SIR.—Events have confirmed my belief that Herr Hitler expected, by an overpowering air assault, to subdue Britain in October and exact an armistice on November 11. He reasoned, suspect, thus: " London is England's heart. 1 can paralyse that vital organ by a month's
intense air-war. Then the English must yield." But England has shown that she can endure to let London be emptied and even gutted, and yet will go on with the struggle. London may be gutted. England, having staked her pounds, will not grudge her shillings and pence; that is to say, she will stake the lesser cities after London. By this tremendous sacrifice, she has weathered the ordeal of the autumn, and will survive the winter's storm.
As I see it, striving to keep an objective view, the chances were three to one in August that Germany would prevail before mid-winter; but the autumn failure has changed the balance. Chances of ultimate victory in neutral eyes are now even, and the war lengthens in prospect to a space of years.
The air war will continue, at a frightful cost in cities, families, happiness, culture, to both belligerents; but London has proved that it will not be decisive. Enormous land operations now have time to develop. Ever since the Battle of the Ebro, it is clear that modern land-war consists of the slow, silent preparation of an avalanche, ending in its sudden release. Poland was overwhelmed in 3 weeks, but only after a year's preparation. The Battle of France lasted 6 months, not 6 weeks; for it began when the preparation began, after Poland's fall. The Battle of Egypt has been going on, in the preparatory stage, for 4 months—the avalanche is not launched yet. If the avalanche should overwhelm Egypt, a Battle of Palestine, or of Uganda, will follow, with months of silent effort before the bloodshed and the fires.
No one can judge how many of these prodigious battles the Axis can build up and win, out of its tremendous power in men and machines; but, since only one or two such battles can be completed in a year, the British calculation is that the winning of such battles must exhaust the victor before her own resources are spent. Britain's war policy is that of the Coacator. The Axis may prevail so far as to master. not only Continental Europe, but the Near East and most of Africa ; yet, if Britain can keep afloat all this time, exhaustion of the land power roust come.
When I pleaded for a Catholic effort to rouse the conscience of Europe against this savagery of war, I thought it possible that my appeal was too late—that the horror from the air would overwhelm the English cities before it could be heeded. Now that the prospects have lengthened, surely it is more desirable, because more feasible, to work for a positive contribution by the Christian conscience.
I suggested that England ought to announce, as one peace-aid, the internationalising and de-militarising of the disputed keyplaces, like Gibraltar, Malta, Suez. Some correspondents denounced this as favouring the Axis. They did not see that it would draw the fangs of a hostility in Spain and Italy that has favoured the war-makers. It is just, and Mat should be enough for Catholics. Let these key-places pass into the civil jurisdiction of the nationalities to which they historically belong, but not into the customs-unions. Let them be free ports, de-militarised, and subject to international inspection. This would give Britain all the benefits that she is justly entitled to ask; and mark how the extension of the principle would work in her interest. It has been discovered that Dakar is a key-point. Now, If England were ready to internationalise Gibraltar, she could ask that France should do the same with Dakar, and Turkey with
Constantinople. A just principle would benefit the sea-Power, in the long run, more than the costly and difficult effort to monopolise key-points in defiance of national resentments and world opinion.
It is not unpatriotic to labour for justice. No airman, heroically battling in the skies to defend his people, will fight less bravely because he is purged of hatred and prays for justice, or because he hopes to see the Christian conscience rise and stay the hand of destruction before more irreparable havoc has been wrought. His toils, as defender of his land, are righteous. By spiritualising his sacrifice, he can endure as a confessor or die as a martyr. Let this thought govern all Catholics' approach to the problem, and they may become, what the nations need, enlightened leaders of their people. Let us spiritualise our politics, and so save Europe by first serving God.
[While "Ilibernicus" reminds us of aspects of the war, too often forgotten in belligerent countries, he has not yet been able to suggest any satisfactory way of dealing with the problem of Hitler. Is It really conceivable that Hitler's appetite and Hitler's religion and moral oppression can be tamed? Europe enjoyed many years of peace after Napoleon's voyage to St. Helena. Was such peace possible so long as Napoleon ruled Europe from France?—Ent-roR.1.