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Chapter 17

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Sea Duty

by
Yates Stirling

published by
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York
1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 19
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p281  Chapter XVIII

Troubled Waters


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One of the aims of this long account of a life in our Navy has been graphically to portray the steady rise of a "run of the mine" individual, from a cadet at the Naval Academy up the ladder to the top, a rear admiral. Another aim has been to bring to the reader a mental picture of his or her Navy, extending over a half century of time, thus awakening and stimulating his or her mind, I hope, to consider more seriously than ever the part such an instrument of peace and war always has played, and in the future will continue to play, in maintaining the nation's prestige, its security, and the precious liberties of our people.

The many human interest stories, personal in nature, herein told, I trust will have woven themselves into the cloth of the less human but nevertheless most important history of the evolution of our modern war fleet from my earliest days to the present. At the same time I have hoped to arouse in the reader's mind a desire for further information about the Nation's "first line of defense" and the far‑reaching effect the relative strength of our sea power with others will have upon our political and commercial relations in the world.

Maybe I have elected myself to carry the torch, but I know that, as a rule, Navy men have their eyes and thoughts so firmly fixed upon their own problems that they fail to consider the ever-growing need to organize public opinion and support for their selfless purpose to give to the nation a weapon on the seas that  p282 will make our great country self-contained, powerful, and unafraid to hold secure to its heart its ideals and principles, and pass them down unsullied and intact to posterity.

I have written my memories, and it is but commonsense that my readers now will say: "After such a long and varied experience in the Navy, have you nothing concrete and definite to tell us of the present world conditions, for after all that is what we are most interested to know at the moment. Is it to be peace or war in Europe, and if it is a war, shall we be drawn into it? What of the high explosive conditions in the Pacific and in China; shall we become involved in that?"

The world situation seems so complicated and intricate that no one can be expected to understand it from all angles. All I can help to accomplish is to give my analysis from the limited direction I am best fitted to speak.

There is one point at the outset that I desire to make plain in the reader's mind. As we all know, we have not been, in any sense of the word, a military nation, nor are we today, even with our great war fleet. We have for years considered ourselves so isolated on these well stocked continents of America, that we have taken little thought for preparation against war. Unlike the peoples of Europe, we have not been figuring our security and prosperity in terms of armies and navies, of offensive and defensive strategy, of buffer states, of outlets to the sea, of racial minorities, or of any of the things so vital to those across the Atlantic. But the world has changed. Factors and forces have appeared on the world's stage that will compel us to change our habitual thought processes. Great military nations, banded together, are aiming to seize by force their share of the world's material resources from those nations they consider have an overabundance. We cannot hope that the continents of America will be overlooked. We must therefore look to our weapons of defense.

It is probably quite gratuitous on my part to emphasize the commanding importance to any nation of sea power. Admiral Alfred Mahan most convincingly proved its importance in his great book, The Influence of Sea Power on History. In all wars, even from time of the ancients, sea power has exerted the commanding influence. There is a reason for this.

The sea areas are three times greater than the land areas and everywhere surround them. We are finding that sea power today is an empty boast unless it includes also command of the air.  p283 But air power will always be the handmaiden of both land power and sea power. The world's airplanes are dependent upon the control of the land and the sea over which they will operate. An airplane is but an arrow shot up into the air and when spent must return to land or sea. There is an "Empire of the Sea," a high stake to be won for world domination.

In our memory the United States has never been so deeply moved over its security on this turbulent globe as it is today. Our concern, in some measure, is because few of us understand, from day to day, the actual objectives of the militant forces that have appeared in the world.

We have seen Great Britain and France bow their proud heads to the German menace at Munich, allowing Czechoslovakia to be dismembered and then forcibly annexed by Hitler. It is the belief of Anthony Eden that the concessions by the democracies at Munich will cause British and French influence throughout Central and Southeastern Europe to be replaced by that of Germany. This will bring unstable conditions, fraught with great danger to peace.

Do not lose sight of the fact that the democracies, even with a superior sea power in all types of warships, surrendered to the dictators at Munich. Why? Because of the fear of their superior air power.

