Pearl Harbor to Now

Debits and credits from Uncle Sam’s war ledger, after eleven months of combat

RICHARD L. HARKNESS November 1 1942

Pearl Harbor to Now

Debits and credits from Uncle Sam’s war ledger, after eleven months of combat

RICHARD L. HARKNESS November 1 1942

Pearl Harbor to Now


Debits and credits from Uncle Sam’s war ledger, after eleven months of combat


WASHINGTON. No one present in the United States Congress on Monday, December 8, 1941, will ever forget the look on President Roosevelt’s face as he spoke.

No one could forget the steel in his eyes, or the grim, straight line of his mouth as he asked the Senate and House to declare war on Japan—a war to make certain that Tokyo’s treachery at Pearl Harbor only the day before “shall never endanger us again.” Thirty-three minutes later Congress passed the joint resolution declaring war on the Japanese Government, and Mr. Roosevelt became a war president. A declaration of hostilities against Germany and Italy followed as a matter of course and the United States became a member of the United Nations.

Almost eleven months have passed since Mr. Roosevelt delivered his war message to Congress. For almost a year now the democracy he leads has been seeking to find itself, in the fundamental sense of a nation jolted from peace into a war for its life. These eleven months since Pearl Harbor have been almost a year of military setbacks. Let’s not gloss over the truth with a sugar-coating of words which soothe, and yet mean nothing. You Canadians don’t do it. I know that from talking to your people here in Washington and from my impressions in Ottawa at the turn of this year when Prime Minister Churchill addressed your Parliament.

WTe don’t mince words here in the United States either. Remember the published report of Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts detailing how our armed forces were asleep at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese struck? Did you read the public charge of the Baruch Committee that “in none of the Government agencies has there been a clearly recognized group of independent experts to make the technical decisions” regarding production of synthetic rubber? We’re the same kind of people you are when it comes to facing the facts.

So today, because we are a democracy, the facts of the last eleven months are furnishing a test of the Administration’s stewardship of the war—and of President Roosevelt’s personal war leadership. On November 3 the people go to the polls to elect a new House of Representatives and to fill thirty-four seats in the United States Senate. If the voters return a big majority of pro-Roosevelt Democrats to the House in an Administration landslide, it will be a victory for Mr. Roosevelt’s leadership. If the Republicans capture the House, or even make heavy inroads into the Administration’s majority, it will be a sign that the citizenry wants—not a new leader in the White House, but a new kind of leadership. They will be telling Mr. Roosevelt: “Look here, Mr. President. Appoint some gov-

ernment officials who are really tough. We want red tape slashed. We want no more bureaucratic indecision. We can take it. Get some officials who will pour it on.”

Republican Platform

OP'1 COURSE, Mr. * Roosevelt isn’t up for re-election. But Republican members of the House made doubly plain the issue of the President’s personal leadership when they met in caucus recently, and adopted a ten-point campaign platform featuring this plank :

“Victory and Security transcend all other consideration. We demand full and immediate utilization by the President of the most capable and efficient military and civilian leadership.

“Mistakes, blunders, and incompetence fall upon all alike. Added teanfand unnecessary taxes are the wages of waste and inefficiency. The patriotism and sacrifice of the people must be matched by the selection of the most capable and best-trained leader

in America regardless of party, group, class, or section.

“We pledge as the people’s representatives in Congress a constant and continued vigilance to eliminate waste and inefficiency.”

As now constituted, the 435 members of the House are divided thus: Democrats, 267; Republicans, 162; Independents, six. Republicans will have to win fifty-six more seats—or a total of 218—to gain a bare majority. It’s foolhardy to make political predictions at such close range. But at the time of writing the chances appear to be that the Democrats will retain control of the lower branch of Congress. Even if the Republicans should win the House, it would bring no split between the President and the Republicans. There would be no political disunity in the United States. Because House Republicans—you might call them the “loyal opposition” —have, in their own words, “given and will continue to give to the President loyal, wholehearted, and patriotic support in the war.”

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The Republicans cannot hope to capture the Senate. The Democrats hold sixty-five of the ninetysix seats, and only thirty-four Senators are standing for reelection. But here again, important Republican gains would mean a public calling-to-accourtt for the President. The primary elections ! through the summer showed beyond doubt that the old pre-war issue of j “interventionist against isolationist” holds no current importance in the minds of the voters this year.

