GERMANY'S NAVAL POLICY. N OTHING is more injurious in international affairs
than to cultivate the habit of living in a fool's paradise. We feel, therefore, that while expressing our satisfaction at the success of the King's visit, and the good feeling produced on both sides of the German Ocean, we- ought to point out that we must not expect Germany at once to lay aside her aspirations and ambitions and do what, from our point of view, would be so pleasant and convenient,âabandon the attempt to compete with us for the sovereignty of the seas. It would be unfair to expect Germany to do anything of the kind. And yet such expectations might be raised if any attempt is made here to exaggerate the importance of this week's fraternisation between the Royal families and the two nations. If people will take the trouble to ask themselves frankly and fairly why it is that the Germans want to maintain a great and'' powerful fleet, capable of challenging our own, they will soon realise the true significance of the situation. Germany's progressive naval policy is based upon the following con., siderations. First, she not unnaturally desires, as a logical outcome of the very large extent of her oversea commerce, to have a powerful fleet to protect that commerce. Next, in view of the possibility of war with France and Russia, she desires to have a fleet which, granted that France has no naval ally, will secure to Germany the command of the sea as against France, and with it those immense advantages that come when the command of the sea is coupled with enormous military strength. Germany cannot assume that if she and her Austrian ally were opposed by France and Russia she would be able to do more, in the case of France, than hold her own on the French Eastern frontier. Without naval superiority Germany would find this a very disagreeable position. In spite of her vast military strength, she might ultimately be worn down by a long and exhaust- ing war with two fronts. If, however, Germany had the command of the sea, this would prove, as it has so often proved in the past, quite enough to turn the scale in her' favour and give her the victory. Here is the reason why the ruling class in Germany viewed the Franco-British Entente with such passionate dislike, and, losing their heads for the moment, made so desperate and so ill-advised an attempt to break it down in the months preceding the Algeciras Conference. The knowledge that we should stand by France in case of any attack upon her by Germany renders the great sacrifices that Germany has up till now made to build up her naval force, we will not say altogether useless, but useless, at any rate, in one direction.
Germany would not have been human had she not felt deep annoyance at such a turn of events.. Another reason for Germany's desire to obtain naval power is the fact that she thinks it possible that some day her very great com- mercial, and what for want of a better word we may call her emigration, interests in South America may induce her to challenge the Monroe doctrine, and thus bring her into conflict with the United States. If Germany's Fleet were weaker than that of the United States, she would be quite unable, she argues, to defend those interests. If, on the contrary, it were as strong as, or stronger than, that of the United States, she would be able to express herself emphatically, and not be obliged to yield instantly in face of what, from a German point of view, might be called an unfair or unreasonable development of the Monroe doctrine. There are analogous reasons in the Far East why Germany should wish for great naval strength. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance will, she holds, not last for ever, and circumstances might arise when it would be exceedingly galling for Germany to be told by Japan that she must not de this or that in China or in the China seas. But Japan could only take up such an attitude if Germany's Pipet were weaker than hers.
