Courtesy Reuters

Our Pacific Frontier

WHERE is the American frontier in the Pacific Ocean? What are our vital interests in this vast region? How adequately are we prepared to defend them? What is our present policy in regard to them? These questions are of peculiar urgency at a moment when warfare is lacerating both Europe and Asia. In a way these two wars are the same war, and it is our great good fortune that this continent stands apart, guarded by two oceans. But modern warfare can expand unpredictably, and there are times when fire jumps over water.

As these lines go to press, the full weight of the Nazis' furious "total war" has been unleashed against France and Britain in the West. For the moment we cannot foresee the outcome. Yet obviously the measure of German success already achieved makes it doubly imperative that we in America survey our national defense problem with stern, relentless realism. More than ever before it has become necessary for us clearly to determine just what our interests and commitments are -- in other words, to see where our frontiers really lie. In this article we shall take only the Pacific area for our immediate province, though of course Pacific problems are necessarily interlocked with others farther afield.

The Pacific is the greatest of the world's five oceans. It measures almost ten thousand miles from east to west at its broadest point, and about seven thousand from north to south. It has an area of roughly 68,000,000 square miles, or nearly one half of the total water surface of the globe. Along its northern rim, the Soviet Union and the United States are less than sixty miles apart. It is flanked by three British dominions -- Canada, Australia and New Zealand; by eleven American republics in addition to the United States; by the 4,072 volcanic islands that form the Japanese archipelago; and by China, the Philippine Islands and the Dutch East Indies. It is a tremendous repository of wealth and commerce, the

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