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National policy is, as a rule, in accordance with the
Russia is a very large State. It is extremely powerful
wars without a single exception. Last, but not least, the Russian people and their rulers have become awakened to the necessity of modernising the country. A new Russia has arisen. Russia has made rapid progress during the last two decades, but her progress has perhaps been slower than that of other nations. Hence Russia is still very poor and backward. She has some railways, but her means of inland transport are totally insufficient. She has scarcely any roads, except a few military ones.
France has ten times the mileage of roads possessed by Russia. During the Great War we have frequently heard of the absence of roads in Poland and of the impossibility of moving troops through a sea of mud. Yet Poland is that district of Russia which is best provided with roads.
The peasants throughout Russia use still almost exclusively wooden ploughs with which only the surface can be scratched. By changing their wooden ploughs for iron ones they could plough twice as deeply and double their harvests, but they are too poor to provide modern agricultural implements. In many Russian villages no iron implements, not even iron nails, may be seen, and the methods of Russia's agriculture are still those of the Dark Ages.
The manufacturing industries of the country are in their infancy. The vast majority of the people can neither read nor write, and newspapers exist only in the large towns. If we compare the economic and social conditions of Russia with those existing in other countries, it becomes clear that the principal need of Russia is not further expansion, but internal development, and in view of the poverty of the country the development of the great Russian estate is possible only in time of peace. For her the restriction of armaments is more necessary than it is for any other Great Power. The principal interest of Russia is peace. That has become clear to every thinking Russian and to the whole Russian nation.
When the great Peace Congress assembles the question of Constantinople will come up for settlement, and from interested quarters we shall be told once more that Constantinople is the key of the world. A glance at the map shows that Constantinople is not the key of the world, and is not even the key of the Mediterranean, but that it is merely the key of the Black Sea. Prince Bismarck possessed military ability of the highest kind, and, being keenly aware that foreign policy and strategy must go hand in hand, he kept constantly in touch with Germany's leading soldiers. He clearly recognised the fallacy of
Napoleon's celebrated epigram. Hence, when a member of the Reichstag, referring to the Eastern Question, spoke of the Dardanelles as the key to the dominion of the world, Bismarck smilingly replied, “If the Dardanelles are the key to the dominion of the world it obviously follows that up to now the Sultan has dominated the world.' Constantinople has been possessed by various States, but none of them has so far dominated the world. In Bismarck's words, Constantinople has disagreed with all the nations which have possessed it hitherto. Why that has been the case will presently be shown.
So far Constantinople has not given a great accession of strength to the nations which have held it. Far from considering Constantinople in the hands of Russia as a source of strength, Bismarck rather saw in it a source of weakness and of danger. He wrote in his 'Memoirs': 'I believe that it would be advantageous for Germany if the Russians in one way or another, physically or diplomatically, were to establish themselves at Constantinople and had to defend that position.'
Russia is almost invulnerable as long as she can defend herself with her best weapons, her vast distances, her lack of railways and roads, and her rigorous climate. But the same elements become disadvantageous to Russia's defence if a highly vulnerable point near her frontier can be attacked. In the Crimean War Russia almost bled to death because of the difficulty of sending troops to the Crimea. Her failure in Manchuria arose from the same cause.
At present Russia possesses only one point of capital importance on the sea, St. Petersburg, which can comparatively easily be attacked by an army landed in the neighbourhood. If she occupies Constantinople, she must be ready to defend it, and a very large number of troops will be required to protect the shores of the Sea of Marmora and the Straits against an enemy.
It is not generally known that the Constantinople position is not circumscribed but very extensive, and that it is not easy to defend it against a mobile and powerful
enemy, especially if it is simultaneously attacked by land and sea. The small maps of Turkey are deceptive. It is hardly realised that the distance from the entrance of the Dardanelles to the exit of the Bosphorus is nearly two hundred miles. Strategists are agreed that a Power holding Constantinople, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles must possess territory at least as far inland as the Enos-Midia line—that is, the line from the town of Enos opposite the island of Samothraki to the town of Midia on the Black Sea. A straight line connecting these two towns would be 120 miles long, or exactly as long as the distance which separates London from Cardiff, Paris from Boulogne, or Strasburg from Coblenz. It is clear that a large army and extensive fortifications are needed to defend so broad a front against a determined attack. In addition, Russia would have to defend the shore of the Gulf of Saros and the sea-coast of the peninsula of Galipoli against a landing. This shore-line extends to about one hundred miles. Lastly, she would have to defend the opening of the Dardanelles and to prevent an attack upon the Constantinople position across the narrows from the Asiatic mainland.
It would be difficult enough to defend this vulnerable and extensive position if it was organically connected with Russia. It will of course be still more difficult to defend it in view of the fact that Roumania and Bulgaria, two powerful States, separate Russia from Constantinople. Russia can reach Constantinople only by sea unless she should succeed in incorporating Roumania and Bulgaria in some way or other, or unless the entire north of Asia Minor should fall into Russia's hands, enabling that country to create a land connection between her Caucasian provinces and the southern shores of the Sea of Marmora and the two Straits. Both events appear unlikely.
The Constantinople position, if held by Russia, would be detached from that country. The Russian troops garrisoning it would be cut off from the motherland in case of war. Hence they would have to be prepared for
a sudden attack and to be always strong enough to defend the peninsula unaided for a very long time. They would have to be provided with gigantic stores of food and of ammunition. It is therefore clear that Russia would require a very large permanent garrison for securing the integrity of Constantinople. In case of war she would undoubtedly require several hundred thousand men for that purpose. Possibly she would need as many as 500,000 men if a determined attack by land and sea was likely ; and herein lies the reason for the opinion of the Commission of 1829 that it would be to Russia's advantage if the status quo at Constantinople was not disturbed, if a weak Power was in the possession of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.
There are two points of very great strategical importance in the Eastern Mediterranean : the position of Constantinople and Egypt; and Egypt is undoubtedly by far the more important of the two. When in 1797 Napoleon reached the Adriatic he was struck by the incomparable advantages offered by the position of Egypt, and he earmarked that country for France in case of a partition of Turkey. A year later he headed an expedition to Egypt, not merely in order to strike at England, but largely, if not chiefly, in order to conquer that most important strategical position for France. While the Sea of Marmora and the Straits are merely the connecting links between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Egypt, especially since the construction of the Suez Canal, is the connecting link of the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, of Europe and Asia, of the most populated continents and the busiest seas. Hence the Suez Canal route is, and will remain for centuries, the most valuable strategical and trade route in the world, and it is of course of particular importance to the nation which possesses India. Bismarck said to Busch :
Egypt is as necessary to England as is her daily bread, because of the Suez Canal, which is the shortest connection between the Eastern and Western halves of the British