Some Aspects of Our Air Policy

By Rear Admiral W. V. Pratt, U. S. Navy, President U. S. Naval War College

1. Shall we adhere to our present air policy modified to meet new conditions as they occur, or

2. Shall we, without further thought, embark on a scheme of national defense which involves the creation of an independent air force. The proponents of the separate air force likewise advance the schemes:

a) a force similar to the Royal Air Force of England, in which air units are farmed out to the military and naval forces as needed and,

b) an air force military in character, independent and separate from the air forces now forming a branch of the Army and the Navy. Congress has made an investigation into the subject and lately a board was appointed which has submitted its report. This report was published in full. In the main it approved of the present air policy created and put into effect by the Navy.

The purpose of this paper is to give you a brief outline of the present naval policy relating to aviation, to point out to you wherein this policy is sound, to show you why the pleas of those who advocate for America a united and independent air force are fallacious, and why the doctrines which they advocate are unsuited to the character of the American people and the form of government under which they live.

2. A Brief Outline of the Status of the Laws of War up to 1914

In order to put you in touch with the traditions and the motives actuating our naval and military men when forced to engage in war, I take the liberty of quoting from Oppenheim on International Law, page 59:

It must be emphasized that war nowadays is a contention of states through their armed forces. Those private subjects of the belligerents who do not directly or indirectly belong to the armed forces do not take part in the armed contention; they do not attack and defend, and no attack is therefore made upon them. This fact is the result of an evolution of practices which were totally different in former times. During antiquity, and the greater part of the Middle Ages, war was a contention between the whole of the populations of the belligerent states. In time of war every subject of one belligerent, whether an armed and fighting individual or not, whether man or woman, adult or infant, could be killed and enslaved by the other belligerent at will. But gradually a milder and more discriminative practice grew up, and nowadays the life and liberty of such private subjects of belligerents as do not directly or indirectly belong to their armed forces are safe, as is also, with certain exceptions, their private property.

It should be borne in mind that the principles enunciated in the above quotation stood in 19I4 as fundamental. It was the policy which actuated our naval men when they were forced to undertake operations due to a condition of war existing between our United States and another nation.

War may not always be avoided. War after all, is only a means to an end. It is a way of settling an international difference which diplomacy has failed to adjust and which is not susceptible of treatment by other methods of pacific settlement. War is not always an illegal act, because as states are sovereign, and as consequently no central authority can exist above them able to enforce compliance with its demands, war cannot be avoided always. International law recognizes this fact but at the same time provides regulations with which the belligerents have to comply.

It was only after states recognized the fact that it was a better way to wage war through their armed forces, that it became possible to codify the methods and means to be used in the conduct of war in a set of rules which became known as international law. This is not all of international law, for rules of conduct exist between states in times of peace, but in a limited sense international law has come to have a more restricted meaning as applying to the rules of war. As you know, in war the most violent of human passions break out, the differences between states are more acute, and the methods taken to insure compliance with state desires are more drastic. Therefore, this is a reason why during times of peace, when men's minds are not inflamed, they do endeavor to make rules which will ameliorate the conditions imposed by war, in order that war shall be less dreadful than it had been previously.

As an instance, in July, 1899, the Hague Conference adopted a declaration, signed on July 29, 1899, by twenty-five powers, stipulating for a term of five years the prohibition in a war between two or more of the signatory powers against the launching of projectiles or explosives from bal100ns or by any other methods of a similar nature. This declaration was signed by Austria-Hungary, Germany, France, and the United States, but not by Great Britain. As it was not renewed, it lapsed in July, 1904.

Up to the last war, American naval men had regarded the submarine as merely one of the striking arms of the fleet. Its objectives and its methods of waging war were as strictly to be regulated by the rules of international Jaw as were the methods of attack used by any other arm of the fleet. It could operate according to its capacity in any known legitimate way, but it was not permitted to introduce new objectives or new methods of attack previously outlawed in order to impose the will of its government upon that of any other sovereign state. In other words, we deemed that the art of war among civilized nations had progressed to such a state that certain codes of conduct would be recognized and that they would not be violated. This was the point of view supposed to be held throughout the civilized world.

