He is Charged With Clutching Authority and Retarding Action.
Is Wilson Failing as War President?
He is Charged With Clutching Authority and Retarding Action.
REVIEW OF REVIEWS
THAT President Wilson is failing to properly perform his functions as the allpowerful executive of the American nation is the charge that Richard Washburn Child makes in Collier's Weekly. He admits that the president is a great man in many respects —just as great as he appears to the outside world—but his greatness is causing him to attempt to hold everything within his own hands. Authority is not delegated to others. It continues in the hands of the man at the White House and the result is that things are not being done. It is impossible to reprint at any length Mr. Child’s article, but certain portions will serve to show that he believes the situation to be very serious and the danger very great.
So it is that his temperament draws him toward policies expressed with power and beauty. If he has to delegate irritating organization questions, it is to good and submissive men only. He writes the formulas; the clerks who are supposed to put up the prescriptions must not differ with the doctor —nor bother him. He writes the labels, the world applauds with reason, and the applause is joined by some foreign statesmen who know that the President holds the moneybags of the war.
The development of our war machinery is another key to the President. In no one man in any Allied country democracy, monarchy, autocracy, or revolutionary dictatorship, unless it is Siam—is there as much power centralized and undistributed. Occasionally we forget this extraordinary fact.
Has he delegated this power ? He has delegated a part of it in separate pieces. Some of it is delegated to McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury ana railroad administrator; some of it to Hoover for food conservation; some of it to Garfield for fuel; some of it, by virtue of regular Government procedure, to Baker for the army, and to Daniels for the navy. Some of the war job is with Hurley of the Shipping Board. But just about there, except for the multitude of advisory bodies, the delegation of war functions by appointment stops. Each man who has any delegated executive power is dependent upon the others for success. All paths of communication lead through the White House. But even if the road were not blocked by presidential in-
accessibility, the President, as one man could not direct the war machine even if he had expert skill in efficient activity. No one man can. And if he could, he would not be able to assign the work fast enough. No one man can. And if he could he would not be able to adjust all conflicts and duplications. No one man car,.
Senator Chamberlain and the Military Commitee of the Senate have been investigating the War Department. The bringing out of the errors and the delinquencies, the bringing forth of the somewhat general and appealing statements of the secretary, who talks of the number of drafted men as if the drafted men were an army, and about transporting an army as if we were not facing an inability to transport it; the sad tales of boys who died of neglect, and all the other things which are bound to issue out of any war department qn earth—always havo and always will—Is important work, lint as compared with the general management of the war these matters ure tiddley-winks, because wars are now made py nations rather than by soldiers. It is the bigger problem the undone task of correlating one part of the work with anotherwhich is running us toward the rocks. We haven't the ships. Wo have failed and are failing miserably in their production. It is ¡i disaster.
i No ships—no army to Europe.
No ships—no supplies to Europe.
! No ships—terrible congestion of goods at Atlantic ports.
(No ships—a need for decreased production f supplies.
No ships—industrial disorganization.
No ships—waste of the vast expenditures. Ships are the key.
I General management of the war must start »n these cold, hard facts. Has it?
I But that is not all. The need of general nanagement does not stop there with a ship 'hortage which spells disaster. That is only »here it begins. What use is made of the hips available? His there been any adequate jaachinery for handling ships and their use? None. The censorship may object to telling he average number of days steamships of -arious capacities have been taking for round rips, but the slowness is appalling. Ships re leaving for Europe without full cargoes, n January, 167 ships were tied up in New fork at one time because unable to get bunker oal, and 116 more were in the same fix at nd near Norfolk. Cargoes rendered useless •y bad storage and cargoes sent by error have «en sent back to America across the Atlantic 'roops sent across the country have been held round New York for long periods because hey could not continue their journey abroad Between Baker, who sends the men and upplies, and Hurley of the Shipping Board aere has been no apparent understanding, 'he question has been tested by going to he War Department and asking: “Who deirmines the available quantity of shipping pace to be devoted to army supplies?” The nswer is: “The Shipping Board.” But at ae Shipping Board they say: “Ask Baker le knows what his needs will be.” It is so mch like the question of which was created rst, the egg or the hen!
After nearly a year of war the management f ships was still split up between three dif2rent departments—army, navy, and Shiping Board, without co-operation. If we have ot provided the ships there is bound to be an ¡creasing and fearsome piling up of supplies n the Atlantic seaboard.
These are the considerations which lead .en to suggest a war cabinet—a small body f the best-fitted men in the country, who for t least eight hours of the twenty-four may Ian the war job, check up the work of the irious departments (which may be left as ley are now unless there is a need for lange), who may adjust differences and conicts and demand action, who may gather 11 the facts and all the responsibilities in íe place to which the country can look for riving power, for clear answers to questions, id for accountability for bringing the eneries of the country, human and material, into íe powerful blow which we must develop for ¡livery against Germany.
The Cabinet must have power to give orders, ist as the war boards which Great Britain id France have developed, after bitter exirience, have power to give orders. The
British and the French point out that their experience indicates that a war cabinet or board must not be made up of the men who have the separate jobs to do. Why? Because then it becomes, as the English say, “a groaning board.” Each man with a job to do would try to favor his own job rather than the general plan; nor would any man among them have enough hours in the day to attend this conference war board and also do the job allotted to him and to his department.
“Such a plan would be so foolish that it would please Von Hindenburg,” said a British representative to me.
The alternative to the present system, under which the President keeps in himself the central war machine which no man can handle, or to the system of mixing functions in a “groaning board” made up of executive heads, is a real war board which shall have the duty of planning the war, controlling the different departments, and ending the absurd oversights and snarls and errors which might waste the lives of American boys and waste the dollars of their parents and threaten a vast economic jam.
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