England is clearly a hindrance in the way of Italy's justifiable efforts to win a prominent position in the Mediterranean. She possesses in Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, and Aden a chain of strong bases, which secure the sea-route to India, and she has an unqualified interest in commanding this great road through the Mediterranean. England's Mediterranean fleet is correspondingly strong and would—especially in combination with the French Mediterranean squadron—seriously menace the coasts of Italy, should that country be entangled in a war against England and France. Italy is therefore obviously concerned in avoiding such a war, as long as the balance of maritime power is unchanged. She is thus in an extremely difficult double position; herself a member of the Triple Alliance, she is in a situation which compels her to make overtures to the opponents of that alliance, so long as her own allies can afford no trustworthy assistance to her policy of development. It is our interest to reconcile Italy and Turkey so far as we can.
France and Russia have united in opposition to the Central European Triple Alliance. France's European policy is overshadowed by the idea of revanche. For that she makes the most painful sacrifices; for that she has forgotten the hundred years' enmity against England and the humiliation of Fashoda. She wishes first to take vengeance for the defeats of 1870-71, which wounded her national pride to the quick; she wishes to raise her political prestige by a victory over Germany, and, if possible, to regain that former supremacy on the continent of Europe which she so long and brilliantly maintained; she wishes, if fortune smiles on her arms, to reconquer Alsace and Lorraine. But she feels too weak for an attack on Germany. Her whole foreign policy, in spite of all protestations of peace, follows the single aim of gaining allies for this attack. Her alliance with Russia, her entente with England, are inspired with this spirit; her present intimate relations with this latter nation are traceable to the fact that the French policy hoped, and with good reason, for more active help from England's hostility to Germany than from Russia.
The colonial policy of France pursues primarily the object of acquiring a material, and, if possible, military superiority over Germany. The establishment of a native African army, the contemplated introduction of a modified system of conscription in Algeria, and the political annexation of Morocco, which offers excellent raw material for soldiers, so clearly exhibit this intention, that there can be no possible illusion as to its extent and meaning.
Since France has succeeded in bringing her military strength to approximately the same level as Germany, since she has acquired in her North African Empire the possibility of considerably increasing that strength, since she has completely outstripped Germany in the sphere of colonial policy, and has not only kept up, but also revived, the French sympathies of Alsace and Lorraine, the conclusion is obvious: France will not abandon the paths of an anti-German policy, but will do her best to excite hostility against us, and to thwart German interests in every quarter of the globe. When she came to an understanding with the Italians, that she should be given a free hand in Morocco if she allowed them to occupy Tripoli, a wedge was driven into the Triple Alliance which threatens to split it. It may be regarded as highly improbable that she will maintain honourably and with no arriere-pensee the obligations undertaken in the interests of German commerce in Morocco. The suppression of these interests was, in fact, a marked feature of the French Morocco policy, which was conspicuously anti-German. The French policy was so successful that we shall have to reckon more than ever on the hostility of France in the future. It must be regarded as a quite unthinkable proposition that an agreement between France and Germany can be negotiated before the question between them has been once more decided by arms. Such an agreement is the less likely now that France sides with England, to whose interest it is to repress Germany but strengthen France. Another picture meets our eyes if we turn to the East, where the giant Russian Empire towers above all others.
The Empire of the Czar, in consequence of its defeat in Manchuria, and of the revolution which was precipitated by the disastrous war, is following apparently a policy of recuperation. It has tried to come to an understanding with Japan in the Far East, and with England in Central Asia; in the Balkans its policy aims at the maintenance of the status quo. So far it does not seem to have entertained any idea of war with Germany. The Potsdam agreement, whose importance cannot be overestimated, shows that we need not anticipate at present any aggressive policy on Russia's part. The ministry of Kokowzew seems likely to wish to continue this policy of recuperation, and has the more reason for doing so, as the murder of Stolypin with its accompanying events showed, as it were by a flash of lightning, a dreadful picture of internal disorder and revolutionary intrigue. It is improbable, therefore, that Russia would now be inclined to make armed intervention in favour of France. The Russo-French alliance is not, indeed, swept away, and there is no doubt that Russia would, if the necessity arose, meet her obligations; but the tension has been temporarily relaxed, and an improvement in the Russo-German relations has been effected, although this state of things was sufficiently well paid for by the concessions of Germany in North Persia.
It is quite obvious that this policy of marking time, which Russia is adopting for the moment, can only be transitory. The requirements of the mighty Empire irresistibly compel an expansion towards the sea, whether in the Far East, where it hopes to gain ice-free harbours, or in the direction of the Mediterranean, where the Crescent still glitters on the dome of St. Sophia. After a successful war, Russia would hardly hesitate to seize the mouth of the Vistula, at the possession of which she has long aimed, and thus to strengthen appreciably her position in the Baltic.
Supremacy in the Balkan Peninsula, free entrance into the Mediterranean, and a strong position on the Baltic, are the goals to which the European policy of Russia has naturally long been directed. She feels herself, also, the leading power of the Slavonic races, and has for many years been busy in encouraging and extending the spread of this element into Central Europe.
Pan-Slavism is still hard at work.
It is hard to foresee how soon Russia will come out from her retirement and again tread the natural paths of her international policy. Her present political attitude depends considerably on the person of the present Emperor, who believes in the need of leaning upon a strong monarchical State, such as Germany is, and also on the character of the internal development of the mighty Empire. The whole body of the nation is so tainted with revolutionary and moral infection, and the peasantry is plunged in such economic disorder, that it is difficult to see from what elements a vivifying force may spring up capable of restoring a healthy condition. Even the agrarian policy of the present Government has not produced any favourable results, and has so far disappointed expectations. The possibility thus has always existed that, under the stress of internal affairs, the foreign policy may be reversed and an attempt made to surmount the difficulties at home by successes abroad. Time and events will decide whether these successes will be sought in the Far East or in the West. On the one side Japan, and possibly China, must be encountered; on the other, Germany, Austria, and, possibly, Turkey.
Doubtless these conditions must exercise a decisive influence on the Franco-Russian Alliance. The interests of the two allies are not identical. While France aims solely at crushing Germany by an aggressive war, Russia from the first has more defensive schemes in view. She wished to secure herself against any interference by the Powers of Central Europe in the execution of her political plans in the South and East, and at the same time, at the price of an alliance, to raise, on advantageous terms in France, the loans which were so much needed. Russia at present has no inducement to seek an aggressive war with Germany or to take part in one. Of course, every further increase of the German power militates against the Russian interests. We shall therefore always find her on the side of those who try to cross our political paths.
England has recently associated herself with the Franco-Russian Alliance. She has made an arrangement in Asia with Russia by which the spheres of influence of the two parties are delimited, while with France she has come to terms in the clear intention of suppressing Germany under all circumstances, if necessary by force of arms.
The actually existing conflict of Russian and English interests in the heart of Asia can obviously not be terminated by such agreements. So, also, no natural community of interests exists between England and France. A strong French fleet may be as great a menace to England as to any other Power. For the present, however, we may reckon on an Anglo—French entente. This union is cemented by the common hostility to Germany. No other reason for the political combination of the two States is forthcoming. There is not even a credible pretext, which might mask the real objects.
This policy of England is, on superficial examination, not very comprehensible. Of course, German industries and trade have lately made astounding progress, and the German navy is growing to a strength which commands respect. We are certainly a hindrance to the plans which England is prosecuting in Asiatic Turkey and Central Africa. This may well be distasteful to the English from economic as well as political and military aspects. But, on the other hand, the American competition in the domain of commercial politics is far keener than the German. The American navy is at the present moment stronger than the German, and will henceforth maintain this precedence. Even the French are on the point of building a formidable fleet, and their colonial Empire, so far as territory is concerned, is immensely superior to ours. Yet, in spite of all these considerations, the hostility of the English is primarily directed against us. It is necessary to adopt the English standpoint in order to understand the line of thought which guides the English politicians. I believe that the solution of the problem is to be found in the wide ramifications of English interests in every part of the world.