3. The New War

The World War of 1914-1918 has been looked upon by many, and especially by those who desire to urge unlimited warfare, as a new type of war and the war of the future. In plain language, they predict that future wars will be of so far reaching a character, in which all the inhabitants of a state, directly or indirectly, will be involved, that therefore and for that reason, any methods may be used to compel one state to acknowledge the will of another, even to the bombing of unprotected towns and the destruction of the unarmed peoples thereof. While it is true that the character of modern wars has changed, owing to the advancements in science, and to the fact that wars may be waged by great industrial and commercial nations, and while undoubtedly it is necessary to provide for national security, it does not follow that illegal methods adopted in the past should be perpetuated into the future on the plea of expediency. More truly may it be said, such advocacy is a plea for a return to the ruthlessness and to the barbarism of older times. Once in the midst of the late war, with minds and passions inflamed, there was not the time nor the inclination to give thought how best to meet modern conditions. Rather, the idea was uppermost, how accomplish one's will regardless of the rights in the matter or of any ethical and humanitarian considerations. It is desired to invite attention now to the fact that during those times of abnormal conditions the conception of an independent air force came into being and was actually put into effect.

4. The Principal Outstanding Results in a Military Sense of the World War

The first, and probably the most important point to consider is the fact that as a result of the last war there originated a school of thought which believed it was right, either to scrap all of the old existing rules, built up through years of tradition and custom, or else to modify existing international law as to render unlimited warfare practicable. The advocates of unlimited war nearly all have been found in the camp of those who advocate a united and independent air force for, as was proven in the last war, unless the objective be behind the lines, and unless the efforts be directed at the civil population, and at the industries of the state, the war effort of the independent air force is not the principal military or naval effort. Reasoning men who decry the lawless practices of the last war are loath to admit in the face of the advocacy of unlimited warfare that "properly trained and directed, air power is capable of transforming the whole face of war almost beyond recognition and that it can turn the old, crude, hideous, bloodletting business into an almost bloodless surgery of forcible international adjustment, to the immeasurable advantage of mankind." Spaight, page 2.

The matter of the submarine is altogether too fresh in our minds. You have seen how it was regarded before 1914 by the naval men who had to use it. The statement is ventured here that the lawless use of the submarine during the last war was due less to the advice of naval men, who advocate following the dictates of international law, than to the counsels of those who advocate unlimited warfare You all know how the submarine became detested throughout the civilized world and how because of its misuse a most valuable arm of the fleet has received a very black name; In this connection a quotation taken from Air Power and War Rights by J. M. Spaight, published in I924, is apropos. The quotation which ·is made and which applies to the independent air service could in 1914 have been applied with equal force to the submarine by the simple process of substituting the word "submarine" for "air force."

The direct action of air power.—Now, for the first time in history ithas become possible to dispense with the preliminary stages. Air power can strike straight at the heart of the enemy state. It can ignore armies and fleets. Like the plot of an Ibsen drama it can plunge in medias res and begin where the old warfare all but left off. It will not waste time on the slaughter of those who are only the armed instruments of the sovereign people of the enemy nation. True, there will be air combats; the enemy's flying forces will have to be fought, and the bases of those forces will be a prime objective. But air forces will not, most assuredly, seek only such objectives; and, however intense the fighting in the air, the slaughter will be as nothing compared with that of the older war. Air power will not be prevented by opposing air power from penetrating an enemy's defense. A cordon of impenetrable aircraft is an utter impossibility. It will set itself to the task—a political rather than a strictly military one—of bringing pressure to bear upon the principals, whose agents have hitherto had to be destroyed as an essential preliminary, to the further processes now immediately practicable. It will cut out certain stages in the older method of approach to the real end of war-the imposing of one nation's will upon another. In its power of "direct action," it will see a means, and an effective one, of attaining that end without resorting to the slow, costly, ineffective, murderous procedure of conducting a campaign of bringing a hostile fleet to action.

Having this power to overlap the enemy's defenses, will aircraft consent to behave as if they had not? Will they be so obliging as to observe a convention that the correct and traditional objects of attack are the protecting corps d'armee, the sure shield of the fleet, of the opposing state, and that only when these are destroyed may the fruits of victory be gathered? Will they not rather eliminate the processes of the historical mode of warfare and set themselves from the outset to the work of exerting that pressure to which battles are merely the preliminary?


