Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/63

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57
THE PERIL OF NOT DOING ENOUGH

will be, or what trump cards they hold, ready to play them when the real crisis comes. But there certainly is an urgent and growing need for very plain speaking. I speak plainly and without fear. We should like to be assured that the recruiting problem, upon the solution of which our final success must depend, is being dealt with on broad, wise, and statesmanlike lines, and that the Government will shrink from no measure which shall ensure our absolute military efficiency. I have no doubt that Lord Kitchener has a very accurate estimate of the total number of men he proposes to put into the field before the great forward movement begins, of the probable total wastage, and of the period for which, on the present basis of recruiting, that wastage can be made good.

The country would welcome some very definite and explicit statement, either from Mr. Asquith or Lord Kitchener, as to the real position, and as to whether the Government has absolute confidence that the requirements of the military authorities can be met under the existing condition of affairs. The time is, indeed, more than ripe for some grave and solemn warning to the people if, as I believe, the effort we have made up to now, great though it has undoubtedly been, has not been sufficient. We to-day need an authoritative declaration on the subject. There is far too strong a tendency, fostered by the undue reticence of the irresponsible Press Bureau and the screeching "victories" of the newspapers, to believe that things are going as well and smoothly as we could wish; and though I would strenuously deprecate an attitude of blank pessimism, the perils which hedge around a fatuous optimism are very great.

My firm conviction, and I think my readers will