“What is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory” . . . —Churchill
The maintenance of armaments in this country has always been to protect our democratic way of life and our peace. Armaments have never been maintained in this country to keep a political party in power, as in Nazi Germany, or to deprive the people of their rights. We have always regarded armaments rather idealistically because we have used them only to support our ideals.
This is most strikingly proved in the way in which we have always, sometimes mistakenly, led the way in disarmament after conflict.1 But never have our ideals been subordinated to peace. When any of our fundamental liberties were in any way compromised or threatened we have never hesitated to fight.
W. S. Maugham, in Strictly Personal, when speaking of the causes of the fall of France said: “If a nation values anything more than its freedom, it will lose its freedom ; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”
All this is deeply true for us today. It has not changed. It will not change.
But what of the strategy to be used in carrying out these ideals?
Can we be sure that the same strategies that saved our forefathers will save us? We find two devastating world wars within a single generation, this one bringing us even closer to destruction than the first.
Has there not been error somewhere in our strategy?
It is of crucial importance right now, that this nation find a sound strategy to back up its ideals. This is a crisis for democracy. It is a crisis for mankind.
As Lieutenant Commander Strong pointed out in his excellent essay which appeared in the Naval Institute Proceedings of May, 1941, A Beginner’s Outline of Strategy and Tactics, “We cannot consider naval strategy without considering national strategy. The Navy is merely an instrument of national policy, created by the will of the people in order to carry out the will of the people.” We must consider the national aim. For a long time, until very recently, isolation has been our strategy. The most literal application of this by many is that we should completely isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We should also enter into no alliance with any other country (“entangling alliances”). We should, therefore, not fight our enemy, no matter how obviously he is our enemy, until he commences an actual invasion of our shores, or lays a close blockade.
This is obviously highly impractical. As Armitage in his book The U. S. Navy observes, “Returning to the larger phases of strategy the most rabid advocate of ‘America for Americans’ cannot deny that complete isolation is an impossibility.” Many other students of naval strategy have come to this conclusion over and over again. Now the impossibility of isolation for us finds verification in the inescapable fact of war, declared on us by the Axis powers.
Scammell, in his essay, “The Survival of the British Empire: 1797-1812,1914-1940,” showed very excellently how Britain, in the most critical situations, always struck at her enemy wherever she managed to get an opening, whether the enemy’s operation directly menaced her or not.2
When an unprepared England was lying helpless before the threat of a Spanish invasion, Drake sailed to Cadiz with only four naval vessels and some privateersmen. His tiny force burned the Spaniards’ shipping and wrecked the half-built invasion armada. This gave England a valuable year in which to prepare herself before Spain had repaired the damage, and her armada was again ready to sail. By that time England was ready, and the Spanish Armada, no longer a mysterious, “invincible” threat, was almost completely destroyed by an aroused and prepared England, aided by English weather. Surely if Drake had waited until the Armada had reached England, or until Philip had gone through the formality of declaring war, England would have become a Spanish colony.3
Many, however, who believe in isolation, do not believe in complete isolation. They believe in continental isolation, or “American” isolation. American, in that sense, does not mean holding with and agreeing with ideals that we in the United States hold. It really means, simply, “of the American continent.”
To our way of thinking, the whole conception of continental isolation is false. It chooses our allies because they are on the same land mass, not caring whether they are imperialistic or nonaggressive, democratic or despotic.
The world of man today is divided into ideological groups, governments, countries, not into geographical, or even continental groups. Man is hardly at all bound by geography. Every year he becomes less bound by it.
“Mountains never meet, but men do,” goes the old saying.
We must have allies. Harold and Margaret Sprout, in their book, The Rise of American Naval Power, 1776-1918, pointed out very well the economic damage wrought by the British blockade of 1812, when this country tried to exist within itself without overseas commerce.4 Now this nation is a great deal more dependent upon many vital raw materials coming from the Far East, and other parts of the world, materials such as tungsten, tin, and rubber. She would be cut off from them if she were forced to exist within herself.
Again, we find Wendell Willkie saying in his essay, “Let’s Keep the Ball:”
All “appeasement” arguments really go back to one of two fundamental propositions: first, that the United States can exist as an island of democracy in a totalitarian world. To believe this one must believe that our democracy can survive while the United States over long periods of years expends huge sums annually on armaments; and either competes in the world’s markets with the products of enslaved labor, or exists economically wholly within herself. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of economics knows that democracy can’t last under such conditions.5
Admiral Mahan also saw this. He wrote in 1894,
The United States doubtless will be led, by undeniable interests, and aroused national sympathies, to play a part, to cast aside the policy of isolation which befitted her infancy, and recognize that, whereas once to avoid European entanglement was essential to the development of her individuality, now to take her share of the travail of Europe is but to assume an inevitable task, an appointed lot, in the work of upholding the common interests of civilization.6
Thus, if we not only consider and agree with, but actually apply these ideas, we find that the policy of isolation, which has been our policy for too long, has been fundamentally a faulty one. If we really wish to do the best by our ideals, the geographical position of our allies should be completely incidental. We should choose our allies by whether they have the same ideals as we, whether they hold the same things dear and essential, and the same things despicable, and nonessential.
