Political Strategy

GERMANY is, to all intent, mistress of Central Europe and the Balkans, of Turkey, and of Russia. As I write these lines (in December, 1917), the last part of the German scheme which I set forth in the June Atlantic is in preparation. All the disposable forces of Pan-Germany are concentrating on the Western front. If such a state of affairs is possible when the Entente has an abundance of admirable troops and boundless resources, it is because, as Mr. Lloyd George declared in his speech of November 12, with his wonted and most salutary frankness, after more than three years of war the Entente has no strategic plan. What is the cause of this unfortunate condition? That is what it is most important to ascertain first of all, for the Allies cannot think seriously of winning a decisive victory unless the problem of the strategy which is an indispensable necessity of their position is stated in such terms that it can readily be solved. But it has not yet been so stated. To be sure, Mr. Lloyd George dwelt upon the extreme gravity of the situation but, despite the fact that he is certainly the most keen-sighted of the leaders of the Entente in Europe, he did not point out definitely the positive remedies capable of putting an end to a state of affairs which is intolerable because it is infinitely dangerous.

The reason for this absence of concrete suggestions on Mr. Lloyd George’s part is that, notwithstanding his great natural intelligence, he too is subject to that profound failure of insight in respect to the conduct of the war which has befallen all the leading men of the Entente without exception. This failure, which is wholly independent of their will, is due mainly to the fact that the present leaders of the Entente, having one and all been firmly convinced that the war would never take place, had not trained themselves intellectually to carry it on when it should break out.

Moreover, for we must set things down as they are, the majority of these leaders of the Entente knew the political geography of Europe only in the most superficial way. As for the ethnographic detail which plays in this war a fundamental part that is still far from being understood, they know absolutely nothing about it. It is the same with the practical political economy of Central Europe, of the Balkans, and of Turkey, and with their national psychology. Now, these sciences — geography, ethnography, political economy, and national psychology — are absolutely indispensable to the wise conduct of the war; and they do not teach themselves. It is altogether impossible to become familiar with them without hard work, long continued. That is why, even assuming that all the guiding spirits of the Entente are endow’ed with innate genius, it is absolutely impossible for them, held fast as they are at every moment by the daily, always urgent, demands of a war which took them entirely by surprise and in which they had to improvise everything, to acquire during the conflict that intellectual preparation without which the war cannot be effectively carried on.

Strictly speaking, it is possible, by spending enough money, to extemporize in two or three years a supply of war material, and armies in the shape of soldiers and regiments, whereas these same operations would require half a score of years in time of peace; but all the gold on earth is powerless to implant swiftly in any man’s brain, however well endowed he may be, the enormous mass of positive knowledge which alone will enable him to evolve the guiding ideas which are indispensable for the conduct of a war so complex as this. Such knowledge and such ideas cannot spring to life spontaneously in a human brain; they cannot make their way into it, and arrange themselves there in the logical order of their relative importance except as the result of a mental training which demands, not only a native intelligence, but an enormous amount of time.

To acquire these essentials William II and his collaborators, despite the vast resources at their disposal, had to work a full quarter of a century. Now, not one of the leaders of the Entente had received, even in the most rudimentary form, down to twenty-five days before the war, the special kind of intellectual training without which it is impossible to direct effectively the conduct of this war, which resembles no other war in history because of the vast scope which the Germans have given to it and the endlessly varied methods which they are employing in carrying it on.

These reasons, then, furnish a simple explanation of the fact that, although all the leaders of the Entente have at last agreed to form an Allied Staff, in order to unify the conduct of the war, no one of them is able to say how this staff should be constituted to meet the special necessities of the conflict. Doubtless they understand perfectly — as indeed the great mass of the public understands — that this is not simply a military war, but a political one as well. But this idea of the connection between the war and politics is still extremely vague and confused. Consequently, then, it is essential, first of all, to give it a definite form.


The first cause of the errors of the Allies in their conduct of the war is their failure thus far to understand clearly its predominant characteristic. Some say, ‘This is a war of effectives.’ Now the Allies have had for three years an overwhelming superiority in effectives. They have had entire liberty in arming them and making use of them, and yet they are not victorious.

Others of the Allies declare: ‘This is a war of matériel.’ Another mistaken idea. In the third year of the war the Allies, as a whole, certainly had more matériel at their disposition than their adversaries. Now if, in the second half of 1917, the Russians have given way; if the Italians have allowed their Friuli front to be pierced, it is because they chose not to avail themselves of the matériel on hand. In these instances, then, it is very clear that the moral factor far surpassed the material factor.

