The Empire and the century/Imperial Defence and National Policy
IMPERIAL DEFENCE AND NATIONAL POLICY
By L. S. AMERY
The subject of Imperial Defence is one that is being continually discussed in magazine articles and in the columns of our daily newspapers. Schemes of army reform without number, controversies between naval and military experts as to the possibilities of invading England, are worn threadbare with discussion. The intention of the present article is not so much to go into any of these detailed questions, as to consider some of the main factors involved in the problem of defence, and the manner in which that problem is affected by Imperialism; in other words, by the conception of the Empire as our national unit.
Defence, rightly regarded, is an essential aspect of national life, and bears on every manifestation of that life. Unfortunately, in this country the fatal habit of thinking in compartments—begotten of intellectual weakness or sloth—has grown so strong that we habitually think of defence as a separate problem, entirely disconnected with the general problem of our national life, and with our political and social system. So completely, indeed, have we, as a nation, been dominated by this slovenly habit of thought, that even the most obvious external elements of our machinery of defence have been considered absolutely without reference to each other. It is only lately that we have even begun to acknowledge that naval and military defence are only parts of one problem. We are still very far from having translated that acknowledgment into practice. As for making our foreign policy and our political negotiations fit in with our defensive measures, that is a conception of peace strategy which we are still a long way from attaining. The South African War, and the war in the Far East, have provided us with signal examples of the unfortunate results which may follow from neglecting to make political negotiations and military preparations fit in with each other; but there are no indications, as yet, that we intend to benefit by them. It is essential that we should get rid of this vicious attitude of mind, and endeavour to realize that not only our naval and military preparations, but our foreign and domestic policy, our political and social customs, our industries, the distribution of our territories, of our population, and of our trade, all have their defence aspect, and form part of the general problem of defence. It is no less essential, of course, to recognise the converse of this assertion. We must remember that defence has no purpose and no meaning apart from the other aspects of national life. The object of defence is to preserve our territories, to protect the growth of our material wealth, and, still more important, to secure the maintenance and development of our social and political well-being, of our national traditions, and of our national character. The truth is that between the different factors of national life it is impossible to draw hard and fast partitions. Each is continually interacting upon the other. The territory and wealth that need to be defended are, from another point of view, but the instruments with which defence is carried on. The political and social freedom and stability which we prize, and for the sake of which our State is most worth defending, are, at the same time, the most effective means of securing the frill development of national power in time of war. The war in the Far East has brought out clearly the intimate connection between these two aspects of the same question. Russia's weakness in the field is but the reflex of the internal weakness of her constitution. The efficiency and devotion of the Japanese army are but the outward signs of a nation that is well covered and inspired by patriotism. Again, the moral qualities most valuable for the purposes of national defence—i.e. self-sacrifice, courage, constancy—are, from another point of view, just those essentials of national character which make a nation worth preserving. And regarding the problem of defence from this point of view, we begin to realize that defence need not be a diversion of the national energies from higher and better aims—a mere payment of insurance, necessary, perhaps, but essentially undesirable—but can be used as a motive power and a stimulus in the development towards a higher form of national organization.
This truth was more fully realized by the original builders of the British Empire than it is to-day. For them foreign relations, defence, and industrial and commercial development formed but one single policy—^a policy of which each part was intended to support and stimulate the other. Our ancestors fostered trade and industry deliberately for the sake of national security. But they were not content with fostering it in a general haphazard fashion. They regulated it strictly, regardless sometimes of immediate commercial profit, but always with an eye to the main objects of national greatness and national security. The real motive of the navigation laws was not shipping trade, but naval supremacy. To that object of naval supremacy, again, our whole trade with Northern Europe was subordinated. Subsequently, when we began to find that it was not altogether safe to rely upon the Baltic for our naval stores, we deliberately encouraged in our American Colonies the industries that, in those days, were essential to shipbuilding. In the same spirit, too, the whole of our export and import trade was regulated in order to secure an excess of exports, and thus accumulate the precious metals in this country. This policy was not the outcome of mere mistaken economics, but the result of intelligent preparation for war. It was that policy which enabled us to carry on wars on a large scale in Europe. In the days when all armies were hired, we hired not only the raw material of armies, but the finished article—the whole military strength of a statelike Prussia, and military genius of a Frederick.
