« ПретходнаНастави »
and an Order in Council issued 'restoring the power of the Chief of the General Staff which had been allowed to lapse.'
These remarkable proceedings speak for themselves. I should prefer to leave them without comment. If Lord Kitchener were alive one might say something as to his methods, especially as to the evidence given by General Callwell, the Director of Military Operations, 'that the real reason why the General Staff practically ceased to exist was because “it was never consulted.'
But it must not be forgotten that it is due to those who waited to employ Lord Kitchener till the last moment that he had no experience of the great War Office machine till it was strained to snapping point by the war. And going still higher, how are we to account for the inactivity of the War Council who, realising the breakdown of the Staff preparations for the Dardanelles, took no steps to have this department properly reconstituted till a fresh breakdown had occurred in the case of Salonika ? The Commission has yet to give its verdict on the effect of this neglect of the first principles
We know from the present report that the land expedition, for transporting which preparations had been begun four months before, was committed to Sir Ian Hamilton, with definite instructions to force his way through, but without the data necessary for doing so. It is common knowledge that on landing the maps were found to be inexact and insufficient, the arrangements for water supply were necessarily in arrear, and land transport was in its infancy. These conditions could have been obviated if a few of the officers who were denied the right to co-operate in a service to which they had devoted their lives had been allowed to transfer their activities from the library of the 'Senior' to Montagu House.
It is to be feared that when the Commissioners go further we shall find there is worse to come. The Ministry, as is clear from these papers, showed no lack of nerve in deciding to advance to the fullest extent that their resources made possible. Whether for a purely naval attack, or a naval attack with a military reserve, or a combined attack, they had plenty of courage. But in the absence of agreement between the Admiralty and War Office on anything but the general proposition that an attempt should be made to push through, they were in the dark as to what they were undertaking. If
the troops were only to seize and occupy forts when cleared by the fleet, obviously the place of landing depended on the action of the navy, but from the moment Sir Ian Hamilton telegraphed on March 19th the task of the army predominated. The army was to clear the way to make good the passage of the navy. If this had been appreciated in Downing Street probably the whole course of the campaign would have been different. Is it possible that Sir Ian Hamilton's views were never clearly made known to the War Council ?
Constantinople could be threatened from three quarters directly from the Dardanelles, from Asia Minor, or from Suvla or Bulair. The direct route was strongly fortified, although the forts were under the fire of naval guns; but even if they were occupied the troops would be under a cross fire from the other side of the straits. If it was open to Sir Ian Hamilton to make his onslaught on both flanks and let the navy keep up the original attack, there is no more to be said.
But the reverse, as we gather from this report, was the case. Sir Ian Hamilton was sent to assist the navy; he had received from Lord Kitchener what he regarded as 'a peremptory instruction to take the Peninsula.' Any wasting of troops on flank movements on a large scale would not have been within his instructions, for he was greatly outnumbered by the Turks. In other words he must land at Helles in the teeth of the enemy's guns. It is more than doubtful whether any general of experience, if left to himself on the spot and allowed to use the navy to further his expedition to the best advantage, would have come to such a conclusion.
It is necessary to make this point perfectly clear, because there is little doubt that if Sir John French on landing in France had been hampered as Sir Ian Hamilton was on landing in Turkey, his army would have been annihilated. The only concern of the nation now is that such confusion should not recur, and the obvious method of securing that consummation is that, at whatever sacrifice, the ministers who press the button which starts a hurricane should see that all the preliminary steps have been strictly observed. The first of these is to satisfy themselves that any expedition proposed to them has been weighed in all its bearings and the results put before them. Lord Haldane never wearied of extolling the 'clear thinking which he had established in the War Office, but apparently the bantling for which he claimed parentage was allowed to be strangled before his eyes.
One other point is worthy of notice. When Lord Panmure abused the telegraph, not previously employed in war, by sending silly telegrams to Lord Raglan in the Crimea, a fear arose that this rapid communication might cause interference from home with the commanders in the field. Fortunately this apprehension has been set at rest. Both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener put it on record after the South African War that, while they had been left quite unfettered as to operations, they had found the power of interchanging views at any moment with the home authorities of great value. The conviction is forced upon us that a fresh danger has arisen. In this crisis far too much appears to have hung on the wording of telegraphic messages, and too little effort was made, so far as the report shows, to verify by personal communications the opinions expressed and to discuss the steps consequent upon them. An impartial person acting as ' liaison officer' between the Ministry and the Officer Commanding in the Dardanelles would have discovered in time and obviated the fatal errors which ensued on the general instructions to attack with which the commanders so literally and so gallantly complied.