The role of the air arm.—It is not suggested that no need or occasion will arise for aircraft to operate against armies or fleets. Assuredly, at any rate for some time to come, they will have to do so. But steadily and surely, of the three categories of objectives of air power-the armies or fleets of the enemy, the military objectives outside the operational zones of those armies and fleets, and the general mass of property in the enemy state-the last will tend more and more to replace the two former categories as the focus of attention from the air. Armies which dig themselves into lines of trenches, supported by successive lines so deep and strong as to make a real breaking-through an affair of appalling magnitude, fleets which shelter themselves behind harbor defenses, and minefields, and venture whole-heartedly upon a major engagement only by a sort of mischance, will be left to wage their own war of attrition. They will have, no doubt, the assistance of the necessary ancillary aircraft, but one must contemplate in future wars the existence of "marginal" air forces which can be employed strategically. It is hard to believe that these will waste their time around the fields of operations or the well guarded coastal points, or that, in going further afield, they will confine their attention to the "military objectives" which are, in general, the supply sources of the armies and fleets which themselves are no longer a primary object of air attack. Rather, on all the evidence, they will set themselves to break the morale of the people upon whose willingness to continue the war all depends in the last resort. Their task will be, in fact, to create a "complex of defeatism" in the national mind of the enemy.

These remarks are taken by the author, Mr. Spaight, as quotations from certain eminent writers, English, French, and German. They represent the opinions and policies of those men who advocate unlimited war in the air. Were the words "air force" and "air power" replaced by the terms "submarine" and "submarine power," could you not look back to the days between 1914 and 19I8 and see how the same arguments were used by those who advocated wholesale destruction through the agency of the submarine?

At the beginning of the war of 1914, none of the belligerents had sufficient aircraft for their ordinary tactical needs and, with the exception of Great Britain, never succeeded in reaching a point at which it was possible to dispose of an air force surplus to the requirements of the armies and fleets for their immediate needs. Further, Great Britain was also the only power which created an Air Ministry. At the end of the war the Royal Air Force had over 22,000 machines on charge, and was producing ninety airplanes a day. These are the statements of competent authorities, such as Sir Frederick Sykes, and Air Commodore Brooks Popham. In his work Aviation in Peace and War, published in 1922, Sir Frederick Sykes has pointed out that, as the results of the demands of the army and navy for aircraft for strictly military purposes, it was only in 1918 that "we managed to secure a margin and formed the independent air force in June of that year." Long range bombing, he states, had already been decided upon in principle as early as 1915. By the time the Royal Air Force had been formed, London and other cities had already been bombed by the German Gothas in 19I7, so that whatever may have been the opinion of military men as to the most effective use of aircraft, by 1918 there must have been in the hearts of the British people a desire to see some form of reprisal used against the Germans in retaliation for the ruthlessness which they had displayed in their air and in their submarine campaigns. Great as may have been the consternation of the Allies consequent to the German raids, the effect upon them was far less than the effect produced upon the Germans when the Allied bombing operations began to be effective. A quotation to this effect from Spaight, Air Power and War Rights, on the moral effect of the Allies' raids is as follows:

Far profounded was the effect of the Allies' raids upon the Rhineland towns. As early as October, 1917, Herr Weissmann stated at the German Socialist Congress at Wurzburg that the people of Freiburg lived in terror of air raids…The German press of the last year of the war affords increasing evidence of the effect of the Allies' raids upon the morale of southern and western Germany. The demand for some international agreement banning the aerial bombardment of cities outside the war zone made itself heard with steadily growing force. In April 1918, the Second Chamber of the Bavarian Diet unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the Federal Council and the Imperial Government should be moved to open negotiations for the conclusion of a general agreement to secure immunity for such cities. In the same month, General von Stein, the Minister of War, was questioned upon this subject in the Reichstag and replied that the restriction of aerial attack to fortified towns had not been proposed by any enemy government and that Germany could not undertake such an obligation alone. On July 3, 1918, Herr Scheidmann proposed in the Reichstag that the German government should take the initiative in coming to an agreement with the Allied powers to abstain from bombing towns outside the war zone, but again the government declined to make the first move in the matter. Meanwhile, the demand for protection for the cities grew in volume and intensity.

You are thus able to see for yourselves how the independent Air Force came into being during the time when men's minds were thoroughly inflamed, when no thought of any restraint was placed upon the fighting arms and, particularly, when due to the acts of the Germans themselves, retaliation was uppermost in the minds of the Allies. This seems hardly the time for men to form policies or to lay down rules as to how the military and the naval forces shall be used in any future war, for if we accept rules and policies begotten at such a time, the wars of the future are bound to be more lawless than those of the Middle Ages and instead of an advance in our western civilization we revert to the practices of barbarians.