Since England committed the unpardonable blunder, from her point of view, of not supporting the Southern States in the American War of Secession, a rival to England's world-wide Empire has appeared on the other side of the Atlantic in the form of the United States of North America, which are a grave menace to England's fortunes. The keenest competition conceivable now exists between the two countries. The annexation of the Philippines by America, and England's treaty with Japan, have accentuated the conflict of interests between the two nations. The trade and industries of America can no longer be checked, and the absolutely inexhaustible and ever-growing resources of the Union are so prodigious that a naval war with America, in view of the vast distances and wide extent of the enemies' coasts, would prove a very bold, and certainly very difficult, undertaking. England accordingly has always diplomatically conceded the claims of America, as quite recently in the negotiations about fortifying the Panama Canal; the object clearly is to avoid any collision with the United States, from fearing the consequences of such collision. The American competition in trade and industries, and the growth of the American navy, are tolerated as inevitable, and the community of race is borne in mind. In this sense, according to the English point of view, must be understood the treaty by which a Court of Arbitration between the two countries was established.
England wishes, in any case, to avert the danger of a war with America. The natural opposition of the two rival States may, however, in the further development of things, be so accentuated that England will be forced to assert her position by arms, or at least to maintain an undisputed naval supremacy, in order to emphasize her diplomatic action. The relations of the two countries to Canada may easily become strained to a dangerous point, and the temporary failure of the Arbitration Treaty casts a strong light on the fact that the American people does not consider that the present political relations of the two nations are permanent.
There is another danger which concerns England more closely and directly threatens her vitality. This is due to the nationalist movement in India and Egypt, to the growing power of Islam, to the agitation for independence in the great colonies, as well as to the supremacy of the Low-German element in South Africa.
Turkey is the only State which might seriously threaten the English position in Egypt by land. This contingency gives to the national movement in Egypt an importance which it would not otherwise possess; it clearly shows that England intensely fears every Pan-Islamitic movement. She is trying with all the resources of political intrigue to undermine the growing power of Turkey, which she officially pretends to support, and is endeavouring to create in Arabia a new religious centre in opposition to the Caliphate.
The same views are partially responsible for the policy in India, where some seventy millions of Moslems live under the English rule. England, so far, in accordance with the principle of divide et impera, has attempted to play off the Mohammedan against the Hindu population. But now that a pronounced revolutionary and nationalist tendency shows itself among these latter, the danger is imminent that Pan-Islamism, thoroughly roused, should unite with the revolutionary elements of Bengal. The co-operation of these elements might create a very grave danger, capable of shaking the foundations of England's high position in the world.
While so many dangers, in the future at least, threaten both at home and abroad, English imperialism has failed to link the vast Empire together, either for purposes of commerce or defence, more closely than hitherto. Mr. Chamberlain's dream of the British Imperial Customs Union has definitely been abandoned. No attempt was made at the Imperial Conference in 1911 to go back to it. "A centrifugal policy predominated. .... When the question of imperial defence came up, the policy was rejected which wished to assure to Great Britain the help of the oversea dominions in every imaginable eventuality." The great self-ruled colonies represent allies, who will stand by England in the hour of need, but "allies with the reservation that they are not to be employed wrongfully for objects which they cannot ascertain or do not approve." [A] There are clear indications that the policy of the dominions, though not yet planning a separation from England, is contemplating the future prospect of doing so. Canada, South Africa, and Australia are developing, as mentioned in Chapter IV., into independent nations and States, and will, when their time comes, claim formal independence.
[Footnote A: Th. Schiemann in the Kreuzzeitung of July 5, 1911.]
All these circumstances constitute a grave menace to the stability of England's Empire, and these dangers largely influence England's attitude towards Germany.
England may have to tolerate the rivalry of North America in her imperial and commercial ambitions, but the competition of Germany must be stopped. If England is forced to fight America, the German fleet must not be in a position to help the Americans. Therefore it must be destroyed.
A similar line of thought is suggested by the eventuality of a great English colonial war, which would engage England's fleets in far distant parts of the world. England knows the German needs and capabilities of expansion, and may well fear that a German Empire with a strong fleet might use such an opportunity for obtaining that increase of territory which England grudges. We may thus explain the apparent indifference of England to the French schemes of aggrandizement. France's capability of expansion is exhausted from insufficient increase of population. She can no longer be dangerous to England as a nation, and would soon fall victim to English lust of Empire, if only Germany were conquered.
The wish to get rid of the dangers presumably threatening from the German quarter is all the more real since geographical conditions offer a prospect of crippling the German overseas commerce without any excessive efforts. The comparative weakness of the German fleet, contrasted with the vast superiority of the English navy, allows a correspondingly easy victory to be anticipated, especially if the French fleet co-operates. The possibility, therefore, of quickly and completely getting rid of one rival, in order to have a free hand for all other contingencies, looms very near and undoubtedly presents a practicable means of placing the naval power of England on a firm footing for years to come, of annihilating German commerce and of checking the importance of German interests in Africa and Northern Asia.
The hostility to Germany is also sufficiently evident in other matters. It has always been England's object to maintain a certain balance of power between the continental nations of Europe, and to prevent any one of them attaining a pronounced supremacy. While these States crippled and hindered each other from playing any active part on the world's stage, England acquired an opportunity of following out her own purposes undisturbed, and of founding that world Empire which she now holds. This policy she still continues, for so long as the Powers of Europe tie each other's hands, her own supremacy is uncontested. It follows directly from this that England's aim must be to repress Germany, but strengthen France; for Germany at the present moment is the only European State which threatens to win a commanding position; but France is her born rival, and cannot keep on level terms with her stronger neighbour on the East, unless she adds to her forces and is helped by her allies. Thus the hostility to Germany, from this aspect also, is based on England's most important interests, and we must treat it as axiomatic and self-evident.
The argument is often adduced that England by a war with Germany would chiefly injure herself, since she would lose the German market, which is the best purchaser of her industrial products, and would be deprived of the very considerable German import trade. I fear that from the English point of view these conditions would be an additional incentive to war. England would hope to acquire, in place of the lost German market, a large part of those markets which had been supplied by Germany before the war, and the want of German imports would be a great stimulus, and to some extent a great benefit, to English industries.
After all, it is from the English aspect of the question quite comprehensible that the English Government strains every nerve to check the growing power of Germany, and that a passionate desire prevails in large circles of the English nation to destroy the German fleet which is building, and attack the objectionable neighbour.
English policy might, however, strike out a different line, and attempt to come to terms with Germany instead of fighting. This would be the most desirable course for us. A Triple Alliance—Germany, England, and America—has been suggested.[B] But for such a union with Germany to be possible, England must have resolved to give a free course to German development side by side with her own, to allow the enlargement of our colonial power, and to offer no political hindrances to our commercial and industrial competition. She must, therefore, have renounced her traditional policy, and contemplate an entirely new grouping of the Great Powers in the world.
[Footnote B: "The United States and the War Cloud in Europe," by Th. Schiemann, McClure's Magazine, June, 1910.]
It cannot be assumed that English pride and self-interest will consent to that. The continuous agitation against Germany, under the tacit approval of the Government, which is kept up not only by the majority of the Press, but by a strong party in the country, the latest statements of English politicians, the military preparations in the North Sea, and the feverish acceleration of naval construction, are unmistakable indications that England intends to persist in her anti-German policy. The uncompromising hostility of England and her efforts to hinder every expansion of Germany's power were openly shown in the very recent Morocco question. Those who think themselves capable of impressing on the world the stamp of their spirit, do not resign the headship without a struggle, when they think victory is in their grasp.
