Winston Churchill, First and Second Volume of the Five Volume Set on World War I
As England was mobilizing for World War I in the first part of the 1910's, Mr. Churchill as in charge of the Admiralty. And he made to decisions regarding the new warships being built. Should we build with fifteen inch round guns? Or stick with the 13.5 inch gun which were a tried and true commodity? Every time one increases the caliber of a naval gun, it fires longer and more weight. Going from twelve inches to 13.5 inches increased the size of shot from 850 pounds to 1400 pound. But there was concern whether the gun barrel steel would withstand the stress. (As a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering, I certainly can appreciate the possibility. Having seen how much was learned since then about fatigue propagation, low-cycle themal fatigure and creep, as well as the cracking of the Liberty Ships from low-temperature brittle failure. The brittle failure became a problem because of a technology change, going from rivetted construction to welded steel. Thus a crack once started, could go all through the ship. IN all fairness, once they figured out was wrong, the applied a fix to each boat and no more ships lost due to this problem--Google Books, Does Measurement Measure up? How Numbers Reveal and Conceal the Truth, John M. Henshaw.) As Winston Churchill, pointed out, his decision to go ahead with the larger size did work, but just as easily, it could have meant his downfall politically as young and rash, had the materials failed in the new untested gun size.
But the entire design of a naval boat revolves around the decision as to the guns. If the guns did not work, and they had to go back to 13.5 inch gun, the whole redesign of the ships would have been in vain.
A science fiction story of 1913 had the Germans with a 15-inch gun totally defeating their enemies. W. Churchill was happy that the boot was to be on the other foot.
Winston Churchill also made another decision to go with untested technology, using oil instead of coal. The oil had a greater energy density so the ships could go faster than the enemy. The ships would not have to dock to recoal or refuel so often and the men would not have the thankless job of shovelling coal.
But just as shifting to electric cars now would have the expense of redoing the fueling station infrastructure, shifting to oil would be an expense in setting up the infrastructure and reserves of oil. And founding the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Winston Churchill pointed out that the government invested 2.2 million pounds Sterling. They gained from thirty to fourty million pounds. (Foot note on page 139 and 140 of the volume.)
The people were in an uproar! A German cruiser force attacked fishing towns killing five hundred innocent civilians. The British attempted to pursue them. They were lost in the mist! But like our own terrorist defense, they had to have had people and ships everywhere.
And he talked about the power of naval intelligence, using a little bit of data. In World War I, like World War II, the German code books fell into Allied hands. But the Germans suspected something, so they often used other code books that the Allies did not have. And they also gained much from triangulating on wireless telegraphy from ships. And, then as now, much was made of the analysis part of intelligence, putting the pieces together to make actionable intelligence.
He closes the first volume on the beginning of the problem with the Dardanelles.Britain was trying to keep Turkey neutral. Unbeknownst to him there was a secret agreement between the Young Turk party. The Balkan states saw that Germany appeared to be winning in 1914, and to some extent because of the antipathy with Russia, which was fighting Germany on the allies side, decided to go with Germany. Three months after the hostilities opened with Turkey, the forts garding the European part of Turkey were undefended. And Winston Churchill was concerned that Christians might be massacred in what is now Israel.
At this point, Winston Churchill does his masterful summary. England cleared some stray German warships that were terrorizing shipping throughout the Indian Ocean, Pacific and South Atlantic. "From the uttermost ends of the earth ships and soldiers are approach or gathering in the Easter Mediterranean in fulfilment of a destiny as yet not understood by mortal man." "The arrival of the Anzacs [Australians and New Zealand] created the nucleus of the Army, needed to attack the heart of the Turkish empire. The deadlock on the Western Front, where all was now frozen into winter trenches, aforded at once a breathing space and large possibility of further troops. While Australian battalions trampled the crisp sand of the Egyptian desert in tirless evolutions, and Commander Holbrook in his valiant submarine dived under the minefields of Chanka and sank a Turkish transport in the throat of the Dardannelles, far away in the basins of Portsmouth the dockyard men were toiling night and day to mount the fifteen-inch guns and turrets of the Queen Elizabeth. And yet all was unconscious, inchoate, purposeless, uncombined, Any one of a score of chances might have given, might still given, an entirely different direction to the event. No plan has been made, no resolve taken. But new ideas are astir, new possibilites are coming into view, new forces are at hand, and with them marches towards us a new peril of the first manitude. Russia, mighty steam-roller, hope of suffering France and prostrate Belgium--Russia is failing. Her armies are grappling with Hindenburg and Ludendorf, and behind their brave fronts" there is already signs of weakness.
