Conception of more serious problems of national defense than those facing the United States for the past fifteen months and for the immediate future is difficult. Yet, if history follows what has been its accustomed course in dealing with this country, the real hazards remain in the offing, treacherous in their implications and more insidious than any active enemy threats of the hour.
Presently we are a nation aroused. Presently our Navy, our Army, and the air forces of each are getting the attention, the co-operation, and support of the common effort of a people. As such things go, our defenses seem well on the road toward what ought always to be their reality, but at just such a time we should also be poignantly aware of those temptations which are sure to come; of dangers which lead to decay, dissolution, and disarmament.
Shall we, whatever the outcome of the present war, now in 1941, resolve that the intelligent, long-view naval building policy and establishments connected therewith, already well launched, be continued for the years of peace when it returns, or shall we, as so often before, permit the whole business to be jettisoned in the calm seas which follow this stormy emergency?
Lest anyone doubt the timeliness of the present to commence careful appraisal of future policy, let him only recall that, if postponed until guns are silent, there is much more than a chance that vision may be warped by myriad aspects; that, no matter how seemingly provoking were the causes, or how challenging the aims of post-war disarmament, the results now menace the very peace and security sought to be advanced.
Obviously the answer can only be given by the same people who are now so fervid in their desire for ships, bases, and men, and can come only from the collective and common action of the people of this republic. It is national preparedness for defense which must be carried on in the future, as never before, and no national policy can long endure without general public approval.
Consideration of the question is quite connected with, yet stands apart from, present activities for defense. Such consideration must take into account the experiences of the past as well as the lessons of the present, both with an eye to the possibilities of the future. While, in such study, the movements of history, the position of geography, world and national politics combine with the progress of science and military tactics, the whole can be approached for the purpose here intended along two lines of thought:
(1) Lessons of the present, as prompted by an understanding of the significance of modern warfare, and indicated, for instance, by the use of the air. Does such introduce a new element of strategy, changing the entire concept of defense or of offense? Or does air power, far from standing alone, actually serve rather to emphasize principles understood since the dawn of military history? Does it enhance the importance of sea power in that the swiftness of thrusts of future wars, even though launched from distant shores or from carriers far at sea, will afford us no longer that breathing spell which has permitted belated armament and preparation in the past?
(2) Experiences of yesteryear, reflecting as they do American desire for peace and consequent eagerness to allow, and indeed, encourage disarmament on the heels of great emergencies. Is such too indigenous and too ingrained for hope of change? It also finds a ready ally in the democratic propensity to forget and permit rust and decay to rule. Such characteristic is partly positive in traditional dislike for imperialism and strong force in the hands of anyone, including ourselves; partly negative in stupid and careless, although not dishonorable, neglect of lessons learned.
The whole is abetted, too, by a popular belief, somewhat borne out by history, that our men, resources, and industrial capacity are sufficient, so we may wait until the last minute to prepare—a belief that it is enough to be ready to get ready. The tremendously added cost, both in moneys and loss of efficiency, of such a policy must be only too evident upon any cool reflection; it must be only too evident today, and so easily forgotten tomorrow, unless hitherto unsurpassed efforts are made to overcome reversion to custom.
For, however pathetic may be our negative attitude, or however plausible our positive belief in our latent national ability to carry out military defense when necessity arises, it is quite clear that occasions when our neglect may be forgiven or our faith trusted, are now, or soon will be, of purely historical interest. Henceforward, we must maintain a continuity of naval building and naval bases in our far-flung defense system, already established for the protection of our shores, our lines of trade, and our frontiers. The day of mere advisability that such course be taken is forever past.
A brief examination of what has happened only too often before, together with a consideration of the rationale of our defense and the strategy behind it leads to no other conclusion. Adding to that the only too lurid experiences of the past 15 months, one sees that history cannot be allowed repetition if we are not to court attack, rather than merely attempt to stave it off; that armament, not disarmament, really serves the need of security and the cause of peace.
The utter importance of sea power in the entire answer to our defense, both past, present, and future, and hence to the question above asked, must be self-evident. There is no intention here to minimize the sphere of land forces, but defensive activity, taking the barriers of the sea as our front line, indicates that the need of peacetime preparedness is best met by adherence to the advice of George Washington that “our object ought to be to have a good army rather than a large one”—one which at all times forms the nucleus for building an intelligent, efficient, and always modern fighting force.
