Whether this is a complete account of the motives of the German Government in introducing the law of 1913 cannot be definitely established. But the motives suggested are adequate by themselves to account for the facts. On the other hand, a part of the cost of the new law was to be defrayed by a tax on capital. And those who believe that by this year Germany was definitely waiting an occasion to make war have a right to dwell upon that fact. I find, myself, nothing conclusive in these speculations. But what is certain, and to my mind much more important, is the fact that military preparations evoke counter-preparations, until at last the strain becomes unbearable. By 1913 it was already terrific. The Germans knew well that by January 1917 the French and Russian preparations would have reached their culminating point. But those preparations were themselves almost unendurable to the French.
I may recall here the passage already cited from a dispatch of Baron Guillaume, Belgian Ambassador at Paris, written in June 1914 (p. 34). He suspected, as we saw, that the hand of Russia had imposed the three years' service upon France.
What Baron Guillaume thought plausible must not the Germans have thought plausible? Must it not have confirmed their belief in the "inevitability" of a war—that belief which, by itself, has been enough to produce war after war, and, in particular, the war of 1870? Must there not have been strengthened in their minds that particular current among the many that were making for war? And must not similar suspicions have been active, with similar results, on the side of France and Russia? The armaments engender fear, the fear in turn engenders armaments, and in that vicious circle turns the policy of Europe, till this or that Power precipitates the conflict, much as a man hanging in terror over the edge of a cliff ends by losing his nerve and throwing himself over. That is the real lesson of the rivalry in armaments. That is certain. The rest remains conjecture.
[Footnote 1: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 75, and British White Paper, No. 160.]
[Footnote 2: The account that follows is taken from the "Autobiography" of Andrew D. White, the chairman of the American delegation. See vol. ii., chap. xiv. and following.]
[Footnote 3: Mr. Arthur Lee, late Civil Lord of the Admiralty, at Eastleigh:—
"If war should unhappily break out under existing conditions the British Navy would get its blow in first, before the other nation had time even to read in the papers that war had been declared" (The Times, February 4, 1905).
"The British fleet is now prepared strategically for every possible emergency, for we must assume that all foreign naval Powers are possible enemies" (The Times, February 7, 1905).]
[Footnote 4: Sir Edwin Pears, "Forty Years in Constantinople," p.330.]
12. Europe since the Decade 1890-1900.
Let us now, endeavouring to bear in our minds the whole situation we have been analysing, consider a little more particularly the various episodes and crises of international policy from the year 1890 onwards. I take that date, the date of Bismarck's resignation, for the reason already given (p. 42). It was not until then that it would have occurred to any competent observer to accuse Germany of an aggressive policy calculated to disturb the peace of Europe. A closer rapprochement with England was, indeed, the first idea of the Kaiser when he took over the reins of power in 1888. And during the ten years that followed British sympathies were actually drawn towards Germany and alienated from France. It is well known that Mr. Chamberlain favoured an alliance with Germany, and that when the Anglo-Japanese treaty was being negotiated the inclusion of Germany was seriously considered by Lord Lansdowne. The telegram of the Kaiser to Kruger in 1895 no doubt left an unpleasant impression in England, and German feeling, of course, at the time of the Boer War, ran strongly against England, but so did feeling in France and America, and, indeed, throughout the civilized world. It was certainly the determination of Germany to build a great navy that led to the tension between her and England, and finally to the formation of the Triple Entente, as a counterpoise to the Triple Alliance. It is 1900, not 1888, still less 1870, that marks the period at which German policy began to be a disturbing element in Europe. During the years that followed, the principal storm-centres in international policy were the Far and Near East, the Balkans, and Morocco. Events in the Far East, important though they were, need not detain us here, for their contribution to the present war was remote and indirect, except so far as concerns the participation of Japan. Of the situation in the other areas, the tension and its causes and effects, we must try to form some clear general idea. This can be done even in the absence of that detailed information of what was going on behind the scenes for which a historian will have to wait.
[Footnote 1: The columns of The Times for 1899 are full of attacks upon France. Once more we may cite from the dispatch of the Comte de Lalaing, Belgian Minister in London, dated May 24, 1907, commenting on current or recalling earlier events: "A certain section of the Press, known here under the name of the Yellow Press, is in great part responsible for the hostility that exists between the two nations (England and Germany). What, in fact, can one expect from a journalist like Mr. Harmsworth, now Lord Northcliffe, proprietor of the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Graphic, Daily Express, Evening News, and Weekly Dispatch, who in an interview given to the Matin says, 'Yes, we detest the Germans cordially. They make themselves odious to all Europe. I will never allow the least thing to be printed in my journal which might wound France, but I would not let anything be printed which might be agreeable to Germany.' Yet, in 1899, this same man was attacking the French with the same violence, wanted to boycott the Paris Exhibition, and wrote: 'The French have succeeded in persuading John Bull that they are his deadly enemies. England long hesitated between France and Germany, but she has always respected the German character, while she has come to despise France. A cordial understanding cannot exist between England and her nearest neighbour. We have had enough of France, who has neither courage nor political sense.'" Lalaing does not give his references, and I cannot therefore verify his quotations. But they hardly require it. The volte-face of The Times sufficiently well known. And only too well known is the way in which the British nation allows its sentiments for other nations to be dictated to it by a handful of cantankerous journalists.]
[Footnote 2: "I may point out to you that, at bottom, the character, the main character, of the Teuton race differs very slightly indeed from the character of the Anglo-Saxon (cheers), and the same sentiments which bring us into a close sympathy with the United States of America may be invoked to bring us into closer sympathy with the Empire of Germany." He goes on to advocate "a new Triple Alliance between the Teutonic race and the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race" (see The Times, December 1, 1899). This was at the beginning of the Boer war. Two years later, in October, 1901, Mr. Chamberlain was attacking Germany at Edinburgh. This date is clearly about the turning-point in British sentiment and policy towards Germany.]
13. Germany, and Turkey.
Let us begin with the Near East. The situation there, when Germany began her enterprise, is thus summed up by a French writer:—
Astride across Europe and Asia, the Ottoman Empire represented, for all the nations of the old continent, the cosmopolitan centre where each had erected, by dint of patience and ingenuity, a fortress of interests, influences, and special rights. Each fortress watched jealously to maintain its particular advantages in face of the rival enemy. If one of them obtained a concession, or a new favour, immediately the commanders of the others were seen issuing from their walls to claim from the Grand Turk concessions or favours which should maintain the existing balance of power or prestige.... France acted as protector of the Christians; England, the vigilant guardian of the routes to India, maintained a privileged political and economic position; Austria-Hungary mounted guard over the route to Salonica; Russia, protecting the Armenians and Slavs of the South of Europe, watched over the fate of the Orthodox. There was a general understanding among them all, tacit or express, that none should better its situation at the expense of the others.
