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The rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions online

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No part of the world has been considered immune
from attack. "For us," says Tannenberg, "it is
a vital question to acquire colonial empires which
will enable us to remain independent of the good-
will of our competitors, offer us a market for our
products and our industry, and give us the possi-
bility of procuring the raw materials so necessary
and so precious which now are wanting. I men-
tion, for example, only the need of cotton. It
may be to us of no importance at whose expense
it shall be taken. It is essential that we have
these colonies, and that is why we shall have
them. Whether it be at the cost of England or
of France, it is only a question of power, and per-
haps also of a little risk."

How much risk it would be advisable to run
may be inferred from Tannenberg's complaint
that Bismarck's policy was "senile," because as
early as 1885 it did not reach out for Cuba and
the Philippines, especially Cuba, "the pearl of
the Antilles," as large as Bavaria, Wiirtemberg,
Baden, and Alsace united; which, Tannenberg
asserts, "was well worth a little war" !


And he could not drop this subject without add-
ing an insult to the citizens of German origin in
the United States by saying: "The position of
Cuba relative to North America would have
created a new relation between the German peo-
ple and the ten millions of German emigrants
domiciled in the United States; and, beside its
situation, would have given us the preponderance
in the Gulf of Mexico."

"After all," runs this outspoken exhortation to
aggression, "politics is a business," a statement
that recalls Prince von Billow's observation that
"politics is a rough trade, in which sentimental
souls rarely bring even a simple piece of work to
a successful issue." "Justice and injustice," con-
tinues Tannenberg, "are notions which are neces-
sary only in civil life." And yet he pleads it is
"unjust" that small states, like Belgium and Hol-
land, should possess rich colonies and enjoy
nearly double the per capita wealth enjoyed by
subjects of the German Empire, "only because
these two countries do not bear arms, as we do."
"For that reason," he says, "they capitalize what
they save, and laugh in our faces." But why
should not Germans do the same? Is economic


imperialism after all an unprofitable busi-

It would be easy, Tannenberg declares, to make
it profitable. Think of Luxemburg, with a total
military strength of only 323 soldiers and officers,
only one man to a thousand of the population!
And Belgium, rich in colonies, a great center of
industry and commerce, with its coal and iron,
and only a paper protection ! "Yet Belgium," he
reminds us, "was once a part of the German

A subject that awakens very serious reflection
is presented in the appendix to this remarkable
work, which contains the text of the treaties to be
concluded when the war for European conquest
is ended. By the imaginary treaty of Brussels,
drawn up in 1911, France cedes to Germany the
Vosges, with Epinal; Moselle and Meuse, with
Nancy and Luneville; the town of Verdun; and
the Ardennes, with Sedan. France further gives
asylum to the inhabitants of this territory, and
establishes them elsewhere within her own bor-
ders, in order to make room for German settlers;
declares its assent to the incorporation of Belgium,
Holland, Luxemburg, and Switzerland into the


German Empire; cedes to Germany the twelve
milliards of francs lent to Russia; renounces all
colonies ; and pays to Germany a cash indemnity
of thirty-five milliards of marks. By the suppos-
ititious treaty of Riga, also drawn up in 1911,
Russia cedes vast territories to Germany; creates
a kingdom of Poland on its own soil, where the
Prussian Poles, to be expelled from Prussian
Poland, may reside; and accepts the incorporation
of Austria, ceded by the Hapsburgs to the Hohen-
zollerns, into the German Empire. As an in-
ducement to Great Britain to sanction these pro-
ceedings, the French and Portuguese colonies are
by these treaties to be divided between the two
empires on the assumption that British neutrality
would be thus insured.

In citing these documents, so frankly disclosing
the Pan-German dream of expansion, there is no
intention to insist, as Andre Cheradame has as-
serted, that these specific plans were all contem-
plated by the highest official authorities of the
German Empire; but it is a disturbing reflection
that, as he points out, ninety per cent, of the whole
program of the Pan-German propaganda, so far
as the continent of Europe is concerned, has, not-


withstanding unexpected opposition, actually been
carried into temporary effect.

What is most discouraging from the point of
view of international society is the fact that the
official philosophy of Prussia, which, as Prince
von Billow reminds us, "attained her greatness as
a country of soldiers and officials . . . and to
this day is still in all essentials a state of soldiers
and officials," has taken command of German
intelligence and industry. That philosophy is
explicitly stated by the former imperial chancellor
in the following words :

"It is a law of life and development in history
that, where two national civilizations meet, they
fight for ascendancy. In the struggle between
nationalities, one nation is the hammer and the
other the anvil ; one is the victor and the other the


SO long as governments insist upon the right
of a strong state to subjugate or to exploit
against its interest a weaker state, there will be
no international harmony, and the world will be
subjected to the ravages of recurrent wars. The
attitude of the great powers upon this subject is,
therefore, of the greatest moment, for it will de-
termine the fate of civilization; and, in the end,
in all but the most absolute governments, this
attitude will be affected by the predominant opin-
ions of thoughtful men.

