Whatever else he may have to say about the trials and vicissitudes of his existence, no one may rightfully claim he was bored by the life and times of the twentieth century. As we stand at the second half of it we can look back on five decades of the most prodigious social upheavals which the world has ever seen—and we can look forward to a future even more uncertain, if possible, than the past from which we just emerged. In forty convulsive, fateful years the comfortable, secure, sublimely confident world we knew in 1912 has been swept away by the rising tide of a world revolution which places in some doubt the issue of our survival as a civilization.
And yet, ironically enough, the massive fulminations to which we have been witness in the last two generations are at their roots overwhelmingly the product of Western ideas and Western technology. This is true and would be true even if Marx and the latter-day saints of modern Communism had all been London bankers. For it is we—not the Communists—who, without willing it, or even knowing it, made the revolution which we now look upon with such foreboding.
The term “revolution,” after all, connotes a condition of sudden and violent change from an existing pattern of relationships. And the West has, in something less than two hundred years, wrought the most profound series of changes to come over humanity since the advent of Christianity. The revolution which describes these changes is so much the overwhelming event of our entire age that the whole chapter of our times from 1750 onward seems out of context with what went before it and what may conceivably come after it. From our limited and necessarily subjective point of view, we are hardly able to conceive what the world was like before the Western Revolution came over us, any more than we are able to prophesy what it will be like when the current dynamic phase has run its course.
It would be a gross oversimplification to attribute these changes, which are fundamental and go to the very roots of our civilization itself, solely to the Industrial Revolution ushered in by the development of steam power in the eighteenth century. We are indeed concerned with the Industrial Revolution, and a great deal more; for it is almost certain that that vast amalgamation of technology and applied economics would have failed to materialize had not an equally sweeping revolution in political and economic philosophy occurred at the same time. Each was the natural complement of the other, and neither might have succeeded by and of itself. Together, their ramifications extend into every corner of human interest and endeavor and affect daily the lives of the two billion human inhabitants of this planet.
The character of this immense sociological phenomenon, which in all propriety should be called the Western Revolution, is thus not only industrial and economic, but political and ideological as well. And so rapidly did it progress that within a hundred years after its inception the world had the steam railroad, alternating current, the land- wire telegraph, the cotton gin, and the open- hearth steel mill. Medicine had acquired anesthesia, antiseptic surgery, and the germ theory of disease. Chemists had almost completed their inventory of the natural elements, and in the fields of geology, physics, and biology, ignorance and superstition fell away before the great mass of facts uncovered by free experiment and observation. Slavery was abolished in the Western World, and free, compulsory, elementary education became an established Western institution. The notion of representative government emerged as the basic political pattern of the nineteenth century, and freedom of speech, of the press, and assembly and petition were documented in a hundred state constitutions throughout the world.
Thus as the result of an intellectual revolution which freed men’s minds and a technological revolution which freed their bodies, the Western community was able, during the course of the nineteenth century, to bring itself to a position of immense wealth and power and to afford its constituents a degree of material comfort which no one dreamed could possibly have existed. Moreover, the rest of the world accepted without question the moral and material supremacy of the Western powers and eagerly sought to emulate their mores and institutions. It was essentially a century of peace and unprecedented advancement of constructive effort in almost every field of human participation. And because this was so, more progress was made toward that ultimate goal of mankind, The Good Society, than had been achieved hitherto in all the eons and ages that preceded it. In science and medicine, in agriculture and industry, in public health and welfare and education, and above all in the cause of human freedom, the Western community lurched forward to a plateau so far above what had previously been achieved that the dreary foothills below seemed flat and without relief. For the first time in the history of mankind there appeared upon this earth a limited but practical demonstration of the incredible proposition that it might be possible to abolish poverty and human serfdom, and—most fantastic innovation of all—that life might become something to be enjoyed, rather than endured. This, then, was the vital heart of the Western Revolution and the electrifying message of hope which it held out to a world that was at least three-quarters illiterate, two-thirds enslaved, and tragically wanting in the simplest necessities of life. This was what the West had to offer to a world which, except for a brief and feeble scintilla here and there, had in all its history known nothing better than darkness and poverty and oppression and despair. This was the real revolution of our time!