All these measures, whose primary object was national defence, tended no less towards national prosperity, even though, at any particular moment, they may have seemed to restrict the freedom of economic development The navigation laws created British shipping. The desire to force exports led to the continuous concentration of thought upon the fostering and stimulating of new industries and the improvement of old ones, and thus laid the foundations of England's industrial greatness. The desire to secure the control of the raw materials of those industries, and to develop new and sure markets for their products, led to the acquisition of our Colonial Empire, and stimulated its development. It has often been said that the British Empire sprang up unconsciously, as a result of British trade, that our defence policy was based on our trade interests, and that our wars were the outcome of trade disputes. But it is at least equally true that British trade and the British Empire were created for the sake of national defence. It was from the desire to protect England—English liberty and English Protestantism—against the greater wealth and power of the Continental States, more especially France, that our statesmen looked abroad and ahead, and, in a far truer sense than Canning, called a new world into being to redress the balance of the old—a new world of colonial expansion, naval power, and industrial development.
In their actual conduct of war, no less than in their peace strategy, the clear grasp of our statesmen can be seen. No 'blue water' doctrinarianism, no theory of passive military defence, blinded them to the great fact that wars to be fought successfully must be fought offensively, and cannot be confined to one element alone. The intimate interaction of naval and military warfare in England's wars is often obscured from us by the fact that most of the work on land was done by our allies. Skilful foreign policy, helped by liberal subventions, enabled us to get the heavy and comparatively unprofitable work of continental fighting done for us. Our own little army was kept, as a rule, for the amphibious work of acquiring our Colonial Empire.
Not that the policy of the eighteenth century was in any way perfect. Far from it. The system of subventions was not so much a matter of choice, as, in a large measure, a matter of political necessity. The result of the long civil conflict of the seventeenth century had been to inspire the English nation with an intense jealousy and distrust of the army. But for that we can well imagine that the assistance given to our continental allies might have taken the form, not of money, but of men. We should in that case have been in a far stronger position. To use the industrial metaphor, we should have kept the military industry within our own borders. The hired foreign armies were not available everywhere or always, and the military skill evoked by the great struggles on the Continent did not inure to our benefit. It was the neglect of our army, the reckless cutting down after the Seven Years' War, that was the prime cause of the loss of the American Colonies. Had our army been only a little larger or a little more efficient, it could have crushed the American revolt at the outset. We should then still have had an opportunity for correcting our political errors in our treatment of the Colonies, as Rome had an opportunity for correcting her mistaken policy towards her Italian allies after she had crushed them in the social war. Again, even in Europe, the policy of hiring continental allies came to grief when revolutionary France suddenly brought into the field that new engine of war—the nation in arms. Our victory at Trafalgar was neutralized by our defeats at Jena and Austerlitz; and ten years of war, adding an enormous and crushing burden of debt, had to pass before Trafalgar was consummated by Leipzig and Waterloo.
With Waterloo began a new phase in our national history. New external conditions and new internal developments necessarily altered the whole national attitude towards the problem of defence. We had emerged from a great war in complete command of the sea. No other nation seriously thought of disputing our naval supremacy. The security of our oversea trade, the possession of the oversea Empire we had won, and the power of expanding it indefinitely, followed as a matter of course. Our industry was full of strength and vitality. During all the troubles and uncertainties of the Napoleonic wars, England's security from invasion had caused a steady influx of accumulated capital. At the same time we had emerged exhausted. The necessity of finding means for carrying on the struggle had burdened our industries with innumerable taxes, in which the original object of stimulating industrial development and safeguarding national defence had been almost wholly lost sight o£ A tremendous reaction set in against the militarism which had necessitated these burdens, and against the selfish political oligarchy into whose hands the defence of the country had fallen. New classes without political experience or political traditions came to power, displacing the old ruling classes. These new classes regarded the whole political attitude of their predecessors with suspicion—a suspicion of which traces still linger among us. Cobden's continual denunciation of the Colonial system and of militarism was deeply imbued with social prejudice. He looked upon the army, the navy, and the Colonies as aristocratic preserves, mere instruments of social influence and social intrigue. The connection between industry and defence, between trade and the Empire, was wholly lost from view. Each of these things seemed so secure by itself, that their underlying historical and vital unity was forgotten. The whole higher unity of national life fell to pieces, and for two generations Englishmen were taught to regard that national life under a single aspect—the aspect of unregulated commerce, safeguarded by the policeman and the law courts. For the first time in our history we really had become a nation of shopkeepers, with all the narrowness and short-sightedness the epithet is held to convey.
