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NATIONS AT PLAY

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Britain's refusal to withdraw her fleet from the Mediterranean leads one to ponder on the exact status of what we have always been brought up to regard as the greatest navy of all time. Never before in modern history has the Admiralty been faced with a situation comparable to that now on its hands. For the first time the power of the British navy is definitely in question. The Mediterranean fleet is far superior to the Italian force in gross tonnage, but the Fascist ships are in an extremely strong position and are vastly more mobile.

One thing is certain. Whether Anglo-Italo conflict breaks out within the next week, whether the present state of snarling drags on, or whether peace is effected within the near future, the British are going to start a program of intense naval building. Their lead will probably be followed by the Germans who are allowed, under this summer's treaty, 35 per cent of the total British strength. When this race starts it will be but a stone's throw to an international situation akin to that existent in Europe in 1914.

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