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continents have ever deterred Americans from fighting effectively against injustice and tyranny. Always in the past we have gone boldly to the source of the aggression and there dealt with it. Hardly was the Revolutionary War over when we sent naval forces to North Africa under Decatur, Preble, and Barron to attack the Bey of Algiers on his home grounds. Thus was the Algerian piracy on the Mediterranean summarily suppressed. About the same time in Egypt, a lone American consul organized a military force and marched westward through very much the same country in which the British are now operating in northern Africa, and bounced from his throne a local and supposedly powerful tyrant.
In the Revolutionary War the policy was the offensive. Not content with so-called defense measures, John Paul Jones crossed the Atlantic, took his squadron to the Thames Estuary, and burned British shipping at the docks of London. Boldness.
Our troops have not only fought in Europe and in Africa, but, as we know, also in Asia at the time of the Boxer War and in Siberia during the last war.
My purpose in mentioning these occasions is not to stimulate a martial spirit, but rather to justify my comment that the most effective way to fight injustice and aggression is to do so offensively, at the source, with boldness, and with promptness, rather than to sit and ponder or debate and act defensively. As an American I prefer to fight on the enemy's territory amid the tumbling homes of his people than in my own country amid the smashed homes of our own people.
The progressive manner in which free peoples of Europe permitted Hitler to conquer them piece-meal, one after the other, each in turn, should warn us against a policy of waiting, be it watchful or otherwise. It is extraordinary that we, above all peoples, should fail to profit by what we have seen and known; that we should hesitate at this time to join in unity of action with Britain, when we know that our Revolutionary War with all its shortcomings was won because the colonies united their strength and remained united until the end. We seem to overlook the fact that the War of the Rebellion was a war fought to preserve that Union and that both North and South now agree that its preservation was essential to national security. We have even been warned by our forefathers of the vital importance to succeeding generations of Americans of the principle of unity, for there is engraved upon our coins the admonition, "E pluribus unum." And it is a remarkable method that was adopted to preserve this motto, if I may term it that, by placing it upon coins, for every American who has a single dime or a quarter carries that motto with him in his pocket.
Gentlemen, I believe that the major objective of Hitler's aggression against Great Britain is the surrender to him of the British Grand Fleet, and to secure it, not by fighting and defeating it in battle, but by destroying if he can the morale of the British people by process of bombing, until they ask for terms. And when they ask for terms, they are vanquished. The first requirement on the list will be the surrender of the Grand Fleet intact. I have heard it said that it would be sunk. It won't be. I have heard it said that it would be given away or transferred to another government. Gentlemen, the punitive consequences for failure to so surrender the fleet would 'visit upon a distraught and vanquished people such further tragedies and horrors that they will surrender it--they are human--without attempts to sink it, or transfer it. If not, then they are not vanquished, and we are back where we started. They would know they are dealing with a man who would make good the threatened consequences.
I trust our people will learn quickly the value of bold offensive action and that it is the most effective form of defense. The pleas of conservatives for delay, in the interest of greater preparedness, are not warranted while Britain holds control of the seas. Armies and navies have never been completely ready according to the meticuloulsy exacting few. In war the advantages are usually with the offensive. It is the leader of the offensive who determines when, where, and how he will strike. The defender is in the dark. A defensive policy is a negative policy.
Hitler has no intention of invading the United States, largely because it is unnecessary. What he seeks are the fruits of the victory, not the losses of an attempted and unnecessary invasion. It is remarkable, and, I believe, without precedent in history, what Hitler has accomplished in the field of conquest with such meager casualties and losses. But he does propose to tumble the United States into the category of a second-class power by gaining control of the seas, which he will have if he gets the British Grand Fleet and adds it to the fleets he already controls.
His armada would be footloose, for if Britain is vanquished, he would control all Europe. Our fleet has numerous and widely scattered defensive missions. Its concentration would necessitate abandonment of many of such existing responsibilities.
I believe in dealing with aggression at the source, police fashion, with boldness, speed, surprise, all in terms of action, now, while we may act in unity, with the battling British “cop," whose resolute counter-attack spirit and methods give assurance of victory, if we comply with the principle expressed by E. Pluribus Unum.
And I would like to add, in reference to that motto, and to the pending bill that military history shows the vital importance of concentrating in a single leadership the war decisions that are to be made. Much of success is dependent not only upon the soundness of a policy or a doctrine, but upon promptness of decision, promptness of action, and the concentrated power to drive through the decision to success.
Other than that, I have no comments to make about any proposed additions to the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish.
Mr. Fish. General, do you think that this country should go to war right away?
General O'Ryan. I think that that question could not be answered by myself, because I am not familiar with the policies of the War Department or what the War Department views may be. But, to answer your question as frankly as I can, I believe, yes, consistent with the views of the War Department.
Mr. Fish. You have been advocating for some time that we should go to war, have
not? General O’Ryan. If you call it war; yes. For some time and increasingly so, I think.
Mr. Fish. You said that this bill, No. 1776, is a step toward our objective?
General O'RYAN. I would think that the bill-I have read it twice would open the way to action which conceivably might bring about
incidents that could-again conceivably-result in war. Yes; to that extent.
Mr. Fish. You are appearing here on behalf of the bill?
General O’RYAN. Yes. I think the bill is a desirable bill in view of the military principles that I have outlined.