Lastly, others of the Allies declare that ‘This is a war of credit. When Germany is ruined, she will go to pieces all in a moment.’ These men do not understand that, although Germany’s external credit is beyond question sorely shaken by the stoppage of her exports, on the other hand, her internal credit is constantly augmented by the enormous profits which the war enables her to realize.1 Now this internal credit is based upon actualities so evident that it will permit the Berlin government to negotiate all the internal loans it may desire, to support the burden of the war as long as is necessary. If the character of the war is not yet understood, it is because it has been shaped in every detail by the Germans themselves, who, having embarked upon it with a concrete end in view, have long been studying the question by what endlessly diversified means they might attain that end. It is their employment of these means which gives to the war its wholly unique character. Geographical preparation. In March, 1916, it was known that a system of espionage had been organized in the Roumanian Dobrudja by Germans who alleged archæological explorations as a pretext for their travels. The very precise information thus acquired by the Staff at Berlin was quite indispensable to it. In fact, the Roumanian Dobrudja is a swampy region of a very peculiar nature, altogether impassable under ordinary conditions by the immense and heavy matériel of modern armies. To move quickly through such a country, it was necessary to look ahead — to construct months beforehand, and have in readiness for use on the Bulgarian frontier, innumerable small bridges to be thrown across the streams, and enormous supplies of movable floors to be used in building, on the unstable soil, artificial roads practicable for motor caissons and the tractors of the heavy artillery.

The Berlin government entered into this war in order to obtain by conquest the instruments of universal domination. As this was a far-reaching object, the Germans devoted themselves for a quarter of a century to studying all the military, naval, geographic, ethnographic, economic, and national-psychologic problems of the whole world, and especially of Europe. This preparation— profoundly scientific, we must admit— for the gigantic Pangermanist scheme, led the Germans to make a most thorough investigation, not only of everything relating to the army and navy, but also of four political sciences —geography, ethnology, political economy, and national psychology. These four sciences are known, outside of Germany, only in the theoretical or rudimentary stage, whereas the Germans have carried their study of them so far, that they derive from them immense practical powers which have a constant and far-reaching influence on the whole evolution of the war.

The Allied leaders do not even suspect the extreme importance of these factors — for two reasons. In the first place, not one of them has made a sufficient study of the four political sciences in their application to Central and Eastern Europe to realize the extraordinary efficacy of the intensive use that the Germans are making of them. Secondly, while the powers derived from the political sciences are immense, and as real as the X-rays, like those rays they are invisible.

The constant use of the political sciences, in enormous doses, made by the Germans in their conduct of the war, has this result: that the utilization of the military art alone, even the most highly perfected from a material standpoint, is absolutely insufficient to ensure victory to the Allies. It is because of their failure to understand this that, notwithstanding their boundless resources, they have condemned themselves to the most unremitting, the most cruel, the most heart-rending disappointments. As a matter of fact, this war not only is not solely a military and naval war — it is, in addition, a geographical war, an ethnographical war, an economic war, a war of national psychology. To define its endlessly complex character by a brief phrase which includes all these factors, we may say that it is a war of political sciences.

A few examples derived from actual events will prove that this is not a matter of words alone, but that the utilization of the political sciences is an absolute necessity for the Allies.

Down to the present time the swift invasion of Roumania — October-November, 1916 — has been regarded as a triumph of the German heavy artillery. But, while the action of the heavy artillery in forcing the Dobrudja and the passes of the Carpathians was the great physical fact, manifest to all, which determined the German victory, the effective use of the heavy guns was possible only because, long before the military movement was begun, the invasion of Roumania had been prepared for by the Staff at Berlin with the aid of a practical application of the political sciences.

It was the turning to account of the minute details of the geographical information in the hands of the Germans operating long before the invasion, which enabled her Staff to realize precisely the nature and amount of the special matériel which it was necessary to manufacture and to get together long before the offensive, in order to ensure, when it should be launched, a rapid forward movement of the troops at the predetermined points.

Ethnographical preparation. In the Dobrudja there were Bulgarians and Turks as well as Roumanians. Side by side with the geographical study went the ethnographical research, which made it possible to arrange systematically for a general uprising of these Pro-German elements — a movement which was considerably facilitated by the rapidity of the German invasion.

Economic preparation. Early in October, 1916, before the movement was begun, a number of merchants, experts in cattle and cereals, and certain specialists in political economy, assembled behind Falkenhayn’s front, and were thus all ready to exploit Roumania after the invasion.

