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Neutrality Double Talk


Franklin Roosevelt, like the skillful dentist that he is, has already pulled most of the healthy teeth out of the Neutrality Act. In his latest "urgent message" to Congress, however, he was over-diplomatic and over-skillful.

Instead of coming out and asking for a direct repeal of both Section 6 (the ship-arming ban) and Section 2 (the combat zone restrictions which prevent us from sending our merchant ships all the way to England), the President preferred to be strategic. He "recommended" that Congress concentrate its efforts on voting down Section 6 alone, and save the other section for "early consideration."

His reason for recommending separate consideration of the sections is that he knows many isolationists are willing to allow the arming of merchant ships while keeping them in restricted waters. By splitting the sections he is certain to get the repeal of Section 6 and the main round of the fight will not come until Section 2 is put in the ring.

However, by this time a majority of Congress must have come to realize that we are committed to defeating Hitler, and, consequently, to going beyond all the hampering restrictions set up by the Neutrality Act. The President's recommendation is simply delaying the moment when the entire Act can be got out of the way.

Instead of being able to amass their ranks for an out-and-out repeal of the Act, the Administration forces must wait and time their vote on Section 2 from two cues: the size and promptness of the vote on the ship-arming ban, and the success of opposition arguments in influencing public opinion. Once more, the War Congress has been hog-tied by the President's incurable habit of double talk, of trying to let the American people down easy on the one hand, and to defeat Hitler on the other.

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