THOUGH the least strategically
minded of us realises at this date the iMmense hazards of carrying through a great offensive based upon sea and air communications, there must be deep relief---and many an ejaculation of thanksgiving to Almighty God—for the degree of success already attained in the initial operations. Such news as has been made available indicates not only more rapid and substantial progress than any armchair critic dared to dream of, but apparently a far smaller number of casualties than was feared. The real battle (at the time of writing) is still to come, but whatever be its nature and issue, we know that every hour and every mile gained enormously increases our chances of offering battle on equal terms. It was the initial landings themselves that promised to be SO costly that a safe foothold seemed but a precarious hope. That foothold has now been obtained.
It may be some time before we hear the full story of how a measure of surprise was effected despite the fact that the whole Axis was hourly awaiting zero hour, why the inva sion fleet was not attacked in strength, how much we must owe to air protection on a scale undreamt of in the past and of the heroism and determination of the men who went into the adventure facing what must have seemed immense odds.
We shall all find it hard to prevent ourselves from contemplating
the vision of continued advance
against a foe who may be brave enough but whose powers of resist ance may have been over-estimated
partly because of the still keen memory of early Axis victories and
partly because of the enemy's cap
able bluff. But it is early days as yet to be indulging in such hopes, For the moment we may congratu late ourselves on having successfully opened up the great and decisive chapter of the war and at length
joined hands across the breadth of Europe as it were with the Russians, whose counter-attacks seem already to mark the first profits they are tniioank.ing through our actual co-opera Need for Civil Advisers IF all goes well, our armies will • soon be faced with political and administrative problems in territory occupied. One hopes that every thought has been given to this matter, which is absolutely vital in a War of the present character wherein ideological struggles underlie all military action. The Nazis in their rapid occupation of foreign coun tries initially attempted in certain countries at any rate to exploit their victories by making what might be called ideological advances. Their armies were accompanied by all kinds of civil administrators, advisers, economists, business-men, propagandists, and all together were given the most precise instruction about what to do and how to be have. This vast purpose was defeated because few people indeed were found to trust the Germans and, above all, the Germans under Hitler. Moreover the Germans are very far from possessing the graces needed for such an endeavour. Lastly there could never have been any real harmony between such tactics and the overriding purpose of domination and conquest in every sphere of life which had been preached for so many years. In all these matters we stand on a very different plane. We are only faced with two serious handicaps. The first is the effect of the long propaganda against us, a propaganda that has been very effectively rooted in certain traditional prejudices against the Anglo-Saxon superiority complex. more lately strengthened by our association with the genuinely-hated Bolshevism. The second is our own failure to -appreciate and understand the real quality of what we have to offer and the true nature of the essential cause for which we light, and especially to appreciate all this in terms of the values and language of peoples with whose psychology we are most unfamiliar. We do not think that the first handicap will count for very much in the loAg run if we are able to make the best of ourselves. For that purpose it will be necessary that our military commanders shall be advised on the spot by men who, for example, thoroughly understand the Italian mind and tradition, who have lived and worked in Italy. who are at home in the problems of Italian administration and economics, who appreciate the Latin and Catholic culture, who are unprejudiced in regard to class and party issues in that country. Whether such men have been recruited and are available we have no means of knowing. But if they are not, our military task will be made very much heavier and the chances of creating a good and healthy understanding between liberators and liberated gravely jeopardised.
ANOTHER ASPECT OF TOTAL WAR THERE is something very frighten• ing in the Archbishop of Can
terbury's remark that the war effort is the one regulating factor in the lives of peoples to-day. It suggests
an aspect of total war that has not been dwelt on. Not only does total war, it seems, destroy the long
established bases of normal social and personal conduct, but it imposes itself as a sort of new religion
claiming a moral monopoly for itself. Yet a war effort, however intense, is of its very nature a tem
porary thing. Wartime regulations and wartime life may carry on for a
certain distance into the future, but the spiritual aspect—the keying up of the will to the achievement of an ideal—dies on the day that the war's central purpose is achieved by the destruction of the enemy's resistance. With that death will die all the moral and social purpose that has worked itself up and effected such remarkable energy, discipline and self-sacrifice. Dr. Temple was chiefly concerned to point out the limitations of the war effort as a regulating factor, and he very rightly pointed to sex-immorality and the increase of dishonesty and lying as examples of matters where the war effort seems to fail in keeping the social body in moral health. But. important as that aspect is, it fades before the vision of the all-round collapse that must result from the sudden failing of the very thing that has come to take the place of religion, custom, habit in giving order to our lives.