5. The Policies Urged by Advocates of a United and Separate Air Force

The advocates of a separate air force in this country are particularly careful to introduce the term "National Defense." This term is a misnomer when applied to the marginal or separate, air force, for of all the arms which may be used in war, the air force used alone, especially insofar as our country is concerned, is the least able to wage defensive war. Used as an auxiliary of the Navy or of the Army it may be defensive, depending upon the policy of the arm with which it is associated. But of itself, it cannot successfully wage defensive war. It is strictly a weapon of offense. In conformity with this view, I again quote from Spaight, who takes his ideas from such English writers as Maurice Baring, Wing Commander J. A. Chamier, and Squadron Leader Sutton:

The idea that the possession of a strong air force, as of a strong fleet, is a guarantee of security was dealt with and refuted in a memorandum which was drawn up' by the British Air Staff in conference in September, 1916. This memorandum points out that the airplane is an offensive and not a defensive weapon, and that it is utterly impossible to prevent hostile machines from crossing the line, "simply because the sky is too large to defend." "This," it states, "is the inevitable consequence of having to fightin three dimensions."

"No air force," says a distinguished officer of the Royal Air Force, "can be expected entirely to prevent the enemy from crossing the lines…The events of the war itself demonstrated the truth of these statements. They show that the capacity of the British and French squadrons to pierce the German defense could not have depended upon the possession by the Allies of a superiority of air strength. Paris was most powerfully defended on the ground, and by the squadrons attached to the entrenched camp and lay, moreover, behind a frontier line of operating Allied aircraft. Yet all her defenses were powerless to protect her from the German raids almost up to the end of the war.

The real purpose of those who advocate a separate air force may be gleaned from quotations taken from airmen who operated during the last war. These are competent men, who know exactly the policies they wish to establish, and the methods they desire to pursue to make these policies effective.

In an article on "air defense" in the Edinburgh Review, October, 1922, Sir Frederick Sykes prophesies that "in the wars of the future great air forces will at once strike…with asphyxiating chemical bombs…at the cities, homes, and factories of the enemy, if within range, thus creating panic, inaction, breaking his will, and reserve power at the source." "In future," he states, "it is the whole population that will bear the main shock of attack."

In The Aeroplane, August 1, 1923, Mr. C. C. Grey argues that in time of war all inhabitants, male and female, of the belligerent countries are or should be engaged in work which assists in some way the troops in the field, and are therefore proper targets for air bombs.

In The Aeroplane of July 11, 1923, Mr. C. C. Grey states: "The only effect an international bombing code can have is to cramp the style of the R.A.F. at the beginning of the war, just as the Hague Convention and the Geneva Convention cramped the style of the fighting men of the Navy early in the war 1914-1918. If we go into the next war with hair and teeth and blood, as the saying goes, free from any fetters of rules and regulations we may achieve quite useful results at the start."

Rene Fonck in L'Aviation et la Securite Francaise states in two or three weeks of war a city as large as Paris could be practically destroyed…If in lieu of explosive bombs, gas bombs were used, the disaster would be immense.

Sir Walter Raleigh in the Wars of the Air states, "No people on earth, it may readily be admitted, can maintain the efficiency of its war activities under the regular, intensive bombing of its centers of civilization." Oppenheim in International Law published in 1921, has made the statement: "The policy of bombing Germany was adopted as a reply to the attacks by German aircraft on English towns."

Mr. Bonar Law stated in the House of Commons, October 16, 1917, "There is no change of policy. It is our intention to employ our airplanes in Germany over German towns as far as the military needs render them free." An official statement published in The Times of October 1, 1917, had stated already that the fact that no bombing raids upon German towns were being carried out was due not to any reluctance to raid the enemy's towns, but to the military exigencies of the times.

The authority for the above statement is J. M. Spaight in Air Power and War Rights.

In Winged Defense, written by Colonel Mitchell, page 4: "Aircraft possess the most powerful weapons ever devised by man…As battleships are relatively difficult to destroy, imagine how much easier it is to sink all other vessels and merchant craft…In case of an insular power which is entirely dependent on its sea lanes of commerce for existence, all air siege of this kind would starve it into submission in a short time."

