Balkan War

The course of the struggle is described elsewhere in this volume. Its

event illustrates the danger of an alliance succeeding beyond the

expectations in which it was formed. The constituent powers had looked for

a stiff struggle with the Ottoman armies, but for final success sufficient

to enable them, at the best, to divide Macedonia among themselves, at the

worst, to secure its autonomy under international guarantee. Neither they
nor any one else expected such an Ottoman collapse as was in store. Their

moment of attack was better chosen than they knew. The Osmanli War Office

was caught fairly in the middle of the stream. Fighting during the

revolution, subsequently against Albanians and other recalcitrant

provincials, and latterly against the Italians, who had snatched at

Tripoli the year before, had reduced the Nizam, the first line of

troops, far below strength. The Redif, the second line, had received

hardly more training, thanks to the disorganization of Abdul Hamid's last

years and of the first years of the new order, than the Mustafuz, the

third and last line. Armament, auxiliary services, and the like had been

disorganized preparatory to a scheme for thorough reorganization, which

had been carried, as yet, but a very little way. A foreign (German)

element, introduced into the command, had had time to impair the old

spirit of Ottoman soldiers, but not to create a new one. The armies sent

against the Bulgarians in Thrace were so many mobs of various arms; those

which met the Serbs, a little better; those which opposed the Greeks, a

little worse.

It followed that the Bulgarians, who had proposed to do no more in Thrace

than block Adrianople and immobilize the Constantinople forces, were

carried by their own momentum right down to Chataldja, and there and at

Adrianople had to prosecute siege operations when they ought to have been

marching to Kavala and Salonika. The Serbs, after hard fighting, broke

through not only into Macedonia but into Albania, and reached the

Adriatic, but warned off this by the powers, consoled themselves with the

occupation of much more Macedonian territory than the concerted plans of

the allies had foreseen. The Greeks, instead of hard contests for the

Haliacmon Valley and Epirus--their proper Irredenta--pushed such weak

forces before them that they got through to Salonika just in time to

forestall a Bulgarian column. Ottoman collapse was complete everywhere,

except on the Chataldja front. It remained to divide the spoil. Serbia

might not have Adriatic Albania, and therefore wanted as much Macedonia as

she had actually overrun. Greece wanted the rest of Macedonia and had

virtually got it. Remained Bulgaria who, with more of Thrace than she

wanted, found herself almost entirely crowded out of Macedonia, the common

objective of all.

Faced with division ex post facto, the allies found their a priori

agreement would not resolve the situation. Bulgaria, the predominant

partner and the most aggrieved, would neither recognize the others' rights

of possession nor honestly submit her claims to the only possible arbiter,

the Tsar of Russia. Finding herself one against two, she tried a coup de

main on both fronts, failed, and brought on a second Balkan war, in which

a new determining factor, Rumania, intervened at a critical moment to

decide the issue against her. The Ottoman armies recovered nearly all they

had lost in eastern and central Thrace, including Adrianople, almost

without firing a shot, and were not ill pleased to be quit of a desperate

situation at the price of Macedonia, Albania, and western Thrace.

Defeated and impoverished, the Ottoman power came out of the war clinging

to a mere remnant of its European empire--one single mutilated province

which did not pay its way. With the lost territories had gone about

one-eighth of the whole population and one-tenth of the total imperial

revenue. But when these heavy losses had been cut, there was nothing more

of a serious nature to put to debit, but a little even to credit. Ottoman

prestige had suffered but slightly in the eyes of the people. The

obstinate and successful defence of the Chataldja lines and the subsequent

recovery of eastern Thrace with Adrianople, the first European seat of the

Osmanlis, had almost effaced the sense of Osmanli disgrace, and stood to

the general credit of the Committee and the individual credit of its

military leader, Enver Bey. The loss of some thousands of soldiers and

much material was compensated by an invaluable lesson in the faultiness of

the military system, and especially the Redif organization. The way was

now clearer than before for re-making the army on the best European model,

the German. The campaign had not been long, nor, as wars go, costly to

wage. In the peace Turkey gained a new lease of life from the powers, and,

profligate that she was, the promise of more millions of foreign money.

Over and above all this an advantage, which she rated above international

guarantees, was secured to her--the prospective support of the strongest

military power in Europe. The success of Serbia so menaced

Germano-Austrian plans for the penetration of the Balkans, that the

Central Powers were bound to woo Turkey even more lavishly than before,

and to seek alliance where they had been content with influence. In a

strong Turkey resided all their hope of saving from the Slavs the way to

the Mediterranean. They had kept this policy in view for more than twenty

years, and in a hundred ways, by introduction of Germans into the military

organization, promotion of German financial enterprise, pushing of German

commerce, pressure on behalf of German concessions which would entail

provincial influence (for example, the construction of a transcontinental

railway in Asia), those powers had been manifesting their interest in

Turkey with ever-increasing solicitude. Now they must attach her to

themselves with hoops of steel and, with her help, as soon as might be,

try to recast the Balkan situation.

The experience of the recent war and the prospect in the future made

continuance and accentuation of military government in the Ottoman Empire

inevitable. The Committee, which had made its way back to power by violent

methods, now suppressed its own Constitution almost as completely as Abdul

Hamid had suppressed Midhat's parliament. Re-organization of the military

personnel, accumulation of war material, strengthening of defences,

provision of arsenals, dockyards, and ships, together with devices for

obtaining money to pay for all these things, make Ottoman history for the

years 1912-14. The bond with Germany was drawn lighter. More German

instructors were invited, more German engineers commissioned, more

munitions of war paid for in French gold. By 1914 it had become so evident

that the Osmanlis must array themselves with Austro-Germany in any

European war, that one wonders why a moment's credit was ever given to

their protestations of neutrality when that war came at last in August

1914. Turkey then needed other three months to complete her first line of

defences and mobilize. These were allowed to her, and in the late autumn

she entered the field against Great Britain, France, and Russia, armed

with German guns, led by German officers, and fed with German gold.