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doctrine, which forbids the extension in the Western Hemisphere of non-American military and political control, was enunciated for the purpose of preserving the territorial, economic, and social integrity of the United States. Our statesmen clearly foresaw that we ourselves could be safe from aggression only by keeping safe the whole of the American Hemisphere. The United States under that policy has progressed from weakness to strength. The other nations of this hemisphere have also been enabled to develop their own civilizations, free from the fear of sudden foreign conquest.
The United States proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine to keep the New World from being conquered by the Holy Alliance which was the Triple Axis of 1823. We were successful in maintaining that doctrine only because of the support of Great Britain, whose overwhelming fleet could prevent overseas aggression from Europe.
Our Nation thus could develop because of the fortunate circumstances of the great oceans to the east and the west. Military power has not been able to cross these oceans, and never will be, without the support of naval power superior to our own. British naval power has not threatened us for 125 years, and during that time no other European naval power could touch us since they feared the British fleet.
During the early period of our national existence there was no danger in the Pacific, and our merchants were as free as anyone else to trade with Asia. No aggressive military dictatorship in the Far East then disturbed the peace of other nations. There was no threat in the Atlantic because the balance of power in Europe permitted no aggression against us. We did not need a great navy or a large army.
Ouly during the past 50 years has it become necessary for us to develop a strong navy. The circumstances that rendered a strong navy essential to our safety were the construction of a German Navy to back aggression toward distant lands; and Japan's expansion into the peaceful lands beyond her borders.
During the years before the World War we were threatened by German naval power, because that power was directed against the continued existence of Great Britain and its powerful navy. To meet German aggression the United States built its Atlantic Fleet. We had only a weak Pacific Fleet, but we served notice of our interest in two oceans when President Theodore Roosevelt gave a practical demonstration of United States naval strength by sending the Atlantic Fleet around the world.
All doubtless remember that the World War gave Japan her chance for expansion throughout the islands of the Pacific, and remember that this was the occasion of her 21 demands upon China. We were able to check Japan's further aggressions by moving our entire fleet to the Pacific when the conclusion of the World War eliminated the German Fleet in the Atlantic. Since that time we have maintained a one-ocean navy in the Pacific, and that navy has proved adequate in both directions only because the existence and the deployment of the British Navy gave us security in the Atlantic. In effect, both we and the British Commonwealth of Nations actually have had a twoocean navy, operated for a single peaceful purpose.
We still have a one-ocean navy. We are building a two-ocean navy, but its structure will not be completed for 6 years. We need to complete that structure as fast as we can, because the other part
of our present two-ocean navy is now in grave danger. The British Navy can survive only if the British Isles survive. Should the British Isles fall, we can only believe that the British Navy, which never runs from danger, will fall at the same time. I think we can safely assume that the British Navy will share the fate of the courageous nation that supports it.
Last year the Congress was suddenly warned by the Chief of Naval Operations of the grave threat to the freedom of the United States and its sister American republics, which would exist, were Britain to suffer defeat. The naval forces now in the possession of the Axis Powers, or which are under construction, would greatly outnumber our own. Our fleet would necessarily be divided, to meet danger in both oceans. Whether it would be strong enough to protect even the regions nearest to us is a matter that cannot be foretold. Certainly we could not project our strength across two wide oceans. With the Navy retained at home, we could not do much to prevent Japan from extending its sway over all of the Eastern Asia, nor could we prevent the establishment of strong military-base areas in Southern Europe and in Africa to threaten our neighbors to the South.
To keep our land secure we must prevent the establishment of strong aggressive military power in any part of the New World. We can keep non-American military power out of our hemisphere only through being able to control the seas that surround our shores. Once we lose the power to control even a part of those seas, inevitably the wars of Europe and Asia will be transferred to the Americas.
We need time to build ships and to train their crews. We need time to build our outlying bases so that we can operate our fleets as a screen for our continent. We need time to train our armies, to accumulate war stores, to gear our industry for defense.
Only Great Britain and its fleet can give us that time. And they need our help to survive.
If we fully organize the mental and material resources of the American people, we can give Britain that help and simultaneously can build a strong military defense for ourselves. The cost to us in money, effort, and sacrifice will be great-but that cost will be far greater even in the immediate future, should we now stand aside and let Britain fall.
We are a strong Nation, though our military strength is still largely potential. I believe that the American people have what it takes in character, courage, and wisdom to guard this country and to guard this hemisphere. But to keep from engaging in a desperate struggle in American territory, they need time to make ready their arms. They can get time to make ready, and can maintain their essential interests throughout the world, only so long as Britain and its fleet survive. With our unstinted help, I firmly believe that Britain cannot be defeated.
We will act in our best national interests, therefore, if, while increasing our naval power as fast as we can, we provide the British Commonwealth with the means that will bring her through this tragic crisis.
NAVAL STRENGTHS, 1 JANUARY 1941 Estimated approximate total combat tonnage built : United States.-
1, 835, 000 Germany-Italy-Japan-France--
2, 145, 000 Estimated comparative strengths in types (does not include France)
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, is it not a fact that we have the greatest and most powerful Navy in the world today!
Mr. Knox. It is.
Mr. Fish. Now, Mr. Secretary, you said that the Axis Powers, if the British Navy were defeated, would out-number ours?
Mr. Knox. That is right.
Mr. Fish. Is it not a fair assumption, or rather a fair statement to make that if the British Navy is to be destroyed in battle, that there also would be losses on the Axis side?
