The Decisive Battle
The 1914-1918 war was the first war of nations, as distinct from armies; the hands that directed it reached into every home in most European, and many non-European countries. This was a new thing in the world, but it was foretold by the conspirators of Communism and Zionism. The Protocols of 1905 said that resistance to the plan therein unfolded would be met by “universal war”; Max Nordau in 1903 said that the Zionist ambition in Palestine would be achieved through “the coming world war.”
If such words were to be fulfilled, and thus to acquire the status of “uncanny knowledge” revealed in advance of the event, the conspiracy had to gain control of the governments involved so that their acts of State policy, and in consequence their military operations, might be diverted to serve the ends of the conspiracy, not national interests. The American president was already (i.e., from 1912) the captive of secret “advisers,” as has been shown; and if Mr. House's depictment of him (alike in the anonymous novel and the acknowledged Private Papers) is correct, he fits the picture given in the earlier Protocols, “… we replaced the ruler by a caricature of a president, taken from the mob, from the midst of our puppet creatures, our slaves.”
However, Mr. Wilson was not required to take much active part in furthering the great “design” in the early stages of the First World War; he fulfilled his function later. At its start the main objective was to gain control of the British Government. The struggle to do this lasted two years and ended in victory for the intriguers, whose activities were unknown to the public masses. This battle, fought in the “labyrinth” of “international politics,” was the decisive battle of the First World War. That is to say (as no decision is ever final, and can always be modified by a later decision), it produced the greatest and most enduring effects on the further course of the 20th Century; these effects continued to dominate events between the wars and during the Second World War, and in 1956 may be seen to form the most probable cause of any third “universal war.” No clash of arms during the 1914-1918 war produced an effect on the future comparable with that brought about by the capture of the British Government in 1916. This process was hidden from the embroiled masses. From start to finish Britons believed that they had only to do with an impetuous Teutonic warlord, and Americans, that the incorrigible quarrelsomeness of European peoples was the root cause of the upheaval.
In England in 1914 the situation brought about in America by the secret captivity of President Wilson did not prevail. The leading political and military posts were held by men who put every proposal for the political and military conduct of the war to one test: would it help win the war and was it in their country's interest. By that test Zionism failed. The story of the first two years of the four-year war is that of the struggle behind the scenes to dislodge these obstructive men and to supplant them by other, submissive men.
Before 1914 the conspiracy had penetrated-only into antechambers (apart from the Balfour Government's fateful step in 1903). After 1914 a widening circle of leading men associated themselves with the diversionary enterprise, Zionism. Today the “practical considerations” (of public popularity or hostility, votes, financial backing and office) which influence politicians in this matter are well known, because they have been revealed by many authentic publications. At that time, a politician in England must have been exceptionally astute or far-sighted to see in the Zionists the holders of the keys to political advancement. Therefore the Balfourean motive of romantic infatuation may have impelled them; the annals are unclear at that period and do not explain the unaccountable. Moreover, the English have always tended to give their actions a guise of high moral purpose, and to persuade themselves to believe in it; this led Macaulay to observe that “we know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.” Possibly, then, some of the men who joined in this intrigue (which it undoubtedly was) thought they were doing right. This process of self-delusion is shown by the one statement, discoverable by me, which clearly identifies a group of pro-Zionists in high English places at that time, and offers a motive of the kind satirized by Lord Macaulay.
This comes from a Mr. Oliver Locker-Lampson, early in this century a Conservative Member of parliament. He played no great part and was notable, if at all, only for his later, fanatical support of Zionism in and outside parliament, but he was a personal friend of the leading men who fathered Zionism on the British people. In 1952, in a London weekly journal, he wrote:
“Winston, Lloyd George, Balfour and I were brought up vigorous Protestants, who believe in the coming of a new Saviour when Palestine returns to Jews.” This is the Messianic idea of Cromwell's Millenarians, foisted on the 20th Century. Only the men named could say if the statement is true, and but one of them survives. Whether this is the true basis of Protestantism, vigorous or otherwise, readers may judge for themselves. None will contend that it is a sound basis for the conduct of State policy or military operations in war. Also, of course, it expresses the same impious idea that moved the Prophet Monk and all such men: that God has forgotten his duty and, having defaulted, must have it done for him. Anyway, a group had formed and we may as well use for it the name which this man gave it: the Vigorous Protestants.
The First World War began, with these Vigorous Protestants ambitious to attain power so that they might divert military operations in Europe to the cause of procuring Palestine for the Zionists. Dr. Weizmann, who had not been idle since we last saw him closeted with Mr. Balfour at Manchester in 1906, at once went into action: “now is the time … the political considerations will be favourable,” he wrote in October 1914. He sought out Mr. C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, which was much addicted (then as now) to any non-native cause. Mr. Scott was enchanted to learn that his visitor was “a Jew who hated Russia” (Russia, England's ally, at that moment was saving the British and French armies in the west by attacking from the east) and at once took him to breakfast with Mr. Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Lloyd George (whom Dr. Weizmann found “extraordinarily flippant” about the war in Europe) was “warm and encouraging” about Zionism and suggested another meeting with Mr. Balfour. This ensued on December 14, 1914. Mr. Balfour, recalling the 1906 conversation, “quite nonchalantly” asked if he could help Dr. Weizmann in any practical way, receiving the answer, “Not while the guns are roaring; when the military situation becomes clearer I will come again” (Mrs. Dugdale, with whose account Dr. Weizmann's agrees: “I did not follow up this opening, the time and place were not propitious.” This was the meeting at which Mr. Balfour gratuitously said that “when the guns stop firing you may get your Jerusalem”).
