The Day After Russia Attacks
What War in Ukraine Would Look Like—and How America Should Respond
FOR ten years before the war, and during the five and a quarter years through which the war lasted, the Government of Great Britain was in the hands of a succession of Premiers, all men of astonishing political sagacity and skill, two of them men of first class intellectual rank and of outstanding philosophic and academical distinction. All of them were served by as good minds as the political life of any country is likely to produce; and of none in that long and brilliant list of Ministers could it be said that he did not address himself to his task with a whole-hearted desire for the public good. If, then, these men in certain great departments of national action failed and failed dismally, the explanation must be found neither in their personal shortcomings, nor possibly in those of their advisers, but in something in the general mind that seemed to make it impossible to adopt policies or choose advisers except in terms of the public opinion of their times. There is abundant proof that this was so. Nearly all the men who failed in the war, whether in command or office, have written volumes in self-defense. Nor can anyone read a single one of these with any sort of a sympathetic understanding without realizing that the failure of the individual was seldom, if ever, due to an error for which that individual was primarily responsible. The generalities of blunders derived from following almost universally accepted shibboleths.
Perhaps the most useful thing that a detached observer of public affairs can ever do is to show how easily false principles may become current creeds; how wholly baseless hopes may come to be accepted as if they were axiomatic facts; how, in short, a whole catena of false doctrine may obsess great bodies of men, without anyone having the curiosity or the courage to question its foundation. Particularly necessary is some such vigilance now. For the comparative failure of the Preparation Commission for the Disarmament Conference of the League of Nations seems to be very clearly due not to any lack of goodwill but to the absence of any clear lead on the technical aspects of the subject in hand. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that while there may be clear thinking, the soldiers, the sailors, or the statesmen are lacking in the courage necessary for committing national policy to any definite scientific conception of war. May I state at once that I believe this to be the root cause of our apparent drift into the sort of chaos that we see?
It is now eight years and six months since the German surrender. Nobody who knew Europe in the weeks that followed can forget the intoxicating hopes that replaced the black despair, bred of the long horror that had passed. For years before the war the world had known that it was the military autocracies of Central Europe that had been compelled to set the pace in armaments, because professing policies abroad that only material force could sustain, and existing in virtue of political systems at home that only foreign conquests could make stable. The pre-war prophesies had all come true. Armaments had bred war, and failure in the field had been followed by the fall of the Empires. Russia, Germany, Austria, the Sultanate -- all were gone and seemingly gone for ever. And with them -- who could doubt it? -- any immediate fear that the lust of aggrandizement would rise again must have gone too. President Wilson had made a slogan of the "safety of democracy." But it meant more to the working class of Europe that neither fathers nor sons would be called upon to bear again the burden of the fighting line. "The war to end war," then, meant something real; and that war had been won. Now the years have passed. But Europe, and for that matter the United States, have spent far more on armaments since that victory than was spent between 1906 and 1914. Can we be surprised if this failure to achieve what seemed its primary purpose has resulted in an uneasiness, a distrust, a pervading sense that there has been a vast miscarriage, a feeling that the thing is intolerable because susceptible to no rational explanation? For, when all is said, there is no source of single danger to the world -- unless it be Soviet Russia -- that has taken the place of the Central Empires. And that there is no one nation that all the others fear is proved by there being no alliance to balance it. There is no policy expressed, implied or suspected, that is common threat. Why then, if no one people can be said to desire war, do all the peoples fear it?