Then, almost as the West reached the apogee of its power and prestige, the forces of the revolution which it had sparked and powered began to pass out of its control. Perhaps the catastrophe of its position arose out of the circumstance that it had, by its example, kindled in the hearts of men everywhere an intense, impatient longing for a better kind of life—a kind of life for which most of them were not ready and could not possibly be made ready—for generations, perhaps centuries. Hope grew and flourished among peoples who had never dared to hope before, and over the years the gathering crescendo of their demands shook to their very foundations not only the ancient and rotting despotisms of the East, but the whole social structure of the West as well. As if in some great and tragic parody of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we of the West, having conjured up an industrious but intractable servant, had now to reckon with the consequences of our experiment.
Now we are all of us concerned in an intensely practical way with these consequences and with the lasting effects which they are bound to have on our civilization. As military men we are concerned with the Western Revolution as a causal factor in today’s power relationships. We of the Navy are particularly concerned with the extent to which it has affected the historic role of sea power as a factor in the destiny of our country and with the prospects which the new dispensation of power holds for the maritime nations of the world. Above all, we are interested in the things we must do and the direction we must go in order to insure our own survival in it. With this in mind, a review of the principal effects of the revolution seems to be in order. Biological, economic, political, and ideological, they represent the historical context into which all our military policies and actions must be fitted, lest we suddenly find ourselves desperately and irrationally breaking our own bones m a struggle with an enemy whose true nature we do not fully understand. It is to an analysis of these effects that the remainder of this paper is devoted.
The Biological Revolution. It took three billion years, more or less, for the earth to produce its first billion live human beings. It has taken a little less than a hundred years to produce the second, and, unless something very startling occurs, the third billion will be here before the present century is out. We are not here directly concerned with the precise causes of this great explosion, but we need by all means to observe and remember that wherever the effects of Western technology and industrialization have been felt the immediate biological response has been a tremendous upsurge in population. In Europe, where the revolution had its inception, the population has tripled since 1800. In seventy years Germany doubled its 1870 population of 40 million. Russia, despite staggering losses in both world wars and the depredations of her own government, has succeeded in doubling hers since 1890, and the present huge figure of 200 million is being added to at the rate of two and one-half millions per annum.
In the colonial areas, upon which the West forced the not unmixed blessings of industrialization, sanitation, and freedom from intertribal bloodlettings, the results were even more sensational. India’s immense population of 206 million in 1872 had doubled by 1945, and at the present rate of increase may reach 800 million before the year 2000. Our own experiment in colonialism in the Philippines resulted in an increase in the Filipino population of over three hundred per cent in the forty-eight years from the date we undertook their guardianship until we relinquished it. The most readily observable result of Dutch investment in Indonesia has been a rate of population increase of eighteen per cent per decade over the past thirty years. With far too many people on the earth already, we are getting more at the rate of 25 million per annum. Most of the new arrivals will not be born to Western homes.
The forbidding prospect of an overpopulated area is pressure in two directions: pressure upon the land to produce the subsistence requirements of its wretched progeny, and pressure upon other peoples to make good the deficiencies which the land is not able to supply. And as we shall presently see, these pressures have the most profound consequences for Western Civilization. For beneath the tangle of political, economic, and moral questions of the day there lies the stark and simple issue of survival for millions of the world’s people. Hungry men will fight for food, and those who have not will take from those who have, if they are able. Our basic social problem, reduced to its simplest terms, comes to focus upon the man who is hungry and cold and wretched and homeless; who has no stake whatever in the world community in which he lives. And of this kind of man there is a very great number indeed in 1953.