If Americans today are not conscious of the place of sea power in the history of the world’s governments and their peoples, world trade, and the safety of the ideals of one nation against attack from another, let them only recall the story of Greece, of Rome, of Venice, Spain, England, and indeed the United States. There is example aplenty in the whole span of history from Themistocles’s famed “wooden walls” of Athens to Trafalgar and the final defeat of Napoleon, which led to Mahan’s classic observation:
The world has never seen a more impressive demonstration of the influence of sea power upon its history. Those far-distant, storm-beaten ships of Nelson, upon which the Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world.
The same fundamental strategy led to the blunt remark made by Lord Fisher in 1914 that,
The last place to defend England will be the shores of England. The frontiers of England are the coasts of the enemy. We ought to be there five minutes before war breaks out.
Nor were the Germans, always the thorough students of military matters, in disagreement with such policy. Three years before 1914, General von Bemhardi wrote:
“A passive defense of the coast can never count on permanent success. The American War of Secession, amongst others, showed that sufficiently.” And it may be noted in passing that, had either the British or the Germans in 1914 followed such precepts, the end might have been either far speedier or far different.
Always committed, almost by nature, to the defense of action, it has pervaded the entire strategy of the United States Navy from those early doubtful days when John Paul Jones flamboyantly carried the attack of the Revolution to the shores of England. It continued down through the War of 1812, to those later times when Farragut cut loose from his base to launch the attack up the Mississippi, boldly splitting the Confederacy. And it bore fruit in Dewey’s hard and timely blow at Spain in far-off Manila Bay—until it can now be said that the most outstanding quality and tradition of that navy is one of offensive defense.
It is more than tradition, it is a basic national policy which, translated to modern times, means that the Blue Water strategists of this country believe in a strong fighting fleet, the vessels operating in combination, the train and supply properly based, or with bases conveniently located, ready with its power to meet the enemy in one decisive battle. For no attacking force from Europe, Asia, or anywhere else will invade our shores as long as the Fleet is an active unit on the high seas, ready to ruin lines of communication, to attack from the rear, always threatening and always in readiness to carry out its “mission” which aims to keep such enemy “not only out of our ports, but far away from our coasts.”
While the truth of the wisdom of adherence to the Blue Water, or Fleet in Being School of strategy, is partially borne out by history, geography as well plays its important role, so far as the United States is concerned. For we are in many respects similar to Great Britain in our situation from a defensive point of view. Although our protecting waters are, for the most part, oceans and not comparatively narrow seas or the Channel, and distances are far greater, still our defenses have much the same basis in fact as do hers.
A glance at the map of this hemisphere shows only too patently the truth of a conclusion of Mahan of over 40 years ago that
the United States is, to all intents, an insular power like Great Britain. We have but two land frontiers, Canada and Mexico. The latter is hopelessly inferior to us in all elements of military strength. As regards Canada . . . aggression will never be her policy.
Nor has anything occurred since that and similar statements to detract from its truth and significance. It is even more enhanced by present relationships, or those hoped for, with Central American countries and those of the Caribbean, and if air power has done nothing else, it has served to draw the parallel with England even closer. For today those lands outside the confines of the continental United States, surrounding us at almost every point of the compass, have become closer. Distances in miles from Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, the islands of the Pacific, lands of Central and South America, the islands of the Caribbean and the Azores and Cape Verdes are the same as when man first sailed. But man has shortened time. That he will continue to do so cannot be doubted.
Even as we consider our position as being insular, that no longer means that we enjoy that insulation which was for so many years of tremendous import, if not salvation itself. For, at the exact moment that steam began to supplant sail and the navies of the world sought coaling stations as well as colonies, that insulation began to fray. And from then on arose the paramount need for our own acquisition of bases; for defense of our frontiers at the place or places where this can best be accomplished—out in “blue water”—requires such positions, properly spaced, accessible to supply, and capable in turn of being defended.
That they are the essence of operation such as that designed by and for our Navy is an accepted fact, but their attainment must be approached always from a double- edged point of view. We must first inquire what would be the danger if any one of a number of problematical positions were in enemy hands. Then we must prevent such possibility by endeavoring to control each such position, manning, arming, and equipping only those which are needful for our own offensive action of defense.
In other words, since the establishments at Pearl Harbor and Guantanamo and other older bases, and with great impetus in the Atlantic and Caribbean only last September, we have been deleting from the map of this half of the world every likely hostile position, at the same time placing upon that map such bases as a powerful navy may need in either ocean or in the fundamental Caribbean area. These are an absolute necessity and, while we may have breathed more easily after the agreement with England was recently reached, the previous political stumbling blocks placed in the way of such outlying posts from time to time for the last 40 years should serve as a grisly warning for the future.
