America is committed to the destruction of Nazidom, to a policy of victory though the heavens fall. With each new move of the Administration, more ground slides out from under the non-interventionist cause. As the country rapidly nears a definite plump on the belligerent side of the fence, the desperate importance of a final triumph becomes clearer and clearer, and gigantic productive and military efforts become a crusade. But neither the beating of war's drums nor the grim, inevitable prospect of years of blood and sacrifice should be allowed to destroy Uncle Sam's sense of proportion as to the real goal. Without a great deal more thought and action in the spirit of President Roosevelt's campaign for the first of the four freedoms in Russia; without foresight and preparation for a post-war world, the best America can hope for from her participation is a negative quantity.
Religious freedom in Russia is a very thin "opening wedge" indeed. War is a time of quick and violent change, of surging idealism and consequently unparalleled opportunity, and it is surprising that Mr. Roosevelt has not been quicker to realize this. In spite of the terror and chaos abroad, and in spite of our conviction that the tragedy is for us as well as them, America does stand in a relatively favored position. It is in our power to direct the course of the war and of the final settlement because our strength is so vital to the Allies. Certainly we should be eager to speed all aid to the anti-Nazi forces. But does that mean that we have no further duty or service to perform for the world? Can we not demand an explanation of why Lord Halifax opposses a federated Europe after the war, of Anthony Eden's return to the repressive principles of Versailles, of what kind of liberalism Mr. Churchill plans for England after the war--the same Mr. Churchill who a few years ago vilified the New Deal in public speeches? Is the demand for religious tolerance in Russia really an opening wedge, or just a sop for the Catholics who care? If England goes along a reactionary political path, it can hardly be expected that Soviet Russia or any other important European nation will follow the lone example of the United States.
But can even our own country take a holier-than-thou attitude? It's true, America can justly claim to be the most democratic world power, but there are ever-present threats within as well as without which demand a liberal dose of "eternal vigilance." What about Georgia's Governor Talmadge, the Dies and Rapp-Coudert committees, the hounding intolerance of the "justice" dealt out to Bridges and Browder? These are sinister ripples which could easily become a whirlpool of suppression. However fine the direction of Roosevelt's foreign policy, what about the hypocrisy and backhandedness of his means? What about the banning from the ballot of the Socialists in many states last November, and the New York business men's conference which avowed a preference toward fascism over Socialism? And "Socialism" is a brand for New Dealers in their vocabulary. The problem of the Midwest has not had its quota of thought and discussion, perhaps because it is political dynamite. A hotbed of isolationism, this section is not likely to support enthusiastically a full-scale war; yet when the war is over its people will presumably be asked to submit to a trade-pact tariff-lowering policy, which they feel is a sock at their bread-basket. And what steps are being taken against the post-war flames of hate which make any sane treatment of a defeated enemy impossible? Lastly, is there any hope that Congress will knife through political morass and public let-George-do-it-iveness to solve the problem of wartime inflation, and so cushion the eventual shock?
There can be no compromise with Hitler; at last Americans are being awakened to the fact that his way or ours must rule. But the country needs to be aroused to something else: the dangers of an unplanned future, and of anti-democratic sentiments already looming large in the land of the free. America must realize that isolationism and neutrality are outmoded concepts, not just in this crisis, but for good. She must assume her place and her responsibilities in a war world, and she must lay firm foundations now for a League with teeth in it, as well as for true democracy at home and abroad. The idealistic phrases of World War I may mock us now. But they should not chill the hearts that hope for a more lasting society of nations. The American people must become united on peace aims as well as war strategy, and there is no time to lose.