Therefore the overthrow of Roumania by means of military operations, — advance of the Kaiser’s troops and effective employment of heavy artillery, — which alone were regarded by Allied public opinion as having had a decisive effect, was long anticipated by the geographical, ethnographical, and economic preparation for the military invasion, which was simply a consequence of that preparation. In fact, when one is familiar with the swampy character of the Dobrudja, one can but be satisfied that, without careful forethought for the geographical obstacles and without preparing the means to overcome them, the rapid advance of Falkenhayn’s heavy artillery — an inescapable condition of military success after the offensive was started—would have been impossible. On the other hand, it was due to the previously arranged scheme for the economic exploitation of the country that the German troops were able to obtain their supplies on Roumanian territory and thus to force the RussoRoumanian-troops back without delaying. Now, this rapidity of movement was an essential condition of the military success. It is perfectly certain, therefore, in the case we are considering, that the military success of the Germans, which was apparent to all eyes, was achieved only by virtue of the previous employment of three extremely powerful invisible forces, derived from the practical application of geography, ethnography, and political economy — redoubtable forces of which the Allies have as yet made no use in any of their operations.

Utilization of national psychology. The recent occurrences in Russia and Italy will enable me to demonstrate the even more tremendous power of that other political science — national psychology.

The extraordinary disruption of Russia by Germany, which entails such threatening consequences for the whole world, was brought about, not by force of arms, but by means of a moral propaganda carried on by speech or in print. The reason that this manœuvre has produced such tremendous results is that it was based upon exact data supplied by national psychology — a political science of which the Allies seem not even to suspect the existence. It was by favor of this science, no less subtle than powerful, founded on minute observations, that the Germans were able to exploit unerringly the extraordinary ignorance of actualities of the Russian Socialists, their immeasurable pride, and the artlessness, even the very genuine evangelical spirit, of the Russian people, which lead them naturally to forget affronts, and, lastly, the particularist tendencies of certain Russian nationalities, which the Boche propaganda has transformed into separatist movements to be immediately carried out. Thus the moral, and even the material, dissolution of the vast Russian ex-Empire of one hundred and eighty millions of people was made possible in a few months by the application of national psychology.

Now, although this force is invisible, it is unquestionably far greater than the most stupendous military force imaginable, since its knowledge of the national psychology of the mixed peoples of Russia enabled the Berlin government to obtain a result which could never have been obtained by millions of German troops using the most highly perfected weapons and the most terrifying explosives of the present day in greatest profusion.

Again, it was this same gigantic force, national psychology, which enabled the Boches to manufacture systematically the ‘defeatist’ frame of mind, by virtue of which they were able to break through the Italian front at Friuli, which they would probably never have succeeded in doing if they had had to carry by sheer assault the exceedingly strong mountain positions held by the Italians.


The utilization of these invisible forces by the Germans has varied in accordance with the changing phases of the war.

One can distinguish three very clearly marked phases in their conduct of the war. By studying them, we can appreciate how the Grand General Staff at Berlin has unvaryingly pursued the same end — the fulfillment of the Pangermanist plan of 1895-1911 — with the assistance of widely different methods, which, taken as a whole, constitute the ‘strategy of political sciences,’ which necessarily coördinates with the ‘war of political sciences.’

First phase — from August 1, to the early days of October, 1914; about two months.

The Staff at Berlin plunged into war confident of a speedy triumph by means of a whirlwind campaign in two acts: first, utter defeat of France in five or six weeks, following an initial blow of formidable and unparalleled intensity; second, a powerful blow against Russia, which would certainly be incapable of resisting single-handed the German armies which had just triumphed over France.

If this scheme could have been carried out, Germany, after a contest of about three months, would have been mistress of the whole of Europe. In that case no Balkan campaign would have been necessary. Serbia and Roumania would have had no other choice than to submit on the most severe conditions. As for Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, by the force of events they would have fallen under the absolute hegemony of Berlin. As a result of this new state of affairs PanGermany would have been constituted without visible effort, — automatically as it were, — thus assuring Prussianism of the domination of the rest of the world.

But the calculations of the German Grand General Staff were upset by events not only unforeseen but coincident: the invasion of East Prussia by the Russians, the resistance of Belgium, the intervention of Great Britain, the much greater consumption of munitions than had been anticipated, and, finally, by the victory of the Marne, which was in large measure the consequence of all these facts. During this first phase, marked throughout by violence carried to the point of frenzy, the German strategy was purely military — the strategy of political sciences had not yet appeared.

