The Great Plains During World War II

Against American Intervention in War

Monday, May 20 (legislative day of Wednesday, April 24), 1940


Mr. CAPPER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Appendix of the RECORD an address expressing my opposition to intervention in the European war, delivered by me on May 17, 1940, over the National Broadcasting System from Washington, D.C., in a program sponsored by the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies.

There being no objection, the address was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

Friends in the radio audience, President Roosevelt's impressive appeal to Congress for appropriations for 50,000 military and naval planes, and for everything needed for national defense, will have my support. I am for national unity in time of crisis.

But I am against any program which proposes to make the United States an actual participant in Europe's wars.

The President I s right when he says our defense must be invulnerable. In the light of recent developments we need a great air force, a strong navy, and a highly trained army for our own protection to make sure that no power on earth shall attack us or challenge our safety. But I shall continue to oppose any move to send our fighting forces across the seas.

We must make sure that the billion dollars asked by the President will be spent effectively for the national security, free from "pork barrel" methods.

We must be on guard against the increasing propaganda for our active participation in the European conflict. We should stand against the numerous demands for repeal of the Johnson Act.

Now, in the next few minutes I want to tell you why I am opposed to United States intervention in the latest European war.

In the first place, I say without equivocation or evasion or any mental reservation–and I maintain we must not lose sight of this basic fact: This European war is not our war.

And don't let anyone, by working on your sympathies or on your credulity, tell you otherwise.

In the second place, no nation, no head of a nation, is justified in plunging into a war that is not its own war, unless and until it is clearly evident its own national self-interest absolutely demands it.

I hold that this war in Europe is not our war. I hold also that our own national self-interest does not demand that we make it our war.

I am opposed to our participation in this European war, this foreign war that is not our war.

As a Senator of the United States, representing the State of Kansas–and I was war Governor of Kansas a quarter of a century ago when we entered another European war to make the world safe for democracy, to fight the war that was to end wars–I say I promised the people of Kansas when first elected to the Senate 21 years ago, that I never would vote to send an American boy overseas fight in a foreign war. I intend to keep that promise.

I am not here to speak for any other State of the Union. But I know that I speak for nine-tenths of the people of my native State of Kansas when I take this stand against intervention in another of Europe's wars.

Europe has been fighting these wars over boundaries; these contests for supremacy, for thousands of years, and will continue to do so.

No matter how high our ideals, how fervent our enthusiasm; no matter how earnestly we try, nor how much we sacrifice in money and men, we in the Western Hemisphere cannot bring peace to Europe.

The American colonists, 150 years ago, won for the people of the United States the right to stay out of Europe's wars. For 125 years exercised that right and did stay out of Europe's wars.

Under the same kind of appeals and urgings that now are being made, we abandoned that policy in 1917, and won that war for Britain and France.

We can do that again, at this time. If we decide that is the thing to do, we will do it.

But we should be realistic about the matter. We should face the facts.

If we go to Europe again, to uphold the Allies, we will be committed almost irretrievably to this line of foreign policy.

Every time British supremacy is threatened we go to her aid. We start by expressing sympathy. Then we denounce her enemies, we send war supplies, at first for cash. Then we advance credit. The next step will be to make loans. We do all things, short of war, to help the cause of the Allies. After that the final step is inevitable–to go to war.

The situation today is just this: Sentiment in this country has grown steadily stronger for the Allies. Congress and the American people are overwhelmingly on the side of the democracies of Europe, and my own feeling is strong that way.

But that sympathy for the Allies does not justify us in taking on their war. I believe that is the way the great majority of the people of this country feel today.

Before we do take on their war, before we take the measures short of war, that inevitably will be steps that take us into the war, we should face squarely what some of the effects of going to war will be.

In the first place, when we go to war we will go 100 percent.

The first step inside this country, when we go to war to save democracy, will be to abolish democracy.

Just what good the United States, and in the long run the world, would get out of United States intervention is more or less doubtful. But here are some of the things I know, and you know, the United States would get:

  • 1. We would get a dictatorship.
  • 2. We would get a further increase in the national debt of scores of billions of dollars.
  • 3. The loss of life would run into the millions–property losses would run into billions.
  • 4. After the war we would get a depression worse than this one, and very probably a continuation of the dictatorship and then some more European wars.

I say we ought to keep these things in mind and stay out, and stay all the way out.

I pray God that the youth of American may be saved from the horrors of war; that in this crisis America keeps her faith in God, faith in the ultimate truimph of right, faith in our ability to hold what we have in trust for our children and their children.

And may we be blessed with citizens, and with leaders, who will appreciate our great freedoms–freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of contract–and who will not lightly sacrifice these in the heat of passion.