AS these lines are written Congress is considering a series of national defense bills which forecast the most dramatic changes in the American strategic picture since the Spanish-American War planted the Stars and Stripes in spots as wide-flung as Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Taken as a whole, these measures provide the greatest peacetime armaments program in American history. If the program is carried through substantially as planned it will go far toward putting our fighting services -- particularly the Navy and our separate air fleets -- on a permanent war footing. Nor can the tremendous strengthening of our national defense now proposed, and particularly the provision of new naval and air bases, be considered except as part of a revised and hardened foreign policy. To carry out that policy the United States will become one of the most strongly armed nations in the world and will cast its shadow across distant seas.
The total cost of the various projected measures of defense is unknown, and must long so remain. But even for just the fiscal year 1940 the total would be more than $1,500,000,000. The various bills which would provide this sum are separate and distinct, each with its own Congressional chaperon. They comprise not only the extraordinary legislation especially urged by the President to meet the present world crisis, but also the regular military and naval annual appropriation measures; and these latter in turn contain some extraordinary expenditures designed to meet special current needs. They are complex pieces of legislation, liable to considerable revision in detail before the Congressional debates are concluded. But it seems certain that their broad aims will be accepted and the bulk of the expenditures involved will be approved, with the possible exception of the Navy's proposal to establish an air base at Guam.
For the sake of simplicity, no attempt will be made here to deal with each piece of legislation separately. Rather, a broad picture will be painted of the principal aims which the President's
Loading, please wait...