Second phase — from October, 1914, to December, 1917; about thirty-eight months.

At the beginning of October, 1914, William II’s Grand Staff found itself constrained to abandon the idea of carrying through the Pangermanist scheme by means of the whirlwind campaign which it had prepared. It was obliged therefore to plan to attain its object by means of a long war. It resigned itself the more readily to this necessity because it knew that it was infinitely better supplied than the Allies with material to bring about the essential moral and physical conditions — various and complicated as they are — of a long-drawn struggle.

Furthermore, on the morrow of the battle of the Marne, the Staff had been in a position to appreciate the extraordinary defensive power of strongly fortified continuous points, consisting of deep trenches protected by barbedwire entanglements; a defensive system the technique of which it had studied exhaustively since the RussoJapanese War (1904—1905), whereas it was wholly unknown to the French and British. For these reasons, from the battle of the Marne (October, 1914) down to the end of the first phase of the offensive against Italy, that is, to December, 1917, a period of thirtyeight months, the whole tactics of Berlin has been directed to the object of carrying out a programme composed of the following elements: —

1. To organize an immovable defensive on the Western front, while pretending now and then to attempt a genuine attack.

2. To carry out without pause a series of circular offensives against Russia, Serbia, and Roumania, in order to seize one after another the territories of those states, which are essential to the constitution of Central Pan-Germany according to the plan of 1895.

3. To take advantage of these successive offensives on the Eastern fronts to go to the very vitals of Germany’s allies, properly so-called: that is to say, under color of helping Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey to defend themselves against Russia, Serbia, and Roumania, to organize those three countries militarily and economically to the precise degree and in the precise form necessary to bring it about that even, at need, without changing their ancient names and the frontiers of 1914, they should contribute to practical purpose, and almost without suspecting it, to the constitution of Central Pan-Germany. The plan of 1895 assigned to AustriaHungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey an essential and indispensable part to play in its execution.

Let us, first of all, prove, with the aid of a document of unquestionable authenticity twenty-two years old, that this was actually the plan of the Berlin Staff.

The Pan-Germanist plan of 1895, which is that of Central Pan-Germany, the formation of which is the first condition of carrying out all the other Pangermanist plans, is set forth in detail in a pamphlet published at Berlin in 1895, with a colored map, under the title, Greater Germany and Central Europe about 1950. The extraordinary importance of this pamphlet is no longer open to question, for these three reasons. First, from 1895 on it was spread broadcast among the German masses by the Pangermanist League (Alldeutsche Verband), whose action after that time in making war inevitable was as deplorable as it was persistent and notorious. Second: everything points to the probability that this action of the Pangermanist League toward executing a concrete scheme of annexations was secretly but very definitely agreed upon with the Berlin Grand Staff. Third: the force of this assumption is peremptorily proved by the fact that the German Grand Staff, from the beginning of the second phase of the war, has carried it on in a way exactly in accord with the political Pangermanist plan set forth in the pamphlet of 1895.

In very truth, after an interval of a score of years, coincidences so perfect as these between plans and their execution cannot assuredly be fortuitous. The verification of what I say is supplied by the map printed herewith, a reproduction of the map of the pamphlet of 1895, upon which I have had the colors represented by lines and have shown the German front as it was at the end of 1917. Now, it will be noticed that the German armies have stopped a little beyond the lines marking the future frontiers of Central Pan-Germany, or in the positions that are necessary to make sure the creation of the satellite states of PanGermany to the eastward. Thus, on the Eastern front, they have stopped on lines laid down beforehand, even when they had before them no Russian troops capable of opposing their further advance. Our map also enables us to declare on the most irrefutable testimony that the offensive against Italy — that is to say, first of all, the seizure of Italian Friuli, which was such a surprise to the Allied Staffs — was provided for most definitely in the plan of 1895. In fact, on our map, Italian Friuli is plainly included in PanGermany, and in the text of our pamphlet, published in Berlin twenty-two years ago, is a passage on the rectification of frontiers between Italy and Austria which the Pangermanists had already determined to be indispensable. On page 19 we read as follows: —

‘The frontier between Italy and Austria will start at Marmolata, and will run by Monte Cristallo, Monte Croce, and Paralba to the water-shed between the Piave and the Tagliamento. It will continue by Monte Cridola, Monte Premaggiore, Monte Valcolda, and Spilimberga, and will follow the line of the lower Tagliamento to the sea.'