The result was very much what might have been expected. There was a very great increase in every direction. But not all of that increase was secure. To a great extent we lost the political control of our commerce; and that commerce existed—and still exists, to a large extent—only in so far as other States chose to let it exist. The industrial development naturally produced an enormous increase of population. But the greater part of that went outside our own political borders. The population of the United States was, to a large extent, stimulated by the overflow from this country, and was actually built up in America itself by the sustaining power of the British market. That population was lost immediately as far as defence was concerned, and was gradually lost for economic purposes as well, as it began to learn to manufacture for itself, and refused to keep its market open to British goods. It is no exaggeration to say that we lost a greater colonial empire to the United States in the nineteenth century than we did in the eighteenth. Even as regards the population which remained within the Empire, it was bound to the Mother Country by the weakest of political ties, and allowed to move away towards complete economic separation. Outside of England the economic development of the British Empire was very slow. Taken as a whole, there can be no doubt that the expansion of wealth and population in the British State was far less under the policy pursued than it would have been under a policy which looked to national greatness and security as a whole.
About twenty years ago we began to enter upon a new phase in our national life. The change had been partly internal and partly external. There had been a gradual intellectual reaction against the Little Englander and the Cobdenite school of thought, which first asserted itself in the national attitude towards the political unity of the Empire, and towards naval and military defence. The Home Rule agitation may be said to have marked a turning-point. In the next ten years the idea of Imperial unity developed mightily. The Diamond Jubilee, the South African War, the Imperial Conference of 1902, and the present movement for commercial unity, marked the further stages in that development. The new ideal of Empire is, however, not the same as the old one. It is a loftier and nobler conception, corresponding to the wider outlook and broader humanity of advancing civilization. In the first British Empire England was the only part which counted. The rest of the Empire had only been created for the sake of England's economic and defensive strength. The other parts of the Empire were but buttresses intended to prop up the parent stem. None was really considered essential. If one was lost, another could be created to fill its place. The sentiment and aspirations of the population which was growing up in the Colonies were not regarded. Of this disregard the American Revolution was but the natural fruit. In the next phase England again was still the only object of political solicitude. But now the value of buttresses was no longer believed in. The Colonies were regarded as elements of weakness rather than of strength. It was supposed that if they could be encouraged to develop as independent States, England would be free from the responsibility of defending them, and yet enjoy all the advantages of trading with them. Fortunately, these short-sighted views never wholly prevailed. The Empire has remained, disunited indeed and undeveloped, but still substantially intact. The new ideal which has meanwhile grown up and gathered strength is that of the Empire as a single united whole, a great world-State, composed of equal and independent yet indissolubly united States. Every unit of this great federation is as essential to the whole as any part of the United Kingdom. To the true Imperialist Canada and South Africa are in every sense as real and essential parts of his country, of the State which claims his patriotic allegiance, as Scotland, Wales, or Kent Each State of the British Empire is as essential to the whole as are the States of the American Union. This may not yet perhaps be the attitude of every Englishman, or of every Canadian, or South African, but it is an attitude which is becoming more general, and one that is growing in strength. How rapidly it has grown is shown by the South African War. That war was in its essence a war of secession, an attempt on the part of certain semi-dependent States to wrest themselves, and not only themselves, but the whole of South Africa, out of the Imperial system. The Colonies sent their contingents to oppose that attempt, not so much from any affection for the United Kingdom, as from the determination that the British Empire should be preserved intact.