But some question whether we need allies of any sort. They believe that if an enemy is granted what he wishes, and, perhaps justly demands, he will become “benevolent.” His people, according to this school, will lose their thirst for glory, and all will come right. This is a fatal philosophy for any nation, no matter how great. Churchill, one of the greatest moral philosophers who has ever led England said, in an address to the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, on May 9, 1938:
Can peace, good will and confidence be built on the submission to wrong-doing backed by force? One may put this question in the largest form. Has any benefit or progress ever been achieved by the human race by submission to organized and calculated violence? As we look back over the long story of the nations, we must see that, on the contrary, their glory has been founded on the spirit of resistance to tyranny and injustice, especially when these evils seemed to be backed by heavier force.7
History certainly backs up this statement. History also proves that despotic, imperialistic nations do not become “benevolent” as they gain power. When Rome had overcome Carthage, her last obstacle to control of the civilized western world, she proceeded to become more and more despotic and imperialistic. When the actual city of Carthage was finally taken, after heroic resistance, and the whole city was burnt to the ground, its population was either killed or sent away into the desert.
In civil life, too, after Rome had gained power, she became cruel. Her crowds were amused by such scenes as gladiatorial combat. The Roman Empire so ruined the democracy and ideals which the early republic had built up, that not until about two thousand years later did democracy again begin to catch hold among the western nations. Thus one wrongdoing country controlling the civilized world set back struggling civilization about twenty centuries. This lesson is too clear to be ignored safely. It does not mean that letting imperialistic and despotic countries gain control of the world now would set civilization back two thousand years, but it does suggest how dangerous a wrongdoing nation can be when she gains power. Appeasement is too dangerous to be indulged in, even by the mightiest.
Another school of thought that is rapidly gaining favor among the thinking men of the great democracies believes in collective security as the only real security against hostile nations. This idea means that all who hold the same ideals, think the same thoughts, and hope the same hopes, must unite together for the further advancement of democracy and for common protection. This is the greatest lesson that history has to teach us.
The carrying out of such a union demands many qualities; an educated thinking public, a lack of prejudice, an open mind. It needs, perhaps above all, an active will to translate the ideal into the concrete. Many agree with theories, but are content to let the theories remain theories, and never do the good they were designed to do. The carrying out of this greatest lesson that has been shouted broadcast by events throughout the history of mankind demands an active public; minds that will translate the theory into practice. It is the natural, the inevitable solution.
Once before, in a moment of terrible importance, the people of this country were forced to this conclusion. Patrick Henry was one of the foremost to advise this fundamental principle.
His chief message, the point that he harped on with strumming insistence, was that each colony must feel itself only a part of the whole, working with the whole, for the good of the whole. They could no longer stand alone. They could no longer fight among themselves. This congress, he said, erased all boundaries and ended forever all intercolonial strife and jealousy.8
We hope he will not be the only one to grasp the importance of that idea. Churchill, when the League of Nations first began to seriously disintegrate, made a plea that, unheeded at the time of its delivery, May 9, 1939, should even now be read and heeded. He said in an address made to the Free Trade Hall, Manchester:
If the league of nations has been mishandled and broken, we must rebuild it. If a league of peaceseeking peoples is set at nought, we must convert it into a league of armed peoples, too faithful to molest others, too strong to be molested themselves.9
Later, on July 2, 1939, in an address to the University of Bristol:
Civilization will not last, freedom will not survive, peace will not be kept, unless a very large majority of mankind unite together to defend them, and show themselves possessed of a constabulary power before which barbaric and atavistic forces will stand in awe.
These words were foresight at the time they were spoken, not hindsight. On October 16, 1938, still long before the course of events forced the government to the same conclusion, Churchill said, in an address to the people of the United States: “The preponderant world forces are on our side, but they have to be combined to be obeyed.” At the time these words were spoken, if the governments of both nations had followed this advice, united and given a flat “no” to Hitler, this war might have been avoided.