Perhaps if we pass from the general to the particular we may form a conjecture that may explain this disconcerting phenomenon. The Alliance against Germany was pledged not only to a "war to end war," but to a doctrine of war that should, once and for all, make any renewal of the barbarities from which we had just escaped impossible. For it was, of course, realized that war might never be wholly banished. Let the principle of the leaguing of nations be ever so widely applied, and the settling of national differences by impartial arbitrament ever so universal, force would necessarily remain a last resort against the recalcitrant or the insane. But the force so used should be employed according to rules common to military science and civilized principle. It had for many generations been a written law of the sea that the unarmed ship and the civilian were sacrosanct. It made no difference whether the ship or the civilian were neutral or belligerent. A cargo proved in a court of law to be intended for the comfort of the enemy's forces and for the sustenance of his military strength could be forfeited; but armed force could never be employed against the unarmed and unresisting. Further, barbarous methods of fighting, that tore and tortured the crew without injuring the ship, had been abandoned for generations. The same rules -- as scientific militarily as they were both human and Christian -- must apply to future hostilities on land. If, then, war came again, it would be shorn of such horrors as the bombardment or the bombing of the civilian population and the unwarned sinking of unarmed ships. But this was not all. Contrary to the agreement of nations, Germany had introduced the use of poison gas and flame throwers in the field, and the employment of shells and bombs hideously charged with these cruel vapors. All such savagery was, we thought, over and done with when Germany surrendered.
Now the amazing thing today is not only that those of us who maintain armaments are spending more upon them than we did, but that most of us are devoting a huge portion of this expenditure to air forces, that seem to have little military value apart from their power of indiscriminate bombardment: and on forms of sea force of proved inefficiency for anything except illicit purposes.
That mistrust has replaced confidence between the nations follows from the astounding level of our expenditure; and the scale of our expenditure follows, I believe, from this, that no single nation has as yet tested its theory of armaments by any right analyses of the available naval and military knowledge. It is because we do not know the true principles underlying armament that we spend too much. Our naval and military establishments are maintained on a wasteful scale, largely because we do not distinguish between the effective and the ineffective. The vice of the circle is explained by ignorance or lack of moral courage being its centre.
When I was asked to write an introduction to Neon's "The Great Delusion," I had but one objection to make. I should have preferred the title to have been "A Great Delusion." It was not that I thought that errors could be philosophically graded, one being more clearly contrary to reason than another; I was looking rather at the consequences. As far as my own country was concerned, aero-mania did not seem to be costing us much more than ten or twelve million pounds a year. This was a trifle compared with the consequences of certain other insanities. Take, for instance, the belief that statesmen and ministers can initiate and conduct the creative processes of industry, whereas it is self-evident that these processes never have existed, because they never can exist, save where those who engage in them pledge their own fortunes in the ventures they undertake. The present British Government, through the inability to understand the problem which the coal industry presents, in one year squandered more than the Air Ministry wasted in three years; and the Socialists, by the General Strike and the Coal Strike, in half a year cost the nation more than the aero-mania could squander in fifty. Mr. Churchill's third volume exposes another delusion which, while it lasted, cost us, and indeed all the world, incalculably more than British Socialism and aero-mania combined. For his fifteenth chapter tells the tale of the rise and fall of the submarine crisis of ten years ago, with a brilliance, a clarity, and a candor that leaves nothing to be desired.
Let us briefly recall the circumstances. At the end of 1914 certain quite definite results had been obtained at sea. The cessation of German sea traffic may be said to have coincided with the outbreak of war. Her cruisers not in European waters were small in number and inconsiderable in force. They had obtained some astounding successes. Aided by a few armed merchantmen, they had taken a notable toll of British shipping. Between Von Spee's victory over Craddock and his annihilation by Sturdee, we had virtually been cut off from South American supply. Then, too, there had been a few unimportant but humiliating submarine successes in the Channel and the North Sea. But the destruction of Von Spee and of the Emden and the total failure of mines and submarines to bring the battle fleets to equality, seemed -- before mid-December, 1914 -- to define and crystallize a naval situation wherein Germany was condemned to utter sea helplessness -- unless a new navy could be called into existence and a new sea war fought. It was at this crisis that Tirpitz announced Germany's intention to embark upon the kind of guerre de course which Admiral Aube had invented more than thirty years before.