Closely connected with the internal change in the Empire have been the changes in its external surroundings, which have again made the question of defence vital, and through the aspect of defence have helped on the movement for unity. Europe took much longer to recover from the great crisis of the Napoleonic? wars than England. A constant series of conflicts between the different States, and between the different classes in those States, retarded their economic development. Gradually, however, a measure of internal and external equilibrium was arrived at, and was followed by a stage of rapid economic development. Prussia, pursuing a policy in its spirit closely akin to that of England in the eighteenth century, made defence—through education, through efficiency of administration, and through the fostering of industry—subserve the purposes of national development, and in the last generation has reaped the fruits of her policy in an expansion of national strength, with which our expansion in recent times can bear no comparison. Russia, too, is gradually becoming a modern State, and though internal misgovernment and disastrous wars abroad may retard, yet they cannot in the long-run check her economic development, or the growth of her power. The United States after a long period, during which all its energies were turned inwards, are now looking without, and entering into the competition of the world not only as an industrial, but also as a military and naval power. With all these States industrial development has led to the desire to control markets and the sources of raw materials—in other words, to a policy of expansion. That same industrial development has provided them with the wealth which makes that expansion possible, which enables them to maintain great armies and build great fleets. We have gradually come back to the situation of two centuries ago; only now what is threatened is, not so much England as the British Empire as a whole, and England herself mainly in so far as she is dependent on the Empire and on her trade for holding her own. The new danger can only be met in the same spirit as the old. No army reorganizations or naval schemes, no mere increases of our defence budgets will permanently solve it. We must go back to the old view, and remember that defence is an essential part of the national life, a thing which must be kept in mind in everything that we do or leave undone, a part to which every other must, in a
sense, be subordinated for the development of the whole. With this view before us, let us now consider what the defence of the British Empire involves. To do this we must first have regard to its extent and position, to the distribution, total volume, and economic strength of its population on the one hand, and on the other to the position of its principal rivals. The British Empire covers the largest area of any Empire in the world, and has the largest gross population. But that population is of very unequal political, economic, and defensive value. Only the white population in it can be reckoned fully efficient in any of these respects. The white population of the British Empire is only a little over fifty millions. If we set against that figure the sixty millions of the present German Empire, the eighty millions of the united Germany towards which Pan-Germanism is working, or the seventy millions of the white inhabitants of the United States, and also consider the extent and configuration of the territories to be defended, the weakness of the material basis on which that vast Empire is built at once becomes evident. Moreover, that efficient population is most unequally distributed. Four-fifths of it are concentrated in these islands. This, no doubt, is an advantage in so far as islands are difficult to invade or to conquer. Unfortunately, the islands in question are much too small even to support their existing population, and the need of securing free access of supplies from oversea is a serious strategical weakness. Besides, the comparative security of one part of the Empire is of little advantage if other parts, no less essential to the whole, are insecure. The Empire possesses two enormous land frontiers bordering on the territories of two of the greatest world States. Behind neither of these frontiers is there a sufficient development of economic and national strength to ensure the safety of our position.
The defence of an Empire whose parts are divided by the sea demands first and foremost a supreme navy. That supremacy is more essential than ever, now that the outlying parts of the Empire are regarded not as dependencies, but as integral portions whose maintenance is essential to the existence of the whole. On the other hand, the oversea possessions of the other Powers are only dependencies in the sense that the British Colonies once were, and not integral portions of themselves, and for that very reason the loss of naval supremacy means more to us than to any of them. That supremacy must, therefore, be secure, not only against the most imminent risks, but against any risks that are even remotely probable. The maintenance of the two-Power standard is, perhaps, the very lowest measure that we can allow ourselves. Our navy is our very existence. We can allow no State, or pair of States, however seemingly well-disposed, to outbuild us at sea.
At the same time, a supreme navy alone will not suffice. In the first place, a purely naval war cannot crush a continental enemy. It may be prolonged indefinitely, and cost enormous sums, which will cripple the whole power of the nation, and thus in the long-run endanger naval supremacy itself, for naval supremacy must be based on national wealth. Moreover, even to purely naval success, military success is sometimes an essential factor. Without the army which captured Port Arthur, the Japanese would have found it more difficult to establish their naval supremacy in the Far East. The Battle of Mukden has probably prevented Russia from ever again becoming a dominating Power on the coasts of the Pacific, and has, therefore, greatly weakened her chances of becoming a dominant Power on the waters of that ocean. Again, the navy, to make sure of success, must be absolutely unhampered in the pursuit of its strategical objective—the enemy's fighting fleets. It must not be tied down to local defence. The object of our fleets is not to prevent an invasion of England, but to destroy hostile fleets. Lastly, a navy cannot defend a continental State. But the British Empire is, as regards Canada and India, at least, a continental Empire. Nothing that we can do at sea could ever recover either Canada or India if they had once come under the grip of the great territorial empires whose frontiers march with them. But the defence of Canada and India is as essential to the existence of the British Empire as the defence of England.