The Colonial Revolt. The sheer weight of the immensely magnified production of wealth which flooded out of the West’s new industrial machine during the nineteenth century sent its emissaries scurrying to the far corners of the globe in search not only for raw materials but for markets in which to sell the finished products. Great Britain, supreme upon the seas and leading the rest of Europe by a good thirty years in industrialization, emerged as the greatest exponent of empire the world had ever seen. Not only did she extend her sovereignty over some of the richest parts of the earth, but British capital and technology flowed readily into areas where her flag could not follow. The railways and such industrial plants as the United States acquired between 1850 and 1900 were built, by and large, by the British, and it was British capital and technology, assisted by the Royal Navy, which summoned into being the Imperial Japanese Fleet during roughly the same interval. China, India, South Africa, and the East Indies were similar beneficiaries of the British drive toward industrializing the world.
To a lesser degree of success, this profitable march toward empire was also taken by the French, the Germans, the Belgians, and the Dutch. The ultimate effect of their ventures was the extension of Western rule and civilization all over the world, and the creation of overseas commercial empires upon which they came to depend most heavily for the proper functioning of their increasingly complicated economies. It also drove them into the curious situation in the Western trading system where a nation’s most feared competitor was also likely to be one of its best customers, which precisely describes the relationship that existed between Britain and Germany during the period 1900-1914. Beyond that, the export of equipment, capital, and know-how to undeveloped areas meant, if it were to be successful at all, the subsidizing of future competition in world markets and the creation of power complexes to be reckoned as possible enemies in some future show of force. Thus did the Western powers unwittingly, and perhaps inevitably, undermine their empires while in the very act of creating them.
If the paradox upon which the West’s economic policy rested was great, it was nothing compared to the one which complicated its political relationships with the peoples of the colonial areas. For in those relationships the West had to reconcile an ideology which taught that all men were equal with a political system which organized them as master and servant. This it was never able to do successfully, for the more the colonials learned about the Western political heritage the less they were disposed to submit to its practical applications. The Western democracies, understandably sentimental about their great dream, trumpeted from the housetops its chief constituents: our apotheosis of the individual; our notions about political freedom and representative government; our insistence that equality of status and opportunity were the right and heritage of every man; and in the examples of the French and American revolutions, the implication that the violent overthrow of an oppressive existing order may be morally justifiable.
What was equally implied was that these magnificent benefits were, quite demonstrably, to be secured only by the new political organism which had developed in the West, the sovereign nation-state. And since the Western peoples had garnered this full harvest through the active practice of nationalism, might not the subject peoples aspire, in their time, to do likewise? Thus did nationalism in Europe breed nationalism in Asia, and the more thoroughly was it understood, the more overpowering became the native desire to be rid of Western rule.
This deep cauldron of discontent simmered dangerously for some time—until 1941 in fact, when the Japanese unceremoniously kicked it over and sent its scalding contents flooding out over the Afro-Asian root structure of the West’s moribund colonial empire. Nor does it matter that the Japanese were eventually driven back to their home islands and crushed: the myth of Western invincibility was gone, and gone with it was any possibility of a political arrangement that organized the White man as master and the Brown man as servant. Nationalism was a political fact in Asia and would be for a great many years to come.
The Rise of Land Power. As was previously mentioned, the nineteenth century, or such part of it that remained after the Napoleonic Era, was a century of peace, and so substantial was Britain’s contribution in this regard that common courtesy has seemed to demand that this welcome and tranquil interlude be called the Pax Britannica. It was also the century identified with Britain’s practical domination of the affairs of Europe in particular and the world in general. It was the classic age of modern sea power.
Throughout this long period, as well as the two hundred years that preceded it, Britain’s military policies with respect to the Continent were validated, first, by the paralyzing effect obtainable by sea blockade and, secondly, by the circumstance that as of any given moment the strength of the seven or eight rivalling powers was so nearly in balance that Britain’s influence in any contest was decisive. Britain’s position vis-a-vis the Continent thus rested on the axiom that no one power or coalition of powers should become dominant there, nor should any naval power be permitted to arise that could threaten her supremacy upon the seas.
