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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

Launched the policy of a big navy


Finally

in considering sea power we should note the importance of coordinating naval policies with national. The character of a navy and the size of a navy depend on what policy a nation expects to stand for. It is the business of a navy to stand behind a nation's will. For Great Britain, circumstances of position have long made her policy consistent, without regard to change of party. She had to dominate the sea to insure the safety of the empire. With the United States, the situation has been different. The nation has not been conscious of any foreign policy, with the single exception of the Monroe Doctrine. And even this has changed in character since it was first enunciated.

At the present day, for example, how far does the United States purpose to go in the Monroe Doctrine? Shall we attempt to police the smaller South and Central American nations? Shall we make the Caribbean an area under our naval control? What is to be our policy toward Mexico? How far are we willing to go to sustain the Open Door policy in the Far East? Are we determined to resist the immigration of Asiatics? Are we bound to hold against conquest our outlying possessions,--the Philippines, Guam, Hawaiian Islands, and Alaska? Shall we play a "lone hand" among nations, or join an international league? Until there is some answer to these questions of foreign policy, our naval program is based on nothing definite. In short, the naval policy of a nation should spring from its national

policy.

On that national policy must be based not only the types of ships built and their numbers, but also the number and locale of the naval bases and the entire strategic plan. In the past there has been too little mutual understanding between the American navy and the American people. The navy--the Service, as it is appropriately called--is the trained servant of the republic. It is only fair to ask that the republic make clear what it expects that servant to do. But before a national policy is accepted, it must be thought out to its logical conclusion by both the popular leaders and naval advisers. As Mahan has said, "the naval officer must be a statesman as well as a seaman." Is the policy accepted going to conflict with that of another nation; if so, are we prepared to accept the consequences?

The recent history of Germany is a striking example of the effect of a naval policy on international relations. The closing decade of the 19th century found Great Britain still following the policy of "splendid isolation," with France and Russia her traditional enemies. Her relations with Germany were friendly, as they always had been. At the close of the century, the Kaiser, inspired by Mahan's "_Influence of Sea Power on History,_" launched the policy of a big navy. First, he argued, German commerce was growing with astonishing rapidity. It was necessary, according to Mahan, to have a strong navy to protect a great carrying trade. This von Tirpitz[1] emphasizes, though he never makes clear just what precise danger threatened the German trading fleets, provided Germany maintained a policy of friendly relations with England. Secondly, Germany found herself with no outlet for expansion. The best colonial fields had already been appropriated by other countries, chiefly England. To back up German claims to new territory or trading concessions, it was necessary to have a strong navy. All this was strictly by the book, and it is characteristic of the German mind that it faithfully followed the text. "_Unsere Zukunft_," cried the Kaiser, "_liegt auf dem Wasser!_" But what was implied in this proposal? A great navy increasing rapidly to the point of rivaling that of England could be regarded by that country only as a pistol leveled at her head. England would be at the mercy of any power that could defeat her navy. And this policy coupled with the demand for "a place in the sun," threatened the rich colonies that lay under the British flag. It could not be taken otherwise.


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