WE MUST NOT GO HUNTING FOR WAR
By GERALD P. NYE, U. S. Senator from North Dakota
Delivered from Washington, over N. B. C. Red Network, July 19, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 650-652.
IT may seem ages ago that America was quite unanimous, and vociferous, in its cry of "Never Again," meaning there would be no toleration of effort to move our country into another European war. But is was really only two years ago when memories of our last experience in Europe were still sufficiently clear to let us see what folly it would be to let ourselves be taken again into the wringer across the Atlantic. But propaganda and its children (emotionalism, hate and fear) have so dimmed those memories that we have had fastened upon us a war time spirit which at once threatens with another American Expeditionary Force.
Go back to the beginning of this propaganda blitz which has brought dullness to our memories,—go back to 1938 and 1939, when Europe was showing first inclination to suicide. Starting there, trace those innocent short-of-war steps, beginning with repeal of the arms embargo. It was following that step that the President vowed a determination to keep Americans and their ships out of war infected waters. But our steps since, by the same President, have our boys and ships in Iceland now, just a hop from the battlefields of Europe, a hop waiting perhaps only for approval of the present pending request of the President for the surrender of more power to him by Congress.
But, going back two or three years, survey, if you dare, what has been happening to our sight, our hearing and our thinking,—changes which put to shame the accomplishments of the man on the flying trapeze.
Back there in 1939 our cry was: "Save France!" Today we consent to starve France.
Less than two years ago our hearts bled for courageous little Finland. Today we speak harshly about the same Finland because she takes the one means at hand to win back the sovereignty she lost in 1939.
Russia a few months ago was counted a terrible creature waiting to eat the flesh of a Europe that was killing itself. Today,—well, today we fold our arms about her.
One year ago the "best" of our American society started knitting, sewing and bundling for Britain while it deplored the awfulness of Russia and her aid to Hitler. Today we cheer Russia, and if only she will continue to hold her own against the Nazi hordes we'll soon be playing the game of "Bundles for Russia" while we condemn Finland and Germany for their war upon "Blessed Russia."
Of course, all these gyrations are in the interest of Democracy, in the name of Humanity and dedicated to the salvation of Civilization.
What manner of thing is it that has so turned us upside down and inside out?
What is it that had folks like Dorothy Thompson chasing communistic Russia all over the pages of American newspapers just a few months ago and then, of a sudden, had her writing this: "The Communist revolution has not been a real menace anywhere * * *." What is it that causes Walter Winchell to thirst for European blood (blood to be drawn by other Americans than himself of course) when in 1939 he was writing:
"Once again Europe is rolling the loaded dice of destiny. And once again America is asked to play the role of international sucker. The time has come for us to pause and consider. If we must have another Unknown Soldier—let us not ask him to die for an unknown reason: And just what will be accomplished by dying in the mud? He will not increase America's resources; the last war nearly ruined our fertile lands. He will not increase America's wealth; in the last war we loaned our gold and were gold-bricked in return. America must learn that her sons abroad will bring monuments to her glory—but here sons at home are a monument to her common sense. The future of American youth is on top of American soil—not underneath European dirt.
What it is that has done these things to us and opened our mind to consideration of another A.E.F. of course isPropaganda and her children, Hatred, Fear, Emotionalism. It is propaganda made bold and brazen by the encouragement of our country's top officials. So bold and brazen have become the foreign propagandists operating in our land that they dare to berate and question the Americanism and the integrity of such Americans as will not consent to the pouring of America's best blood and her wrath into the destruction Europe again visits upon herself.
This propaganda, plus a hunger for war profits, has so successfully blinded us that we've consented to step after step to war while the interventionists preached that they were only steps to peace, steps to avoid war.
At the moment this blindness has our government in danger of breaking faith with hundreds of thousands of American men and boys who have been giving a year to the tuning up of our preparedness for the worst that might come out of Europe's war. Likewise, creeping up on us is the demand for new powers for the President, power to send our troops and our ships wherever he chooses to send them. We may expect in these next two weeks an unmerciful pounding by propaganda. Indeed it is already started.
General Marshall, great soldier, but no relation of the Col. Thomas Marshall who fought so gallantly in the American Revolution to win freedom from the tyranny and power politics of Europe, is at this time pleading that power be vested with the President to let the President ignore the restrictions written by Congress as to where our boys shall and shall not be sent, without a declaration of war by Congress. The general also begs that the National Guard Reserve Officers and Draftees be kept in the service beyond the year which the government assured them would be the time they would need plan to give.
