The great European War so often predicted has come.
Out of the mass of misinformation which filters through the tight
walls of strict censorship broken fragments of news give us an inkling
of what is going on.
What now would be the fate of any European Nation involved in this difficulty without long years of military preparation? :
The purblind "peace-at-any-price" advocate will say, "But without preparation for war there would be no war." That is a mistake.
It is not the rulers of the European Nations now at odds with each other who are responsible for the present cataclysmic crisis, but the people of the respective countries. Russian, Servian, and Austrian sentiment in each case has been too strong for the rulers of these nations.
But, will say the peace man, the United States is not affected by this war, except indirectly, and she need never fear a war against herself.
Is that so?
What do you suppose would occur if one of the hundred perilous issues should be joined with the victors in the present struggle? For example the Congress yesterday provided for taking over foreign built vessels to American registry. If ships of an European Nation should be registered under the American Flag and subsequently such registry attacked because it occurred during war, such ships might be taken by force and an immediate cause of war appear.
Another thing: Is not there a little more comfortable feeling in the minds of all Americans today because there is an American Navy and the beginnings of an Army? Would we not feel a trifle more comfortable if we had an adequate Army and a National Guard so organized and directly connected up with that Army as to provide for immediate efficient use? Of a surety this is so.
We wish for peace. Yes, so does the whole world when it does not desire to fight. So long as any have national armies there will be in common prudence an obligation for others who would be adequate to self-protection to maintain other and if possible better armies.
There is but one way out. An international court with an international police strong enough to enforce its edicts. As Arms And The Man has often said, a great modern war, such as now seems inevitable, may well so horrify the world as to render war impossible.
We mean by that, that the sentiment aroused in the breasts of the thinking, intelligent, powerful men of all nations, will be strong enough to produce the organization of the great international court and an international army to put its mandates into effect. A court in short, which shall be able to say to the bad boy nations of the world, "Now, you be good, or we shall spank you!" and the saying will be in force because of spanking machinery in sight.
To pluck or not to pluck.
Congress is stirred by the appeals of friends of officers of the Navy who desire the restoration to rank of certain individuals and the abolition of the plucking board.
It is a matter of common knowledge that under the law. what is known as the "Plucking Board" sits annually to select a sufficient number of the least efficient officers for retirement. The underlying principle is a good one. Without question many weak and inefficient officers have been gotten rid of in this way and promotion has come to worthy ones much sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
With the growth of efficiency in the Navy, and there has been great growth in the past few years, it becomes increasingly difficult to select any officer for elimination. It will be readily seen that the system continued for a long enough time would eventually leave no officers at all in the Navy provided the retirement age did not arrive.
Attacks have been made upon the good faith and judgment of the plucking board, uniformly made up of five high ranking rear admirals. We do not think these are justified. Unquestionably these officers have done the best they knew how. Nor do we think it desirable that any officer once plucked should be restored to duty by act of Congress. If any, then why not all?
On the question of doing away with the plucking board and substituting some other system in place of it; we believe the plucking has gone on for so long that it may well be considered now to do more harm than good, and that a change would be beneficial.
Field duty of the ordnance establishment.
The Military Committee of the House has made a favorable report on H. R. 17765, which is a bill to permit reassignment of majors in the Ordnance Department to duty with that corps without a temporary return to the line.
The Chief of Ordnance has strongly urged the passage of this bill. A case in point is that of Maj. W. A. Phillips, now and for some years on duty at Frankford Arsenal. Major Phillips, as is known, has accomplished wonders in the various lines of manufacture, particularly of small arms ammunition, carried on at the Government's big Pennsylvania factory. He has reduced costs, increased quality of product and his services have been of great use to the Department.
Unless the law is changed he will be compelled to go back to the infantry for service before he can be again detailed to ordnance work. As there is no provision in law at this time for the appointment of permanent officers of Ordnance, it seems in every way wise that authority should be given for the retention of officers specially qualified to perform work of a highly technical character, when such have been located, of course in the discretion of the Chief of the Department.