Mr. Knox. Possibly. That is speculative, however.
Mr. Fish. And therefore, the German, Italian, and other Axis Navies, if they suffer losses, might not out-number our own at that time?
Mr. Knox. They would have to suffer an awful lot. Do you know what the figures are?
Mr. FISH. I would like to have them from you. I would like to get them from you. I would like to know, for example, what the losses of the French Navy have been.
Mr. Knox. The losses of what?
Mr. Fish. I want to find out whether they could possibly use the French Navy after they had suffered losses in the war.
Mr. KNOX. I think their losses are pretty well summed up. I think we have received advices as to what they are.
Mr. FISH. Has not the Italian Navy had pretty severe losses in the war?
Mr. Knox. Yes; we are aware of those.
Mr. Knox. To some degree, although their fleet has held itself pretty close to its harbors, recently.
Mr. FISH. If a navy were to attack us across 3,000 miles of ocean, the Navy loses something like 20 percent of its efficiency over every thousand miles from its base?
Mr. Knox. That is not the way the fight would begin.
Mr. Fish. I am not assuming we would go over there to fight them. I assumed from your argument we were apt to be attacked over here.
Mr. Knox. I make the assumption that no nation of this group might come across and attack us by sea at once. But that penetration will come in a different way.
Mr. Fish. Will you please explain what you mean by “at once"?
Mr. Knox. Well, as long as they can arm their forces and equip their ships and prepare them for the foray, I do not think they would make that kind of attack on us.
Mr. FISH. Will you proceed and state what kind of attack they will make on this country?
Mr. Knox. I will be very glad to. Our responsibility for defense is not for our own territory alone. If we are to be safe here we have to make the whole western world safe, including South America. South America today is the largest storehouse of raw materials left in the world. It is populated sparsely. None of its nations has an armament sufficient to protect itself against an aggressive nation of Europe. If Great Britain should fall and Germany should dominate the whole of the continent, she would have available a huge volume of poorly paid labor, and some of it slave labor, with which to manufacture articles that South America needs, perhaps at very low cost. South America has certain raw materials in excess of her needs and is looking for markets for them. Nothing could be more inevitable, economically, than such a building up of an economic relationship between the many nations of South America and the dominent power in Europe. The political situation in South America is not strong enough to defend itself against political infiltration. Generally speaking, those nations down there are made up of about 90 percent illiterate people who have been permitted no part in their government, or very Iittle, and about 10 percent literate. In each of those nations there is always an active minority anxious to achieve power. It is impossible to conceive of a more beautiful situation for just that kind of penetration that Germany has been practicing all over the world than would exist in South America. And it would not be long before some situation would be seized upon as an excuse for actual occupation of some of the weaker countries, and that would establish at once a German base on this side of the Atlantic.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Secretary, assuming as a hypothetical question that we are discussing, that England is beaten, is there any reason why Germany, as the dominant power, should seek war in South America if they are permitted to buy the foodstuffs like meat and wheat from the Argentine, and other materials ?
Mr. Knox. As you know, that is very speculative, and if you can
tell what is going on in Mr. Hitler's mind and what his ultimate
purposes are, you are far wiser than I am.
Mr. Fish. I mean, I am following your question which was simply that they would want that raw material. Do you know, or is there any reason why they should not be permitted to buy that raw material?
Mr. Knox. Let me ask you a question, Mr. Congressman.
Mr. Knox. I suggest as one of the possibilities with such an economical and political situation as I have described in South America, that it would ultimately lead to the seizure of territory in South Amer ica by Germany. What would you do under those conditions with the Monroe Doctrine !
Mr. FISH. I am very glad to answer that. You and I are in entire accord, but perhaps I feel it a little more strongly than you do.
Mr. Knox. What would you do?
Mr. Fish. I am going to tell you right away. I think we should be strong enough to serve notice on the rest of the world, particularly Germany, that we are united and that all parties are united and back of the Monroe Doctrine, and that we would go to war immediately over any invasion by any foreign foe of Latin America. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Knox. I do, completely.
Mr. FISH. And if we serve that notice upon the rest of the world, I do not believe any of them are equipped with navies to come over here, particularly with this great Navy which you think is the best in the world. And I am glad to give you some information right now, Mr. Secretary, because the Rules Committee, within the hour and I am very glad to tell you-reported out the right-of-way for another $1,000,000,000 for your Navy, in addition, for the two-ocean Navy you are in the course of building. We propose to have that for that specific purpose, not only to protect the United States, but to uphold the Monroe Doctrine. Mr. Knox. Fine. Mr. FISH. That is the purpose.
Mr. Knox. One item that has been left out in your calculations is that if Germany does dominate Europe and achieves the defeat of the British Isles, she will have immediately available to her, shipbuilding facilities which will be seven times our present shipbuilding facilities.
Mr. FISH. I am glad to hear you say that, because that would mean, however—that has been used so much in the press and there is no way of checking up on it—it would mean you take Germany or any other nation that had that capacity and it would take them some 5 or 6 years to build up their Navy, while we have already been proceeding in time of peace to build up this enormous Navy and we have appropriated another $1,000,000,000 today. And I rather believe it will take Germany, if she wins this war, some time to reorganize her own affairs and the conquered territories and Africa, without looking for trouble over here.
Now, Mr. Secretary, I would like to ask you about some possible amendments. Many of us would be glad to support this bill, if it were properly amended, and we would like naturally to get your views and your advice.