It is, then, of interest to inquire, What is the
present position of the great powers, upon whose
decisions the future peace of the world will chiefly
depend, regarding the rights of the small states,
and of those colonial possessions which in the past
have often been so cruelly exploited for the benefit

of their overlords ? In brief, are there any powers



that are willing to submit to a peaceful decision of
their own rights in relation to the weaker states,
and voluntarily to subject themselves to principles
of law and equity in their conduct generally?
Upon the answer to these questions turns the
whole problem of even partial international or-
ganization and the prospect of eliminating the
military control of international affairs. Even
though it should be found that a certain number
of powers were disposed to apply strictly ethical
principles to their business transactions, without
throwing their military force into the scale, it
would not follow that military force could be en-
tirely dispensed with; for, as long as there re-
mained in the world even one formidable military
power that persisted in using force for its material
advantage and refused to resort to pacific means
for adjusting conflicts of interest, it would still
be necessary for the powers that were ready to dis-
pense with military decisions to arm themselves
for defense against aggression, and perhaps to
combine their forces in the interest of safety and

It would, however, mark the beginning of a new
era if a number of great powers were sufficiently


enlightened to perceive that economic imperialism
is, in effect, an anachronism, and that their real
interests would be better served by a combination
not for the balance of power, but for a decided
preponderance of power, that would be able by
their union, on the one hand, to establish a sys-
tem of legal relations and conciliatory policies;
and, on the other, to render military exploitation
an unprofitable and even a dangerous adventure.

It would, undoubtedly, be both unwise and un-
just to limit in any way the extent of interna-
tional union were it not for the fact that, until
profound changes occur, a universal union would
seem to be impossible. There is at present no
unanimity among the nations regarding any au-
thoritative basis for a society of states. No pro-
posal has ever been made for the recognition of
any such basis in any international conference.
Because some powers have held that the state is a
law to itself, and that there is no law which it is
bound to obey, it has been impossible even to sug-
gest that there is for sovereign states such a thing
as outlawry. If there is in the nature of things
no super-state law, and if states cannot make it


without general consent, then of course no state
can be treated as an outlaw; for there is no stand-
ard by which the legality of its conduct may be

But it is still possible for a union of states to be
formed which can determine by what law its mem-
bers will be governed, and it is possible for them
to exclude from it any state that does not accept
this law. It is likely that if the formation of
civil society had been suspended until every bri-
gand and every housebreaker in the community
was ready to favor a law against robbery, civil
society would never have come into existence.
The only way, it would appear, in which there
is ever to be a real society of states is for those
great powers which can find a sufficient commun-
ity of interest to unite in the determination that
they will themselves observe principles of justice
and equity, and that they will unite their forces
in defense of them.

It would be well if, at the conclusion of the
Great War, or, if possible, even before it is ended,
certain basic principles could be laid down that
would be accepted by the belligerents as inher-
ently just and equitable, and solemnly subscribed


to as binding upon them. Upon no other basis
would a permanent peace appear to be possible.
Any other result would be a mere armistice; for,
whatever it may have been in the beginning, the
present war is now declared to be "a conflict of
principles," a battle for law and right on the one
side, and for arbitrary power on the other.

If the conflict is really a struggle for a just or-
ganization of international relations, it is of the
highest importance to the cause of civilization
that the principles necessary to a true society of
states should be clearly formulated and, as far as
possible, accepted now, while the conflict is still
going on; and those who profess to champion
them should not hesitate solemnly to pledge them-
selves to respect and obey them. We should then
know with greater certainty what the purposes of
all the belligerents really are.

In a book on "The War of Democracy," Vis-
count Bryce, whose writings and personality are
held in very high esteem in this country, employs
in the subtitle the expression, "the struggle for a
new Europe." What, then, is this new Europe
to be for which, as Lord Bryce would have us
believe, the Entente Allies are struggling? Does


it merely involve some changes in political geog-
raphy? Thoughtful men will not be satisfied
with that, for the mere shifting of frontiers, how-
ever reasonable it may seem at the time, has no
guarantee of permanence except by means of
armed force until a better system of international
relations is adopted. Or is it for a mere form of
government that the Allies are contending ? Who
then has the authority to impose upon Europe a
particular kind of polity, and who can assure us
that democracy, if made universal, would always
be wise and just and peaceable? No, it is some-
thing deeper than these outward changes that this
experienced historian and statesman has in mind
when he speaks of "the fundamental significance
of the struggle for a new Europe." "The present
war," he insists, "differs from all that have gone
before it not only in its vast scale and in the vol-
ume of misery it has brought upon the world, but
also in the fact that it is a war of principles, and
a war in which the permanent interests not merely
of the belligerent powers, but of all nations, are
involved as such interests were never involved