The defence of India is, indeed, the first and most pressing military problem to which we must attend. When we conquered India it was practically an island. Even now it is still separated by an enormous gap from the effective centre of Russian power. At the same time, Russia—the real Russia, not the boundary on the map—is steadily advancing towards the Indian frontier. That advance will only be delayed, but not stopped, by defeat in the Far East, or a revolution at home. The completion of strategical railways towards Afghanistan has been going on steadily, in spite of the war in Manchuria. Russia believes, and correctly believes, that she can concentrate even larger armies in Afghanistan than in Manchuria, and she also believes—and again, unfortunately, with reason—that we cannot bring against her as large or as well-trained forces as Japan has done. Whatever may be the situation at the present moment, the general trend of events is certain. Europe, with its economic and industrial development, its railways, and its military power, is slowly advancing across Asia, and will bring the whole weight of the European state, organized on modern military lines, against an Asiatic empire, based on primitive agriculture, and defended by a small standing army, partly native and partly European, with no adequate reserve behind it. This state of affairs is supremely unsatisfactory, and must be altered while Russia's present exhaustion gives us the time to do so. In the first place, we must create in this country a really adequate reserve for a great war in Asia. That reserve is not to be found in our existing military system, nor will Mr. Arnold-Forster's scheme, whatever its merits in some respects, provide it. The defence of India will require something much more powerful than Mr. Arnold-Forster's short-service reserve army. We require something in the nature of an Imperial militia, an organization that will enable us to put a really large and effective force, reckoned not in tens, but in hundreds of thousands, into the field in front of India, and to maintain and increase that force during a long war. How that force is to be raised and trained, and now it is to be paid for, is a problem that presents the very gravest difficulties. At the same time, it is a problem which must be faced. But even if we have a great reserve in this country, its distance from the Indian frontier constitutes a serious danger, especially in the case of a war fought on sea as well as on land. The creation of a reserve nearer to the Indian frontier than these islands is very desirable. Sooner or later it will be essential to organize something in the nature of an effective Imperial militia in the Colonies, of which both South Africa and the Australasian Colonies are much nearer to India than this country. But such a militia can only be raised in sufficient numbers and maintained effective if the population of those parts of the Empire is increased very largely beyond what it is at present. In the meantime, we can do something by keeping as large a proportion as possible of our regular army in those Colonies, though that can only be regarded as a temporary measure. Lastly, India herself must also be enabled to play her part more adequately in her own defence. The economic development of India, the building up of a great industrial community on the basis of the present purely agricultural India, is an essential element in Imperial Defence, and no considerations of the selfish interest of the English export trade can be allowed to stand in the way of that development. Ultimately, too, the political evolution of India will be necessary in order to enable her fully to carry out her part in defending her own frontiers. Nothing would be more unwise than to attempt suddenly to introduce the English political system into India—^to adopt the panaceas of the Indian National Congress. At the same time, things cannot remain for ever as they are now, if, for no other reason, simply because a state governed and administered on the lines of the India of to-day cannot hold its own militarily against states in a higher condition of political development.
The problem of Canada may seem less pressing from the immediate military point of view, but it is even more vital than that of the defence of India. The defence of Canada is a question of principle and of national self-respect, rather than of immediate danger. It is the very touchstone of Imperialism. Unless we are prepared to defend Canada to the utmost, to put our last man into the field, and spend our last shilling, all our professions of belief in a united Empire are mere verbiage. That our existing military system, or Mr. Arnold-Forster's modification of it, meets the demands of the Canadian problem even less than it does those of the Indian problem, is obvious; for Canada, even more than for India, a large Imperial reserve is a necessity. But even more essential than the creation of a reserve in this country for the defence of Canada is the creation of such a force in Canada itself. To build up a population in Canada is the only effective means of securing the defence of that portion of the Empire. As long as we have only five or six millions on our side of those 4,000 miles of frontier, and the United States have seventy millions on the other, so long our Empire exists only on sufferance, and so long our relations with the United States can never be thoroughly friendly or thoroughly satisfactory. To build up the population of Canada to at least twenty or thirty millions is the most pressing need of Imperial Defence; to that every other consideration must give way.