The greatest naval strategist this nation has known, Admiral Mahan, also agreed with this idea of collective security. He wrote, in 1894, in an essay called “Possibilities of an Anglo-American Reunion:”
Personally, I am happy to believe that the gradual, but as I think, unmistakable growth of kindly feeling between Great Britain and the United States during these latter years ... is sure evidence that a common tongue and common descent are making themselves felt, and are breaking down the barriers of estrangement which have separated too long men of the same blood. There is seen here the working of kinship—a wholly normal result of a common origin, and natural affection of children of the same descent, who have quarrelled and been alienated with the proverbial bitterness of civil strife, but who all along have realized—or at least have been dimly conscious—that such a state of things is wrong and harmful.10
Later, in the same essay, he says of this union with England:
But when, as is the case with Great Britain and the United States, the frontiers are too remote, and contact—save in Canada—too slight to cause political friction, the preservation, advancement, and predominance of the race may well become a political ideal, to be furthered by political combination, which in turn should rest, primarily, not upon cleverly constructed treaties, but upon natural affection and a clear recognition of mutual benefit arising from working together. If the spirit be there, the necessary machinery for its working will not pass the wit of the race to provide; and in control of the sea, the beneficent instrument that separates us that we may be better friends, will be found the object that neither the one nor the other can master, but which may not be beyond the conjoined energies of the race.
If only his readers could have noticed that last phrase! How much worry and danger could have been averted during the war of 1914! Certainly Mahan was an idealist, but he was shrewd and practical. Almost all of his teachings and advice have been confirmed.
Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Lord Kames, on April 11,1767, wrote:
I have lived so long a part of my life in Britain, and formed so many friendships in it, that I love it—and sincerely wish it prosperity; and therefore wish to see that union, on which alone I think it can be secured and established.11
The union of which he was speaking was a closer and better union with England. And that was two years after the Stamp Act!
Maugham, in the essay mentioned before, Strictly Personal, says this of relations between Britain and America:
The interests of the United States and Great Britain are now so closely connected that no citizen in one country can remain indifferent to the situation in the other. It may be that the idea of union now is an impractical dream, but there is a union of a common language, a common culture, a common morality which does not depend on the consensus of the people concerned, but which is as absolute and inescapable as the common earth we inhabit and the common air we breathe.
These are almost exactly Mahan’s words! There are many others who have thought of this union. Some of them have felt that it was hopeless. Others have striven with might and main to bring about the union. Still others, perhaps the greater part, have agreed in theory, but there have let it lie, the thought being too great for them to visualize as reality.
This union would actually be no more difficult to bring about than the union of the original thirteen colonies. Yet if this union is not brought about the consequences will be far more serious than they would have been then. The reality of these consequences we can begin to see.
It is a plain case of “Unite or die,” in its fullest, most crucially important sense.
One thing that must be remembered, however, in any discussion of United States strategy nowadays is that we have a tremendous problem of short-range strategy to solve before we can possibly carry out our long-range strategy. To use any of the strategies before outlined, to even hope to have a say in them, we must first make sure that our democratic way of life survives this conflict. If it does not, then it will be of no avail to discuss strategy.
First then, we must overwhelm the German, Japanese, and Italian war machines. Afterwards we may decide how to make sure they never occur again. The present, as well as the future, is crucially important.
We must remove the aggression menace. Since Germany is unquestionably the hub of Axis aggression, she must be crushed first.
There are many ways open to defeat Germany completely. Certainly, so far, we have made progress toward that defeat. Our position, the position of the British Empire and the United States, has certainly improved tremendously since the tense days of Norway and Dunkerque.
Willkie, in his article, “Let’s Keep the Ball,” had this argument to put forth about the achievement of victory:
The question of how victory is to be achieved can best be approached by taking stock of what has happened so far. For so far, surely, we have been on the right track. We know this because our side has gained. The cause of democracy is much stronger today than it was a year ago.
That statement is certainly borne out by the facts. On looking at Hitler’s speeches, one may see how the course of the war has gone. At the beginning, during the “sitzkrieg” months of 1939 and early 1940, he had, of course, nothing of much import to say. Nothing much was happening, except the German preparations for the spring offensive, and these he didn’t want the world to know about anyway. But then, after the fall of France, his voice swells into joyful optimism. He predicts and expects the early surrender of England.12
After the failure of the aerial campaign against England, however, Hitler’s predictions seem more vague. Thus he grows more and more uncertain. At last, he admits that the war will take a long time, that it will take a lot of hard work to beat England, that there is much fighting yet to come.
But in Churchill’s speeches one finds none of this. There is not a broken promise, not a word regretted nor a word retracted, not a vain boast, not a single deviation from the sure path to victory; that of absolute, unblenching honesty, resolution, courage, and fortitude.