When into this precariously balanced system of conflicting interests Germany began to throw her weight, the necessary result was a disturbance of equilibrium. As early as 1839 German ambition had been directed towards this region by Von Moltke; but it was not till 1873 that the process of "penetration" began. In that year the enterprise of the Anatolian railway was launched by German financiers. In the succeeding years it extended itself as far as Konia; and in 1899 and 1902 concessions were obtained for an extension to Bagdad and the Persian Gulf. It was at this point that the question became one of international politics. Nothing could better illustrate the lamentable character of the European anarchy than the treatment of this matter by the interests and the Powers affected. Here had been launched on a grandiose scale a great enterprise of civilization. The Mesopotamian plain, the cradle of civilization, and for centuries the granary of the world, was to be redeemed by irrigation from the encroachment of the desert, order and security were to be restored, labour to be set at work, and science and power to be devoted on a great scale to their only proper purpose, the increase of life. Here was an idea fit to inspire the most generous imagination. Here, for all the idealism of youth and the ambition of maturity, for diplomatists, engineers, administrators, agriculturists, educationists, an opportunity for the work of a lifetime, a task to appeal at once to the imagination, the intellect, and the organizing capacity of practical men, a scheme in which all nations might be proud to participate, and by which Europe might show to the backward populations that the power she had won over Nature was to be used for the benefit of man, and that the science and the arms of the West were destined to recreate the life of the East. What happened, in fact? No sooner did the Germans approach the other nations for financial and political support to their scheme than there was an outcry of jealousy, suspicion, and rage. All the vested interests of the other States were up in arms. The proposed railway, it was said, would compete with the Trans-Siberian, with the French railways, with the ocean route to India, with the steamboats on the Tigris. Corn in Mesopotamia would bring down the price of corn in Russia. German trade would oust British and French and Russian trade. Nor was that all. Under cover of an economic enterprise, Germany was nursing political ambitions. She was aiming at Egypt and the Suez Canal, at the control of the Persian Gulf, at the domination of Persia, at the route to India. Were these fears and suspicions justified? In the European anarchy, who can say? Certainly the entry of a new economic competitor, the exploitation of new areas, the opening out of new trade routes, must interfere with interests already established. That must always be so in a changing world. But no one would seriously maintain that that is a reason for abandoning new enterprises. But, it was urged, in fact Germany will take the opportunity to squeeze out the trade of other nations and to constitute a German monopoly. Germany, it is true, was ready to give guarantees of the "open door." But then, what was the value of these guarantees? She asserted that her enterprise was economic, and had no ulterior political gains. But who would believe her? Were not German Jingoes already rejoicing at the near approach of German armies to the Egyptian frontiers? In the European anarchy all these fears, suspicions, and rivalries were inevitable. But the British Government at least was not carried away by them. They were willing that British capital should co-operate on condition that the enterprise should be under international control. They negotiated for terms which would give equal control to Germany, England, and France. They failed to get these terms, why has not been made public. But Lord Cranborne, then Under-Secretary of State, said in the House of Commons that "the outcry which was made in this matter—I think it a very ill-informed outcry—made it exceedingly difficult for us to get the terms we required." And Sir Clinton Dawkins wrote in a letter to Herr Gwinner, the chief of the Deutsche Bank: "The fact is that the business has become involved in politics here, and has been sacrificed to the very violent and bitter feeling against Germany exhibited by the majority of newspapers and shared in by a large number of people." British co-operation, therefore, failed, as French and Russian had failed. The Germans, however, persevered with their enterprise, now a purely German one, and ultimately with success. Their differences with Russia were arranged by an agreement about the Turko-Persian railways signed in 1911. An agreement with France, with regard to the railways of Asiatic Turkey, was signed in February 1914, and one with England (securing our interests on the Persian Gulf) in June of the same year. Thus just before the war broke out this thorny question had, in fact, been settled to the satisfaction of all the Powers concerned. And on this two comments may be made. First, that the long friction, the press campaign, the rivalry of economic and political interests, had contributed largely to the European tension. Secondly, that in spite of that, the question did get settled, and by diplomatic means. On this subject, at any rate, war was not "inevitable." Further, it seems clear that the British Government, so far from "hemming-in" Germany in this matter, were ready from the first to accept, if not to welcome, her enterprise, subject to their quite legitimate and necessary preoccupation with their position on the Persian Gulf. It was the British Press and what lay behind it that prevented the co-operation of British capital. Meantime the economic penetration of Asia Minor by Germany had been accompanied by a political penetration at Constantinople. Already, as early as 1898, the Kaiser had announced at Damascus that the "three hundred millions of Mussulmans who live scattered over the globe may be assured that the German Emperor will be at all times their friend."
This speech, made immediately after the Armenian massacres, has been very properly reprobated by all who are revolted at such atrocities. But the indignation of Englishmen must be tempered by shame when they remember that it was their own minister, still the idol of half the nation, who reinstated Turkey after the earlier massacres in Bulgaria and put back the inhabitants of Macedonia for another generation under the murderous oppression of the Turks. The importance of the speech in the history of Europe is that it signalled the advent of German influence in the Near East. That influence was strengthened on the Bosphorus after the Turkish revolution of 1908, in spite of the original Anglophil bias of the Young Turks, and as some critics maintain, in consequence of the blundering of the British representatives. The mission of Von der Goltz in 1908 and that of Liman von Sanders in 1914 put the Turkish army under German command, and by the outbreak of the war German influence was predominant in Constantinople. This political influence was, no doubt, used, and intended to be used, to further German economic schemes. Germany, in fact, had come in to play the same game as the other Powers, and had played it with more skill and determination. She was, of course, here as elsewhere, a new and disturbing force in a system of forces which already had difficulty in maintaining a precarious equilibrium. But to be a new and disturbing force is not to commit a crime. Once more the real culprit was not Germany nor any other Power. The real culprit was the European anarchy.
[Footnote 1: Pierre Albin, "D'Agadir a Serajevo," p. 81.]
[Footnote 2: Hansard, 1903, vol. 126, p. 120.]
[Footnote 3: Nineteenth Century, June 1909, vol. 65, p. 1090.]
