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The commonwealth at war

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Pages: 148

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Albert Frederick Pollard

Excerpt from book: 111. THE LENGTH OF WARS.1 We are most of us deeply interested in the probable duration of the war, but there is no Delphic oracle to respond to our inquiries. More than twelve months ago Lord Kitchener ventured to express in the House of Lords his conviction that the war would be long : and subsequent events have tended to establish his reputation as a military prophet. But, if Pilate was jesting when he asked what is truth and stayed not for an answer, we need not jest when we ask what is length in war, and we should willingly wait for a response. It is a defect in adjectives that they mean little except in comparison : and Lord Kitchener did not explain his standard of reference when he said that the war would be long. Some wars have been very long and some very short: with which category was Lord Kitchener mentally comparing the present war, when he expressed his opinion as to its length—with the six weeks' war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, or with the Hundred Years' War between England and France ? If the former was in his mind, the truth of his statement was self-evident, for when it was made the war had already lasted more than six weeks. If he was thinking of the Hundred Years' War, he was clearly indulging in paradox. 1 "The Times " Literary Supplement, 14 October, 1915. That comparison may be dismissed from our minds: but there is no standard duration for wars, and no rule by which to measure their length. Everything that distinguishes man from the physical world belongs to the realm of art and not to that of science, and war, as we know it, is a human invention. There is nothing normal about the duration of war, however much international law and ethics may have sought to reduce its practice to a common measure of humanity : and history provides no gen...  

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