The thing was begun in February, 1915, but Germany had a few U-boats at her disposal, and though the initial shock to neutral sentiment was formidable, and indeed elicited from President Wilson a stern assurance that the German Empire would be held to "strict" account if American subjects were injured in property or in life, it was not until the Lusitania was sunk and the American threat seemed explicit that any real change was made in the conduct of the campaign. Then for six months there was a lull, but it brought no change in the position favorable to the Central Powers, while the British blockade, inefficient as it was, was already seriously felt and its potentialities were obvious. In 1916, after weeks of discussion and quarrels between the civilians and the sailors, ruthless sinkings were decreed for a second time. It was unfortunate for Germany that, early in these proceedings, there were Americans on board the Sussex, and, though President Wilson actually took no hostile action, the civilians prevailed at Berlin and succeeded in forcing the Higher Command to comply in fact though not in terms with American demands.
It was the Battle of Jutland that made the final adoption of a sink-on-sight policy inevitable. The escape of the High Sea Fleet was indeed a tactical success of the first order. In both countries the civilians -- and I take my full share of the blame, if blame is due -- claimed the event as a naval victory. But whereas the falseness of this assertion was self-evident to the German naval command from the first, and became self-evident to the German people within very few months, we still have naval officers committed to the victory theory, and a large proportion of our people still suffer from this generous delusion. But the Germans, as I have said, were either never deceived at all, or only for a short time. And so what had been clear enough to Tirpitz in December, 1914, now became clear to everyone. The Higher Command had to choose between certain ultimate defeat on land, and the immediate breach with America involved in the gamble of trying to finish the war before American resentment could be felt. There is nothing surprising in the fact that the only chance of victory was taken. For, just as we had been fooled over Jutland being a victory, we were even more fooled in thinking that the intermittence of the submarine war in the preceding years had been due to the British Admiralty's protective measures and counter strokes. The Germans -- judging by the past -- were certain that we were powerless either to defend our sea services or to attack the submarine with effect. Really, the expectation of success was far from being the mad hazard which later events caused it to appear.
Thus Germany went headlong for crime on the heroic scale and, at first, the ironical counsel of the Great Reformer was justified, not by faith, but by works. In February over 450,000 tons of shipping were sunk; in March over 500,000; in April, nearly 900,000. It looked as if the German calculation was right. Valuable as was the American alliance in rehabilitating the finances of Europe, it did not look as if the Republic could ever give help of value in the fighting line. At the February and March rates of loss and replacement, there was a net wastage of world's shipping of about 25 percent per annum. By limiting freights to absolute necessities and rationing everything, it would still be possible to keep the armies going for more than a year and so bring America physically into the war before the summer of 1918 was passed. But with a wastage of over 40 percent, which was the rate for April, not only was it obvious that the United States could never get into the war at all, it was hardly less clear that Great Britain itself would be out of the fighting line within six or seven months. For the first time since August, 1914, the complete failure, if not the defeat, of the Allies was in sight. No one who lived through those days knowing what the news meant will ever forget that grinding anxiety.
The maddening part of the thing was that the answer to the submarine had been known from the first. It had indeed been proved effective since the first transports left Southampton. It was a counter inherent in the submarines' limitations. For to use its only effective weapon, the torpedo, the submarine must be within a range that will permit the torpedo to cut into the line of the target's advance. But it must know what that line is, and the target's speed along it. If, when the distance is right, the submarine is submerged, and so sees through its periscope only, the necessary calculation of the target's speed and course becomes too difficult for success, and maneuvering into the right position for attack impossible. Now the submarine on the surface is both the most vulnerable and the least efficient of gun-using ships. Against an armed vessel, then, it must chose between submergence and destruction. It was these simple, well-known truths that led those of us who wrote on naval affairs when the Tirpitz threat was first made to say that the threat was idle, because no unarmed ships escorted by armed ships could ever be in serious danger. The principle of convoy was, that is to say, just as valid as it had been in the days of our fathers. Nor were we relying only upon the soundness of our theory. For since mid-August transports and supply ships had been running between every southern port of England and all the northern ports of France with a regularity, a frequency, and a safety which led us to refer to this traffic as resembling nothing so much as that of the motor-buses in Picadilly. A principle self-evidently sound had been under practical demonstration for many months.