14. Austria and the Balkans.
I turn now to the Balkan question. This is too ancient and too complicated to be even summarized here. But we must remind ourselves of the main situation. Primarily, the Balkan question is, or rather was, one between subject Christian populations and the Turks. But it has been complicated, not only by the quarrels of the subject populations among themselves, but by the rival ambitions and claims of Russia and Austria. The interest of Russia in the Balkans is partly one of racial sympathy, partly one of territorial ambition, for the road to Constantinople lies through Rumania and Bulgaria. It is this territorial ambition of Russia that has given occasion in the past to the intervention of the Western Powers, for until recently it was a fixed principle, both of French and British policy, to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean. Hence the Crimean War, and hence the disastrous intervention of Disraeli after the treaty of San Stefano in 1878—an intervention which perpetuated for years the Balkan hell. The interest of Austria in the peninsula depends primarily on the fact that the Austrian Empire contains a large Slav population desiring its independence, and that this national ambition of the Austrian Slavs finds in the independent kingdom of Serbia its natural centre of attraction. The determination of Austria to retain her Slavs as unwilling citizens of her Empire brings her also into conflict with Russia, so far as Russia is the protector of the Slavs. The situation, and the danger with which it is pregnant, may be realized by an Englishman if he will suppose St. George's Channel and the Atlantic to be annihilated, and Ireland to touch, by a land frontier, on the one side Great Britain, on the other the United States. The friction and even the warfare which might have arisen between these two great Powers from the plots of American Fenians may readily be imagined. Something of that kind is the situation of Austria in relation to Serbia and her protector, Russia. Further, Austria fears the occupation by any Slav State of any port on the coast line of the Adriatic, and herself desires a port on the Aegean. Add to this the recent German dream of the route from Berlin to Bagdad, and the European importance of what would otherwise be local disputes among the Balkan States becomes apparent.
During the period we are now considering the Balkan factor first came into prominence with the annexation by Austria of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. Those provinces, it will be remembered, were handed over to Austrian protection at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Austria went in and policed the country, much as England went in and policed Egypt, and, from the material point of view, with similarly successful results. But, like England in Egypt, Austria was not sovereign there. Formal sovereignty still rested with the Turk. In 1909, during the Turkish revolution, Austria took the opportunity to throw off that nominal suzerainty. Russia protested, Austria mobilized against Serbia and Montenegro, and war seemed imminent. But the dramatic intervention of Germany "in shining armour" on the side of her ally resulted in a diplomatic victory for the Central Powers. Austria gained her point, and war, for the moment, was avoided. But such diplomatic victories are dangerous. Russia did not forget, and the events of 1909 were an operative cause in the catastrophe of 1914. In acting as she did in this matter Austria-Hungary defied the public law of Europe, and Germany supported her in doing so.
The motives of Germany in taking this action are thus described, and probably with truth, by Baron Beyens: "She could not allow the solidity of the Triple Alliance to be shaken: she had a debt of gratitude to pay to her ally, who had supported her at the Congress of Algeciras. Finally, she believed herself to be the object of an attempt at encirclement by France, England, and Russia, and was anxious to show that the gesture of putting her hand to the sword was enough to dispel the illusions of her adversaries." These are the kind of reasons that all Powers consider adequate where what they conceive to be their interests are involved. From any higher, more international point of view, they are no reasons at all. But in such a matter no Power is in a position to throw the first stone. The whole episode is a classical example for the normal working of the European anarchy. Austria-Hungary was primarily to blame, but Germany, who supported her, must take her share. The other Powers of Europe acquiesced for the sake of peace, and they could probably do no better. There will never be any guarantee for the public law of Europe until there is a public tribunal and a public force to see that its decisions are carried out.
The next events of importance in this region were the two Balkan wars. We need not here go into the causes and results of these, except so far as to note that, once more, the rivalry of Russia and Austria played a disastrous part. It was the determination of Austria not to give Serbia access to the Adriatic that led Serbia to retain territories assigned by treaty to Bulgaria, and so precipitated the second Balkan war; for that war was due to the indignation caused in Bulgaria by the breach of faith, and is said to have been directly prompted by Austria. The bad part played by Austria throughout this crisis is indisputable. But it must be observed that, by general admission, Germany throughout worked hand in hand with Sir Edward Grey to keep the peace of Europe, which, indeed, otherwise could not have been kept. And nothing illustrates this better than that episode of 1913 which is sometimes taken to throw discredit upon Germany. The episode was thus described by the Italian minister, Giolitti: "On the 9th of August, 1913, about a year before the war broke out, I, being then absent from Rome, received from my colleague, San Giuliano, the following telegram: 'Austria has communicated to us and to Germany her intention to act against Serbia, and defines such action as defensive, hoping to apply the casus foederis of the Triple Alliance, which I consider inapplicable. I intend to join forces with Germany to prevent any such action by Austria, but it will be necessary to say clearly that we do not consider such eventual action as defensive, and therefore do not believe that the casus foederis exists. Please telegraph to Rome if you approve.'
"I replied that, 'if Austria intervenes against Serbia, it is evident that the casus foederis does not arise. It is an action that she undertakes on her own account, since there is no question of defence, as no one thinks of attacking her. It is necessary to make a declaration in this sense to Austria in the most formal way, and it is to be wished that German action may dissuade Austria from her most perilous adventure.'"
Now this statement shows upon the face of it two things. One, that Austria was prepared, by attacking Serbia, to unchain a European war; the other, that the Italian ministers joined with Germany to dissuade her. They were successful. Austria abandoned her project, and war was avoided. The episode is as discreditable as you like to Austria. But, on the face of it, how does it discredit Germany? More, of course, may lie behind; but no evidence has been produced, so far as I am aware, to show that the Austrian project was approved or supported by her ally.
The Treaty of Bucharest, which concluded the second Balkan War, left all the parties concerned dissatisfied. But, in particular, it left the situation between Austria and Serbia and between Austria and Russia more strained than ever. It was this situation that was the proximate cause of the present war. For, as we have seen, a quarrel between Austria and Russia over the Balkans must, given the system of alliances, unchain a European war. For producing that situation Austria-Hungary was mainly responsible. The part played by Germany was secondary, and throughout the Balkan wars German diplomacy was certainly working, with England, for peace. "The diplomacy of the Wilhelmstrasse," says Baron Beyens, "applied itself, above all, to calm the exasperation and the desire for intervention at the Ballplatz." "The Cabinet of Berlin did not follow that of Vienna in its tortuous policy of intrigues at Sofia and Bucharest. As M. Zimmermann said to me at the time, the Imperial Government contented itself with maintaining its neutrality in relation to the Balkans, abstaining from any intervention, beyond advice, in the fury of their quarrels. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of this statement."
[Footnote 1: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 240.]
[Footnote 2: It is characteristic of the way history is written in time of war that M. Yves Guyot, citing Giolitti's statement, omits the references to Germany. See "Les causes et les consequences de la guerre," p. 101.]
[Footnote 3: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," pp. 248, 262.]