Perhaps aversion to anything like “imperialism,” or perhaps lack of public appreciation in times of peace, have caused this aspect of naval preparedness to suffer in days only recently gone. By some, this omission is partially credited to the fact that islands and other overseas possessions have no Congressional votes to advance their cause. Neither political bickering nor public ennui should be allowed to hamper the program in the future, nor should false security lull us into abandoning what has thus far been so ably carried forward.
Just as the Monroe Doctrine is a statement of defensive policy, first, and of import to trade and ideology, second, so, too, is the holding of territory for naval and air bases primarily defensive, only having commerical value incidentally, and as such serves to guard and protect our lines of traffic.
Many pages might be filled and many lines of thought examined, discussing our position and its defense. Such pursuit would carefully reconsider the Monroe Doctrine and the price of its enforcement —or the infinitely greater cost of its abandonment. It would examine further the questions which arise in the Far East, only partially caused by the commitments concerning the Philippines. It would certainly carefully reappraise our mercantile marine policy. For, indeed, the historical, the geographic, the commerical, and the ideal must always combine in encyclopedic manner.
Certain assumptions, however, must be taken, based upon the natural, the economic, and the political, each, for the object here, interwoven into the concept of sea power and founded upon an appreciation that
“Vain are their threats, their armies are all in vain;
“They rule the balanced world, who rule the Main.”
Keeping such assumptions in mind, let us therefore glance first at what seem to be the lessons of the past as they chart the future course of national policy, helping to avoid, if that is ever possible, the reefs and shoals of history; reserving for the moment those lessons presently to be learned from current hostilities.
American sea power, from its early dawn, as a few converted merchantmen sailed from the rendezvous at Philadelphia to attack the British in the Bahamas, to the present, has had its great heights, of which we are proud; and its deep depressions, which should give us careful pause.
For we got off to a start which was both good and bad; rising to great eminence of courage and resourcefulness, but often falling into error through political astigmatism. That naval force, our small contribution and France’s greater power, finally put an end to British lines of supply and isolated Cornwallis and his army, was fully appreciated by Washington and other leaders. The same spirit which rose to superhuman stamina at Valley Forge and smart courage at Trenton and Princeton played its more telling part at sea.
But, in the discussions which followed Yorktown, the best minds of the new nation were concerned with methods of government, adoption of a Constitution, and the true place of state power in the entire Federal scheme. The Navy was almost completely forgotten.
Forgotten indeed until the trouble with France and with the pirates of Barbary made us see that, being a nation, we must accept national responsibilities along with national benefits, protect the commerce of American shipowners and merchants, and be ready to defend our shores. Even then, the strange championing by Thomas Jefferson, and others, of a fleet of small boats for coast-line defense only cast grave doubt upon overcoming for years to come that ingrained feeling that a strong naval policy meant ultimate aggressive tactics on the part of our own government. Indeed, there are even today a few who will not believe, with the examples of history before them, that our Navy is defensive only, and must be ever such; its offensive power being only the strategy of defense as we conceive it.
It was necessity then, which, even against the opposition of Jefferson’s party, carried along doctrine commenced by Hopkins and Biddle and Jones, ably supported by Robert Morris and Washington, and that necessity bore fruit in the frigate designs of Joshua Humphreys and the gallant battle tactics of Preble, Hull, and Bainbridge at sea and Macdonough and Perry on the lakes in our first important maritime war.
For in those days was also born the tradition of the strong capital ship, concerning which one reads so much today, as it is carried into terms of power to accompany the Fleet in Being strategy. That Washington, faced as President with the need of naval preparedness, should have called upon the Philadelphia shipbuilder who redesigned the Black Prince, a merchantman of 1776, into the Alfred, our first man-of- war, was one of those strokes of good fortune which so helped our beginnings as a nation.
Humphreys’ advice was as timely as the asking, for he wrote to Robert Morris, “as our navy for a considerable time will be inferior in numbers, we are to consider what size ships will be most formidable and be an overmatch for those of the enemy.” And the United States, Constellation, and Constitution were designed, forebears of a long line, of which North Carolina and Washington are the logical, powerful descendants, the “over-matches” of today.