But the perversity of mind that had led our naval authorities into thinking that we could have the fruits of victory without victory itself -- a result without the precedent cause -- bred in them the analogous absurdity of failing to see that all that was needed to defeat the submarine was to force it into fighting for, or abandoning, its prey. Thus blinded to most glaring of truths, Whitehall proceeded to collect so great an array of purely imaginary objections that not only was convoy not tried, but there arose a belief that it was the convoy system, and nothing else, that would ensure the destruction of all the assembled ships -- if the metaphor can be allowed -- in one fell holocaust. Even in April five ships out of six did, after all, escape. If they were bunched together not in groups of six, but in groups of fifty or sixty, the whole lot, it was said, would go together. The last volume of Mr. Churchill's "The World Crisis" (Chapter 15) tells the actual story as kindly -- and as courageously -- as it can be told.
When under the pressure of ever-increasing losses the remedy of convoys was again advocated by the younger officers of the Admiralty War Staff, it encountered opposition from practically every quarter. Every squadron and every naval base was claimant for destroyers, and convoy meant taking from them even those that they had. There would be delays due to assembling. There must be reduction in speed of the faster vessels and congestion of ships in port. The scale and difficulties of the task were exaggerated, and it was argued that the larger the number of ships in company, the greater the risk from submarines. This convincing logic could only be refuted by the proof of facts. In January, 1917, the official Admiralty opinion was expressed as follows:
"A system of several ships sailing in company as a convoy is not recommended in any area where submarine attack is a possibility. It is evident that the larger the number of ships forming a convoy, the greater the chance of a submarine being able to attack successfully and the greater the difficulty of the escort in preventing such an attack."
The French and United States naval authorities were also opposed to the convoy system, and at a Conference held in February, 1917, representative Masters of merchant ships took the same view.
Now let us see what was overlooked in this high, keen and earnest consensus. The size of the sea is so vast that the difference between the size of the convoy and the size of a single ship shrinks in comparison almost to insignificance. There was in fact very nearly as good a chance of a convoy of forty ships in close order slipping unperceived between the patrolling U-boats as there was for a single ship; and each time this happened, forty ships escaped instead of one. Here then was the key to the success of the convoy system against U-boats. The concentration of ships greatly reduced the number of targets in a given area and thus made it more difficult for the submarines to locate their prey. Moreover, the convoys were easily controlled and could be quickly deflected by wireless from areas known to be dangerous at any given moment. Finally the destroyers, instead of being dissipated on patrol over wide areas, were concentrated at the point of the hostile attack, and opportunities of offensive action frequently arose. Thirteen U-boats were actually destroyed while endeavoring to molest convoys. This fear of instant retaliation from convoy escorts had a demoralizing effect upon the enemy, and consequently U-boat attacks were not always pressed home.
Most of this was still unproved in the early days of 1917. There stood only the fact that troopship convoys had always been escorted through the submarine zones during 1915 and 1916 and had enjoyed complete immunity from attack. The highest professional opinion remained opposed to convoy as a defence against U-boats, and personally I rested under that impression.
What actually happened, is, of course, too well known to need detailed repetition. Before it was too late -- but "only just before" -- convoy was decreed. It was not effective until July. Then the danger passed. Of one hundred thousand ships that sailed in convoy, less than 450 were lost, and the great majority of those casualties were due either to marine risk or to falling out of the convoy altogether. But all ships could not be convoyed, and it was not until May, 1918, that the average monthly loss of tonnage fell below 200,000. But by this time the rate of replacement was creeping up to meet, as it ultimately passed, the rate of loss.
