25 NOVEMBER 1938, Page 18

[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] Sta,—Sir Norman Angell is

evidently one of the many victims of A.R.P. (Air Raid Panic). His article of November rtth says that Hitler is " in a position to threaten the destruction of the British capital." If that is so, why did he take .the trouble to call all his, merchant ships off the seas on September 29th, when the execution of his alleged " threat " would have given him England and the Empire, with all our ships and their cargoes to boot ? All our ships continued their voyages. Does Sir Norman consider those two equal and opposite seafaring actions unimportant ?

He foresees " the domination of Europe, including Britain, by Germany." How can Germany " dominate " us without the command of the sea (the ability to capture enemy cargoes and to convoy your own) based on an unbeatable battle fleet, which she has not got. German reserves of petrol and oil for her fearfully wasteful aeroplanes would soon run out and then the war would begin. Germany knows that well enough. Sir Norman apparently does not. All previous doininators of Europe had battle fleets that could, and did, challenge ours. The present dictators have not.

With his liking for putting people " in positions," Sir Norman says that Hitler " is also in a position, with German guns commanding Gibraltar harbour . . . to sever a vital artery of Empire." This is the common mistake of supposing that " harbours " can dominate seas. It is not harbours but warships at sea that dominate seas. We can shut the Mediter- ranean from the sea outside, even without holding Gibraltar, and so can quickly suffocate all enemy Mediterranean countries, such as Germany's " subordinate ally in the Mediterranean " if it chooses to be our enemy. Our Mediterranean blockade could be based equally well on Plymouth as on Gibraltar. Apropos, the Mediterranean is not " a vital artery of Empire." The Cape route is quite good enough for the thing that really matters, cargoes. They often go that way anyhow, to avoid Suez Canal dues. Merchants have not got the speed craze,

because they would have to pay for it themselves instead of putting it on the taxpayer.

Like so many other Englishmen under the manufactured Air Scare, Sir Norman has forgotten the sea and its cargoes.