President Coolidge's speech on finance received even more attention from the press yesterday than is usually accorded the rare statements of the Chief Executive, because of the unwonted public criticism of naval expenditure. As was to be expected, the President denied any attempt at competitive construction, and said that the $750,000,000 he will ask from Congress for naval armament "considers our requirements alone." But admittedly these requirements are necessitated by the failure of the Geneva Arms Conference last summer, and the end required is that American warship building parallel the intensive program now being pursued in England. It is a supposition that parallel lines and navies never meet. A maritime empire with turbulent peoples spread over the world, Great Britain uses such a navy for shepherding its Hocks; its twin in the United States is an expensive and nearly useless watch-dog. Because of the failure of pacifistic statesmanship, nearly nine-tenths of the country's revenue is poured down the gullet of Mars. But even this could be borne, as it has been borne, if it were not for the alarming trend that prophecy and propaganda are taking.
It is not the circumstances upon which such traditions are based that are trouble provoking, but the predictions themselves. It is doubtful if England and America would participate in disastrous war merely because of dissension over debt settlement, oil rights, or the sovereignty of Chicago. But with Admiral Plunketts and their British prototypes allowed free rein, the eventuality becomes possible. In 1908, it has been pointed out, Winston Churchill found the possibility of Anglo-German hostilities incredible; now twenty years later the same is logically time of the present situation. Let the two countries in a foment of patriotism be awakened to a mutual distrust, and immediately their circles of honor will widen. Clouds will gather over the mountains that were molehills: rumour will be bandiod about once more in the streets: and the papers will play the overture to another stupid tragedy.