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The German fleet in “home waters" clearly need not be of great strength as against Russia, which has practically denuded her Baltic fleet of sea-going ships, and limited it to coast-defence vessels. As against France the great struggle must be on land, and sea-fighting can have little or no influence on the result. Consequently it is clear that the German naval policy is governed by the consideration of a possible conflict with England in the North Sea. Foreign squadrons are not neglected as a protection for colonies, commerce, and communications ; but they are deliberately subordinated to the provision of a powerful home fleet. The equipment, training, and complete efficiency of the latter fleet are the prime objects of the Emperor and his advisers.
This article was in form a review of Mr. Erskine Childers' remarkable book, The Riddle of the Sands : A Record of Secret Service Recently Achieved, in which the author succeeded by a brilliant flight of imagination in putting himself in the position of the German strategist, and in working out a complete plan, which may not be wholly imaginary, for the successful invasion of England. The story turns on the discovery of extensive and secret preparations being made by the German Government in the little known country of East Friesland for “a well-timed, well-planned blow at the industrial heart of the kingdom, the great Northern and Midland towns, with their teeming populations of peaceful wage-earners.”
In commenting on the article in the Westminster Gazette we
noted the entirely inadequate steps taken so far “Juggins.”
by this country to meet the tremendous naval armament of the Lord of the Atlantic," whose " destiny lies upon the water," and who is resolved "to grasp the Trident.” Practically nothing has been done, though there has been some show of organising a home fleet, and a base has been selected in the Firth of Forth, more perhaps as a concession to the "strategists of the streets " than as a part of a serious naval policy, and little or nothing has been done to convert it from a paper base into a naval base, presumably because public attention is supposed to be otherwise engaged. Juggins of Whitehall is a man of the same kidney as Juggins of Pall Mall or Juggins of Downing Street. Juggins is the real ruler of this country, and he will be the ruin of it unless he can be reformed. Since this warning appeared more than two months ago in the Westminster Gazette—which unfortunately has never devoted another paragraph to the subject, all its ability and intelligence having been devoted to the miserable competition between the Ins and the Outs—a war has broken out in the Far East which emphasises a hundredfold all the lessons of the past upon the supreme value of naval preparation and readiness. Even the most hidebound permanent official or the most pachydermatous politician cannot remain permanently impervious to the meaning of the startling successes of Japan. Under our very eyes a Power which only the other day ranked as one of the great naval nations has been suddenly reduced to a paralytic condition because her enemy had grasped the doctrines which she had despised, and as a consequence the position of the belligerents, at any rate at sea, has been temporarily, and perhaps permanently, reversed, and the role of “under dog” is now being played by Russia. We see, moreover, that, thanks to the heavy blows dealt by a ready fleet to a sleeping adversary, the prompt Power thereby acquires command of the sea, which enables her army to follow up the naval success by carrying war into the mainland almost as comfortably as though it were a mere extension of Japanese territory. The moral of these pregnant events has not been lost elsewhere, but unfortunately they appear so far to have made little or no impression upon the responsible statesmen of this country. At a time when the value of sea power is more patent than ever, the Parliament of the leading Sea Power is opened with much whining over the Estimates, followed by whining debates in which the two Parties appear to have striven as to which should cut the most melancholy figure. This attitude has created a deplorable impression abroad, where it has not unnaturally encouraged the idea that Great Britain is weary of maintaining her navy. Meanwhile, the Power which lives and dreams in hopes of one day catching the British navy as the Japanese have caught the Russians, is greedily devouring the newest naval lessons, and intends to redouble her tremendous efforts, and this, mind you, though she is a “poor" Protectionist Power, saddled with a colonial Empire which we are told she cannot afford to carry.
While the German Emperor has been combining business with
pleasure by inspecting our defences at Gibraltar, * Campaign
which are not open to Englishmen-presumably of
a "graceful concession" on our part-the GerEducation.
man Government has started a fresh campaign of * It is interesting to learn on the authority of a Press report that Gibraltar has reached the expectations of our Imperial visitor. In his own words, " It is grand, like everything English. (Our italics.) I am not surprised at Gibraltar's being impregnable." The German Emperor invariably becomes an enthusiastic Anglophile directly he touches British soil or finds himself in British company, which affords a singularly agreeable contrast to the sentiments he keeps for home consumption. So far as we can recollect, his last “British” speech to a German audience was on December 19 at Hanover, and ran as follows: "I raise my glass, and would express the with the greatest of our national interests, viz., the security of these islands. We trust that there may be desire that every one of you may follow me as I turn my eyes to the past and drink to the health of the German Legion, in remembrance of the incomparable deeds which in conjunction with Blücher and the Prussians at Waterloo, saved the English army from destruction.”
