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Editorial, November 9, 1934, Page 2

An Armistice Day Letter to Mr. Hearst

My dear Mr. Hearst:

            In a recent interview, you challenged all Americans: "If Americans have not lost their common sense and balance of judgment entirely, they will stop following sweet singers and smooth talkers some day and settle down calmly and reason out a few things for themselves."

            The Association of College Editors, as stated in its Covenant, is dedicated "to stimulating the interest of students throughout the world in promoting international understanding and cooperation in the hope of ultimately achieving and ensuring inter national peace and security ... " A number of us are settling down calmly to reason a few things out for ourselves. It struck us that one of the most pressing of today's problems is the controversy between "nationalists" and "internationalists."

            You may recall that Beverley Nichols recently wrote a book called Cry Havoc. Determined to delve to the bottom of the controversy between "internationalists'' and "nationalists," Beverley Nichols hit upon the idea of bringing together a recognized spokesman for each side. Sir Norman Angell, probable winner of the Nobel Pare Prize for this year, was selected and consented to brief the case for internationalism. Lord Beaverbrook, owner of the .London Daily Express and associated papers was asked to state the case for nationalism. Lord Beaverbrook wrote to Mr. Nichols: 'If you will get Angell to ask me questions, I will answer them." Sir Norman Angell drew up a set of questions a cross-examination of nationalism.Nichols sent those questions to Lord Beaverbrook.

            It strikes a great many American college editors as a singular and significant fact that in the wording of those questions the word "AMERICA" may be substituted for the word "BRITAIN"; the name "WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST" may be substituted for the same "LORD BEAVERBROOK," without altering the spirit of the questions, without lessening the tremendous importance to our generation of having an answer to those questions from the most intelligent champions of nationalism. Through the courtesy of Doubleday, Doran and Company, publishers of Cry havoc, we reprint here the questions which Sir Norman Angell drew up (the underlined words, the substitutions are mine, the questions of my generation) ...

            I. Does WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST agree that if we pile on our already shaken and disordered economic system the further dislocations, unpayable debts, revolutions, which we now know are the necessary legacy of war and which so shook the relatively sound system of 1914, then it will probably finish off the present order in chaos?

            "2. Is it WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST'S general view that the best way to prevent that recurrence is to continue the old armament competition and decline to discuss international agreement or organization? If so, on what grounds does he believe that the old method will not produce the old result?

            "3. For a nation to be secure under the competitive principle it must be stronger than any possible rival. What becomes of the rival? Is he to go without defence? How shall defence of each be managed under this plan since the security of the one means the insecurity of the other? Does WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST think that there is some system by which each can be stronger than the other?

            "4. If, in order to be secure, AMERICA must make herself stronger than a rival, does WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST suggest that that rival will accept the situation and not resort to alliance making? And if that rival makes alliances, is AMERICA to refrain from resorting to the same weapon? An alliance is an arm, like a battleship, or a submarine, adding to a nation's power. Are AMERICANS to leave this arm entirely in the hands of prospective rivals?

            "5. From the time of COLUMBUS TO LINDBERGH there has not been a single century in which AMERICA has not been drawn into the affairs of EUROPE. Does WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST really believe that, if isolationism was not possible . . . even in ancient times, a great Power, a CREDITOR NATION SUCH AS .AMERICA, in the days of the aeroplane can continue to pursue isolationism?

            "6. To keep AMERICA free of general or permanent commitments and be guided by each circumstance as it arises, was the method pursued before the War. Although .AMERICA had no League Commitments in 1914 and men up to the last. WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST AMONG THEM, proclaimed how free their hands were, America was drawn in. Does WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST think that AMERICA could have kept out, that her entrance was a mistake?

            "7. If he thinks AMERICA'S entrance was a mistake, would he have regarded the victory of the Germanic powers, the creation, that is, of an hegemony so preponderant that AMERICA could not have resisted any demands that it cared to make upon AMERICANS, as a matter of indifference? If so, why trouble about armament: at all . . .. if it is a matter of indifference that combinations, much stronger than AMERICA, should arise?

            Lord Beaverbrook replied to Beverley Nichols: "Thank you for your letter, and the enclosures from Sir Norman Angell. When I said I would answer his questions, I had no idea that I would be confronted with such an immense catechism. It would take me a great deal of labor and time to answer the questions as they should be answered. In the busy life I lead, I do not have the opportunity to do so. It is too big a proposition for me."

            This whole letter of mine is being sent to the editors of 644 college newspapers in America, and to the editors of the college papers in Canada, for simultaneous publication as an opcn letter on or as near as possible to the day of November 11, Armistice Day.

            Yours is a tremendous influence in America. More than any other man you represent the "Power of the Press." What you believe, you have the power to lead millions of other Americans to believe. That is why it is so tremendously important that you explain and defend "nationalism" as opposed to the "internationalism" embodied in the spirit of the League of Nations, to those of my generation who are about to believe . . . one way or the other.

Yours very sincerely,

          FRANCIS G. SMITH, Jr.
            Editor, The Daily Princetonian
President, the. Association of College Editors



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