Churchill discovers America, Washington becomes the capital of the world, and Canada-U.S. becomes a war-production unit
WASHINGTON—As the full story and impact of the United Nation talks here in the U.S. Capital unfold, it is realized with some astonishment that so far as the war effort is concerned the forty-ninth parallel has virtually disappeared.
Within four weeks, the concept of a continental economy, swiftly maturing in the past eighteen months, has become a near reality. Canada and the United States in respect of war supply have become truly hyphenated.
Assuming—as is being done here—that Congress approves the proposal to wipe out all tariff barriers on war material and supply, the entire resources of the North American continent will be integrated in one vast, common pool. For the duration of the war there will be no political boundary in respect of war supply.
This may be put down as the major, immediate outcome to Canada of the Grand Alliance of United Nations.
It was on December 23, the day after Prime Minister Churchill arrived on this continent that President Roosevelt made the first public announcement of the new projected program. On that day he announced his full approval, and the approval of the Canadian War Cabinet, of a Declaration of Policy unanimously adopted by the Joint War Production Committees of both countries, calling for a combined all-out war-production effort and the removal of any barriers standing in the way of such combined effort.
The sixth and vital clause of this declaration reads:
“Legislative and administrative barriers, including tariffs, import duties, customs and other regulations or restrictions of any character which prohibit, prevent, delay or otherwise impede the free flow' of necessary munitions and war supplies between the two countries should be suspended or otherwise eliminated for the duration of the war."
From that point onward, events moved with great rapidity.
Interjected into the Roosevelt-Churchill talks about grand “global" strategy—in which Canada did not at first participate—came the voice of Britain’s armament wizard, Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook. With fiery insistence he swept aside the careful, conservative plans and policies of the North American production experts. In their place he put down fantastic, incredulous goals which he insisted must be reached if the Axis powers were to be defeated.
He expressed his belief that victory might be delayed at least a full year if North American production were not synchronized and streamlined on a plane far above anything préviously contemplated.
He pulled no punches in telling President Roosevelt and his production aides what (in his view) must be done to transform the North American industrial economy into the greatest military arsenal in world history.
Not everything that happened in the Mayflower Hotel headquarters from which Lord Beaverbrook operated, is of direct interest to Canadians. But there is a definite link between his imaginative schemes and a directive issued ten days after his arrival by a top-ranking U.S. production authority which set down (privately) this declaration of policy:
“Hereafter the supply and requirements of the U.S. and Canada are to be considered as a hyphenated arrangement in light of their joint-production policies. Thus the name (presumably of the new joint committee) should read Joint Materials Co-ordination of the U.S.-Canada and the United Kingdom.”
In short, the first step in achieving the all-out economic co-operation of all countries fighting against the Axis powers is complete integration of the North American economy.
The gradual linking of the war economy of the two countries is to be finalized and in the new co-ordination of Allied War Supply there is to be no differentiation as between Canada and the United States.
No longer will Canada be considered an “export" area when negotiating for the two million tons of steel which she will require in the United States next year. No longer will marginal producers of copper or zinc (or other essential war materials) have to jump a tariff hurdle (in this case several cents a pound) to süpply needed production to the United States.
Admittedly, Congress will have something to say about the extent of reciprocity between the two countries, even in respect of war supply. But the tempo and determination of U.S. war leaders of both political parties suggests, at most, delay rather than veto of this new pooling arrangement.
Pearl Harbor Miracle
FOR NOTHING in American history, can match the tempo and historic impact of events here in Washington since December 7, 1941. It is the first week in January as this is written. Here is one day’s news as it comes from the presses:
At breakfast, the stunning economic impact of war: all automobile sales stopped as of January 1. Production to be completely halted.
At lunch, black headlines, inches deep, with sobering military intelligence: JAPS CAPTURE MANILA.
By evening, another breath-taking “screamer,” this time from the political front: twenty-six nations form a “Grand Alliance" to fight Axis powers (“the wicked men") to a finish.
And three days later, President Roosevelt’s “blueprint for victory:’’ U.S. armed forces to take the battle to the enemy, with troops to be stationed in Britain. U.S. industry to produce this year and next 185,000 planes, 120,000 tanks, 55,000 antiaircraft guns, 18,000,000 tons of shipping.
Within a few hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor high-placed British officials in Washington hid called London by transatlantic telephone. They asked that top-flight diplomats, strategists and supply experts be sent immediately to confer on. the new war situation.
They could not ask and perhaps did not hope that the Prime Minister himself would come. But Churchill, with his inherent sense of “timing,” had (h is said) already determined on his course. Within five days he quitted London. In a fortnight, a galaxy of leaders—Churchill, Beaverbrook, Portal, Pound, Dill and four-score associates—were hard at work here in the U.S. Capital drawing new blueprints and planning a new charter of the United Nations.
That such a charter could be signed here in Washington on Jan. 1, 1942, is largely the miracle of Pearl Harbor.
“Had the British schemed and plotted day and night for a year they could have conceived no more brilliant or effective way of bringing the United States into this war as their united and enthusiastic alily,” said one shrewd observer.
