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Evening Star, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
Sbcoki) in importance to the war itself is the question of its The Duration duration. Upon this of tSie War. aspect of the. l catastrophe that has been forced upon mankind there have bean many and varied opinions from the first. Our own view, which wet stated quite early in the campaign, with our reasons; therefor, was that the wax could not. from its very nature, be a long one. Xor have we found reason at any time since, to qualify this belief; on the contrary, the signs are increasingly against the three and five or more years' theory. The natural and normal state of civilised man in this twentieth century of the Christian era is not to> tear each other limb from iimb nor to reduce to heaps of ruins the works of their forbears' hands, but to encourage the humanities and amenities of life " to fruitful strifes and rivalries of peare." The war now devastating Europe will, in the mercy of God. prove but a brief, if tremendous, episode in the world's history. For if there lie one thing more than another that the, past sis months have, taught up, it is the intensity of the average, man a.nd woman's detestation of war. German historian.":, publicists, and rulers have, gained no greater triumph for their doctrines than German arms have gained on land and sea. They have aroused nothing but universal seem and loathing by their abominable teachings that Force aione is worthy of the worship of rational men, and that war. as practised by German arms, is but a necessary, and beneficial change of organisation in the process of human evolution. The conclusion among thoughtful observers is almost unanimous. Germany, having failed in her primary objective, has failed a-11 round.
The question to-day is chiefly the speculative one of how long .she will persist in calling upon her sons to sacrifice their lives. This and the calm determination of the Allies to restore Belgium, to protect France, and to crush Prussian militarism are the sine, premises from which to draw a, probable eonehiKion as to the duration of the war. Most of the surmises and assertions that were at one, time, popular a-inong the irresponsible section of public opinion had their origin in a .statement attributed to Lord Kitchener. The. Minister of War never said —one cannot even imagine him doing so—that the. war would last three years. What Lord Kitchener said, in all probability, was that he, was preparing, for a three-years,' war—a, wholly diu'ereut story, as well as furnishing the one unanswerable reply to the mendacious allegations that Britain was sible- for tlm war. If we accept, as we must, that Fra.nce. Russia, and England were not prepared for war, but that Germany was. and that ?he selected her own moment, when to strike, then the- .signs of the times are rich with promise that Europe and the world are. on the threshold of the beginning of the end. There are reasonable ground'- for this position. Speaking in the Hout-e of Commons on November 11, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Bonar Law; said : All these- economic forces will work with a pressure- of which we have no conception. lam therefore sanguine enough io entertain the hope—at leastthe Lope—that perhaps tho war may not last so long n.s» most of us are inclined to believe.
The Prime Minister, who spoke on the same occasion, was, if anything, more definite. Mr Asauitk £ai<d,i.
! It would ill Income- us in eiremn--1 stances such as those to adopt the language of depression or want of ecufidenc:-. Tho war may Inst long. T doubt myself if it will last ac, long as many p-eopb originally predicted. But that it will last long is certain, and we may take to ourselves this hope and this assurance: the longer it lasts the more will these ureat reserves of strength winch the British Empire pesf.t.'srcs show themselves equal to filling gaps, replacing losses maintaining positions, and achieving ultimate and complete victory. More definite opinions cannot, be expected, as, unfortunately, it remains true that those youths and men, as well as their friends, who have so far failed in (heir duty to their country would confirm themselves in their obduracy if they knew beyond doubt that the war will not, last long. Outside critics are not so reticent. Mr Massingham, in the 'Nation,' says: The idea of a two years' war is disappearing, for no nation (save our own) could stand it. But peace before the summer (after a sluggish winter campaign and a fierce revival in tlw spring) is the earliest ft uvea st I have hoard from anyone, in authority. It is ,-ibo claimed that a majority- of military and political authorities believe that the main part- of the, fighting will lieover in Juno. Much, necessarily, depends upon what is meant by a )<<n<x war. When, however, we recall the vastness of the task, the magnitude of the issues, and the unalterable resolve of. the Allies to secure them, the term '•long" is merely relative. But it is possible to estimate its length. What- is important, to remember is that the Empire, entered upon this awful conflict with definite objects and for de-' finite purposes, and until they have been attained the war will go on. What, those purposes aro has been plainly stated by Mr Asquith and other Ministers. The Attorney-General (Sir John A. Simon) has summarised them with admirable directness : Do yon want to know when tho war is going to end'.' I will tell you; .1 will tell you not approximately, but exactly. The-"war is going to end on that day on which we and our gallant Allies have accomplished the purpose for which we set out —that is not only to right the w-rongs of unhappy Bolgium—for righted these wrongs shall be—-not only to restore respect for sacred European obligations, as they shall be, restored, but. to crush that hateful spirit of Prussian militarism which is a menace to Europe worse than war, and by crushing which wo shall confer a lasting benefit, not only on ourselves, not only on the- small nations of Europe, hut on that great and powerful community the German people] themselves. Meanwhile, the surts! way to hasten this bojMxi-for day is for the Empire, to bring every ounce of its available- strength, human and material, against, the common foe.
Evening Star, Issue 15708, 23 January 1915
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