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Mr. EBERHARTER. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. JONKMAN. Mr. Smith, in your statement which represents the views of your committee, you say you do not trust politicians..and you say that there is a universal feeling that we should continue to aid England. That we are agreed upon?
Mr. Smith. Yes.
Mr. JONKMAN. Is that feeling based on any other purpose than that it will eventually be to our benefit to do so?
Mr. Smith. I think it is a humanitarian impulse.
Mr. JONKMAN. You think they are willing to take that position that England win, even though it might not involve what would eventually be a good defense for ourselves?
Mr. Smith. The people who write to me do not have the impression that England is our first line of defense, but they do have the impression England is in great pain, and should be helped just as a neighbor should be helped; and, just as a father rescues his own children first, they want America's defense guaranteed first. The people who write to me and support my position believe that this war is England's war.
Mr. JONKMAN. You understand, of course, that that is not the theory of this bill, of a charitable, neighborly act, but the theory underlying this bill is we are justified in aiding England and the other countries because it is for our own defense. In other words, we are destroying that which will eventually attack us.
Mr. Smith. The fact that the bill creates that impression justifies the appearance of the spokesman of our committee in this hearing. I do not agree with that conclusion.
Mr. JONKMAN. You do not agree with that?
Mr. JONKMAN. Do you feel that, as the testimony shows here, the trend in aerial warfare is of peculiar benefit to the United States because it is principally a defense item, and not so well adapted to a military victory in case of attack? In other words, that that is the basis upon which it is claimed that even England, assisted by the United States, in all probability, could not invade or conquer Germany except with an expeditionary force and after a long war?
Mr. Smith. We believe that the President's position was wrong in his address to Congress when he suggested an Utopian world, through the use of only British, Greek, and Chinese soldiers. We do not believe that what the President desires can be accomplished without American manpower, perhaps not then.
Mr. JONKMAN. I do not believe that exactly answers my question. What I mean to say is that we see that Hitler, with all of his vaunted strength last fall, did not undertake to invade England with a military force. The theory is that it is because it is dufficult to make an invasion based upon aerial strength, and the contention is that inasmuch as that same thing is practically impossible in Germany, it is hardly probable in England. Therefore, our defense lies in that same thing, that a military invasion by aerial power is practically an impossibility, and therein lies the strength of the United States. If they had that confidence that we are not subject to invasion, would they be so much in favor of help to England?
Mr. SMITH. Any hysteria that I have encountered in the war is based upon the belief among certain people that we are likely to be invaded by Germany next week or next month.
Mr. JONKMAN. And if that did not exist would they change their position? Mr. Smith. Definitely. Mr. JONKMAN. That is all. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Gregory. Mr. GREGORY. No questions, if the Chairman please. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wasielewski. Mr. WASIELEWSKI. No questions. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Sikes? Mr. Sikes. I have no questions, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Smith. We appreciate your coming here.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish and I have just decided to sit until 6 o'clock, and then we will recess until 8. So, be guided accordingly.
STATEMENT OF JOHN BURKE, REPRESENTING THE AMERICAN
DEFENSE SOCIETY, NEW YORK CITY
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. John Burke, representing the American Defense Society.
Mr. BURKE. Yes, sir.
Mr. BURKE. I am a member of the advisory Committee and chairman of the ways and means committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Then you are right at home in the Ways and Means Committee room. Have you a prepared statement?
Mr. BURKE. Yes; I have, sir, and I gave a few copies to the press, and some more are coming down by plane and will be here later.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed with your statement.
Mr. BURKE. The American Defense Society opposes the passage of this bill because it gives to one man, the President of the United States, unlimited public money to spend for unspecified objectives.
In its present form the bill is not a bill to aid Britain, Greece, or China, but a blind grant of autocratic power, while the Nation is still at peace.
The American Defense Society, which was organized in 1915, has but a single objective. That objective is the defense of the Constitution and the American form of government. In 1915 Theodore Roosevelt, as President, called this society “The fighting wing of patriotic citizen effort."
The society's firm opposition to the present bill is based on its conviction that the bill violates the spirit of the Constitution and violently alters the American form of government.
Under the bill, as it stands, Congress is asked to abdicate its constitutional power to declare the policies and apportion the public money of the United States.
The society recognizes the dangers which our own Government faces under present world conditions and is wholeheartedly in accord with (a) the importance of providing for our own proper defense, (6)
the granting of every legitimate aid to England, Greece, and China, and (c) the necessity for protecting the Americas to the end that no foreign power shall gain a foothold or otherwise interfere with the several American governments as they now exist.
The society believes that all these ends can be accomplished without damage to the authority of Congress or to the American form of government.
Specifically, we are against the present bill because under the guise of legislation to provide for the defense of the United States it gives the power to one man to plunge the United States into war.
It gives to the President, and to him alone, complete domination over the industries, the public money, and the foreign and domestic policies of our Republic.
It permits the President to commit acts of war, without the knowledge or consent of Congress. Premier Deladier of France obtained a grant of power.
It, in effect, repeals the Johnson Act, the Neutrality Act, and the Draft Act, whenever they interfere with the undisclosed plans of the President.
It gives the President authority to arm, refit, and repair any belligerent foreign warship, which must be regarded as an act of war against the opposing nation.
It makes the President sole judge of the nations which are to be assisted by the United States. It gives him unlimited public money to procure implements of war, to be transferred to any foreign nation on any terms that the President deems satisfactory.
Under the terms of the bill the President, if he saw fit, could turn over the entire American Navy to any nation in the world, without consulting Congress or the American people.