How about the submarine as it was used by Germany in the late war? The above quotation sounds very like the German practices of that period. As a result, England has persistently advocated abolition of submarines. At the Conference for a Limitation of Naval Armament, a treaty was made relating to the use of submarines, and noxious gases in warfare. France has not ratified this treaty. In it the submarine if used as indicated in the above quotation would be outlawed by the civilized world, and any person who violates the rules set forth in the treaty, regardless of whether he is acting under orders of a governmental superior, shall be liable to trial and punishment as if for an act of piracy and may be brought to trial before the civil or military authorities of any power within the jurisdiction of which he may be found.

How about the aircraft? Is it to be free from any restraint? Yet it is the one effective way in a military sense for the independent air force to operate. Is the law of expediency to replace the laws of war built upon hundreds of years of experience? Is the public law of the world to be overthrown because a few men, most of whom have a vested interest in the question, desire an independent air force for America under military aegis?

On page 5, Winged Defense.— "For attacking cities that are producinggreat quantities of war munitions that are necessary for the maintenance of an enemy and country in case of war, the air force offers an entirely new method of subduing them."

On page 9, Winged Defense.—"Such a place as New York for instancewould have to be defended if attacked by hostile bombers."

Is New York a fit objective for attack because some munition factories may be in its vicinity? Are there no other interests to consider save the air interests? Apparently not if we listen to the advocates -of the independent air force.

On page 16, Winged Defense.—"Air forces will attack the centers ofproduction of all kinds, means of transportation, agriculture areas, ports and shipping, not so much the people themselves."

Yet how can they do this without causing great loss of life to noncombatants? There can be little doubt in the minds of those who read the above statements as to the purposes, policies, and the means, to be used by the men who advocate an independent air force. It is the only way in which it can exert direct military pressure when used independently and not in conjunction with other naval and military forces.

Whatever may be the real or the fancied needs of England and of the Continent, America's needs certainly are not the same. It is not possible for an air force to hop over the channel and to attack our centers of industry, for between us and the European Continent lie 2,500 miles of sea which no heavier than air aircraft, carrying incendiary and destructive bombs, has been able to cover. On our Pacific side there are 4,000 miles of water between us and the Asiatic Continent. We are extremely fortunate that geography has made it possible for Americans to stop and to ponder before they enter into any rash enterprises of a military character. Unlike other countries, less favorably situated, for us the need does not exist to embark upon an undertaking in the nameof self-defense, before we measure and weigh the principles involved, and until we take steps adequately to safeguard any return to the barbarous practices of the past.

6. The Results of Such Policies and Practices as Advocated Above

It has been advocated that the unlimited use of the air would in reality be a humanitarian movement, tending to shorten wars, tending to make nations loath to enter war, and thus be beneficial in its general results. No force in such an argument can be seen. Peoples do not stop to argue or to reason when they decide to engage upon a war. The fear of defeat is rarely present at the beginning, and, even were it so, there may be a time when the popular indignation is so aroused that the peoples of a nation will stop short of nothing less than war.

The result of policies such as advocated above would be a radical departure from the established rules of international law built up in the course of so many years and a return to utter lawlessness with a consequent demoralization which would extend to the very roots of our western civilization.

In the Conference for a Limitation of Naval Armament, 1921-22, an attempt was made to find a formula whereby limitations could be placed upon aircraft, as were placed upon naval ships. But at that time no such formula could be found. The practical result is that today, while we are talking of limitation of armaments, the one arm which seeks to hold itself free from limitations is the air, and this freedom from limitations extends not only to types, sizes, and to numbers, but to methods of operation as well. Divorce the air as an adjunct of the naval and military forces, make it free to act as it will, and you have a state of affairs where no limitations as to numbers, policies, or practices has as yet been imposed. In other words, the sky is the limit and the air is free for unlimited competition in building and for unlimited operation in time of war.

At the Conference for the Limitation of Naval Armament, a resolution was adopted establishing a commission of jurists to consider amendments of the laws of war. The questions to investigate were as follows:

a) Do existing rules of international law adequately cover new methods of attack or defense resulting from the introduction or development, since the Hague Conference of 1907, of new agencies of warfare?

b) If not so, what change in the existing rules ought to be adopted in consequence thereof as a part of the law of nations?

As a result, certain laws relating to the use of aircraft have been drawn up. These rules follow closely the law applicable to naval craft and to the usage prescribed for the military forces in the field. To date, these rules have not been formally adopted through agreement and ratification.

