RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
It is a maintainable proposition that it was Mrs. Carrie Nation who sowed the seed which flowered abundantly in the Anglo-American bombing offensive in the present war. She, good lady, had no notion of it, of course, and we certainly gave her never a thought when we sent our bombers over Germany, nor, when they followed, did the Americans. Still, in the latter's expressive phrase, she unquestionably started something. She had the right idea of how to get things done. She went and did them herself. She set out to stop the liquor traffic in Kansas, forty odd years ago. What did she do? She heaved bricks at it, literally. She climbed into her buggy, took with her a good supply of bricks (all carefully wrapped in newspapers), drove round all the saloons, and smashed their contents, glasses, bottles, mirrors, everything, to smithereens. She was very aggressive and totalitarian in her methods but she was soundly democratic at heart. She was thinking of the greatest good of the greater number all the time.
She really did a very remarkable thing, this lone, obstreperous female. The great god Bung laid her by the heels in the end, but for a time she made a huge success of her job. She practically put the saloon-keeping business of Kansas out of action, made it shut up shop, made it look ridiculous. And that, more or less, is what the great democracies' air power has done to the aggressors' brand of war. As she pelted the liquor industry with bricks, so their air power has pelted the war industry with bombs. The effect was to make each industry look silly. Certainly the fine old business of war-making can never be the same again.
The Spoiling of War
Bombing is a serious affair, a grim affair, and yet because it has had the effect referred to above, it is not without a touch of comedy. In a broadcast of 6 February, 1934, Mr. Bernard Shaw startled and amused his hearers by referring to bombing aircraft as 'angels of peace'. The employment of them, he prophesied, would lead to the mutual surrender of the capitals of the belligerent Powers and a war would peter out in general ridicule. That has hardly happened as yet, though this war has seen capital and other cities scuttling to cover by declaring themselves 'open cities' in order to avoid an enemy's attack. But other cities have disdained such a way of escape. They have stood up to the enemy's onslaught and taken the worst which he could give. In another way, however, Mr. Shaw's forecast is in a fair way to become true. War seems to be likely to peter out in general derision simply because air power has discovered that the best way to deal with it is to heave bricks or spanners or bombs or what-not into its works. Now, war simply cannot go on once that sort of thing has been begun.
War was all right when it was waged well away from the war-maker's homeland. It was a fine adventure then, and often a profitable one. It is such no longer. It is a bad business, a losing game. It used to be a way by which the dispossessed could help themselves to the possessions of the more fortunate nations. Now, because the latter have greater resources at their call they must prevail in the end in a war of mass-produced armaments. The dispossessed remain the dispossessed when the final account is taken. There is no future, in fact, for aggressive war. Only if the possessing nations, the contented nations, are criminally careless, or so stupid as to let domestic party strife blind
them to the needs of national defence, can the dice cease to be loaded against the dispossessed.
As the religious and dynastic wars passed away, so it seems that the wars waged for political or economic ends must pass. away also. They will do so because what the plain man in every country wants today is social security, and war means social insecurity. It has become a universal nuisance. It will not be tolerated by a Beveridged world.
It is to Britain that the main credit is due for the bringing about of the change to which I refer. It has been the British way of using air power which has revolutionised war. In a book which I had not the advantage of reading until I had completed the first five chapters of my own, the anonymous, obviously well-informed author summarised in a most interesting passage the differences between the British, French and German conceptions of air power. 'While the British thought of the bomber as an offensive weapon, designed to attack the economic. resources of the enemy deep within his country,' be says, 'and the Germans thought of the bomber as an offensive weapon designed to blast a path for an advancing army, the French wanted the bomber to serve as a defensive weapon, a support or adjunct to the fixed guns of the Maginot Line. . . . For Germany, the bomber was artillery for fast-moving troops; for France, the bomber was artillery for stationary troops dug fast into their fortress. . . . But Britain is a naval Power and an Empire; our bombers were therefore intended to work as a navy works, carrying power into remote parts of the world or, against a Continental nation, slowly draining the enemy's wealth from him.' 