Of course, the coming Congressional elections are purely domestic. The American people will be choosing their own representatives in their own Congress. But the results will be eagerly scanned in London and Chungking, in Moscow and Cairo, in Berlin and Rome, and in Tokyo. The elections will be particularly important to Canada, since the balloting is certain to have such a definite bearing on Mr. Roosevelt’s conduct of the war. And aren’t the Japanese knocking at your back door—and our’s—in the not-so-faroff Aleutian Islands of the Northern Pacific? Aren’t German submarines prowling our Atlantic coast line? We’re in this thing together. Even our domestic problems are yours— and yours are ours.

It seems fitting, then, for a newspaper correspondent reporting the Washington scene for a United States newspaper to draw up for the Canadian readers of Maclean's a balance sheet of the first eleven months-of America at war. Here it is, with no attempt to drown the harsh notes in our war effort byplaying a patriotic chorus with all stops open. Neither is this survey a carping criticism of the Administration.

The Military Front

WHEN THE war began, the United States had an Army of some 2,000,000 men. Our Navy was fairly strong. But generally we were unprepared. Pearl Harbor proved that. The Roberts Commission, after an on-the-spot survey of preparations at the Navy’s Pacific outpost, employed the most damning words short of “treason”—“dere-

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fiction of duty” in placing responsibility on Lieut.-Gen. Walter C. Short and Admiral Husband E. Kimmel.

After Pearl Harbor the Japanese rushed headlong on a trail of bloody conquest through the southwest Pacific. Manila, Bataan Peninsula, and then Corregidor fell before their onslaught. The British failed to hold Singapore. The Netherlands Elast Indies were lost. The United States— and Canada too—became “have not” nations in a military sense. We lost our joint supply of rubber, our supply of tin, hemp, and other strategic war materials.

Later the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu, gaining an “invasion springboard” on the North American continent. Our Navy sought to minimize the importance of this enemy move by clamping a month-long censorship on all military activities on the Alaskan front. At the same time Germany struck on the Atlantic coast of our continent, sinking 450 or more United Nations merchantmen. Secretary of Navy Frank Knox issued optimistic statements, but the Nazis continued to torpedo cargo ships. At last reports more than two thousand members of this nation’s vital commercial sea arm had been killed or were missing as a result of enemy action.

Lieut.-Gen. Brehon B. Somervell, commander of the Army Service of Supply, summarized the military situation in the hard-hitting, matterof-fact language of a fighting man. He said that thus far in this war, “we and our Allies have taken a terrific shellacking all around the globe.” The United States, he went on, has “lost everything except a smug sense of complacency.”

But today most military and naval men in Washington feel increasingly encouraged over the war in the Far East. They believe the Japanese have walked into a “deathtrap” in the Aleutians. Regarding the war in Europe, Allied military authorities here are convinced that Germany today fights a losing war against Russia. Japan and Germany will soon face the necessity of going on the defensive for the winter. Next spring, United Nations experts believe, it will be the Allies who take the offensive.

By the end of 1943, the United States Army will top 4,500,000 men. The Navy’s two-ocean fleet is ahead of production schedule. Major-Gen. Lewis B. Hershey foresees an American Army of “more than 10,000,000 men,” and warns married men with children that they probably will be drafted into uniform in the last quarter of 1943.

The Production Front

SHORTLY AFTER Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt asked Congress for an initial appropriation of $56,000,000,000 to launch a two-year war production program of 185,000 war planes, 120,000 tanks, 55,000 anti-aircraft guns, and 18,000,000 dead-weight tons of shipping in 1942 and 1943.

The American people leaned back in the easy chairs, and said: “That’s

the stuff. That’ll lick ’em all right.”

But in January of this year, the people were jolted out of their complacency by a report from the Special Senate Defense Investigating Committee under Senator Harry S. Truman, a Democrat from Missouri. The Office of Production Management had been inefficient. The Army and Navy had been bound by red tape on matter of production. Both management and labor had been thinking of the war in terms of profit and wages not of production. The United States had produced in 1941 only enough planes for a “skeleton Army and Navy Air Force.” The OPM had failed, under William S. Knudsen and Sidney Hillman, to convert the automobile industry for war production. Dollara-year-men had failed to foresee the full necessity for expanding the country’s output of steel, copper, •aluminum, and magnesium. Our sights had been too low.

