THE PERSONALITIES OF THE WAR
 THIS war will seem to many to lack the personal element, but no one can study its history in detail without being
impressed with the fact that the war itself was so huge that it became impersonal. It is possible that another
Napoleon, Luther, or Bismarck might have dominated its events, as they did the great periods of the past, but
to the men who lived through the war there was on neither side a man of that supreme caliber. To the extent
that those men directed the trend of events no individual controlled them. Great men we have had, perhaps in
some number, among whom certainly our own President Wilson will rank with the foremost, but in general
opinion, the man of transcendent genius did not appear.
It is probably true that the war was this time too extraordinary in its scope for any single individual to
play a truly dominant part in it. Modern society is now too complex in its organization; it requires the
cooperation of too large a number of men to accomplish anything to allow events to be influenced decisively by
a single personality. The democratic organization of the Allied countries was, alas, suspicious of power or
responsibility in the hands of a single individual. In Germany, where such power might have been entrusted to
one man, there was the fear that the individual might not possess sufficient ability to decide wisely.
The war indeed was not fought by individuals but by committees, by multiple executive bodies, called cabinets,
councils of state, ministries, general staffs, many of them composed in their
 turn of committees. While, therefore, men like Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and the Kaiser had a larger personal
influence than others, the real political decisions in all countries were the result of the thought of many
men. So too of the generals. President Wilson and Marshal Foch perhaps had a greater power to act in matters
of importance than any other individuals and both properly exercised it upon occasion. But Marshal Foch
himself said, "The whole war has been one giant orchestra—I merely happened to hold the baton, to be the
orchestra leader." At the peace conference President Wilson seemed to some the dominant character, but others
declared vehemently that he was only one of many. No one man in this war has been able to decide, as Napoleon
did, the issues of war and peace for himself. In writing, therefore, a book as brief as this, it seemed better
to reproduce the impersonal quality of the war, rather than to attempt to emphasize the parts played by
individuals, and thus introduce names into the text whose part in the conflict could not be properly
At the same time it is essential to make clear the extraordinary influence which personality had upon the
history of the war. After all, men fought it. The quality or lack of quality in these particular men must be
one of the most important elements in its history. Many foreign students have contended that the Allied
failures in the first years were due to the incapacity of statesmen, staff officers, field generals, and the
like. They were unequal to the responsibility placed upon them. Primarily, of course, they were lacking in
The Germans had developed a military and administrative machine whose prime object was to eliminate possible
failure, as the result of individual incompetence. So careful had been their work that their machine was at
the outset superior to that of the Allies.
 On the other hand one of the most conspicuous reasons for the German defeat was the failure of individuals in
Germany to judge correctly the British and American people and to understand the deep ethical convictions of
the modern world. The sinking of the Lusitauia, the execution of Miss Cavell, the atrocities in France
and Belgium are from any proper point of view individual failures.
In all countries the political and industrial situations played the most important part in the fighting of the
war and the relations of individuals to each other had a most important effect upon the progress of the war.
Human material was a vital factor but it cannot be described briefly, nor can it be truthfully said that any
success or failure can be credited to or blamed upon one man. The war was intentionally organized to prevent a
single man from playing any such role as the conquerors of the past had enacted.
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