with fact, or reason with reason. Instead, cries of "pro-Nazi, Hitler agent, anti-Semite" are shouted at the opposition.
This is bigotry in its vilest form. This is a return to the monarchial concept that the king can do no wrong.
I have said—and I repeat—that there are men in the world who are far more concerned with the restoration or the preservation of their economic and social status than with the welfare of the masses of the people.
I am not interested in the race or creed of these men. I am concerned—and always have been—with the welfare of
the great mass of humanity, with the underprivileged, with the economic and social status of those who are ill-fed, ill-clothed, and ill-housed.
I abhor and oppose those in this country, or in any country in the world, who make a fetish of the persecution of any minority group. I denounce those who seek to play upon the passions and emotions of our people with this kind of medieval mendaciousness.
Today we witness legislative and administrative actions which inevitably must lead to the denial of the rights of minorities.
A lend-lease bill—an alien concentration camp bill—an anti-strike bill—a wiretapping bill—these are the vehicles of one-man government. They will lead to chains and tears for the minorities in our land.
Wave after wave of every kind of intolerance will roll over our Nation. No minority group, economic, political, racial, or religious, can be certain that it will escape the tide. These are the results of war and of war psychology.
The Constitution of the United States is the basis of our form of government. We were to have a government of checks and balances—three independent branches, each to act as a check upon the others. Inherently and by it we were to be a government of laws and not men. It was to escape the tyrannies and corruption which always have following in the wake of one-man government that this Nation was founded.
Our forefathers placed their faith in laws. Europe has placed her faith in men.
Therein lies the key to Europe's failures. Therein lies the key to our successes—and therein lies our only real hope for higher standards of living—continued progress of the human race—future greatness and peace. Today by our acts we are abandoning the philosophy of government of our forefathers by returning to government of men—one man. Every time some of us oppose granting more power and more power to the President, we are asked, can't you trust the President? Americans, that is the doctrine that brought chaos and wars to Europe.
The proponents of peace deeply appreciate the magnificent support that untold millions in all walks of life gave us during the debates on the lend-lease bill. We plead for their continued support in a crusade against war—in a crusade of facts to defeat a hysteria born of fear, emotionalism, and sentimentalism but which would lead our country into war and into dictatorship.
On October 23, 1940, at Philadelphia, President Roosevelt declared: "I repeat again that I stand on the platform of our party: We will not participate in foreign wars and we will not send our Army, naval, or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas except in case of attack.' "
Today, we, the American people, must unite to help the President keep this solemn promise of peace.