DISPATCHES from Washington of April 5, 1937, stated that the War of 1917 has already cost the people sixty billions, and may eventually cost one hundred billions.
All over the country there appears to be a revulsion from the War of 1917 and its futilities. This seems to be manifested by a crusade inspired by the slogan- “No more war." The country does not analyze it, perhaps, but this is only the People's subconscious recognition that any war springing from emotion, not necessity, will always be a futile war.
Neither such a crusade, nor the impact of the staggering, continuing bills to pay for the War of 1917, would appear to be a substitute for a country-wide effort by editors to educate the State Department and the two Foreign Affairs Committees to base their formulation of national peace strategy on the country's long-range necessity, so that in future reason will dominate the war emotion. Unless a country is capable of evolving its national strategy from the world's experience, it cannot expect to survive repeated war losses and war calamities that can be traced to an emotional strategy displacing what should be a reasonable and preventive strategy; wholly defensive, silently acting, not encumbered with irritating diplomatic pronouncements.
It can now be recognized with confidence that faulty U. S. preparatory strategy brought on the Wars of 1812 and 1917. Faulty preparatory strategy may bring on the next conflict. The excuse for the War of 1812 was held to be belligerent depredations on American commerce. The New England shipping interests, the interests most affected, opposed that war. The faction behind the War of 1812 wanted to conquer Canada. This faction seized upon the shipping dispute as an excuse for the war. Naturally, then, the army venture toward Canada became the primary war effort, and dissipated national resources that should have gone into maritime defensive operations prosecuted without even a declaration of war, after the manner of John Adams' inexpensive and successful defensive maritime operations against the depredations of the French naval forces in 1798.
The faulty preparatory strategy that brought on the War of 1917 lay in the Americans' unneutral obsession that they should diplomatically protect the merchant ships of one belligerent from the naval operations of the other belligerent's submarines; a diplomatic interference that took on a more and more hostile character as the war wore on, until it finally and naturally brought down on American shipping the injured belligerent's reprisals in the form of submarine attacks.
When the Americans went into the War of 1917, they further made a mistake in the strategy of combating the submarine, by sending the U. S. Army to Europe to wage an unlimited continental war to gain a limited objective-the defeat of the submarine. The defeat of the submarine was definitely a maritime objective that could have been gained by a comparatively inexpensive strengthening of defensive sea power operated defensively without a declaration of war; again the John Adams' precedent of 1798.
It is possible that the bulk of the sixty billions cost is due to these recent mistakes in national strategy.
Now there appears to be in the making another mistake in preparatory national strategy that, in the course of time, may lead to a conflict that will consume more billions. This is the Philippines Independence Law withdrawing American sovereignty from the Philippines.
Embodied in the enactment is a demand for a general neutralization treaty over the Philippines. That irrevocably links up Philippine independence to American protection of that independence. This commitment is difficult to understand, having in mind the recent destruction of the Belgium neutralization treaty and the disregard of the China Nine-Power Treaty. It is equal to a congressional pronouncement that 39 years of American expenditure and training of Filipinos for self-government will guarantee to the Filipinos the continuance of the same independence the Americans declared in 1776. The demand for the neutralization treaty is evidence that Congress recognizes that the Philippines, independent, will sooner or later suffer an attempted invasion. This congressional demand seems to be a clear warning. This warning is apparent as the U.S. Army trains the Filipino Army, and as the increase of naval appropriations to five hundred millions a year since the Independence Act was almost immediately followed by the destruction of the 1922 Washington Naval Limitation Treaty.
The integrity of the Philippines had already been guaranteed by the Four-Power Treaty. This treaty guarantees the peaceful inviolability of the Pacific Ocean possessions of the British Empire, France, Japan, and the United States. The destruction of the Naval Limitation Treaty came about unmistakably because, if the Americans choose to expel the Philippines from the shelter of the Four-Power Treaty, this American abandonment of the Philippines lays the Philippines open to occupation by any power who would consider possession of the Philippines a stepping stone to conquest of Netherlands East Indies, later of Australia and New Zealand, thence, after destroying these democracies, around the southern flank of the line Alaska-Hawaiians-Samoa to positions on the Pacific coast of South America. From this on, the fat would be in the fire.
Perhaps this American blunder in long-range national strategy was in part responsible for the sentiment reported as emanating from one of the authors of the Independence Act, Senator Tydings, who visited the Philippines after his bill had become law. Upon returning home he was quoted as having publicly stated that the passage of the act was "a ghastly mistake."* It is a tragedy that ghastly mistakes in national strategy can be perpetrated by lawmakers operating emotionally, not discovering the ghastly mistake until the fateful step has been taken. It is a ghastly tragedy that lawmakers, discovering that they have made a ghastly mistake in national strategy, take no steps to revoke the ghastly mistake, but leave the situation to plague future generations.
The ghastly mistake and the impending conflict over the invasion of Philippine independence will disappear if the Americans resume sovereignty over the Philippines. That will return the Philippines to the shelter of the Four-Power Treaty, i.e., to the Philippine neutralization treaty already in effect. That will continue the maintenance of the status quo. The Americans should not want to look forward to generations of expensive conflict because of successive foreign conquests in the Pacific Ocean, each drawing nearer to our continent. The Americans should want peace over the Pacific Ocean. They will not assure peace simply by spending money on armaments. They will assure peace only by preventive defensive national strategy. The status quo is Pacific Ocean peace. The Four-Power Treaty is Pacific Ocean peace. The Four-Power Treaty is the status quo.
*Hayden, J. R., Pacific Politics; Univ. Minnesota Press; No. 16, March, 1937; p. 18.