These two facts, the failure of the submarine against convoy, and its continuing success against ships that had to go singly on their way, are worth emphasis; because it was the latter, in combination with the memory of the devastating depredations between March and July of 1917, that to a great extent still colors the popular judgment of the submarine as a vessel of war. It is as if the people looked upon our ultimate escape as simply miraculous. The memory of the German achievement remains. The submarine did sink eleven million tons of shipping. It is the simplicity with which it was countered that is forgotten.
But equally forgotten is the now more significant fact that as a vessel of war, as distinguished from a vessel of piracy or sabotage, the submarine was virtually as useless to the enemy as to us. All its success against warships occurred before June 19th. It had no successes at all against battleships of the first class. It would have had hardly any success against warships of any class had the methods of vigilance and defense, which were universal before the war had lasted a year, been made clear by pre-war analysis and adopted before disaster could occur. Thus the German hope that submarines and mines would, by attrition, bring down the narrow margin of the British numerical superiority, came to nothing. We had indeed lost one first class battleship by mines. But it was not by a mine laid by submarines. Three old -- and quite un-battle-worthy -- capital ships were sunk, one in the English Channel, and two off Gallipoli. But the loss of the Audacious was more than made up, and the British Fleet, with several first class units still in reserve, had, in numbers alone, a superiority at Jutland nearly three times as great as on August 4, 1914.
Now it is material to my argument to insist upon the failure of the German submarine against its legitimate enemy, the battle fleet. And I therefore proceed to state, without any attempt at doing so exhaustively, not the a priori but the proved reason of its failure. The submarine, like the aeroplane, possesses a singularity. It can travel, that is to say, in a single medium. The one when completely submerged was still a dirigible, controlled vehicle. The other, completely unsupported in the air except by its own power and planes, seems to possess a liberty, a speed and a flexibility of movement unknown to land or sea. It is nearly a century and a quarter since Fulton announced his discovery of a boat navigable below the surface. It is less than a fifth of the period since the Wright brothers first got off the ground in a flying machine. But as practical sea going vessels, submarines are in fact a little older than aeroplanes, and the singularity and marvellous character of each seems to have given a definite, a universal, and possibly an incurable warp, not only to the naval and the military, but to the civilian mind.
For the effect of this warp on our own air policy I must refer the reader to Neon, whose case against reliance upon airships and aeroplanes as factors of primary value in the national armament is briefly as follows. From the poverty of its lift, its inherent incapacity to navigate, its fragility, and finally its defenselessness against the lightning which it inevitably attracts, the airship is shown to be useless for all purposes, naval, military or civil. The aeroplane has an exceedingly limited value for scouting purposes; no capacity to ward off attacks from other air forces; and very little power to attack anything except such wholly illegitimate targets as undefended towns. On rare occasions it may be of unique service as a vehicle, from its capacity to pass over territory hostilely held, and so bring limited relief and news to invested forces. In sea war, the aeroplane's functions seem to be more limited yet, and the opportunities for using it rarer. Its value in any form of war can only materialize in exceptional circumstances. Hence to expend on an air force any high percentage of the total funds available for national defense, is a waste that cannot survive any impartial examination of the available evidence.
