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Aisne, proceeded on different principles. der those circumstances; and it is coThe principle of Pétain was economy ceivable that such a discussion would of man-power; General Haig, on the have directed attention to the risks on ;
oa other hand, having been fighting all the Italian front. General Cadorna, at the year for what he regarded as subsid- any rate, after the military collapse iary objects, could not bring himself of Russia became certain, was under to abandon his project in Flanders. no illusions about his own position. He The Ypres salient had tortured the feared a concentration against him, and British army for two and a half years, though he never thought that his deand the temptation to clear the enemy feats would be so sudden and so overfrom the hills east of the city was irre- whelming, he expected to be driven sistible. If he could have resisted it slowly back. Had there been an Interhe would have saved many lives; but Allied Council, this point of view would some of the saving might have been have been put, and it is possible that lost later, for the Germans holding the the Italian defeat would have been ridge east of Ypres had an excellent avoided and even replaced by victories jumping-off ground for renewing their which would have further increased attempts to win through to the Nar- the war-weariness of Austria. rows; and the autumn campaign, for The controversy which assumes such all the blood and mud which suffoca- an important place in the discussions of ted it, secured us against that danger. Mr. Lloyd George's Paris speech
It is, however, interesting to specu- whether the new Inter-Allied Council late on what our probable course of should have over-riding powers over the action would have been if the Inter- separate general staffs — is not, after Allied Council had been in existence all, of first-rate importance. Between when Nivelle succeeded Joffre and was equal allies there can be no such thing succeeded by Pétain.
as over-riding their separate wills. The The charge so commonly brought main thing is to ensure that the comagainst Mr. Lloyd George of want- mon interest shall be kept steadily ing to supersede General Haig by Gen- in view at each crisis, and that there eral Nivelle would, under such circum- shall be some permanent machinery for stances, have had no point. The view coördinating the efforts of the Allies. of the British Staff, which, as General The British General Staff cannot Haig complains, was summarily set justly be charged with selfishness, but aside, would have had a better chance it is often charged, and not without of presentment, and the policy would reason, with taking too narrow and have been determined after the argu- provincial a view of its duties, and with ments on both sides had been put. It acting as if the campaign in Flanders is even possible that the French offen- and Northern France were the whole sive would not have taken place on the war. And some part of this blame must Aisne at all, or even on the Somme, but be shared by the British Admiralty. would have been directed to the recov- The department which understood the ery of the French mining and manu- nature of
should have been facturing districts.
the first to see the importance of the Again, after the succession of Gen- East in our imperial strategy, and eral Pétain to the French command, should have insisted more strongly on the question would then necessarily its views being adopted. But then, the have come before the Allied Council Admiralty never had a Lord Haldane what the British policy ought to be un- at its head, and its staff work never at
tained the degree of influence and au- have been pursuing. This state of mind thority in the national councils that is dangerous, and though much may be the Imperial General Staff at the done to fortify the people by the conWar Office acquired as the result of solations of oratory, our best consolaLord Haldane's work. Lord Haldane's tion, with Germany in its present mind, services to War Office organization is military and naval victory. If there were very great, but they produced a is a real prospect of that, the rest can somewhat lopsided development of be managed; if there is none — well, British strategy. In this war, for the the rest cannot be managed. first time in English history, the domi- It is not a fashionable thing to say nating ideas of the national strategy nowadays, but in the writer's opinion have been military and not naval, and our prospects of military victory are we have suffered in consequence; for on the whole rather better now than our traditional naval strategy would they were last year at this time. All have recognized the Dardanelles as the last year Russia gave no real help to key of the whole war so far this
the Allied cause. She detained on her try was concerned, and there would frontier, it is true, a great number of have been no collapse of Russia if our German and Austrian troops, but their navy could have done for her what it fighting strength bore no real relation has done for France. Nor was there to their numbers. All through the year any way of rendering that service ex- the Russian front was a rest cure for cept by the Black Sea.