As long as the development of the European countries proceeded at the snail’s pace of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Britain could be secure enough. However, the flood of political, economic, scientific, and biological transformations that began about 1750 and continue to this moment brought an entirely new face to the problem which Britain had confronted so successfully for so long a time. It filled up a relatively empty continent with people and crisscrossed it with highways, railroads, airlines, and radio channels. It built up a large and complicated industrial and commercial system which managed to transcend even the sharply-drawn boundaries of its increasingly nationalist-conscious political units. And it wrought a transformation in the nature and capabilities of land warfare such as had never been seen before on this earth. Through the power and wealth engendered by the Industrial Revolution, the nation-states could now make weapons and equipment for millions of soldiers whereas the impoverished warlords of earlier times were hard pressed to provide muskets for ten thousand. Coupled with radio, the specific applications of power to land warfare—e.g., the railroad, the truck, the tank, and the airplane—guaranteed mobility, cohesiveness, and direction to immense aggregations of men—a feat utterly impossible with the neolithic means of communication and transport which prevailed to the eve of our own Civil War. Equally important was the fact that the biological revolution which Europe experienced in the nineteenth century had created the population base upon which these immense levees of military manpower could be made.
This meant that in their relationships with other powers, those states which were endowed with expanding populations and the essential elements of an industrial economy found themselves in far more advantageous circumstances than they had ever before enjoyed, so that as time went by the strong became stronger and the weak became weaker, in almost every way. Since the turn of the twentieth century this sinister trend has proceeded almost without interruption, until at the conclusion of World War II there remained on the Continent only one nation that did not hold the title “great power” by courtesy. It was deeply and implacably hostile to the Western democracies, and it stretched the breadth of Eurasia from the Elbe to the Pacific Ocean, embracing the greatest expanse of territory and the greatest aggregation of organized military manpower ever to come under the control of a single political unit. The dreaded incubus which Britain had as a matter of conscious policy for over three hundred years sought to forestall was at last a bitter reality, not only in Europe, but in Asia as well. The balance of power had been swept away by a single political hegemony of continental proportions which, because of its sheer size and its vast inventory of natural resources, was almost impervious to the economic effects of sea blockade.
It would have been bad enough had this differential growth in favor of the heartland powers been merely relative to the power of the seafaring nations on the Western rim- land; the dismal fact of the matter was that the same period also witnessed a precipitate decline in the power of the latter in an absolute sense. The indescribable tragedy of two great civil wars within Western society in two successive generations left the Atlantic nations bankrupt and exhausted, their economies ruined through the liquidation of their overseas investments and the breakup of their empires, and their political faith shaken to its roots in the realization that all their sufferings and sacrifices had assured them nothing more than temporary survival in a world which had grown steadily more perilous with the passing of each bitter year.
Parenthetically, with the tendency for large land powers to become independent of seaborne commerce, the development of the submarine and the airplane conspired to give land power the means to invoke the strategy of blockade against the sea powers themselves, who are, and will remain, distinctly sensitive to its effects. And so rewarding did this appropriation of the enemy’s strategy turn out to be in the past two wars that had more effort and planning gone into it, the issue might well have been decided in Germany’s favor. We thus arrive at the curious and ignoble spectacle of the sea powers being stalked in their own element by the land powers and of becoming much more engrossed in breaking the enemy’s blockade than in enforcing their own.
