War Cyclopedia - V
Venizelos, E. K. (1864- ). Prime Minister of Greece. He is a native of Crete. He first entered Greek politics in 1909, when he was summoned by the King to deal with a serious internal situation. M. Venizelos restored national unity and piloted the country successfully through the Balkan wars. From the beginning of the European conflict he has favored the cause of the Allies, and several times urged King Constantine to join them. But the King twice dismissed his masterful Premier, ~who in turn set up a Provisional Government at Saloniki for the defense of Greece. After the abdication of Constantine on June 11, 1917, M. Venizelos again became Premier, and at once took steps to insure the effective cooperation of Greece with the Allies. See Constantine I; Greece;.
Verdun. The military key to the west front, which the German Crown Prince tried to take in 1916. It has been, since 1871, the most important of the French defenses on the eastern frontier between the Argonne and the Vosges. During the German advance of 1914 Verdun held out under violent attack, although the Germans were able to push forward a deep salient to the south at St. Mihiel. In February, 1916, the armies of the
-German Crown Prince began a violent assault upon Verdun, which lasted six months and which was conceived in the hope of compelling the retirement of the French in Lorraine and Alsace and also of reestablishing German morale. At first the German offensive proved irresistible and led to the capture of a large portion of the fortified area around Verdun and of such important forts as Douaumont and Vaux. But their losses were terrific. Verdun was called "the grave" by German soldiers, and the final check administered to their attacks by the French apparently marked the end of German offensive power on the western front. A counter offensive organized by Gen. Nivelle in October, 1916, and another in August, 1917, enabled the French at small cost quickly to reclaim practically all the ground they had lost in the great German attack of 1916.
Virgin Islands. This group of islands, formerly known as the Danish West Indies, came into the possession of the United States in 1917, through purchase. The size and character of the islands make them of negligible value for their own products; they are wholly dependent upon the United States for a market and for their imports. But their position, commanding the trade routes from Europe to the Panama Canal, makes them of importance to the United States. Easily fortified, the islands are of great value in the defense of the canal and simplify the problem of policing the Caribbean. The United States has three times offered to purchase the islands. In 1865 a proposition of Secretary Seward, whereby we were to acquire the islands for seven and a half million dollars, failed of ratification by the Senate. Again, in 1902, Secretary Hay concluded a treaty by which the islands were to become ours upon payment of $5,000,000. German Influence Is said to have defeated the treaty In the Danish upper house. The third effort proved suc-. cessful and during the present year the islands came Into our possession. The price paid was $25,000,000, five times the earlier offer. See Monroe Doctrine, German Attitude; United States, Caribbean Interests.
Visit and Search. German submarine warfare has eliminated from the procedure of belligerent capture the essential step of visit and search. Belligerent warships having a right to capture certain classes of merchant vessels on the high seas, have the right to visit and search every such vessel, whatever Its nationality, cargo, or destination, and must visit before attacking. "This Government . . . has acknowledged, as a matter of course, the right to visit and search and the right to apply the rules of contraband of war to articles of commerce. It has, indeed, insisted upon the use of visit and search as an absolutely necessary safeguard against mistaking neutral vessels for vessels owned by an enemy and against mistaking legal cargoes for illegal." (Secretary of State Bryan to Count von Bernstorff, Apr. 21, 1915.) See Armed Merchantmen; Capture and Adjudication; Resistance, Right of; Submarine Warfare,
Viviaui, René. French statesman, belonging to the Radical-Socialist party. He was Premier of France at the outbreak of the war, but later gave way to M. Briand, in whose cabinet he accepted the post of vice president and Minister of Justice. He was the head of the French mission which visited the United States in May, 1917. M. Vivian! is a gifted orator, who roused his American audiences to enthusiasm, and his speeches will long remain as among the most effective expositions of the issues of the war.
Volunteer System, Defects of. Strictly speaking, all United States forces, except those drafted in the Civil War and selected for service in this war, have been volunteers. The Regular Army and Navy are filled by volunteers, and even the militia, although in early days all men not exempted were obliged to undergo some slight military training. Generally, however, the term "volunteer" has been applied to special forces raised to meet a national emergency and having their separate organizations. Such an army was provided for in 1798 with Washington as commander in chief, in 1812, and in the Mexican War. In the Civil War the Volunteer Army constituted the bulk of the Union forces. The same method was again employed in the Spanish War. Such Volunteer Army differs from the Regular Army in being organized for emergency service only; it differs from the militia in being nationally organized. The volunteer system is defective in principle and faulty in practice. It is wrong in principle because it takes some who ought not to go and exempts many who ought to go. It shifts the responsibility of decision in a matter which concerns all to the individual or his immediate family. As to practice, "almost without exception, every war in which we have been engaged has been unnecessarily prolonged by the failureo to adopt sound and vigorous policies at the outset,' by the- volunteer system, by short enlistments, by yielding to mild preachments." In the Civil War the volunteer system had to be supplemented by conscription, which, however, was only partly successful because it permitted drafted men to hire substitutes. The Selective Service act contains no such undemocratic provision. See Conscription; Draft; Selective Service.