One method of attack on Germany would be the eccentric attack, such as an invasion of Italy, or Africa, or Spain.
These harassing attacks are very important. T124, the anonymous author of Sea Power, who certainly deserves to be better known, has an excellent description of the effects of the eccentric attack on France via the Iberian Peninsula. He says:
Perhaps the best example of an army used in conjunction with seapower to make an eccentric and harassing attack on an enemy’s weak point is Wellington’s peninsular war. The main battle area was in the middle of Europe, centering on the Austrians, Prussians, and Russians. Wellington went nowhere near it. Instead, with the aid of his fleet, he dumped himself down in Portugal on the French rear. The subsequent history of his operations provides a remarkable illustration of the diversionary effect of an eccentric attack based on the sea. The presence of Wellington’s army forced a most irritating division of force on the French. Wellington could not be ignored; for if he were, he would naturally advance and stir up trouble against the French in Spain. On the other hand if they tried to push him into the sea, he merely retired behind his lines at Torres Vedras, with his fleet behind him as a final safeguard. So there he was with a secure retreat in case he were outnumbered, but ready to advance at once should the pressure on him be slackened.13
A modem application of that principle was the campaign in the Dardanelles against Turkey in the last war. That campaign came very near success, and even though it failed in its immediate objective, the winning of the peninsula, it did succeed in its main objective. Bulgaria was discouraged from joining the war because of that successful failure. Italy was encouraged tremendously. The main criticism of the attack came from far-away England and America; not from the Turks, who were frightened at the nearness to success the British had achieved; not from the other nations near the peninsula, for they were too awed by the near achievement of the absolutely unachievable.
The concluding paragraph in Masefield’s Gallipoli sums up the battle, and shows how tragically near to success the Empire forces came. He wrote, as one of the Turks:
They did not win, but they came across three thousand miles of sea, a little army without reserves and short of munitions, a band of brothers, not half of them half trained, and nearly all of them new to war. They came to what we said was an impregnable fort on which our veterans of war and massacre had labored for two months, and by sheer naked manhood they beat us and drove us out of it. Then rallying, but without reserves, they beat us again, and drove us on farther. Then rallying once more, but still without reserves, they beat us again, this time to our knees. Then, had they had reserves, they would have conquered, but by God’s pity they had none. Then, after a lapse of time, when we were men again, they had reserves, and they hit us a staggering blow, which needed but a push to end us, but God again had pity, for England made no further thrust, and they went away.
Masefield also says that the Turks suffered heavier losses than the British, all in all. So the campaign was not only a great help to British prestige among the neighboring countries, but also an actual victory- in terms of men and material lost. He points out that if England had been allowed by the French to send reinforcements to Gallipoli, the peninsula would have been carried completely. This point is also brought out in Sea Power14 That attack was certainly strategically correct.
Certainly, if the ill-equipped, outnumbered Empire force could work such wonders against a high rocky coast, they could do much better in an invasion today of such a place as low, flat Denmark. An attack on Denmark would be more the second method of attack, direct attack, than the first method, eccentric attack. Certainly it is one of the points of attack to be considered in this business of planning the final offensive against Germany.
Let’s try to envision what an invasion of Denmark would entail, what its chances of success would be, and what its successful carrying out would achieve. In the first place, if Russia was still diverting a large portion of German armored and infantry units, the British allied with a nation of 130 million Americans, and with a total empire population of 504 million, could achieve numerical superiority.15 Air superiority could be achieved by concentration. Long-range bombers should be able to blast the German lines until airfields were secured. It should not be difficult to improvise airfields on that flat country. Aircraft carriers could bring up short-range fighter planes, spare parts, and equipment. Great concentrations of fighter planes could guard the British fleet, as it bombarded shore positions. Tanks and armored cars, brought by invasion barges, could cut across the base of the peninsula, isolating German forces in upper Denmark, and preventing attacks from Germany proper to relieve the besieged Germans in Denmark. Armadas of aircraft could constantly strafe the German ground forces, keeping them largely immobilized and unable to communicate with one another. Parachute troops could land behind the hastily organized German lines. The Danish population, three million men, women, and children, could be armed, and would be willing, by all accounts, to fight the Germans. With every plane available in action, the British should be able to advance and form defensive lines along the Kiel Canal. After resistance in upper Denmark had been wiped out, artillery and reinforcements could be rushed to bolster the line, while constant air attacks would prevent strong German counterattacks. With mastery of the air, mastery of the ground, and mastery of the sea, there is very little reason why the attack should not be a complete success.
The task would be made far easier if, just before the invasion commenced, colossal raids were carried out on all communication services, such as railways, highways, and canals. If these services were wrecked, the Germans would find it far more difficult to send reinforcements. No substantial German reinforcements could arrive before the whole peninsula was won.