A top-flight Britisher remarked : “I have thought of hundreds of ways in which the United States might enter the war but never in my wildest dreams of anything like this.”
KENNETH R. WILSON
No one ever dreamed that Japan would deal a blow which while grievous to U.S. national pride and of temporary military advantage to Japan, would weld 130 million Americans into enthusiastic participants in an all-out anti-Axis war. The fact that the blow was delivered in the Pacific and aimed so directly and so treacherously at the United States simply blotted out the very basis of isolationism.
To cap the climax, came Winston Churchill—the one man qualified to wring from this astounding turn of events the last ounce of drama and of benefit to the Allied cause. Under almost any other set of circumstances, his presence at Washington might have been suspect; might have given at least some comfort to the enemy. Yet after Pearl Harbor there was no doubt that a superb and epic drama of statesmanship was being enacted and that the principal characters would do a masterly job.
What of the results?
First: the “Grand Alliance” of the United
Nations. It puts a formal seal on what the British Prime Minister has described as “a righteous comradeship of arms.”
The declaration itself was drafted personally by the President and Prime Minister Churchill. A copy was sent to Maxim Litvinoff, Ambassador at Washington for the Government of the Union of Soviet Republics. There elapsed two days of anxious waiting. Russia, it had been intimated, was prepared to make some sort of declaration but it was to be separate and not part of the United Nations pact. Then, amazingly, the original document came back from Stalin with his approval. It contained only one or two rather insignificant changes. A major hurdle in the grand strategy had been overcome.
For the record, it is worth noting that our Dominion’s signature of the pact—affixed by our Minister to Washington, Leighton McCarthy—is designated merely as “Canada.” Other Empire countries described their Empire status, for
example: “The Commonwealth of Australia;” “The Dominion of New Zealand.” Was this by design or accident?
It is also worthy of note that the twenty-six signatory nations comprise two thirds of the population of the world. They have between them more than two thirds of its economic power and of its actual or potential fighting power. Every continent is represented.
Stalin and “Max”
OF SUPREME importance is the inclusion of Russia, with its notable endorsation of “religious freedom.” The story I am told is that when President Roosevelt sent his special mission to Russia following the Atlantic Conference, one member carried special instructions to discuss the matter of religious freedom with Joseph Stalin. When this came up for discussion an interested listener was Britain’s Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook, son of a Presbyterian minister. Stalin turned to Beaverbrook and asked his views on the matter. Whereupon the “Beaver” (much to Stalin’s interest) launched into a fervid dissertation on Presbyterianism—of which Stalin had never previously heard.
That Russia has signed the Grand Alliance indicates she has been given adequate assurance by Britain and the United States first as to essential material and supply, second as to her place in postwar reconstruction. It is the Russian view that she prefers to do one thing at a time and do it well, rather than diffuse her energies by being drawn immediately into conflict with Japan.
The fact that the Grand Alliance was drawn and formalized in Washington and that the first signature was that of Franklin D. Roosevelt is of historic importance. Washington is now the capital of the world. What Mr. Churchill has said to President Roosevelt is this: “We carried the major burden in
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the last war, you must carry it this time.” The U.S. will want the Peace Treaty drafted and signed at Washington once Victory has crowned our arms.
But a twenty-six-nation pact, even as impressive as this one, is at best little more than splendid stuff to put in the Alliance shopwindow.
Other important achievements, however, give vital significance to the alliance. These are: agreement on major strategy; agreement on combined all-out war-production effort; agreement on unified commands in various specific theatres of action.
Apart from the direct interest of Canadians in the impact of all-out production on our national economy, it is significant that the pattern of Canada-U.S. relationships since 1938 crops up in many of the blueprints outlined at the Washington conversations.
Thus, a direct military “alliance” between the U.S.A. and Australia (which will almost certainly emerge from these discussions) parallels the agreement which now exists between Canada and the U.S. in respect of North America. It involves no weakening of existing ties with London and the Empire but merely a practical recognition of the realities.
To Canada and the United States, these have long been obvious. In the case of Australia, the United States now recognizes that under existing conditions the safety of that country is essential to her own well-being.
Unified commands in various theatres of war were not an achievement solely of the Churchill-Roosevelt discussions. On the night of December 22, the day before the Washington discussions began, there met at Chungking, General Wavell, chief of the British Army in India, Major General George li. Brett, chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps and General
Chiang Kai-shek. It was here that the decision was reached to create a military council to chart and direct the concerted action against Japan. Subsequently announcement was made of the appointment of General Wavell and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek as supreme commanders in the Southwest Pacific and in the Chinese theatres of war. Similar discussions were held at Singapore.
Such conferences and appointments are very important in relation to the Washington talks. They point to the fact that while Washington has in fact become the focal point of the world war and is shortly to become the main arsenal of the anti-Axis forces, there will be wide autonomy and latitude in respect of “global” strategy.