The democracies were convinced by the attitude of the dictators that, unless they came to terms suitable to the warmakers, London and Paris would be destroyed by air attack. Is there anything dearer to the heart of an Englishman than London, or to the heart of a Frenchman than Paris?

Germany, with ten thousand war airplanes, seemed to be standing ready, the moment Munich failed to grant Hitler's demands, to rain ruin from the air upon the two greatest capitals of Europe. Even the eventual destruction of Berlin and Rome by the democracies could not bring back to life a dead London or Paris.

This threat of force was master at Munich. And as the peace-loving nations have been intimidated by that threat, greater and still greater demands will be made by the dictators. The new demand is for the return of the German colonies, and also for the giving over by the democracies of lands wealthy in materials for the expansion of the industries of the dictators, and to give  p284 outside markets for their surplus production. Such concessions, if granted, would increase their warmaking ability, and consequently bring greater demands.

These are vital questions that must be settled. Will that settlement take the road of Munich, or will the democracies be forced into a war to prevent their empires from being drawn and quartered? The threat of destruction, from the air, of London and Paris is the sword of Damocles over the heads of Great Britain and France.

Turning our eyes across the Pacific, we see a vast continent and many islands with a population of nearly a billion Asiatics. The fertile regions of Siberia some day may teem with a white population of millions of Russians. Will they be friends or foes?

Asia is being modernized and controlled by an aggressive military and naval Asiatic power, Japan.

The reactions set up in America by these changing conditions in the Orient should counsel us, at least, to be prepared to repel encroachments from across the Pacific. What is needed today is a modernized America. An America strong on land, sea, and in the air. If we now fail to arm ourselves, then the Pacific Ocean, even to our shores, may be, eventually, dominated by the Asiatic races. It has been said that Asiatic exclusion must always be predicated on battleships.

Someone has drawn an imaginary line in mid‑Pacific, calling this line our defensive frontier. No such imaginary line is reasonable. The control of the Pacific cannot be so simply divided. Power in all of the Pacific is likely some day to belong to only one nation. If numbers only will decide, then Asia will be the dominant power. But shall mere numbers decide? Japan with 80 million has overpowered China with 400 million.

This conquest has been accomplished by organization and the mechanization of Japanese armies, and because of the superior strength of Japan's great war fleet and air force. Japan has seen the need of modernization, while America and China have not.

General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Robert Lee Bullard tells us that our army equipment is of the horse and buggy era. We know that our air forces are pitifully small, and that our Navy is a mere defensive weapon in the Eastern Pacific. A Pacific enemy may not today be capable of breaching our sea defenses, but it must be recognized that a defensive attitude on our part implies a weakness. In the event  p285 of war our Navy will not have the power to strike at the enemy's center of power — his home territory. Lacking bases in the Far East, our fleet will be chained to a passive defensive at Hawaii, our farthest western outpost; and we then surrender all the initiative to a possible enemy and lose our influence in the western Pacific.

I would like to clear up one point. It seems to be assumed that a naval base in the Philippines would be for the security of those islands only. That is not true. A base there would be for the protection of the United States. Our Pacific frontiers are in the Philippines.

We have briefly considered the situation across both oceans; one 3000 miles wide and the other about double that width. Why then are we so concerned? It is because, measured by the clock, our amazing world has shrunk; the natural result of cable, radio, fast ships, railroads, motor roads, and airplanes. These widths of oceans no longer give us assured immunity from direct assault.

The principle of collective security has failed. Today it is every nation for itself and the devil take the hindmost. Is this land of ours in danger? Provided we awake and buckle on our armor, the answer is probably No. The seas, in spite of their narrowing width, yet protect us. What developments there may be in air power in the next few years is anyone's guess. It will be large. The wings of Europe and Asia caution us to be prepared in the air to defend our land. The law of the jungle — the survival of the fittest — is in the saddle. We must prove we are fit to survive.

Many are certain that there exists in our country a peace power, that, considering the end justifies the means employed, has been assiduously at work to keep America disarmed. The small voice of logic has been silenced, and emotion has taken its place.