Now, on November 22, Italian aviators recorded the fact, confirmed by German officer-prisoners, that extensive fortifications had been constructed by the Austro-Germans to form a Hindenburg line ‘on the line of the Tagliamento,’ that is to say, precisely on the frontier-line laid down in 1895.

Lastly, the Austro-Boche schemes of annexation in this region have been plainly asserted. In the orders of the day to his troops on November 4, the Emperor of Austria described the invasion of Italian Friuli as the ‘liberation of my territory on the Adriatic littoral,’ a phrase which suggests explicitly both the idea of premeditation and the idea of conquest.

Let us remark in passing that, as in the matter of Poland and indeed in all others, the Emperor of Austria coöperates docilely in the execution of the Pangermanist ideas of Berlin. Certain persons of the Entente believe that the government of Vienna is subjugated by Berlin, whose tyrannous yoke it would be glad to shake off. Nothing of the sort is true. Even though the hegemony of Berlin may be offensive to Austrian sell-esteem, the leaders in Vienna and Budapest submit to it readily enough for this simple reason: the dynasty of the Hapsburgs realizes perfectly well that its fate is bound up with that of the Prussian autocracy, and that it can save itself only by saving the Hohenzollerns, that is to say, by strengthening the enormous extension of Prussian militarism. If this point of view had been grasped at the outset by the Entente, blunders resulting in endless evil consequences could never have been committed.

Our pamphlet and map prove therefore that in the second phase of the war the German Staff subordinated everything to the determination to create Central Pan-Germany first of all. This determination is easily explained when one is familiar with the Pangermanist ideas and the conditions of their fulfillment. Brought abruptly face to face, after the battle of the Marne, with a redoubtable coalition which it had not foreseen, and which threatened to take in the whole world, the German Staff knew perfectly well that the military forces alone of Germany and Austria-Hungary, in view of the ineradicable hostility of the Slavs and Latins who form the majority of the population of the Empire of the Hapsburgs, and because of the insufficient food-supply of the Central Empires, could not resist the combined forces of Russia, France, and Great Britain. On the other hand, the exhaustive investigations pursued for more than twenty years in preparation for putting into effect the Pangermanist plan, had shown the German staff that a Central Pan-Germany actually constituted, comprising, in addition to the Central Empires, the Balkans and Turkey, would contain all the military and economic elements necessary to confront a formidable coalition.

Indeed, it was because it had been established before the war that Central Pan-Germany would supply Germany with the means of universal domination, that the war was begun. Under these conditions, then, it was absolutely logical that the German Staff, before seeking to obtain a final decision in the West should have determined to create a Central PanGermany, either at the expense of Russia, Serbia, and Roumania, or, by dissembling its purpose, at the expense of Berlin’s own allies, who, by the very fact of this creation of Pan-Germany would automatically become more and more completely the vassals of Germany.

It is not true, therefore, as people still say incessantly among the Allies because of their extraordinary and obstinate ignorance of the Pangermanist plan, that the Germans, for three years past, have by their circular offensives simply been seizing territorial pledges; no—during the second phase of the war the Germans have taken possession of the various fragments of territory essential to the formation of Central Pan-Germany, not regarding them as pledges, but as acquisitions long anticipated, or as destined to remain forever in subjection to the will of Berlin.

Of course, to refute my interpretation of events, any one can say, ‘ But Verdun proves that the Germans wished to break through on the Western front early in 1916.’ This objection has only an apparent or very imperfect force. In reality, the German offensive against Verdun was of a twofold character which is not yet understood by the Allies, still because of their ignorance of the Pangermanist plan. In the conception of the German staff the Verdun operation had, not one, but two objectives — a maximum and a minimum. If the maximum objective could have been secured, that is to say, if the morale of the French poilus could have been destroyed by the length and the savagery of the German offensive; if the Germans had succeeded in breaking through and taking Paris, France, struck to the heart, would unquestionably have been put out of the war. Verdun, therefore, may and should be regarded as an attempt to break through and to resume the warfare of movement.

But what must be clearly understood is that, even if they had been certain at the outset that this maximum result was absolutely impossible of attainment, still the Germans would have undertaken the Verdun operation; for to them it had its full justification in view of the extreme importance of the minimum objective which it had in the conception of the Staff — an objective which, as we shall see, was in conformity with the general decision at Berlin to constitute Central Pan-Germany first of all, before really thinking of annihilating France by a genuine offensive.

This demonstration brings me to the setting forth of a series of points of view which have never, to my knowledge, been suggested.

