Volume 6 1939~1941

Doc No.

No. 174 NAI DFA Washington Embassy Confidential Reports 1940

Confidential report from Robert Brennan to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(108/41/40) (Copy)

Washington, 14 May 1940

The attack on Belgium and Holland and the swift advance of the German forces (unchecked at the moment of writing) has caused a profound effect here. Mr. Roosevelt's statement that public opinion in the United States was shocked and angered fairly expressed the situation. Mr. Hull, though he did not mention Germany, spoke of international anarchy which menaces the civilised existence of mankind. The isolationists are less outspoken than usual, and some of the best known columnists, notably Mark Sullivan (Republican) have come out boldly for intervention. A proposal that the Johnson Act forbidding loans to debtor nations be repealed met a downright isolationist statement from Senator Johnson, the author of the Act, but the Senator is being lambasted editorially in such organs as the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. The Times-Herald of Washington, formerly a Hearst paper and now independent, which hitherto has been isolationist has this to say of the President's recent statements: 'These, of course, are steps towards American intervention in Europe's latest war on the side of the Allies. Whether we shall ever arrive at actual Allied intervention is another question which only time can answer'. The Washington Evening Star of May 13th says 'It is time also to think seriously about other measures for our protection, such as the extension of even more substantial cooperation to Britain and France in whose battle against the spread of international gangsterism we have a very real and withal selfish interest.

Further indication of a change is the fact that a proposal to extend credit to the Allies has reached the floor of the House of Representatives. This week I have heard men, who might be described as old Tories, who hitherto were bitterly anti-Roosevelt, express the opinion that he should get a third term because they are convinced he would go into the war if re-elected.

Two factors, however, overshadow the situation. One is that because it is election year none of the leading politicians will, at this stage, advocate intervention for fear of antagonising a section of the electorate; the other is that it has been disclosed that America is wholly unprepared for war. The Fleet is stated to be excellent but it is only a one ocean Fleet. The Army is very small and is very inadequately equipped and manned, and compared with the European countries the Air Force is almost negligible. There seems to be general agreement that this state of affairs should be remedied right away.

[stamped] (signed Robt. Brennan)