For the final six words I would substitute 'destroying
1 Bombers Battle, by 'A Wing Commander', 1943, pp. 47-8.
the enemy's capacity to make war'; but I agree wholeheartedly with the comparison of the British, German and French attitudes to the bombing arm. In Germany and France the air arm never cut adrift from the land arm; it was tethered to the army in these countries. In Britain it was free to roam. It made the fullest use of its freedom. Germany and France used the new weapon unimaginatively. We saw its possibilities. They were fast-bound and enslaved by the thongs and gyves of military tradition. We were not. We had the sea in our blood, and that was perhaps why we were able, somehow, to free ourselves from the inhibitions which handicapped them. Nearly a century and a half ago we beat Napoleon by using the sea against him. We beat Hitler by using the sea and the air against him. The combination was irresistible. Hitler never even began to understand the air. His Stukas and Junkers 52's, even his Junkers 88's and Dornier 217's, were the weapons of an ersatz air power. We had the true armoury.
There would probably have been no strategic bombing in this war if it had been 'run' by the General Staffs. It was an innovation of the new-comers, the amateurs (from the professional soldiers' point of view), the air staffs—and above all of the most brilliant and efficient of them all, the air staff which Trenchard created and inspired. It was they who messed up what used to be a nice tidy affair. They spoiled war, the good old war. Nowhere was that feeling more prevalent than in Germany.
To that country, indeed, the new kind of war has always seemed to be not war at all but a perversion of it, an innovation devilishly conceived by people who do not understand what war is. In an article by the German official news agency published towards the end of June, 1943, one
finds this statement: 'On the European air front the conflict has assumed forms which no longer have anything in common with war.' Here, said the diplomatic correspondent of The Times, who quoted the statement, the agency develops the theme which draws a distinction between 'war' and 'bombing'. 'Many newspapers; anxious to preserve the German military tradition, try to show that allied bombing is not the consequence of German aggression, but something unfair and even extraneous.' 
The Germans could not see, they could not be expected to see, being a nation of goose-stepping Blimps, that the bomber has really killed the old kind of war. It has applied a sort of chemotherapy to the malady of international conflicts of the type of which the war of 1914-18 was the most conspicuous example. What it has achieved might be compared without an undue straining of analogy to what the sulphonamides have accomplished in the realm of bacterial infection. They, too, are a modern discovery, a later discovery, indeed, than human flight. They have routed some diseases already. They have done so simply by interfering with the processes by which infectious germs obtain and extend their hold upon the human organism. So, too, the bomber interferes with the processes by which war is able to invade the international organism and the interruption of which makes the waging of it impossible. It, too, may rout the acute political fever which is called war.
We have been living through a revolution, and we have been too close to it to see it. The segregated battlefield is no more. It has gone the way of the jousting enclosures, of Camelot and Carcassonne. Armies used to fix the venue. Air flotillas do it now. They carry their battlefields with
1 The Times, 28 June, 1943.
them. Where should they go but to the nerve-centre, the heart of mechanised war? We find it hard to realise that this amazing change has come to pass. We refuse resolutely to realise it. We talk in terms of an era that is going. We talk of the Kilkenny-cattery of the mutual bombing of cities, of the stupidity and waste of it all. Think for a moment; is it so stupid and so wasteful after all? Is it not rather the only logical kind of war? What has really happened is that air power has killed absenteeism in war. That is a staggering fact for those of us who used to be the absentees. We are all in the thick of the trouble now.
Naturally, to those who have not grown accustomed to being no longer absentees it is nothing but an intrusion, a trespass, a violation, an outrage, when war thus invades their hearths and homes. It is more than that—it is an abomination, a needless cruelty, a grim and mocking travesty of war, when bombs come crashing down on their houses, when people are killed in their sleep, when death and ruin overwhelm their world. This, they cry, is not war—it is murder. But it is war—the new kind of war. It is wrong, horrible, unendurable, but it was inevitable. It was inevitable that the air offensive against an enemy's sources of armed strength should come and with it the incidental killing of non-combatants. It was hardly less inevitable that an enemy to whom such an offensive was anathema should reply by indiscriminate attack on his opponent's towns. It is an evil thing that has grown out of another evil thing. The initial evil was the intermingling of two incompatibles. The intrusion began when the ways of war were superimposed upon the ways of peace. The bomber crews only followed where the armament producers had led the way.