That the present war is on either side a purely


altruistic championship of merely abstract prin-
ciples cannot, of course, be pretended. On the
side of the Entente Allies, as well as on that of
the Central Powers, immediate national interests
of great consequence are involved. But this does
not signify that in its underlying principles and
in its ultimate consequences the struggle may not
in some sense be an affair of all mankind. Our
own country has been already so vitally affected
by it, and is now so deeply involved in all of its
results, that we cannot regard the fate of these
principles with indifference. What is truly sur-
prising to us in this country is that two great em-
pires, England and Russia, and the French Re-
public, which has twice quelled the spirit of im-
perialism within itself and reasserted its love of
freedom, are now solidly united in fighting the
battle of democracy. Suddenly, through the mys-
terious working of some intangible but all-per-
vading and overmastering influence, we have
witnessed this unexpected alinement of nations,
in which there is an almost general repudiation
of the past, a reassertion of the larger claims of
humanity, and a spirit of sacrifice that is an as-
tonishment to all who behold it. There is yet


to be fought a battle more sublime than any ever
yet waged in the name of democracy, because it
will be a battle for that which gives to democracy
its indestructible vitality the essential dignity of
the human person, and its inherent right to free-
dom, to justice, and to the quality of mercy at the
hands of one's fellow-men. This is no tribal ad-
venture, no thrust for territorial expansion, no
quest for new markets and undeveloped resources,
no aspiration for world supremacy; but a con-
solidated human demand that in the future the
world be so regulated that innocent and non-com-
batant peoples may live under the protection of
law, may depend upon the sanctity of treaties,
may be secure in their independence and rights
of self-government, and that the people of all
nations may enjoy in safety the use of the great
seas and oceans which nature has provided as the
highways of peaceful commerce and fruitful
human intercourse.

In its beginning the European War was un-
doubtedly a conflict of national and racial inter-
ests, a struggle for the future control of the Balkan
Peninsula and the debris of the disintegrating
Ottoman Empire. Was the prize to be possessed


by the Teuton or the Slav ? The assassination at
Sarajevo and the part in it attributed to Serbia
were only signals and excuses for the beginning
of a drama already carefully staged and in which
the parts were supposed to be carefully assigned.
Germany intended that it should be a swift, short
war, in which the principal prize would be won
by a comparatively small effort, and others inci-
dentally acquired. But interests were affected
and forces were evoked that had not entered into
the calculations of the aggressors. It was the un-
expected emergence of these new forces, and the
nature of the resistance met with in the course
of the war, that entirely changed its character,
and converted it into a war of principles ; for the
progress of the conflict disclosed an antithesis of
conceptions regarding matters of general human
interest that had hitherto been unsuspected. The
whole system of law, treaties, and human obliga-
tions which had been counted upon as furnishing
a sure foundation for civilized society was sud-
denly discovered to be without solidity. In the
general debacle the hopes, the beliefs, even the
friendships, with which the present century had
opened so auspiciously in matters international


were suddenly swept away. It is needless to
dwell upon barbarities on land and sea that a
few years ago would have been utterly incredible.
Our thoughts must take a deeper direction. We
must face the fact that we have not to deal with
mere incidents, but with the underlying causes of
which they are the outward expression. If the
postulates of economic imperialism are correct,
there is nothing abnormal in all this destruction,
desecration, and slaughter at which the minds
and consciences of many have revolted ; for upon
this assumption, sovereign power is acting wholly
within its rights, and is even engaged in the
solemn execution of its sacred duty. There is,
therefore, upon this assumption, nothing left to
us but to arm, mine, fortify, and entrench, re-
pudiating internationalism and trusting solely to
our physical instruments of defense. In truth,
there are before the nations only two alternatives :
on the one hand, the reestablishment of interna-
tional existence upon a more solid foundation
than that afforded by military rivalry and the
supremacy of national power, and, on the other,
a return to the life of troglodytes. If the world
is to escape permanent international anarchy, it


will be through the decision of governments to
accept and loyally respect certain principles of
justice and mutual obligation in the form of a
constitution of civilization in which are recog-
nized the reciprocal rights and duties of separate
nations. It is within the capacity of a few great
powers to adopt and maintain such principles;
and they will do so whenever the masses of the
people, speaking in their sovereign right, declare
that their governments must accept and conform
to them. If this is what Lord Bryce means, when
he speaks of the "War of Democracy," then he is
voicing an appeal to all thoughtful persons in
every civilized nation; for the democratic concep-
tion, based as it is on the rights of man, is the only
true source of law for the rights of states also,
and is alone adapted to that general extension
which opens a vision of a commonwealth of man-
kind in which all nations, regardless of terri-
torial boundaries, may rightfully claim a place.

