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the label, "Made in Germany," was a guarantee of good workmanship and of sound material. She had access to all the markets of the world, and every other man who traded in those markets feared Germany because of her effective and almost irresistible competition.
She had a place in the sun. Why was she not satisfied? What more did she want? There was nothing in the world of peace that she did not already have and have in abundance.
We boast of the extraordinary pace of American advancement. We show with pride the statistics of the increase of our industries and of the population of our cities. Well, those statistics did not match the recent statistics of Germany. Her old cities took on youth, grew faster than any American city ever grew; her old industries opened their eyes and saw a new world and went out for its conquest; and yet the authorities of Germany were not satisfied.
You have one part of the answer to the question why she was not satisfied in her methods of competition. There is no important industry in Germany upon which the government has not laid its hands to direct it, and when necessity arise, control it.
You have only to ask any man whom you meet, who is familiar with the conditions that prevailed before the war in the matter of international competition, to find out the methods of competition which the German manufacturers and exporters used under the patronage and support of the government of Germany.1 You will find that they were the same sorts of competition that we have tried to prevent by law within our own borders.
If they could not sell their goods cheaper than we could sell ours at a profit to themselves, they could get a subsidy from the government which made it possible to sell them cheaper anyhow, and the conditions of competition were thus controlled in large measure by the German government itself. But that did not satisfy the German government.
All the while there was lying behind its thought, in its dreams of the future, a political control which would enable it in the long run to dominate the labor and the industry of the world. They were not content with success by superior achievement; they wanted success by authority.
I suppose few of you have thought much about the Berlin to Bagdad railway.2 The Berlin to Bagdad railway was constructed in order to run the threat of force down the flank of the industrial undertakings of half a dozen other countries, so that when German competition came in it would not be resisted too far —because there was always the possibility of getting German armies into the heart of that country quicker than any other armies could be got there.
Look at the map of Europe now. Germany, in thrusting upon us again and again the discussion of peace talks about what? Talks about Belgium, talks about northern France, talks about Alsace-Lorraine. Those are deeply interesting subjects to us and to them, but they are not talking about the heart of the matter.
Take the map and look at it. Germany has absolute control of Austria-Hungary, practical control of the Balkan states, control of Turkey, control of Asia Minor. I saw a map in which the whole thing was printed in appropriate black the other day and the black stretched all the way from Hamburg to Bagdad —the bulk of German power inserted into the heart of the world.
If it can keep that she has kept all that her dreams contemplated when the war began. If she can keep that, her power can disturb the world as long as she keeps it, always provided, for I feel bound to put this proviso in, always provided the present influences that control the German government continue to control it.
I believe that the spirit of freedom can get into the hearts of Germans and find as fine a welcome there as it can find in any other hearts. But the spirit of freedom does not suit the plans of the Pan-Germans.3 Power cannot be used with concentrated force against free peoples if it is used by free people.
You know how many intimations come to us from one of the central powers that it is more anxious for peace than the chief central power; and you know that it means that the people in that central power know that if the war ends as it stands, they will in effect themselves be vassals of Germany, notwithstanding that their populations are compounded with all the people of that part of the world, and notwithstanding the fact that they do not wish in their pride ind proper spirit of nationality to be so absorbed and dominated.
Germany is determined that the political power oi the world shall belong to her. There have been such ambitions before. They have been in part realized. But never before have those ambitions been based upon so exact and precise and scientific a plan of domination.
May I not say that it is amazing to me that any group of people should be so ill-informed as to suppose, as some groups in Russia apparently suppose, that any reforms planned in the interest of the people can live in the presence of a Germany powerful enough to undermine or overthrow them by intrigue or force 1 Any body of free men that compounds with the present German government is compounding for its own destruction. But that is not the whole of the story. Any man in America, or anywhere else, who supposes that the free industry and enterprise of the world can continue if the Pan-German plan is achieved and German power fastened upon the world is as fatuous as the dreamers of Russia.
What I am opposed to is not the feeling of the pacifists, but their stupidity. My heart is with them, but my mind has a contempt for them. I want peace, but I know how to get it, and they do not.
You will notice that I sent a friend of mine, Colonel House, to Europe,4 who is as great a lover of peace as any man in the world; but I did not send him on a peace mission; I sent him to take part in a conference as to how the war was to be won; and he knows, as I know, that this is the way to get peace, if you want it for more than a few minutes.
All of this is a preface to the conference that I referred to with regard to what we are going to do. If we are true friends of freedom—our own or anybody else's—we will see that the power of this country and the productivity of this country is raised to its absolute maximum and that absolutely nobody is allowed to stand in the way of it.
When I say that nobody is allowed to stand in the way, I don't mean that they shall be prevented by the power of the government, but by the power of the American spirit. Our duty, if we are to do this great thing and show America to be what we believe her to be, the greatest hope and energy of the world, then we must stand together night and day until the job is finished.
While we are fighting for freedom we must see, among other things, that labor is free; and that means a number of interesting things. It means not only that we must do what we have declared our purpose to do—see that the conditions of labor are not rendered more onerous by the war—but also that we shall see to it that the instrumentalities by which the conditions of labor are improved are not blocked or checked.
That we must do. That has been the matter about which I have taken pleasure in conferring from time to time with your president, Mr. Gompers. And, if I may be permitted to do so, I want to express my admiration of his patriotic courage, his large vision,