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crushed, and has ever since been suffering martyrdom for her temerity. But the few days of delay of the German army in battering down the forts of Liege enabled France to get her troops together and England to send a handful of her “contemptible little army” across the Channel, to make a stand at the Marne, near the very ground where, more than fourteen centuries before, Aetius and the Gauls had defeated Attila and his Hunnish hordes fresh from their ravishing of Belgium. It was that victorious stand at the Marne that prevented the modern Attila and his Huns, fresh from their ravishing of Belgium, from fulfilling their boast of “Paris in three weeks.”
But even before that, and at that time, and ever since down to the present moment, it was and is the British fleet that saved America and the world from the German
Month after month and year after year, the French and British armies, at fearful cost, held in Champagne and Picardy the line that never was broken, and kept the Teutonic armies in check. Month after month and year after year, too, in the stormy northern seas, the British fleet kept the German navy locked within its mineguarded ports, and thus preserved the freedom of the seas for us and for all peaceful nations, and protected America from fulfilment of the German boast of conquest within three years. It is the British fleet and it alone that enables us to enter this war with Germany on our own terms, and not confronted with German dreadnoughts thundering at the gateways of our ports, and with German legions debarking upon our unguarded coasts.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BELLIGERENTS
All this is quite clear to America today. It was clear to the Allies beyond the sea from the very beginning of
And their understanding of it, and their failure to understand our apparent lack of understanding of it, account for their astonishment at our earlier attitude. These things also account for some of the friction which arose between them and us in the former stages of the war.
There was undoubtedly some French and British interference with our commerce and our mails, and those powers appeared upon the face of the case to be violating our rights and denying the freedom of the seas. They did not proclaim a true blockade of the German coast, under which they would of course have had an undeniable right to stop all commerce. Yet they did stop and forbid our commerce with Germany and even with certain neutral states, and they exercised a certain censorship over our mails. These things were regarded as grievances by us, and led to some more or less animated diplomatic controversy.
Here again there was misunderstanding. The Allies regarded themselves as fighting our battles for us as well as their own, as indeed they were, as we now see and confess. Therefore they thought that we ought not to object to such measures as were necessary for the successful prosecution of their campaign. That was a point of view which was very real to them, but which we did not in the least appreciate.
They did not declare a blockade, because to have done so would have imposed far greater hardships upon us than those which we did suffer. It would have meant the confiscation instead of the mere turning back of vessels which attempted to break through the line.
But they did interfere with our commerce with neutral states, because those states were bordering upon Germany or were in commercial intercourse with her, and the goods which we shipped to them were perfectly well known to be destined for Germany. It would have been folly for the Allies to prohibit our shipping supplies to Germany directly, and yet permitting us to ship them in unlimited quantities to Denmark, to be sent right across that country into Germany. That such was the destination of the goods, there was no doubt; there was not even a pretence at denial of it. It was perfectly obvious from the fact that immediately after the outbreak of the war the importations into those neutral states-Denmark, Norway, and Holland-enormously increased. It would have been absurd to pretend that because of the war or for any other reason those countries suddenly needed for their own use three or four times as great supplies as ever before.
An example of this abuse of commerce may be cited. A concern in Holland began soliciting from Japan shipments of Japanese bronze statuary, as "works of art” which of course could not be considered contraband of war. But it stated explicitly that it did not care what the subjects were, nor whether the pieces were artistically meritorious or not, so long as they were of solid bronze, the heavier the better. They need not even be finished and polished; in the roughest form they would be just as acceptable. Yet, however rough they were, they should be packed in thick sheets of india rubber, to protect them from being scratched or dented! Of course it was nothing in the world but a scheme for getting supplies of bronze and rubber for military purposes.
Copyright by Harris and Ewing.
MAJOR-GENERAL GEORGE W. GOETHALS The work of building the Panama Canal was brought to a successful conclusion largely through his engineering skill and executive ability while in charge of the work first as Chief Engineer and then as Governor of the Canal Zone. He was appointed Chairman of the Naval Advisory Board, to build a merchant marine for the government.