Now just as there is a so far unanswered case for asserting the inefficiency of air force for anything except what all civilization condemns, so too there is no instructed and impartial naval opinion in Great Britain, the United States or Japan that does not know that the submarine, now that the attack of unarmed vessels is forbidden, is almost wholly useless to a Power that is prepared to dispute the command of the sea by that which decides command, namely, battle between the main armed forces. I say "almost," because its limited powers have a real, but very limited field. No navy, however strong, can command all the surface of the sea always. Very inferior forces can make the near neighborhood of an enemy's port or harbor, or for that matter, narrow waters between hostile shores, dangerous for a surface fleet in any except abnormal circumstances. But into this area the submarine -- like the aeroplane -- can go at will, and, once there, it has occasional opportunities for getting information, it may have the chance of using its weapons against any armed ship that relies upon a false security; and it may lay a tiny mine-field. British submarines were in fact employed on the first two of these missions on many occasions in the late war. They went between Heligoland and the main German harbors; they got through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmora, and through the Cattegat into the Baltic. They sunk some transports; damaged some other enemy vessels; and got some information. But we possessed any number of submarines. They were manned by intrepid seamen and commanded with incomparable skill and amazing bravery. Their achievements of this nature were of singularly little war value. In the course of the submarine blockade, British submarines stole up to and torpedoed no less than twenty German submarines. It was in fact the greatest war achievement of our underwater force. The German U-boats were not so successful after the first few months -- but they did lay some mines.
It is the inherent weaknesses of the submarine, set out above, that are at the root of its uselessness. Any fast, well conned, well gunned scouting vessel can drive it below, and as the cost per ton of such vessels is less than one-third of the cost per ton of submarines, it is obvious that the expense which the maintenance of a submarine entails upon an opponent is strictly limited. But it is more obvious still that its value to those who hope to confine their enemies to their harbors must reach the vanishing point. Why, then, do the British and American naval authorities cling so tenaciously to their submarine forces ? The explanation seems to me to lie in certain phases of pre-war mentality and, as I have suggested, in a certain lack of moral courage.
If belief in the submarine is a delusion, it is the offspring of one that preceded it. Aube was, I believe, the first logical victim of torpedo mania. It was in the middle 'eighties that he enunciated his short cut to victory at sea. The swift torpedo boat operating in the dusk, attacking without warning, and sinking without remorse, was, he said, a weapon against British sea supply that simply could not be countered at all. And Great Britain, robbed of sea supply, would be brought to reason, even with all her invincible fighting sea forces intact. The weakness of Aube's theory was that he relied on the dark hours for the invisibility that was essential to success. His error was that the torpedo boat was unseaworthy; could attack, that is to say, only near its ports. Thus, escorts in the danger zone could protect merchantmen by day; and the open sea would normally mean complete safety at night. Tirpitz improved on Aube by having, as he thought, invisibility at command. His error was to ignore the truth that it was of value only when voluntary. If invisibility was forced upon the submarine -- it would be paid for by disabling blindness. An explanation common to both errors has been suggested. It is to be found in an hypnotism of the imagination induced by too vivid an appreciation of the effect when the torpedo hits. Just as after the Battle of Lissa naval minds were obsessed for a generation by the heresy that the ram was the capital ship's chief weapon, so after the invention of the Whitehead there came an obsession of the irresistibility of under-water attack. The difficulty in bringing about the result was ignored in contemplating the result itself. When Napoleon implored his marshals not to make "pictures," he was warning them against being governed by what their own knowledge of the situation showed them the enemy might do. But the counsel works both ways. The curious case of the British Navy, that was the first to develop the monster gun and the all-big-gun ship, is in point. The performance of the shells at the proof-butt inspired an awe that paralyzed clear thought, and the multiplication of the guns magnified the effect, should any enemy be rash enough to risk an encounter. So hitting was taken for granted, and the provision of means for making it overlooked. Again, the Dardanelles adventure miscarried from the auto intoxication that resulted from so vivid a realization of the overwhelming value of success that the means essential to success were never discovered by cold analysis.