We all realize that men's emotions and hereditary sentiments are the breeding places of contentions and strifes within the nation. In the fertile soil of our thoughts, the seeds of intolerance are thus sown which in the end will curtail all our liberties.

It is only in the laboratory that the naked truth is honored, for in the "Chambers of Eloquence" self-hypnotic beliefs will ever defeat empirical formula and knowledge.

While attributing our success as a nation to our intellect and our industry, we must not lose sight of the truth that the nation's  p286 evolution, nevertheless, has been controlled by the immutable laws of the Universe. The sands of the desert are yielding up the sites of great cities and empires long forgotten. Our minds today seem pathetically closed to the mutterings of history, graphically recounting the tragic evidence of nations that have perished. If we remain indifferent to the workings of natural laws, we too shall depart, taking with us into oblivion our vanities, our monuments, and our gods.

Living in an armed world, we are criminally unprepared to defend ourselves against war‑mad nations coveting our wealth. Our place in the world can be held only by facing realities and making the nation physically strong. A nation's defeat in war, because of sheer stupidity in not preparing for the inevitable, is as carnal as cowardice on the field of battle.

The United States is a vast granary and treasure land of materials desired most earnestly by the nations of the world. Nature has plentifully supplied our land with potential wealth, while the genius of our people developed it into the greatest industrial and agricultural country of the world.

In more prosperous times the yearly income of our people well may reach 100 billions of dollars. To a large extent our enormous production is bought and used by our own producers. The import of extra raw materials, needed in our factories and for the welfare of our people, in one prosperous year, came to a total value of 2¼ billions of dollars.

Agriculture, animal industry, mining of metals and other minerals have given us almost self-sufficiency. We have little need to fear being seriously injured by a blockade of our coasts or a boycott of our production. The nation very nearly is capable of being considered self-contained, at least on the American continents, should such a condition of isolation be the will of our people.

The nation's character, however, could not long be satisfied in isolation. As a nation, we are fundamentally commercial. The genius of a people that spread, through struggle, over our vast territory, and sends its sons overseas and into every foreign land to exchange our wealth for that of other nations, cannot be coerced or restricted in its efforts to achieve success. Our people for generations have rubbed elbows with all the peoples of this globe and will continue to do so, despite the pacifists and those who advise a stay-at‑home policy.

 p287  China furnishes us an example of another but less fortunate nation whose people have gone out into the world to carve their fortunes. With their industry, thrift, and bargaining ability, these Asiatic wanderers have prospered in many lands outside of their own country. The soil of China has been endowed by nature with all the potential wealth of materials required to make that country a great agricultural and industrial land. But the inefficacy of the Chinese government, together with a traditional resistance of the people against changes, has prevented China from succeeding in any marked development of its potentialities to acquire great wealth.

China has a large number of men under arms, but they have been unpatriotic, led by selfish generals, who, in the past, have merely lived upon the people's bounty and have in no way added to China's prestige among the nations. China never has had a navy or air force competent to guard its soil from invasion.

The result is as we see it today: A nation of 400 millions, with great potential wealth in its soil, overrun and subjugated by a nation, Japan, of less than one‑fourth the population of China.

The United States, besides guarding its home country of over three million square miles, with a material wealth estimated at nearly 400 billions of dollars, the greater part yet underground, and with a population of 130 millions, has additional responsibilities — in Alaska, in the Philippine Islands and Guam in the Far East, in Pago-Pago, Samoa, in the South Seas, in the Panama Canal, and the islands of the West Indies. All these possessions are ours only so long as we can continue to hold them by the power of our Navy and air force.

Besides, our Monroe Doctrine makes us technically responsible for the continued stability of the Central and South American Republics against attempts by outside nations to set up phantom or real governments in those countries, that would threaten the safety and prosperity of the American continents.

Who are likely to be our enemies? Against whom must we prepare? Why is the nation now asking for a greater fleet and air force? These are all vital questions that are being asked.

