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John Bull has recently come to the conclusion that to all practical intents and purposes, he is no longer the master of an "Island Kingdom". Although he realized many centuries ago that he must keep the largest navy in the world, it is only recently that he has decided that this is not enough. For there is much more air in the atmosphere than there is water in the ocean, and at present it seems as though air furnished as convenient and safe a medium of transit as water.
A short time ago Georges Barbot, a Frenchman, glided across the English Channel in his one-passenger "flivver" monoplane. It took him 44 minutes to make the trip, and he used less than one gallon of gasoline in his 15 horse-power engine. Incidentally he won a 25,000 franc prize, but that is not the point--its real significance lies in the fact that it has roused England to a realization of her danger from any hostile air-fleet in time of war.
With Russia planning to build a fleet of mammoth airplanes, with Germany negotiating to be allowed to increase the size and power of her force, and with France already in possession of three times as many warrior airplanes as Great Britain possesses in her whole empire, John Bull may well be excused for feeling some apprehension. He suffered some from Zeppelin raids in the great war, and now he intends to play safe. It is rather to his credit that he has not accepted a request made by Sir Samuel Hoare, Secretary of Aerial Navigation, for the building of an air force equal to that owned by any other nation. Instead, he hopes to arrive at an agreement with his rivals much the same as that reached by the Washington naval pact for marine armaments.
Although air raids in the past have proved less harmful than the locust plague proved to the Egyptians; air--and not water or land--will in all probability be the battleground of the future. And with this in mind, John Bull has suggested a disarmament move which may be of greater importance in the keeping of the peace than both the Washington and Hague conferences together.
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