education on behalf of the new naval programme which they hope to introduce at an early date. In the first place, as a sop to the Catholic Centre, whose support is vital to the Government in the present balance of Parties in the Reichstag, the law excluding individual Jesuits is to be repealed, the watchword of the Centre being “Give us our Jesuits and you shall have your battleships." In writing on March 25, the Times correspondent in Berlin, who never strikes a mare's nest, declares that the “persistence with which the prospects of fresh schemes for increasing the German Navy are being discussed, warrants the belief that in authoritative quarters projects of this nature are seriously entertained." According to one rumour it has actually been decided to propose the construction of a third double squadron, equivalent to seventeen battleships and their complement of cruisers, while according to others Admiral Tirpitz, the Secretary of State for the Imperial Navy, will content himself with demanding an equivalent for the six large and the seven small cruisers for foreign service which the Reichstag plucked up courage to refuse when the present huge scheme was adopted in 1900. But the preponderant opinion appears to be that the German Government will ask for more than an equivalent of the thirteen rejected cruisers, and that in the first instance this demand will take the form of a new battleship programme. Count Reventlow, one of those convenient scribes who always appear upon the scenes when the Berlin Government wishes to “educate" public opinion, contributes an article to the Berliner Tagblatt advocating as an equivalent to the cruisers the construction of another squadron of eight battleships with their complementary cruisers and reserve vessels. While the statesmen of “rich" England are weeping over the Estimates, Count Reventlow urges that it is more than ever incumbent upon “poor" Germany to increase her fleet, “even though this policy might involve an expenditure far in excess of that which was contemplated in the great navy scheme of 1900."
This further development of German ambitions will surely
bring matters to a head. It is really incredible 670
that our Government should continue trifling Statesmen.
a sufficient amount of public spirit in the country to insist that the Admiralty shall, whatever the cost, make immediate and adequate counter-preparations. The Germans are proclaiming their intentions from the house-tops, but in any case their objective is so obvious as to raise a question not only for the Admiralty but also for the Foreign Office. The Times correspondent concludes the instructive telegram we have quoted with these pertinent inquiries :
If projects such as those which are now being discussed should assume practical shape, the question as to the real objects of these excessive naval preparations on the part of Germany might well become a burning one. It is universally admitted that the navy which is at present being constructed will be strong enough to render an attack upon German shores or even a blockade next to impossible. What, then, are the intentions which animate those who desire to go so far beyond the present scheme, and whose plans, it may be added, always contemplate the retention of nearly the whole of these new and formidable fleets in German home waters ? Out of 670 statesmen in the House of Commons is there not one who will take up this question and wake up the powers that be ? Our existence after all is the greatest of British interests. Are we to play the ostrich year after year until it is too late, while another nation openly prepares to challenge us with a weapon avowedly forged for that purpose and which could be forged for no other ? No Anglo-French Settlement, or Army Reform, or Fiscal Reform, great and valuable as are each and all of these, is comparable in importance to the integrity of these islands. It is also an Imperial question because a successful blow at the heart would destroy the Empire.
The war in the Far East has not yet produced any definite
development in the international situation of The
Europe, which remains, however, pregnant with International
possibilities. There was one very nasty moment Situation.
during the past month, when it looked as though the camarilla of Grand Dukes, political adventurers and soldiers of fortune who have had the upper hand in St. Petersburg for the last year-and who after eliminating such wise counsellors as M. de Witte, Count Lamsdorff and General Kuropatkin, managed to engineer their country into a war for which she was wholly unprepared—were going to increase their catalogue of crimes by deliberately picking a quarrel with England. All sorts of grotesque and imflammatory legends were circulated in the St. Petersburg and provincial presses, which daily foamed with fury against “the evil machinations" of Great Britain and the United States, who “had egged on Japan.” The truth is that
the war is unpopular in Russia, and the official attempts to organise patriotic demonstrations have proved a fiasco, and whatever the upshot of events in the Far East, it is felt to be disastrous to the interests of the autocracy, which is seen to have surrendered itself to reckless and dangerous advisers. It is therefore as natural that the guilty parties should seek a lightning conductor for the indignation of the Tsar and people as that they should hope to find it in the hereditary enemy"England. Hence the recent revival of Anglophobia, and the issue of sensational orders concerning the movements of troops in Asia. All the German agencies, which are only too powerful in St. Petersburg, assiduously fanned the flame, and for an instant Europe dreaded an explosion. Happily moderating influences intervened, some of the most popular lies were exposed, and the announcement that Great Britain and France were about to effect a comprehensive settlement of their outstanding difficulties came as a steadying factor at a critical
Nor can the highest circles in Russia have remained in complete ignorance of the indecent glee to which the highest quarters in Germany give vent, in private, over the Russian reverses. There ensued a gradual improvement in the attitude of the Russian Press towards the end of March and the Gerinans are now beginning to whimper at the "ingratitude" of their Eastern neighbour for “German services”-presumably to be repaid in terms of Anglophobia. The situation therefore reverts to its original position. The peace of Europe mainly depends upon the success with which the French and British nations are able to thwart the efforts of those who are determined to bring the Allies of the belligerents into the Far Eastern War. We hope that the Governments of Paris and London, supported as they are by the effective public opinion of both countries, will be sufficiently strong to hold their present ground.
Although there has been a vast output of “war news during
the past month, there has been little news of the The War.
war. The Japanese have very wisely maintained the strictest censorship upon information concerning the movements of troops, though they have shown themselves fully alive to the value of misleading hints. We may anticipate that when at last the veil is lifted Japanese military strategy will be worthy of their naval tactics, and we shall see a complete and coherent plan. How far the transportation of troops to the mainland has actually proceeded during the last six weeks, or to what extent it may have been impeded by the ice-bound condition of the coasts,