Dr. Weizmann did not grasp eagerly at Mr. Balfour's “quite nonchalant” offer for a good reason. The Zionist headquarters at that moment was in Berlin and Dr. Weizmann's colleagues there were convinced that Germany would win the war. Before they put any cards on the table they wished to be sure about that. When, later, they resolved to stake on the Allied card, “the guns” were still “roaring.” Dr. Weizmann was not deterred by thought of the carnage in Europe from “following up the opening.” As he truly told Mr. Balfour (and Mr. Balfour certainly did not understand just what was in his visitor's mind), “the time … was not propitious,” and Dr. Weizmann meant to wait “until the military situation becomes clearer.”
Significantly, some of the men concerned in these publicly-unknown interviews seem to have sought to cover up their dates; at the time the fate of England was supposed to be their only preoccupation. I have already given one apparent instance of this: the confusion about the date of Mr. Balfour's second meeting with Dr. Weizmann, the one just described. Mr. Lloyd George, similarly, wrote that his first meeting with Dr. Weizmann occurred in 1917, when he was Prime Minister, and called it a “chance” one. Dr: Weizmann disdainfully corrected this: “actually Mr. Lloyd George's advocacy of the Jewish homeland long predated his accession to the premiership and we had several meetings in the intervening years.”
A third meeting with Mr. Balfour followed, “a tremendous talk which lasted several hours” and went off “extraordinarily well.” Dr. Weizmann, once more, expressed his “hatred for Russia,” England's hard-pressed ally. Mr. Balfour mildly wondered “how a friend of England could be so anti-Russian when Russia was doing so much to help England win the war.” As on the earlier occasion, when he alluded to the anti-Zionist convictions of British Jews, he seems to have had no true intention to remonstrate, and concluded, “It is a great cause you are working for; you must come again and again.”
Mr. Lloyd George also warned Dr. Weizmann that “there would undoubtedly be strong opposition from certain Jewish quarters” and Dr. Weizmann made his stock reply, that in fact “rich and powerful Jews were for the most part against us.” Strangely, this insinuation seems greatly to have impressed the Vigorous Protestants, who were mostly rich and powerful men, and they soon became as hostile to their fellow-countrymen, the Jews of England, as their importuner, Dr. Weizmann from Russia.
Opposition to Zionism developed from another source. In the highest places still stood men who thought only of national duty and winning the war. They would not condone “hatred” of a military ally or espouse a wasteful “sideshow” in Palestine. These men were Mr. Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister), Lord Kitchener (Secretary for War), Sir Douglas Haig (who became Commander-in-Chief in France), and Sir William Robertson (Chief-of-Staff in France, later Chief of the Imperial General Staff).
Mr. Asquith was the last Liberal leader in England who sought to give “Liberalism” a meaning concordant with national interest and religious belief, as opposed to the meaning which the term has been given in the last four decades (the one attributed to it by the Protocols: “When we introduced into the State organism the poison of Liberalism its whole political complexion underwent a change; States have been seized with a mortal illness, blood-poisoning …”). With his later overthrow Liberalism, in the first sense, died in England; and in fact the party itself fell into decline and collapsed, leaving only a name used chiefly as “cover” by Communism and its legion of “utopian dreamers.”
Mr. Asquith first learned of the intrigue that was brewing when he received a proposal for a Jewish state in Palestine from a Jewish minister, Mr. Herbert Samuel, who had been present at the Weizmann-Lloyd George breakfast in December 1914; these two were informed of it beforehand. Mr. Asquith wrote, “… Samuel's proposal in favour of the British annexation of Palestine, a country of the size of Wales, much of it barren mountain and part of it waterless. He thinks we might plant in this not very promising territory about three or four million Jews … I am not attracted to this proposed addition to our responsibilities … The only other partisan of this proposal is Lloyd George, and I need not say that he does not care a damn for the Jews or their part of the future …”
Mr. Asquith (who correctly summed-up Mr. Lloyd George) remained of the same opinion to the end. Ten years later, when long out of office, he visited Palestine, and wrote, “This talk of making Palestine a Jewish National Home seems to me just as fantastic as it has always been.” In 1915, by his adverse response, he made himself, and his removal from office, the object of the intrigue. As long as he could he kept his country out of the Palestinian adventure; he accepted the opinion of the military leaders, that the war could only be won (if at all) on the main battlefield, in Europe.
Lord Kitchener, who held this view, was of immense authority and public popularity. The paramount military objective at that stage, he held, was to keep Russia in the war (the Zionists wanted Russia's destruction and so informed the Vigorous Protestants). Lord Kitchener was sent to Russia by Mr. Asquith in June 1916. The cruiser Hampshire, and Lord Kitchener in it, vanished. Good authorities concur that he was the one man who might have sustained Russia. A formidable obstacle, both to the world-revolution there and to the Zionist enterprise, disappeared. Probably Zionism could not have been foisted on the West, had he lived. I remember that the soldiers on the Western Front, when they heard the news, felt that they had lost a major battle. Their intuition was truer than they knew.
