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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 à 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 bill.
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. Mundr. 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.
Mr. JOHNSON. I think that may be discussed in private.
The CHAIRMAN. Dr. Butler is a constituent of mine; I think I will let him answer.
Mr. Johnson. I renew the objection, Mr. Chairman, as it is wholly irrelevant.
The CHAIRMAN. The objection is sustained.
Mr. Mundt. How many States are represented in your organization, Mr. Burke?
Mr. BURKE. Thirty-six.
Mr. Mundt. Do you feel the statement you made today rather universally expresses their point of view?
Mr. BURKE. Yes, sir. The American people mainly would like England to win, but they do want to keep out of the war.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions on the other side?
Is there any special reason you did not put your answers in your opening statement instead of having the questions asked of you and then you reading the answers?
Mr. BURKE. No; because we prepared this statement for the committee in New York, and these questions were prepared today.
The CHAIRMAN. I just wanted to know whether there was any special reason for doing that.
STATEMENT OF BENJAMIN C. MARSH, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,
PEOPLES LOBBY, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. MARSH. Yes, sir.
Mr. MARSH. A very brief one. I will read the action taken by our board, and then I want to give the reasons for that action.
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed; you may be seated or stand, as you prefer, Mr. Marsh.
Mr. MARSH. My name is Benjamin C. Marsh, executive secretary of the Peoples Lobby, and I want to read an amendment to the pending bill recommended by our board of directors at a meeting held a few days ago:
Amendments to limit the life of the lend-lease bill to 1 year, and to provide that Congress should in joint session of both Houses elect one United States Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives--one a Republican and the other a Democrat—to advise with the President on every power granted the President under the proposed bill, the President to have power to act only if one of the two Members approved his proposed action, otherwise congressional action to be required-all based on the President's assurance, that he would not send an American army overseas, except for actual defense.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to give some of the reasons which I think led the committee to take this action our board took.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean what committee?
Mr. MARSH. The action our board took; that is, the action suggesting this amendment. We feel, and I think that many members of this committee and the Congress agree, that when a Congress which is elected to do certain things is informed by the Chief Executive that that Congress has not the integrity or the intelligence to be trusted with the powers which the President wants to have delegated to him, that such a Congress should assert, while it still has a chance, the fact that America is operating under a constitutional form of government.
I would like to point this out: I was here during the World War, that is, from March 1918 on, and ever since the beginning of the last decade there has been a gradual reduction, it seems to me, and I have been here in Washington for 23 years, a reduction in the powers and in the self-respect of Congress, not due to their own action but due to the dominance of one individual, and it seems to me that that is a very dangerous situation.
May I state that some of my best friends in the world are in the British Labor Party. I have been in Europe 10 times, starting in 1929, and have seen the development of dictatorship over there.
Mr. Chairman, I do not know whether the Members of Congress realize what the business interests of this country are saying about this combination with Britain, so I want to read briefly a few statements which have appeared in conservative papers, statements of businessmen on the present situation on the abdication of Congress. Why, gentlemen, I wonder what excuse you will have for drawing your salaries, whether you will not be getting money under false pretenses, if you are merely to be paid $10,000 a year plus all the other emoluments of office that you have, merely to underwrite what the President does. Let me quote from the United States News, a David Lawrence paper. On January 10 of this year it carries a story on developments: "Mr. Roosevelt's Move for World Leadership.” The same issue, appropriately, has an article, “A National Debt of 100 Billions Coming.'
Mr RICHARDS. Could not the witness put those statements in the record instead of reading them?
Mr. Marsh. I could, except I thought the committee might want to ask me some questions about the points raised here.
The CHAIRMAN. If the committee wants to ask you questions they can think of a lot of questions to ask the gentlemen without looking for expert questions from the papers. But if you wish to read them, all right.
Mr. MARSH. I would prefer to do it if that is agreeable to the committee.
Mr. JOHNSON. It depends on the length of them.
Mr. MARSH. The same magazine, the United States News, on January 24, 1941, in an article entitled, “America in Danger, President's Warning," states:
Mr. Roosevelt directs this Nation's foreign policy. In directing that policy he is subject under the Constitution to few restraints by Congress.
At the same time the majority of Senators and Representatives, despite a vigorous and important minority opposition, gives every sign of agreement with the President on foreign policy.
This means that, regardless of isolationist opinion, the United States apparently is going down the line with a policy aimed at continued world leadership for the British and American empires.
I ask the members of this committee and the Members of Congress by what warrant they turn over to any man, and I am not speaking in personal terms, the power to lead America down the road to world domination in collaboration with the British Empire.