Are there, then, any nations that are prepared
to be guided by this vision, to forego the aspira-
tion for world supremacy, and to unite with one


another in the creation of such a general common-
wealth ?

It is an interesting fact not only that the people
of Russia have overthrown autocracy, but that,
in the midst of a great crisis, another power which
the world has regarded as imperial should openly
recognize the truth that it has, by the forces of
its own national development, ceased to be an
"empire" in the old sense of the word, and has
become a confraternity of free and virtually self-
governing communities.

The present war has revealed to Great Britain,
and made it evident to all the world, that British
strength does not at present consist in the exer-
cise of an imperium, but in the recognition of the
essential freedom and the equal rights of what
the most authoritative British statesmen now call
the "autonomous colonies"; and it is especially
interesting to find a conservative, like Bonar Law,
saying that what was impossible before the war
will be easy after it, and that the relation of the
dominions to the mother-country would never
again be what it was before. It is, in fact, a con-
federation of autonomous self-governing repub-


lies, rather than an empire in the proper sense,
that is coming into existence through this internal
transformation of the British Empire. Common
aims, common safety, common interests, and com-
mon ideas these are the foundations of this con-
fraternity. It is not the bugle-call of imperial
command that has brought troops from every
quarter of the globe to participate with Great
Britain in the present struggle, but the common
conviction that democracy is in danger and that
free nations must stand together. An English
historian, in the midst of the war, writes:

This is a testing time for Democracy. The people of
Great Britain and the Dominions, to whom all the world
looks as trustees, together with France and America, of
the great democratic tradition, are brought face to face,
for the first time, with their full responsibility as British
citizens. Upon the way in which that responsibility is
realized and discharged depends the future of the demo-
cratic principle, not only in these islands, but throughout
the world.

And this is the conviction of the dominions
themselves. To the astonishment of the world,
not one has failed to respond. Sir Clifford Sifton
said in an address at Montreal:


Bound by no constitution, bound by no law, equity, or
obligation, Canada has decided as a nation to make war.
We have levied an army; we have sent the greatest army to
England that has ever crossed the Atlantic, to take part
in the battles of England. We have placed ourselves in
opposition to great world powers. We are now train-
ing and equipping an army greater than the combined
forces of Wellington and Napoleon at the battle of Water-

Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and
even India, have responded voluntarily in a simi-
lar manner; but they did so not as imperial pos-
sessions, but as virtually independent nations,
sure of themselves, confident of their future, and
inspired by the vision of a union in which for all
coming time they are to be free and independent
participants. From the uttermost parts of the
earth they have gathered "to honor their un-
covenanted bond, obedient to one uncalculating
purpose ; and the fields of their final achievement,
where they lie in a fellowship too close and a
peace too deep to be broken, are the image and
the epitome of the cause for which they fell."

But in all this fine consciousness of British
unity there is not the slightest touch of really im-
perial influence. The Canadian and the Austra-


lian do not wish to be rated as Englishmen, and
would sometimes even resent it. Common tradi-
tions there are ; but they are not merely traditions
of race, of language, or of religion. They are
primarily traditions of liberty. It is not the state
that holds them together; it is the conviction that
all that makes the state worth saving is the pro-
tection it affords to freedom, the value it gives to
the individual life.

But such an inspiration can never end in a
stolid and pertinacious tribalism. It feels a
larger kinship and seeks a wider partnership. It
gives unity to the nation, but it reaches out for
international friendships and affinities. It seeks
to establish the greater commonwealth of nations.
It aspires to a place in a system. And the same
Canadian who said that Canada was ready to
take part in the battles of England said at the
same time : "I say to you that Canada must stand
now as a nation. . . . The nations will say, if
you can levy armies to make war, you can attend
to your own business, and we will not be referred
to the head of the Empire ; we want you to answer
our questions directly."

By the force of its own free development de-


mocracy must become international. In no other
way can it realize its own security. In no other
way can it attain to its own ideals. "It is neces-
sary," says a Canadian writer, "to declare with
utmost haste . . . that motives of national ag-
grandisement and national enmity must be sub-
ordinated to the desire for the larger benefits grow-
ing out of peace and international good-will."
And never will the autonomous colonies enter a
war in the name of the empire in which they do
not have a voice. Said the high commissioner of
the Australian Commonwealth, Mr. Andrew
Fisher, on his arrival in London:

If I had stayed in Scotland, I should have been able to
heckle my member on questions of imperial policy, and
to vote for or against him on that ground. I went to
Australia, and I have been prime minister. But all the
time I have had no say whatever about imperial policy
no say whatever. Now that can't go on. There must be
some change.

In April, 1916, at the conference of the Entente

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Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillThe rebuilding of Europe : a survey of forces and conditions → online text (page 6 of 15)