After that only Asquith, Robertson, Haig and the Jews of England stood between Zionism and its goal. The circle of intrigue widened. The Times and Sunday Times joined the Manchester Guardian in its enthusiasm for Zionism, and in or around the Cabinet new men added themselves to Balfour and Lloyd George. Lord Milner (about to join it) announced that “if the Arabs think that Palestine will become an Arab country they are much mistaken”; at that moment Colonel Lawrence was rousing the Arabs to revolt against an enemy of the Allies, the Turk. Mr. Philip Kerr (Later Lord Lothian, at that time Mr. Lloyd George's amanuensis) decided that “a Jewish Palestine” must come out of the chastisement of “the mad dog in Berlin” (as the Kaiser was depicted to “the mob”). Sir Mark Sykes, Chief Secretary of the War Cabinet, was “one of our greatest finds” (Dr. Weizmann), and broadened the idea into “the liberation of the Jews, the Arabs and the Armenians.”
By means of such false suggestions is “the multitude” ever and again “persuaded.” The Arabs and Armenians were where they always had been and did not aspire to be removed elsewhither. The Jews in Europe were as free or unfree as other men; the Jews of Palestine had demonstrated their eagerness to go to Uganda, the Jews of Europe and America wanted to stay where they were, and only the Judaized Khazars of Russia, under their Talmudic directors, wanted possession of Palestine. Sir Mark's invention of this formula was one more misfortune for posterity, for it implied that the Palestinian adventure was but one of several, all akin. Unlike the other Vigorous Protestants, he was an expert in Middle Eastern affairs and must have known better.
Another recruit, Lord Robert Cecil, also used this deceptive formula, “Arabia for the Arabs, Judea for the Jews, Armenia for the Armenians” (Armenian liberation was quite lost sight of in the later events), and his case also is curious, for statesmanship is inborn in the Cecils. Zionism had strange power to produce aberrations in wise men. Mr. Balfour (a half Cecil) had a Cecilian wisdom in other matters; he produced a paper on the reorganization of Europe after the war which stands today as a model of prudent statesmanship, whereas in the question of Zionism he was as a man drugged.
Lord Cecil's case is similarly unaccountable. I remember a lecture he gave in Berlin (in the 1930's) about the League of Nations. Tall, stooped, hawk-visaged, ancestrally gifted, he uttered warnings about the future as from some mountain-top of revelation, and sepulchrally invoked “the Hebrew prophets.” As a young journalist I was much impressed without comprehending what he meant. Today, when I have learned a little, it is still mysterious to me; if Jeremiah, for instance, was anything he was an anti-Zionist.
Yet Dr. Weizmann says specifically of Lord Robert, “To him the re-establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine and the organization of the world in a great federation were complementary features of the next step in the management of human affairs … One of the founders of the League of Nations, he considered the Jewish Homeland to be of equal importance with the League itself.”
Here the great secret is out; but did Lord Robert discern it? The conquest of Palestine for the Zionists from Russia was but “the next step” in “the management of human affairs” (Lord Acton's dictum about “the design” and “the managers” recurs to mind). The “world federation” is depicted as a concurrent part of the same plan. The basic theory of that league, in its various forms, has proved to be that nations should surrender their sovereignty, so that separate nationhood will disappear (this, of course, is also the basic principle of the Protocols). But if nations are to disappear, why should the process of their obliteration begin with the creation of one new nation, unless it is to be the supreme authority in “the management of human affairs” (this conception of the one supreme nation runs alike through the Old Testament, the Talmud, the Protocols and literal Zionism).
Thus Lord Robert's espousal of Zionism becomes incomprehensible, for his inherited wisdom made him fully aware of the perils of world-despotism and at that very period he wrote to Mr. House in America:
“That we ought to make some real effort to establish a peace machinery when this war is over, I have no doubt … One danger seems to me to be that too much will be aimed at … . . Nothing did more harm to the cause of peace than the breakdown of the efforts after Waterloo in this direction. It is now generally forgotten that the Holy Alliance was originally started as a League to Enforce Peace. Unfortunately, it allowed its energies to be diverted in such a way that it really became a league to uphold tyranny, with the consequence that it was generally discredited, besides doing infinite harm in other ways … The example shows how easily the best intended schemes may come to grief.”
The quotation shows that Lord Cecil should have been aware of the danger of “diverting energies”; it also shows that he misunderstood the nature of Zionism, if the opinion attributed to him by Dr. Weizmann is correct. When he wrote these words, a new “League to Enforce Peace” was being organized in America by Mr. House's own brother-in-law, Dr. Mezes; it was the precursor of the various world-government flotations that have followed, in which the intention of powerful groups to set up “a league to uphold tyranny” in the world has been plainly revealed.