The defence of the United Kingdom is a matter which requires but little consideration. Its solution is included in the solution of the greater and more vital problems already dealt with. With a supreme navy capable of maintaining the connection between the different parts of the Empire, with a military system which provides a reserve force sufficient to cope with the demands of the Indian or Canadian portion, the security of the heart of the Empire will be almost impregnable. The very essence of any military system such as our Imperial necessities demand must be absolute elasticity, a capacity for almost unlimited expansion. With such a system there will always be a surplus available for local defence, even if we lose 500,000 men in India and the whole of the navy in the Mediterranean.
The conclusion we have arrived at, then, is that the defence of the British Empire demands, first and foremost, a supreme navy, and secondly an efficient army, capable of indefinite expansion, and available at the exposed frontiers of the Empire. How are these to be maintained? Whence are we to raise the revenue, and where to find the population to maintain them? It is perfectly clear that in the long-run the United Kingdom, which maintains the whole burden of our present very inadequate defence, will be unable to meet these larger demands. As an industrial unit, the United Kingdom has long ago been outstripped by the United States. It is at this moment being outstripped by Germany, and may even, in a future not so very remote, be outstripped by Russia and Japan. With the economic development of our industrial rivals their aggressive powers will steadily grow, and their ambition will grow with it. The burden of maintaining the two-Power standard at sea, as against France and Russia, and keeping up an army sufficient for the policing of the Empire, has already proved heavy enough. At the present moment we pay something like seventy millions a year for Imperial Defence. We have, indeed, for the moment, been able to make a considerable reduction in our naval expenditure, partly as the result of internal reorganization in the navy, which is all to the good, partly owing to the temporary disablement of Russia, which may or may not be sound policy, but, at any rate, is not a permanent saving. The question is, What are we to do when the United States and Germany seriously begin to compete with us for naval supremacy, and when at the same time Russia, recovered from her present misfortunes, begins to press close on our Indian frontier? The naval ambitions of the German Emperor are too well known to need more than a passing reference here. But it is equally clear that of late years President Roosevelt has deeply stirred the American nation with the same idea of oversea Empire and naval power. The United States are our friends—and long may they continue to remain so—but they have not always been so in the past, and there is no guarantee that they will remain our friends for ever. So vital is naval supremacy to us that we cannot tolerate any nation or pair of nations, however friendly at the moment, being stronger than ourselves at sea. Once we allow that to happen, the whole framework on which our Empire is built will fall to pieces. Admitting that, then we are bound to keep up the competition. Whatever naval programme they fix upon, we have got to surpass. If their naval budgets rise to fifty millions, we shall have to follow suit; and if they raise them again to sixty, seventy, or eighty millions, we still can do nothing else but follow. But in a competition of this sort with States growing so enormously in industrial strength, and established on so broad a basis of territory and population, we cannot hope in the long-run to succeed. The burden will press more and more heavily on our narrower shoulders, and sooner or later we shall come to grief. Whether our downfall will take the shape of financial exhaustion, or of displacement from our position; whether it will be by war, or by the menace of superior force in peace, is immaterial.
There is only one way out of the difficulty—that is, to find the material basis of our defence policy, not in the United Kingdom, but in the British Empire. At present that Empire is unorganized and undeveloped; but if we can unite its scattered components, and develop its vast territories and immense natural resources, then we may hope to build up an industrial power, and to create a population fully capable of providing for the needs of Imperial policy without fainting beneath the burden. How are we, then, to secure that union and foster that development? Immediate political union presents many difficulties. There is at present no sufficient unity of interest on which a political constitution can be based. Neither we nor the Colonies are ready for it, and it can only come gradually, along with, and as the result of, other forms of the union. The same difficulties stand in the way of any common military system. That, again, can only be organized by slow degrees, and in proportion as community of interest and community of danger develops. The form in which at present assistance from the Colonies is most frequently demanded—that of money contribution to Imperial Defence—is the one from which least is to be expected. It is, moreover, the one which is in itself the least desirable. The Colonies do make certain money contributions at the present moment towards the upkeep of the Imperial navy, but those contributions are valuable mainly as signs of their goodwill. Their total amount is insignificant compared with the total of our expenditure. Yet there is very little hope of getting that amount increased. The fact is, and we must not lose sight of it, that the Colonies are really poor countries. They are rich in land, rich in boundless possibilities for the future, but they are very poor in ready money Every penny they can raise is required for their internal administration and for their development. It is impossible for them to make any large contribution in money without seriously crippling their own growth, and consequently delaying the general development of the Empire. The economic development of the Colonies, the building up of their populations and industries, and the creation of surplus wealth, are indispensable conditions precedent to any substantial financial assistance from them towards the burden of Imperial Defence.
