Bronx Cheers


(Ed. Note--The Crimson does not necessarily endorse opinions expressed in printed communications. No attention will be paid to anonymous letters and only under special conditions, at the request of the writer will names be withheld.)

To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

I have tried to make out what stand the CRIMSON has taken on the Sino-Japanese situation, without, I must confess, any great degree of success. First you pooh-poohed the whole affair as nothing more than a far-Eastern circus and condescendingly advised everybody not to take what the newspapers say too seriously. This attitude I believe to be indefensible; the principles involved in the present situation are of enormous importance to the future of international relations, and no one with any intelligence can afford to sit smugly back and send forth occasional Bronx cheers.

Next, however, you went off on a different tack, advocating full discussion and impartial judgement. You rightly enough recognize that there are two sides to every dispute and that the chances are none of us knows enough to pass judgement on the merits of either the Chinese or the Japanese case. This is all well and good, and it represents one phase of the problem, but from the point of view of the rest of the world it is a minor phase. The important thing which you seem to have missed entirely is not the dispute itself but the methods which Japan has adopted to settle the issue. There is overwhelming evidence that Japan has made no honest effort to exhaust all possible peaceable means of settlement; that she has deliberately chosen the old-fashioned strong-arm method; that in doing so she has violated (in spirit, if not in letter) her international obligations. On these matters there is a peculiar unanimity of agreement. Now the issue up to us and the rest of the world is just this: "Can we afford to let any nation get away with this sort of thing?"

Once let the bars down and there is no telling what will happen. If Japan is allowed to proceed this time, it's dead sure that she will become much harder to handle next time. And as soon as other dissatisfied nations find out that all this anti-war talk is the bunk, do you think they are going to grow sweeter and more tractable? Not much, And then how long do you think it will be before we are all engaged in the time-honored pastime of using up all our wealth, both human and material, in a nasty fight? No long. I should venture to predict.

In fine, I can imagine nothing more vital to the whole world right now than the immediate need for halting Japan by any possible means short of open warfare (for I think most of us are agreed that we have had enough wars to end war). The question then presents itself as to whether you think it will help much to hold up action until we find out what the Japanese grievances are. There can only be one answer. Paul M. Sweezy ocC.

(Ed. Note--Mr. Sweezy seems to have missed the point of the first CRIMSON editorial to which he refers. In it the CRIMSON did not "pooh-pooh" the whole affair. Rather, it called attention to the seriousness of the question, saying that, although a war involving the United States was as yet not likely, it was from small, smouldering fires like this that great conflagrations came. It then pointed out the dangers of harkening to a jingoistic and militaristic press and of being influenced by the conversational scarist.

In advocating full discussion and impartial judgment the CRIMSON, merely seconded a view which is a cardinal point in its editorial policy. On affairs such as this rash conclusions based on insufficient knowledge of the case are of little value. In his criticism of Japan Mr. Sweezy brings up one of the major points of the case which is referred to in an accompanying editorial.)