No amount of later fumbling with naval affairs has ever really succeeded in extinguishing the twin beacon lights of offensive strategy and large powerful design for ships—wise strategy and power to back it up—but lack of danger, lack of foresight, and wavering political thought have too often well-nigh put a stop to any real naval policy on more than one occasion, and for more than a few years at a time.
That the start of a long period of naval vagary and comparative impotency should almost coincide with the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine and consequent heavier potential burden upon our national defense is only one of those anomalies which crop out in the history of this country. Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that the Doctrine was more a product of British statecraft than of American public opinion, but certainly for 40 years before the Civil War and for almost 30 years thereafter, to the British Navy, not ours, would have fallen the task of successfully defending its precepts.
Within 5 years after 1821, although a majority of Congress still believed in the Navy as the cheapest and surest national defense, a strong minority voiced its satisfaction with existing naval equipment and within 8 years the Jacksonians were in the saddle, completely committed to an agrarian policy under which naval affairs obviously were to suffer. So began a period of vicissitude which actually lasted until about 1890; although the Civil War was responsible for a short and somewhat hysterical interlude.
To characterize the entire span from 1821 to 1861 as utterly devoid of naval progress would be patently unfair. During that time, after much debate and strong opposition, the Naval Academy was founded and at least one effective Secretary of the Navy was appointed—George Bancroft. Matthew Perry opened up Japan and there was a rather thorough experimentation with steam; and it was also the time of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the oceanographer. So, too, was it a cycle of complete maritime peace, although there occurred during its years one incident with France and two with Great Britain, which might have led to serious challenge to the Navy and nation as well.
Nor is it sufficient to assign either the absence of foreign threat, belief that naval strength was dangerous to free government, or the trust of Andrew Jackson that it was sufficient to have ready the material for ships, as the real cause for this general disappearance of “even the rudiments of fleet organization in the generation following the War of 1812,” and for two or three succeeding generations.
The basic, underlying reason for the Navy’s decline and neglect seems to be deeper than any of the foregoing. National interest was looking to the Conestoga Wagon, not the clipper ship, filling in a great continent from ocean to ocean, until whatever remained of our sea-borne commerce was principally engaged in westward expansion, first around the Horn, then through the Caribbean and across the Isthmus of Panama. Only a rereading of Park- man’s Oregon Trail and Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast is necessary to again bring home the importance of this change of attitude which swept the Stars and Stripes from far-off ports more effectually than if caused by an all-powerful enemy fleet.
The American spirit had ceased to concern itself with the sea as a vital and dominant element. The footsteps of young men no longer turned toward the wharf. They were aspiring to conquer an inland empire . . . impelled by the same pioneering . . . ardor that burned in their seafaring sires.’
With decline of the Merchant Marine came naval desuetude.
That the Civil War should be followed by a period of several decades of almost complete naval stagnation was perhaps equally inevitable, with the continuation of domestic expansion and consequent decline of American trade carried in American bottoms. To get something of the picture, one need only be reminded that such tonnage fell from nearly 75 per cent in the fifties to about 10 per cent at the end of the century. One need only glance at building lists of the navy for those years, comparing them with vessels under construction during Civil War times, to get the full purport of the appalling facts. Literally hundreds of ironclads, gunboats, and ships of war of every description were hastily put together, purchased, or otherwise acquired during the days when a blockade of the Confederacy was an absolute necessity.
This ended abruptly in 1865 and for the half-decade following we find three 2,400- ton gunboats built to 1870. Up to 1875 there were one wooden frigate and two wooden rams built. Rebuilt from old ships were 6 wooden gunboats, 3 small iron gunboats, 5 small wooden gunboats and 5 monitors. From 1875 to 1883 not one ship was constructed.
Whether generally realized or not, in the years around 1890, the world scene was changing. Peace forced by Britain’s domination of the seas was ready for challenge, which condition still exists. We were not to make that challenge, but the United States must be ready for whatever might come. Quietly, our naval leaders attended the birth of what was to be the forerunner of a modern battle line as the first of four Indiana’s slid down the ways.
The major powers looked upon us as a negligible quantity in the days preceding 1898 with some reason, and it was fortunate that the first test of modem power should have come with a nation already weak. But they failed to reckon with American attributes of high national pride and strong naval leadership, each having been ostensibly dormant for so many years.
As the defeat of Spain raised us in the estimation of other nations, as Mahan’s searching observations enhanced our status in the eyes of the world; so, too, did the people of this country first realize the modern significance of the Monroe Doctrine, of trade with the Far East, of the twentieth century and the impact of their position as coupled with sea power.