Thus, as the second twelvemonth of the First World War ended, the Vigorous Protestants, who looked toward Palestine, not Europe, were a numerous band of brothers, husking the Russian-Zionist core. Messrs. Leopold Amery, Ormsby-Gore and Ronald Graham joined the “friends” above named. Zionism had its foot in every department of government save the War Office. Whatever the original nature of their enthusiasm for Zionism, material rewards at this stage undeniably beckoned; the intrigue was aimed at dislodging men from office and taking their places.
The obstructive prime minister, Mr. Asquith, was removed at the end of 1916. The pages of yesterday now reveal the way this was done, and the passage of time enables the results to be judged. The motive offered to the public masses was that Mr. Asquith was ineffective in prosecuting the war. The sincerity of the contention may be tested by what followed; the first act of his successors was to divert forces to Palestine and in the sequence to that Mr. Lloyd George nearly lost the war entirely.
On November 25, 1916 Mr. Lloyd George recommended that his chief retire from the chairmanship of the War Council in favour of Mr. Lloyd George. Normally such a demand would have been suicidal, but this was a coalition government and the Liberal Mr. Lloyd George was supported in his demand by the Conservative leaders, Mr. Bonar Law and Sir Edward Carson, so that it was an ultimatum. (These two presumably had honest faith in Mr. Lloyd George's superior abilities; they cannot be suspected of Tory duplicity deep enough to foresee that he would ultimately destroy the Liberal Party!)
Mr. Lloyd George also required that the incompetent (and Conservative) Mr. Balfour be ousted from the First Lordship of the Admiralty. The Liberal prime minister indignantly refused either to surrender the War Council or to dismiss Mr. Balfour (December 4). He then received Mr. Balfour's resignation, whereon he at once sent Mr. Balfour a copy of his own letter refusing to dismiss Mr. Balfour. Thereon Mr. Balfour, though kept indoors by a bad cold, found strength to send another letter in which he insisted on resigning, as Mr. Lloyd George had demanded, and Mr. Lloyd George also resigned.
Mr. Asquith was left alone. On December 6 Mr. Balfour (resigned at Mr. Lloyd George's dictate) felt well enough to receive Mr. Lloyd George. That afternoon the party leaders met and announced that they would gladly serve under Mr. Balfour. Mr. Balfour declined but offered gladly to serve under Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Lloyd George then became Prime Minister and appointed the incompetent Mr. Balfour Foreign Secretary. Thus the two men privily committed to support Zionism moved into the highest political offices and from that moment the energies of the British Government were directed to the procurement of Palestine for the Zionists above all other purposes. (In 1952 I read a letter in the Jewish journal Commentary, of New York, intimating that the Jews of North Wales had by their votes played the decisive part in effecting Mr. Lloyd George's election. I am credibly informed, also, that in his attorney's practice he received much Zionist business, but cannot myself vouch for that. In his case the explanation of venal motives cannot be discounted, in my judgment; the inaccuracy of his statements about his relations with Zionism, which Dr. Weizmann twice corrects, is suggestive).
Thus the central figures on the stage regrouped themselves. Mr. Lloyd George, a small, smart-lawyer in a cutaway among taller colleagues, many still in the old frock coat, looked like a cocksparrow among crows. Beside him stood Mr. Balfour, tall, limp, ever ready with a wearily cynical answer to an honest question, given to a little gentle tennis; I see him now, strolling dreamily across Saint James's Park to the House. Around these two, the Greek chorus of cabinet ministers, junior ministers and high officials who had discovered their Vigorous Protestantism. Some of these fellow-travellers of Zion may have been honestly deluded, and not have realized in what chariot they rode. Mr. Lloyd George was the first major figure in a long line of others who knew a band-wagon when they saw one; through them the innocent words, “twentieth century politician,” gained an ominous meaning and the century owes much of its ordeal to them.
As to the diversion of British military strength to an alien purpose, one stout resistant alone remained after the death of Lord Kitchener and removal of Mr. Asquith. The sturdy figure of Sir William Robertson faced the group around Mr. Lloyd George. Had he joined it, he could have had titles, receptions, freedoms, orders, gilt boxes, and ribbons down to his waistbelt; he could have had fortunes for “the rights” of anything he wrote (or any ghost for him); he could have had boulevards named after him and have paraded through cheering cities in Europe and America; he could have had Congress and the House of Commons rise to him and have entered Jerusalem on a white horse. He did not even receive a peerage, and is rare among British field marshals in this.
He was the only man ever to have risen to that highest rank from private. In England of the small professional army this was a great achievement. He was simple, honest, heavy, rugged in feature; he was of the people and looked like a handsome sergeant-major. His only support, in his struggle, lay in the commander in France, Sir Douglas Haig, who was of the cavalry officer caste, goodlooking and soldierly, the private soldier's ideal of what an officer should be. Robertson, the gruff old soldier, had (reluctantly) to attend some of the money-raising festivities with which society ladies, in wartime, keep themselves occupied, and at one such saw Lady Constance Stewart Richardson, who felt moved to perform dances in the draperies and manner of Isadora Duncan. A general, noticing Robertson's impatience, said, “You must admit she has a very fine leg.” “Umph, just like any other damn leg,” growled Robertson.
