The “America First Committee,” in a brief pamphlet recently distributed by them, reminds the President of the United States, and the American people, of some “solemn and sacred pledges” Mr. Roosevelt made during his 1940 election campaign. He said:
“We are arming ourselves not for any purpose of conflict or intervention in foreign disputes. I repeat again that I stand on the platform of our party; we will not participate in foreign wars and will not send our Army, Naval or Air Forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas except in case of attack.
“It is for peace that I have labored; and it is for peace that I shall labor all the days of my life.”
This was declared in a speech held in Philadelphia on Oct. 23, 1940.
And again he said:
“We look at the old world of Europe today. It is an ugly world, poisoned by hatred, and greed and fear. We can see what has been the inevitable consequence of that poison—it has been war.
“And we look at this country, built by generations of peaceable, friendly men and women who had in their hearts faith—faith that the good life can be obtained by those who work for it.
“We know that we are determined to defend our country and with our neighbors to defend this hemisphere. We are strong in our defense.
“The first purpose of our foreign policy is to keep our country out of war!”
This was in Boston on Oct. 30, 1940. And in the same speech Mr. Roosevelt committed himself to a very definite pledge:
“And while I am talking to you, fathers, and mothers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again, and again, your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.
“They are going into training to form a force so strong that, by its very existence, it will keep the threat of war far away from our shores. Yes, the purpose of our defense is defense.”
In New York, on Oct. 28, 1940, the President expressed himself as follows:
“In 1935 in the face of growing dangers throughout the world, your government undertook to eliminate the hazards which in the past had led to war. We made it clear that ships flying the American flag could not carry munitions to a belligerent; and that they must stay out of war zones.”
And in Brooklyn, on Nov. 1, 1940, Mr. Roosevelt declared:
“I am fighting to keep this nation prosperous and at peace. I am fighting to keep our people out of foreign wars and keep foreign conceptions of government out of our United States.”
These are strong statements.
And we like to believe that our President was sincere when he made them, and that they were not mere campaign pledges, which are too frequently made and violated for the people to believe. It is also true that our boys have not yet been sent into foreign wars, nor has war been declared by our Government against the axis powers. Perhaps, the President is convinced that his foreign policy is the only, or at least the surest and safest way to keep war away from our own shores. It is even possible that he can judge of the situation better than anyone else in the country. Or, perhaps, for our President is also a mere human, it is possible that under the force of circumstances, Mr. Roosevelt is compelled to change his policy and to eat his own words of 1940.
Yes, we do like to believe that Mr. Roosevelt is sincere.
But the fact remains that his actual policy makes it very difficult for many Americans to believe that he is pursuing the right course to remain true to his pledges.
We are thinking now of our marines in Iceland.
“We are having in mind our President’s order to “shoot first.”
We are thinking of the arming of our merchant ships.
And we are thinking of the steps taken to repeal the Neutrality Act.
Does Mr. Roosevelt really believe that he is pursuing the surest way to keep our country out of war?
It cannot be denied that there is an apparent conflict between the President’s campaign pledges of 1940 and almost every step he has taken since that time.
But also Mr. Roosevelt’s heart is in the Lord’s hand “as rivers of water.”
That is our comfort.