They had to deal with the submarine menace. There was no harbor for the fleet to retrofit. Thus, do we keep the ships moving where they would be less vulnerable. But, they would suffer wear and tear and burn up precious fuel. Or do we let them rest, and be sitting ducks should Germany get submarines into the harbor. England was frantically setting up booms and nets to stop the submarines.
"Resources, almost measureless and of indescribable variety in ships, in men, in munitions and devices of war will now flow month by month steadily into our hands. What shall we do with them? ... "Shall we
- use our reinforced fleets to turn the Teutonic right in the Baltic
- or their left in the Black Sea and the Balkans
- or shall we hurl our manhood against sandbags, wire and concrete in frontal attack upon the German fortified lines in France?"
- Shall we save Russia
- shall they try to ally some of the smaller nations
- shall the British army only fight in Belgium or should they open a new front
- "shall our fleets remain contented with the grand and solid results they have won, or shall they ward off future perils by a new inexhaustable audacity."
After the German and French armies were stalemated in trench warfare, Winston Churchill demanded that someone develop what is now known as a tank. Winston Churchill, as serving in the admiralty, ordered 70,000 pounds Sterling worth of "landships." He pointed out that he went out on a limb here, having no authority to do so.
The idea of a tank was not new. Several peple proposed it. Winston Churchill acknowledge H. G. Wells had written science fiction about tanks in 1903. (Wikipedia has an excellent article showing the concept goes back to two letters published in the 1833 The London United Service Magazine and a patent in 1878.) (I had occassion to read H. G. Well's Outline of History that he wrote in 1921 with concern that the next war would have poison-gas-belching mechanical monsters.) Winston Churchill wanted a large number of landships prepared in secret--that would overwhelm the Germans and punch through the trenches. Winston Churchill sighed that the British government built very few of the tanks, destroying the potential to smash through the barbed wire, taking several lines of trenches at night. He presented his plans in a memo of December 3, 1915, calling for "above all, surprise." But this was not put into affect until November 1917. (Winston Churchill also looked into smoke and gas warfare.)
EnergyThe Demos is faced with a similar high stakes scenario, dependent in large part on metallurgy like the fifteen inch gun, the TerraPower reactor. A self-contained reaction breeding fuel from depleted Uranium 235. (When one enriches Uranium, one extracts Uranium 235 and leaves the Uranium 238 behind. It is useless for conventional fission reactions or nuclear bombs. It is used in munitions and armor.)
But the question is whether the materials would withstand the heat and neutrons over decades. Do we go on a fast push or the slow push--the company plans to have a test reactor in 2020 and not have it commercialized for several years after that.
I get the IEEE Spectrum each month--I am a member; it is the IEEE flagship. There are many articles on wonderful schemes that could revolutionize energy production or space travel, including the space ribbon and a plan to mine asteroids.
VacillationAt first, the plan in the Dardanelles, was that the Navy would destroy the forts with guns from their ships. The British had longer range guns than the Turkish forts, so they could simply destroy the guns therein from the Sea without risk being attacked in return. Thus, the ships would methodically destroy all the guns defending the pathway from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Then the ships could operate at will, splitting Turkey into an Asiatic part and the remainder on Europe.
The Army said it had no divisions to spare, so the plan was a ship-only plan. But as there were successes in South Africa, more training and the French made committments, as well as troops from Australia and elsewhere, the issue of sending the army at the same time was made. Thus, the Turks would have faced an attack on their European side, the famous Gallipoli, while dealing with British Navy steaming up and down the water way separating them. The Twenty-Ninth Division was the one that they discussed sending there.
Lord Kitchener was pivotal in this as Secretary of State for War. Yet sometimes he was in favor of sending armed forces to the Dardanelles, and sometimes felt that it would be unwise to have a two-front war weakening the effort in France and with insufficient forces in Turkey to win. After a few ships had problems, apparently from mines or torpedo tubes mounted in the gulf, the War Council voted to hold the navy attack and rely primarily on the military, an exact reversal of their earlier procedure.
The Dardanelles Commissions said that after they started the attack, There were really only two alternatives that were thoroughly defensible. One was to accept the view that by reason of our existing commitments elsewhere an adequate force could not be made availablefor expeditionary action in the Eastern Mediterranean; to face the possible loss of prestige which would have been involved in an acknowledgment of partial failure, and have fallen back on the original plan of abandoning the Naval attack on the Dardanelles, when once it became apparent that military operations on a large scale would be necessary. The other was to have boldly faced the risks which would have been involved elsewhere and once to have made a determined effort to force the passage of the Dardanelles by a rapid and well-organized combined attack in great strength. Unfortunately, the Government adopted neither of these courses..." Winston Churchill points out that indecision delayed the 29th Division by three weeks or more, as it would have arrived in better order.
