These are days when an ex-correspondent yearns for the European end of a cable line. If only for the joy of debunking the official statements and counter-statements behind which nations are mobilizing, physically and morally, for another grand slaughter. And for the prospect, macabre but alluring, of being a war correspondent.
Breathes there a reporter with soul so pacifist that he does not dream of covering a real war? Someone has to cover it, so why not he?
The total number of hours during which I have listened to war correspondents at the late squabble (the one that was called off temporarily in November, 1918) would run into many weeks. Though most of them strive mightily #edge their memories with bold adventure, their story is on the #ole pretty tame. Censorship and martial romance don’t rhyme.
War correspondence, I can testify on the basis of repetitious boasts, is not all it’s cracked up to be. The exploits of Richard Ha#ing Davis in Cuba and John Reed in Mexico do not fit into efficient industrialized butchery as practised in these times. War reporters in our degenerate days are about as exposed as generals. Their principal hazard, as nearly as I have been able to determine by cross-examining practitioners is excessive drinking. The news we are apt to get in the war now brewing, once it has brewed, will be limited to official communiques padded with press-agent atrocity stories.
And now the Nazis, after a lot of preliminary pinching and baiting, have kicked the Versailles treaty right in the face. It has had pretty rough treatment before some of it from its own fathers and guardians. But the Nazi blow has put the finishing pressure on the creature and it will never recover. Even the plastic surgeons of diplomacy can do little to reassemble the scattered features.
The only remaining question is ### that war will get going. The general line-up seems fairly clear: Germany again alone or nearly alone against the rest of Europe.
An essential difference, however, is likely to be the fact that the chief target of German attack and therefore the spearhead of the anti-German forces, will be Russia instead of France. The social and ideological differences between Germany and the Soviet Union are #harper even than the traditional national differences between Germany and France. Nazi territorial ambitions, moreover, have much more tempting possibilities in Western Russia and the Ukraine than in France. Herr Rosenberg has been disingenuously frank on that subject. His mouth waters and his eyes shine at the very mention of Ukraine.
No matter where Poland throws its weight, a Russo-German conflict is certain to be fought out in the sector of the continent most thickly populated by Jews, in Eastern Europe. The Soviet, Polish, Baltic and Rumanian areas formerly included in the Tsarist “pale” provide a natural and al### inevitable war arena. The ### at Jewish cities and the hundreds of Jewish towns which are still deeply scarred from the last war and the civil strife that followed it are marked off by elementary geography as a vast battleground.
The loyalties of the millions of Jews in this sector will therefore play a considerable role in the threatened conflict. Their loyalties, in addition, will be echoed in the minds and hearts of additional millions of Jews outside that region, including ourselves in America.
That they will favor Russia as ###inst Hitler’s Germany can be taken for granted. For the Jews there is scarcely room for a choice. Whatever one may believe about Bolshevism in practice, or the future of the Jews as a race under Bolshevism, opposition to Nazi medievalism and barbarous anti-Semitism will become the duty of Jews the world over.
I am convinced that in the event of a Nazi-Bolshevik conflict the sympathy of Jews everywhere will automatically be won by Russia. For millions it will be: “not that we love the Soviets more but that we love the Nazis less.”
Indeed, even the Jewish members of what the New Masses magazine elegantly describes as the Foreign White Legion will rally to the support of Russia in a clear-cut battle with Hitlerism rampant. For one member of that newly created Legion I can vouch personally.
Membership in that Legion, incidentally, can be won easily and surely. All you need do is to express an honest doubt of the wisdom and justice of killing off Russians wholesale by famine and execution It seems to me that the more that join this mythical Legion the better. Membership within its serried ranks provides them with excellent moral credentials for attacking Nazi brutalities. Without such credentials even the self-righteous editors of Left magazines may be fairly charged with quibbling and hypocricy when they rage against the excesses of Fascism.
To enhance Soviet strength for the hour it grapples with Germany, if it ever does, it is necessary to restore Russians in world public opinion to their normal position as human creatures, rather than raw material for sociological experimentation.