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SEA SUPREMACY., Issue 15629, 21 October 1914
ro THE EDITOR.. Sir, —That sea supremacy is for Great Britain a life and death question should require no refutation. The British public need but little persuasion to convince themselves of the good reason and soundness of such a view. It may be incidentally remarked that England and Germany are the two greatest sea Powers, and in considering the ratio of strength of both nations’ fleet® Great Britain has three to Germany’s two. Unfortunately, there exists a set of men, unimportant as to number, who represent in Britishers’ politics a minority, an influence rather than a power, expressing sentiments of great folly as to the justification of our building warships. Such commonplaces as colossal expenditure on the so-called means of self-defence, and similar meandering* which tickle the ours of the groundling, are their jialtry stock-in-trade in discussing an Empire necessity. They do not seem to grasp that as Britishers we, in conjunction with all citizens within the British Empire, should prudently hold identical views upon the practical ways and means of making our supremacy at sea a living thing, however radically our opinions may differ upon other political questions. Supremacy at sea must be regarded by ail of us as the axiom of our naval political creed, so to speak. To protect our trade interests, our food supply, our foreign possessions, to maintain our prestige, and to render our diplomacy effective, a strong Navy, kept up to the highest standard of efficiency ana equioment, is a necessity. Defeat at sea would end the British Empire as it in reality exists to-day, and to seek, by ail means to prevent that catastrophe is the absolute necessity to which everything else in colonial or British policy must bo subordinated. „ - Philip Snowden and Ramsay Mac Donald, replying to those thought®, and arguing from a fallacious point of view, will find, if they frankly admit it, that even the rank and file, who have but little thirst tor sensation, Chauvinism, or uproarious agitation, have the common sense not to be led astray by the_ wicked suspicion that our Foreign Minister [bir itawavd Grey) has a'pecuniary interest in a European war entailing the bloody slaughter of so manv of his brave countrymen. The present Prime Minister of England has not escaped the aspersions of the paltry-minded lilliputians m their endeavor to throw dust in the eyes of our great nublic at this critical period of our histoiy. One ha® only to read a recent pamphlet to gauge the downright slanders on the probity and patriotism of one of the first men in “Great Britain to-day. This is a sample of what the British workers have been treated to with the object of creating a cruel suspicion on the heads of men entrusted with the great responsibilities of ensuring _ our safety as a race : “ The ®care of 1909 is proved to have been absolutely unjustified, and it is now recognised that it was engineered by the Armament® Ring solely in its own mteiests The Government was used as a tool to enhance the profits of the Liberal monopolists. This rear the Government are asking for an increase of naval expcndilure greater than that sanctioned by l-3r liament in 1909. They are asking for an additional sum of £5,500,000 And again there is evidence, as Mr Pliilip Snowden pointed out, that the Armament Ring is responsible.” , , , , The deep uneasiness such statements cause among the few who do not understand Germany’® policy has a tendency to undermine that virtue of our race British patriotism—a virtue, indeed, because toitified by the highest attributes of human nature. If, therefore, recent years have produced an activity in the British Admiralty policy, the situation has demanded it, and any man who shuts his eyes to facts, and endeavor® to create a national prejudice against those who shoulder the responsibility of administration in that department of serious" public service, is neither a friend to his race nor to humanity. The Bight Hon. A. J. Balfour tells us: “There are two ways in which a hostile nation can be crushed—-it can be conquered or it can be starved. If bormany were masters in our home waters she could apply both methods to Britain. Without a superior fleet Britain would no longer count as a Power.” Air Snowden and his .anti-war party certainly did not believe that the German people wished to make an attack on their English cousins, or that the Government intended war. Ihis fact is home out by Mr Mac Donald, who writes: “ If we pursue our way trying to keep our heads cool and our hearts generous, and endeavoring to steady public opinion with common sense, an Anglo-German undei- | standing should come speedily, ana the nightmare of armed strile pass away. Ihe events of the present moment must come as a very rude shock to this international prophot, who so inaccurately’ sensed thereat conditions. Equally on a par with lus prognostications is another bit of his wondeiful hypothesis. ” To think of a war with Germany, either in connection with its immediate events or its after effects, is too horrible. It would be civilisation committing suicide.” Writers and speakers of this school, through their lack of intimate knowledge of the vast Empire that ha® to be defended, make their arguments fundamentally unreasonable. It must bc obvious that the increasing sea power in North European waters, for which Germany’s naval rivalry is responsible, weakens the position of Great Britain in other quarters of the globe, and requires, of course, greater sacrifice® from us than are