THE rapidity and effectiveness of the Russian counter-attack from VeIiki Luki in the north to Mozdok in the south at the very least argue a serious failure in Hitler's Eastern plans for last year. His purpose had certainly been to reduce the striking power of the Red Army to negligible proportions so that the Eastern front could at -any rate be sealed, Even if we take it that the present winter advance of the Russians is essentially of the same nature as the counter-attack of last winter, namely, a rapid following up of Germ .us trying to retreat to positions whence a spring offensive can be staa-ted again. Hitler would still be faced with the highly unpleasant truth that in two years of bitter and expensive fighting he has achieved nothing decisive. His hopes now of striking a decisive blow next summer cannot be strengthened, and he must realise that the United Nations have gained infinitely valuable time which should at length enable them to relieve their Eastern allies on a serious scale.
We may expect this year a very strong political campaign for a Second Front in the full sense and —what is far moreeimportant—we may expect the Allied Command to be ready for a blow that will follow up the African successes in a manner that will satisfy hot-blooded critics. If the military campaign were to go hand-in-hand with a political and propaganda campaign designed to weaken the allegiance of Germans and Italians to their ill-advised leaders. the prospects would be rosy indeed. 1 Mforturia tely, whatever may happen ie the military field, stupidity and political prejudice are likely to prevent progress in the political field and in propaganda. Meanwhile one is reminded that Germany is not down and out yet, since it declares itself to he ready at last to fulfil its long-standing obligations'to the Turks in the matter of equipping an entire division.
ANOTHER matter that suggests a cautious attitude towards the future is the development of sea warfare, Almost complete silence is the official policy here. Very occasionally it is broken into by some pronouncement of a vague nature, often appearing to contradict or qualify a previous statement. Such silence may be valuable in keeping knowledge of the course of events from the enemy, but it can hardly fail to arouse misgiving and anxiety at home, It seems now to be established that the enemy has been building and manning U-boats from the beginning of the war at a greater pace than we can destroy them. We must therefore suppose that he is growing ever stronger in this respect, while it is still doubtful —if we take the different Allied remarks on the subject—whether we are replacing our own losses. In other words the position is still deteriorating.
Under such circumstances one would have thought that considerable more publicity would have been given to whateve, measures may be being taken in regard to meeting the problem. In particular one is given to understand that great advance is possible in the field of attacking submarines from the air. Yet nothing is said. and Parliament itself seems willing to acquiesce fairly readily in the Government's demand for secrecy all round Perhaps time will justify it. Meanwhile the public may be pardoned for wondering whether much fuller publicity from the beginning would not have achieved better results in stimulating efforts to meet the dangers and in inducing sacrifices at home to relieve the burden on our merchant ships.
FREE FRANCE FIRST
THERE is much disappointment at the long delays in effecting the unity of all Frenchmen resisting the common enemy from outside the motherland itself. It is extremely difficult to understand why political problems affecting (at best) the postwar situation should he allowed to delay the matter Yet. there is scarcely any concealment of the feet that French politicians in North Africa and in London are engaged in a political warfare that is genuinely scandalising to outsiders. The problem at the moment is military, and we suggest that it must remain military at least until France itself is freed. There is something very unreal in the claims being made that present unity must be founded owthe real will of the French people, That will is a matter of conjecture for the most part at the present time, and any attempt like that of M Andre Philip to confine political unity to thOse of whom he personally can approve is most unfortunate. It is, for example, quite ridiculous to talk of disloyalty in the case of Main and those who haee accepted his authority or in the case of Maurras who refuses Co commit France to either belligerent. In France's unnatural position after the defeat it was possible for perfectly loyal Frenchmen to take widely different views, some of which will be justified by subsequent events and some of which will not. To seek to exclude those who made an error in judgment on the grounds of disloyally is false, and it can only lead to the interpretation that certain Frenchmen are at bottom more interested in having a convenient formula to help them carve a future political stake for themselves than in accomplishing the defeat of the enemy at the earliest possible moment. Thai this is indeed the case was openly stated by the American commentator in Algiers. When France is freed, Frenchmen will judge for themselves. Meanwhile the job now is to free France under the military leadership of General Giraud, whose strong measures are more and more seen to be justified. with General de Gaulle as his lieutenant. Political questions are still mainly a matter of administration and they can be dealt with without the raising of controversial issues. press is officially controlled by the Falange Party. State censorship exercises only a negative influence, which prevents open attack upon the Allies, but leaves the enemy communiques to hold the field. Exceptionally, as with the Allied assurances about Spanish North Africa, publication of some item of national importance favourable to the Allies is enforced by State Decree.
Anyone who knows the Spanish mentality, or anyone who has been in Spain recently, can testify that ate effect of this one-sided propaganda is by no means as unfavourable to the Allies as it seems. Nothing is better calculated to dispose the Spaniard in one direction than being forcibly driven in the opposite one Furthermore, few Spaniards will miss the contrast between the German advertisement of every military success and the Allied policy, whether calculated or not, of allowing facts to speak for themselves.
It can now be said with every confidence that the economic balance between Spain and Germany shows that Germany has taken far more than she has paid for. This is a vital fact, the meaning and consequences of which are having an increasing effect every day upon the real attitude of Spain towards the Allies, from the highest quarters to the smallest cafe.
It is, ironically. questionable whether a reversal of the pro-Axis policy of the Spanish press would not at this stage do more harm than good, as it would be immediately susnect, and it would also deprive Franco of his most obvious, and from OUT point of view most harmless, defence against further German infiltration.
FUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT American Vice-President last week declared that " the shape of things to come. was being already determined by the form 'of warorganisation. Many of the measures taken now to secure co-ordination, national and international, he said, would be found to have permanent
value. That is undoubtedly true. As Mr. Wallace pointed out, the peace will be not an artificial plan imposed from outside but an organic thing growing up during the struggle itself.
The Times has called attention to Our sphere, in particular where war organisation is badly needed. It refers to the muddle which exists in the sphere of Government administration and recommends the adoption of the f unctional principle. After describing the way in which Whitehall is hampered by the present lack of system, it says: "There would he immediate gain also to the work itself if functions were classified and grouped on a national and businesslike plan. The present division of work between departments is not based on a conscious specialisation of function but is mainly the product of historical development and political manoeuvre." That is precisely our trouble. the source of innumerable delays and the cause of endless friction. The urgency of our need demands drastic reorganisation, but this must be of a dynamic kind. It is from the prevalence of static conceptions that our Civil Service suffers. Attempts to overcome the evils of bureaucracy on the present basis will be vain; functional government, so that it will be no longer correct to speak of the administration machinb but of the organism of Government, is the only remedy. The value of such a reform would be seen not only in speeding up the war-effort but in overcoming the chaos that else must occur in the passage from war to peace. Moreover Such changes would respond to the wide realisation that the time for political and ideological controversy is passed. and that the future must be developm1 on technical lines for the good of the ordinary citizen.