Let us turn now to the other storm-centre, Morocco. The salient features here were, first, the treaty of 1880, to which all the Great Powers, including, of course, Germany, were parties, and which guaranteed to the signatories most-favoured-nation treatment; secondly, the interest of Great Britain to prevent a strong Power from establishing itself opposite Gibraltar and threatening British control over the Straits; thirdly, the interest of France to annex Morocco and knit it up with the North African Empire; fourthly, the new colonial and trading interests of Germany, which, as she had formally announced, could not leave her indifferent to any new dispositions of influence or territory in undeveloped countries. For many years French ambitions in Morocco had been held in check by the British desire to maintain the status quo. But the Anglo-French Entente of 1904 gave France a free hand there in return for the abandonment of French opposition to the British position in Egypt. The Anglo-French treaty of 1904 affirmed, in the clauses made public, the independence and integrity of Morocco; but there were secret clauses looking to its partition. By these the British interest in the Straits was guaranteed by an arrangement which gave to Spain the reversion of the coast opposite Gibraltar and a strip on the north-west coast, while leaving the rest of the country to fall to France. Germany was not consulted while these arrangements were being made, and the secret clauses of the treaty were, of course, not communicated to her. But it seems reasonable to suppose that they became known to, or at least were suspected by, the German Government shortly after they were adopted. And probably it was this that led to the dramatic intervention of the Kaiser at Tangier, when he announced that the independence of Morocco was under German protection. The result was the Conference of Algeciras, at which the independence and integrity of Morocco was once more affirmed (the clauses looking to its partition being still kept secret by the three Powers privy to them), and equal commercial facilities were guaranteed to all the Powers. Germany thereby obtained what she most wanted, what she had a right to by the treaty of 1880, and what otherwise might have been threatened by French occupation—the maintenance of the open door. But the French enterprise was not abandoned. Disputes with the natives such as always occur, or are manufactured, in these cases, led to fresh military intervention. At the same time, it was difficult to secure the practical application of the principle of equal commercial opportunity. An agreement of 1909 between France and Germany, whereby both Powers were to share equally in contracts for public works, was found in practice not to work. The Germans pressed for its application to the new railways projected in Morocco. The French delayed, temporized, and postponed decision. Meantime they were strengthening their position in Morocco. The matter was brought to a head by the expedition to Fez. Initiated on the plea of danger to the European residents at the capital (a plea which was disputed by the Germans and by many Frenchmen), it clearly heralded a definite final occupation of the country. The patience of the Germans was exhausted, and the Kaiser made the coup of Agadir. There followed the Mansion House speech of Mr. Lloyd George and the Franco-German agreement of November 1911, whereby Germany recognized a French protectorate in Morocco in return for concessions of territory in the French Congo. These are the bare facts of the Moroccan episode. Much, of course, is still unrevealed, particularly as to the motives and intentions of the Powers concerned. Did Germany, for instance, intend to seize a share of Morocco when she sent the Panther to Agadir? And was that the reason of the vigour of the British intervention? Possibly, but by no means certainly; the evidence accessible is conflicting. If Germany had that intention, she was frustrated by the solidarity shown between France and England, and the result was the final and definite absorption of Morocco in the French Empire, with the approval and active support of Great Britain, Germany being compensated by the cession of part of the French Congo. Once more a difficult question had been settled by diplomacy, but only after it had twice brought Europe to the verge of war, and in such a way as to leave behind the bitterest feelings of anger and mistrust in all the parties concerned.
The facts thus briefly summarized here may be studied more at length, with the relevant documents, in Mr. Morel's book "Morocco in Diplomacy." The reader will form his own opinion on the part played by the various Powers. But I do not believe that any instructed and impartial student will accept what appears to be the current English view, that the action of Germany in this episode was a piece of sheer aggression without excuse, and that the other Powers were acting throughout justly, honestly, and straightforwardly.
The Morocco crisis, as we have already seen, produced in Germany a painful impression, and strengthened there the elements making for war. Thus Baron Beyens writes:—
The Moroccan conflicts made many Germans hitherto pacific regard another war as a necessary evil.
The pacific settlement of the conflict of 1911 gave a violent impulse to the war party in Germany, to the propaganda of the League of Defence and the Navy League, and a greater force to their demands. To their dreams of hegemony and domination the desire for revenge against France now mingled its bitterness. A diplomatic success secured in an underground struggle signified nothing. War, war in the open, that alone, in the eyes of this rancorous tribe, could settle definitely the Moroccan question by incorporating Morocco and all French Africa in the colonial empire they hoped to create on the shores of the Mediterranean and in the heart of the Black Continent.
This we may take to be a correct description of the attitude of the Pangermans. But there is no evidence that it was that of the nation. We have seen also that Baron Beyens' impression of the attitude of the German people, even after the Moroccan affair, was of a general desire for peace. The crisis had been severe, but it had been tided over, and the Governments seem to have made renewed efforts to come into friendly relations. In this connection the following dispatch of Baron Beyens (June 1912) is worth quoting:—
After the death of Edward VII, the Kaiser, as well as the Crown Prince, when they returned from England, where they had been courteously received, were persuaded that the coldness in the relations of the preceding years was going to yield to a cordial intimacy between the two Courts and that the causes of the misunderstanding between the two peoples would vanish with the past. His disillusionment, therefore, was cruel when he saw the Cabinet of London range itself last year on the side of France. But the Kaiser is obstinate, and has not abandoned the hope of reconquering the confidence of the English.
This dispatch is so far borne out by the facts that in the year succeeding the Moroccan crisis a serious attempt was made to improve Anglo-German relations, and there is no reason to doubt that on both sides there was a genuine desire for an understanding. How that understanding failed has already been indicated. But even that failure did not ruin the relations between the two Powers. In the Balkan crisis, as we have seen and as is admitted on both sides, England and Germany worked together for peace. And the fact that a European conflagration was then avoided, in spite of the tension between Russia and Austria, is a strong proof that the efforts of Sir Edward Grey were sincerely and effectively seconded by Germany.
[Footnote 1: See "Morocco in Diplomacy," Chap. XVI. A dispatch written by M. Leghait, the Belgian minister in Paris, on May 7, 1905, shows that rumour was busy on the subject. The secret clauses of the Franco-Spanish treaty were known to him, and these provided for an eventual partition of Morocco between France and Spain. He doubted whether there were secret clauses in the Anglo-French treaty—"but it is supposed that there is a certain tacit understanding by which England would leave France sufficient liberty of action in Morocco under the reserve of the secret clauses of the Franco-Spanish arrangement, clauses if not imposed yet at least strongly supported by the London Cabinet."
We know, of course, now, that the arrangement for the partition was actually embodied in secret clauses in the Anglo-French treaty.]
[Footnote 2: According to M. Yves Guyot, when the Kaiser was actually on his way to Tangier, he telegraphed from Lisbon to Prince Buelow abandoning the project. Prince Buelow telegraphed back insisting, and the Kaiser yielded.]
[Footnote 3: See Bourdon, "L'Enigme Allemande," Chap. II. This account, by a Frenchman, will not be suspected of anti-French or pro-German bias, and it is based on French official records.]
[Footnote 4: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 216.]
[Footnote 5: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 235.]
[Footnote 6: See above, p. 63.]
[Footnote 7: This view is reaffirmed by Baron Beyens in "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 29.]
[Footnote 8: See above, p. 79.]
[Footnote 9: Above, p. 111.]