Mr. Fish. And in defense of this bill you advocate going to war?
General O'R YAN. That is what I believe, unless I found the opinion to be otherwise in the War Department, for example. I am not familiar with what that opinion is.
Mr. Fish. Has there been any overt act or act of aggression by Germany against this Nation that you know of?
General O'RYAN. Yes; an aggression against our civilization and all that we would uphold, as I see it.
Mr. Fish. Do you believe in changing the traditional policies of our country of nonintervention in favor of quarantining and policing the world?
General O'RYAN. I don't know that we agree upon what the policy has been. But it seems to me that the statement that I have made deals with fundamental principles. I think that each instance, Mr. Congressman, must be judged by logical thinking in terms of the problem itself.
Mr. Fish. That is all.
Mr. Johnson. General O'Ryan, you were in active service in the World War, as commander of what organization?
General Ó'Ryan. The Twenty-seventh Division.
General O'RYAN. From 1897. I was in an infantry regiment then. I was 4 years a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery, and 3 years a first lieutenant. I was 6 years a captain and a couple of years a major. I commanded the Sixth New York Division on the Mexican border in 1916. And then I was in the World War.
Mr. Johnson. Quite a number of years.
Mr. JOHNSON. We had another witness here—Mr. Lindbergh—and I asked him this question: "Do you think that the fall and destruction of the British Empire would menace the United States in their defense against attack?" "To which the answer was, "Not seriously." Would that be your opinion?
General O'RYAN. I didn't get the last part.
. was, "Do you think that the fall and destruction of the British Empire would menace the United States in their defense against attack?"
General O'Ryan. I would say that it would, in my opinion. It is all speculation.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you raise your voice so that the members and the press can hear you?
General O’RYAN. I think it would affect our ability to some substantial extent. It is speculation.
Mr. JOHNSON. What effect, if any, do you think it would have upon our country if the British Fleet should be captured by Hitler?
General O'RYAN. I think that Germany would command the seas. I think that our merchant marine would disappear from the seas until we could regain control of the seas. I think the Monroe Doctrine automatically would cease to have any practical usefulness.
Mr. JOHNSON. Do you think it is necessary for our own safety that we give all aid to England promptly?
General O'Ryan. I think it is conceivable that they could get along without us, because miracles sometimes happen. But, as I said in outlining these military principles, why take the chance? We need not send any troops over there.
Mr. JOHNSON. Your judgment is that it would be wise for us to be prepared to go to war at once, as I understand it. Is that right?
General O'Ryan. Oh, yes.
General O'Ryan. I would say that the principle underlying this dissertation, is the importance of morale. What I suggested that we do would, I believe, have the effects that I indicated, on the morale of the contending forces.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Eaton?
Mr. RICHARDS. In view of the lateness of the hour, Mr. Chairman, I have no questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Tinkham?
Mr. SHANLEY. General, would you be able to enlighten us on just what chances there are of a crew of suicide bombers coming over from Africa and destroying the Panama Canal?
General O'Ryan. I think it is a waste of your time, frankly, for me to attempt to answer such questions.
Mr. SHANLEY. I hate to disagree with you, but I do.
General O'Ryan. It is speculation. I have had very little experience with that except flying around in aircraft of various kinds here and in Europe. I have never made a study of that. I will leave that to the air force people.
Mr. SHANLEY. I assumed that you were a military expert.
General O’RYAN. “Expert” might mean anything. I prefer not to venture opinions on that. I think you would get sound answers from the officers at the head of the Air Corps.
Mr. SHANLEY. I asked that because I consider the Panama Canal the Achilles heel of our naval supremacy. If we cannot preserve and protect that, we are not going to have the freedom of the seas and we are not going to have naval supremacy.
General O'RYAN. I agree with you about that.
Mr. SHANLEY. That is why I asked that question. In the back of my mind is the feeling that it can be done. General O'RYAN. I would say that most anything can be done in
What can be done by soldiers who have determination and who are seasoned is almost unbelievable.
Mr. SHANLEY. I assumed that in your studies and your talks with military experts, because you are a high ranking National Guard officer, somebody might have given you enlightenment on that question. But I see that, like General Johnson, you feel that these things are too hypothetical.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Rogers?
Mrs. ROGERS. No questions.
Mr. VORYS. General, you are against gangsters. Japan is a gangster in her treatment of China, in their wholesale murder, rape, and pillage. Isn't that true?
General O'RYAN. I think that is the view.
Mr. Vorys. Do you think that we have a police duty to stamp out that gangster?
General O'RYAN. No. I do not believe that Japan has any capacity to control the seas, as far as I can see, and certainly no intention or capacity to invade the United States.
Mr. Vores. I thought you said that we had a moral duty to wipe out gangsters.
General O’RYAN. No. I didn't mention the moral duty except incidentally in regard to what I believed to be our own interests in going to the aid of Britain. I see a wide difference between the two situations.
Mr. VORYS. That is all.
Mr. MUNDT. General, did I understand you to say that you think that England
will surrender her fleet to the totalitarian powers? General O'RYAN. I believe that if Britain is vanquished, it is likely that Hitler will secure the British Grand Fleet. Yes. That is my personal opinion.
Mr. Munur. In that event the 50 destroyers that we gave to Great Britain will be used against us?
General O’RYAN. I don't know what will become of them.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, General. We appreciate your being here.