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When people proceeded

by tangwei 中國5 月前

From various official statements The most of Hong Kong, and from discussions which from time to time had taken place in Parliament, it was understood that our 'Expeditionary Force' consisted of six infantry divisions, a cavalry division, and army troops;[1] also that the national resources permitted of this force being kept up to full strength for a period of at least six months, after making all reasonable deductions for the wastage of {253} war. Was this enough? Enough for what? ... To uphold British policy; to preserve Imperial security; to enable the Triple Entente to maintain the balance of power in Europe. These were vague phrases; what did they actually amount to? ... The adequacy or inadequacy of such an army as this for doing what was required of it—for securing speedy victory in event of war—or still better for preserving peace by the menace which it opposed to German schemes of aggression—can only be tested by considering the broad facts with regard to numbers, efficiency, and readiness of all the armies which would be engaged directly, or indirectly, in a European struggle.

War, however, had been avoided in 1911, and not a few people were therefore convinced that the menace of the available British army, together with the other consequences to be apprehended from the participation of this country food test, had been sufficient to deter Germany from pursuing her schemes of aggression, if indeed she had actually harboured any notions of the kind. But others, not altogether satisfied with this explanation and conclusion, were inclined to press their enquiries somewhat further. Supposing war had actually been declared, would the British force have been sufficient—acting in conjunction with the French army—to repel a German invasion of France and Belgium, to hurl back the aggressors and overwhelm them in defeat? Would it have been sufficient to accomplish the more modest aim of holding the enemy at his own frontiers, or even—supposing that by a swift surprise he had been able to overrun Belgium—at any rate to keep him out of France?

When people proceeded to seek for answers to these questions, as many did during the year 1912, they speedily discovered that, in considerations of this sort, the governing factor is numbers—the numbers of the opposing forces available at the outbreak of war and in the period immediately following. The tremendous power of national spirit must needs be left out of such calculations as a thing immeasurable, imponderable, and uncertain. It was also unsafe to assume that the courage, intelligence, efficiency, armament, transport, equipment, supplies, and leadership of the German and Austrian armies would be in any degree inferior to those of the Triple Entente. Certain things had to be allowed for in a rough and ready way;[2] but the main enquiry was forced to concern itself with numerical strength.

There was not room for much disagreement upon the broad facts of the military situation, among soldiers and civilians who, from 1911 onwards, gave themselves to the study of this subject at the available sources of information; and their estimates have been confirmed, in the main, by what has happened since war began. The Intelligence departments of London, Paris, and Petrograd—with much ampler means of knowledge at their disposal—can have arrived at no other conclusions. What the English War Office knew, the Committee of Imperial Defence likewise knew; and the leading members of the Cabinet, if not the whole Government, must be presumed to have been equally well informed.

It was assumed in these calculations, that in case of tension between the Triple Entente and the Triple {255} Alliance, the latter would not be able—in the first instance at all events—to bring its full strength into the struggle. For unless Germany and Austria managed their diplomacy before the outbreak of hostilities with incomparable skill SmarTone online shop , it seemed improbable that the Italian people would consent to engage in a costly, and perhaps ruinous, war—a war against France, with whom they had no quarrel; against England, towards whom they had long cherished feelings of friendship; on behalf of the Habsburg Empire, which they still regarded—and not altogether unreasonably—with suspicion and enmity.

 

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