demanded from anv other nation. Nevertheless, look what we have to defend, and let us contemplate the security we enjoy for those sacrifices. A distinguished German (Dr Walter Rathenan) pays us the following tribute: “ English foreign policy i® the strongest, the wieefit, and most successful wo know. That the English form a correct estimate of the consequences of their principles one must regard as certain. We must, therefore, if we are to count upon the love of peace of the English people, retain the hope that not the unchaining of war is their intention, but a trial of strength, which, like a good sporting bout, will end in a good hand-shake.” Mr Ramsay MacDonald’s opposition to Britain s supremacy at sea is expressed in words : Large armaments arc no security tor peace if the rivals arc on anything like terms of equality as regards resources and pride.” It is because we must prevent Germany’s naval equality that we desire the heariv co-operation of men of British blood" in the maintenance of a fleet that will keen Germany in her rightful place, and pave that security to the peace of the world which i® sorely needed. _ What is required is organised wisdom, instead of nursing prejudice, appealing to the illinformed. “ United we stand Imperially, divided we fall.” Utopians, visionaries, or peace enthusiasts are mere figments, and to the virtues of British valor, selfsacrifice, and practical patriotism must we look for the best contribution to international peace. Germany’s claim for naval equality wit-h Britain is a presumptuous ambition not warranted, and the claim for our supremacy can be shown as a duty we owe to every part of our Empire. There is plenty of room ” in the sun ” tor both Germany and ourselves (says Ramsay Mac Donald). Germany has already been given a place “in the sun, and through her own fault has lost it. Let us look closely into Germany s claim of naval equality, as against our claim for supremacy.' Let us analyse each nation’s obligations to its own people and interests, and we can see that Germany ® aggressive and l uncalled-for naval policy unduly saddled us with building anna ments, and the strength of her own navy was a superfluous luxury, like her war machine. The British Colonial Empire alone (excluding Great Britain) comprises one-fifth of the globe, and has a surface of 12J. million miles, a population of. 351 millions, imports worth £419,000,000, and exports worth £481,000,000. The German colonial Empire comprised before thiav/ar 1,000,000 square mile®, with a popui.iti< n of 10.8 millions, imports of the value of £6,450,000, and exports to that of £-5,050,000. England possesses the best
and most extensive districts for colonisation in the world, the richest tropical lands, a colonial Empire which for centuries to come offers a basis for British economic expansion. At the present time there are 12,000,000 white and 340,000,000 colored persons living in English colonies; whereas German colonies have a white population of 21,600, of whom 13,900 fall to the share of South-west Africa. The number of settlers in German East Africa is 100.000. The entire foreign trade of Germany with her colonial possessions is only £7,650,000; whereas England’s trade with her colonic® amounts in round figures to £358,000,000. Germany’s foreign investments amount to £1,500,000,000, whilst England’s investments abroad are £3,000,000,000. The population of the German Empire, including the population of Germany, stands, in round figures, well below 70,000,000. The population of the British Empire, including the population of Great Britain, stands at 400,000,000 or thereabouts. It can be seen in these items alone that Great Britain’s plea for supremacy according to her responsibility is more valid than Germany's plea of equality in sea power with Britain. Germany’s foreign trade amounted last year below £500,000,000. England’s foreign trade totalled £1,050,000,000. Germany’s maritime traffic amounted to 2.9 million tons, England's 11.5 million tons; England’s advantage therefore remains extraordinary.
One significant factor for the Little Englanders to beware of is this : That since Britishers have deemed fit, on tho lines of Christian cosmopolitanism, to patronise German industries, there has been a proportionate decrease of the British flag in the collective trade of British ports. In cable lines England possesses 160.000 miles, and Germany has but 10.000 miles. England's share in the shipbuilding of the world is 68 to 70 per cent,, whilst Germany’s share is only from 10 to 14 per cent.
I will not go further than saying every ship and every arm in our Navy is needed, not merely for the protection of the immense preponderance of British interests everywhere over Germany’s, but also to police the high seas as a guarantee that small nations shall not fall a prey to the stronger and more warlike. Thereto™ consider It right to place the Brltish Navy arithmetically, so to speak, in relation to her responsibilities, and say that if British interests everywhere exceed German interests by three or more to one, British -interests are supreme, and Britain’s supremacy on sea, despite Mr Snowden’s atac.k on the Admiralty policy, is a valid ambition. Germany’s equality with Britain has no international locus standi, and the fact of the, self-inflicted bottling up of it® fleet in Kiel Harbor denies its utility, its peaceful mission, much less its claim for equality with Great- Britain as a sea Power.—l am, etc., W. E. J. Maguire. October 15,
SEA SUPREMACY., Issue 15629, 21 October 1914
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