From 1898, especially through the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, which started three years later, but also during that of Taft and the first Wilson administration, a more or less planned expansion of naval complement occurred. At the same time, both from a technological view and from that of personnel and training, we progressed as never before. The close of the War with Spain brought no aftermath of recession. The abounding energy and farsighted knowledge of President Roosevelt saw to that. What might have been the consequent slump to customary stagnation was prevented after he left office by the impetus of his program and war clouds on the European skies. When war actually came, we had time enough to further bolster the Navy with the tremendous (for those times) appropriation bill of 1916.
Thus when the World War ended we were up to a naval strength theretofore undreamed of. With her losses at sea, England was fast falling to second place, but from those dizzy heights, we relapsed and ran true to form. Perhaps no one could observe this from a completely detached point of view. The world was sick of warfare, and the people of the United States, always peace-loving, were sickest of all. As one prospective remedy, despite the fact that history had proved otherwise, it was believed that limitation of naval armament would assist in the avoidance of future war; and that such limit would certainly cut down the already staggering debt loads of the peoples of the major powers.
We now know that both premises were unequivocally in error.
In the first place, the most astounding mistake made by the United States was the oversight that we can never be an aggressor nation, no matter what the size of the Navy. By nature, politics, and national characteristics, we will always be on the defense, only seeking to protect the material things which we have acquired and the ideals bound up in our form of government. That we must have a strong line of defense in a powerful navy was apparently almost forgotten.
In the second place, we forgot what all should have known, namely, that the peace of the world and certainly our own national security would have been best maintained by our retaining those powerful ships which we had at such tremendous cost just completed, or which were well on the way toward completion.
With a long-view program well under way, we discussed the entire business away to the junk yard and target range, thus lending some credence to statements that Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar and Togo’s at Tsushima were far surpassed by the diplomatic successors of each around the council tables at Washington, and again at London. Instead of having a total of 15 battleships in commission, as we possess today, faced as we are with war in two oceans, we might well have the 48 battleship total which was recommended and more than a figment of the imagination in 1922.
As has been pointed out ably in a recent article, although this program, if carried through to conclusion, meant 16 new battleships by 1928, each of 43,000 tons and armed with twelve 16-inch guns, a second fleet of 16 older battleships, our first line during the World War, and a reserve fleet of 16 older vessels, it was so effectually abandoned as the result of our wholehearted embracing of disarmament, that all 6 of the new ships already started were scrapped on the ways, 12 existing ships were scrapped, and 4 more used for targets. That was done under the 1922 treaty, while that of 1930 saw another battleship scrapped, another used for target practice, and a third reduced to a training ship, with no replacements permitted until 1937 —the same year which saw a Germany fast rearming, and only three short years before we were to see the Monroe Doctrine and our Far Eastern policy for the first time more than remotely threatened.
All are familiar with the high-minded idealism which prompted at least American action in this regard. Nor can doubt be raised as to the effectiveness of American statesmanship in bringing about the then desired and popular result with dispatch. The real irony only comes today when the understanding is brought home with terrific impact that failure to maintain ever ready defenses is the surest invitation to future war. If this is appreciated now, when naval spokesmen are lamenting that “dollars cannot buy yesterday,” of what greater import must it be when the cry is again raised to cast aside needed protective armor.
So also has the second objective of naval disarmament failed, far short of its mark. If one purpose was to aid the debtor nations of the 1914 war to place their houses in economic order, and possibly repay in part at least the tremendous loans made by the United States, that aim has never come close to the beginning of realization. We find one of our principal allies a conquered nation today, another in direst circumstances and courageously striving to maintain its existence, while a third and fourth are partners of the Axis group whose spokesmen now express policies not only antagonistic to our mode of government, but to our continuance as a nation as well.
Forgetting that object of disarmament which sought to alleviate the burden of naval rivalry from other countries, signatory to the treaties, how did the United States fare economically? Has the burden of expenditure and consequent taxation for naval armament been so diminished as to bear out the hopes and desires of the people whose senators ratified the agreements?
Without paying attention to total general expenditures for various domestic policies, all of which have for one reason or another jumped to staggering amounts during the period since the close of the last war, examination of naval costs alone indicates the result has just not proved good business. It is presently impossible to make an accurate estimate of the cost of bringing naval complement up to where it otherwise would, or should have been, but it will be highly interesting to compare the total cost from 1922 through the year when the Navy again shall have attained the strength which was planned by the Department and the office of the Chief of Naval Operations in 1922, with the estimated aggregate cost for those same years had the planned building program been carried forward.