Calamities unspeakable have befallen the cities and towns because ambitious and unscrupulous men rediscovered the old moss-trooper's rule in an age of mecha-
nised warfare and saw that only in the centres of population could they find the labour-force needed to produce the massive armaments essential if their ends were to be accomplished. They were evil men and crafty men: evil, because they must have known that what they were doing would bring the horrors of war upon those cities and towns; crafty, because they were planning already to capitalise the sufferings of the citizens and townsfolk in pseudo-humanitarian appeals against perfectly lawful operations of war. It was certain, once the air had been mastered, that the blow would fall where it has fallen. Everyone knew it, everyone who was not blind. To suppose that the 'sweet security of streets' could survive in any town in which lethal instruments are made or stored or conveyed was and is to nurse an illusion. And that baseless illusion, that wholly unwarranted illusion is a presupposition of the German propagandist case against our attacks on the Ruhr. Are we really expected to take it seriously?
It was perfectly well known in Germany before this war that the risk to towns and to civilian populations existed. A German diplomat wrote in 1938:
'There can be no doubt whatever about the fact that aerial warfare makes the whole of a country into a theatre of war and that the complete immunity hitherto enjoyed by the civil population in the hinterland is a thing of the past.' 
There was no suggestion here, it will be observed, that the extension of war to the hinterland was unlawful. It was treated, in fact, as a natural development of an existing tendency. It was fairly certain that any town in which armaments were manufactured would be attacked. The
1 R. von Kühlmann, Heritage of Yesterday, 1938, p. 55.
attack might and probably would result in the killing and wounding of persons whom the attackers would gladly have spared. It was not and is not on that account an unlawful operation. To dispute that conclusion is to apply to air warfare a standard of belligerent conduct which, as numerous bombardments prove, has never been applied to warfare by land or sea. Goering, at least, knew that innocent lives must be lost in such circumstances. He joked about it with Sir Nevile Henderson in August, 1939. The latter had suggested that a German bomb intended for a military objective in Britain might kill him and was at once assured that Goering 'would certainly send a special aeroplane to drop a wreath at my funeral.' 
The truth is that we cannot free ourselves of the habit of thinking in terms of the war of entrenched lines, of fixed fronts; and that kind of war, though not entirely superseded, is no longer the sole kind of war that has to be envisaged. There is the war of areas, too. The new-comer's existence was recognised already before the present conflict began, but there was a tendency to represent it as a war directed solely against an enemy population's morale.
1 Sir Nevile Henderson, Failure of a Mission, 1940, p. 88.
Brigadier-General P. R. C. Groves, for instance, writing nearly ten years ago, seems to have shared this tendency, though otherwise he appraised correctly the changed situation brought about by the use of the air arm in war. 'In Europe,' he wrote, 'warfare hitherto primarily an affair of fronts will be henceforth primarily an affair of areas. . . . In this "War of Areas" the aim of each belligerent will be to bring such pressure to bear upon the enemy people as to force them to oblige their government to sue for peace. The method of applying this pressure will be by aerial bombardment of national nerve-centres, chief among which are the great cities.' 
The moral or psychological effect is, however, only a by-product of an attack whose purpose is definitely strategical, that is, the crippling of the enemy's war machinery. It is because the new mode of warfare is directed against the sources of the enemy's armed strength that it is ethically justified and, provided that it is directed in overwhelming force, ultimately deadly in its effect.
Such an attack, massive, sustained, compelling, is-now being made by the British and American Air Forces upon all the accessible centres of production in Germany. To Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force it has fallen to be the pathfinder in this great adventure of war. It led the way and blazed the trail. The road which it opened is a busy road now. Along it we are advancing irresistibly to the goal of victory. To ask us to believe that the whole majestic process would never have been set in train if a few German bombs had not been dropped in the Orkneys or on a Kentish wood is to make an undue demand upon our credulity. To hesitate to subscribe to such a belief is not to admit for one moment that we were the first to
1 P. R. C. Groves, Behind the Smoke Screen, 1934, p. 32.
bomb towns in this war. Even if Warsaw is left out of account on the ground—vide German propaganda—that the city was invested and had refused to surrender, it is still undeniable that the Germans bombed undefended towns in Norway before we ever dropped a bomb in Germany.
'Kristiansund, an open and absolutely defenceless town where there have never been any military establishments whatever, was bombed for three days; only one house remained. . . . 15,000 inhabitants were left without shelter. In the same way Molde was bombed, and Reknes, the great sanatorium for tuberculosis, was bombed and set on fire.'  'Where Elverum had been but a few hours before, only the church and the Red Cross hospital were left standing. . . . Hardly a house but had been razed to within four feet of the ground.' 