Of one thing we may be assured—that the public will not allow the report of the Dardanelles Commission to be dismissed in the spirit shown by certain sections of the House of Commons on March 20th. The late Government did not grant this enquiry till the feeling in the country, expressed in the House of Commons itself, had reached such a pitch that it was impossible any longer to refuse it. There has been no hesitation on the part of the Ministry in suspending from further employment in the campaign officers whom they conceived to be responsible for these failures. If a portion of the blame, and apparently a considerable portion, lies on civilians higher up, it is preposterous to suggest that they should be allowed to smother their mistakes and retain their former prestige until the close of the war enables a reckoning to be made. Elementary considerations of justice and the imperative necessity for safeguarding the nation in the future equally demand that civilians as well as soldiers should suffer for their mistakes.
THE TWO PATHS OF EMPIRE
1. Dominions Royal Commission. Final Report. Cd. 8462. 1917. 2. Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy. Resolutions on
Imperial Preference. Cd. 8482. 1917. 3. A Platform for an Imperial Party. By H. WILSON Fox. Re
printed from the 'Nineteenth Century and After.' 1917. 4. The Expansion of England. By Sir JOHN SEELEY. Macmillan. 5. The Wealth of Nations. By ADAM SMITH. Clarendon Press.
N the fourth quarter of the eighteenth century England
begun to grow conscious of a greater Empire fashioned upon other lines. There is indeed a remarkable coincidence of dates. It was in 1783 that the American colonies were finally separated from Great Britain ; in 1883 was published Professor Seeley's ' Expansion of England,' a work that did more than any other single cause to awaken Englishmen to the meaning of Empire. In the twentieth century that Greater Britain, whose birth and growth Professor Seeley traced, has proved its loyalty and its strength in a manner which may well be one of the marvels of the world for all time to come. Yet in spite of this demonstration we find quite a number of loyal citizens of the Empire eagerly, almost passionately, demanding the abandonment at the earliest possible date of the principles on which this greater Empire is based, and a reversion to the principles which governed the construction of the lesser Empire lost in the eighteenth century. Differences of detail there were, no doubt, between our old colonial system and the system of imperial preferential tariffs advocated of recent years, but the fundamental principle is the same. The essential characteristic of the old colonial system was the restriction of the trade of the colonies for the benefit of the Mother Country. Reciprocally, colonial produce received in the markets of the Mother Country tariff favours as compared with foreign produce. Now as then the object aimed at is that the trade of the Empire should be confined as far as possible within the Empire.
It is worth while to press this comparison, because historical as well as political memories are so short that some members of the Tariff Reform Party appear to be under the impression that they are the exponents of an entirely new doctrine. In substance what they are advocating is the re-establishment of a system which was maintained with varying degrees of stringency for over two hundred years, and was then deliberately abandoned. This does not, of course, prove that the tariff reformers are wrong. In the changing phases of life it is quite possible that we can learn again from our grandfathers wisdom which our fathers had forgotten. But those who wish to go back should certainly first take note of the broad facts which time has revealed. In this case the facts stand out clearly. The old colonial system failed to bear the strain of a hesitating attempt made by the Mother Country to obtain from the colonies a small contribution to the cost of wars waged by her almost entirely on their behalf; the new system has yielded a magnificent voluntary contribution both of money and of men from the colonies to help the Mother Country in fighting a war in which her interests are more immediately involved than theirs.
How then, it may be asked, does it happen that, at such a crisis in our history as the present, proposals to revert to the ancient system are being vigorously pressed, even by persons who had previously distinguished themselves by strong opposition to the whole idea of imperial preference? The answer is to be found in the anxieties which the war has created. Prominent among these is the submarine peril. How far that has been exaggerated it is impossible to say. Public opinion and governmental utterances on the subject have both fluctuated, in accordance with the extent of the temporary successes which German submarines have achieved. At one moment ministers and newspaper writers have all been shaking their heads and declaring that the nation must be regarded as in a state of siege ; a few weeks later submarines have been forgotten altogether. The transition from gravity to indifference has happened more than once during the course of the war. Looking at the matter broadly there does not appear to be any sufficient ground for the belief expressed