A pacific agreement with England is, after all, a will-o'-the-wisp which no serious German statesman would trouble to follow. We must always keep the possibility of war with England before our eyes, and arrange our political and military plans accordingly. We need not concern ourselves with any pacific protestations of English politicians, publicists, and Utopians, which, prompted by the exigencies of the moment, cannot alter the real basis of affairs. When the Unionists, with their greater fixity of purpose, replace the Liberals at the helm, we must be prepared for a vigorous assertion of power by the island Empire.
On the other hand, America, which indisputably plays a decisive part in English policy, is a land of limitless possibilities. While, on the one side, she insists on the Monroe doctrine, on the other she stretches out her own arms towards Asia and Africa, in order to find bases for her fleets. The United States aim at the economic and, where possible, the political command of the American continent, and at the naval supremacy in the Pacific. Their interests, both economic and political, notwithstanding all commercial and other treaties, clash emphatically with those of Japan and England. No arbitration treaties could alter this.
No similar opposition to Germany, based on the nature of things, has at present arisen from the ambitions of the two nations; certainly not in the sphere of politics. So far as can be seen, an understanding with Germany ought to further the interests of America. It is unlikely that the Americans would welcome any considerable addition to the power of England. But such would be the case if Great Britain succeeded in inflicting a political and military defeat on Germany.
For a time it seemed as if the Anglo-American negotiations about Arbitration Courts would definitely end in an alliance against Germany. There has, at any rate, been a great and widespread agitation against us in the United States. The Americans of German and Irish stock resolutely opposed it, and it is reasonable to assume that the anti-German movement in the United States was a passing phase, with no real foundation in the nature of things. In the field of commerce there is, no doubt, keen competition between the two countries, especially in South America; there is, however, no reason to assume that this will lead to political complications.
Japan has, for the time being, a direct political interest for us only in her influence on the affairs of Russia, America, England, and China. In the Far East, since Japan has formed an alliance with England, and seems recently to have effected an arrangement with Russia, we have to count more on Japanese hostility than Japanese friendship. Her attitude to China may prove exceptionally important to our colonial possessions in East Asia. If the two nations joined hands—a hardly probable eventuality at present—it would become difficult for us to maintain an independent position between them. The political rivalry between the two nations of yellow race must therefore be kept alive. If they are antagonistic, they will both probably look for help against each other in their relations with Europe, and thus enable the European Powers to retain their possessions in Asia.
While the aspiring Great Powers of the Far East cannot at present directly influence our policy, Turkey—the predominant Power of the Near East—is of paramount importance to us. She is our natural ally; it is emphatically our interest to keep in close touch with her. The wisest course would have been to have made her earlier a member of the Triple Alliance, and so to have prevented the Turco-Italian War, which threatens to change the whole political situation, to our disadvantage. Turkey would gain in two ways: she assures her position both against Russia and against England—the two States, that is, with whose hostility we have to reckon. Turkey, also, is the only Power which can threaten England's position in Egypt, and thus menace the short sea-route and the land communications to India. We ought to spare no sacrifices to secure this country as an ally for the eventuality of a war with England or Russia. Turkey's interests are ours. It is also to the obvious advantage of Italy that Turkey maintain her commanding position on the Bosphorus and at the Dardanelles, that this important key should not be transferred to the keeping of foreigners, and belong to Russia or England.
If Russia gained the access to the Mediterranean, to which she has so long aspired, she would soon become a prominent Power in its eastern basin, and thus greatly damage the Italian projects in those waters. Since the English interests, also, would be prejudiced by such a development, the English fleet in the Mediterranean would certainly be strengthened. Between England, France, and Russia it would be quite impossible for Italy to attain an independent or commanding position, while the opposition of Russia and Turkey leaves the field open to her. From this view of the question, therefore, it is advisable to end the Turco-Italian conflict, and to try and satisfy the justifiable wishes of Italy at the cost of France, after the next war, it may be.
Spain alone of the remaining European Powers has any independent importance. She has developed a certain antagonism to France by her Morocco policy, and may, therefore, become eventually a factor in German policy. The petty States, on the contrary, form no independent centres of gravity, but may, in event of war, prove to possess a by no means negligible importance: the small Balkan States for Austria and Turkey; Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland, and eventually Sweden, for Germany.
Switzerland and Belgium count as neutral. The former was declared neutral at the Congress of Vienna on November 20, 1815, under the collective guarantee [C] of the signatory Powers; Belgium, in the Treaties of London of November 15,1831, and of April 19,1839, on the part of the five Great Powers, the Netherlands, and Belgium itself.
[Footnote C: By a collective guarantee is understood the duty of the contracting Powers to take steps to protect this neutrality when all agree that it is menaced. Each individual Power has the right to interfere if it considers the neutrality menaced.]
If we look at these conditions as a whole, it appears that on the continent of Europe the power of the Central European Triple Alliance and that of the States united against it by alliance and agreement balance each other, provided that Italy belongs to the league. If we take into calculation the imponderabilia, whose weight can only be guessed at, the scale is inclined slightly in favour of the Triple Alliance. On the other hand, England indisputably rules the sea. In consequence of her crushing naval superiority when allied with France, and of the geographical conditions, she may cause the greatest damage to Germany by cutting off her maritime trade. There is also a not inconsiderable army available for a continental war. When all considerations are taken into account, our opponents have a political superiority not to be underestimated. If France succeeds in strengthening her army by large colonial levies and a strong English landing-force, this superiority would be asserted on land also. If Italy really withdraws from the Triple Alliance, very distinctly superior forces will be united against Germany and Austria.
Under these conditions the position of Germany is extraordinarily difficult. We not only require for the full material development of our nation, on a scale corresponding to its intellectual importance, an extended political basis, but, as explained in the previous chapter, we are compelled to obtain space for our increasing population and markets for our growing industries. But at every step which we take in this direction England will resolutely oppose us. English policy may not yet have made the definite decision to attack us; but it doubtless wishes, by all and every means, even the most extreme, to hinder every further expansion of German international influence and of German maritime power. The recognized political aims of England and the attitude of the English Government leave no doubt on this point. But if we were involved in a struggle with England, we can be quite sure that France would not neglect the opportunity of attacking our flank. Italy, with her extensive coast-line, even if still a member of the Triple Alliance, will have to devote large forces to the defence of the coast to keep off the attacks of the Anglo-French Mediterranean Fleet, and would thus be only able to employ weaker forces against France. Austria would be paralyzed by Russia; against the latter we should have to leave forces in the East. We should thus have to fight out the struggle against France and England practically alone with a part of our army, perhaps with some support from Italy. It is in this double menace by sea and on the mainland of Europe that the grave danger to our political position lies, since all freedom of action is taken from us and all expansion barred.
Since the struggle is, as appears on a thorough investigation of the international question, necessary and inevitable, we must fight it out, cost what it may. Indeed, we are carrying it on at the present moment, though not with drawn swords, and only by peaceful means so far. On the one hand it is being waged by the competition in trade, industries and warlike preparations; on the other hand, by diplomatic methods with which the rival States are fighting each other in every region where their interests clash.
With these methods it has been possible to maintain peace hitherto, but not without considerable loss of power and prestige. This apparently peaceful state of things must not deceive us; we are facing a hidden, but none the less formidable, crisis—perhaps the most momentous crisis in the history of the German nation.
We have fought in the last great wars for our national union and our position among the Powers of Europe; we now must decide whether we wish to develop into and maintain a World Empire, and procure for German spirit and German ideas that fit recognition which has been hitherto withheld from them.
Have we the energy to aspire to that great goal? Are we prepared to make the sacrifices which such an effort will doubtless cost us? or are we willing to recoil before the hostile forces, and sink step by step lower in our economic, political, and national importance? That is what is involved in our decision.
"To be, or not to be," is the question which is put to us to-day, disguised, indeed, by the apparent equilibrium of the opposing interests and forces, by the deceitful shifts of diplomacy, and the official peace-aspirations of all the States; but by the logic of history inexorably demanding an answer, if we look with clear gaze beyond the narrow horizon of the day and the mere surface of things into the region of realities.