If his commander in chief, the President, has wished him to do what he has done with respect to these things, no one is going to hold it against the General. But it would seem that in the argument advanced by the General he should refrain from unjustified grounds. Much emotionalism has already resulted from General Marshall's representation that to let the Guard and the Draftees return home when their one year of service was up would mean a mass exodus from our machinery of preparedness.
Naturally, no one determined that our country shall make strong and maintain a constant preparedness in these hours wants mass exodus from our military forces. And if the public will be permitted the facts, it will be readily seen that keeping faith with the draftees and letting such as wish to return to their homes and their chances at making a normal place for themselves in a nation still at peace, will in no sense constitute a mass exodus.
It was a feature of the conscription plan that not all the trainees would come in and go out of the service at the same time. Induction in the service was to be staggered. As those who finished their year of training would be turned back into private life, new draftees would be brought in to take their places.
Now we are told that this operation is going to cripple and leave our army a mere skeleton. That representation is not borne out by the facts. The facts are deserving of presentation.
Induction of the draftees commenced last October. Additional numbers came in during each month since, until nearly 600,000 are now in service. Assuming that we keep faith with these draftees, the year of service will end next November for, in round numbers, 13,000 men; next December for 5,000 men; next January for 73,000; next February for 90,000; next March for 153,000; next April for 123,000; next May for 56,000; and next June for 79,000. Only19,000 men need be mustered out before next January. By that time these men can be replaced by new selectees.
How is such a process going to cripple the army and leave it only a skeleton? It will be skeletonized only in the degree that the army is skeletonized now. It can actually be strengthened to the extent that the authorities will take more draftees already authorized in the future months than it has taken in the past.
As for the National Guard, there is no mass exodus occasioned by demobilizing at the end of one year of service because, here again, mobilization was staggered through the last ten months. Under the plan in operation the 156 units in the field now would be demobilized and returned home as follows: 25 units in September, 15 in October, 14 in November, 3 in December, 47 in January, 37 in February, 6 in March, 7 in April, none in May and 2 in June. How, in fairness, can this be called mass exodus?
On the first of this month only 55,000 of the 100,000 eligible Reserve Officers in the army were on active duty. Shall we call it mass exodus if through the months those in service drop out and are succeeded by others of Reserve Officers who have not yet been called?
If it is a professional army we want, why not go about organizing it in a cards-on-the-table manner? A few days ago General Marshall testified that it was estimated that the army would need at the present time between 640,000 and 800,000 three-year volunteers, and that the army already has 476,000. This is quite remarkable, this voluntary enlistment, since the army has been refusing to allow men to enlist until they had completed their 13 week training period, and since there has been no real serious enlistment program undertaken. A genuine effort, it is apparent, would surely bring the 800,000 total three-year enlistments declared to be the maximum need, only 300,000 more than are already enlisted.
Why all this alarm about needing the draftees, Reserve Officers and National Guard longer than a year if we would avoid crippling our army? If our emergency today, while we are at war with no one, is more desperate than it was when these men were called to service, then our preparedness effort of the past year must have left us worse off than we were before we started. There is no greater need for concern today than a year ago,—I would say not as much, since we have had chance to prepare for emergencies which might arise.
Where are we going to use this professional army, pray tell. Are we not told, again and again, that we will not send our boys into Europe's war? Hasn't this been declared to be a policy of preparing against war which might be brought to us? Then why the fear of "crippling" our army by excusing the draftees when their year is up and inducting new draftees, even more than leave, in their places.
There is too much reason to believe that the suggested plans to keep men in the service beyond the one year limit and to destroy the limitations upon where these troops shall be sent is indication of plans to put American troops onto the European battle fields even though 75 and 80 per cent of the people of America are determined that shall not come to pass. It all looks too much like a new A.E.F. plan,—far too much so for comfort.
Fair play, realization of the sacrifices made, the question of morale, and the fact that not even Canada has yet found it necessary to conscript trainees for more than four months,—all these seem to demand that our government keep faith with the boys in the service. Respecting Canada, it should also be said of their four months compulsory military training program, that their service abroad is only upon a voluntary basis.
If we would prevent another A.E.F., another dangerous play without proper authorization, then American fathers and mothers had best be making themselves heard. It is timely to be suggesting that simply because someone thousands of miles away doesn't bring a war to us, is not good
reason for us to go hunting for it. To do that is too much like the Irishman at the Saturday night dance, back in the rough days, who grew impatient when ten o'clock came without a fight. He straightway took off his coat, dragged it behind him upon the floor as he marched about calling, "Ten o'clock and no fight? Won't someone please step on me coat tails?"