« ПретходнаНастави »
THE WORLD CONFLICT IN ITS RELATION
TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
An address delivered before the American Academy of Political and Social Science at Philadelphia, April, 1917. Reprinted as Senate Document No. 80, 65th Congress ist Session.
The way in which President Wilson directed America's entrance into the war has had a mighty effect on the public opinion of the world. Many of those who are disappointed or pleased say they are surprised. They would not be surprised had they made it their business this last year to understand the policy of their Government.
In May, 1916, the President made a speech which will be counted among the two or three decisive utterances of American foreign policy. The Sussex pledge had just been extracted from the German Government, and on the surface American neutrality seemed assured. The speech was an announcement that American isolation was ended, and that we were prepared to join a League of Peace. This was the foundation of all that followed, and it was intended to make clear to the world that America would not abandon its traditional policy for imperialistic adventure, that if America had to fight it would fight for the peace and order of the world. It was a great portent in human history, but it was overshadowed at the time by the opening of the presidential campaign.
Through the summer the President insisted again and again that the time had come when America must assume its share of responsibility for a better organization of mankind. In the early autumn very startling news came from Germany. It was most confusing because it promised peace manæuvers, hinted at a separate arrangement with the Russian court party, and at the resumption of unlimited submarine warfare. The months from November to February were to tell the story. Never was the situation more perplexing. The prestige of the Allies was at low ebb, there was treachery in Russia, and,
as Mr. Lansing said, America was on the verge of war. We were not only on the verge of war, but on the verge of a bewildering war which would not command the whole-hearted support of the American people.
With the election past, and a continuity of ad-7 ministration assured, it became President Wilson's task to make some bold move which would clarify the muddle. While he was preparing this move, the German chancellor made his highhanded proposal for a blind conference. That it would be rejected was obvious. That the rejection would be followed by the submarine war was certain. The danger was that America would be drawn into the war at the moment when Germany appeared to be offering the peace for which the bulk of the American people hoped. We know now that the peace Germany was prepared to make last December was the peace of a conqueror; but at the time Germany could pose as a nation which had been denied a chance to end the war. It was necessary, therefore, to test the sincerity of Germany by asking publicly for a statement of terms. The President's circular note to the powers was issued.
This note stated more precisely than ever before that America was ready to help guarantee the peace, and at the same time it gave all the belligerents a chance to show that they were fighting for terms which could be justified to American opinion. The note was very much misunderstood at first because the President had said that, since both sides claimed to be fighting for the same things, neither could well refuse to define the terms. The misunderstanding soon passed away when the replies came. Germany brushed the President aside, and showed that she wanted a peace by intrigue. The Allies produced a document which contained a number of formulæ so cleverly worded that they might be stretched to cover the wildest demands of the extremists or contracted to a moderate and just settlement. Above all the Allies assented to the league of peace which Germany had dismissed as irrelevant.
The war was certain to go on with America drawn in. On January 22, after submarine warfare had been decided upon but before it had been proclaimed, the President made his address to the Senate. It was an international program