There is no standing still in the world's history. All is growth and development. It is obviously impossible to keep things in the status quo, as diplomacy has so often attempted. No true statesman will ever seriously count on such a possibility; he will only make the outward and temporary maintenance of existing conditions a duty when he wishes to gain time and deceive an opponent, or when he cannot see what is the trend of events. He will use such diplomatic means only as inferior tools; in reality he will only reckon with actual forces and with the powers of a continuous development.
We must make it quite clear to ourselves that there can be no standing still, no being satisfied for us, but only progress or retrogression, and that it is tantamount to retrogression when we are contented with our present place among the nations of Europe, while all our rivals are straining with desperate energy, even at the cost of our rights, to extend their power. The process of our decay would set in gradually and advance slowly so long as the struggle against us was waged with peaceful weapons; the living generation would, perhaps, be able to continue to exist in peace and comfort. But should a war be forced upon us by stronger enemies under conditions unfavourable to us, then, if our arms met with disaster, our political downfall would not be delayed, and we should rapidly sink down. The future of German nationality would be sacrificed, an independent German civilization would not long exist, and the blessings for which German blood has flowed in streams—spiritual and moral liberty, and the profound and lofty aspirations of German thought—would for long ages be lost to mankind.
If, as is right, we do not wish to assume the responsibility for such a catastrophe, we must have the courage to strive with every means to attain that increase of power which we are entitled to claim, even at the risk of a war with numerically superior foes.
Under present conditions it is out of the question to attempt this by acquiring territory in Europe. The region in the East, where German colonists once settled, is lost to us, and could only be recovered from Russia by a long and victorious war, and would then be a perpetual incitement to renewed wars. So, again, the reannexation of the former South Prussia, which was united to Prussia on the second partition of Poland, would be a serious undertaking, on account of the Polish population.
Under these circumstances we must clearly try to strengthen our political power in other ways.
In the first place, our political position would be considerably consolidated if we could finally get rid of the standing danger that France will attack us on a favourable occasion, so soon as we find ourselves involved in complications elsewhere. In one way or another we must square our account with France if we wish for a free hand in our international policy. This is the first and foremost condition of a sound German policy, and since the hostility of France once for all cannot be removed by peaceful overtures, the matter must be settled by force of arms. France must be so completely crushed that she can never again come across our path.
Further, we must contrive every means of strengthening the political power of our allies. We have already followed such a policy in the case of Austria when we declared our readiness to protect, if necessary with armed intervention, the final annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by our ally on the Danube. Our policy towards Italy must follow the same lines, especially if in any Franco-German war an opportunity should be presented of doing her a really valuable service. It is equally good policy in every way to support Turkey, whose importance for Germany and the Triple Alliance has already been discussed.
Our political duties, therefore, are complicated, and during the Turco-Italian War all that we can do at first is to use our influence as mediators, and to prevent a transference of hostilities to the Balkan Peninsula. It cannot be decided at this moment whether further intervention will be necessary. Finally, as regards our own position in Europe, we can only effect an extension of our own political influence, in my opinion, by awakening in our weaker neighbours, through the integrity and firmness of our policy, the conviction that their independence and their interests are bound up with Germany, and are best secured under the protection of the German arms. This conviction might eventually lead to an enlargement of the Triple Alliance into a Central European Federation. Our military strength in Central Europe would by this means be considerably increased, and the extraordinarily unfavourable geographical configuration of our dominions would be essentially improved in case of war. Such a federation would be the expression of a natural community of interests, which is founded on the geographical and natural conditions, and would insure the durability of the political community based on it.
We must employ other means also for the widening of our colonial territory, so that it may be able to receive the overflow of our population. Very recent events have shown that, under certain circumstances, it is possible to obtain districts in Equatorial Africa by pacific negotiations. A financial or political crash in Portugal might give us the opportunity to take possession of a portion of the Portuguese colonies. We may assume that some understanding exists between England and Germany which contemplates a division of the Portuguese colonial possessions, but has never become publici juris. It cannot, indeed, be certain that England, if the contingency arrives, would be prepared honestly to carry out such a treaty, if it actually exists. She might find ways and means to invalidate it. It has even been often said, although disputed in other quarters, that Great Britain, after coming to an agreement with Germany about the partition of the Portuguese colonies, had, by a special convention, guaranteed Portugal the possession of all her colonies.
Other possible schemes may be imagined, by which some extension of our African territory would be possible. These need not be discussed here more particularly. If necessary, they must be obtained as the result of a successful European war. In all these possible acquisitions of territory the point must be strictly borne in mind that we require countries which are climatically suited to German settlers. Now, there are even in Central Africa large regions which are adapted to the settlement of German farmers and stock-breeders, and part of our overflow population might be diverted to those parts. But, generally speaking, we can only obtain in tropical colonies markets for our industrial products and wide stretches of cultivated ground for the growth of the raw materials which our industries require. This represents in itself a considerable advantage, but does not release us from the obligation to acquire land for actual colonization.
A part of our surplus population, indeed—so far as present conditions point—will always be driven to seek a livelihood outside the borders of the German Empire. Measures must be taken to the extent at least of providing that the German element is not split up in the world, but remains united in compact blocks, and thus forms, even in foreign countries, political centres of gravity in our favour, markets for our exports, and centres for the diffusion of German culture.
An intensive colonial policy is for us especially an absolute necessity. It has often been asserted that a "policy of the open door" can replace the want of colonies of our own, and must constitute our programme for the future, just because we do not possess sufficient colonies. This notion is only justified in a certain sense. In the first place, such a policy does not offer the possibility of finding homes for the overflow population in a territory of our own; next, it does not guarantee the certainty of an open and unrestricted trade competition. It secures to all trading nations equal tariffs, but this does not imply by any means competition under equal conditions. On the contrary, the political power which is exercised in such a country is the determining factor in the economic relations. The principle of the open door prevails everywhere—in Egypt, Manchuria, in the Congo State, in Morocco—and everywhere the politically dominant Power controls the commerce: in Manchuria Japan, in Egypt England, in the Congo State Belgium, and in Morocco France. The reason is plain. All State concessions fall naturally to that State which is practically dominant; its products are bought by all the consumers who are any way dependent on the power of the State, quite apart from the fact that by reduced tariffs and similar advantages for the favoured wares the concession of the open door can be evaded in various ways. A "policy of the open door" must at best be regarded as a makeshift, and as a complement of a vigorous colonial policy. The essential point is for a country to have colonies or its own and a predominant political influence in the spheres where its markets lie. Our German world policy must be guided by these considerations.
The execution of such political schemes would certainly clash with many old-fashioned notions and vested rights of the traditional European policy. In the first place, the principle of the balance of power in Europe, which has, since the Congress of Vienna, led an almost sacrosanct but entirely unjustifiable existence, must be entirely disregarded.
The idea of a balance of power was gradually developed from the feeling that States do not exist to thwart each other, but to work together for the advancement of culture. Christianity, which leads man beyond the limits of the State to a world citizenship of the noblest kind, and lays the foundation of all international law, has exercised a wide influence in this respect. Practical interests, too, have strengthened the theory of balance of power. When it was understood that the State was a power, and that, by its nature, it must strive to extend that power, a certain guarantee of peace was supposed to exist in the balance of forces. The conviction was thus gradually established that every State had a close community of interests with the other States, with which it entered into political and economic relations, and was bound to establish some sort of understanding with them. Thus the idea grew up in Europe of a State-system, which was formed after the fall of Napoleon by the five Great Powers—England, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, which latter had gained a place in the first rank by force of arms; in 1866 Italy joined it as the sixth Great Power.