There is a final corollary to the proposition of the ascendency of land power which is perhaps in our contemporary view the most important of all, i.e., the sociological accident which brought the United States and Soviet Russia to the peak of their power and greatness at the same moment in history. Had not this fortuitous event occurred, the cause of freedom in the world would be indeed lost, and the matter of whether sea or land power in the end shall triumph would certainly for the moment be academic. The immense implications of this great fact of history go far beyond the scope of this paper and deserve much more consideration than we can afford to give them here. We should remember that any hope at all for a free world is rooted in the national power of the United States and, by extension, our ability to project our power across the seas for the political, economic, and military support of the forces who have the will and the courage to resist the common enemy.
The Challenge of Communism. Once every so often, out of the deep ferment of a world constantly changing, there bursts a torrent of human activity, loosed by the sheer force of an idea and guided and impelled along its way by a small group of dedicated and purposeful men. The great religions of the world broke upon humanity in such a way, as did so many of the ideas which together form the fabric of our own Western culture. For good or evil, these surges of idealism will continue to make their contributions to the culture patterns of men and in the long view will determine the course of history without reference to who at the moment has the biggest battalions or the most atom bombs.
It would have been strange indeed if the vast dislocations occasioned by the Western Revolution had not produced some such tangential movement as communism; the really remarkable thing is not that it did, but the odd combination of circumstances which contrived to make communism the threat that it is and to produce a situation so full of danger and uncertainty for the Western world.
The dominant characteristic of communism as it developed over the last hundred years—and the one that makes it so difficult for us as a democracy to deal with it concretely—is its universality, both in its application and in the methods of its propagation. It is much more than an economic theory or a political system; it is a way of life, by its own admission exclusive of and irreconcilable with any other way of life on the earth, and destined, according to its own metaphysics, to spread throughout the world, displacing all other forms of social organization. Moreover, communism is underpinned by what is perhaps the most complete body of doctrine any faith ever possessed, and in this alone it is distinctly apart from fascism, that other twentieth century reversion to the rule of fang and claw which it so strongly resembles. For fascism was never anything more than an hysterical outburst of ultra-nationalism, and it had no real philosophical basis whatever. Its only sanction was the armed forces of the nation-states which propagated its various forms. Nazism, for example, so far from having any appeal outside the Reich, insulted and outraged the sensibilities of all non-Germanic peoples with its stupid credo of the “master race” and its concept of Europe as a German garden, and, perhaps more than we realized at the time, its loudly publicized abnegation of the very objectives for which men from time immemorial have shown themselves willing to lay down their lives: equality and justice, a sense of dignity for the individual, and if not freedom itself, then at least the right to be let alone in one’s peaceful pursuits.
Now we have Communism, proclaiming in lyrical terms the brotherhood of man, speaking glowingly of peace and freedom and justice and plenty—not for any particular nation, race, or creed, but for all men everywhere who feel themselves oppressed. To the court of world opinion the Communist propagandists have skillfully made a case for “peace,” for “industrial democracy,” for “people’s governments,” for freedom of individuals and of nations. Appealing in the name of ideals which the democracies cannot but acknowledge, they go on to proclaim that only through the Communist program can these ideals be attained. In short, the burden of their case is not that the goals of Western democracy are wrong, but that democracy as a social system is inherently incapable of achieving them. Meanwhile the West, constrained in all honesty to speak out against the counterfeit proposals of Communism, has been maneuvered into the impossible position of being the enemy of progress, the destroyer of peace, the advocate of war, and the oppressor of colonial peoples!
Paradoxically, for all its talk of peace, Communism has brought an entirely new face to war—the idea of war as a permanent, all-consuming activity; as a way of life, in fact. And because of this concept we ourselves are at war, politically, ideologically, economically, and to a limited extent militarily, for no other reason than that we are being warred against. This we seem to have great difficulty in grasping. Despite our talk about the non-violent factors that enter into the present situation and our awareness of our great peril, we are still bound in many of our actions by our antiquated, two-valued orientation toward war. For us there can be no such thing as a political war, an ideological war, or even a “little” military war recognized as such. We are either at war, hoof, horns, and tooth, or we are not at war at all, and a library shelf of documents, beginning with our Constitution itself, supports this point of view.