the German army. Divisions shattered The year 1917, then, in spite of bril- in the Western fighting were being sent liant work, was a disappointment for to Russia and replaced by fresh divithe Allies. What are the prospects for sions from Russia; and it is hardly too the coming year? Russia is out of the much to say that the British and war; Italy no longer threatens Trieste, French faced, not at any one time, but but has been hard put to it to defend during the year, practically the whole Venice. The French who, a year ago, fighting strength of the German army. were full of hopes of a break-through, Sir Auckland Geddes, in a late have fallen back on the defensive. We speech, by adding up the total number ourselves, after incredible exertions, of Germans and Austrians on the Eastended our offensive with something ern front, calculated that we may have very like a reverse at Cambrai. If we to face on the West an increase in the could not break through last year what enemy forces of no less than 1,600,000 conceivable chance, it is asked, is there men - an alarming calculation, espeof breaking through this year? To add cially when we remember that these figto our worries, the U-boat campaign is ures do not include any allowance for beginning, for the first time in the war, the German and Austrian prisoners to have some effect on the morale of who would presumably be released by the people. There is no despondency, Russia if she made a separate peace. but there are far more skeptics than In asking the House of Commons to there were of the possible solution of give him power to raise another 450,000 the military difficulty being found; and men, his principle apparently was to for the first time in the war there is divide the possible enemy increase by some danger of a failure of resolution, four, there being four Allies left in the not from lack of faith in our cause, but war, and to assign to our own army the from doubts as to how far victory is duty of providing a good fourth. physically possible along the lines we He was right to provide against the
worst possible contingency, but there ish and French General Staffs from is good reason to think that his esti- 1915 to 1917 was that they ignored the mate of the probable increase in the enormous difference in standard of numbers of the enemy was exagger- strength required for successful defense ated. One does not see Austria, in and for successful offense. Because her present state of feeling, providing they beat back the German offensive large numbers of men for service in in France in 1914, both staffs seemed France or Flanders, and even Germany to have assumed that even a slight inwould not be able to withdraw all her crease of strength would give them a troops from the East. Nor will the chance of a successful offensive. This restoration of the prisoners add very chance never existed in 1915 or 1916, greatly to the enemy's strength. Many and perhaps not in 1917 either, except of them would be wounded, and few on the basis of a ridiculous estimate of will be fit for service for months after Russia's strength and France's endurtheir return. Many more will take good ance. All our attacks on the West in care not to return until the war is over, 1915 were a misapplication of energy and the Russians certainly will not and a waste of man-power; for to break force them to return against their will. through lines so strongly held as those
All things considered, the effect of of the Germans, a superiority largely Russia's defection will be to add per- in excess of that which we had in 1915 haps a million men to the strength of or in 1916 was necessary. In setting the Germans in the West. To that ourselves, therefore, to break through number we should add the demands on the West, we were loading the dice that the defense of Italy may make on against ourselves. We indulged in false the resources of the Allies demands, optimism. For the same reason, we are however, which the 450,000 men for indulging in false pessimism now, when whom Sir Auckland Geddes is asking we suppose that an increment even of a should allow us to ignore in our calcu- million men in the German strength is lations. On the other hand, against in itself enough to make the difference that increment we must set the new between a barely successful defensive American army in France, which by like the German campaign last year the end of this year, especially if the and the brilliantly successful offensive Germans use up men in a new offen- which presumably Hindenburg hopes sive in the West, as seems generally for this year. An increment considerto be expected, should have restored ably greater than that number of men something like equality in numbers. in our own strength failed to give us In the writer's opinion, this is a better what we wanted, and there is no reason military prospect than we had a year whatever to suppose, so far at least as ago, and for this reason: a year ago the numbers are concerned, that the GerGermans were satisfied to be on the de- mans can do in 1918 what they failed fensive in the West, whereas this year to do in 1914 and we in 1916 and 1917. the successful defensive will not satisfy It is natural that those who were opthem. Unless they win outright this timists last year should be pessimists year, they have lost the war. Indeed, now, because in both cases they ignore if they do not win outright, it may be the vast disproportion between the dedoubted whether they will await the mands of successful defense and sucAmerican blow in 1919, and will not cessful offense. But for the converse choose to make peace before it falls. reason, those of us who were pessimists
The great miscalculation of the Brit- then should be optimists now. Given reasonably good management, there tion, by the provision of comfortable should be no chance of a German break- dug-outs, and by the accumulation of through this year; and unless it is done every possible artificial obstacle. Hiththis year, it will never be done and Ger- erto the British army, hoping to change many will be beaten. The chances of its quarters, has given insufficient ather failure now are greater than the tention to these matters. Secondly, a chances of our success a year ago.