"Such a system cannot be supported with an approximate equilibrium among the nations." "All theory must rest on the basis of practice, and a real equilibrium—an actual equality of power—is postulated,"[D] This condition does not exist between the European nations. England by herself rules the sea, and the 65,000,000 of Germans cannot allow themselves to sink to the same level of power as the 40,000,000 of French. An attempt has been made to produce a real equilibrium by special alliances. One result only has been obtained—the hindrance of the free development of the nations in general, and of Germany in particular. This is an unsound condition. A European balance of power can no longer be termed a condition which corresponds to the existing state of things; it can only have the disastrous consequences of rendering the forces of the continental European States mutually ineffective, and of thus favouring the plans of the political powers which stand outside that charmed circle. It has always been England's policy to stir up enmity between the respective continental States, and to keep them at approximately the same standard of power, in order herself undisturbed to conquer at once the sovereignty of the seas and the sovereignty of the world.
[Footnote D: Treitschke.]
We must put aside all such notions of equilibrium. In its present distorted form it is opposed to our weightiest interests. The idea of a State system which has common interests in civilization must not, of course, be abandoned; but it must be expanded on a new and more just basis. It is now not a question of a European State system, but of one embracing all the States in the world, in which the equilibrium is established on real factors of power. We must endeavour to obtain in this system our merited position at the head of a federation of Central European States, and thus reduce the imaginary European equilibrium, in one way or the other, to its true value, and correspondingly to increase our own power.
A further question, suggested by the present political position, is whether all the political treaties which were concluded at the beginning of the last century under quite other conditions—in fact, under a different conception of what constitutes a State—can, or ought to be, permanently observed. When Belgium was proclaimed neutral, no one contemplated that she would lay claim to a large and valuable region of Africa. It may well be asked whether the acquisition of such territory is not ipso facto a breach of neutrality, for a State from which—theoretically at least—all danger of war has been removed, has no right to enter into political competition with the other States. This argument is the more justifiable because it may safely be assumed that, in event of a war of Germany against France and England, the two last mentioned States would try to unite their forces in Belgium. Lastly, the neutrality of the Congo State [E] must be termed more than problematic, since Belgium claims the right to cede or sell it to a non-neutral country. The conception of permanent neutrality is entirely contrary to the essential nature of the State, which can only attain its highest moral aims in competition with other States. Its complete development presupposes such competition.
[Footnote E: The Congo State was proclaimed neutral, but without guarantees, by Acts of February 26, 1885.]
Again, the principle that no State can ever interfere in the internal affairs of another State is repugnant to the highest rights of the State. This principle is, of course, very variously interpreted, and powerful States have never refrained from a higher-handed interference in the internal affairs of smaller ones. We daily witness instances of such conduct. Indeed, England quite lately attempted to interfere in the private affairs of Germany, not formally or by diplomatic methods, but none the less in point of fact, on the subject of our naval preparations. It is, however, accepted as a principle of international intercourse that between the States of one and the same political system a strict non-interference in home affairs should be observed. The unqualified recognition of this principle and its application to political intercourse under all conditions involves serious difficulties. It is the doctrine of the Liberals, which was first preached in France in 1830, and of which the English Ministry of Lord Palmerston availed themselves for their own purpose. Equally false is the doctrine of unrestricted intervention, as promulgated by the States of the Holy Alliance at Troppau in 1820. No fixed principles for international politics can be laid down.
After all, the relation of States to each other is that of individuals; and as the individual can decline the interference of others in his affairs, so naturally, the same right belongs to the State. Above the individual, however, stands the authority of the State, which regulates the relations of the citizens to each other. But no one stands above the State, which regulates the relations of the citizens to each other. But no one stands above the State; it is sovereign and must itself decide whether the internal conditions or measures of another state menace its own existence or interests. In no case, therefore, may a sovereign State renounce the right of interfering in the affairs of other States, should circumstances demand. Cases may occur at any time, when the party disputes or the preparations of the neighboring country becomes a threat to the existence of a State. "It can only be asserted that every State acts at its own risk when it interferes in the internal affairs of another State, and that experience shows how very dangerous such an interference may become." On the other hand, it must be remembered that the dangers which may arise from non-intervention are occasionally still graver, and that the whole discussion turns, not on an international right, but simply and solely on power and expediency.
I have gone closely into these questions of international policy because, under conditions which are not remote, they may greatly influence the realization of our necessary political aspirations, and may give rise to hostile complications. Then it becomes essential that we do not allow ourselves to be cramped in our freedom of action by considerations, devoid of any inherent political necessity, which only depend on political expediency, and are not binding on us. We must remain conscious in all such eventualities that we cannot, under any circumstances, avoid fighting for our position in the world, and that the all-important point is, not to postpone that war as long as possible, but to bring it on under the most favourable conditions possible. "No man," so wrote Frederick the Great to Pitt on July 3, 1761, "if he has a grain of sense, will leave his enemies leisure to make all preparations in order to destroy him; he will rather take advantage of his start to put himself in a favourable position."
If we wish to act in this spirit of prompt and effective policy which guided the great heroes of our past, we must learn to concentrate our forces, and not to dissipate them in centrifugal efforts.
The political and national development of the German people has always, so far back as German history extends, been hampered and hindered by the hereditary defects of its character—that is, by the particularism of the individual races and States, the theoretic dogmatism of the parties, the incapacity to sacrifice personal interests for great national objects from want of patriotism and of political common sense, often, also, by the pettiness of the prevailing ideas. Even to-day it is painful to see how the forces of the German nation, which are so restricted and confined in their activities abroad, are wasted in fruitless quarrels among themselves.
Our primary and most obvious moral and political duty is to overcome these hereditary failings, and to lay a secure foundation for a healthy, consistent development of our power.
It must not be denied that the variety of forms of intellectual and social life arising from the like variety of the German nationality and political system offers valuable advantages. It presents countless centres for the advancement of science, art, technical skill, and a high spiritual and material way of life in a steadily increasing development. But we must resist the converse of these conditions, the transference of this richness in variety and contrasts into the domain of politics.
Above all must we endeavour to confirm and consolidate the institutions which are calculated to counteract and concentrate the centrifugal forces of the German nature—the common system of defence of our country by land and sea, in which all party feeling is merged, and a strong national empire.
No people is so little qualified as the German to direct its own destinies, whether in a parliamentarian or republican constitution; to no people is the customary liberal pattern so inappropriate as to us. A glance at the Reichstag will show how completely this conviction, which is forced on us by a study of German history, holds good to-day.
The German people has always been incapable of great acts for the common interest except under the irresistible pressure of external conditions, as in the rising of 1813, or under the leadership of powerful personalities, who knew how to arouse the enthusiasm of the masses, to stir the German spirit to its depths, to vivify the idea of nationality, and force conflicting aspirations into concentration and union.
We must therefore take care that such men are assured the possibility of acting with a confident and free hand in order to accomplish great ends through and for our people.
Within these limits, it is in harmony with the national German character to allow personality to have a free course for the fullest development of all individual forces and capacities, of all spiritual, scientific, and artistic aims. "Every extension of the activities of the State is beneficial and wise, if it arouses, promotes, and purifies the independence of free and reasoning men; it is evil when it kills and stunts the independence of free men." [F] This independence of the individual, within the limits marked out by the interests of the State, forms the necessary complement of the wide expansion of the central power, and assures an ample scope to a liberal development of all our social conditions.
[Footnote F: Treitschke, "Politik," i., Section 2.]
We must rouse in our people the unanimous wish for power in this sense, together with the determination to sacrifice on the altar of patriotism, not only life and property, but also private views and preferences in the interests of the common welfare. Then alone shall we discharge our great duties of the future, grow into a World Power, and stamp a great part of humanity with the impress of the German spirit. If, on the contrary, we persist in that dissipation of energy which now marks our political life, there is imminent fear that in the great contest of the nations, which we must inevitably face, we shall be dishonourably beaten; that days of disaster await us in the future, and that once again, as in the days of our former degradation, the poet's lament will be heard:
"O Germany, thy oaks still stand, But thou art fallen, glorious land!" KOeRNER.
THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ARMING FOR WAR
Germany has great national and historical duties of policy and culture to fulfil, and her path towards further progress is threatened by formidable enmities. If we realize this, we shall see that it will be impossible to maintain our present position and secure our future without an appeal to arms.
Knowing this, as every man must who impartially considers the political situation, we are called upon to prepare ourselves as well as possible for this war. The times are passed when a stamp of the foot raised an army, or when it was sufficient to levy the masses and lead them to battle. The armaments of the present day must be prepared in peace-time down to the smallest detail, if they are to be effective in time of need.
Although this fact is known, the sacrifices which are required for warlike preparations are no longer so willingly made as the gravity of the situation demands. Every military proposal is bitterly contested in the Reichstag, frequently in a very petty spirit, and no one seems to understand that an unsuccessful war would involve our nation in economic misery, with which the most burdensome charges for the army (and these for the most part come back again into the coffers of the country) cannot for an instant be compared. A victorious war, on the other hand, brings countless advantages to the conqueror, and, as our last great wars showed, forms a new departure in economic progress. The fact is often forgotten that military service and the observance of the national duty of bearing arms are in themselves a high moral gain for our people, and improve the strength and capacity for work. Nor can it be ignored that a nation has other than merely economic duties to discharge. I propose to discuss the question, what kind and degree of preparation for war the great historical crisis through which we are passing demands from us. First, however, it will be profitable to consider the importance of preparations for war generally, and not so much from the purely military as from the social and political aspect; we shall thus strengthen the conviction that we cannot serve the true interests of the country better than by improving its military capabilities.
Preparation for war has a double task to discharge. Firstly, it must maintain and raise the military capabilities of the nation as a national asset; and, secondly, it must make arrangements for the conduct of the war and supply the requisite means.
This capability of national defence has a pronounced educative value in national development.
As in the social competition the persons able to protect themselves hold the field—the persons, that is, who, well equipped intellectually, do not shirk the contest, but fight it out with confidence and certainty of victory—so in the rivalry of nations and States victory rests with the people able to defend itself, which boldly enters the lists, and is capable of wielding the sword with success.
Military service not only educates nations in warlike capacity, but it develops the intellectual and moral qualities generally for the occupations of peace. It educates a man to the full mastery of his body, to the exercise and improvement of his muscles; it develops his mental powers, his self-reliance and readiness of decision; it accustoms him to order and subordination for a common end; it elevates his self-respect and courage, and thus his capacity for every kind of work.
It is a quite perverted view that the time devoted to military service deprives economic life of forces which could have been more appropriately and more profitably employed elsewhere. These forces are not withdrawn from economic life, but are trained for economic life. Military training produces intellectual and moral forces which richly repay the time spent, and have their real value in subsequent life. It is therefore the moral duty of the State to train as many of its countrymen as possible in the use of arms, not only with the prospect of war, but that they may share in the benefits of military service and improve their physical and moral capacities of defence. The sums which the State applies to the military training of the nation are distinctly an outlay for social purposes; the money so spent serves social and educative ends, and raises the nation spiritually and morally; it thus promotes the highest aims of civilization more directly than achievements of mechanics, industries, trades, and commerce, which certainly discharge the material duties of culture by improving the national livelihood and increasing national wealth, but bring with them a number of dangers, such as craving for pleasure and tendency to luxury, thus slackening the moral and productive fibres of the nations. Military service as an educational instrument stands on the same level as the school, and, as will be shown in a later section, each must complete and assist the other. But a people which does not willingly bear the duties and sacrifices entailed by school and military service renounces its will to live, and sacrifices objects which are noble and assure the future for the sake of material advantages which are one-sided and evanescent.
It is the duty, therefore, of every State, conscious of its obligations towards civilization and society, remorselessly to put an end to all tendencies inimical to the full development of the power of defence. The method by which the maintenance and promotion of this defensive power can be practically carried out admits of great variety. It depends largely on the conditions of national life, on the geographical and political circumstances, as well as on past history, and consequently ranges between very wide extremes.
In the Boer States, as among most uncivilized peoples, the military training was almost exclusively left to the individual. That was sufficient to a certain point, since their method of life in itself made them familiar with carrying arms and with riding, and inured them to hard bodily exertions. The higher requirements of combination, subordination, and campaigning, could not be met by such a military system, and the consequences of this were felt disastrously in the conduct of the war. In Switzerland and other States an attempt is made to secure national defence by a system of militia, and to take account of political possibilities. The great European States maintain standing armies in which all able-bodied citizens have to pass a longer or shorter period of military training. England alone keeps up a mercenary army, and by the side of it a territorial army, whose ranks are filled by volunteers.
In these various ways different degrees of military efficiency are obtained, but, generally, experience shows that the more thorough and intelligent this training in arms, the greater the development of the requisite military qualities in the units; and the more these qualities become a second nature, the more complete will be their warlike efficiency.
When criticizing the different military systems, we must remember that with growing civilization the requisite military capacities are always changing. The duties expected from the Roman legionary or the soldiers who fought in line under Frederick the Great were quite different from those of the rifleman and cavalryman of to-day. Not merely have the physical functions of military service altered, but the moral qualities expected from the fighting man are altered. This applies to the individual soldier as much as to the whole army. The character of warfare has continually been changing. To fight in the Middle Ages or in the eighteenth century with comparatively small forces was one thing; it is quite another to handle the colossal armies of to-day. The preparations for war, therefore, in the social as well as military sense, must be quite different in a highly developed modern civilized State from those in countries, standing on a lower level of civilization, where ordinary life is full of military elements, and war is fought under relatively simple conditions.
The crushing superiority of civilized States over people with a less developed civilization and military system is due to this altered form of military efficiency. It was thus that Japan succeeded in raising herself in a brief space to the supremacy in Eastern Asia. She now reaps in the advancement of her culture what she sowed on the battlefield, and proves once again the immeasurable importance, in its social and educational aspects, of military efficiency. Our own country, by employing its military powers, has attained a degree of culture which it never could have reached by the methods of peaceful development.
When we regard the change in the nature of military efficiency, we find ourselves on ground where the social duty of maintaining the physical and moral power of the nation to defend itself comes into direct contact with the political duty of preparing for warfare itself.
A great variety of procedure is possible, and actually exists, in regard to the immediate preparations for war. This is primarily expressed in the choice of the military system, but it is manifested in various other ways. We see the individual States—according to their geographical position, their relations to other States and the military strength of their neighbours, according to their historic claims and their greater or less importance in the political system of the world—making their military preparations with more or less energy, earnestness, and expenditure. When we consider the complex movements of the life of civilized nations, the variety of its aims and the multiplicity of its emotions, we must agree that the growth or decrease of armaments is everywhere affected by these considerations. War is only a means of attaining political ends and of supporting moral strength.
Thus, if England attaches most weight to her navy, her insular position and the wide oversea interests which she must protect thoroughly justify her policy. If, on the other hand, England develops her land forces only with the objects of safeguarding the command of her colonies, repelling a very improbable hostile invasion, and helping an allied Power in a continental war, the general political situation explains the reason. As a matter of fact, England can never be involved in a great continental European war against her will.
So Switzerland, which has been declared neutral by political treaties, and can therefore only take the field if she is attacked, rightly lays most stress on the social importance of military service, and tries to develop a scheme of defence which consists mainly in increasing the security afforded by her own mountains. The United States of America, again, are justified in keeping their land forces within very modest limits, while devoting their energies to the increase of their naval power. No enemy equal to them in strength can ever spring up on the continent of America; they need not fear the invasion of any considerable forces. On the other hand, they are threatened by oversea conflicts, of epoch-making importance, with the yellow race, which has acquired formidable strength opposite their western coast, and possibly with their great trade rival England, which has, indeed, often made concessions, but may eventually see herself compelled to fight for her position in the world.