Mr. Roosevelt was a jump ahead of the Truman Committee. By the time its report appeared in print, the President had abolished the OPM, and a new alphabetical agency — the War Production Board, with Donald M. Nielson as its head—was already established to direct “the world’s biggest production job.” Nelson had this advantage over Knudsen — the so-called “New Dealers” liked him.

By May American war production jumped to 4,000 airplanes a month. Fifteen hundred tanks—almost fifty a day—were rumbling off American assembly fines. The country built 2,000 artillery and antitank guns, exclusive of anti-aircraft guns and guns to be mounted on tanks. The country produced 50,000 machine guns and more than 50,000 submachine guns in that one month. Obviously Mr. Roosevelt and Nelson believed that production had reached a point where publication of figures would give no aid and no comfort to Hitler.

Later Nelson announced that production in July was sixteen per cent ahead of June. The country was making three and a half times as many arms as we did before Pearl Harbor. Pretty good, eh? The American people thought so. But the Office of War Information, in one of the most outspoken government pronouncements since our entry into the conflict, asserted that “we could lose this war!”

Ex-radio broadcaster Elmer Davis, head of the OW1, said:

“Our production, measured by our

standards of a couple of years ago, is amazing; measured against what we need to win, it is not yet enough . . We are only ankle deep in the war.”

Then the real facts came to light regarding production. There was a shortage of steel plate. There was an undercover fight between Nelson and the Army and Navy for last-word authority over military procurement. Mr. Roosevelt finally felt called upon to order his officials not to air their differences in public. Nelson announced he ‘‘was getting tough,” and shook up various key branches of his War Production Board.

Results were quick in coming. August war production was eight per cent over July and Nelson announced that the United States will produce this year at least as much munitions as all of ‘‘Germandominated Europe, including France, Italy, and the Balkan states.” But, Nelson quickly added, the United States was not yet producing enough, was not doing anything ‘‘to brag about.” August production, he revealed, was fourteen per cent below schedule. Again shortages in raw materials slowed up assembly lines.

For 1942 as a whole Nelson estimated the United States will have produced $45,000,000,000 worth of war goods by December 31. Next year the Government’s goat is $75,000,000,000.

The Congressional Front

¥N DIVIDUAL members of the -iSenate and House face re-election tests with the prestige of Congress badly battered and bent. Congress voted retirement pensionsfor itsmembers — and the public immediately launched a ‘‘Bundles for Congress” campaign. Senators and Representatives took unlimited ‘‘X” gasoline rationing cards. And then President Roosevelt felt called upon to point the pistol of public opinion at Congress’ head and demand passage of an over-all price-fixing bill to curb inflation.

¥F THERE is one broad generalj -A ization to be made, the American people appear to be ahead of their Government. They were ready to pay heavy taxes. But the Administration — chiefly Congress — purposely dallied until after election, on the mistaken theory that adoption of a stiff increase in the tax bill would be politically unwise just before the electorate went to the polls.

The general public was ready months ago to submit to nation-wide gasoline rationing to conserve rubber. The Administration held off. It also was fearful of the effects at the polls ('lection day.

But, getting down to specific cases, the American public is beginning to feel the war pinch. Sugar, gasoline (in the East), tires, building construction, and other commodities have already been rationed. Soon each person’s weekly consumption of meat will be cut to two-and-a-half pounds. But that seems almost an ; overabundance for a country at war. Citizens of Great Britain are cut to : approximately a pound. Hitler 1 permits his civilians around ten! and-a-half ounces. The ration in j Holland is only nine ounces. In Belgium each individual gets only five. And in Italy the week’s ration is a maximum of three-anda-quarter ounces.

But the pinch is only beginning. For the Administration has told Congress that it must have authority to mobilize the country’s manpower for the war—to draft labor for our war industry, our mines and forests, mills and farms. By the end of 1943, officials estimate that three out of four men between eighteen and sixty-five years of age will be in the war effort, either in uniform or working at a war job, or on farms.

Do the American people know where they’re going in this war? They certainly do. Hand in hand . with all of you and our other Allies, ! we’re going to beat Hitlerism. Our November elections will give us a Congress— and a President even more determined to win.