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Drift or Mastery


A few hours after President Roosevelt announced American all-out aid to England, Hitler declared that Davey Jones, not John Bull, would receive the food and guns shipped from the United States. Nazi U-boats intensified their attacks on British merchant shipping and the Luftwaffe methodically bombed half-finished hulls in Channel shipyards. The resultant damage has not snapped England's life-lines, but it is becoming increasingly clear that fifty destroyers already swapped are not enough to ensure British naval supremacy. With more capital ships than it can use and less destroyers than it needs, the unbalanced Royal Navy is unable to provide an adequate number of light boats to safeguard the LendLease shipping. Like the R. A. F. they are superbly performing a tremendous task--unlike their comrades of the air, they are falling short of successful defense. England is having trouble delivering and receiving the goods.

The late Lord Lothian openly appealed for cruisers and more destroyers early in the year, and 10 Downing Street since then has become increasingly frank in appeals for a share of the American Navy. Now the same front groups which paved the way for F.D.R.'s earlier destroyer deal and the Lend-Lease Bill are calling for American ships manned by U. S. officers and seaman. The "short-of-war" line has been pushed by proponents of various convoy schemes to the Japanese definition: "War is when you declare it."

The earnest desire to ensure British victory must not lead us into such bungles for Britain. "Remember the Maine" and the Panay incident have shown the great psychological impact which the loss of a single U. S. Naval vessel could have on American public opinion. We do not want to go to war, but one sinking would reverse the Galup polls. It would mean that America's entry into World War II would be determined and timed either by Adolf Hitler who could force Roosevelt's hand by indiscriminate torpedoing of U. S. shipping or else by F.D.R., himself, who could in one fireside chat bring frenzy to every American hearth. Control of her own destiny as well as a British victory is a primary goal of the United States. If ships without men are enough for England's needs, weakened as our merchant fleet and one and a half ocean navy are, we can better Lend-Lease-lose ships than lives. When we are asked to give blood as well as iron for British victory, then the question must be faced as one of war or peace. If the U. S. Navy steams into belligerent waters, with it drifts the last vestiges of popular control of our foreign policy.

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