While in some States a restriction of armaments is natural and justifiable, it is easily understood that France must strain every nerve to secure her full recognition among the great military nations of Europe. Her glorious past history has fostered in her great political pretensions which she will not abandon without a struggle, although they are no longer justified by the size of her population and her international importance. France affords a conspicuous example of self-devotion to ideals and of a noble conception of political and moral duties.
In the other European States, as in France, external political conditions and claims, in combination with internal politics, regulate the method and extent of warlike preparations, and their attitude, which necessity forces upon them, must be admitted to carry its own justification.
A State may represent a compact unity, from the point of view of nationality and civilization; it may have great duties to discharge in the development of human culture, and may possess the national strength to safeguard its independence, to protect its own interests, and, under certain circumstances, to persist in its civilizing mission and political schemes in defiance of other nations. Another State may be deficient in the conditions of individual national life and in elements of culture; it may lack the resources necessary for the defence and maintenance of its political existence single-handed in the teeth of all opposition. There is a vast difference between these two cases.
A State like the latter is always more or less dependent on the friendliness of stronger neighbours, whether it ranks in public law as fully independent or has been proclaimed neutral by international conventions. If it is attacked on one side, it must count on support from the other. Whether it shall continue to exist as a State and under what conditions must depend on the result of the ensuing war and the consequent political position—factors that lie wholly outside its own sphere of power.
This being the case, the question may well be put whether such a State is politically justified in requiring from its citizens in time of peace the greatest military efforts and correspondingly large pecuniary expenditure. It will certainly have to share the contest in which it is itself, perhaps, the prize, and theoretically will do best to have the largest possible military force at its disposal. But there is another aspect of the question which is at least arguable. The fighting power of such a State may be so small that it counts for nothing in comparison with the millions of a modern army. On the other hand, where appreciable military strength exists, it may be best not to organize the army with a view to decisive campaigning, but to put the social objects of military preparation into the foreground, and to adopt in actual warfare a defensive policy calculated to gain time, with a view to the subsequent interference of the prospective allies with whom the ultimate decision will rest. Such an army must, if it is to attain its object, represent a real factor of strength. It must give the probable allies that effective addition of strength which may insure a superiority over the antagonist. The ally must then be forced to consider the interests of such secondary State. The forces of the possible allies will thus exercise a certain influence on the armament of the State, in combination with the local conditions, the geographical position, and the natural configuration of the country.
It is only to be expected that, since such various conditions exist, the utmost variety should also prevail among the military systems; and such is, in fact, the case.
In the mountain stronghold of Switzerland, which has to reckon with the political and military circumstances of Germany, France, and Italy, preparations for war take a different shape from those of Holland, situated on the coast and secured by numerous waterways, whose political independence is chiefly affected by the land forces of Germany and the navy of England.
The conditions are quite otherwise for a country which relies wholly on its own power.
The power of the probable antagonists and of the presumable allies will have a certain importance for it, and its Government will in its plans and military preparations pay attention to their grouping and attitudes; but these preparations must never be motived by such considerations alone. The necessity for a strong military force is permanent and unqualified; the political permutations and combinations are endless, and the assistance of possible allies is always an uncertain and shifting factor, on which no reliance can be reposed.
The military power of an independent State in the true sense must guarantee the maintenance of a force sufficient to protect the interests of a great civilized nation and to secure to it the necessary freedom of development. If from the social standpoint no sacrifice can be considered too great which promotes the maintenance of national military efficiency, the increase in these sacrifices due to political conditions must be willingly and cheerfully borne, in consideration of the object thereby to be gained. This object—of which each individual must be conscious—if conceived in the true spirit of statesmanship, comprises the conditions which are decisive for the political and moral future of the State as well as for the livelihood of each individual citizen.
A civilization which has a value of its own, and thus forms a vital factor in the development of mankind, can only flourish where all the healthy and stimulating capacities of a nation find ample scope in international competition. This is also an essential condition for the unhindered and vigorous exercise of individual activities. Where the natural capacity for growth is permanently checked by external circumstances, nation and State are stunted and individual growth is set back.
Increasing political power and the consequent multiplication of possibilities of action constitute the only healthy soil for the intellectual and moral strength of a vigorous nation, as is shown by every phase of history.
The wish for culture must therefore in a healthy nation express itself first in terms of the wish for political power, and the foremost duty of statesmanship is to attain, safeguard, and promote this power, by force of arms in the last resort. Thus the first and most essential duty of every great civilized people is to prepare for war on a scale commensurate with its political needs. Even the superiority of the enemy cannot absolve from the performance of this requirement. On the contrary, it must stimulate to the utmost military efforts and the most strenuous political action in order to secure favourable conditions for the eventuality of a decisive campaign. Mere numbers count for less than ever in modern fighting, although they always constitute a very important factor of the total strength. But, within certain limits, which are laid down by the law of numbers, the true elements of superiority under the present system of gigantic armies are seen to be spiritual and moral strength, and larger masses will be beaten by a small, well-led and self-devoting army. The Russo-Japanese War has proved this once more.
Granted that the development of military strength is the first duty of every State, since all else depends upon the possibility to assert power, it does not follow that the State must spend the total of its personal and financial resources solely on military strength in the narrower sense of army and navy. That is neither feasible nor profitable. The military power of a people is not exclusively determined by these external resources; it consists, rather, in a harmonious development of physical, spiritual, moral, financial, and military elements of strength. The highest and most effective military system cannot be developed except by the co-operation of all these factors. It needs a broad and well-constructed basis in order to be effective. In the Manchurian War at the critical moment, when the Japanese attacking strength seemed spent, the Russian military system broke down, because its foundation was unstable; the State had fallen into political and moral ruin, and the very army was tainted with revolutionary ideas.
The social requirement of maintaining military efficiency, and the political necessity for so doing, determine the nature and degree of warlike preparations; but it must be remembered that this standard may be very variously estimated, according to the notion of what the State's duties are. Thus, in Germany the most violent disputes burst out whenever the question of the organization of the military forces is brought up, since widely different opinions prevail about the duties of the State and of the army.
It is, indeed, impossible so to formulate and fix the political duties of the State that they cannot be looked at from another standpoint. The social democrat, to whom agitation is an end in itself, will see the duty of the State in a quite different light from the political dilettante, who lives from hand to mouth, without making the bearing of things clear to himself, or from the sober Statesman who looks to the welfare of the community and keeps his eyes fixed on the distant beacons on the horizon of the future.
Certain points of view, however, may be laid down, which, based on the nature of things, check to some degree any arbitrary decision on these momentous questions, and are well adapted to persuade calm and experienced thinkers.
First, it must be observed that military power cannot be improvised in the present political world, even though all the elements for it are present.
Although the German Empire contains 65,000,000 inhabitants, compared to 40,000,000 of French, this excess in population represents merely so much dead capital, unless a corresponding majority of recruits are annually enlisted, and unless in peace-time the necessary machinery is set up for their organization. The assumption that these masses would be available for the army in the moment of need is a delusion. It would not mean a strengthening, but a distinct weakening, of the army, not to say a danger, if these untrained masses were at a crisis suddenly sent on active service. Bourbaki's campaign shows what is to be expected from such measures. Owing to the complexity of all modern affairs, the continuous advance in technical skill and in the character of warlike weapons, as also in the increased requirements expected from the individual, long and minute preparations are necessary to procure the highest military values. Allusion has already been made to this at the beginning of this chapter. It takes a year to complete a 30-centimetre cannon. If it is to be ready for use at a given time, it must have been ordered long beforehand. Years will pass before the full effect of the strengthening of the army, which is now being decided on, appears in the rolls of the Reserve and the Landwehr. The recruit who begins his service to-day requires a year's training to become a useful soldier. With the hasty training of substitute reservists and such expedients, we merely deceive ourselves as to the necessity of serious preparations. We must not regard the present only, but provide for the future.