A comprehensive answer might be that we are not preparing against any nation in particular but against all aggressive nations in general. The nation needs a navy and air force to give us security in our homeland, in our distant territorial possessions, and to safeguard the inviolability of the Monroe Doctrine. The nation  p288 must have a navy and air force adequate to discourage any attempt by any nation to threaten the security of the United States in any of its important responsibilities. We need not name any nation. Let their actions speak for them.

Naturally, when we speak of adequacy of naval power, then that word requires definition. A yardstick must be employed to measure the power of our Navy and air force relative to any possible enemy.

The Washington Treaty provided a ratio of five-five-three with Great Britain and Japan. The five-three ratio with Japan has demonstrated that, with it, Japan has become the supreme naval power in the Orient, and that the United States has lost the power to be secure in its responsibilities in the western Pacific. Alaska and the Philippines will not remain secure to us if Japan continues to use aggressively its naval and air might in the Far East. But for this country there was a "catch" in those ratios. We gave up our right to a naval base in the Western Pacific.

The five-three ratio of Great Britain and the United States with Japan would have given each of the former nations, provided they continued to maintain adequate naval bases in that area, sufficient naval strength to offer them security and prestige in the Orient. Great Britain stipulated that Singapore should be her fleet base but the United States, trustingly, relinquished her right to keep its base in the Philippines, and thus lost for its fleet all mobility in Oriental seas.

Our national police and our diplomacy are, and we hope ever will remain, defensive, but we cannot remain safe in a strategically defensive policy that denies us the mobility with our Fleet to carry on a war in any region where the fundamental strategy of a war might lead us. If we should become involved in a war with Japan, the strategy of such a war would demand that our Navy and air fleets fight in all parts of the western Pacific, and not only behind a defensive imaginary frontier in the eastern Pacific. Only the construction and fortification of a naval base in the Far East can give to us the security we have lost.

Our Fleet, without mobility, in a war that would take it to the Far East, would be under a terrible handicap. Defeat on the seas would bring defeat everywhere. We would then lose Alaska, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, in fact all of our possessions reached only by sea; and even our coast would be open to attack from the sea.

 p289  Casting our eyes again eastward, across the Atlantic, then any conflict with a power beyond that ocean would have to be staged on this side of the ocean. In Europe and Asia, this nation has nothing to guard as it has in the Far East. Our diplomacy and our naval strategy then would both be defensive. That situation is far less complicated for us.

When speaking of a fleet for each of our coasts, we are visualizing the Panama Canal being blocked by hostile action. A concentration of our Fleet on either coast in war, as matters stand today, would leave the other coast dangerously open to attack by sea or air.

It seems reasonable to say that no nation can afford to support a fleet large and sufficiently powerful to fight successfully the combined fleets of several powers. Nations usually gird themselves against such a contingency by acquiring allies. Without allies, we must content ourselves with a navy and air force strong enough to discourage nations from attacking us. Our objective is a navy and air force capable of fighting, not only on its own coast, but in any area where its vital interests may be.

If we maintain ourselves strong on the seas and in the air, all nations, even the most aggressive, will render us due prestige and attention and will think twice before antagonizing us.

The naval power for which we ask will give our commerce added security on the seas, and a great air force will offer a much desired security against the barbarous forces of destruction that have been so recently practiced in Spain.

The nation today is vulnerable on both coasts. Even in the Atlantic, hostile nations readily can bomb our great cities by using islands such as the Azores, Bermuda, and the West Indies as air bases from which to launch their attacks. The outlook for us is black indeed.

Let every citizen of these United States view most seriously what is happening to China; then, unless reality and logic have no appeal, we can feel sure that he will cast, without a moment's hesitation, his vote for adequate naval and air preparedness for the country.

I believe the most important problem confronting us today is a clear understanding of our situation in the Pacific. That ocean has become the meeting place of two great civilizations, both commercial, long separated and different. In the years ahead  p290 both must be resigned to a measure of assimilation, if history is a guide, or else fight a devastating war until one gains the supremacy.

