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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 54

Imperial Highways

Imperial Highways.

Considering the food and commercial highways radiating from Great Britain as a centre, westwards, round

Imperial highways.

south and east, they are—
I.—West-south-west, by sea, to Canada and the Eastern ports of the United States; across Canada to British Columbia by rail; and thence south-west and south-south-west to Australasia, China, and our extreme Eastern Colonies.
II.—South-south-west, to the coast of South America and viâ, Cape Horn to Australasia and our extreme Eastern Colonies.
III.—An intermediate line, south-west, to the West Indies, and eventually by the Panama Canal to Australasia and the Chinese Seas.
IV.—South-south-east and east to India, Australasia, and the Chinese Seas viâ the Cape of Good Hope.
V.Viâ, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and Red Sea to India, Australasia, and the Chinese Seas; and
VI.—The line, as yet unopened but of great Imperial importance, uiâ the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia to Baghdad and the Persian Gulf, and from Baghdad through Mid-Persia to join on with the Indian rails extended to Sístán so as to envelop Baluchistan. The necessity of this route to India and the Australian and Chinese Seas forms the subject of this paper.

If the links in each one of the above chains of communication could be rendered so strong as to be invulnerable, the perfection of defence would have been reached. This may be too much to hope.

page 2
According to the power or powers with which Great Britain may be

It may be necessary to concentrate on one or more of these lines.

at war, it may become necessary to concentrate them, in order that commerce may not be crippled and Great Britain starved, and to enlist in its defence, not only our own flesh and blood, but that of our neighbours bound to us by community of interests.
A glance at the Map of the World will show that line No. vi, the

Shortest line from Great Britain to India.

Mesopotamian line, with or without its extension through persia, is the shortest line from Great Britain to India. It will naturally be asked to what dangers is it exposed, and how can it be defended?

Each of these questions is considered in detail further on.

If it can be shown to be a secure line, or to be capable of being rendered secure, and, as well, capable of satisfying the requirements of provisioning Great Britain, it is elevated at once to the rank of a first- class commercial highway. If, also, it can be shown to be necessary to the integrity of the kingdoms of Turkey in Asia and Persia, and to bean absolute necessity in order to strengthen them, both materially and ad-ministratively, so as to render it possible that they should justify their very existences as units amongst the civilised rations now closing in on them, this commercial highway becomes an Imperial strategic one of the very greatest necessity, and one the development of which should not be delayed.

In the East the mind moves slowly, and the development of a country

To be developed in time, if to be of ultimate use.

by opening up communications is slower Time presses, and valuable years have already been lost. Fruit cannot be plucked from a seedling, nor can results be drawn from an undeveloped country under many years of slow growth.

Time was ripe for this work thirty years ago. There is such a thing as overripeness and its resulting decay and rottenness: cankers of various natures eat into the heart of a nation as well as into that of fruit, and not the least insidious are the unseen,—intrigue, discontent, disloyalty, &c. Finally, the worm alone remains, and its generator, the originator of intrigue and disloyalty, becomes its natural possessor.

Let not the history of the Mesopotamian Railway be that of the Suez Canal; where we feared to tread, eventually others walked fearlessly, with serious consequences to us, both past and to come. The consequences to the Empire, if supineness now still prevents action, will be infinitely more dire, and we may well then think that

"Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat."

The Turkish strategic highways are Imperial British highways, and must be constructed by British capital and worked by organised British and Turkish departments, all Christendom being allowed to participate equally in their commercial advantages.

This Turkish route (vi), together with (1), the Canadian route, represents

The route well supported at intervals by vest foot-producing countries to both East and West:

a body (Great Britain) with out-stretched arms, and constitutes a girdle round the earth strongly supported at short intervals by the vast continents of Canada, page 3 Turkey in Asia, India, and Australia, and the military positions of Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus. Of these main supports, Turkey in Asia alone is not bound to us by ties of blood; but our common interests are great; and should she not at first act in conformity with them, still, when the worst comes, and further misfortunes cause her clearly to discern them and to distinguish friends from foes, the instincts of self-preservation may cause to be placed in our hands the belt of country necessary for us to administer and defend to secure to Turkey a remnant of empire (see page 23), so that to prepare it during peace to meet our needs in time of war is no labour lost; but, inasmuch as it does not admit of through ship communication along it, but necessitates a break of bulk across Canada or Turkey in Asia, it can, to a maritime

but bulk broken—there an auxiliary only to the Ocean lines.

nation such as England, be only regarded as an auxiliary to the Ocean lines (ii) and (iv), true channels for through goods, if it be possible to render them secure. Neither arm is dependent on the other for its safety.
Routes (iii) and (iv), viâ the Suez and Panama Canals, passing through

The canal routes insecure and badly supported.

canals which can be readily blocked and only with difficulty and time repaired, if damaged, are most insecure. A railway break is quickly repaired; a canal obstruction is only removed with time. Along them supporting points bound to us by ties of blood, loyalty or common interest are wanting. Each supporting point on the combined routes (1) and (vi) is capable of protecting the land line across it, and in a lesser degree those leading to and from it, except the youngest in point of age, Australia, and statistics show that in 20 years' time its development will be such that it, too, will be a source of Imperial strength; its present strength lies in its remote situation and distance from centres of strife: in the meantime the Empire must defend it, and it can best do so by removing

The Australasian Colonies to be defended by postponing possibility of their being attacked in force.

to a distance of time all possibility of a serious attack being mad upon it. The one immediate, great and increasing danger threatening our Eastern Empire of India, Australasia and in the Chinese Seas, is the southern expansion of Russia and her near approach to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and Japanese and Chinese Seas (see page 14). Another danger is the activity of France in the East; a chief cause of this activity is the dread that France has of Australasia becoming a great Eastern Power and of her acquiring territory between Burma and Cochin-China.