While this might be somewhat unsatisfactory for those who demand exact figures, because, unfortunately, only approximations can be reached, it is believed that planned and steady growth would have been by far the cheaper course. Especially is this true when one takes into account the greater costs which are bound to accompany forced-draft building like the present. It will be of utmost value to make such comparison when we again consider peace-time naval strength and policy.
From the viewpoint of 1922, avoidance of naval races was utterly important. Viewed from 1940, and from a national aspect, was not the United States in the only position of advantage? Our Navy was forging ahead, and we had the resources to complete the task. Could the other nations have started to rebuild, laboring under the debts facing them as the aftermath of the war? Or would they have made the attempt, sure to have been followed by bankruptcy or worse? Perhaps only further appraisal of the facts can lead to future speculation.
The results and real aims of arms limitation are only beginning to be understood. There is no thought here to detract from either those results in their ideal sense, or the aims which were desired by all peoples. Attention is directed to both, with the fervent hope that where error occurred, it may be avoided in the future.
We have dwelt upon position, frontiers, strategy, and the long, often sad story of vacillating public policy, not because there is anything new to be told, but only because now, if ever, must they be viewed with understanding and their import must be coupled with the present changing world and whatever threats it may hold for the United States.
Air power, so called, has not changed fundamentals, it is believed, any more than did the transition from oars to sail, or sail to steam, but it is narrowing time and thus oceans. Where threats to our seaboards could be measured first in months, then days, now hours only separate the carrier decks of hostile fleets from military objectives on this continent. The day is coming when such distances will be further diminished and future assaults against us may more nearly approximate those which swept over France and Belgium in 1914 and collapsed six nations of Europe, including military France, in 1939 and 1940, in the suddenness of their blows.
Even after 20 years, current discussion of air power seems sometimes confused, perhaps because of the almost bitter partisanship which has existed. Those who have expressed belief in superior command of the sea’s surface through powerful battle fleets have been dubbed conservatives by the advocates of air strength as the sine qua non of modern warfare, they in turn finding themselves considered radicals. To the one, faith in battle line supremacy is borne out by history; while to the other, shore lines might be successfully defended from the air.
The subject should be more coldly examined. Realistic approach indicates that for every new offensive weapon, ample defensive measures have been devised. No one denies that some completely new tactical considerations have been injected into defense as the result of the airplane, but it is strongly doubted whether any new strategic element is involved, particularly with regard to defense of this continent. A more sanely intelligent view of air power would point to greater emphasis upon, rather than detraction from, our present conception of sea power and the concomitant policy of offensive defense.
Nothing has occurred in the present war to sufficiently prove otherwise. In the Mediterranean, so like our own Caribbean, control still remains with the fleets. Certainly bombers, flying on the lines from conquered France and from Germany, have caused tremendous destruction in Britain, but it has withstood this for many months and the distance is not 3,000 miles. Certainly airplanes have effected shipping losses, both naval and commercial, and out at sea, but the blockade has thus far not proved successful and it is doubtful if it ever will through the use of the air alone. The submarine is taking the toll, as it did in the days of 1916-17.
There is no thought here to minimize the added dangers to which increased use of the air exposes our frontiers. We must consider our position and its future defense from that very point of view. Can we not insure ourselves best against attack by strengthening those forces which may stop such blows before they get under way? Is not the only real defense the threat of powerful attack at such points whence the assaults may arise?
No passive defense has ever been ultimately successful. It neither would nor could succeed under the type of offense of tomorrow, the use of the air increasing a hundredfold the utter need that no hostile nation, or one likely to become such, approach any nearer to our frontiers. That a goodly part of the offense to meet possible attack must be launched through the air is undoubted. Such could not be carried out, however, without as complete surface co-operation as can be planned.
There is only one answer to the question of future naval preparation. Every emphasis known to statecraft and national objective must be placed upon the fact that we can never again plan to prepare, after war commences. The speed of operation which the future will envisage and the absence of friendly barriers behind which we may bring our defensive effectiveness to fighting strength dictate that our future national and naval policy must mean:
(1) A definite peace-time building policy to be carried through the years, keels of capital and other combatant ships to be laid at such intervals that we may ever keep pace with the progress of science and design, as well as the needs in numbers of such ships and their auxiliaries as may be expedient from year to year.