16. The Last Years.
We have reached, then, the year 1913, and the end of the Balkan wars, without discovering in German policy any clear signs of a determination to produce a European war. We have found all the Powers, Germany included, contending for territory and trade at the risk of the peace of Europe; we have found Germany successfully developing her interests in Turkey; we have found England annexing the South African republics, France Morocco, Italy Tripoli; we have found all the Powers stealing in China, and in all these transactions we have found them continually on the point of being at one another's throats. Nevertheless, some last instinct of self-preservation has enabled them, so far, to pull up in time. The crises had been overcome without a war. Yet they had, of course, produced their effects. Some statesmen probably, like Sir Edward Grey, had had their passion for peace confirmed by the dangers encountered. In others, no doubt, an opposite effect had been produced, and very likely by 1913 there were prominent men in Europe convinced that war must come, and manoeuvring only that it should come at the time and occasion most favourable to their country. That, according to M. Cambon, was now the attitude of the German Emperor. M. Cambon bases this view on an alleged conversation between the Kaiser and the King of the Belgians. The conversation has been denied by the German official organ, but that, of course, is no proof that it did not take place, and there is nothing improbable in what M. Cambon narrates.
The conversation is supposed to have occurred in November 1913, at a time when, as we have seen, there was a distinct outburst in France of anti-German chauvinism, and when the arming and counter-arming of that year had exasperated opinion to an extreme degree. The Kaiser is reported to have said that war between Germany and France was inevitable. If he did, it is clear from the context that he said it in the belief that French chauvinism would produce war. For the King of the Belgians, in replying, is stated to have said that it was "a travesty, of the French Government to interpret it in that sense, and to let oneself be misled as to the sentiments of the French nation by the ebullitions of a few irresponsible spirits or the intrigues of unscrupulous agitators." It should be observed also that this supposed attitude on the part of the Kaiser is noted as a change, and that he is credited with having previously stood for peace against the designs of the German Jingoes. His personal influence, says the dispatch, "had been exerted on many critical occasions in support of peace." The fact of a change of mind in the Kaiser is accepted also by Baron Beyens.
Whatever may be the truth in this matter, neither the German nor the French nor our own Government can then have abandoned the effort at peaceable settlement. For, in fact, by the summer of 1914, agreements had been made between the Great Powers which settled for the time being the questions immediately outstanding. It is understood that a new partition of African territory had been arranged to meet the claims and interests of Germany, France, and England alike. The question of the Bagdad railway had been settled, and everything seemed to favour the maintenance of peace, when, suddenly, the murder of the Archduke sprang upon a dismayed Europe the crisis that was at last to prove fatal. The events that followed, so far as they can be ascertained from published documents, have been so fully discussed that it would be superfluous for me to go over the ground again in all its detail. But I will indicate briefly what appear to me to be the main points of importance in fixing the responsibility for what occurred.
First, the German view, that England is responsible for the war because she did not prevent Russia from entering upon it, I regard as childish, if it is not simply sophistical. The German Powers deliberately take an action which the whole past history of Europe shows must almost certainly lead to a European war, and they then turn round upon Sir Edward Grey and put the blame on him because he did not succeed in preventing the consequences of their own action. "He might have kept Russia out." Who knows whether he might? What we do know is that it was Austria and Germany who brought her in. The German view is really only intelligible upon the assumption that Germany has a right to do what she pleases and that the Powers that stand in her way are by definition peacebreakers. It is this extraordinary attitude that has been one of the factors for making war in Europe.
Secondly, I am not, and have not been, one of the critics of Sir Edward Grey. It is, indeed, possible, as it is always possible after the event, to suggest that some other course might have been more successful in avoiding war. But that is conjecture, I, at any rate, am convinced, as I believe every one outside Germany is convinced, that Sir Edward Grey throughout the negotiations had one object only—to avoid, if he could, the catastrophe of war.
Thirdly, the part of Austria-Hungary is perfectly clear. She was determined now, as in 1913, to have out her quarrel with Serbia, at the risk of a European war. Her guilt is clear and definite, and it is only the fact that we are not directly fighting her with British troops that has prevented British opinion from fastening upon it as the main occasion of the war.
But this time, quite clearly, Austria was backed by Germany. Why this change in German policy? So far as the Kaiser himself is concerned, there can be little doubt that a main cause was the horror he felt at the assassination of the Archduke. The absurd system of autocracy gives to the emotional reactions of an individual a preposterous weight in determining world-policy; and the almost insane feeling of the Kaiser about the sanctity of crowned heads was no doubt a main reason why Germany backed Austria in sending her ultimatum to Serbia. According to Baron Beyens, on hearing the news of the murder of the Archduke the Kaiser changed colour, and exclaimed: "All the effort of my life for twenty-five years must be begun over again!" A tragic cry which indicates, what I personally believe to be the case, that it has been the constant effort of the Kaiser to keep the peace in Europe, and that he foresaw now that he would no longer be able to resist war.
So far, however, it would only be the war between Austria and Serbia that the Kaiser would be prepared to sanction. He might hope to avoid the European war. And, in fact, there is good reason to suppose that both he and the German Foreign Office did cherish that hope or delusion. They had bluffed Russia off in 1908. They had the dangerous idea that they might bluff her off again. In this connection Baron Beyens records a conversation with his colleague, M. Bollati, the Italian Ambassador at Berlin, in which the latter took the view that
at Vienna as at Berlin they were persuaded that Russia, in spite of the official assurances exchanged quite recently between the Tsar and M. Poincare, as to the complete preparations of the armies of the two allies, was not in a position to sustain a European war and would not dare to plunge into so perilous an adventure.
Baron Beyens continues:—
At Berlin the opinion that Russia was unable to face a European war prevailed not only in the official world and in society, but among all the manufacturers who specialized in the construction of armaments. M. Krupp, the best qualified among them to express an opinion, announced on the 28th July, at a table next mine at the Hotel Bristol, that the Russian artillery was neither good nor complete, while that of the German army had never been of such superior quality. It would be folly on the part of Russia, the great maker of guns concluded, to dare to make war on Germany and Austria in these conditions.