It gives a blank check to the President to use any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated for his undisclosed purposes.
The only limit on the amount of money which the President may loan or use for the benefit of foreign nations is the power of our Government to tax or borrow the savings of the American people.
I think I have pointed out enough specific defects in this bill, which strikes at the liberties, the safety, and the future of the people of the United States.
For Congress to pass this bill in its present form would be a breach of faith with the people, and a violation of the spirit of the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
This bill raises a vital question of national policy. If passed in its present form, the money and the energies of the Nation will be directed to arming other nations. Should these nations fail, the United States would be left unprepared and ill-equipped.
For all the reasons enumerated, the American Defense Society is against approval of the present bilí.
On the other hand, we believe that the American people wish to aid the nations which are fighting against aggression.
The society wishes to be constructive in the present crisis and for that reason it desires to submit to your committee the precise amendments it believes should be made to the present loose and dangerous draft.
As you will see, the bill as we would wish it amended, strikes out the paragraphs of the bill which would lead immediately to war.
It appropriates specific amounts to be spent, under the President's direction for the benefit of Britain, Greece, and China.
It sets a definite limit on the life of the powers and appropriations granted by the bill.
It preserves the rights and the responsibilities of Congress under the Constitution, and at the same time permits immediate and substantial aid to the beleaguered nations across the sea.
The American Defense Society urges upon you the folly of national efforts to defeat dictatorship abroad, at the price of establishing a dictatorship here at home.
This bill should be called "An act to appoint an executor for a dead republic." The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fish.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Burke, is your organization opposed to our entrance into this war?
Mr. BURKE. Absolutely. We are not a pacifist organization, as you may gather from our title, but we are opposed to our entry into the present conflict.
Mr. Fish. Does your organization have confidence that if this bill passes in its present form that they can rely on repeated assurances of the President to keep this country out of war?
Mr. BURKE. Now, we feel, without entering into any discussion here as to the reliance one may place upon any statement of the Chief Executive, that if this power is given to the President he cannot help but get us into war, even if he honestly did not want to go quite that far.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Burke, you are a young man of draft age. What do you and your friends think about this bill? Do you think that this is just another step toward war, and it means we are just drifting into war?
Mr. BURKE; Yes; that feeling is practically unanimous among my friends and acquaintances in all sections of the country, that the President has already made commitments to England that will bring us into war, and we know that once in the war American manpower must endeavor to crush Hitler on the continent of Europe or the war will become a stalemate. The blood of hundreds of thousands of young Americans will_flow to take a bridgehead on the European Continent. Nobody I know has any objection to putting on a uniform and shouldering a gun in defense of the United States and our Constitution, but everybody is puzzled as to why we should go to war to pull the chestnuts of some other country out of the fire.
Mr. Fish. Do you believe that this is America's war?
Mr. BURKE. No. If I did, I believe we should be in there fighting now and not let England do our fighting for us. We do not fight American wars with British blood. It is not our conflict, much as we may be shrewdly made to believe by the brave fight England is putting up, we are not directly involved, nor must we become directly involved.
Mr. Fish. Do you believe that the British Fleet has maintained the Monroe Doctrine for us?
Mr. BURKE. No, and that question is in the same category as the previous one, because nobody has ever challenged statements that the Monroe Doctrine was only protected by England. There were many occasions when English forces did threaten the Monroe Doctrine. Mr. Fish. Do you believe our position today is as strong as it was in 1917?
Mr. BURKE. No.
In 1917, we were a country free of national debt. Now, due to 8 years of the present administration, we have a tremendous national debt. We have worked hard and successfully to destroy our powers to produce goods and leisure for our people. We are infinitely worse off in facing a world crisis now than 23 years ago. Of our $76,000,000,000 of national production, one-third goes for the Federal Government, whose main purpose recently has been to stifle actual production.
Mr, Fish. That is all. Thank you.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Chairman, the witness was not as good to me as he was to Mr. Fish; he did not give me any questions to ask him, so I won't ask him any.
Mr. BURKE. I should be happy to if you wish them, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions by any members of the committee?
Mr. Mundt. When did you say the National Defense Association was founded, Mr. Burke?
Mr. BURKE. The National Defense Society was founded in 1915 under the presidency of Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, to prepare America for war, which occurred 2 years later. We are now trying to keep out of this war.
Mr. Mundt. Do you number among your membership any college presidents or professors?
Mr. BURKE. No; but we are in close contact with a number of them. We correspond with similar groups in colleges.
Mr. Mundt. Judging from the impression in some mail that I have received from some sections, it leads me to believe that many campuses have presidents and professors who almost universally are in favor of this country going to war right now.
Mr. BURKE. That is not true. I am a graduate student at Columbia, and I am in close touch with colleges all over the country. I think there was a small group mostly connected with Carnegie Foundation and other similar funds who would like to get us into war, but I think that most college professors are intelligent enough to realize it would be economic destruction.
Mr. MUNDT. I was interested when you mentioned Columbia, because I am also a graduate from there, but I am not bragging about it.
The CHAIRMAN. Not because it is in my district?
Did you notice in the paper that the president of our alma mater, Dr. Butler, recently made a public statement to the effect that any of his professorial associates who were not in harmony with his policy of intervention were perfectly welcome to resign from the university?
Mr. Johnson. I believe I will object, Mr. Chairman, to that question. It is immaterial and wholly irrelevant.
The CHAIRMAN. You may answer that as long as you do not have it written out.