29 DECEMBER 1855, Page 10


How shall the war be carried on ? Russia has been beaten in the Crimea, but she is triumphant in Turkish Armenia. She has lost Sebastopol, but she has gained Kars and Bayazeed, and she occu- pies the road from Trebizond to Teheran. Is she to be permitted to retain or extend her conquests at pleasure, or are we to retake them and retaliate in kind ? The latter course at present finds much favour, and it is undoubtedly one that demands grave con- sideration. But in speculating on the future conduct of the war, we must not confine ourselves to one point; we must survey the whole, and estimate not the absolute but the comparative merits of each proposed course.

If the war were A purely military business, in which politics had no part, and if we were prepared to continue the war until Russia were Tendered innocuous to surrounding nations, few things would be more easy than to sketch the operations that would be necessary to that end. Thus, to block out Russia in the North, it is not enough to stipulate that Sweden shall not cede

any portion of her territory to the enemy ; Finland should be conquered and restored to Sweden. To relieve Germany, Poland should be wrenched from the grasp of the Czar and eet upon its legs again. To preserve European Turkey and secure the -free

navigation of the Danube, the Crimean -fortresses should be ut- terly destroyed; Russian war-ships should be excluded from the Black Sea; Ismail should be dismantled, and a portion of the ter- ritory on the left bank of the Northernmost arm of the Danube ceded to Turkey. Then, we should cross the Black Sea, and thrust tack the Russians from the South to the North of the Caucasus, fixing their frontier on the Kouban and the Terek. But this would be a labour for giants, and the work of years ! A combina- tion as extensive as that which overthrew Napoleon would be required to overthrow the Czar, and wrest from him the conquests of sixty years. Our resources in men and money, however great, are not un- limited, and our objects must be limited to our means. The pri- mary object of the war was not the security of Germany and Scandinavia, tut of Turkey; its territorial integrity and independ- ence. There might be no objection, if Germany and Scandinavia would join us, to undertake the conquest of Finland and Poland ; but until-they do AO, we must be oontent to accomplish what we can without them, and in other directions more closely connected with the original object of the war. At the close of 1855 we stand in this position. We have taken and destroyed two-third of the "standing menace" to Constanti- nople—the city of Sebastopol and the Russian Black Sea fleet; but the Russian army and the Northern forte remain. Wethave freed the Black Sea and its shores, and have ravaged the Sea of Azoff; but we have not -fired a shot against Ismail, nor have we done anything to resist the Russians in Transcaucasia or Turkish Armenia. Putting the-conquest of Poland aside as visionary, and that of Finland as problematical, and in any case as distinct from the operations in the East, there remain two courses before the Allies,—to continue their career in the Crimea, or to transfer the greater part of the army .elsewhere. If the former were determined on, then the whole of the force now in the East would not be snore than adequate to that .object; if the latter, then certainly, Bala- klava, Kamieseh, Kertob, Eupatoria, and Kinburn, could be held by garrisons, and more than half the army would be available for other operations. There are two points near the -Black Sea that invite attaok,—Ismail, and Kherson and Nicolaief. But either operation would absorb the whole of the force that could be spared from the Crimea. Both, if successful, would inflict great damage upon Russia, while the reduction of Ismail would more directly conduce to the safety of Turkey and the freedom of the Danube. Neither would raise any political jealousy in the Cabinets of the Allied Powers, or -that of Austria. But another expedition has been suggested to the Allies, and that we propose to consider.

The general reader may have observed that the advocates of the Russian provinces in Transcaucasia as a field of conquest have again entered-the arena of discussion, and are pressing their claims. Among others, Mr. Laurence Oliphant has republished his pamph- let on the subject, with a preface written in the Turkish camp at Sugdidi and dated the 13th November.* Mr. Oliphant alleges that the Christian populations of Mingrelia, Immeritia, and Georgia, hate the Russians, but abhor the Turks; and that their hostility to Omar Pasha's army perils the success of his enterprise. That hostility, he supposes, would give way before a Christian army. Founding upon the advantages of the conquest of Trans- caucasia, he proposes that an army composed of the Christian allies of Turkey, or failing that an army composed of English alone, should be transferred ito Transcaucasia, there to undertake the conquest of those provinces. The Turkish army he would transport to Soudjak-Kaleh ; whence they might march to the plains of the Reuben, and, in conjunction with the Moslem moun- taineers, who are devotedly attached to the Porte, move npon and intercept all communication between Russia and Transcaucasia,

