Courtesy Reuters

Navies and Peace

A British View

THE statements recently made by President Hoover and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald prove that the malaise which has underlain Anglo-American relations since the break-down of the Geneva Naval Conference in 1927 has been dispelled. The suspicion which was then engendered has been replaced by the confidence that, whatever the practical difficulties may be, the two countries are agreed that their navies shall be equal and therefore non-competitive and that they genuinely desire to make the Paris Pact for the renunciation of war the basis of their international policy.

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss how "parity" should be applied to the differing geographical circumstances of the United States and the British Commonwealth of Nations, nor to explore what the "ratios" between the British and the American navies and the navies of Japan, France, Italy and Germany should be, nor to consider the nature of the "yardstick" which will enable the varieties of naval armaments to be clearly and justly compared with one another. All these problems are now under consideration by the governments concerned and the outcome will be disclosed in due time. Its purpose is rather to draw attention to certain underlying elements in the Anglo-American problem which will remain unaffected whether an agreement on "parity," "ratios" and "yardsticks" is reached or not, and which will, sooner or later, have to be faced before any sure basis of Anglo-American comity or world peace can come in sight.

I. THE FREEDOM OF THE SEAS

The only practicable basis for an agreement to limit and reduce armaments is the total renunciation of war as a method of settling disputes between the parties. Unless war is entirely ruled out, each side will maintain the armaments which it thinks will give it victory, or at least security, when war comes. That is commonsense, and also the verdict of history.

A naval agreement between the United States and the British Empire -- taken by themselves -- should be easy, because war is, in

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