Civilian Control of Military Policy

Courtesy Reuters

"WAR," declared Clemenceau, "is much too important a business to be left to the soldiers." In principle few statesmen or generals would now dissent. In practice there have been and are great difficulties in determining how and to what extent civilian control should be exerted.

During the Great War, Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, thought that only 25 percent of the national effort was being exerted by the services. He then saw more clearly than many what the preparations for and course of the present war have made plain to everyone: that international conflict is now totalitarian. In addition to naval and military operations, strategy must now comprehend diplomatic manœuvres, propaganda, the protection of the home front, the maintenance of morale, the speeding up of industrial production, the strengthening of financial sinews, the control of prices, the rationing of food, and a myriad of other matters.

Sir William Robertson and the British Cabinet disagreed about the control of the 25 percent of the war effort which he said had been left in the hands of the military services. Similarly, Sir Frederick Maurice, who as Director of Military Operations clashed with Lloyd George and resigned his post, declares that since war now "means the direction for a special purpose of the whole power and resources of the nation," it is "clearly not a matter to be left to soldiers or sailors, nor would any responsible soldier or sailor desire it to be so left." He adds the lament that principal and agent have failed to think through and agree upon the manner in which the control should be exerted.

In France, before Clemenceau stated the principle succinctly and implemented it effectively, the army had for three years been insisting on the opposite doctrine. Joffre, who reached supreme command because as an engineer officer he had spent some time in the Colonies (largely building barracks) and had a number of service years which counted double, refused to admit that French

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