On this last man felt the task of thwarting the diversion of British armies to Palestine, if he could. He considered all proposals exclusively in their military bearing on the war and victory; if it would help win the war, motive was to him indifferent; if it would not, he opposed it without regard for any other consideration. On that basis he decided that the Zionist proposal was for a dangerous “sideshow” which could only delay and imperil victory. He never discussed and may not even have suspected any political implications; these were irrelevant to him.
He had told Mr. Asquith in 1915, “Obviously the most effective method” (of defeating the Central Powers) “is to defeat decisively the main German armies, which are still on the Western Front.” Therefore he counselled urgently against, “auxiliary campaigns in minor theatres and the depletion of the forces in France … The one touchstone by which all plans and proposals must be tested is their bearing on the object of the war.”
Peoples engaged in war, are fortunate if their leaders reason like this, and unfortunate if they deviate from this reasoning. By that conclusive logic the Palestinian enterprise (a political one) was out. When Mr. Lloyd George became prime minister he at once bent all his efforts on diverting strength to a major campaign in Palestine: “When I formed my government I at once raised with the War Office the question of a further campaign into Palestine. Sir William Robertson, who was most anxious to avert the danger of any troops being sent from France to Palestine … strongly opposed this and for the time being won his point.”
Sir William Robertson corroborates: “Up to December 1916” (when Mr. Lloyd George became prime minister) “operations beyond the Suez Canal had been essentially defensive in principle, the government and General Staff alike … recognizing the paramount importance of the struggle in Europe and the need to give the armies there the utmost support. This unanimity between ministers and soldiers did not obtain after the premiership changed hands … The fundamental difference of opinion was particularly obtrusive in the case of Palestine … The new War Cabinet had been in existence only a few days when it directed the General Staff to examine the possibility of extending the operations in Palestine … The General Staff put the requirements at three additional divisions and these could only be obtained from the armies on the Western Front … The General Staff said the project would prove a great source of embarrassment and injure our prospects of success in France … These conclusions were disappointing to Ministers, … who wished to see Palestine occupied at once, but they could not be refuted … In February the War Cabinet again approached the Chief of the General Staff, asking what progress was being made with the preparation of an autumn campaign in Palestine.”
These passages show how the course of State policy and of military operations in war may be “deflected” by political pressure behind the scenes. In this case, the issue of the battle between the politicians and the soldier affects the lives of nations at the present time, the 1950's.
Mr. Lloyd George then reinforced himself by a move which once more shows the long thought that must have gone into the preparation of this enterprise, and the careful selection of “administrators,” to support it, that must have gone before. He proposed that the War Cabinet “take the Dominions into counsel in a much larger measure than hitherto in the prosecution of the war.” Put in that way, the idea appealed greatly to the public masses in England. Fighting-men from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were campaigning shoulder to shoulder with their own sons. The immediate response of the overseas countries to the “old country's” danger had touched the native Briton's heart, and he was very happy that their leaders should join more closely with his own in “prosecuting the war.”
However, “the diplomat's word” (and his intention) differed greatly from his deed; Mr. Lloyd George's proposal was merely a “cover” for bringing to London General Smuts from South Africa, who was regarded by the Zionists as their most valuable “friend” outside Europe and America, and General Smuts was brought across to propose the conquest of Palestine!
The voting-population in South Africa is so equally divided between Afrikaners and English-speaking South Africans that the “fluctuating 20 percent” was, if anything, more decisive there than in America. The Zionists felt able, and possibly General Smuts believed they were able, to “deliver” an election-winning vote. One of his colleagues, a Mr. B.K. Long (a Smuts Member of Parliament and earlier of the London Times) wrote that “the substantial Jewish vote, which was firmly loyal to Smuts and his party,” greatly helped him to such electoral victories. His biography mentions a large legacy from “a rich and powerful Jew” (an example of the falsity of Dr. Weizmann's charge against rich and powerful Jews; apropos, the same Sir Henry Strakosch bequeathed a similar gift to Mr. Winston Churchill) and gifts from some unnamed quarter of a house and car. Thus the party-political considerations which weighed with him were similar to those of Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. House and later others, and material factors are reasonably apparent in his case.
However, the religious (or pseudo-religious) motive is frequently invoked in his biographies (as it was sometimes claimed by Mr. Lloyd George). They state that he preferred the Old Testament to the New, and quote him as saying, “The older I get the more of an Hebraist I become.” I met him many years later, when I knew how important a part he played in this earlier story. He was then (1948) much troubled about the declining situation in the world, and the explosive part of Palestine in it. He was of fine appearance, fit and erect when nearly eighty, keen-eyed, and wore a little beard. He was ruthless and on occasion could have been depicted in a cruel light (had the mass-newspapers been arrayed against instead of behind him) and his political astuteness equalled Mr. Lloyd George's. Propaganda portrayed him as the great architect of Anglo-Boer reconciliation; when he died at his lonely Transvaal farm the two races were more at variance than ever, so that true reconciliation remained for later generations to effect. In South Africa he was a divisive force and all knew that the real power behind his party was that of the gold and diamond mining group, not of England; Johannesburg was the base of his political strength. In 1948, when the test came, he was the first to support Zionism against a hard-pressed British Government.
