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When William Allen White recently said, "any talk of a stalemate victory that leaves Hitler in control of Europe is appeasement and thereby treason to world democracy," he touched on the dilemma which American faces today. The simple, brutal fact is this: there is not a ghost of a chance that England, alone, can break Germany's stranglehold on the continent of Europe. The best we can hope for is a "stalemate victory."
We are told that unless Nazi Germany is ruthlessly stamped out, our way of life, American democracy, will come to an end. When we ask why, we are given two answers: first, if Germany is not defeated, this hemisphere and this continent will be invaded by force of arms; second, even without actual military invasion, we will be unable to withstand the overwhelming economic and ideological pressure from a victorious Third Reich.
The invasion bogey-man was sold us last spring and summer. Despite the dissenting voices of such competent military observers as Hanson Baldwin, it was palmed off on us by a slick bunch of gold-brick artists with President Roosevelt as sales manager. Yet common sense tells us that if England can hold off invasion, we, who are three thousand miles further away and three times as big, are in no terrible danger. The surrender of the British fleet is a very remote possibility. Nevertheless, millions of Americans have swallowed the yarn of invasion, while its originators talk cynically of "defense" and prepare America for offense--for an invasion of Europe by American arms, an invasion aimed at crushing Germany.
What about the economic and ideological arguments for intervention? Stripped to their bare essentials, they constitute straight imperialism, a twentieth century version of Manifest Destiny. The argument runs like this: If Germany wins, she will dominate huge areas of the world's best markets. Our foreign trade may make up only seven per cent of our national income, but it is a vital seven per cent. With our major customers forced to deal with Germany, we will have a catastrophic economic collapse, and in the ensuing dislocation and poverty, native fascism, encouraged by Hitler's success, will rise in our midst.
We are being asked, then, to go to war to preserve our foreign markets. This is a classic definition of imperialism; now it is called a crusade to save democracy. But suppose we do go to war, and at the cost of millions of lives regain our foreign markets? We can't go on exporting machines forever--the time will come when our customers have enough, and will want to start selling them back. England found this out before the First World War. Moreover, policing the world market which we want to exploit will be costly. We will fight war after war as we try to hold down the wriggling victim and suck the last drop of his blood.
At the present time England and Germany are deadlocked. Up to now we have been willing to pour planes and material into the breach in order to help the British in their fight to stave off invasion. But that phase of the war is at an end. Already there is talk of counter-attack by England. Yet it is plain that England can never dislodge the German octopus from the continent of Europe without American aid--millions of American men to fight on the beaches of Brittany and the Channel coast, as well as American ships and planes. And it is equally plain that this is just the role that America is being made ready to play--"when the time comes."
Now is the time to call a halt to our headlong rush into war. To help England further, without pledging ourselves to dedicate a generation to the bloody task of invading Germany, would be dishonest. We must stop sending bombers and ships and guns to England unless we are prepared to follow them up with men. Now that there is something like a deadlock, President Roosevelt, if he means to make good his pledge to keep America out of war, should throw his weight in favor of the best possible peace with Germany--yes, even a peace leaving Hitler in control of the continent.
Is economic disaster and fascism at home the only alternative to whole-hog intervention? It is, if we attempt to struggle on as we have done, trying to bolster up a capitalistic system which is running down. But there is another alternative. Boldly and fearlessly we can grapple with the problem of giving Americans--all Americans--jobs and an adequate living standard. This does not mean half-baked public spending programs sabotaged by "lack of confidence." It means taking the vast productive machinery of this country out of the hands of the Girdlers and Fords, and putting it to work for all of the people, all of the time.
Isn't there a tragic irony about going to war to save our markets, when within our own borders live forty million people who are cold, hungry, and without hope? These are our market; here is our destiny. An America prosperous and busy is an America invincible and free. To harness America's productive might for constructive ends is a colossal task. It means, in the broad sense of the word, revolution. But it is neither easy nor good nor lasting to throw millions of men into a hopeless struggle that will be repeated over and over, faster and faster, as the world is plunged into a new Dark Age.
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