So in our present circumstances it seems inevitable that, in dealing with the new menace, we should find ourselves in one of the legal and moral straitjackets that democracies constructed in earlier days when there was a real difference between the way in which a nation conducted its affairs in time of peace and in time war. And in a fairly stable community of nations, living together in the same cultural pattern before the industrial age swept away the boundaries between civilian and military activity, there could be a proper differentiation between peace and war. In the day of the mass army and strategic air warfare, however, military operations have become so costly, both to victor and vanquished, and so unpredictable and inconclusive in their outcome, that many issues which formerly would have been resolved only through military action are, by common consent of both parties, now made the objective of intense political, economic, and ideological pressures and activities—and settled, often as not, on a political rather than a physical basis.
This means that a modern nation may lose its sovereignty and the freedom and independence of its citizens just as conclusively through a successful politico-economic assault upon it or the coalition upon which it is dependent as it might through a military debacle. The process of surrender may be slower, but it is just as certain. We are beginning to learn this, and it is probable that our conduct in the future will reflect a more realistic attitude than it has in the past. We should by this time know that we cannot ever afford to be less than gravely concerned that a fifth of the voters of France and Italy support the Communist Party. Nor can we afford to be indifferent to the maneuverings of Communists in the remote frontier areas of the Middle East, or to claim that we have no way in which to counter their attack. Still less can we afford to dismiss Stalin’s newest premise that the free world in the Cold War will eventually strangle for want of markets, for there is enough truth in his analysis to suggest such a thing as a real and dangerous possibility. It was not given to democracy, as it was to tyranny, to perpetuate itself by force and compulsion. Democracy lives only by the sufferance of rational individuals; and if enough people in a community are driven to act irrationally through the wreck of an economic or political system, with its accompanying fear and insecurity, or misery and frustration, then democracy may, so to speak, die by its own hand. And when freedom dies anywhere on this earth, our own peril is increased by the measure which that freedom contributed to our common bulwark against the forces of tyranny.
There remains the circumstance that for all its appeal to the dissidence and unrest in the world, Communism might still be manageable except for the flat, incontrovertible fact of the physical power it commands in the Eurasian heartland. We have thus to reckon not only with the political problem of militant faith rampant in a world stirred by the unrest of centuries, but with the military problem posed by its identity with a potent and aggressive nation-state, pre-eminent upon the land in Eurasia, and uncompensated by any legitimate balance of power. The two problems are not only inextricably bound up together, but our attempts at solving one may, if we are unwise, prejudice our chances of solving the other.
Thus as we enter the second half of the twentieth century we find ourselves in a situation fatefully loaded against our interests: the misery and restiveness of an overpopulated Asia weary of colonialism, the unbalance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere, the challenge to sea power in its own element by the powers on the land, and the emergence of Communism as the political antithesis of Western liberalism in control of the heartland of Eurasia. Perhaps the most important thing we should recognize about the main problems that flow from this situation is that few if any of them are susceptible of immediate and final solution. What we are confronted with is not wholly or even in large part the product of our mistakes and short-sightedness during the war years and those succeeding them, but rather it is the legacy of at least two generations of men who, for all their intelligence and sincerity and hard work, disastrously misread the history of their own times. We have been fifty years getting into this box, and it may well be fifty more before we succeed in getting out. Meanwhile we must go on paying high taxes, diverting a large part of our resources to unproductive use, and feeling frustrated and insecure. We shall* it is hoped, make the best of the few choices that still remain open to us, realizing that while an error may ring down the curtain, a correct action is going to leave us but little better off than we were before. We should be doing ourselves the greatest disservice were we to imagine the restoration of our security as anything other than a difficult, costly, and dangerous process whose real progress is measurable only in decades and generations. We can only go on doing what we have to do, with the best that is in us and hope that in the final accounting it will be enough.
