The Army – Acquiesce in military expenditure

ONE might naturally expect that in a State, such as Bulgaria, a large standing army in times of peace would be popularly regarded as an unnecessary luxury and an uncalled-for burden. So far is this from being the case that the military expenditure is voted more willingly by the Sobranje, and with less criticism, than the grants required for any other department of the public service. The War Office, with the full sanction of the Sobranje, habitually appropriates for its own use some part of the grants voted for other services, in the not unfrequent event of the amount assigned to any department being found to be in excess of its actual requirements.

Acquiesce in military expenditure

I do not think, however, that this readiness to acquiesce in military expenditure can be accounted for by the hypothesis that the Bulgarians are essentially a warlike nation. They make good soldiers, as the event has shown; but soldiering, as a pursuit, is not one which commends itself readily to the instincts of peasant population. The cause of this apparent anomaly is not far to seek. The maintenance of an army greatly in excess of the normal needs of the country is, from a national point of view, a matter of necessity. The Bulgarians are intensely jealous of their independence, and almost extravagantly proud of their distinct nationality. They are not simple enough to suppose that any force they could possibly muster would enable them to resist their annexation by Russia, supposing the latter Power made up her mind to annex Bulgaria at the risk of war, and supposing the other European Powers acquiesced in her annexation. But they are convinced that so long as they can keep up a strong military force of their own, Russia is much less likely to attack their independence, and the Western Powers are much more likely, in case of need, to come to their assistance. All the public men I have spoken to on the subject regard any direct armed attack on the part of Russia as a very improbable contingency. What they fear is some indirect attack, instigated, if not supported, from St. Petersburg. Supposing there was any decline in the efficiency of Bulgaria as a fighting power, Servia, under pressure from St Petersburg, might—and it is believed would—renew her attempt to invade the Principality. Bulgaria would also be unable, without a powerful army, to protect and claim as her own, in the possible event of a rising against Turkish rule taking place in Macedonia, the large district occupied by men of her own race south of the Turkish frontier. On this account, the statesmen of Bulgaria regard the maintenance of an effective standing army as a matter of paramount necessity; and this view commends itself to the good sense and patriotic spirit of their fellow- countrymen.

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