On March 17, 1917 General Smuts reached London, amid unprecedented ovations, and the overthrow of Sir William Robertson at last loomed near. General Smuts's triumphant reception was an early example of the now familiar “build-up” of selected public figures by a push-button press. The method, in another form, is known among the primitive peoples of his native Africa, where “M'Bongo,” the Praisemaker, stalks before the chief, proclaiming him “Great Elephant, Earth Shaker, Stabber of Heaven” and the like.
General Smuts was presented to the Imperial War Cabinet as “one of the most brilliant generals of the war” (Mr. Lloyd George). General Smuts had in fact conducted a small colonial campaign in South West Africa, and when he was summoned to London was waging an uncompleted one in East Africa against “a small but efficiently bush-trained army of 2,000 German officers and 20,000 native askaris” (his son, Mr. J.C. Smuts). The tribute thus was generous (Mr. Lloyd George's opinion of professional soldiers was low: “There is no profession where experience and training count less in comparison with judgment and flair”) .
By that time, the better to seclude themselves from “the generals” (other than General Smuts) Mr. Lloyd George and his small war-waging committee had taken a private house “where they sit twice a day and occupy their whole time with military policy, which is my job; a little body of politicians, quite ignorant of war and all its needs, are trying to run the war themselves” (Sir William Robertson). To this cloistered body, in April 1917, General Smuts by invitation presented his recommendations for winning the war. It was couched in this form: “The Palestine campaign presents very interesting military and even political possibilities … There remains for consideration the far more important and complicated question of the Western Front. I have always looked on it as a misfortune … . that the British forces have become so entirely absorbed by this front.” (When this advice was tendered Russia was in collapse, the transfer of German armies to the Western Front was an obvious and imminent event, and the threat to that front had suddenly increased to the size of a deadly peril).
This recommendation gave Mr. Lloyd George the high military support (from East Africa) which he needed, and he at once had the War Cabinet order the military commander in Egypt to attack towards Jerusalem. General Murray objected that his forces were insufficient and was removed. Thereon the command was offered to General Smuts, whom Mr. Lloyd George considered “likely to prosecute a campaign in that quarter with great determination.”
Sir William Robertson then won his greatest victory of the war. He had a talk with General Smuts. His visitor's qualities as a general can never be estimated because he never had an opportunity to test them, in the small campaigns in which he served. His qualities as a politician, however, are beyond all doubt; he was the wariest of men, and strongly averse to exchanging the triumphs of London for the risk of a fiasco in the field which might destroy his political future in South Africa. Therefore, after his talk with Sir William Robertson, he declined Mr. Lloyd George's offer. (As events turned out he would have been spared the fiasco, but that was unforeseeable, and thus one more conqueror missed the chance of entering Jerusalem on a charger. As politicians habitually love such moments, despite the comic aspect which time often gives them, he later regretted this: “To have entered Jerusalem! What a memory!”). At the time he told Mr. Lloyd George, “My strong conviction is that our present military situation does not really justify an offensive campaign for the capture of Jerusalem and the occupation of Palestine.”
Mr. Lloyd George was not to be deterred even by this volte-face, or by the collapse of Russia and the new danger in the West. In September 1917 he decided that “the requisite troops for a big campaign in Palestine could be spared from the Western Front during the winter of 1917-1918 and could complete the task in Palestine in time to be back in France for the opening of active work in the spring.”
Only God can have preserved Mr. Lloyd George's fellow countrymen from the full penalties of this decision. The war could not be won in Palestine; it still could be lost in France, and the danger was grave. But Mr. Lloyd George, failed even by General Smuts, had found military support at last, for at this moment another figure, crying “mud-months,” advanced from the wings of the central stage.
This was one Sir Henry Wilson, who thus portrays himself during a wartime mission to Russia in January 1917: “Gala dinner at the Foreign Office … I wore the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour and the Star and Necklace of the Bath, also Russian shoulder-straps and grey astrakhan cap, and altogether I was a fine picture of a man. I created quite a sensation at the Foreign Office dinner and the reception afterwards. I was much taller than the Grand Duke Serge and altogether a ‘notable,' as I was told. Superb!”
To this man, posturing against the tragic Russian background, Mr. Lloyd George and Zionism owed their golden opportunity, arrived at last, and England very nearly a catastrophe. Sir Henry Wilson was very tall, thin, smooth and smiling; one of those dapper, polished-leather-bound, red-tabbed, beribboned and brass-edged elegants of the Staff who discouraged the muddied, trenchweary soldiers in France. He spoke native French (by the chance of a French governess) and on this account “Henri” was beloved by the French generals, who thought him refreshingly free from English stiffness (indeed, he was an Irishman and on Irish questions disagreed with other Irishmen, by two of whom he was shot on his London doorstep in 1922, they being hanged).
Sir Henry earlier had agreed with all other military leaders about the paramountcy of the main front and the madness of wasteful “sideshows” and excelled others in the vigour with which he stated this principle: “The way to end this war is to kill Germans, not Turks … The place where we can kill most Germans is here” (France) “and therefore every pound of ammunition we have in the world ought to come here. All history shows that operations in a secondary and ineffectual theatre have no bearing on major operations except to weaken the forces there engaged” (1915).
