THOSE who are beginning to express doubts about the advisability of landing troops in Norway cannot have it both ways. Public opinion un doubtedly demanded a landing of British troops in Norway. This was not only necessary as a matter of prestige in not letting the Germans get away unchallenged with another coup; the action was needed, if only to contrast with the long list of virtual Allied promises to give help to threatened small countries whom we then left to their fate. We had, at any risk, to reinforce the gallant Norwegians who had refused to submit to the bully. To have left the resisting Norwegians to their fate would have damaged our moral cause, perhaps beyond repair.
Moreover, it is as yet too early to prophesy about the ultimate issue of the campaign. Even if the chances of our retaking Southern Norway seem poor we should be able to obtain a firm grip on the Northern part of the country, reopening land communications with Sweden and making life sufficiently uncomfortable for the Germans occupying the South. Even this partial success would defeat Germany's plan of controlling the Scandinavian peninsula, the only objective that could have made the gamble worth while.
As the Osservatore Romano has pointed out, the German losses have been in any case considerable. We have acquired something like 4,000,000 tons of shipping and at least effectively prevented the shipment of Swedish iron ore by the North Ses. route. The Germans, for their part, have been deprived of imports that came through the neutral ports of Denmark and Norway, and there will be great difficulty in providing these countries with the supplies they need if their agricultural produce is to be maintained at anything like its previous level. Lastly, the Norwegian campaign has forced Germany to use her precious petrol, and now that the German tactics for invading peaceful neighbours have been exposed she will not find it so easy to help herself to Rumanian supplies.
We must deplore the loss of life in the Norwegian campaign, a loss all the more cruel in that we have been spared casualties so far, but war means that. When we undertook it for just reasons we undertook the dreaded sacrifices that must go with it, and we have no reason to believe that the death of brave men helping Norway and the Allied cause will be in vain.
The real damage of partial failure in Norway will be on the diplomatic front. Italy is watching events very closely, and so is Russia. Both countries must necessarily argue that the Allies' failure to defeat Germany decisively on the north western front will confirm their judgment that the initiative in this war cannot be obtained by Britain and France. And yet unless there is an internal collapse in Germany victory cannot be obtained by us without such initiative. Under the circumstances the temptation to both Powers to associate themselves ever more intimately with the revisionist claims of the enemy grows ever st ronger.
We have in fact only one high card left to play, and that is the promise to Italy and Spain that their claims will be fully regarded in any peace settlement, so far as we are concerned, and that the Allies in general are fully prepared to cooperate in a re-drawing of the map of Europe—and indeed the world-which shall respect the present balance of power and the genuine economic interests of all nations, including the enemy ones.
In playing this card we should make far clearer than we have hitherto done the real evils against which we are resisting. We are not setting our faces against any changes in Europe, even though they may be accomplished by force; nor are we simply defending any and every small country, irrespective of its conditions. What we are resisting is the alien and non-European philosophy of Nazism and Bolshevism, for these are evil in themselves and a danger to the whole world.
This newspaper has always held that victory itself should be but the prelude to a radical settlement. The matter becomes all the more urgent if a complete victory is long delayed or actually unattainable. To refuse to face the possibility of these things is childishness, not patriotism — all the more so in that our command of the sea, impregnable defence and great resources make actual defeat impossible.