In the Far East the United States must accept the full responsibility that goes with colonial ownership or else drop out of the race for world markets. The United States seems to be gradually withdrawing its sovereignty over lands won by the sword. Is the reason for this the fear of being drawn into war to maintain our rights? Are we becoming a timid, spineless nation? Are we losing that quality of boldness and business push that brings leadership to a nation? We have much to give to the world, but in international exchange of goods as well as in national business, the battle is ever to the strong of heart. Successful competition belongs to the nation that is willing to accept risks and, as a last resort, is willing to use force to assert its just rights.

Civilization is said to have had its cradle in ancient Greece and Rome, although earlier civilizations flourished for a time and became extinct. There were developed the arts and sciences: literature, painting, sculpture, political science, invention — in fact, all the things so precious and indispensable to a full life. The benefits of these accomplishments spread both to the west and to the east. The barbarians of Europe absorbed these factors, and later they crossed the Atlantic to the Americas.

In its eastern course this civilization, with the slow but continuous advance of a stream of volcanic lava, swept over India, China, and Japan, fusing with the economic and cultural civilizations already there. These two great tides from the same starting point are not of the same texture nor of the same activity. The wave that traveled westward underwent modifications inherently different from the wave that traveled eastward. One is a white civilization, with all the arrogance and dominance of the white races that have embraced it. The other wave has had impressed upon it the subtle, slow but sure, tempo of the brown and yellow races. These two waves, together with all the modern improvements superimposed upon them, are now meeting in almost a head‑on collision in the arena of the western Pacific.

Frequently it is said that the Occident does not understand the Orient, and Kipling has phrased that thought in verse: "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet." They have met but yet in spirit are miles apart. Peace in the Pacific  p291 depends upon the discovery of methods to a mutual understanding and adjustment.

The Japanese are born imitators and are making every effort to assimilate the best of foreign ideas and customs; nothing is too small for them to overlook in occidental achievements. Japan's structure today is an occidental building on an oriental foundation.

The Chinese, basically, are not imitators. The Chinese are always Chinese. As a race they have little inherent urge to be different from what they were thousands of years ago. They have retained the Confucian code of morals, their Taoist philosophy, and their Buddhistic religion that have kept this wonderful people on the map as a nation for over four thousand years. They have managed to assimilate any race with which they have come in intimate contact. Even the Jews on the banks of the Yellow River centuries ago were absorbed. China traditionally abhors militarism. The military despots of China now have united with the Chinese red armies against the invading Japanese. Japan may win a military victory, but, in the end, China will still be China. The principal Chinese characteristic is patience: "You can't hurry the East."

Many natural elements for security in the Pacific are ours. We own the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Wake and Midway Islands, stepping stones to the orient. The Philippines are our commercial spearhead into China. Hawaii is our Gibraltar protecting our continent. The Alaskan peninsula and islands, very near the great circle route from Seattle to Japan and China, have most excellent natural harbors for warships and merchant ships and many available air fields, all as yet undeveloped, to our shame. The mineral wealth of Alaska has possibilities quite beyond our needs of the moment. It is a valuable storehouse for the future. Alaska is well worth guarding.

The frequently disturbed waters of the Pacific again are being agitated by Japan because of our long-delayed plan to fortify Guam and provide there a submarine and air base.

Guam, as an isolated naval and air base, in my opinion, would be only a blow in the air; unless at the same time we construct a fleet base in the Philippines.

If we are still unwilling to give our fleet mobility in oriental waters by building a base in the Philippines, then the base at  p292 Guam, surrounded as it is by prepared naval and air positions in the Japanese mandated islands, will not increase in any way our security in the Far East. The Philippines still will lie undefended under the guns of the Japanese navy.

Many believe today that the control of the Pacific Ocean slowly is passing from surface warships to air forces and submarines. The giant airplanes of today and tomorrow, utilizing frequent and numerous air bases in that ocean, will exert the greatest influence upon sea power in the Pacific. These great airplanes should be naval planes and flown and navigated by aviators from the Navy.