Not until the early days of 1916, did Germany, as a sequel of the recent seizure of Serbia, come into direct geographical contact with Bulgaria and Turkey. Berlin was still a long way from having organized the various resources of those two countries — resources which were indispensable to her to enable her to continue the war.

Now, at that very time, certain persons in France were making persistent efforts to have the French and British supply the expeditionary force at Saloniki with the powerful means of action which it ought to have. These efforts were on the point of success, for a very large body of public opinion had become convinced of the considerable importance of the Balkan theatre. If therefore the Eastern army of the Allies had received quickly the powerful reinforcements which the leaders in Paris and London did not give it, as the Bulgarians had not as yet the necessary matériel for fortifying themselves strongly, it is exceedingly probable that the Allies would have been able to recover the Danube front, that is, the strategic position which was the key of the whole war; for its possession alone, by putting into effect automatically the land blockade of Austria-Germany, and depriving her of the men and supplies without which she could not go on fighting, would have assured the Entente a complete victory, with efforts tenfold less vigorous than those which have been compulsorily decided upon, with the result that we know.

The German Staff, realizing fully that the lengthening of the war would be of advantage only to that one of the two groups of belligerents which should be in possession of the Danube front, spied an immense peril in the campaign carried on in France in favor of Saloniki. It determined therefore, at any cost, to prevent the Allies from ascribing to their actions in the Balkans the importance which would have made it possible to bring to naught all the Pangermanist plans. To divert the attention of the Allies from SalonikiBelgrade, a violent and persistent offensive against Verdun was the best expedient that could be imagined, given the fact that the Pangermanist scheme was at that time wholly unknown to the Allied leaders.

In fact, the Verdun operation, by threatening the very heart of France, presented from the German standpoint this enormous psychological advantage, that it apparently justified those of the French and British leaders, who at that time regarded the Saloniki expedition with the opposite of sympathy. Indeed, early in 1916 they were still claiming that the Balkans could not have any decisive influence on the result of the war, since they were sure, as they declared, that they could break through the Western front — which they called the most important one — whenever and wherever they chose.

Under these conditions it is easy to see why a part of the press also — and hence of public opinion — was hostile to the Saloniki expedition, in France, but especially in England, This being so, a vigorous offensive against Verdun could not fail to strengthen these currents running counter to the Balkan expedition by seeming to justify the opposition that had been offered to it. Thus the minimum — but exceedingly important — objective of the Verdun operation consisted in preventing the Allies from shifting the chief theatre of the war to the Balkans in the beginning of 1916. This minimum objective was completely attained.

Unquestionably the Verdun operation was expensive to the Kaiser’s troops; but in reality those enormous sacrifices had their justification, since they resulted in enabling Berlin to complete the formation of Central Pan-Germany, which alone could furnish the means of contending against the world-wide coalition. It cannot be denied that Verdun, by reason of the Allies’ ignorance of the Pangermanist plan, caused them to throw away their last chance of sending sufficient reinforcements to the Balkan front before the Austro-Germans and Bulgars had the necessary time and matériel to make it, humanly speaking, about as hard to break through as the Western front.

Third phase — from December, 1917 to ——. As Central Pan-Germany has become an accomplished fact in thirty-eight months, and as its military and political forces have been sufficiently developed, the combined consequences of the length of the war and of the existence of Central Pan-Germany, have manifested themselves in accordance with the anticipations of the German Staff. As Russia, under the government of the Tsar, was not put in a condition to sustain a long struggle either morally or materially, — indeed, the Petrograd government was never capable of doing so, — and as she was, later, completely disorganized by the Maximalist traitors and maniacs, she has foundered. As a consequence Roumania is reduced to impotence. Thus, at the moment that I am writing these words, only the Allied army at Saloniki continues to embarrass the German Staff. But that army not having been reinforced sufficiently to form as dangerous a menace as was necessary, the Staff has already, in effect, a sufficiently free hand in the East to enter upon the third and last phase of the war, that is to say, to concentrate on the Western front the whole of the disposable forces of PanGermany, — Germans, Austro-Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Turks, — in order to make another trial of the war of movement likely to bring about the final decision.

At this moment the concentration is proceeding with all possible speed. But we must thoroughly grasp the fact that in the German scheme the general offensive in the West is regarded as a very complex operation, necessitating recourse to the strategy of the political sciences, and hence of national psychology, which lies at the root of all the German pacifist manœuvres.