But while the attitude of the German Foreign Office and (as I am inclined to suppose) of the Kaiser may have been that which I have just suggested, there were other and more important factors to be considered. It appears almost certain that at some point in the crisis the control of the situation was taken out of the hands of the civilians by the military. The position of the military is not difficult to understand. They believed, as professional soldiers usually do, in the "inevitability" of war, and they had, of course, a professional interest in making war. Their attitude may be illustrated from a statement attributed by M. Bourdon to Prince Lichnowsky in 1912: "The soldiers think about war. It is their business and their duty. They tell us that the German army, is in good order, that the Russian army has not completed its organization, that it would be a good moment ... but for twenty years they have been saying the same thing," The passage is significant. It shows us exactly what it is we have to dread in "militarism." The danger in a military State is always that when a crisis comes the soldiers will get control, as they seem to have done on this occasion. From their point of view there was good reason. They knew that France and Russia, on a common understanding, were making enormous military preparations; they knew that these preparations would mature by the beginning of 1917; they knew that Germany would fight then at a less advantage; they believed she would then have to fight, and they said, "Better fight now." The following dispatch of Baron Beyens, dated July 26th, may probably be taken as fairly representing their attitude:—
To justify these conclusions I must remind you of the opinion which prevails in the German General Staff, that war with France and Russia is unavoidable and near, an opinion which the Emperor has been induced to share. Such a war, ardently desired by the military and Pangerman party, might be undertaken to-day, as this party think, in circumstances which are extremely favourable to Germany, and which probably will not again present themselves for some time. Germany has finished the strengthening of her army which was decreed by the law of 1912, and, on the other hand, she feels that she cannot carry on indefinitely a race in armaments with Russia and France which would end by her ruin. The Wehrbeitrag has been a disappointment for the Imperial Government, to whom it has demonstrated the limits of the national wealth. Russia has made the mistake of making a display of her strength before having finished her military reorganization. That strength will not be formidable for several years: at the present moment it lacks the railway lines necessary for its deployment. As to France, M. Charles Humbert has revealed her deficiency in guns of large calibre, but apparently it is this arm that will decide the fate of battles. For the rest, England, which during the last two years Germany has been trying, not without some success, to detach from France and Russia, is paralysed by internal dissensions and her Irish quarrels.
It will be noticed that Baron Beyens supposes the Kaiser to have been in the hands of the soldiers as early as July 26th. On the other hand, as late as August 5th Beyens believed that the German Foreign Office had been working throughout for peace. Describing an interview he had had on that day with Herr Zimmermann, he writes:—
From this interview I brought away the impression that Herr Zimmermann spoke to me with his customary sincerity, and that the Department for Foreign Affairs since the opening of the Austro-Serbian conflict had been on the side of a peaceful solution, and that it was not due to it that its views and counsels had not prevailed... A superior power intervened to precipitate the march of events. It was the ultimatum from Germany to Russia, sent to St. Petersburg at the very moment when the Vienna Cabinet was showing itself more disposed to conciliation, which let loose the war.
Why was that ultimatum sent? According to the German apologists, it was sent because Russia had mobilized on the German frontier at the critical moment, and so made war inevitable. There is, indeed, no doubt that the tension was enormously increased throughout the critical days by mobilization and rumours of mobilization. The danger was clearly pointed out as early as July 26th in a dispatch of the Austrian Ambassador at Petrograd to his Government:—
As the result of reports about measures taken for mobilization of Russian troops, Count Pourtales [German Ambassador at Petrograd] has called the Russian Minister's attention in the most serious manner to the fact that nowadays measures of mobilization would be a highly dangerous form of diplomatic pressure. For in that event the purely military consideration of the question by the General Staffs would find expression, and if that button were once touched in Germany the situation would get out of control.
On the other hand, it must be remembered that in 1909 Austria had mobilized against Serbia and Montenegro, and in 1912-13 Russia and Austria had mobilized against one another without war ensuing in either case. Moreover, in view of the slowness of Russian mobilization, it is difficult to believe that a day or two would make the difference between security and ruin to Germany. However, it is possible that the Kaiser was so advised by his soldiers, and genuinely believed the country to be in danger. We do not definitely know. What we do know is, that it was the German ultimatum that precipitated the war.
We are informed, however, by Baron Beyens that even at the last moment the German Foreign Office made one more effort for peace:—
As no reply had been received from St. Petersburg by noon the next day [after the dispatch of the German ultimatum], MM. de Jagow and Zimmermann (I have it from the latter) hurried to the Chancellor and the Kaiser to prevent the issue of the order for general mobilization, and to persuade his Majesty to wait till the following day. It was the last effort of their dying pacifism, or the last awakening of their conscience. Their efforts were broken against the irreducible obstinacy of the Minister of War and the army chiefs, who represented to the Kaiser the disastrous consequences of a delay of twenty-four hours.
[Footnote 1: French Yellow Book, No. 6. In "L'Allemagne avant la guerre" (p. 24) Baron Beyens states that this conversation was held at Potsdam on November 5th or 6th; the Kaiser said that war between Germany and France was "inevitable and near." Baron Beyens, presumably, is the authority from whom M. Cambon derives his information.]
[Footnote 2: Above, p. 25.]
[Footnote 3: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 273.]
[Footnote 4: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 280 seq.]
[Footnote 5: See "L'Enigme Allemande," p. 96.]
[Footnote 6: Second Belgian Grey Book, No. 8.]
[Footnote 7: Second Belgian Grey Book, No. 52.]
[Footnote 8: Austrian Red Book, No. 28.]
[Footnote 9: See Chapter 14.]
[Footnote 10: "L'Allemagne avant la guerre," p. 301.]
17. The Responsibility and the Moral.
It will be seen from this brief account that so far as the published evidence goes I agree with the general view outside Germany that the responsibility for the war at the last moment rests with the Powers of Central Europe. The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, which there can be no reasonable doubt was known to and approved by the German Government, was the first crime. And it is hardly palliated by the hope, which no well-informed men ought to have entertained, that Russia could be kept out and the war limited to Austria and Serbia. The second crime was the German ultimatum to Russia and to France. I have no desire whatever to explain away or palliate these clear facts. But it was not my object in writing this pamphlet to reiterate a judgment which must already be that of all my readers. What I have wanted to do is to set the tragic events of those few days of diplomacy in their proper place in the whole complex of international politics. And what I do dispute with full conviction is the view which seems to be almost universally held in England, that Germany had been pursuing for years past a policy of war, while all the other Powers had been pursuing a policy of peace. The war finally provoked by Germany was, I am convinced, conceived as a "preventive war." And that means that it was due to the belief that if Germany did not fight then she would be compelled to fight at a great disadvantage later. I have written in vain if I have not convinced the reader that the European anarchy inevitably provokes that state of mind in the Powers, and that they all live constantly under the threat of war. To understand the action of those who had power in Germany during the critical days it is necessary to bear in mind all that I have brought into relief in the preceding pages: the general situation, which grouped the Powers of the Entente against those of the Triple Alliance; the armaments and counter-armaments; the colonial and economic rivalry; the racial and national problems in South-East Europe; and the long series of previous crises, in each case tided over, but leaving behind, every one of them, a legacy of fresh mistrust and fear, which made every new crisis worse than the one before. I do not palliate the responsibility of Germany for the outbreak of war. But that responsibility is embedded in and conditioned by a responsibility deeper and more general—the responsibility of all the Powers alike for the European anarchy.
If I have convinced the reader of this he will, I think, feel no difficulty in following me to a further conclusion. Since the causes of this war, and of all wars, lie so deep in the whole international system, they cannot be permanently removed by the "punishment" or the "crushing" or any other drastic treatment of any Power, let that Power be as guilty as you please. Whatever be the issue of this war, one thing is certain: it will bring no lasting peace to Europe unless it brings a radical change both in the spirit and in the organization of international politics.
