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fended spaces of the new world, fraught with potential wealth incalculable, Germany could “find a place in the sun,” to use her emperor's phrase; Germany could find her “liberty of national evolution,” to use his phrase again. Every traditional policy, every instinct of predatory Prussia, would urge her into this new field of aggrandizement.
What would prevent? The Monroe doctrine? Yes: But what is the Monroe doctrine as against a nation which respects only force unless it can be maintained by force? We already know how the German government feels about the Monroe doctrine.
Bismarck declared it to be a piece of colossal impudence; and, when President Roosevelt interfered to assert the doctrine for the protection of Venezuela, the present kaiser declared that if he then had a larger navy he would have taken America by the scruff of the neck.”
If we had stayed out of the war, and Germany had won, we should have had to defend the Monroe doctrine by force or abandon it; and if we abandoned it there would have been a German naval base in the Caribbean commanding the Panama canal, depriving us of that strategic line which unites our eastern and western coasts, and depriving us of the protection the expanse of ocean once gave, and an America unable or unwilling to protect herself against the establishment of a German naval base in the Caribbean would lie at the mercy of Germany, and subject to Germany’s orders,
America's independence would be gone unless she was ready to fight for it, and her security would thenceforth be not a security of freedom, but only a security purchased by submission. But if America had stayed out of the war and Germany had won, could we have defended the Monroe doctrine? Could we have maintained our independence? For an answer to that question consider what we have been doing since the 2d of April last, when war was declared. Congress has been in continuous session passing with unprecedented rapidity laws containing grants of power and of money unexampled in our history, The executive establishment has been straining every nerve to prepare for war. The ablest and strongest leaders of industrial activity have been called from all parts of the country to aid the government. The people of the country have generously responded with noble loyalty and enthusiasm to the call for the surrender of money and of customary rights, and the supply of men to the service of the country. Nearly half a year has passed, and still we are not ready to fight. I am not blaming the government. It was inevitable. Preparation for modern war cannot be made briefly or speedily. It requires time— long periods of time; and the more peaceful and unprepared for war a democracy is the longer is the time required. It would have required just as long for America to prepare for war if we had stayed out of this war and Germany had won and we had undertaken to defend the Monroe doctrine or to defend our coasts when we had lost the protection of the Monroe doctrine. Month after month would have passed with no adequate army ready to fight, just as these recent months have passed. But what would Germany have been doing in the meantime? How long would it have been before our attempts at preparation would have been stopped by German arms? A country that is forced to defend itself against the aggression of a military autocracy always prepared for war must herself be prepared for war beforehand or she never will have the opportunity to prepare. The history, the character, the avowed principles of action, the manifest and undisguised purposes of the German autocracy made it clear and certain that if America stayed out of the great war, and Germany won, America would forthwith be required to defend herself and would be unable to defend herself against the same lust for conquest, the same will to dominate the world, which has made Europe a bloody shambles. When Germany did actually apply her principles of action to us, and by the invasion of Belgium she violated the solemn covenant she has made with us” to observe the law of neutrality established for the protection of peaceful states, when she had arrogantly demanded that American commerce should surrender its lawful right of passage upon the high seas under penalty of destruction, when she had sunk American ships and sent to their death hundreds of American citizens, peaceful men, women, and children, when the Gulflight and the Falaba and the Persia and the Arabic and the Sussea, and the Lusitania had been torpedoed without warning in contempt of law and of humanity, when the German embassy at Washington had been found to be the headquarters of a vast conspiracy of corruption within our country inciting sedition and concealing infernal machines in the cargoes of our ships and blowing up our factories with the workmen laboring in them, and when the government of Germany had been discovered attempting to incite Mexico and Japan to form a league with her to attack us and to bring about a dismemberment of our territory, then the question presented to the American people was not what shall be done regarding each of these specific aggressions taken by itself, but what shall be done by America to defend her commerce, her territory, her citizens, her independence, her liberty, her life as a nation against the continuance of assaults already begun by that mighty and conscienceless power which had swept aside every restraint and every principle of Christian civilization and was seeking to force upon a subjugated world the dark and cruel rule of a barbarous past. The question was how shall peaceful and unprepared and liberty loving America save herself from subjection to the military power of Germany. There was but one possible answer. There was but one chance for rescue and that was to act at once while the other democracies of the world were still maintaining their liberty against the oppressor, to prepare at once while the armies and the navies of England and France and Italy and Russia and Roumania were holding down Germany so that she could not attack us while our preparation was but half a complished, to strike while there were allies loving freedom like ourselves to strike with us, to do our share to prevent the German kaiser from acquiring that domination over the world which would have left us without friends to aid us, without preparation, and without the possibility of successful defense. The instinct of the American democracy which led it to act when it did arose from a long delayed and reluctant consciousness still vague and half expressed, that this is no ordinary war which the world is waging. It is no contest for petty policies and profits. It is a mighty and all-embracing struggle between two conflicting principles of human right and human duty. It is a conflict between the divine right of kings to govern mankind through armies and nobles and the right of the peoples of the earth to toil and endure and aspire to govern themselves by law in the freedom of individual manhood. It is the climax of the supreme struggle between autocracy and democracy. No nation can stand aside and be free from its effects. The two systems cannot endure together in the same world. If autocracy triumphs, military power lustful of dominion, supreme in strength, intolerant of human rights, holding itself superior to law, to morals, to faith, to compassion, will crush out the free democracies of the world. If autocracy is defeated and