That the Germans, having so set the pace in Norway, should protest in the name of humanity when we, having caught them up, stiffened the going for them in the Ruhr, is an indication of the amazing obtuseness of the Teutonic mentality. Have they then forgotten what happened in April, 1940? Those raids in Norway could not be explained away as reprisals. And why, given those raids, was it such a shock to the righteous Germans when we bombed the Ruhr? Why was it a 'Churchill crime'? Why should Essen or Duisburg or Dortmund be inviolate when Elverum and Kristiansund and Reknes were not? It is cheap and easy to ask rhetorical questions in a book published here about the enemy's apparently inconsequent process of thought, but this really is a puzzle.
1 Carl J. Hambro, I Saw it Happen in Norway, 1940, p. 96. Halvden Koht, Norway Neutral and Invaded, 1941, p. 111, says that not a single house was left in Kristiansund.
2 Mrs. Florence Harriman, Mission to the North, 1941, pp. 190-1.
The mystery cannot be disposed of by saying airily that it is an instance of the biter being bit, the tables being turned, the schoolboy bully whining when the methods which he had employed against the small boy are used more violently by a bigger boy still against himself. The problem goes deeper than that. Nor can it all be explained away as mere propaganda. There is, of course, a great deal of propaganda, and very unscrupulous propaganda, in the German presentation-of the case. That was never more apparent than in the oration which Dr. Goebbels delivered at Wuppertal on 18 June, 1943. He accused the Anglo-American plutocracies of the murder of the women, old men and children who fell victims to 'the Wuppertal terror raid', and denounced 'the cold, calculating cynicism of the enemy'. They had adopted methods of war opposed to humanity, he stated, methods which involved the destruction of innumerable schools, hospitals, churches and cultural objects, the object being 'to clean up the German civilian population' and 'to break their morale'. Hitler, he asserted (quite untruthfully), 'had left nothing undone to avoid the war and when it was imposed on us, to give it at least a humane turn.' Goebbels ended: 'One day the hour will come when we shall break terror by counter-terror. The enemy is piling one violent deed on another, opening a bloody account which must be settled eventually. I know that the German people await it with burning impatience.'
It would be unwise to dismiss this tirade as nothing but froth and fury: We should take seriously both the threat of retaliation with which it ends and the implication of the earlier denunciation of the Anglo-American plutocracies. We have heard. a similar threat many times before, of course. We have no right to assume that an attempt will
never be made to execute it. We should be prepared for a very violent riposte to our devastating attacks on the Reich. There is no reason to suppose that it will be more effective than the attack which we withstood in 1940-41.
What I am here concerned to establish, however, is the fact that Goebbels' lament at Wuppertal and the similar utterances so frequently heard on the German radio and in the German Press are indicative of a rude awakening in Germany to the tremendous possibilities of the strategic air offensive. Those possibilities had been discounted and belittled before 1943. A very different note is to be heard in Germany today. It is a note of lamentation, and lamentation, above all, for a grievous mistake made and a wonderful opportunity missed. Germany misconceived the whole meaning of air power. She regarded it as a secondary instrument of aggression. In truth, it was a primary instrument for the repression of aggression. The shock of that discovery has knocked the propaganda machine of the Reich off its balance.
The bomber has rehabilitated itself. It was to have been the destroyer of civilisation. Actually, it has been the saver of civilisation. But for it we in Britain would hardly have survived in this war, and most certainly our and America's task in defeating Germany and Japan would have been immensely more difficult. Bombing has served us well. To say that is not to make a fetish of it. Bombing is a horrible thing, at best. The bomb is much more the diabolus than the deus ex machinâ. It is a murderous weapon. Its only merit is that it can murder war. The bomber is the only weapon that can do that efficiently. Massed artillery could do it but only in great and bloody battles—which are the war we want to prevent. War cannot live with the bomber. It can smother and stifle war at source.
What an extraordinary turn there has been of the wheel of destiny! A much-debated question of the years 1933-39 was whether it was or was not our reservation about 'police bombing' which blocked the abolition of the bomber at Geneva in 1932-33. 'This entirely insignificant little reservation,' was Mr. Eden's description of it in the House of Commons on 11 July, 1935. 'It never had the smallest international significance,' he said. 'The only significance it has ever had has been for the purpose of party politics at home.' It certainly had its run for the latter purpose. Witness the following passage from the debates in Parliament on 18 February, 1937: Mr. A. V. Alexander: 'But for the folly of representatives of the party opposite at the Disarmament Conference, we could have abolished the use of the bombing plane.'
