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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) The world crisis (1923)

CHAPTER VII
THE NORTH SEA FRONT

To look farther was beyond the power of man. To try to do so was to complicate the task beyond mental endurance. The paths of thought bifurcated too rapidly. Would there be a great sea battle or not? What would happen then ? Who would win the great land battle ? No one could tell. Obviously the first thing was to be ready; not to be taken unawares: to be concentrated; not to be caught divided : to have the strongest Fleet possible in the best station under the best conditions in good time, and then if the battle came one could await its result with a steady heart. Everything, therefore, to guard against surprise; everything, therefore, to guard against division; everything, therefore, to increase the strength of the forces available for the supreme sea battle.

I repulse, therefore, on behalf of the Boards of Admiralty over which I presided down to the end of May, 1915, all reproaches directed to what occurred in 19 17 and 1918. I cannot be stultified by any lessons arising out of those years. It is vain to tell me that if the Germans had built in the three years before the war, the submarines they built in the three years after it had begun, Britain would have been undone; or that if England had had in August, 1914, the army which we possessed a year later, there would have been no war. Every set of circumstances involved every other set of circumstances. Would Germany in profound peace have been allowed by Great Britain to build an enormous fleet of submarines which could have no other object than the starvation and ruin of this island through the sinking of unarmed merchant ships? Would Germany have waited to attack France while England raised a powerful conscript army to go to her aid ? Every event must be judged in fair relation to the circumstances of the time ? and only in such relation.

Every danger set forth we tried to meet. Many we met. More never matured, either because they were prevented by proper measures, or because the Germans were less enterprising than I thought it prudent to assume.

CHAPTER VIII
IRELAND AND THE EUROPEAN BALANCE

During this year (1913) also I carried through the House of Commons the Bill authorising the Anglo-Persian Oil Convention. This encountered a confusing variety of oppositions — economists deprecating naval expenditure; members for mining constituencies who were especially sensible of the danger of departing from the sound basis of British coal; oil magnates who objected to a national inroad upon their monopolies; Conservatives who disapproved of State trading; partisan opponents who denounced the project as an unwarrantable gamble with public money and did not hesitate to impute actual corruption. There was always a danger of these divergent forces combining on some particular stage or point. However, we gradually threaded our way through these difficulties and by the Autumn the Convention was the law of the land. We now at any rate had an oil supply of our own.

Our naval standards and the programmes which give effect to them must also be examined in relation not only to Germany but to the rest of the world. We must begin by recognising how different the part played by our Navy is from that of the Navies of every other country. Alone among the great modern States we can neither defend the soil upon which we live nor subsist upon its produce. Our whole regular army is liable to be ordered abroad for the defence of India. The food of our people, the raw material of their industries, the commerce which constitutes our wealth, has to be protected as it traverses thousands of miles of sea and ocean from every quarter of the globe. Our necessary insistence upon the right of capture of private property at sea exposes British merchant ships to the danger of attack not only by enemy's warships but by converted armed-merchantmen. The burden of responsibility laid upon the British Navy is heavy, and its weight increases year by year.

In every country powerful interests and huge industries are growing up which will render any check or cessation in the growth of Navies increasingly difficult as time passes. Besides the Great Powers, there are many small States who are buying or building great ships of war and whose vessels may by purchase, by some diplomatic combination, or by duress, be brought into the line against us. None of these Powers need, like us, Navies to defend their actual safety or independence. They build them so as to play a part in the world's affairs. It is sport to them. It is death to us.

Secondly, we are not a young people with a scanty inheritance. We have engrossed to ourselves, in times when other powerful nations were paralysed by barbarism or internal war, an immense share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, often seems less reasonable to others than to us.

Further, we do not always play the humble role of passive unassertiveness. We have intervened regularly — as it was our duty to do, and as we could not help doing — in the affairs of Europe and of the world. We are now deeply involved in the European situation.

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