The same argument applies to the political conditions. The man who makes the bulk of the preparations for war dependent on the shifting changes of the politics of the day, who wishes to slacken off in the work of arming because no clouds in the political horizon suggest the necessity of greater efforts, acts contrary to all real statesmanship, and is sinning against his country.
The moment does not decide; the great political aspirations, oppositions, and tensions, which are based on the nature of things—these turn the scale.
When King William at the beginning of the sixties of the last century undertook the reorganization of the Prussian army, no political tension existed. The crisis of 1859 had just subsided. But the King had perceived that the Prussian armament was insufficient to meet the requirements of the future. After a bitter struggle he extorted from his people a reorganization of the army, and this laid the foundations without which the glorious progress of our State would never have begun. In the same true spirit of statesmanship the Emperor William II. has powerfully aided and extended the evolution of our fleet, without being under the stress of any political necessity; he has enjoyed the cheerful co-operation of his people, since the reform at which he aimed was universally recognized as an indisputable need of the future, and accorded with traditional German sentiment.
While the preparation for war must be completed irrespectively of the political influences of the day, the military power of the probable opponents marks a limit below which the State cannot sink without jeopardizing the national safety.
Further, the State is bound to enlist in its service all the discoveries of modern science, so far as they can be applied to warfare, since all these methods and engines of war, should they be exclusively in the hands of the enemy, would secure him a distinct superiority. It is an obvious necessity to keep the forces which can be put into the field as up-to-date as possible, and to facilitate their military operations by every means which science and mechanical skill supply. Further, the army must be large enough to constitute a school for the whole nation, in which a thoroughgoing and no mere superficial military efficiency may be attained.
Finally, the nature of the preparation for war is to some degree regulated by the political position of the State. If the State has satisfied its political ambitions and is chiefly concerned with keeping its place, the military policy will assume a more or less defensive character. States, on the other hand, which are still desirous of expansion, or such as are exposed to attacks on different sides, must adopt a predominantly offensive military system.
Preparations for war in this way follow definite lines, which are dictated by necessity and circumstances; but it is evident that a wide scope is still left for varieties of personal opinion, especially where the discussion includes the positive duties of the State, which may lead to an energetic foreign policy, and thus possibly to an offensive war, and where very divergent views exist as to the preparation for war. In this case the statesman's only resource is to use persuasion, and to so clearly expound and support his conceptions of the necessary policy that the majority of the nation accept his view. There are always and everywhere conditions which have a persuasive character of their own, and appeal to the intellects and the feelings of the masses.
Every Englishman is convinced of the necessity to maintain the command of the sea, since he realizes that not only the present powerful position of the country, but also the possibility of feeding the population in case of war, depend on it. No sacrifice for the fleet is too great, and every increase of foreign navies instantly disquiets public opinion. The whole of France, except a few anti-military circles, feels the necessity of strengthening the position of the State, which was shaken by the defeats of 1870-71, through redoubled exertions in the military sphere, and this object is being pursued with exemplary unanimity.
Even in neutral Switzerland the feeling that political independence rests less on international treaties than on the possibility of self-defence is so strong and widespread that the nation willingly supports heavy taxation for its military equipment. In Germany, also, it should be possible to arouse a universal appreciation of the great duties of the State, if only our politicians, without any diplomatic evasion, which deceives no one abroad and is harmful to the people at home, disclosed the true political situation and the necessary objects of our policy.
To be sure, they must be ready to face a struggle with public opinion, as King William I. did: for when public opinion does not stand under the control of a master will or a compelling necessity, it can be led astray too easily by the most varied influences. This danger is particularly great in a country so torn asunder internally and externally as Germany. He who in such a case listens to public opinion runs a danger of inflicting immense harm on the interests of State and people.
One of the fundamental principles of true statesmanship is that permanent interests should never be abandoned or prejudiced for the sake of momentary advantages, such as the lightening of the burdens of the taxpayer, the temporary maintenance of peace, or suchlike specious benefits, which, in the course of events, often prove distinct disadvantages.
The statesman, therefore, led astray neither by popular opinion nor by the material difficulties which have to be surmounted, nor by the sacrifices required of his countrymen, must keep these objects carefully in view. So long as it seems practicable he will try to reconcile the conflicting interests and bring them into harmony with his own. But where great fundamental questions await decision, such as the actual enforcement of universal service or of the requirements on which readiness for war depends, he must not shrink from strong measures in order to create the forces which the State needs, or will need, in order to maintain its vitality.
One of the most essential political duties is to initiate and sanction preparations for war on a scale commensurate with the existing conditions; to organize them efficiently is the duty of the military authorities—a duty which belongs in a sense to the sphere of strategy, since it supplies the machinery with which commanders have to reckon. Policy and strategy touch in this sphere. Policy has a strategic duty to perform, since it sanctions preparations for war and defines their limit.
It would, therefore, be a fatal and foolish act of political weakness to disregard the military and strategic standpoint, and to make the bulk of the preparations for war dependent on the financial moans momentarily available. "No expenditure without security," runs the formula in which this policy clothes itself. It is justified only when the security is fixed by the expenditure. In a great civilized State it is the duties which must be fulfilled—as Treitschke, our great historian and national politician, tells us—that determine the expenditure, and the great Finance Minister is not the man who balances the national accounts by sparing the national forces, while renouncing the politically indispensable outlay, but he who stimulates all the live forces of the nation to cheerful activity, and so employs them for national ends that the State revenue suffices to meet the admitted political demands. He can only attain this purpose if he works in harmony with the Ministers for Commerce, Agriculture, Industries, and Colonies, in order to break down the restrictions which cramp the enterprise and energy of the individual, to make all dead values remunerative, and to create favourable conditions for profitable business. A great impulse must thrill the whole productive and financial circles of the State, if the duties of the present and the future are to be fulfilled.
Thus the preparation for war, which, under modern conditions, calls for very considerable expenditure, exercises a marked influence on the entire social and political life of the people and on the financial policy of the State.
THE CHARACTER OF OUR NEXT WAR
The social necessity of maintaining the power of the nation to defend itself, the political claims which the State puts forward, the strength of the probable hostile combinations, are the chief factors which determine the conditions of preparation for war.
I have already tried to explain and formulate the duties in the spheres of policy and progress which our history and our national character impose on us. My next task is to observe the possible military combinations which we must be prepared to face.
In this way only can we estimate the dangers which threaten us, and can judge whether, and to what degree, we can carry out our political intentions. A thorough understanding of these hostile counter-movements will give us a clear insight into the character of the next war; and this war will decide our future.
It is not sufficient to know the military fighting forces of our probable antagonists, although this knowledge constitutes the necessary basis for further inquiry; but we must picture to ourselves the intensity of the hostility with which we have to reckon and the probable efficiency of oar enemies. The hostility which we must anticipate is determined by the extent to which mutual political schemes and ambitions clash, and by the opposition in national character. Our opinion as to the military efficiency of our rivals must be based on the latest data available.
If we begin by looking at the forces of the individual States and groups of States which may be hostile to us, we have the following results: According to the recent communications of the French Finance Minister Klotz (in a speech made at the unveiling of a war memorial in Issoudan), the strength of the French army on a peace footing in the year 1910 amounted in round figures to 580,000 men. This included the "Colonial Corps," stationed in France itself, which, in case of war, belongs to the field army in the European theatre of war, and the "Service auxiliaire "—that is, some 30,000 non-efficients, who are drafted in for service without arms. The entire war establishment, according to the information of the same Minister, including field army and reserves, consists of 2,800,000 men available on mobilization. A reduction from this number must be made in event of mobilization, which French sources put down at 20 per cent. The whole strength of the French field army and reserves may therefore be reckoned at some 2,300,000.