GRIM BUT REALIST THOUGHTS FOR 1944
WE are entering what has been widely proclaimed as likely to be the last year of the war, and the minds Of most arc largely centred on the sort of peace that may be expected to follow victoly• on the war
fronts. But beforethinking about what is to follow victory in arms it may bo worth while to consider very briefly whether our general strategical position really justifies the expectation of early victory or, indeed, victory by next new year which has been en com fidently forecast by politicians and war commenta terra On the face 4f it, most assuredly it dots not.
On the major land fighting front in Russia there is little sign of a German withaly collapse. Indeed, at no time in the war does the enemy seem to have fought with greater fierceness and tenacity. None of his armies has been destroyed in what is probably the
greatest retreat in the face of powerful attack in military history. It is still to some egtent a matter of guesswork as to how far this huge retreat is part of a planned strategic withdrawal and bow far it has been forced upon the German High Commend. It is well to remember that Mr. Churchill recently estimated the number of German divisions available at four hundred.
II. therefore, the enemy can stabilise his front on shorter lines of communications; thereby releasing, perhaps 100 divisions to meet commitments elsewhere. the AngloAmerican armies will assuredly have .10 engage in the bloodiest of battles, under most difficult circumstances, as Mr. Churchill has warned the. nation. • Italian Difficulties
In Italy, iii spite of the unparalleled bravery and skill of our soldiers, we are still far south of Rome, with many formidable defence positions between stir armies and the Eternal City. Here, on the Russian Front, there is certinly no induration of•any falling off in ,re fighting fanaticism of the enemy. A tew German divisions, powerfully reinforced by geography. the weather and internal Italian confusion, are making the Italie], cempaigu a very different proposition to what the nation was led to expect as a result of Italian " unconditional surrender."
In the Aegean, our position has been compromised by energetic German. reaction while we were enjoying in anticipation the Ciente of the Italian capitulation.
In the Balkans the cutely is en the offensive, with considerable stiteess,
against the Partisans," whose hostility to " the Patriots " seems to he almost as great as towards the common enemy. As these military facts are plain, it must be assumed that it is the bombing offensive against German cities and communications upon which expectations of an early German collapse are mainly based. Though' I do not share the widespread belief in bombing as the arbiter of victory. those who do may he right in believing that the Germans will collapse under the strain, though Britons most certainly would not.
Atisea, unlike on land, we scent to have endured, and triumphantly over(mire, the worst that the U-boats can compass against us. This great and glorious victory would have been accepted by Hitler as the writing-on the wall had we not been committed to vast neer:16one en the Continent. Were it not for this tremendous Continental commitment our endurance would, with recovered sea supremacy, have been invincible, Now that we have to attempt to win the war quickly, Hitler is counting on exhausting us through land warfare, and thus on his ability, to enforce a compromise peace.
About the war against Japan I will only say this. We are still fighting on the extreme perimeter of Japan's strategical outposts. Only if the AngloAmerican fleet can provoke a major fleet action against the Japanese main fleet, and win a -Far Eastern Trafalgar, is there, in my view, any prospect of an early end to the war against Japan.
." My thoughts for 1944," so far as the war is concerned, are therefore as follows.
There is•an expeetarsionsof coming• victory, which the military position, in itself, does not justify. But with the whole world in the state in which it is, events beyond the range of human judgment may well intervene to bring the world's tribulation, as we now experience it, to a sudden and dramatic end before next New Year's
Day., • I have used the term " as we now experience it " advisedly, because who can honestly maintain that the conditions M true and abiding peace are as.yet discernible in any country, in• eluding our own? Deep and unbridgeable differences on what should be tee nature of that brave new world for which all nations claim to be fighting exist in all lands. When the fight against the violation of national frontiers by predatory nations has been won, we in England, as elsewhere, shall be faced with an even sterner tight to preserve the personal and individual freedom which is the true heritage of all Christian men and women.
Indirectly this war for personal freedom is already joined, So-called
" Total " or " Totalitarian " war necessarily invades the national and constitutional rights of men and women, and so far as this surrender is necessary for victory, in the form of " total " strategy we have adopted, we all must. and tip. bear our loss of liberty with patience. But " Totalitarianism " can he, and in too many respects has been. used as a •cloak for a political assault on freedoms which, had they been preserved, would have aided and not hampered the war effort. While fighting a deadly external menace the wheat find the tares of these lost freedoms must, for the most part, be endured together. But when the cease-fire to the physical struggle against our external enemies sounds we shall all be called to a great spiritual conflict, not only in England but throughout Christendom.
The coming internal conflict is. in my
view, too widely regarded as essentially political, between, that is to say, what is commonly called the political " Right " and the political " Left." But I feel confident that this inevitable struggle will soon he leaving the discredited. and largely discreditable, sphere of party politics and entering the higher and sterner realm of religion in which compromise, and the selling of the passe,will be less apparent.
The struggle between the political Right and Left will begin quickly to resolve itself into a mighty conflict between right and wrong—just that. But he must be a very superficial, or un-Christian, man who can detect no right in the political Left or wrong in the political Right.
On all sides there are signs of a spiritual uprising. especially in the younger folk, after generations of materialism and the rule of Mammon. Political parties are thsintegrating, Few any longer take the trouble to vote. Our great,ltatiOn, now so widely lapsed into Paganism, is almost pathetically groping for the Faith which once made It. with all the ine.vItable failings of fallen mankind. a Christian society, as it,assuredly was when all our gloribits cathedrals and churches, now almost descried, were rearing their spires towards heaven.
The Tragedy The tragedy is that the so-called " Higher Criticism " of the Bible. and very particularly the now exploded theory of Darwinism, have undermined the religious faith of millions, though man is naturally a religious being. Some new laws may be needed, but some existing laws will need repair. before we begin to see in England the re-creation of a truly Christian society, with the Law, and tot corruptly obtained majorities. as the arbiter
between men and women, rich and poor.
Space is not available in which to develop so great a theme, but most of our major national ends are becoming plain for all to see. In a Christian society should we expect to see honour and political power bought and sold like commodities over a grocer's courant'? Yee we all know that they are.
Should we expect to find usury as the all-pervading basis of our economic system? Should we find would-be politicians buying votes with promises that they cannot fulfil. or which they can only apparently fulfil at the cost, in the last analysis, of those they beguile with words?
'Should we expect to lied thousands of email and honest manufacturers and traders " liquidated," or " rationalised," by Parliament in the interests of their huge and over-capitalised competitors? These are only a few of the issues that will soon be joined between those who fight for a Christian society and those
who tight for Mammon,
But over-balancing all future public policies is the question of education. Are our children to be brought up in our schools, as millions have. been. without any knowledge of God's plan for the world he made? The truth ie, as I see it, that the laws of England must be brought into harmony, as in the far away, past they were, with the unchanging laws of God if this present evil world is to be bettered and not broken. As true in the modern world as they were when he wrote them are the words of Jeremiah in the last two verses of chapter v humble, and 1.19nderf fir thing is contmitted in the hind: the prophets prophesy falsely . . and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"