Rough-Hew Them How We Will

Courtesy Reuters

IN THE light of the discussion that preceded the adoption of the Neutrality Act of 1937, it might well be said that

There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.

The new law is the outcome of a prolonged agitation conducted by men who believe that President Wilson's intervention in the World War was a ghastly mistake. They have held that no great national interest was served by the American intervention, and that the country was drawn into the war by a blundering and unneutral diplomacy, by the machinations of war profiteers, and by the insidious efficiency of the British propaganda. This thesis was developed in a Senatorial investigation in which public opinion was prepared for legislation on American neutrality. In that investigation the archives were ransacked in a determination to prove that from 1914 to 1917 the American people were bamboozled and seduced into declaring war because they had become financially, economically and morally entangled with the British Empire.

The avowed object of the new law is to prevent another such entanglement if the Great War breaks out again. Yet the heart of the Act is a provision which means that if Britain is again at war with Germany, only Britain and her allies will be able to supply themselves in the American market. Moreover, the Senators who are most thoroughly convinced that Mr. Wilson was entangled with Great Britain are the very ones who insisted most energetically that no American goods should be sold to a belligerent unless he pays cash and carries the goods away in his own ships. Many of them voted against the bill on the ground that it did not make the cash-and-carry principle mandatory. Now, obviously, if the World War is renewed, it is Britain and her allies who will have the cash and the capacity to carry. They are the rich nations. They control the gold production of the world. They possess most of the gold that is not already in this

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