We should understand, too, something about the relationships which today govern the interplay of diplomacy and military might. A great nation will always fight, even a general atomic war, if it is ever confronted with the clear choice between war and national extinction, or even a drastic reduction in its prestige and power. But nations do not any longer go to war for frivolous reasons, and they can be provoked into actual full-scale hostilities only to contest some absolutely vital issue—or to take advantage of the overwhelming weakness of an opponent. Meanwhile, in the case of aggressive powers, the objects of their foreign policies continue to be sought, just as urgently and necessitously as ever, but by means other than those associated with a general armed conflict. And when the objectives of a nation's foreign policy are determined by the requirements of a militant, universal faith that precludes the existence of any other form of society on earth, the prospect is plainly that of a world-wide conflict unlimited in objective, but quite conceivably limited in scope and method according to the dictates of the side with the strategic initiative.
Now in the nature of things, not the least of which has been our own reluctance to recognize and make use of political, economic, and limited military measures until the. issue was forced upon us, the democracies have inherited the strategic defensive. This condition is as much a given reality to reckon with as the unlikelihood that Communist policy will be satisfied with anything short of absolute world domination. And it is within this inauspicious frame of reference that we have been forced over the past few years to conduct our affairs, on the basis of a policy of "Containment" which, despite the abuse which has been heaped upon it during these past few months, still represents about the best we can do under present circumstances. But the validity of Containment as a policy does not arise from the fact that it contains, but more importantly from the fact that it may be used as a rampart behind which we may prepare our strength for an active role in the spreading of freedom throughout the world. And strength, for whatever else it may include, must contemplate a large and vigorous military force. Costly and unpopular though it may be, it underlies the whole of our foreign policy and of the grand strategy of which it forms a part. Without it no strategy can be viable, and we should, by thus exhibiting our weakness, invite the very armed conflict we seek at all events to avoid.
We must contemplate, then, at worst a total, global, all-out war, and at best a situation in which we are required to build and maintain in a high degree of readiness over a long period a large military establishment which we may possibly never use in a general war, while we seek by political and economic measures to rebuild the basis for security of Western Civilization. There is no place here for a lengthy discussion of these measures, but some of the more obvious generalizations can and do need to be made about them. Foremost of these is the restoration of free Europe as a cohesive, self-sustaining political, economic, and military entity capable of forming an effective counterpoise to the Soviet land bloc on its western flank. A similar regeneration of Japan is a necessity for an effective balance in Asia. It will take time, money, and infinite patience to accomplish such a fundamental redistribution of power in the world. But it can certainly be done. And as we gain in military strength, and hence in respect in the eyes of the world, we shall be able to bargain more convincingly with the nervous neutrals on the Soviet border who now exploit our weakness to the mutual disadvantage of each. We may even in some of the more remote areas of disenchantment where the hard and shoddy reality of Communism has made itself felt, set the backfires of disaffection and revolt.
By the successful prosecution of these and other measures we may expect in time to re-establish some reasonable degree of security for ourselves and our allies. We shall never become completely secure, but at least we shall have arrived at a way in which to live with our enemies, in itself no small achievement, and the measure of our security will certainly be greater than it is now. But we should never forget for an instant that the indispensable basis of these measures can never be more nor less than the power and ubiquity of our armed forces. We must be able to make good on any threats and promises we make. Our allies must know this fact, and our enemies must know it too. And nowhere is this more important than where it concerns our power to keep the sea, for upon that power depends our entire ability to go on living in a world that has made us and our allies so vitally dependent upon sea communications. And dependent we are, as any Navy man knows. Separated from friend and foe alike by thousands of miles of blue water, and half way round the world from some of our most vital strategic materials we must, in the future as in the past, look to our control of the seas as the sine qua non of our entire position in world affairs. If we did nothing more than to assure that control, we shall, as a Navy, more than have justified our existence, and if we fail, it matters little whatever else the nation might essay. We may with profit consider that for the United States and its sea-dependent allies, land forces and tactical air forces cannot be committed without involving the commitment of sea forces. Strategic air forces can be committed only partially and ineffectively in the absence of our control of the seas. It matters not at all that we raise a hundred divisions if, having produced them, we cannot get them past the fiftieth meridian.
