rule that the Chilean authorities were able to act. The • Karnak' left Iquique on Oct. 2 with 6000 tons of coal, declaring her destination to be San Francisco viâ Callao. On Oct. 26 she arrived empty at another Chilean port, Antofagasta, 'with indications in her appearance that she had transferred her cargo at sea.

She declared to the authorities that she had been chased by a British cruiser and had jettisoned her coal' (* Times,' Nov. 9, 1914). This excuse was transparently false; and the Chilean Government, on the British minister protesting, ordered an enquiry, and laid it down that, if steamers are proved or strongly suspected in these circumstances to have made false declarations, such steamers will be treated as ships forming part of a belligerent navy'(“Times,' Dec. 16) and will be detained until the end of the war. Subsequently two other German steamers, the 'Luxor' and the Memphis,' left a Chilean port without clearance-papers in order to take supplies to German cruisers. The Chilean Government not, only ordered the capture of both vessels but, in consequence of this and other breaches of neutrality by ships of the Kosmos' line, forbade any of the vessels of this line to take on coal or provisions in any Chilean port pending investigations (Times,' Nov. 23).




Further remarks on the Law of Neutrality as illustrated by the present war will be made in a subsequent article.

Art. 16.—THE WAR.


I.-BY LAND. DURING the past three months of war the principal scenes of the great drama have continued to be enacted on the Russian front. While the Allied armies, undeterred by conditions of weather that have in some localities made movement almost impossible, have, by ceaseless activity, compelled the Germans to keep very large forces in France, the latter, with their Austrian allies, have continued their offensive against Russia with a perseverance which in a better cause could not fail to command admiration. But, despite continuous fighting in both theatres of war, neither the Allies nor the enemy have achieved more than local and partial successes.

In order to apprehend the significance of military operations and the degree of success attending them it is first necessary to understand the object they are designed to attain. In this lies one great difficulty of reviewing a current campaign—that the object of the operations on either side is not definitely known. It can only be conjectured ; and an erroneous conjecture not only vitiates all deductions based upon it, but may lead to distorted views on general questions. Thus, at the beginning of the war, it was generally supposed by nonmilitary critics that the object of the German invasion of France was to attack or invest Paris; and because Paris escaped its supposed fate and the Germans turned aside to attack the Allied armies south of the Marne, the enemy's whole plan was assumed to have failed. On this occasion the reputation of the German General Staff became so discredited that many of the critics have never since been able to discern anything but flurry and ineptitude in many skilful and dashing strokes designed by a body of officers among whose failings lack of coolness and ability certainly finds no place. It is quite true that the Germans laid their march on Paris ; and, partly to inspire their troops to great exertions, partly, perhaps, with the idea of intimidating the Allies, announced their intention of being in the capital by a certain date. But this presupposed the defeat of the Allied armies, after which the investment of Paris would probably have been effected principally by second-line troops, the field army being released to operate against Russia. The Germans, in fact, acted in accordance with the principle which has governed the opening of nearly every offensive campaign since field armies became mobile, namely, to strike straight at the enemy's capital, or at some great centre of the nation's life and population which the hostile army cannot afford to abandon to its fate. The first object of war being the destruction of the enemy's army, the surest step towards that end at the beginning of a campaign is to strike along a line on which the enemy is certain to be found. A general engagement is thus ensured at the earliest possible moment, while the defending army is yet, perhaps, not fully prepared. The Germans turned aside from Paris at the beginning of September because the Allied army, though severely handled, was still unbeaten ; and while it remained unbeaten any attempt to attack the Capital would have been unsafe and useless. For it is not to be imagined that the Allied army would have played the part of spectator at the sack of Paris; and the Germans were not strong enough to combine an attack on the great fortress with an offensive campaign in the field.


