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the nations, remove all fear of their neighbors and of their former masters, and enable them to live in security and contentment when they have set their own affairs in order. I for one do not doubt their purpose or their capacity. There are some happy signs that they know and will choose the way of self-control and peaceful accommodation. If they do, we shall put our aid at their disposal in every way that we can. If they do not, we must await with patience and sympathy the awakening and recovery that will assuredly come at last.
THE MEANING OF AMERICA’S ENTRANCE INTO THE WAR
DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
[ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE AMERICAN CLUB IN LONDON, APRIL 12, 1917.]
I am in the happy position of being, I think, the first British Minister of the Crown who, speaking on behalf of the people of this country, can salute the American Nation as comrades' in arms. I am glad; I am proud. I am glad not merely because of the stupendous resources which this great nation will bring to the succor of the alliance, but I rejoice as a democrat that the advent of the United States into this war gives the final stamp and seal to the character of the conflict as a struggle against military autocracy throughout the world.
That was the note that ran through the great deliverance of President Wilson." It was echoed, Sir, in your resounding words today. The United States of America have the noble tradition, never broken, of having never engaged in war except for liberty. And this is the greatest struggle for liberty that they have ever embarked upon. I am not at all surprised, when one recalls the wars of the past, that America took its time to make up its mind about the character of this struggle. In Europe most of the great wars of the past were waged for dynastic aggrandizement and conquest. No wonder when this great war started that there were some elements of suspicion still lurking in the minds of the people of the United States of America. There were those who thought perhaps that Kings were at their old tricks—and although they saw the gallant Republic of France fighting, they some of them perhaps regarded it as the poor victim of a conspiracy of monarchial swashbucklers. The fact that the United States of America has made up its mind finally makes it abundantly clear to the world that this is no struggle of that character, but a great fight for human liberty. They naturally did not know at first what we had endured in Europe for years from this military caste in Prussia. It never has reached the United States of America. Prussia was not a democracy. The Kaiser promises that it will be a democracy after the war. I think he is right. But Prussia not merely was not a democracy. Prussia was not a State; Prussia was an army. It had great industries that had been highly developed; a great educational system; it had its universities, it had developed its science. All these were subordinate to the one great predominant purpose, the purpose of all—a conquering army which was to intimidate the world. The army was the spear-point of Prussia; the rest was merely the haft. That was what we had to deal with in these old countries. It got on the nerves of Europe. They knew what it all meant. It was an army that in recent times had waged three wars,” all of conquest, and the unceasing tramp of its legions through the streets of Prussia, on the parade grounds of Prussia, had got into the Prussian head. The Kaiser, when he witnessed on a grand scale his reviews, got drunk with the sound of it.” He delivered the law to the world as if Potsdam was another Sinai, and he was uttering the law from the thunder clouds. But make no mistake. Europe was uneasy. Europe was half intimidated. Europe was anxious. Europe was apprehensive. We knew the whole time what it meant. What we did not know was the moment it would come. This is the menace, this is the apprehension from which Europe has suffered for over fifty years." It paralyzed the beneficent activity of all States, which ought to be devoted to concentrating on the well-being of their peoples. They had to think about this menace, which was there constantly as a cloud ready to burst over the land. No one can tell except Frenchmen what they endured from this tyranny, patiently, gallantly, with dignity, till the hour of deliverance came." The best energies of domestic science had been devoted to defending itself against the impending blow. France was like a nation which put up its right arm to ward off a blow, and could not give the whole of her strength to the great things which she was capable of. That great, bold, imaginative, fertile mind, which would otherwise have been clearing new paths for progress, was paralyzed. That is the state of things we had to encounter. The most characteristic of Prussian institutions is the Hindenberg line. What is the Hindenburg line? The Hindenburg line is a line drawn in the territories of other people, with a warning that the inhabitants of those territories shall not cross it at the peril of their lives. That line has been drawn in Europe for fifty years. You recollect what happened some years ago in France, when the French Foreign Minister" was practically driven out of office by Prussian interference. Why? What had he done? He had done nothing which a Minister of an independent State had not the most absolute right to do. He had crossed the imaginary line drawn in French territory by Prussian despotism, and he had to leave. Europe, after enduring this for generations, made up its mind at last that the Hindenburg line must be drawn along the legitimate frontiers of Germany herself. There could be no other attitude than that for the emancipation of Europe and the world. It was hard at first for the people of America quite to appreciate that Germany had not interfered to the same extent with their freedom, if at all. But at last they endured , the same experience as Europe had been subjected to. Americans were told that they were not to be allowed to cross and recross the Atlantic except at their peril. American ships were sunk without warning. American citizens were