The New Commands
HOW AND where are these local “commands” to be tied into a co-ordinated effort? One supreme general staff, immobile and centred at Washington or London has been definitely rejected. This decision was underscored by Prime Minister Churchill himself at a press conference after his arrival. Nevertheless, General Sir John Dill, former chief of general staff, Admiral Sir Charles Little, General Sir Colville Wemyss and Air Marshal Harris will remain permanently at Washington to confer with opposite numbers in the U.S. forces. Similarly, the London representation of United States Army and Navy chiefs is to be strengthened. The effect will be to provide virtual chief-of-staff councils in both London and Washington.
Sir John Dill, by the way, remains at Washington as representing the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Defense. The return of Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, First
Sea Lord, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, chief of British Air Staff, who accompanied Prime Minister Churchill to Washington, indicates that the Number One staff leaders of each country will not remain permanently away from their natural centres of operation.
Eventually, a small, compact Allied Council (composed possibly of men like Litvinoff, Halifax, Beaverbrook, etc.) may emerge to co-ordinate military commands and the Allied Supply and Shipping Councils. Decision on this point has been difficult to reach. If it is named, the arguments in favor of locating it in Washington appear very strong, chiefly because of the eventual preponderance of production and war supply in the U.S.A. All nations want instinctively to be close to the chief source of “materiel” so as to exercise as much influence as possible over its disposition.
Prior to Mr. Churchill’s arrival, membership in such a council was to have been limited to five: the
United States, the British Empire, Russia, China, and the Netherlands. Pressure was brought to bear to have this extended to include other “Alliance” and Empire countries, such as the Central Americas. A compromise (perhaps only temporary) has been to give each country representation in whatever area its interests are directly affected, rather than at the one central council table.
Canada’s position around such a table seems obscure. In the early stages, at least, the Dominions have been left on one side in respect of “global” strategy.
Australia’s Prime Minister, John Curtin, first raised in public the issue of direct Dominions representation. Said he very bluntly:
“We refuse to accept the dictum
that the Pacific struggle is a sub-
ordinate segment of the general conflict.
The Government regards the Pacific struggle as primarily one in which the United States and Australia should have the fullest say in the direction of the fighting plan.”
Canada, and now Australia, both have direct “access” to the United States. In the case of Canada this liaison covers all matters affecting defense, raw materials, and war supply, and—as has already been outlined—Canada is being treated as an integral part of a continental economy. But it has been more difficult to decide on representation of the Dominions at any council table of grand strategy, although Canadian chiefs of staff paid a secret visit to Washington during the first week in January to confer with opposite numbers in the British and U.S. services.
COMMENT has already been made regarding war supply. War production involves today an enterprise which is already costing the United States,Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at least fifty billion dollars and which will cost probably seventy-five billion dollars annually a year from now.
These are such terrifying figures that the men directly charged with responsibility for war supply no longer use the dollar sign or the pound sterling mark. They think only in terms of things—six things, to be exact, when it comes to Al A priority and colossal production effort. Those six things are: (1) bombers—and the things to conquer bombers, namely (2) fighters, and (3) anti-aircraft guns; (4) ships; (5) tanks and the things to put tanksout of commission, (6) antitank guns.
Lord* Beaverbrook is the one man above all others who has established a reputation for uncanny wizardry in performing armament miracles. Since he arrived with Churchill, he has been using his driving, impish energy to cajole and inspire American production czars into paralleling in the United States some of the periodic production feats already accomplished in Great Britain.
As Britain’s Minister of Supply, Lord Beaverbrook is chairman of the
British Supply Committee for North America. As such he reports direct to the British War Cabinet. His “supply” organization on this continent is called the British Supply Council in North America. At its head are two Canadians, Morris W. Wilson and E. P. Taylor. Reporting to it are all British purchasing missions on this continent, for example: the British Purchasing Commission; Sir Arthur Salter’s Shipping Mission; the Brand Food Mission; an Air Commission, Petroleum Mission and others.
How much of the existing organization for British Supply in North America will disappear when the projected Allied Supply Councils and Allied Shipping authorities are operating, remains to be seen. President Roosevelt, I am told, has given personal assurances that Lend-Lease will disappear—certainly in so far as the main “pool” of war material and supply is concerned. In the case of Canada there will probably be increasing need for the “miniature” Department of Munitions and Supply in Washington, which now has its own offices and a personnel of more than 120 persons under the direction of J. B. Carswell.
Certainly before the bottlenecks of Allied supply can be really broken, it is probable that there will have to be a complete reorganization and centralization of supply in the United States itself. Lord Beaverbrook, for example, finds no “opposite number” to himself in Washington. There arc now half a dozen authorized buying agencies and an involved confusion of alphabetic agencies ill-equipped to do a high-powered wartime job of armament production. Both Lord Beaverbrook and Prime Minister Churchill (who pleaded with the British Government repeatedly between 1935 and 1938 to set up a separate Ministry of Supply) have exerted pressure to get this situation cleaned up.
Possibly the most important contribution of the Churehill-Beaverbrook visit toward winning the war may be the inspiration given the United States: to create on this continent a “pooled economy;” to put its own production house in order, and link the vast North American supply house with the resources and needs of the entire anti-Axis commonwealth.