THE year 1935 will be a critical period in world affairs. For one thing, the importance of the naval conference which is to be held far outweighs that of ordinary naval discussions; the decisions then made will affect not only the participants, but will have world repercussions. The fact is that we have arrived at the forks of the road. One way leads uphill. It is new, tedious and long. It requires patience to negotiate. The old road is direct, broad and well-lighted, but it passes through dangerous country, as the grisly monuments by the wayside bear witness. A choice will have to be made. Bluntly speaking, will the props of the political world structure be forged out of the substance which is called confidence or out of cold steel?
I. THE WASHINGTON CONFERENCE
In any consideration of the naval problems with which this country will have to deal in the near future we must turn back to the naval agreement signed at Washington in 1922 by the five chief naval Powers -- the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan and the United States. The Washington agreement remains in force until December 31, 1936, unless any party to it gives notice of intention to terminate it earlier; and, after notice is given, it takes two years before the agreement ends. Hence, unless notice is given by December 31, 1934, it will still be in effect up to the time when the London Treaty expires.[i] Under the terms of the London Treaty, the five great naval Powers signatory to both the agreements are bound to meet in 1935, unless the earlier agreement had meanwhile been superseded by a general agreement limiting naval armament to which they all were parties. At this meeting the Washington naval treaty will still furnish both directive and background.
So much attention has been given to the naval agreement reached in Washington that one is apt to forget that it constitutes only a part of the work of that Conference, and in some ways is not
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