Periodically there is urged the organization of an Unit Air Force to be neither Army nor Navy. It is a theme that is liable to deceive the unwary. Speaking only of the Navy, I think, it wants none of it. The American Navy needs seamen who can fly. Not landlubbers with wings. Ability to fly is but the A B C of a naval aviator's education. He must be a naval man, and that goal can be reached only by going to sea in warships of all types.

If the war fleet is to have the support of our island-based airplanes, then an aviator, flying one of these planes, would be a menace if he did not thoroughly understand the naval plan. If he cannot grasp the essentials of the naval mission, then through ignorance he might torpedo or bomb his own ships, use up needlessly his weapons of offense, or, through lack of naval understanding, run out of fuel before the crucial moment of the naval battle has been reached. The Navy does not fear the bombs of its foes but would not enjoy being bombed by one of its own landlubber pilots.

Of course our most vital interest in the Pacific is trade, and trade with China specifically. Japan will be our strongest competitor and will do her utmost to shut the door in our face.

The entire world, due to the depression, is buying less, but we are also finding that we are being edged out of foreign markets by cheaper goods. Our salvation lies within ourselves. A long siege of relief, PWA, and WPA will not stimulate our people to efficient production, and it is only through conscientious work that we can hope to compete with other nations.

The nation or nations holding the "Empire of the Sea" can command the whole world. The Royal Navy maintained for centuries the vital lines of communication that made the empire one. The security of these lines was attacked in the World War by  p293 the submarine, and now air power is a threat even more dangerous. Great Britain has lost control of her lines of communication through the Mediterranean and Suez and in the Far East. Splicing these lines, when severed, by the old recourse of building more and greater warships of the surface of the sea is no longer applicable. The submarine and the airplane have altered age‑old doctrines for retaining the command of the sea.

Still another threat comes to worry Great Britain in the annexation by the Reich of Austria, the territory of Czechoslovakia, and now the economic dominance of Hungary and Rumania. Germany, now unhindered, can advance her political, military, and air power through middle Europe toward the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf, thereby virtually outflanking British sea power in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

We all know that oil of the petroleum is a vital factor in both peace and war. Consider the oil fields of Rumania, Iraq, and Persia on the course of Germany's march to the eastward. Their possession by Germany will add to the power of the dictators by furnishing air bases from which to strike down Britain's might on the seas. Armies are dependent upon lines of communication to bases of supply. Airplanes like warships are dependent upon bases only.

By this narrowing down of British sea control, the dictators gradually are breaking the hold of the democracies on the Empire of the Sea. When that empire is lost, democracy will cease to be a potent factor in world affairs.

With all our honest protestations of neutrality, yet we are a democracy. Anything that affects other democracies adversely must cause us to feel concern about our own security.

It has been claimed that the Russian Soviet considered that its continued existence was contingent upon converting the rest of the world to communism. It seems today that continued peace in the world depends upon converting all nations to democracy. History in all ages tells us that the rule of a dictator is the road to war. The people have no choice but to obey. They hypnotized and blindly led by the superb eloquence of one selfish, emotional individual.

We are neutral today, but if war should come, new and possibly unsuspected pools of strength may develop in the democracies from the flow of mutual interests, even though there may be no definite understanding at present. The uncertainty of the  p294 part this nation might play has been a powerful factor in holding back the dictatorial advance. If that uncertainty will preserve world peace, let us continue to keep the dictators in doubt as to our ultimate intentions. And, while preparing the nation's physical strength to cope with aggressors in both oceans, continue to obey George Washington's mandate: No entangling alliances.

The invasion of Albania by Italy re‑opens the grave situation in the Mediterranean. Events in that sea today bear a striking similarity to what they were in the time of the great Admiral Nelson. Then it was Napoleon and France, instead of Mussolini and Italy, that dared to dispute the sea power of Great Britain.

Nelson brought command of the sea to England whenever and wherever it was needed. He held no illusion that he could command the seas everywhere at once; but was determined that his walls of oak, the mighty ships of the line, should be capable of gaining command, wherever it became important to do so, to stop a move by his enemy that might be inimical to the interest of the British Empire. Nelson's art was to enter an area with a superior fighting fleet and defeat the enemy there. Napoleon's great complaint was that Britain's warships were ever in the way.