(2) Both our air forces and protections, including anti-aircraft guns and increased armament above and below, must not only be kept abreast of timely needs, but as far in advance of that as possible. As in the past, complete advantage of civil developments and those of other powers, as they can be learned, must be taken.
(3) Such bases as are already acquired must be kept and maintained in proper state and never abandoned until changing conditions point to their obsolescence in favor of others more advantageous. And we must ever be on the alert for the acquisition of new positions, nearer the coasts of probable enemy activity, as danger of this becomes apparent from time to time. Every proper department of government ought to co-operate in this regard. If time shows, perhaps, that Bermuda should occupy, in the Atlantic, a position similar to that of Pearl Harbor in the Pacific, we should have that as such central base, and every effort ought to be bent to that end.
(4) Customary activity and effort with regard to the number, qualifications, and training of the personnel must continue with even greater effectiveness, as must the maintenance of and co-operation with industry for continued procurement of supplies and munitions; all of the foregoing not only to the end of constantly ready facilities in case of war, but, in the long run, cheaper and more effective naval complement.
(5) We must be concerned further with general public appreciation of our position, its defense, and of naval affairs in general, so that our future national policy does not relapse, as so often before, to the status of innocuous decay, political Badminton, or mistaken idealism.
Keeping in mind that naval policy has pretty well followed national interest and that the shipping of the greatest modern maritime power is already largely depleted as the result of war, plans already under way to recapture our own sea-borne trade, the backbone of sea power, and rebuild the merchant fleet to carry it, ought to be most vigorously carried forward. Once again we shall see the youth of a continent, where frontiers are none too prevalent, looking toward tidewater and the sea. The days draw near when our commerce must again be carried to the comers of the earth. In these days of national policies and federal effort, that trade and that youth must ever be encouraged.
The present is the time for reappraisal of the past and contemplation of the future. Each should be done meticulously and with purpose.
That neither the solution, nor the task of constant future readiness will be easy in the face of what may be expected in the way of organized opposition to maintenance of naval armament, popular dogma, or unthinking neglect, is certain. That both are possible is evident from the accomplishments, for instance, of Theodore Roosevelt, in shaping destiny, and from the professional acumen which so characterizes the United States Navy.
In all modesty, it is believed that a nation which desires future peace will find it only attainable in the world to come at the expense of adequate, intelligent preparedness for any eventuality.
In days gone by, such eventualities have included the ram, the ironclad, and the submarine; in the future they will include the dive bomber, the fighter plane, and attacks at greater speed than ever before, perhaps from mechanized units, distantly operated, but the true pacifist can join with the wise professional in realistically recollecting with Mahan that
Every danger of a military character to which the United States can be exposed can best be met outside her own territory, —at sea. Preparedness against naval attack and for naval offense is preparedness for anything that is likely to occur.
 Lord Fisher, Memories and Records, Vol. II, p. 98.
 F. von Bemhardi, Germany and the Next War, Powles’ translation, p. 228.
 Admiral A. T. Mahan, U.S.N., Influence of Sea Power upon History, p.87
 Capt. Dudley Knox, U.S.N., A History of the United States Navy (1936), pp. 26 and 42.
 For a recent discussion of this phase, see Allen Nevins, “The Monroe Doctrine,” N. Y. Times, July 21, 1940.
 Particularly illuminating is the story of this period told by Harold and Margaret Sprout, The Rise of American Naval Power (1939), pp. 96 £f. and 105 ff.
 Reference is made to the severance of diplomatic relations with France in 1835 over the claims dispute, the 1840-41 McLoed affair, and the Oregon crisis of 1845-46, both involving Britain.
 Sprouts, op. cit., p. 96.
 Ralph D. Pain, The Old Merchant Marine (1919), p. 178.
 See Fletcher Pratt, The Navy: A History (1938), Appendix, “Ships of the Navy,” pp. 440 ff.
 Lieut. Comdr. James E. Hamilton, U.S.N., “Battleships,” U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings (August, 1940), Vol. 66, pp. 1130 ff.
1S For a scholarly and searching story of the 1922 conference, see Harold and Margaret Sprout, Toward a New Order of Sea Power (1940), Chapters VIII-XIV inch Presentation of the professional point of view appears in The Eclipse of American Sea Power, by Capt. Dudley Knox, U.S.N.