Other air activities before this attack would be bombing all German air bases in and near Denmark, making it more difficult for the Germans to offer resistance. It might be well to make a simultaneous but much weaker attack on the French occupied coast, thus throwing the Germans into confusion, split between the two points of attack.
Then, if Denmark were secured, Britain’s position would indeed be enviable. She would have airfields within a few minute’s bombing range of the principal German cities. Planes would be able to take off from airfields in Denmark with tremendous bombing loads, due to the decreased range, and raids could be carried out on distant targets.
The German fleet could be pounded mercilessly from the air. The great submarine-building yards could be leveled. The Skagerrak could be constantly patrolled by air, so that if any ship was seen slipping out of the Baltic it would be subjected to heavy air attack. Scandinavia would be almost completely cut off from Germany. The German forces in Finland and Norway could be driven out quite easily, thus adding three powerful nations, and the large Swedish war machine, to the allied cause. The blockade would, of course, be immeasurably more effective.
Gradually the army in Denmark could be increased, until it became a tremendous force, ready at any instant to advance, should the opportunity present itself, but also in a strong defensive position. Of course, it would be quite a task to keep this army equipped and fed, but the distance to England would be relatively short. Losses in the ships carrying supplies to the army would occur, but there is no reason, if adequate air support is supplied, for these losses to become by any means disastrous or even serious. The losses in the Battle of the Atlantic would be cut tremendously, due to the bombing of the German submarine centers.
That would be just one move to make. There are many other courses of direct attack on Germany.
But even if such an attack failed, or was not undertaken at all, there would still be another way open to the democracies to defeat the Nazis. This third method would be a policy of gradual wearing down, punctuated, perhaps, by raids made both by sea and air. These raids could be carried out in much the same way as Drake’s famous raid on the Spanish coast. The modem counterpart of that raid would be sending the fleet on sweeps up and down the French, Norwegian, Dutch, and Danish coasts, guarded by squadrons of fighter planes and covered by heavy air raids on the bombarded shore. The fleet on such sweeps should certainly be accompanied by the maximum number of planes possible, for then not only would the German air attacks be beaten off, but a certain number of the British planes could actually pursue and track down the fleeing enemy, and destroy him, without seriously weakening the protecting umbrellas of aircraft.
Such a raid, carried out with light forces to the fore, heavy forces in the background, might even succeed in luring some of the German Navy into action. Perhaps a coastal convoy would be surprised. Certainly it would have a good effect on the morale of the people in occupied countries to hear friendly British guns proclaiming that Britannia still ruled the waves. Such a raid would meet with little but air resistance, since the Germans cannot possibly have fortified enough ground to protect the whole occupied coast. Pages 147-48 in Sea Power give a clear picture of the havoc wrought by Lord Cochrane along the coast of France and French-occupied Spain in a similar raid.
Lacking these sea raids, a constant air offensive might be enough to punctuate the monotony of blockade warfare. These raids from the air might not do vital damage, but they slow down production considerably, and, according to William Shirer, they injure morale in Germany tremendously.16 Germans haven’t forgotten Air Marshal Goering’s promise that not a single British aircraft would ever drop bombs anywhere in Berlin or the Ruhr valley.
This question of morale is an interesting one. Shirer also states that the chief reason the Germans want to win the war is that they are afraid of the just punishment that will fall on them if they lose.
Bomber Command, the British Air Ministry’s account of the activities of that force throughout the war, has this to say about German morale in relation to air raids: “To sum up—that German morale has suffered is without question, that it will go on to suffer is quite certain, that it is fast cracking under the strain is, however, not yet true.”17 That is a good summing up.
German morale cannot be crushed through air raids alone, and neither can the German war machine. But the combination of air raids, blockade, revolution, and Russian diversion may be enough, eventually, to crush Germany.
Perhaps the worst point in the morale of the democracies is the “invincible” illusion they have about the Nazis. The Nazis have frequently miscalculated.
Aside from morale, the gradual wearing down type of war has tremendous economic effects on the country blockaded. Shirer says that the occupied livestock countries, like Denmark, have become liabilities, because there simply is not the fodder to keep the cattle alive. They have to be slaughtered.18
He also says that on September 15,1939, when the Germans could count on the Russians for much of their grain and oil, the blockade was cutting 50 per cent of Germany’s imports.
Italy is in a still worse position. Allen Raymond wrote a series of articles on Italy’s position just after he left Rome. These articles appeared in the New York Herald Tribune during the month of November, 1941, and give a clear picture of Italy’s morale, economic position, and armament production.
