Page:Heresies of Sea Power (1906).djvu/22
HERESIES OF SEA POWER.
a sure bulwark to her, and supposing an invincible army, she, with her vast unexpanded areas inside her borders could continue to grow in peace, though at war with all the world. With a system of strategic rail-ways far removed from the sea she could uphold the Monroe doctrine intact so far as her own portion of the American continent is concerned. Below the Isthmus of Panama, however, no United States army, no matter how invincible, could control the destinies of South America without a fleet to aid it. A hostile fleet could so easily land enough men to cut communications at the Isthmus, and supposing any force entrenched there to be overwhelmed by the American military power, it would only be driven away to establish itself elsewhere at its own choice. So the Monroe doctrine necessitates a fleet: but it is a sentiment and not a necessity all the same. The cost of the United States fleet is the price of this particular sentiment.
It is patent, that the needs of these three empires vary considerably; and that the variable factor is in each case the question of food supply and the power of internal support. So great is the variation here that we may well pause to ask ourselves whether it is not sufficiently immense to render the past history of any one nation valueless to the other two, even were past history an asset of value for formulating the strategy of the future?
Does the past hold lessons for the future? Yes—`