No. 189 NAI DFA Washington Embassy Confidential Reports 1940

Extract from a confidential report from Robert Brennan to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(108/50/40) (Copy)

Washington, 11 June 1940

The President's speech of June 10th, which is universally recognized here as making the United States a non-belligerent ally of Britain and France, culminated a week in which various progressive indications were shown bringing America closer to participation in the war. Amongst these might be mentioned the following:

(1) There was increasing clamour on the part of the pro-ally press for Congress to extend to the allies all assistance short of war.

(2) New voices notably that of the important columnist Walter Lippman1 were added to those who pleaded for a policy of peace and understanding with Japan – with the idea, of course, of releasing the fleet for service in the Atlantic.

(3) The New York Times headed a sudden cry which was heard on many sides for universal compulsory military training.

(4) Attorney General Jackson found a loophole in the law enabling America to sell the allies U.S. surplus stores of war munitions.

(5) The U.S. Navy permitted the transfer of fifty naval reserve planes to the allies by first trading them in to the manufacturers. This was supposed to be the beginning of a huge transfer of Army and Navy fliers to the allies. The isolationists objected to this but not very convincingly.

(6) The various armament appropriations were upped to close on five billion dollars.

(7) A second cruiser was sent to South America presumably to hunt for secret Nazi air bases, and it was reported that the U.S. was using pressure to compel some of the South American Governments to cancel the permits of German-owned air lines.

(8) Prominently displayed in the newspapers was an appeal by thirty lawyers, educators and professional men for a declaration of war on Germany.

(9) General Pershing2 made a personal appeal for 'unlimited aid' for the allies.

(10) Senator Vandenberg3 (Michigan) a Republican presidential candidate, publicly abandoned his policy of isolationism.

(11) The Committee on Defend America by Aiding the Allies headed by William Allen White4 launched a nationwide publicity campaign with full page advertisements in the leading papers.

(12) There is not one friendly word for Italy in the American press. On the contrary, the papers vie with each other in hurling such terms as jackal, hyena, buzzard and vulture at Mussolini.

[matter omitted]

1 Walter Lippman (1889-1974), American writer, journalist and political commentator.

2 General John J. Pershing (1860-1948), led the United States Expeditionary Force to Europeduring the First World War. Pershing was a noted advocate of aid to Britain during the Second World War.

3 Arthur Vandenburg (1884-1951), Republican Senator for Michigan, who moved from isolationism to internationalism during the Second World War and was later to head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

4 William Allen White (1868-1944), American newspaper editor, politician and author; invited by President Roosevelt to develop United States public opinion in favour of the Allies. White founded the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

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