Today the situation in the Mediterranean has become intolerable to British sea power. Italian sea power and land-based air power have made that sea an Italian lake. Italy virtually commands it from Gibraltar to Suez. Gibraltar has been neutralized by the guns of Ceuta in Spanish Morocco. The Balearic Islands in the hands of Mussolini will offset France's Algiers. Italy's Sardinia, Sicily, Pantelleria, Tripoli, Bengazi, Italy itself, and now Albania and the Island of Corfu, overshadow British Malta, Cyprus, Alexandria, and Haifa, and France's Bizerte. Mussolini will not stop in his race for more strategical locations, unless Britain shows him that any more seizures mean war.

Mussolini appears to believe that he needs Greece and the Island of Crete. Italy already had the Dodecanese Islands. His desire is to close not only the Adriatic but also the Aegean, the entrance to the Dardanelles. Mussolini is counting largely on air power to bring victory. Every position seized gives him a wider base from which to attack.

Britain must have free use of the Mediterranean, else her empire will dissolve. There will come a time when Britain must send a formidable fleet to Singapore to regain her sea power in that area. The Cape of Good Hope route is not an answer to  p295 Italian control of the Mediterranean. It must be evident to Mussolini that he is playing a dangerous game when he deliberately occupies positions in the Mediterranean that will cause Great Britain's sea power to be entirely shut out of that sea, and prevent the use of the Suez Canal by British ships in time of war. The Suez is even more vital to Britain than the Panama Canal to this country.

Great Britain is building a great surface fleet and also all the fringes that go with it, including air power. If Italy is determined to stand in Britain's way and cut her off from the better part of her empire, then Great Britain can do no other than go to war with Italy and brush her out of the way. There is no other alternative for Britain, as much as she desires peace.

In the Mediterranean, Italy has few battleships, none too many cruisers, a fairly large number of destroyers and other torpedo carrying vessels; but what Mussolini appears to count on most, outside of his numerous airplanes, is his large flotilla of submarines. This would be most effective against a great surface fleet and also against Britain's merchant shipping through the Suez.

Great Britain, it must never be forgotten, has won her place in the world as a great sea power by taking risks with her navy. Nelson's motto is England's doctrine: "No captain can go far wrong if he lays his ship alongside of an enemy." Great Britain must soon dare Mussolini in the Mediterranean, and that dictator must realize that Great Britain cannot remain passive. The closed sea must be regained for Britain's sea power, either by arrangement with the dictator, which means a treaty of alliance, else by a complete and final defeat of Italian sea power in that sea.

The French and Italian fleets are about equal. Great Britain has a three to one lead at present over the German navy. There can be no doubt of the outcome, in the event of war.

Mussolini must see that his seizure of Albania is but another twist of the lion's tail. If Mussolini persists and takes Corfu, Greece, as far as Salonika, and Crete in turn, he will only be hastening the final day of reckoning with Britain's sea power. Even with all his boasting, Mussolini is no fool, and knows that he dare not fight Britain on the seas until the German navy contemplated by Hitler is in the water and ready.

There is one rather fantastic thought that Mussolini may wish to place himself in a bargaining position to arrive at a favorable alliance with Britain and break the Rome-Berlin axis. Italy has  p296 more in common with England and France than with Germany. Mussolini is said to be tired of his alliance with Hitler, for he knows that Germany will take everything and give nothing in return. It is further said to be known that Mussolini does not trust his partner, Hitler, and even dislikes him for his slurring remarks about himself and Italian bravery. Brenner Pass is the gateway to Italy, and today Hitler is there.

Albania, Greece, and Turkey, all territories coveted by Mussolini, flank a German advance eastward. Would Mussolini's objective in taking these countries be to help Hitler in his march across the Balkans to the Ukraine or to the Persian Gulf, or would it be more likely that, by bringing the conquered territories within the fascist orbit, he counts upon holding back Hitler, thereby giving Great Britain greater assurance that Italy is a worth-while ally?


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