All this—the disruption of German morale, armament production, and food supplies; the complete disruption of Italy’s commerce, economics, and morale—has been attained almost solely by the fact that the British battleship today is free to go where she pleases, unchallenged, provided she goes with the logical necessity of air support.
This means that the greatest blows struck during this war have been struck simply by forbidding Axis sea-borne trade. This means that control of the sea, as absolute as possible, is of the utmost importance right now. This control of the sea means not only control of the surface, but control of the undersea, and control of the air above the sea. This can be obtained easily enough, but when it is not obtained, the most shocking, terrible, unbelievable disasters can occur to the most powerful ships.
This lesson was brought out clearly, tragically, in the sinking of Britain’s new battleship, the Prince of Wales, and the old battle-cruiser Repulse by Japanese torpedo bombers off Malaya.
Two ships, one “practically unsinkable,” the other much more lightly armored than even the ill-fated Hood, were sunk under attack of about equal weight within a few minutes of each other. This proves, conclusively, that once a ship is hit by a torpedo, and her speed reduced, she can be hit again and again.
Torpedoes can be pumped into her until she sinks, no matter how heavily armored she may be, no matter how effective her anti-aircraft fire. One of those ships had a tremendous battery of multiple pom-poms, and was supposed to be the last word in anti-bomb and torpedo protection, whereas the other was very poorly and lightly armored against aircraft, and had highly inferior underwater protection. If 50 fighter planes had been available during the attack, the chances are that neither ship would have been hit once. For the fighter plane, even a stubby carrier-based one, has tremendous advantages over any bomber. She comes from the deck of her carrier and motors for at the most only a few minutes before she meets the enemy. Such planes are small and maneuverable, meant for nothing but shooting down enemy aircraft. But the attacking bomber has to carry much fuel. Its purpose is not to destroy enemy aircraft. On the contrary, the very lightest possible armament is put on it, and all the rest of the weight is concentrated in fuel and bomb load. Fifty naval fighter planes should be able to break up completely and destroy any attacking force of less than 100 bombers. If over 100 were sent, and if some managed to get through, the formation would still have been broken up, and each plane would have to attack singly. Anti-aircraft fire can take care of attacks made by individual planes, as proved in the first onslaughts of this attack, and as proved elsewhere before.
So much for the possibilities of air and sea power.
We boast a total population of 130 million and have enormous shipbuilding and manufacturing resources. Certainly our part in this war should be of determining importance. First of all, perhaps we can send some of our planes, idle here on U. S. airfields, to the Pacific, where they will be of use. We can send some of our draftees, now carrying out maneuvers in make- believe war, to the real war in the Pacific, to beat the Japanese attacks on our possessions. We can prepare in every way for any offensive Japan has to make. Perhaps it would be wise to send our troops into China and help China seize the offensive. However, whatever we do against Japan must always be subordinated to what we do against Germany. If Japan falls, Germany’s position will be considerably worse.
If Germany falls, Japan, Italy, and all the rest will come tumbling after. If Japan wins in the east, we shall have suffered a severe setback. If Germany wins in the west, we shall be lost.
Certainly we can help beat Germany in one way. Jellicoe, in his Grand Fleet, spoke urgently of the need of docks in England during the last war.19 We have tremendous, unbombed docking resources. Certainly we should continue to repair England’s ships at full speed. Certainly we should continue with our program of converting cargo ships to aircraft carriers, and with our regular aircraft-carrier building program. Perhaps it would be well to take all available tankers, fill them with airplane fuel, equip them with airplane repair shops and a catapult, then send them out as seaplane tenders with fighter aircraft aboard for protection. If such a ship were sunk, and admittedly she would be vulnerable, it would not be nearly such a blow as was the sinking of, for instance, the Ark Royal.
We should also build as many small, well-gunned aircraft carriers as we can. This type is far less vulnerable to bombs and torpedoes, for she can maneuver much better, and presents a much more difficult target, and a far smaller one. An all-out effort in a building program of a fleet of Hermes type aircraft carriers would strengthen our position at sea tremendously. These ships should be quick to build. If two or three of them could be supplied instead of one of the larger vessels, as escorts, the convoys would be much safer, since a surprise attack on one would not leave the fleet defenseless, as in the Illustrious bombing, but would leave still one or two others sending out flights of planes to beat off the enemy.