The phenomenon is comparable to the effects of dictatorship. Whatever may rightly be said about certain advantages of dictatorship, there is always one absolutely unanswerable argument against it, namely, that it can make no provision for the time which must come sooner or later in all human affairs: the time of change. This is another example of the way in which we are subtly and against our will being manoeuvred by the exigencies of total war into a spiritual condition that has too much kinship with the very evils against which we are fight ing. Only the most concentrated effort to keep alive the normal and real sources of a decent common life will meet the danger, and among these sources true religion which is not directly concerned with political affairs is by far the most important. There is too little evidence that this is realised.
BOMBING : PRIEST'S
FR. Drinkwatcr's Sower has notes aVterI.E8 sow
on bombing, parts of which we
are glad to reproduce. We have had our say op the question, but we are only too glad to hand over so difficult a subject to a priest whose clear and forthright views have always been welcomed by the Catholic public, not least by our readers who have so frequently read his stimulating articles: "Air bombing," he tells us, " is a new form of warfare that has not yet worked out for itself such conventional mitigations of ferocity as are still observed by the armies and navies; and it is by this time clear that our own Government has devoted little thought to this matter, and has no principle to follow other than the unlimited pursuit of military advantage combined with the very crudest kind of lex talionis. . . Nobody can possibly foresee the consequences in suffering, despair, pestilence and general irreparable breakdown of society, if all over Europe. east and west, south and north, both sides emulate each other in exploits such as the destruction of the German dams; and something similar has to be said of the wholesale bombing of cities, a thing which our leaders, judging by their own reports, have carried too far. It was to prevent such things being done, not to do them ourselves, that England went to war; we should have lost the war if we surrender to them, and no more patriotic service can be rendered by sane and intelligent Englishmen than to say so plainly at this moment to their less thoughtful fellow-countrymen.
The voice of individual Christians.
including some bishops, has not been wanting, but the Air Minister.
answering Mr. Sorensen in Parlia ment, said that no representations about bombing policy had been received by the Government from
religious organisations. Can anything be done, perhaps?"
May we add that the Government's apparent refusal to consider negotiations towards making a city like Rome an " open " city seems to us morally a graver matter than the blind pursuit of anything and everything that the R.A.F. considers a military objective. It is from the sidelines, so to speak, that hard war conditions can be most effectively softened. We are glad to note that this same feeling finds eloquent expression in papers of the Left, like the New Statesman.
THE interchange of letters between the President of the Board of Trade and Mr. J. Arthur Rank, who succeeded to the interests of Oscar Deutsch in the Odeon cinema enterprise and has since acquired other wide cinema interests, is of more than passing importance.
As is well known, Mr. Rank is seriously concerned with the moral aspects of the cinema, and his plans certainly include the development of the industry over which he exercises so great a control along healthy and educative lines. We recently reported, for example, his foundation of the Odeon National Cinema Club for Boys and Girls, a typical example of Mr. Rank's notions of " uplift " for which Christians can only be grateful, accustomed as they are to the lowest standards in the cinema world. The problem really reduces itself to a sharp and most interesting example of the clash between national and private interests in a field where the issues are of deep moral importance. It is an accident that Mr. Rank should be an active Christian idealist, and in the long run one cannot be sure that so profoundly important an educative and moral influence on the cinema is safely committed to the guardianship of one person, even though that person is a sharp exception to the bunch of irresponsible financial magnates whose main interest is to exploit for private profit and power an industry with to much potentiality of social good and evil. On the other hand, what real guarantee does the modern State offer of fulfilling its real duty in the matter? Here, as in so many other concerns, one only sees any hope in the creation of a genuine corporation, representative of all intimately concerned, the industry itself (with its many kinds of workers), the public and the responsible State. The opportunity for such a development is ripe, but no one is interested.