Our Present Policy

The President appointed a board to investigate the question of air power and to indicate what reforms were deemed essential. This board was composed of eminent men. On it there was but one naval man, a distinguished retired officer of calm judgment, and high mental attainment. There was only one military man, a distinguished officer who served under Pershing and who has since left the service and is now in employment in civil life. This board put in a unanimous report and declared that the present policy which America is carrying out with regard to its air forces, with certain minor modifications, is sound. It reported against a separate air force. The Board had access to all documents, and were in touch with public opinion. It examined many witnesses. Its opinion was a carefully thought out decision. These men had no axes to grind. They gained nothing; they lost nothing by their decision. It was a fair, impartial, unbiased court. Can the pleaders for an independent air force say as much for themselves?


Let us take the three suggestions of Colonel Mitchell and discuss them in brief:

1. There should be a Department of Aeronautics charged with the complete aeronautical defense and the aeronautical development of the country.

The Navy believes in a Department of Aeronautics but thinks it should be a civil department under the Bureau of Commerce. It believes this to be the best way to develop the aeronautic possibilities of our country. It maintains that our aeronautic defense is amply cared for now by the two military arms and if ever it be necessary to take extra measures the civil air arm can be mobilized then and like our militia, state troops, and naval reserves, may be made available for the emergency.

2. There should be an aeronautical personnel entirely apart from the Army and Navy.

The Navy maintains the same stand but believes that it should be under civil and not military aegis.

3. That there should be a Department of National Defense with subheads for the air, Army, and Navy.

The Navy is in accord with the findings of the President's Air Board in all respects as relates to the Department of National Defense and to the subheads for the three departments.

To Sum Up

The present policy of the Navy is to develop aviation as an arm of the fleet, and as one of its most valuable adjuncts. It is the purpose to use this arm so that mastery of the air may be gained in the area of war operations. The Navy is one of the best friends that aviation has, and one of its foremost pioneers, but the Navy does not advocate the formation of an independent military air force under the specious term National Defense nor does it approve of the use of aircraft in a lawless way far beyond the limits set by the rules for international law. It does advocate the three separate forces, the military air force, the naval air force, and the civil air force used for commercial purpose. We advocate that the same rules which apply to all naval craft shall be extended to aircraft. We believe further that the limitations imposed upon our armament in proportion to the 5-5-3 ratio should apply to all types of ships, including t0e aircraft. Finally, it believes in nothing which would tend to place military authority over civil authority, which is contrary to the spirit of our government, which is untrue to the traditions and character of the American people, which would be a step toward undermining our western civilization, and which might impose upon our government a danger graver than that which the framers of our Constitution foresaw when they made the law and placed restrictions upon our military forces.

In this way, the Navy has voluntarily accepted the spirit which was imposed upon it by the treaty for the limitation of naval armament, and although the limitations did not include aircraft, nevertheless the Navy is in a straight-forward manner endeavoring to apply these principles throughout the naval service.

If ever there be a need for a united air service later, when planes have developed the capacity to fly through distances so great that alone and unaided they may encompass the world, when efficiently they may pass from shore to shore over to the great continents separated by thousands of miles of water, then perhaps the need for a separate military air service may exist, but for America it does not exist today. If that time ever comes, then will the nucleus of the united air force be gathered from the present military arms supplemented by our civil air force. It will then come into being with none of the atmosphere which surrounded the present Royal Air Force when it was born. By that time, it is hoped, sufficient limitations, through the adoption of rules for aerial warfare, will have been imposed so that a return to barbarism will be impossible.

Before we Americans, who love our country and the ideals which it advocates, enter thoughtlessly upon any course of conduct which is extremely doubtful as to its wisdom; before we accept the pleas of the advocates of the united air force, let us say rather, first make the rules of war so that ruthlessness may not result, even if arbitration is refused or fails. Failing to make adequate rules applicable to all nations, we might, as between another belligerent and ourselves, even agree voluntarily not to commit in the name of expediency lawless acts. Let us stand always for decency in war, and not in time of peace be advocates of a measure which does not.

Which is the better way? To adopt, on the impulse, a scheme which may commit us to a course of action contrary to our traditions and to our laws, contrary to our habit of thought, and to the character of the American people, or is it wiser to make the laws first, develop gradually the civil air force and then later when matters are stabilized to use this great air force as best befits the occasion if the need comes? When Americans know the inside of the history of the air force, when they see more of its policies laid before them in plain, startling statements, will they agree to commit themselves now or will they pause and think and choose the better way? Will they say then let us abide by the decision handed clown by the President's Board?



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