What that change must be may be deduced from the foregoing discussion of the causes of the war. The war arose from the rivalry of States in the pursuit of power and wealth. This is universally admitted. Whatever be the diversities of opinion that prevail in the different countries concerned, nobody pretends that the war arose out of any need of civilization, out of any generous impulse or noble ambition. It arose, according to the popular view in England, solely and exclusively out of the ambition of Germany to seize territory and power. It arose, according to the popular German view, out of the ambition of England to attack and destroy the rising power and wealth of Germany. Thus to each set of belligerents the war appears as one forced upon them by sheer wickedness, and from neither point of view has it any kind of moral justification. These views, it is true, are both too simple for the facts. But the account given in the preceding pages, imperfect as it is, shows clearly, what further knowledge will only make more explicit, that the war proceeded out of rivalry for empire between all the Great Powers in every part of the world. The contention between France and Germany for the control of Morocco, the contention between Russia and Austria for the control of the Balkans, the contention between Germany and the other Powers for the control of Turkey—these were the causes of the war. And this contention for control is prompted at once by the desire for power and the desire for wealth. In practice the two motives are found conjoined. But to different minds they appeal in different proportions. There is such a thing as the love of power for its own sake. It is known in individuals, and it is known in States, and it is the most disastrous, if not the most evil, of the human passions. The modern German philosophy of the State turns almost exclusively upon this idea; and here, as elsewhere, by giving to a passion an intellectual form, the Germans have magnified its force and enhanced its monstrosity. But the passion itself is not peculiar to Germans, nor is it only they to whom it is and has been a motive of State. Power has been the fetish of kings and emperors from the beginning of political history, and it remains to be seen whether it will not continue to inspire democracies. The passion for empire ruined the Athenian democracy, no less than the Spartan or the Venetian oligarchy, or the Spain of Philip II, or the France of the Monarchy and the Empire. But it still makes its appeal to the romantic imagination. Its intoxication has lain behind this war, and it will prompt many others if it survives, when the war is over, either in the defeated or the conquering nations. It is not only the jingoism of Germany that Europe has to fear. It is the jingoism that success may make supreme in any country that may be victorious.
But while power may be sought for its own sake, it is commonly sought by modern States as a means to wealth. It is the pursuit of markets and concessions and outlets for capital that lies behind the colonial policy that leads to wars. States compete for the right to exploit the weak, and in this competition Governments are prompted or controlled by financial interests. The British went to Egypt for the sake of the bondholders, the French to Morocco for the sake of its minerals and wealth. In the Near East and the Far it is commerce, concessions, loans that have led to the rivalry of the Powers, to war after war, to "punitive expeditions" and—irony of ironies!—to "indemnities" exacted as a new and special form of robbery from peoples who rose in the endeavour to defend themselves against robbery. The Powers combine for a moment to suppress the common victim, the next they are at one another's throats over the spoil. That really is the simple fact about the quarrels of States over colonial and commercial policy. So long as the exploitation of undeveloped countries is directed by companies having no object in view except dividends, so long as financiers prompt the policy of Governments, so long as military expeditions, leading up to annexations, are undertaken behind the back of the public for reasons that cannot be avowed, so long will the nations end with war, where they have begun by theft, and so long will thousands and millions of innocent and generous lives, the best of Europe, be thrown away to no purpose, because, in the dark, sinister interests have been risking the peace of the world for the sake of money in their pockets.
It is these tremendous underlying facts and tendencies that suggest the true moral of this war. It is these that have to be altered if we are to avoid future wars on a scale as great.
18. The Settlement.
And now, with all this in our minds, let us turn to consider the vexed question of the settlement after the war. There lies before the Western world the greatest of all choices, the choice between destruction and salvation. But that choice does not depend merely on the issue of the war. It depends upon what is done or left undone by the co-operation of all when the war does at last stop. Two conceptions of the future are contending in all nations. One is the old bad one, that which has presided hitherto at every peace and prepared every new war. It assumes that the object of war is solely to win victory, and the object of victory solely to acquire more power and territory. On this view, if the Germans win, they are to annex territory east and west: Belgium and half France, say the more violent; the Baltic provinces of Russia, strategic points of advantage, say the more moderate. On the other hand, if the Allies win, the Allies are to divide the German colonies, the French are to regain Alsace-Lorraine, and, as the jingoes add, they are to take the whole of the German provinces on the left bank of the Rhine, and even territory beyond it. The Italians are to have not only Italia Irredenta but hundreds of thousands of reluctant Slavs in Dalmatia; the Russians Constantinople, and perhaps Posen and Galicia. Further, such money indemnities are to be taken as it may prove possible to exact from an already ruined foe; trade and commerce with the enemy is to be discouraged or prohibited; and, above all, a bitter and unforgiving hatred is to reign for ever between the victor and the vanquished. This is the kind of view of the settlement of Europe that is constantly appearing in the articles and correspondence of the Press of all countries. Ministers are not as careful as they should be to repudiate it. The nationalist and imperialist cliques of all nations endorse it. It is, one could almost fear, for something like this that the peoples are being kept at war, and the very existence of civilization jeopardized.
Now, whether anything of this kind really can be achieved by the war, whether there is the least probability that either group of Powers can win such a victory as would make the programme on either side a reality, I will not here discuss. The reader will have his own opinion. What I am concerned with is the effect any such solution would have upon the future of Europe. Those who desire such a close may be divided into two classes. The one frankly believes in war, in domination, and in power. It accepts as inevitable, and welcomes as desirable, the perpetual armed conflict of nations for territory and trade. It does not believe in, and it does not want, a durable peace. It holds that all peace is, must be, and ought to be, a precarious and regrettable interval between wars. I do not discuss this view. Those who hold it are not accessible to argument, and can only be met by action. There are others, however, who do think war an evil, who do want a durable peace, but who genuinely believe that the way indicated is the best way to achieve it. With them it is permitted to discuss, and it should be possible to do so without bitterness or rage on either side. For as to the end, there is agreement; the difference of opinion is as to the means. The position taken is this: The enemy deliberately made this war of aggression against us, without provocation, in order to destroy us. If it had not been for this wickedness there would have been no war. The enemy, therefore, must be punished; and his punishment must make him permanently impotent to repeat the offence. That having been done, Europe will have durable peace, for there will be no one left able to break it who will also want to break it. Now, I believe all this to be demonstrably a miscalculation. It is contradicted both by our knowledge of the way human nature works and by the evidence of history. In the first place, wars do not arise because only one nation or group of nations is wicked, the others being good. For the actual outbreak of this war, I believe, as I have already said, that a few powerful individuals in Austria and in Germany were responsible. But the ultimate causes of war lie much deeper. In them all States are implicated. And the punishment, or even the annihilation, of any one nation would leave those causes still subsisting. Wipe out Germany from the map, and, if you do nothing else, the other nations will be at one another's throats in the old way, for the old causes. They would be quarrelling, if about nothing else, about the division of the spoil. While nations continue to contend for power, while they refuse to substitute law for force, there will continue to be wars. And while they devote the best of their brains and the chief of their resources to armaments and military and naval organization, each war will become more terrible, more destructive, and more ruthless than the last. This is irrefutable truth. I do not believe there is a man or woman able to understand the statement who will deny it.