We have a large submarine fleet. These ships are valuable, and if we can replace them fast enough, they ought to be able to do considerable damage to the enemy, and make up for our lack of power in the Pacific. Major George Fielding Eliot suggested, in his column in the New York Herald Tribune of November 20, 1941, sending submarines to the Mediterranean, where British control of the sea is, like ours in the Pacific, not absolute. There they would be helpful in stopping Axis traffic to Libya. This would be an excellent idea. Fifty or so submarines, based at Gibraltar, would mean death to any convoy trying to reach the German and Italian armies in Libya. This article pointed out the significance of the situation in Africa, and also pointed out the effect American submarines would have on that situation.
We might also seize Dakar. We have enough man power, and we probably have enough ships in the Atlantic to do it. The seizure of that port would make an opening for a drive into the rear of Libya, and might encourage the Frenchmen in the surrounding territory to join De Gaulle.
Above all, no matter what immediate strategy we decide upon, we should go into battle with confidence, tempered with a healthy respect for the enemy, that we do not underestimate him.
And after we have vanquished him, as we shall if we refuse to be discouraged by temporary reverses, we may begin the long, difficult work of peace.
“And the day will come when the British Empire and the United States will share together the solemn but splendid duties which are the crown of victory.” So spoke Churchill to the Pilgrim Society on March 18, 1941.
After this war is over, this war of physical violence, will come a struggle, a war of intellects, to determine what policy shall prevail as a peace-time policy.
This battle will be a very important one. It will determine whether or not there will be a third world war, whether democracy or dictatorship will prevail. It will be democracy’s greatest test, the struggle to see if it can survive, and work practically when opposed to dictatorship.
We in this country say yes, it can. They in Britain say yes. Others, millions of them, all over the globe, say yes. Certainly the majority of mankind says yes.
These people, all of them, agree that democracy is not only a good form of government, it is the best, the only form. They see a backward trend in civilization if the powers of darkness, dictatorship, and evil again grasp the helm of this world. They are a tremendous majority.20
If this is so, why is there any danger? The danger is because they are divided. They do not go to war to help their fellow democracies until the very last moment, if at all, which is all too often too late.
There is no way we can stop Europe, with its many nations, its Balkans, its “haves” and “have nots,” from again rising in arms within itself. But we can make sure that if they do rise in arms, we shall always be stronger than they. This is possible by a fundamental, simple process which has saved democracy many times in the past. This is simply to unite with the British Empire, with Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and all other democratic nations that care to join. The difficulties of such a union have been cited frequently, and at great length, by the enemies of our American democracy. But I choose rather to lend ear to some of the great democratic leaders, the kind who founded this country, and who gave us the happy privilege to advance our heritage of justice and freedom, and pass it on widened and improved to our sons, and they to theirs.
And someday these people will come up out of the shelters and basements, and the other, the new, and yet more difficult work will begin: peace.21
This job of peace will be a long and difficult one. It will be drawn up on entirely new standards. Throughout the democratic world great changes are being made, and these will find reflection in the peace.
People are living like this everywhere in the cellars of the vast city. They are living like this in other towns, large and small. They are forming new communities, flung together from many countries and levels of society. Barriers fall, prejudices evaporate. We are in the melting pot, we are being fused for new molds, masters and servants, laborers and employers all in the same extremity.22
So wrote Rauschning, during the period of the worst air raids on England.
In Strictly Personal Maugham speaks of great social changes:
Of course in England we shall all be very poor; there will be immense debts to pay and little money to pay them with. Labor foresees that certainly for some years long hours of work will have to continue, and not till the situation has straightened out can the ideal of the forty- hour week again be seriously considered. The intention of labor is to introduce measures that will transfer the prime necessities of life from private ownership to the ownership of the state. It desires the trade of the nation to be conducted for the benefit of that community rather than for the profit of the individual. This means revolution, but I gained the impression that it will be revolution by consent. I found the propertied class deeply conscious of the generosity, the reasonableness and the gallantry that labor had shown, and, however painful the sacrifice they may be called upon to make, prepared to make it to enable the working class to enjoy the well-being they so richly deserved. I heard the owners of great houses acknowledge the time for them was past. They accepted the change they foresaw in their style of living with resignation and even with cheerfulness.23
In this period of internal revolution and improvement these writers see, should not there also be great changes in foreign policy? Should they not also be prepared to meet any international crisis, and be stronger, without maintaining further armaments, than any would-be aggressor.
Mahan said, in his essay “Possibilities of an Anglo-American Reunion”:
Thus war may be averted more surely, but, should it come, it would find the two [Britain and the United States] united upon the ocean, consequently all-powerful there, and so possessors of that mastership of the general situation which the sea has always conferred upon its unquestioned rulers. Granting the union of the hearts and hands, the supremacy, from my standpoint, logically follows.24
It is important in this period of great trial for democracy to think how it can be protected in this troubled world. It is well to heed the words of those who foresaw the situation long ago and gave their solution.