• "The Transcaucasian Provinces the Proper Field of Operation for a Christian Army. Being a second edition of 'The Coming Campaign,' by Laurence Oliphant, Author of 'The Russian Shores of the Black Sea.' With a Preface to this edition written from the seat of war." Published by Blackwood and Sons. by the pass of Dariel ; a movement which, supported by a flotilla in the Sea of Azoff, would certainly facilitate the operations of the Allies to the South of the great mountain-chain. The question to be determined is, whether such a combined enterprise be a prac- ticable, or the best practicable, mode of continuing the war; re- specting is absolute advantages there can be no dispute. We have before explained the position of Russia South of the Caueasus,t and pointed out how it is essential to the prosecution of Russian designs against our possessions in India ; bow it affects the security of Asiatic Turkey, and the fortunes of Persia. The cessation of warfare in the Crimea, the fall of Kars, and the pro- gress of Omar Pasha, have drawn all eyes to this quarter, and have revived the proposal for the conquest of Transcaucasia. Ira- doubtedly, if, as we stated above, the war were carried on by purely military men for purely military aims, such an enterprise would be a matter of course, because it would complete the chain of conquests necessary for the curbing of Russia. But the war is carried on for mixed political and military purposes, the latter being subservient to and controlled by the former. In the enter- prises undertaken, we may expect to find the political elements predominate. In waging war in the Crimea, in extending its field to the Danube or the Dnieper and Bow, the Allies would be on the common ground of their political interests. But would that be the case if the war, stationary in the Crimea and on the mainland of Southern Russia, were removed to Transcauca- sia P There are already indications that such would not be the case. Such an extension of the war would be beyond doubt more conducive-to-the interests of England and Turkey than those of France and Austria. The conquest of Transcauoasia would inflict a deadly blow on Russian projects in Asia ; but it would recoil upon ourselves if it were doubtfully undertaken, or if it led to the weakening of our alliance with France, or the freezing of the chilly moral support we receive from Austria. The problem is this— We could- chase the Russian army from the Crimea, or compel it to surrender ; we could attempt the capture of Kherson and Nico- laief ; and we could take Ismail and free the Danube. In all these operations, it may -be fairly assumed that the Allies would cheer- fully bear a part, and that in the last Austria might be induced to cooperate. We could conquer Transcaucasia, with an English army alone, if a separation of the forces were determined on; but in doing so we might endanger the alliance, and alienate Austria still further. The danger to us and to Europe from the Russian posi- tion is great, but remote ; and so long as the Black Sea is kept free from Russian ships, and the Russians are kept distant from its Eastern coasts, we may rely on it that Russia cannot under- take any material enterprise in Asia Minor. The question of her supremacy beyond the Caucasus may therefore be safely adjourned, at least until we have accomplished the work in the Black Sea and the Baltic, nearer to our hand and of more pressing importance. But then comes another question. Are we to submit to Russian encroachment, by force of arms, in Turkish Armenia, accomplished during a war undertaken to preserve the integrity of Turkey ? By undertaking and completing the conquest of Transcaucasia, we should undoubtedly expel the Russians from Turkish Armenia.. But if we ,give np, from higher considerations, the conquest of Transcaucasia, it Surely does not follow that we are bound to sub- mit to the Russian conquests, actual and probable, in Turkish Ar- menia? On the contrary, the Western Powers are bound, by the terms of their alliance, to free Turkish territory from Russian foes.; it is.forthemEcooperating with Turkey, to devise means for- that purpose : but they are not bound to conquer Transcaucasia. If it should be found that adequate terms of peace cannot be ex- torted from the enemy by operations in the Black Sea and the Baltic, at the same time that Turkish Armenia is secured, the Al- lies may be compelled to undertake the conquest of Transcaucasia ; and then it would be a legitimate operation.

.1. Spectator, November 17; page 1186.