Disarmament does not mean, of course, that the country is to cast aside all the engines of war with indiscriminate abandon. Theodore Roosevelt taught preparedness, and that is what the United States wants today. There is no need of dashing madly towards the pinnacle of military and naval supremacy in order to feel that we are practicing preparedness. To some people, even to some in positions of authority, the first limited movement towards peace-time reductions of armed forces is beyond their powers of understanding.
A conspicuous example of such a one is the Secretary of War. Now that the fighting is over he is still proceeding as if peace were a thing of the future. Congress decided some time ago that an army of 280,000 was the maximum required for normal times; it provided for funds to pay only 175,000 of this number. Mr. Baker, instead of taking the hint, has indulged in a costly recruiting campaign which has brought the army up to 228,000 men. The bill for this action was $40,000,000 and how much more will be required to pay the extra men is not known.
This is neither economy nor good judgment on Mr. Baker's part. The wrath of the Senate Military Committee was stirred that a resolution to put a stop to further recruiting was passed without a dissenting vote, even the Secretary's party deserting him. In addition a movement is scheduled to start without delay to reduce the peacetime army to 150,000 men. The small-army group has a rare opportunity to further its program.
When we are accustomed to talk of billions, the dollars and cents of Mr. Baker's drive for soldiers is not of such great importance. But it is disconcerting to have a man in such a high position perform so unreasonably in the question of disarmaments and economy. Disarmament is a problem to be solved by men who, like General Pershing, understand more than the military side of the matter. It is almost as bad to excite Congressmen into frenzied legislation wiping out an army, as to continue in the present extravagance. Secretary of War Baker has acted in a way that sets a bad example to future office-holders; co-operation and good judgment are what we need, especially when it comes to disarming ourselves.