But it is vitally important to remember, throughout all this, that not one of these plans can be carried out until Hitler and all his kind are defeated. The note of victory must sound through every strategy, govern every thought, for without victory there is nothing.
In an hour of great danger for England and her way of life, when few had recognized the dire peril that loomed, Churchill spoke at the Free Hall in Manchester:
Come then: let us to the task, to the battle, to the toil—each to our part, each to our station. Fill the armies, rule the air, pour out the munitions, strangle the U-boats, sweep the mines, plow the land, build the ships, guard the streets, succor the wounded, uplift the downcast, and honor the brave. Let us go forward together, in all parts of the empire and all parts of the island. There is not a week, nor a day, nor an hour to lose.25
Many had disregarded this warning. England was still rubbing the long sleep of peace from her eyes, when the Nazi war machine struck with frightful strength and swiftness at Norway and Denmark, and was preparing for even mightier blows. Churchill then gave this immortal call to arms, as he took up an almost lost cause:
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.” You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire; no survival for all the British Empire has stood for; no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward to its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “Come, then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”26
Let us bear these words in mind, in this crisis of democracy, and apply them to our situation. Let all our thoughts and actions be governed and ruled by a complete desire for victory. Let it pervade our lives completely until the battle is won, and the time of peace and planning of strategies, the second phase of this crisis, the second half of this struggle, is arrived at. I feel confident that, having won the victory in war over wrong, we shall win the fruits of a just and rightful peace, the victory of the peace.
1. A Short History of the United Stales Navy, by Rear Admiral George R. Clarke, W. O. Stevens, C. S. Alden, H. E. Krafft (Philadelphia, 1927). In Chapter 30, “The Navy and American Foreign Policy,” which was written by Alden, our disarmament program of the last war, its reasons and hoped-for effects, is very thoroughly and comprehensively analyzed and described.
2. The Survival of the British Empire: 1797-1812, 1914-1940,” by J. M. Scammell, Naval Institute Proceedings, February, 1941, Vol. 67, No. 456.
3. English Seamen, by Robert Southey, a collection of the lives of Howard, Clifford, Hawkins, Drake, Cavendish, edited by David Haanay (Chicago and London, 1895). Chapter on Hawkins and Drake, pp. 312-16, has an excellent picture of the whole situation, goes into detail over Drake’s raid, and has a good part on the destruction of the Armada.
4. The Rise of American Naval Power, 1776-1918, by Harold and Margaret Sprout (Princeton, 1939), p. 581.
5. Let’s Keep the Ball,” by Wendell Willkie, The Reader’s Digest, November, 1941, Vol. 39, No. 235, pp. 7-8.
6. The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future, by Alfred Thayer Mahan (Boston, 1897), a collection of his essays, p. 123. This essay is “Possibilities of an Anglo-American Reunion,” and was written in July, 1894.
7. Blood, Sweat, and Tears, by Winston Churchill, a collection of speeches from May, 1938, to February 9, 1941 (New York, 1941).
8. Revolution, 1776, by J. H. Preston (New York, 1934). This quotation is taken from p. 27.
9. Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
10. Interest of America in Sea Power, pp. 108-9.
11. Benjamin Franklin, by Carl Van Doren (New York, 1938), quoted this letter. It is an excellent biography, and gives a good feeling of the Revolution, and the events that led up to it.
12. Berlin Diary, by William L. Shirer (New York, 1941), pp. 548-50.
13. Sea Power, by T124 (Oxford, 1941).
14. Sea Power, p. 155.
15. World Almanac, Annual, edited by E. E. Irvine (New York, 1941). These figures, and any other quoted from this book, have been rounded off by me.
16. Berlin Diary, p. 523.
17. Bomber Command, p. 17. The Air Ministry account of Bomber Command’s offensive against the Axis, September 1939-July 1941 (Montreal, 1941).
18. Berlin Diary, p. 523.
19. The Grand Fleet, 1914-18, Its Creation, Development and Work, by Admiral Viscount Sir John R. Jellicoe of Scapa (London, 1919), pp. 317-18.
20. The U. S. and the Empire combined, minus India, have a total population of 302,011,151. China, India, and the U.S.S.R. have a total
population of 1,003,368,963. Japan, Germany, Austria, and Italy have a total combined population of only 203,163,995. From the World Almanac, 1941.
21. The Redemption of Democracy, by Herman Rauschning (New York, 1941), pp. 5-6.
22. The Redemption of Democracy, p. 230.
23. Strictly Personal, p. 259
24. Interest of America in Sea Power, p. 127.
25.This speech was made in January, 1940.
26. Speech to House of Commons, May 13, 1940.