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AUTHOR'S NOTE Portions of some chapters of this work have hitherto been printed in signed articles by the author in The New York Tribune, The Boston Evening Transcript, and The Newark News, to which journals grateful acknowledgments are made.
IT IS MY PURPOSE in this volume to give an account of the entry of America into the War of the Nations. I shall relate the histories of some of the chief belligerents sufficiently to indicate the trend of their policies toward those conditions and complications which afforded pretexts for the war; and the history of the war itself sufficiently to make clear the manner in which it was begun and the manner in which it has been waged. In this we shall see not only the abundant justification but also the imperative necessity of our participation in the conflict.
I shall endeavor to give some account of the military and other potency of the various belligerent nations, and of the resources upon which they rely for support in the struggle; of the disregard of law and humanity which has characterized the conduct of the war; of its unparalleled and almost incredible destructiveness, much of it wanton and malicious; and of the transcendent world-wide issues which are at stake. I shall give much attention to the army
establishments of the United States and the details of their organization and operation; to the gross lack of adequate preparedness from which we suffered at the time of our entry into the war, due to our fatuous disregard of the admonitions of the founders of the Republic and our abandonment of the wise and prudent policy which they enunciated; and to the vital need of our promptly awakening to a realization of what it means to be engaged in a worldwide war in which the integrity and the very lives of nations, including our own, are at stake.
I shall also attempt to show how crucial was the situation in Europe at the “psychological moment” of our declaration of war, and how truly at that time the fate of humanity seemed to be hanging upon our decision and our action; and how momentous for ourselves and for others was the action of our government in accepting the hostile challenge of the German Empire.
Concerning the magnitude of the theme there can be no question. The war which was begun by the Teutonic powers in the summer of 1914 brought the world face to face with what is probably the greatest crisis in its whole history. We might compare it with the Punic wars, which decided whether Rome or Carthage should rule the Mediterranean and its shores; with the Greek and Persian wars, which determined whether European or Asiatic civilization should be dominant; with the Fall of Rome; with the Mohammedan conquests and the Crusades; with the Napoleonic wars. But not one of these approximated the physical magnitude of this War of the Nations, or its moral and spiritual importance to the future of the whole human race.
For the first time in our history, all the highest material and intellectual resources of civilization are arrayed in an effort to subvert and to destroy the moral and spiritual fruits of human progress. The drunken helot of Sparta is invested with all the arts of Athens. To such a conflict are we called, to declare, as truly as in 1776, that states and peoples have a right to independent government of their own choice; and to see to it, as truly as in 1863, that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
W. F. J. NEW YORK, May, 1917.