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Then, too, the term "government,” even when reference is made to an aggressor government, carries with it the implication of lawfully constituted authority. People are impressed by the pronunciamentos of self-righteousness issued by "the government” of an aggressor nation. They are impressed by the titles which these ministers give to each other; by their generals and admirals, and their uniforms and decorations. And when the aims and results of ruthless aggressions are under discussion, the consciences of people become dulled by the substitution of technological military terms for the language of the criminal law. Wanton aggression becomes “defense of the fatherland.” Conspiracies against the lives and property of neighboring peoples become "important conferences," while individual assassinations are referred to as "liquidations.'
When Hitler threatened the invasion of Poland, Britain and France by their declarations of war in effect assumed the volunteer role of civilization's policemen. I believe that this manner of viewing what has taken place in Europe as the outcome of this so-called war will serve to clarify a visualization of its import, and I would emphasize this. The French policeman, as we know, was shot down, but not killed. Gangster fashion, Hitler holds the French policeman as a hostage. The British cop fights on. The United States, like a spectator, has thus far refused to join the hard-pressed officer of the law in a fight which, if lost, will constitute a disaster of appalling consequences to us. What are we waiting for?
Hitler's tour de force can only be stopped by force, either from within or from without, but, in any event, by force alone. A compromise with such a man would amount to the compounding of a felony and would serve only to rekindle at a later date the flames of world disaster.
The implications of a world order of this character are more than disconcerting for us to contemplate. To understand the gravity of what the world is facing-and this includes the American peoplewe have only to review the felonious activities of the long list of fuehrers who in the past have led their hosts against the uncoordinated defenses of their selected victims, conquering and plundering them piecemeal, while en route to some mythical place in the sun, calling upon their dupes for their support in the establishment of some "new order." The fact that before the place in the sun was reached these fuehrers of history usually succeeded in destroying themselves and pauperizing their own peoples, offered no consolation to those who survived the tragedies and ruin that littered their routes.
Looking ahead, it is conceivable that in our own interest we should enter the war now in order to prevent a stalemate, and it seems to me that such action now in support of Great Britain would have the following effects:
1. It would carry, perhaps to a state of exhaltation, the confidence and morale of the British people. It must be remembered in this connection that the casualties among the British population have been greater than the casualties borne by nearly four millions of British troops in Great Britain. Seasoned troops can undergo unbelievable hardships and suffer great losses when they know that their mothers, sisters, wives, and children are safe in the homeland. This satisfactory state of mind cannot at present exist for the British Army in Britain.
2. Our entry into the war would progressively impair the morale of the German population. Hitler, you will remember, assured them of complete freedom from enemy bombing, and they are being bombed, inadvertently perhaps, but nevertheless bombed.
In the last war the German population was assured, and for a time believed, that America could raise no efficient army; that in any event its retention in the United States would be required by reason of the large so-called German population, and, further, that the U-boats would prevent the arrival of an American army in Europe.
The Germans know that no American army is now required in Europe, but they dread the employment of American bombing and pursuit units over Germany and, as well, the employment of our lighter cruisers and destroyers to keep open the sea routes to British ports. The effect upon the German people of our entry into this war would make for progressive demoralization. They also now know that Americans of German blood are not Germans but forthright Americans. I would estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the men in the Twenty-seventh Division were of German blood on one side or the other, and as officers or trigger pullers they left nothing to be desired in combat with the Germans.
3. Everywhere in the conquered countries there would spring up a renewal of confidence on the part of the conquered and plundered peoples of Europe. Everywhere sabotage would light up and daring extremists would be impelled to violent action.
4. In my opinion our participation would mean that Italy would be definitely out of the war. In Italy, the war is Mussolini's war, not the war of the Italian people, and this largely accounts for Italian defeats in North Africa and in Albania.
5. I believe our entry into the war would assure the neutrality of Spain. It would have its effects in the Balkans, in Russia, in Greece, in Turkey, and in the European colonies in Asia and Africa.
In connection with these favorable repercussions which would result from forthright aid to Britain, there is one circumstance that largely has been overlooked, and which has few precedents. It is this: If we should adopt the decision to go to the aid of the battling British policeman and support him with bombing operations against Germany and with air attacks upon the German air force, and help keep open the supply routes to Great Britain, there is nothing in the way of counter offensive against the United States that Hitler can wage while the British Grand Fleet remains under British control.
Gentlemen, in war morale is three-fourths of victory, and lack of morale is three-fourths of defeat. This is particularly true when great populations engage in war, because their huge armies are a cross-section of the people and cannot long retain their morale once the morale of their people is lost.
Orthodox military thinking may hold that a people cannot be conquered from the air. How do they know? It has never been tried. How long can any people preserve morale once they believe that there is no light ahead to justify the sacrifice-nothing but increased losses and sacrifices?
It would seem that we have been living in a fog which has blinded us to the effectiveness of those virtues of boldness and of resolute action displayed by Americans in the past. The so-called isolationists have forgotten that neither oceans nor great deserts nor distant
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 at
tempts 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 you 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'Ryan. 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 O’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.
Mr. JOHNSON. The answer was, "Not seriously.” The question 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.