So what happened to the Navy Plans Under Winston Churchill to force
the straits with navy means:
A sad note, but not related to participatory democracy, was that Greece offered to send four divisions as well. The Russians were willing to aid, even though it ws surely pressed by Germany. But the Russians were unwilling to ally themselves with Greece and would not have the Greek King in Constanople. Churchill was hoping that the naval success in the Dardanelles would cause all of Eastern Europe to pile onto Turkey. But they could not bring themselves to ally themselves in the hope of great gains to be split.
Conclusion, and relating to our BlogOur question for this blog is should the demos rely on leaders following things on war maps to make the decisions. And Winston Churhill described excellently how the war room worked in those days. Or are these so stupendous, involving so many political calculations, that there is a role for the demos, a right of the demos to have a say. Perhaps Winston Churchill as Lord Admiral should have been left alone, but the decisions above him, that were made by Lord Edward Grey as Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and the Exchequer, be made by the Demos directly.
On Leadership Empathy
Winston Churchill had an opportunity to view an attack against the Germans in France (in Aubers Ridge against the Souchez position, April Ninth 1915).
I made every effort in my power without incurring unjustiable risks to view the battle. But neither far off from a lofty steeple nor close up on the fringe of the enemy's barrage was it possible to see anything except shells and smoke.Without actually taking part in the assault it was impossible to measure the real conditions. To see them you had to feel, and feeling them might well feel nothing more. To stand outside was to see nothing, to plunge in was to be dominated by personal experiences of an absorbing kind. This was one of the cruellest features of the war. Many of the generals in the higher commands did not know the conditions with which their troops were ordered to contend, nor were they in a position to devise the remedies which could have helped them.
We saw above that Supreme War Commands and individual leaders and the combination of the commander on the ground and the command forces at home, all can suffer from vacillation, starting something but not really seeing it through.
And how can a demos avoid going back and forth, particularly when they might be polarized on a decision, with 48% strongly in favor of opposite directions and four percent undecided. (We certainly have seen that such situations can cause changes of government in conventional representational democracies.) We certainly could not have such in military matters, whether it be in major campaigns as we have seen above in the Dardanelles, or even a war. A Demos should not start a war, only to stop it a few months later, then to restart it...
In the latter case, the Constitution should specify that war should not be declared, or started unless two thirds (or more) approve. (The constitution could authorize a sortion jury to initiate a covert or surprise attack with an even greater supermajority requirement.) But there are peace time operations that should not be started and restarted. An example might be the massive undertaking to build electric recharging infrastructure for switching to electric cars to avoid dependency upon petroleum supplies. Thus, the Constitution or rules should allow a Demos to declare:
- Before, we make a decision on the issue, whatever decision we make shall not be reversed except by a sixty percent supermajority
- Now, we make a decision on this issue.
Lee Kuan Yew and Leadership in Development
From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965 to 2000, Lee Kuan Yew, Harper Collins 2000
When can a leader change habits and development and personal decisions to help a country? When is it good? And can a Demos rise to the occassion itself to eliminate vices or develop itself?
In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew: ("We would have been a grosser, ruder cruder society had we not made these efforts to pursuade our people to change their ways. We did not measure up as a cultivated, civilized society and were not ashamed to set about trying to become one in the shortest time possible... After we had pursuaded and won over the majority, we legislated to punish the willful minority.")
- introduced a plan to build housing and have the individuals living in them own them, the HOusing Development Plans. He relocated some from "squatter huts with no water, power or modern sanitation" but no utility payments o rrent. into high rise apartments. These had rent and utilities. And this was a wrenching experience psychologically. Some tried to bring their pigs, ducks and chickens to the high rise apartments. Others continued to use kerosene lams, stairs instead of elevators, and selling sundry goods.
- introduced an antispitting compaign
- rounded up stray cattle in the 1960's that were eating grass in public areas
- moved food vendors to special areas equipped with water, sewage, etc.
- dealt with grey-market taxis
- eliminated hog raising
- banned public smoking and advertising for same. (That is, of course, an issue now in the United States and elsewhere.)
- banned chewing gum--this was famous
There were other contentious examples of leadership--language being one of them. Do they teach students in Chinese, with which the majority had deep emotional ties, or English for the obvious trading advantages. Also, there was an issue of which dialect of Chinese to use, Hokkien which was the home language for most, or Mandarin to better communicate with those in Mainland China. "During our [Lee Yew and his family] walks in public parks and gardens, parens would be talking to their children in dialect until they noticed Cho and me, when they would like embarassed and switch to Mandarin, abashed for not heeding my advice. The switch was especially difficult for the grandparents, but most managed speaking to their grandchildren in dialect and understanding their replies in Mandarin."
As a different kind of development decision, several American cities are downsizing. Major Dave Bling of Detroit intends to constructively evict 20% of the area--leaving them without municipal services such as garbage pickup, police patrols, road repair and street lights.