For, after a long peace, the fortune of the next war largely depends upon which of various guesses as to the many changes that have taken place in warfare and in weapons will be best supported by practice, and what way of using new weapons will prove the most effective. Until the test of war is applied, all this remains guess-work; but under the conditions of war it ceases to be guess-work, and becomes either corroborated by experience or exploded, as the case may be. And of two opponents after a long peace, that one which has had the most foresight and has guessed best what the effect of changes in armament and the rest will effect in practice is that one who has the best chance of victory.
We are going, then, in this Second Part, of the little book, to see, first, the geographical position of the belligerents; secondly, their effective numbers; and, thirdly, what theories of war each held, and how far each was right or wrong.
(1) THE GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF THE BELLIGERENTS.
The position of the original belligerent countries (excluding Turkey) upon the map of Europe was that which will be seen upon the accompanying sketch map.
Of this belligerent area, which is surrounded by a thick black line, the part left white represents the territory of the Allies at the origin of the war—Great Britain, France, Russia, and Servia. This reservation must, however, be made: that in the case of Russia only the effective part is shown, and only the European part at that; Arctic Russia and Siberia are omitted. The part lightly shaded with cross lines represents the Germanic body—to wit, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary.
1. The first thing that strikes the eye upon such a map is the great size of the Germanic body.
[Illustration: Sketch 4.]
When one reads that “Germany” was being attacked by not only France and England, but also Russia; when one reads further that in the Far East, in Asia, Japan was putting in work for the Allies; and when one goes on to read that Belgium added her effort of resistance to the “German” invasion, one gets a false impression that one single nation was fighting a vast coalition greatly superior to it. Most people had an impression of that kind, in this country at least, at the outset of the war. It was this impression that led to the equally false impression that “Germany” must necessarily be beaten, and probably quickly beaten.
The truth was, of course, that we were fighting something very much bigger than “Germany.” We set out to fight something more than twice as big as Germany in area, and very nearly twice as big as the German Empire in mere numbers. For what we set out to fight was not the German Empire, but the German Empire plus the whole of the dominions governed by the Hapsburg dynasty at Vienna.
How weighty this Germanic body was geographically is still more clearly seen if we remember that Russia north of St. Petersburg is almost deserted of inhabitants, and that the true European areas of population which are in conflict—that is, the fairly well populated areas—are more accurately represented by a modification of the map on page 81 in some such form as that on page 84, where the comparative density of population is represented by the comparative distances between the parallel cross-lines.