And so it was with Aube in the 'eighties, and Tirpitz thirty years later. And so I venture to think it is with our naval leaders today. The long prescription of the torpedo and vivid memories of the submarine's terrific power are too strong. There are, of course, other objections to facing and telling truth, apart from the courage required for telling an ignorant public that its ignorance is dangerous. For about one in four or five naval officers that attain to authoritative rank are themselves torpedo-men, and do not come into the class of impartial and instructed opinion to which I have referred. But if the public could be ignored and these men excluded from counsel I can hardly doubt that the residual naval opinion would not only proclaim the submarine to be useless, but would be willing to abandon the torpedo altogether. There is not space here to dwell in detail on the singular inability of the torpedo to get material results in the recent war. That it got results, and those decisive, can never be denied. But these were not by hits that disabled material forces. The torpedo won at Jutland by what Napoleon called its "picture" -- and what I prefer to call its "bogey" -- in the imagination of our High Command. I must leave it to others to calculate the cost of submarines and of torpedo armaments to Great Britain and America. We are to remember that just as the air force is no defense against enemy air force, so too the torpedo armament saves us nothing of the defensive measures which the use of torpedoes by others impose.
In June, before this article is published, the Geneva conference of the three great naval Powers will be in session. Will either Great Britain or America lead off with a renunciation of the submarine? -- with a double renunciation of the submarine and the torpedo too? It needs the first only of these to ensure a sound principle for further discussions. Before the Preparatory Commission, Great Britain and the United States insisted that the limitations of naval effectives were dependent on every one acknowledging the principle that naval armament should be limited according to tonnage and by category. Great Britain modified this to include a limitation of numbers as well as one of tonnage -- but still according to category. The French held out for tonnage according to category, but not by numbers. It was left to the new European autocracy to propound the only sound principle, viz. that each country should arrange its total tonnage "to the best advantage of its national interest," regardless of categories -- but giving six months notice of the types of vessel it proposed to construct. Except on one theory it is inexplicable that Great Britain and America should have opposed the Italian suggestion. My theory is that the Navy Department and the Admiralty simply have not the courage to act as the balance of expert opinion dictates. Each is afraid of being the first to renounce the submarine and the torpedo -- possibly because behind the deciding voice there is still the clamor of conflicting opinion. Does it not look as if we were keeping up our submarines and torpedoes, not because we believe in them ourselves, but because we fear the criticism that if others retain them we may be foregoing some unknown advantage?
We have had ten years now in which to think things over. The facts of the war are there and the lesson of their analysis is unmistakable. For practical purposes the submarine has not rid itself of a single limitation, nor has the torpedo added to its real efficiency. That it has a larger head and greater range has, of course, added to the destructive power of the head, and to the range at which a hit may conceivably be made. But power and long running have been purchased at a cost. The probability of hitting, both at short range and at long, is manifestly lower than that of its predecessor. Meantime, it will be astonishing indeed if the means of countering the submarine have not multiplied and gained in force; if the means of detecting its presence have not improved; and if the weapons for destroying it, when located, have not advanced both in power and precision. Finally, the problem of defending capital ships below water -- one that was unsolved in 1914 -- is amply solved today. These Powers, then, that rely upon their battle fleets and therefore on their guns, have no excuse for retaining submarines at all, and would be well advised to balance the cost of torpedo armaments against the greater perfection which this expenditure can give them in the employment of what is unquestionably their main armament. If either Great Britain, or the United States renounce even the submarine only, the way will be clear for adopting the Italian suggestion. A total tonnage limit would give free play to the judgment that can discriminate between the value of one weapon and another. So far as naval armaments is concerned, it would not be long before the Great Powers would recognize that the torpedo was obsolescent; the submarine out of date; and the seaplane of so limited utility that expenditure would not be enlarged by any such useless absurdities as air-craft carriers of twice the cost of battleships.
It is, I believe, a mere question of courageous good sense. The hearts of all of us are in the right place; it is the heads that we have to mend. Who will have the pluck to bell the cat? If no one, then how is public opinion, the ultimate driving force, to be rightly guided? The correspondent of the London Times, summarizing the position at Geneva after the dispersal of the Preparatory Commission, says: "What the Governments do (with the material it has prepared) rests not merely with the Governments themselves. An experienced diplomat has reminded us during his recent stay here that Governments cannot move more quickly than their peoples."