The final and supreme reason for Germany's desire to possess a fleet of very great power can be best expressed by saying that she wishes to be in a position to talk diplo- matically with Britain on something like terms of equality when matters involving sea power are concerned. At present the more ambitious of German politicians assertâand from their point of view by no means unreasonablyâthat while their Fleet is greatly inferior to that of Britain they are always liable to be brought up diplomatically by the unpleasant reminder that the British Fleet is so much stronger than theirs that they dare not risk a collision. "There are moments," they are inclined to say, " when you cannot get your rights respected unless you can effectively threaten the Power which is ignoring those rights. But we cannot at present threaten Britain effectively. While our Fleet is so inferior to hers she would laugh at our threats. If, however; there were something like equality between our Fleets, then our threats, or, to give them a fairer word, admonitions, would become very grave realities. In vasion,â that is the magic word which, if it can be pronounced with power, is capable of dissolving the British Empire and Oseaking the charm which holds it together But invasion becomes a very real, and therefore a very terrible, risk for Britain if her sea supremacy can be challenged. To be able tg challenge it, then, would give us an enormous extra Power and weight in â˘ the . councils of the world. If we eau. menace the vulnerable spot of Britain by pointing tea Beet which, even if. not quite as strong as hers on Paper, is strong enough to make her very anxious, our ability to get our way with her, which is, after all, what We want, is vastly increased. We do not want to invade Britain merely for the sake of invading her, but we do want to . see her placed in a position in which she will â˘ not feel . herself, as now, absolutely invulner- able, and therefore above the reach of our diplomacy. Unless we have something like equality of sea power, our magnificent Army, which could swallow the British Army at a mouthful, loses half its â˘ power to support the .national and world-wide aspirations of the German State. We must have a Navy comparable to the Navy of Britain in order to give our Army its full rights, and to Make the great sacrifices we have endured to build up that Army of real avail. If not, our policy in South America, in the China seas, in the Pacific Ocean, in Turkey, and in Central Europe may become the merest moonshine. Take an example. Suppose the Austro-Hungarian Empire were unhappily to break up. We do not want it to break up, of coarse, but still it may. In that event circumstances may afford us an opportunity of acquiring Trieste, the Istrian Peninsula, and a portion of the Dalmatian coast. That Magnificent opportunity might be taken from us owing to Britain's sea power. If, on the contrary, we have a force sufficient to make Britain feel extremely uncom- fortable on the score of invasion, we should be able to talk with her on terms of equality and do a reasonable 'deal' ' with her. That is, we should, without actual war, be able to take advantage of our opportunity, and thus be able to fulfil our destiny as a world-Power. As long as Britain feels invulnerable she can veto our ambitions. If we take away that sense of invulnerability, she will become reasonable. But there is only one way of taking away her sense of invulnerability, and that is the possession of Sea power on so large a scale that the invasion of Britain becomes a possibility, and a possibility recognised by our neighbour. Therefore we must build up a great Navy." These, in the last resort, are the reasons why Germany wants sea power. They are not reasons which per se it would be at all fair to call wicked or, from the German point of view, unreasonable. They are the kind of views that ambitious statesmen and nations have always held. Indeed, it may be said that a part of our determination to maintain the command of the sea, resides in these very arguments reversed, or applied to our own case. No doubt our intentions are in many ways much more pacific, for they are whole-heartedly for maintaining the status gut). But to this the Germans might well reply :â" There is no virtue in your desire for peace and the status quo, because you have got all you want. It was a vita different story when you were in our position, and not achieved all you desired in the matter of Empire." To argue on such a point as this is, however, not only unfruitful, but actually dangerous. It tends to endless recrimination and accusations, since no man and no nation can evor be judges in their own cause. What we have got to remember as practical men is the fact that, unless we run the risk either of a great defeat, or a great humiliation, which would be as bad as a defeat, we must follow Germany's lead in the matter of naval development and maintain the naval status quo,âthat is,. must make sacrifices relatively as great as, and actually much greater than hers, in order that Germany shall not alter the existing relations between her Fleet and ours.
Whatever it costs us, we must maintain the command of the sea. But naturally, being businesslike people, we â˘ must obtain that command at the cheapest rate and with the minimum of sacrifice. Now, in our opinion, there can be no doubt that the line of least sacrifice is not to be found in a policy of naval driblets,âof doing just enough, and only just enough, to keep the command of the sea. The practical effect of that policy would be to lead Germany on, because it is certain to make her rulers and her people think that we are fainting in the struggle, and that if they, as the more virile, the more self-sacrificing, and the more practical peopleâfor such they consider themselvesâmake " just one more effort," we shall fall behind in the race. "You see he is panting and reeling already. Just one more spurt and we shall beat him altogether." That is the most dangerous feeling we can possibly encourage in the German people, and it is just the feeling we are encouraging by the policy of driblets. If, on the other hand, we increase our pace so much as to place a very great distance between ourselies and our German competitors, and at the same time show unmistakable powers of staying; then' there is good ground for believing that it will be the Germans who will grow faint in the struggle, become depressed, and abandon the race. Already there are signs in Germany that people are saying :â" The game is not worth the candle. We shall. never catch up with the British, and we are therefore exhausting our strength uselessly in trying to do so." ' That is the feeling we want to encourage, and we can and shall encourage it if nowâfor now is the momentâwe make a really great effort and show the whole world â˘ that we are absolutely determined, no matter what the cost. not merely to keep just ahead, but to place a great and impassable interval between us and our chief competitor for the command of the sea.