In the second place, the enemy nation cannot, in fact, be annihilated, nor even so far weakened, relatively to the rest, as to be incapable of recovering and putting up another fight. The notions of dividing up Germany among the Allies, or of adding France and the British Empire to Germany, are sheerly fantastic. There will remain, when all is done, the defeated nations—if, indeed, any nation be defeated. Their territories cannot be permanently occupied by enemy troops; they themselves cannot be permanently prevented by physical force from building up new armaments. So long as they want their revenge, they will be able sooner or later to take it. If evidence of this were wanted, the often-quoted case of Prussia after Jena will suffice.
And, in the third place, the defeated nations, so treated, will, in fact, want their revenge. There seems to be a curious illusion abroad, among the English and their allies, that not only is Germany guilty of the war, but that all Germans know it in their hearts; that, being guilty, they will fully accept punishment, bow patiently beneath the yoke, and become in future good, harmonious members of the European family. The illusion is grotesque. There is hardly a German who does not believe that the war was made by Russia and by England; that Germany is the innocent victim; that all right is on her side, and all wrong on that of the Allies. If, indeed, she were beaten, and treated as her "punishers" desire, this belief would be strengthened, not weakened. In every German heart would abide, deep and strong, the sense of an iniquitous triumph of what they believe to be wrong over right, and of a duty to redress that iniquity. Outraged national pride would be reinforced by the sense of injustice; and the next war, the war of revenge, would be prepared for, not only by every consideration of interest and of passion, but by every cogency of righteousness. The fact that the Germans are mistaken in their view of the origin of the war has really nothing to do with the case. It is not the truth, it is what men believe to be the truth, that influences their action. And I do not think any study of dispatches is going to alter the German view of the facts.
But it is sometimes urged that the war was made by the German militarists, that it is unpopular with the mass of the people, and that if Germany is utterly defeated the people will rise and depose their rulers, become a true democracy, and join fraternal hands with the other nations of Europe. That Germany should become a true democracy might, indeed, be as great a guarantee of peace as it might be that other nations, called democratic, should really become so in their foreign policy as well as in their domestic affairs. But what proud nation will accept democracy as a gift from insolent conquerors? One thing that the war has done, and one of the worst, is to make of the Kaiser, to every German, a symbol of their national unity and national force. Just because we abuse their militarism, they affirm and acclaim it; just because we attack their governing class, they rally round it. Nothing could be better calculated than this war to strengthen the hold of militarism in Germany, unless it be the attempt of her enemies to destroy her militarism by force. For consider—! In the view we are examining it is proposed, first to kill the greater part of her combatants, next to invade her territory, destroy her towns and villages, and exact (for there are those who demand it) penalties in kind, actual tit for tat, for what Germans have done in Belgium. It is proposed to enter the capital in triumph. It is proposed to shear away huge pieces of German territory. And then, when all this has been done, the conquerors are to turn to the German nation and say: "Now, all this we have done for your good! Depose your wicked rulers! Become a democracy! Shake hands and be a good fellow!" Does it not sound grotesque? But, really, that is what is proposed.
I have spoken about British and French proposals for the treatment of Germany. But all that I have said applies, of course, equally to German proposals of the same kind for the treatment of the conquered Allies. That way is no way towards a durable peace. If it be replied that a durable peace is not intended or desired, I have no more to say. If it be replied that punishment for its own sake is more important than civilization, and must be performed at all costs—fiat justitia, ruat coelum—then, once more, I have nothing to say. I speak to those, and to those only, who do desire a durable peace, and who have the courage and the imagination to believe it to be possible, and the determination to work for it. And to them I urge that the course I have been discussing cannot lead to their goal. What can?
19. The Change Needed.
First, a change of outlook. We must give up, in all nations, this habit of dwelling on the unique and peculiar wickedness of the enemy. We must recognize that behind the acts that led up to the immediate outbreak of war, behind the crimes and atrocities to which the war has led, as wars always have led, and always will lead—behind all that lies a great complex of feeling, prejudice, tradition, false theory, in which all nations and all individuals of all nations are involved. Most men believe, feel, or passively accept that power and wealth are the objects States ought to pursue; that in pursuing these objects they are bound by no code of right in their relations to one another; that law between them is, and must be, as fragile as a cobweb stretched before the mouth of a cannon; that force is the only rule and the only determinant of their differences, and that the only real question is when and how the appeal to force may most advantageously be made. This philosophy has been expressed with peculiar frankness and brutality by Germans. But most honest and candid men, I believe, will agree that that is the way they, too, have been accustomed to think of international affairs. And if illustration were wanted, let them remember the kind of triumphant satisfaction with which the failure of the Hague conferences to achieve any radical results was generally greeted, and the contemptuous and almost abhorring pity meted out to the people called "pacifists." Well, the war has come! We see now, not only guess, what it means. If that experience has not made a deep impression on every man and woman, if something like a conversion is not being generally operated, then, indeed, nothing can save mankind from the hell of their own passions and imbecilities.
But if otherwise, if that change is going on, then the way to deliverance is neither difficult nor obscure. It does not lie in the direction of crushing anybody. It lies in the taking of certain determinations, and the embodying of them in certain institutions.
First, the nations must submit to law and to right in the settlement of their disputes.
Secondly, they must reserve force for the coercion of the law-breaker; and that implies that they should construct rules to determine who the law-breaker is. Let him be defined as the one who appeals to force, instead of appealing to law and right by machinery duly provided for that purpose, and the aggressor is immediately under the ban of the civilized world, and met by an overwhelming force to coerce him into order. In constructing machinery of this kind there is no intellectual difficulty greater than that which has confronted every attempt everywhere to substitute order for force. The difficulty is moral, and lies in the habits, passions, and wills of men. But it should not be concluded that, if such a moral change could be operated, there would be no need for the machinery. It would be as reasonable to say that Governments, law-courts, and police were superfluous, since, if men were good, they would not require them, and if they are bad they will not tolerate them. Whatever new need, desire, and conviction comes up in mankind, needs embodiment in forms before it can become operative. And, as the separate colonies of America could not effectively unite until they had formed a Constitution, so will the States of Europe and the world be unable to maintain the peace, even though all of them should wish to maintain it, unless they will construct some kind of machinery for settling their disputes and organizing their common purposes, and will back that machinery by force. If they will do that they may construct a real and effective counterpoise to aggression from any Power in the future. If they will not do it, their precautions against any one Power will be idle, for it will be from some other Power that the danger will come. I put it to the reader at the end of this study, which I have made with all the candour and all the honesty at my disposal, and which I believe to represent essentially the truth, whether or no he agrees that the European anarchy is the real cause of European wars, and if he does, whether he is ready for his part to support a serious effort to end it.