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That all the petitions sent to Washington demanding a positive reduction of naval armament rather than parity at the possible expense of increased armaments are entirely uncalled for is the impression which Secretary of State Stimson apparently wishes to convey in the communication appearing in this morning's CRIMSON.
Naturally such petitions as the one sent from Harvard are likely to be received as annoying indications of impatience and lack of confidence on the part of the American public by statesmen at London. Moreover, the worth of the petition as an effective weapon of public opinion in remedying unsatisfactory conditions is extremely doubtful. Secretary Stimson, however, in announcing that the petitions in question have no basis is allowing his irritation to transgress the saner view of the situation which he could well afford to take. Although no responsibility can be directly imputed to the American delegation, proceedings at the conference did at one time take a turn temporarily alarming to observers eagerly awaiting progress towards reduction of naval strength. It will be recalled that in the latter part of February France's prime-minister, Andre Tardieu, came forward with a demand for a total tonnage of seven hundred and twenty-five thousand tons for France by 1937. Such a program if consistently carried out would embody a possible substantial increase of both United States and British armament. Although the precipitate Tardieu subsequently lost his government temporarily for his rash proposal, it is not un-natural that the fact that the proposal was made at all in the conference jolted American confidence in the ultimate outcome of diplomatic wranglings to the extent of a few petitions.
Lately, it is true, the proceedings have been more nearly in accordance with public sentiment and it is a comparatively safe surmise that if they continue so statesmen will no longer be bothered by petitions. Secretary Stimson's reproachful announcement would seem to be based largely on recent developments, for anyone who has followed events in the conference at all closely for the past two months will agree that whether petitions were of any aid to the situation or not, they were not entirely inspired by imagination.
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