Hon. Members: 'No.'
Mr. Churchill: 'There is not a word of truth in that statement.'
Perhaps—I do not know—Mr. Churchill would now be prepared to go further and even to assert that to have given up the bomber then would have been as unfortunate a move for us as was the giving up the Irish ports five or six years later. Perhaps our action in 1932-33 will be defended on bolder lines in future and be modelled on the famous Ciceronian argument in the Pro Milone. That argument has been summarised thus: 'Milo hath not slain Clodius. Had he slain Clodius, he had done well.' So the champions of Mr. Eden and Lord Londonderry may say in future: 'They did not kill the proposal to abolish bombing. If they had done so, they would have done something of inestimable value to our national interests and the cause of civilisation.' Such a line of defence would not be a departure from the truth.
What of the future? First let me dip for a moment into the past.
A small boy in his home in the heart of Co. Clare is listening to a distant rumble.
'Is that thunder?' he asks his father. He is afraid of thunder—lightning is all right.
'No, gunfire,' his father answers.
'Is it the enemy, father?' (Actually, there was no enemy just then).
'No, our own guns at Tarbert—they're practising.'
The forts on the Shannon, thirty miles away to the south-west, are having one of their periodical shoots.
* * * * * * * * *
An old man in his home in the Surrey hills, is listening to a distant rumble.
'Is that thunder?' he asks his wife, whose hearing is better than his. He is not so much afraid of thunder, now—it is better than—well, other things.
'No, gunfire,' she answers.
'No, I think it's the barrage opening away there to the east. There seems to be a raid on.'
Then our own sirens sound in confirmation of her words. There are E. A. over the Greater London area.
* * * * * * * * *
Myself when young; myself when old: at both ends of my life I have had the sounds of guns in my ears. Will the small boys who now hear the anti-aircraft barrage be listening fifty years hence to the sounds of war again? I doubt it—if one condition is fulfilled. If it is fulfilled, I do not see why there should ever be another war like this one again.
The condition is that we and the United States—
'There shall be no more war.' The victors in the present war can send that command crashing round the globe, if they so decide. Will they have the will to do so? Will they rise to the height of the great occasion? It will be one of the grand climacterics of history. Not another shot need be fired again in a major war, if two or three States decide that it shall not be fired. It is for them to choose. They need not keep in being, to enforce that decision, the huge establishments of all arms which they will have created by the time the war ends: the most stupendous array of armed might the world has ever seen. But to suppose that no armaments need be retained once the present aggressors have been disarmed would be again to gamble with fate.
The problem of the prevention of war seems at last to be soluble, and at the heart of the solution, in all probability, there will be found the bomber aircraft. The stone which the builders of peace at Geneva wished to reject
1 Walter Lippmann, U.S. Foreign Policy, New York, 1943, pp. 54-5.
may be the corner-stone of the new structure of world-peace. No such proved instrument was ready to the hands of the Statesmen who attempted to organise world-peace in 1919. The bomber had not justified itself then. It will have done so abundantly by the end of 1944. Even now, in 1943, we do not know its full possibilities. The world will have been given convincing proof of its almost limit, less capacity as a war-breaker before this war ends. It is the ideal weapon for smothering aggression.
How, precisely, the system for safeguarding peace should be organised is a question which it would be unwise to try to answer dogmatically at present. The mistake made in 1919 was that the framers of the new international order were in too great a hurry. They would have been wiser if they had avoided trying to make too complete and tidy a job of their work at the first attempt. They were determined to leave no loose ends hanging about. Now, loose ends can be extraordinarily useful things at times.
The future is broad and long. Let us leave something for those who come after us to do. Our task should be to bridge the gap between the old international order and the new by ensuring that the grand alliance which saved freedom in this war is maintained until its place can be taken by some permanent organisation for the preservation of peace. On that alliance there can be built in time and by degrees the foundations of a new international society. It may be years before the structure can be completed. That need not matter. To attempt to erect it in haste might be to build it of materials which the passing years will show to have been unsound. Passions must have cooled and there must have been leisure to reflect upon the lessons of these last few hectic years before we are ready to approach our great task with the requisite balance and understanding.
Croft, Lord, 58
Balfour, Rt. Hon. H. H.,
68, Crutwell, C.
R. A. F., 13
Hon. A., 104, 153
Haldane, J. B. S., 57
Ingersoll, R., 42
Oppenheim, L., 117
Passchendaele; losses at, 12-