corollary of holding the front line lightBut it is absolutely necessary that ly is that we should have powerful and we should realize the conditions of suc- well-placed reserves for counter-attack. cessful defense, and should resolutely The promptness and efficiency of these and consistently observe them. That counter-attacks will depend most of all numbers will help the defense goes on the quality of the railway communiwithout saying, but they are perhaps cations. Lastly, the Intelligence Servthe least important factor in success. ice must be perfect, and that depends The most important is the staff work, on our aeroplanes and on the way we and that is why English critics have at- use them. It will be seen that these contached so much importance to the pub- ditions for successful defense are all lication of the facts about Cambrai, mechanical, and mere numbers of men and why the government's suppression come last in the order of importance. of the facts has had such a depressing Two provisos should be added. First, effect on English opinion. The duties that no revolutionary change is made of a staff which is conducting a strate- by the enemy in his armament such as gic defensive are threefold. First, it might disturb the present balance of should economize man-power by every
force. Second, and this is still more impossible means. The true tactics of the portant, we must have enough ships to defense, as Hindenburg has shown, are ensure the largest armies America can to hold the first lines with as few men raise being brought safely to Europe as possible. That can safely be done and maintained there. That is a master only by the possession of great superior- condition of our hopes; and to its fulfillity in artillery, by elaborate fortifica- ment everything else must give place.
THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB
THE PLUMBER APPRECIATED
the way up, was not climbing with real
enthusiasm. On the floor was a little ‘Did you ever,' said he, “know a sea of water, in shape something like plumber who had grown rich?'
the Mediterranean, with Gibraltar out We stood in the kitchen. Outdoors of sight under the kitchen sink. The it was a wonderful winter morning, stove (unfortunately) had been lighted; snow-white and sparkling, felt rather and a strange, impassive boy stood bethan seen through frosted windows, for side it, holding in pendant hands varithe mercury last night had dropped ous tools of the plumber's craft. The below zero, and, although reported on plumber stood in the Mediterranean. And I, in my slippers and bath-robe, — rather to be expected), I repeat as bea foolish costume, for the sea was not fore; and if it then leaks (as is more than deep enough to bathe in, — hovered, likely), I run down cellar, turn off the so to speak, on the edge of the beach. water, run up from the cellar, take off
I suppose I wished to impress this the faucet, make some slight alteration plumber with my imperturbable calm. in the size, shape, or position of the Upset as I was, I must have realized the washer, put on the faucet, run down impossibility of impressing the boy. cellar, turn on the water, run up from Swaggering a little in my bath-robe, the cellar, and look at the faucet. PerI had said something jocular, I do not haps it leaks more. Perhaps it leaks remember just what, about the rapid less. So I run down cellar — and turn accretion of wealth by plumbers. He off the water and run up from the lit his pipe. 'Did you ever,' said he, cellar — and take off the faucet. Then, ‘know a plumber who had grown rich?' talking aloud to myself, I take out the
Now until that winter I had never new washer, throw it on the floor, thought of the plumber as a man in stamp on it, kick it out of the way, put many respects like myself. One may in a newer washer, put on the faucet, winter for years in a city apartment run down cellar, turn on the water, run without meeting a plumber, but hardly up from the cellar, and look at the fauwithout reading a good many humor- cet. If (and this may happen) it still ous trifles about them in current litera- leaks, I make queer, inarticulate, aniture; and my idea of this craftsman had mal noises; but I run down cellar, turn been insidiously formed by the minor off the water, run up from the cellar, humorists. Summer, in my experience, and take off the faucet. Then I monhad been a plumberless period, in key a little with the washer (still makwhich water flowed freely through the ing those queer animal noises), put on pipes of my house, and gushed obliging- the faucet, run down cellar, turn on the ly from faucets at the touch of a finger. water, run up from the cellar, and look It was like an invisible brook; and, like at the faucet. Sooner or later the faucet a brook, I thought of it (if I thought of always stops leaking. It is a mere matit at all) as going on forever. Nothing ter of adjusting the washer; any handy worse happened than a leak at the fau- man can do it with a little patience. cet. And when that happens I can fix it Winter in the country is the time and myself. All it needs is a new washer. place to get acquainted with the plumb
I run down cellar and turn off the er. And I would have you remember, water. I run up from the cellar and even in that morning hour when the take off the faucet. I put in the new ordinary life of your home has stopped washer, which is like a very fat leather in dismay, and then gone limping toring for a very thin finger, and screw on ward breakfast with the help of buckthe faucet. I run down cellar, turn on ets of water generously loaned you the water, run up from the cellar, and by your nearest neighbor, — rarely, if look at the faucet. It still leaks. So I ever, does he carry his generosity so run down cellar, turn off the water, run far as to help carry the buckets, up from the cellar, take off the faucet, that because of this honest soul in overmake some slight alteration in the size, alls, winter has lost the terrors which it shape, or position of the washer, put on held for your great-grandfather. the faucet, run down cellar, turn on the Revisit your library, and note what water, run up from the cellar, and look the chroniclers of the past thought at the faucet. If it still leaks (as it is about winter — this cousin to Death,