No staff graduate, or any fighting private, would dispute that. Sir Henry cannot by 1917 have discovered any military reason to abandon this basic principle of war for its opposite. The explanation of his volt-face can only be the obvious one. He had observed the rise of Zion and the nature of Mr. Lloyd George's dispute with his own chief, Sir William Robertson. Sir Henry saw the way to occupy Sir William's shoes. Hence Dr. Weizmann's account of his “discoveries of friends” at that period include an allusion to the “sympathy” of General Wilson, “a great friend of Lloyd George.” On August 23, 1917 Sir Henry reported to Mr. Lloyd George “the strong belief that if a really good scheme was thoroughly well worked out, we could clear the Turks out of Palestine and very likely knock them completely out during the mud-months without in any way interfering with Haig's operations next spring and winter” (in France).
In this report Mr. Lloyd George at long last found the support he needed for his order of September 1917, quoted six paragraphs back. He seized on the alluring phrase “mud-months”; it gave him a military argument! General Wilson explained to him that these “mud-months” in France, which by bogging down the armies would preclude a major German offensive while they continued, comprized “five months of mud and snow from the middle of November to the middle of April” (1918). On this counsel Mr. Lloyd George founded his decision to take from France “the requisite troops for a big campaign in Palestine” and to have them back in France in time for any emergency there. As to that, General Wilson, alone among military leaders, advised Mr. Lloyd George that the big German attack probably would never happen (it came in the middle of March).
Sir William Robertson vainly pointed out that the time-table was illusory; the movement of armies entailed major problems of transport and shipping, and by the time the last divisions landed in Palestine the first ones would be re-embarking! In October he again warned that troops taken from France could not be back there in time for summer fighting: “the right military course to pursue is to act on the defensive in Palestine … and continue to seek a decision in the West … all reserves should be sent to the Western Front.”
At that fateful instant chance, ever the arch-conspirator in this story, struck in favour of the Zionists. Cabinet Ministers in London (who apparently had almost forgotten the Western Front) were badgering Sir William Robertson to “give us Jerusalem as a Christmas box” (the phrase appears to reveal again the “extraordinary flippancy” about the war which Dr. Weizmann earlier attributed to Mr. Lloyd George). In Palestine General Allenby, under similar pressure, made a probing advance, found to his surprise that the Turks offered little opposition, and without much difficulty marched into Jerusalem.
The prize was of no military value, in the total sum of the war, but Mr. Lloyd George thenceforward was not to be restrained. Troops were diverted from France without regard to what impended there. On January 6, 1918 Sir Douglas Haig complained of the weakening of his armies in France on the eve of the greatest battle; he was “114,000 infantry down.” On January 10,1918 the War Office was forced to issue orders to reduce all divisions from 12 to 9 battalions of infantry.
A free press might at that period have given Sir William Robertson the backing he needed, in public opinion, to avert all this. He was denied that, too, for at that stage the state of affairs foretold by the Protocols of 1905 was being brought about: “We must compel the governments … to take action in the direction favoured by our widely-conceived plan … by what we shall represent as public opinion, secretly prompted by us through the means of that so-called ‘Great Power,' the Press, which, with a few exceptions that may be disregarded, is already entirely in our hands.” Writers of great repute were ready to inform the public of the imminent danger; they were not allowed to speak.
Colonel Repington, of The Times, was the best-known military writer of that day; his reputation in this field was the highest in the world. He noted in his diary, “This is terrible and will mean the reduction of our infantry in France by a quarter and confusion in all our infantry at the moment of coming crisis. I have never felt so miserable since the war began … I can say very little because the editor of The Times often manipulates my criticisms or does not publish them …If The Times does not return to its independent line and act as watchdog of the public I shall wash my hands of it.”
When the fulfilment of his warnings was at hand, Sir William Robertson was removed. Mr. Lloyd George, resolved to obtain authority for his Palestinian adventure, put his plan to the Supreme War Council of the Allies at Versailles, whose technical advisers, in January 1918, approved it “subject to the Western Front being made secure.” Sir William Robertson, at M. Clemenceau's request, restated his warning that it would mortally endanger the Western Front. When the meeting broke up Mr. Lloyd George angrily rebuked him and he was at once supplanted by Sir Henry Wilson.
Before he left his post he used his last moments in it to make a final attempt to avert the coming disaster. He went (also in January) to Paris to ask help from General Pershing, the American commander, in replenishing the depleted front (only four and a half American divisions then had reached France). General Pershing, a soldier true to his duty, made the reply which Sir William expected and would himself have made in General Pershing's place: “He shrewdly observed that it was difficult to reconcile my request for assistance in defence of the Western Front with Mr. George´s desire to act offensively in Palestine. There was, unfortunately, no answer to that argument, except that, so far as I was personally concerned, not a man or gun would be sent to Palestine from anywhere.”
After that Sir William Robertson was no longer “concerned.” His account differs from the memoirs of Mr. Lloyd George and other politicians in that it shows no rancour; his sole theme is duty. Of his treatment he merely says, “It had frequently been my unpleasant duty during 1917 to object to military enterprises which the Prime Minister wished the army to carry out and this opposition had doubtless determined him to try another Chief of the Imperial General Staff … On the point of supersession, therefore, there was nothing to say and I said nothing.” Thus an admirable man passes from this story of many lesser men, but his work endured, because, up to the time of his dismissal, he may have saved just enough men and guns for the crumbling line to hold at the last extremity, in March, as a rending hawser may hold by a single thread.