In reality Germany has succeeded in creating Central Pan-Germany only with the aid, since the beginning of the second phase of the war, of her six main pacifist manœuvres: a separate peace between Berlin and one of the Entente Allies; a separate peace between Turkey, Bulgaria, and AustriaHungary and the Entente; the democratization of Germany; peace through the International; the armistice trick; and the drawn game of the deceptive formula, ‘peace without annexations or indemnities.’

These six manœuvres, which have served in some sort as a screen for the never-ending military achievements of the German armies, had as their chief object the exploitation to the utmost extent of the intellectual lacunæ of which the Germans had detected the existence among the Allies — that is to say:—

1. The incredible yet indubitable ignorance on their part of the Pangermanist plan. Even at the present moment this ignorance is still so great that some of the leaders and some even of the great newspapers of the Entente are wondering what Germany’s real war-aims can be, when they have been laid bare for twenty-two years past in numberless German publications, and the whole German people knows them, and the geographical boundaries of Pan-Germany correspond exactly to those indicated in the basic plan of 1895, as our map shows. It is this undeniable ignorance on the part of the Allies which has enabled the Germans constantly to spread the belief that they were going to stop; whereas in reality they have planned and executed without a pause the series of offensives destined to constitute Central PanGermany.

2. The credulity of the Allied diplomacy, which ever since the outbreak of war has allowed itself to be deluded into incessant negotiations, official or semi-official, with the Turks, the Bulgars, and the government of Vienna. This credulity contributed largely to the loss by the Allies of the Danube front, the key to the war.

3.The credulity of the Allied Socialists, which is as extraordinary as that of the diplomatists. The Socialists have been hoodwinked by means of the Stockholm manœuvre, which has had the following disastrous results: the accession to power of Lenine; anarchy in Russia; the capture of Riga; the conquest of the Baltic; the fact that many Allied Socialists have declared their adherence to the Boche formula of ‘no annexations or indemnities,’ without a suspicion that its application would assure the overwhelming triumph of Prussian militarism and the autocracy; the piercing of the Italian front through the ‘ defeatist ’ campaign; and, finally, the armistice with Russia and Roumania, which puts them at Germany’s discretion while leaving her at liberty to devote all the effectives at her disposal to the final offensive in the West.

This last manœuvre was sure to be attended by a lot of others, of which the chief are easily detected already. Portugal is to be detached from the Entente. The recent pronunciamento, issued at Lisbon early in December, 1917, has begun the process. Switzerland, deeply undermined by the German propaganda, as was proved by the disturbances at Zurich in November last, is to be violated. If the passage of troops through Switzerland should become possible, the Germans would seize Marseilles and Toulon. France would then be cut off from the Mediterranean, and the situation for which the Boche propaganda has long been laying wires in Spain, would then produce all the results foreseen. The scheme is to align Spain against the Entente through the medium of the junta of pro-German officers who are to create a military dictatorship, receiving its orders from Berlin and managed by Prince von Ratibor, German Ambassador at Madrid.

To sum up — the ‘idealistic’ offensive of Pan-Germany against all of Western Europe which is still outside the rays of the light that shines from Berlin, as it is projected by the Staff of William II, is to be executed finally by means of a land attack, on a line which will form a complete envelopment on the day when the intrigues of Berlin have reached their fruition in Switzerland and Spain. Furthermore, it is probable that the attack on the Western front will be made up of several simultaneous Verduns, in order to involve the Franco-British troops, admirable in their gallantry and courage, but manifestly fatigued by three years and a half of atrocious warfare, in a momentary weakness which will make possible the piercing of the wall behind which the freedom of the world is still sheltered.

It is clear, moreover, that the general offensive of the Pan-German forces against the Western front must, in order to be successful, take place before American troops, having gone through the training that is indispensable to make them into effective fighting men, have arrived in sufficient numbers to reinforce that front.

Let us glance now at the other side. If the German offensive now in preparation on the West presents a very serious and undeniable danger, we must consider as well that it will have to reckon with many contingencies. The disposable forces of Pan-Germany which can be concentrated on the Western front are tired out, whereas the Allied troops on that front are infinitely more numerous, better equipped and disciplined than they were at the time of the attack on Verdun. It is extremely probable, therefore, that the Verdun achievement will be repeated on a gigantic scale, thus postponing the definitive decision and giving the Allies another chance to conquer Pan-Germany if they decide to make use at long last of the large unemployed forces existing in Pan-Germany itself which I have described in a previous paper.

