« ПретходнаНастави »
of Brandenburg7—with its million and a half of people to the control of a vast empire—the greatest armed force of the modern world.
It now appears beyond the possibility of doubt that this war was made by Germany pursuing a long and settled purpose. For many years she has been preparing to do exactly what she has done with a thoroughness, a perfection of plans, and a vastness of provision in men, munitions, and supplies never before equaled or approached in human history.
She brought the war on when she chose, because she chose, in the belief that she could conquer the earth, nation by nation.
All nations are egotistical, all peoples think most highly of their own qualities, and regard other peoples as inferior; but the egotism of the ruling class of Prussia is beyond all example and it is active and aggressive. They believe that Germany is entitled to rule the world by virtue of her superiority in all these qualities which they include under the term "kultur,'' and by reason of her power to compel submission by the sword.
That belief does not evaporate in theory. It is translated into action, and this war is the action which results. This belief of national superiority and the right to assert it everywhere is a tradition from the Great Frederick.8 It has been instilled into thr minds of the German people through all the universities and schools. It has been preached from her pulpits and taught by her philosophers and historians. It has been maintained by her government and it will never cease to furnish the motive for the people of Prussia so long as German power enables the military autocracy of Prussia to act upon it with success.
Plainly, if the power of the German government is to continue, America can no longer look for protection to the law of nations or the faith of treaties or the instincts of humanity or the restraints of modern civilization.
Plainly, also, if we had stayed out of the war and Germany had won there would no longer have been a balance of power in Europe or a British fleet to support the Monroe Doctrine and protect America.
Does any one indulge in the foolish assumption that Germany would not then have extended her lust for power by conquest to the American continent? Let him consider what it is for which the nations of Europe have been chiefly contending for centuries past.
It has been for colonies. It has been to bring the unoccupied or weakly held spaces of the earth under their flags and their political control, in order to increase their trade and their power.
Spain, Holland, Portugal, England, France, have all had their turn, and have covered the earth with their possessions. For thirty years Germany, the last comer, has been pressing forward with feverish activity the acquisition of stations for her power on every coast and every sea, restive and resentful because she has been obliged to take what others have left.
Europe, Asia, and Africa have been taken up. The Americas alone remain. Here in the vast and undefended 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.9
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 tht 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 pasred.
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 us10 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