Furthermore, before we can arrive at any common system of defence, we must Imperialize our policy, the attitude of our Government departments, and the personnel of our services. Our foreign policy is still to a very large extent English rather than Imperial. The trade interests of England bulk in it much more largely than those of other parts of the Empire. The defence of those interests continually brings the Imperial Power into strained relations with other Powers. Those strained relations may involve the whole Empire in wars in which great parts of the Empire have had no interest. No doubt the Imperial forces would defend India and the Colonies from harm during such a war; but it would be open to India and to the Colonies to retort that, as far as they were concerned, such a war would never have come about. That English interests should be defended by the whole Empire is only right and natural. But if it is desired that the whole forces of the Empire should be organized for the defence of English interests, it is essential that those interests should be as far as possible assimilated with those of other parts of the Empire. Economic unity must be regarded as an essential step towards unity of defence. When our economic system has so developed that it will be impossible, in most cases, for an outside Power to interfere with English interests without at the same time interfering with Colonial or Indian interests, then we may hope to enlist the serious and permanent attention of the Colonies in the problems of Imperial Defence. What applies to the general policy of the Foreign Office applies no less to the details of its departmental work. The Imperializing of our consular service is perhaps the first and most pressing necessity, unless we wish, before many years are out, to be faced, in the case of Canada, with the same unpleasant demand for a separate consular system that is now dividing Sweden and Norway. Our navy, our army, our Colonial and Indian administration must also be thrown open to the whole Empire. Without it we cannot secure that personal interest, that sense of full and equal participation, which is necessary to bring every part of the Empire into line, ready and anxious to do its share in the common work.
At the same time, we must develop as well as unite. However closely the existing Empire were united, it would yet not be equal to the burden of its own defence. What was said of Canada and India a little earlier in the present article is equally applicable to the Empire as a whole. The economic development of the Empire, the increasing of its efficient population, and the raising of the efficiency of its less efficient population, are the really wider problems of Imperial Defence, It is only by enlarging the material basis that the burden of defence can really be made lighter, and prevented from weighing unduly on the other elements of the national life, and hampering their full development.
But political unity and economic development are not in themselves sufficient to meet the needs of Imperial Defence. They form the national basis. But they will not by themselves insure that that material basis is efficiently utilized. What is essential is not merely a recognition on the part of statesmen of the relation between defence and the other factors of the national life, but the realization by the whole body of the citizens of the Empire of the importance of defence, and of the duty of taking a personal interest and a personal share in it Without that personal interest, defence in a self-governing community is bound to be inefficient The present efficiency of our navy is a direct result of the revival of interest in naval matters, and of the recognition of the essential importance of sea power, which was stimulated by the writings of Captain Mahan, Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, and many others, and which, indeed, has never entirely died out in this country. Our army system, on the other hand, is inherently inefficient, because it has never really formed a part of the national life, because the ordinary citizen, or the ordinary politician, has no idea of the purpose for which he wants an army, or of what constitutes military efficiency. It is from that lack of national interest and national understanding that all the defects of our military system flow. An indifferent nation means an indifferent Parliament, and an indifferent Parliament means an indifferent Cabinet, and an indifferent Prime Minister. Under such circumstances the Secretary of State for War is usually a nonentity, or, if not, he wears himself out by his vain efforts to force through his schemes against the passive obstruction of his colleagues and the indifference of the nation. Behind the Secretary of State there stands the War Office disorganized and emasculated by the hopelessness of ever getting anything done, or ever finding out what it is wanted to do, and from the War Office hopelessness and indifference spread throughout the army.