While the Germans at the outset of the French campaign were animated by the single purpose of defeating the Allied army as the first step towards the subjugation of the French nation, and as a preliminary to throwing their field army against Russia, the conditions of the campaign on the eastern front are more complex, making it impossible to determine precisely what object the enemy has in view. In every case the object can be conjectured only by determining from military considerations what would be the best course of action, and assuming that this course will be adopted. But without full knowledge of all the conditions the best course cannot be determined with any confidence; and, even when the military conditions are sufficiently known, political considerations may exercise an unforeseen influence which upsets the calculation. In the case of the Russian campaign, among many uncertain quantities there is one fact which dominates the German aims. For reasons dealt with in our article last January, Germany must bring the French campaign to a conclusion before seeking a final decision against Russia. In no other way can she hope to dictate terms to the Allied Governments. It is therefore safe to conclude that in the present operations Germany does not expect to accomplish more than to reduce the Russian armies to a condition of inactivity for a sufficient period to permit of her throwing all her available strength against the Allied army, in order to destroy it and compel France to come to terms. If that were accomplished, Russia and Great Britain could be dealt with at leisure.

The circumstances which make Warsaw a point of great military importance were referred to in the last article. Briefly, it is one of the keys to the whole defensive system of Eastern Poland. This region, in its turn, constitutes a great place d'armes, well provided with railway communications, where Russian armies may assemble for operations against either Germany or Austria. It is enclosed on the north and west by the rivers Bobr, Narew, and Vistula, fortified bridges on the roads and railways providing for free egress; on the south it lies open to Galicia. In rear of it to the east the wilderness of the Pinsk Marshes fills the space between the Dnieper in the east and the Bug in the west, with a breadth from north to south varying from two hundred to three hundred miles. This vast area of marsh and forest, intersected by innumerable rivers, is quite impracticable for military operations.

The significance of the struggle for possession of the line of the Vistula, which has continued since early in October, may now be imagined. If the Germans gained . the Vistula, the Russian armies would have to fall back from Western Galicia and the Carpathians, and the line of the Bobr and Narew would be turned. The further proceedings would depend on the state of the Russian armies after the series of defeats by which the Germans would have gained these advantages, and on the demands of the situation in France and elsewhere. The Germans might attempt to throw the Russians back on the Pinsk Marshes, advancing to the line of the Bug; but if, as is more likely, they were to rest content with holding the line of the Polish rivers, the invasion of Germany would at least be indefinitely deferred; and such troops as could be spared might be transferred to France to


assist in a final effort to overcome the Allied armies. In the absence of any practical alternative suggestion it will be assumed that the German plans have been formulated somewhat on the above lines.

At the beginning of the new year the Germans, by a rapid advance on Warsaw, had for the second time obliged the Russians to relinquish the offensive operations on which they were intent, and to concentrate considerable forces to defend the Polish capital. This second stroke had failed, less disastrously indeed than the earlier one, for reasons which need not be recapitulated. The Russian armies were firmly established on the line of the rivers Bzura, Rawka and Nida in Poland, and in Western Galicia on the Dunajetz. Further south fighting was proceeding on the Carpathian front in favour of the Russians, who were, moreover, again invading the Bukowina.

The failure of the Germans either to crush the Russian army in Poland or to possess themselves of the line of the Vistula, resulting, as it did, in a complete deadlock in Central and South Poland, invested the Carpathian front with quite a new importance. Its defence became as vital to the Germans as that of the Vistula had been to the Russians. Owing to the strength of the defences which had grown up in the course of the fighting during December, Poland had ceased to be a practicable area of active operations. Similarly the gap between the Upper Vistula and the Carpathians had become impregnable to either side. Only in the Carpathians was it reasonably possible for either army to break through or outflank the other. The complete command of the mountains once secured, the Austrians might endeavour to clear Galicia and turn the line of the Vistula; or the Russians might operate against the enemy's flank in Hungary, where it would find no secure support either from natural obstacles or neutral frontiers. Having regard to the deadlock which had existed for some months in France and East Prussia, and which bad recently extended to Poland, the situation seemed pregnant with possibilities. Roumania was believed only to await a favourable opportunity and security against Turkish attack to throw in her lot with the Triple

« VorigeDoorgaan »