Inquiry files

Mr. Walter Lippmann to the Secretary of War ( Baker )

Dear N. D. B. : I want to write you personally for your advice and assistance.

It seems clear that the question of reducing armaments will be thoroughly agitated at the peace conference. By that time it will have become something more than a humane agitation. Economically the nations cannot support the present scale of expenditure and recover from the losses of the war. For we have to remember that a case of armaments today is immeasurably more burdensome than it was during the armed peace up to 1914. To return even to that scale would mean a radical proportionate reduction. Recognition of [Page 13] this fact seems to be dawning upon statesmen in Central Europe, especially in Austria, and undoubtedly gives a certain sincerity to their repeated pleas.

I have been examining what literature is immediately available, and I can find nothing which contains a practical and technical analysis of the problem. Obviously the crux of the problem is how to prevent cheating by subtle forms of mobilization. The line between normal industry and semi-military preparation no longer exists, and as armament is relative, one naturally suspects such obvious devices as limitation of budgets, of capital ships, or the size of standing armies.

What is needed now is a creative study of the question by a group of men who thoroughly understand modern military science. These men would be required at the peace conference as technical advisers, not only on the general question of reducing armaments but on the specific strategic problems which will arise.

Won’t you, if you can manage the time think this over and see whether

It is advisable to have the matter studied in the Department.
Who could be assigned to study it.

I have shown this letter to Colonel House.

Devotedly yours,

Walter Lippmann