The South African War brought out the defects of our military system in the most striking fashion. Not only the nation and the Government, but the army itself, apart from its inadequacy in numbers, was completely unprepared for war. There was hardly a single officer or sol&er who was really trained for war, who knew what war meant, who realized the intellectual and physical preparation required for it, or the energy and the sacrifices demanded in waging it. Our military failure in South Africa was not merely that of antiquated tactical methods, and insufficient bookwork or defective maps, though all these features played a part in it; it was also a failure in the military spirit. The attitude of the army was as unwarlike in its essence as the attitude of the nation. The absurd fear of casualties, the hysterical excitement about the Boer artillery, the exaggeration of the depth of rivers and steepness of mountains, which were so conspicuous features in the reports of press correspondents, were but the reflection of the attitude of the officers from which those correspondents derived their impressions, and who censored their despatches.
To secure an efficient defence we must have a nation interested in defence, and fully cognizant of its meaning and of its methods. The study of military problems ought to form an essential part of the citizen's education in his political duties. Military history ought to be included in the curriculum of our public schools and Universities. It is a national disgrace that there is no Chair of Military History or of Strategy at either Oxford or Cambridge. In a country like Germany, where the leading of the army is intrusted to a military class largely separate from the body of the nation, it may do to have military history confined to a section of the General Staff. In a democratic nation like ours, that study must be spread through all the more intelligent sections of the community. At the same time, it is no less essential that the army itself should be educated in the broader meaning of Imperial Defence, and in the fuller understanding of its own profession. The educational apparatus of our army is ridiculously inadequate. The enlargement and improvement of our military colleges, the creation of an adequate historical section, are the first and most essential steps towards army reform. At the same tune, we have to provide not only for the politicians and for the leaders of armies, but also for the ordinary voter and for the common soldier. Some form of military education which will make the ordinary man realize something of the general meaning of Imperial Defence, and acquire something of the spirit which is essential to the effective conduct of war, must be brought to bear upon the whole body of citizens. Some form of national service is essential to national military efficiency, quite apart from the length of the training given, and from the direct usefulness of the army thus created. Given a nation in which every citizen possesses a certain proficiency in the use of arms, and is accustomed to the idea that it is his duty, if need be, to sacrifice even his life for the public good, and it will be possible to raise an economical and efficient voluntary army in peace, and to furnish a boundless reserve in time of war. On that reserve a nation interested in its military security, and aware of the means necessary to secure it, will be able to draw to whatever extent is necessary. How the Empire can be defended without that reserve against nations that possess it is a question that we are bound to ask ourselves, and to which there can only be one answer.
It may be objected that the national ideal sketched out in the preceding pages is the mere perversion of an imagination fevered by militarism. It will be said that, in order to make the Empire secure, I am proposing changes which will destroy its whole character, and the justification of its existence—its personal liberty, its material well-being. This I would entirely and absolutely deny. In the earlier portion of the present article I pointed out that defence, when treated as an essential element in national policy—not as a mere isolated department calling for money, and withdrawing strength from the nation—in the long-run only stimulates and increases the other factors of national life. A really serious and unflinching consideration of the great problem of defence will inevitably lead to measures that, in the long-run, are bound to benefit our population, our trade, our social well-being, our education. The Imperial unity necessary for defence will quicken our whole political and social life. The fostering of trade within the Empire, and the building up of population in the Colonies, will in the end mean not a mere diversion of the total wealth and population of the Empire, but an enormous aggregate increase. National service will not only provide the reserve for our armies, and increase the efficiency of the voluntary armies raised in the midst of a warlike nation, but it will benefit us in innumerable other ways. It will infuse a spirit of discipline and organization into our masses; while it will at the same time be democratic, bringing every class together to the same common work, and inspiring them with a common sense of duty. It will afford an opportunity for raising the standard and prolonging the period of the national education. It will give a healthy physical training to the mass of our people at the time of life when such training is most needed, and thus conduce to healthier and longer life, and increase our sum-total of man-power. It will enable anything like physical degeneration to be at once noted, and will call for its instant cure. In fact, if only we take the defence aspect of our Empire seriously, we shall solve all the other problems connected with it, because they will one by one force themselves upon our serious attention, and we shall have to give the best of our mind and the whole of our determination to solving them.