When he was gone two men outside the government and army continued the struggle, and their efforts deserve record because theirs were among the last attempts to preserve the principle of free, independent and vigilant reporting. Colonel Repington was a former cavalry officer, an admirer of pretty women, a lover of good talk, a beau sabreur. His diaries give a lasting picture of the frothy life of the drawing-rooms that went on while armies fought in France and in London intriguers conspired in the political antechambers. He enjoyed it and although he felt its incongruity he realized that gloom alone was no remedy. He was as honest and patriotic as Robertson, and incorruptible; lavish offers (which might have lured him into silence, and possibly were so intended) had no effect on him.
He wrote, “We are feeding over a million men into the sideshow theatres of war and are letting down our strengths in France at a moment when all the Boche forces from Russia may come against us … I am unable to get the support from the editor of The Times that I must have to rouse the country and I do not think I will be able to go on with him much longer.” (I discovered Colonel Repington's diaries through my work on this book and then realized that his experience was identical with mine, just twenty years later, with the same editor). A month later he wrote, “In a stormy interview I told Mr. Geoffrey Dawson that his subservience to the War Cabinet during this year was largely the cause of the dangerous position of our army … I would have nothing more to do with The Times.”
This left one man in England who was able and willing to publish the truth. Mr. H.A. Gwynne, of the Morning Post, printed Colonel Repington's article, which exposed the weakening of the French front on the eve of its attack, without submitting it to the censor. He and Colonel Repington then were prosecuted, tried and fined (public opinion was apparently too much on their side for harsher retribution). Sir William Robertson wrote to Colonel Repington, “Like yourself, I did what was best in the general interests of the country and the result has been exactly what I expected … But the great thing is to keep on a straight course and then one may be sure that good will eventually come of what may now seem to be evil.”
Thus the two wartime years of Mr. Lloyd George's leadership in England were momentous in their effects on the present time, and I believe I have shown how he achieved office and what paramount purpose he pursued through it. After eighteen months he had overcome all opposition, diverted a mass of men from France to Palestine, and was ready at last for the great venture.
On March 7, 1918 he gave orders for “a decisive campaign” to conquer all Palestine, and sent General Smuts there to instruct General Allenby accordingly.
On March 21, 1918 the long-awaited German attack in France began, embodying all the men, guns and aircraft released from the Russian front.
The “decisive campaign” in Palestine was immediately suspended and every man who could be squeezed out of Palestine was rushed to France. The total number of men employed in Palestine was 1,192,511 up to October 1918 (General Robertson).
On March 27, 1918 Colonel Repington wrote, “This is the worst defeat in the history of the army.” By June 6 the Germans claimed 175,000 prisoners and over 2,000 guns.
At that point the truth was shown of the last words above quoted from Sir William Robertson's letter to Colonel Repington, and they are of continuing hopeful augury to men of goodwill today. By keeping on a straight course he had saved enough for the line to hold, at breaking point, until the Americans began to arrive in strength. Therewith the war was virtually at an end. Clearly, if Russia had been sustained, the Palestinian excursion avoided, and strength concentrated in France it could have been concluded earlier, and probably without the “entanglement” of America. However, that would not have furthered the great plan for “the management of human affairs.”
At this point in the tale I write with the feelings of a participant, and they probably influence what I have written of the long earlier story, because the effects, as I have seen them in my generation, appear to me to be bad. I recall the great German attack of March 21, 1918; I saw it from the air and on the ground and was in the fighting for the first month, until I was removed by stretcher. I remember Sir Douglas Haig's order, that every man must fight and die where he stood; it was posted on the walls of my squadron's mess. I have no complaints about the experience, and would not delete it from my life if I could. Now that I have come to see by what ulterior means and motives it was all brought about, I think coming generations might be a little better able to keep Sir William Robertson's “straight course,” and so to ensure that good will eventually come of what seems to them to be evil, if they know a little more of what went on then and has continued since. This is my reason for writing the present book.
As a result of the victory in Europe the coveted territory in Palestine was at length acquired. But it is one thing to acquire land and another to build something on it. On this land a Zionist “homeland” was to be erected, then a “state” (and last a “commonwealth”?). None of these things could be done by England alone. No precedent existed for the donation of Arabian territory, by a European conqueror, to an Asiatic beneficiary. For such a transaction other nations had to be co-opted, many nations, and a company promoted, so that it might be given the semblance of honest business. In fact, a “league of nations” was required, and America, above all, had to be “entangled.” This other part of the plan was also in preparation; while British armies seized the tract of land desired, the smart lawyers had been looking for ways to amend the rightful title deeds to it, float a company and generally promote the undertaking.
Mr. Lloyd George had served his turn and his day was nearly done. The reader may now turn his eyes across the Atlantic and see what Mr. House, Mr. Brandeis and Rabbi Stephen Wise have been up to. A Mr. Woodrow Wilson plays a shadowy part in these proceedings.
Den store plan
Biografi af Douglas Reed