The grave nature of these contingencies is well understood at Berlin. That is why the preparation for the general offensive against the Western front is sure to be attended by the same pacifist manœuvres which, by bringing about anarchy in the Russian front and rear, have enabled the German Staff to avoid an expensive military movement which the moral downfall of Russia has made unnecessary, while leaving the Germans to become de facto masters of the former Empire of the Tsars by virtue of the monstrous Maximalist delusion.

It is plain, in truth, that if— let us pose this hypothesis in order to make our argument plausible — a decided moral backsliding should manifest itself among the Allies in the West, the general military offensive against them of the forces of Pan-Germany, involving such great losses and so many contingencies, would cease to have any purpose; for fallacious negotiations on the basis of a so-called peace by agreement, of which the negotiations of the Boches with the Maximalists give a very succinct idea, would suffice to assure Germany of a complete victory, avoiding the necessity of its making itself manifest by a brilliant military operation as a tangible sign.

For this reason. The war-expenditures of France and Great Britain are so formidable that, unless the conflict ends with the utter defeat of Germany, making possible a progressive reparation for the incredible damage caused by her, a few months of the Boche peace — the ’peace by agreement ’ — would suffice to cause, if our hypothesis should prove true, the French and English bank-notes to lose their value, and there would ensue in France and Great Britain a financial, economic, and moral disaster of such gigantic proportions that those two countries could no longer offer the slightest resistance to the constantly augmented economic and military resources of triumphant Pan-Germany. At that moment the Germans, without the slightest risk, could overrun France as far as Bayonne. And on the day when affairs reached this pass, the Germans would meet with no serious obstacle to their projected invasion of the British Isles.


The analysis we have made of the German methods of warfare proves that the strategy of the Grand Staff at Berlin, infinitely more complex than the purely military variety, is a strategy of the political sciences.

This is a result of the fact that the creation of the complex Pangermanist scheme has led the Germans to realize that the solution of every great problem susceptible of statement demands for its performance an accurate acquaintance with, and, generally speaking, the employment of six welldefined factors: a military factor; a naval factor (in fact a problem that seems to affect only the centre of Europe always has in certain aspects some reaction on the general naval situation); a geographical factor; an ethnological factor; an economic factor; and a national-psychologic factor.

It results from this that a military operation to be executed on land, on the sea, or in the air, as soon as it proves to have any relation whatsoever to the general conduct of the war, is not decided upon at Berlin until the following points have been determined by means of a documentation always kept in sight.

1. The military or naval, geographical, ethnographical, economic, and national-psychologic conditions of the execution of the operation proposed.

2. If the operation should be successful, what would be its military, naval, geographical, ethnological, economic, and national-psychologic reactions on the general situation?

The result of these considerations is that the solution of every problem presented by the general conduct of the war requires the solution of an equation with six unknown quantities, not one of which is negligible.

To place in relief the extreme importance of this last aspect of the matter, I will take as an example the unknown ethnographic quantity. The determination of this quantity is so indispensable to the proper conduct of the world-war, that the German Grand Staff, although already possessed of a documentation of exceptional value on the ethnographic questions, carefully got together in peace-time, does not, nevertheless, deem itself justified in neglecting other sources of information. That is why it has mobilized in its service all Germans who are specially familiar with foreign countries, particularly those who are experts as to the various nationalities of AustriaHungary, the Balkans, and Russia. Thus no major operation which may have an effect on foreign peoples is decided upon at Berlin until the opinion of these specialists has been most seriously considered.

It was by virtue of this information, — of a purely psychological and intellectual order, — that the Germans were able to obtain in the East, and especially in Russia, the successes of which we are all aware, although the normal condition of affairs was exceedingly unfavorable to them, and would have remained so, had the Allies known enough to make the very slight effort which would have sufficed to effect that result.

To summarize, then — it is in the strategy of scientific politics— that is to say, in the intellectual management of the war in every domain — that the whole secret of the German victories resides. In like manner, it is the ignorance on the part of the Allies of this kind of strategy which explains their successive set-backs and their constant disappointments despite the superabundance of their material resources. Now, this ignorance is so undeniable that, after three years and a half of war, it is impossible to point to a single operation of theirs, of which the geographical, ethnological, economic, and national-psychologic conditions of its execution have been first seriously studied. They have not even thought of such a thing; and at the present moment their leaders have no organization intellectually equipped to solve a complete strategic equation.

But such an organization is absolutely essential to winning a victory. All the elements exist for creating it whenever they choose, in such wise that it will give practical results with comparative promptitude.

This is what I propose to prove in my next article.2

  1. See my articles in the Atlantic for November, 1917.
  2. To be printed in the April Atlantic.