It is here that we are forced to consider the capability which accrues to the possessor of some three hundred submarines available for the interdiction of essential lines of communication among the members of a coalition absolutely dependent upon the sea. Unchecked, this capability represents not only a military threat of the first order, but a political threat of the gravest consequences to the unity of the free world. Interdiction means isolation, and the prospect of physical isolation in the future invokes the actuality of political isolation in the present. The concern of the 200 million free Europeans who must live no more than seven hundred miles from the Elbe and no less than three thousand miles from New York must be understood for the legitimate and proper thing it is, and we must counter the existence of defeatism and neutralism among them with the clear demonstration of our intention and ability to keep open, come what may, the channels which insure that be the war hot or cold, we fight as a unified team. It is not sufficient that we maintain our divisions in Europe as a guaranty of our commitment to its defense. The realistic European looks beyond this token of our strength to see if we have the ability to maintain and augment it. He looks out upon the vast reaches of the Atlantic where some three thousand ships went to the bottom in the six weary years of the last great war. He remembers the desperate months of 1917, when the navy that enjoyed undisputed command of the sea in the classical sense in which it was then understood was able only by the narrowest of margins to assure the survival of its own blockaded homeland. And he knows something of the number and capabilities of the submarines and aircraft with which a new blockade might be undertaken. There is no more realistic probability in the present struggle than that the enemy may seek to subvert the North Atlantic alliance by so increasing his threat to our sea communications that in the event of war it would demonstrably be unworkable. If, through our weakness on the sea, such a terrible prospect ever assumes a proportion where we can no longer deny it credence, the North Atlantic alliance will disintegrate, and with it our best hope for the survival of the Western world.
Whether or not this ever comes about may depend upon how successfully we are able to restore the initiative to sea power if the air and undersea war against commerce. There is much we can do. An offensive anti' submarine campaign concept, taking full advantage of the remarkably favorable contour of the European coastline and of such innovations as the modern mine, the killer submarine, and the target-seeking torpedo may again make possible the close blockade as a capability of maritime strategy. Upon this close blockade might be superimposed a distant blockade of hunter-killer forces and land-based air patrols, while carrier-based air elements attack the airfields, bases, and yards from which the hostile forces issue. There is no more important aspect of such a strategy than that we realize that our role ls not a defensive one, and we must not tor a moment consider it as such. Mahan’s fundamental principle that “defense is assured only by offense” has in no way been altered by the submarine and the airplane, and if hostilities break out we shall assure ourselves of victory at far less cost if we have the courage and the resolution at the outset t° bring the war to the enemy’s doorstep instead of timidly permitting him to choose the vastness of the high seas in which to settle the issue. But only if we are ready.
Such, briefly, is the nature of the revolution of Watt, Voltaire, and Adam Smith, the possibilities and prospects of which have so profound and intimate a bearing upon our lives. Seen in its proper historical context, the loudly heralded Communist “revolution” becomes nothing more than a tawdry countermarch back into the shadows of oppression and poverty and brutality. It is we, by contrast, who are the real revolutionaries of the age: we who have given the world the only real measure of freedom it has ever known; we who have given tangible expression to the abstractions of liberty, equality, and fraternity; we who have done more to relieve human suffering and wretchedness in the last hundred years than mankind was able to do for itself in the preceding ten thousand. Which movement in the end shall prevail may be decided within the lifetime of those who now man our ships and fire their guns and fly their planes; may depend upon the courage and patience and good sense with which we as a people conduct our affairs; and more than anyone living may now realize, may depend upon the way in which the free nations appreciate and use their power on the sea.