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Title: America and the World War
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore
Language: English
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New York
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Copyright, 1915, by
Charles Scribner’S Sons

Published January, 1915



      Now these were visions in the night of war:

      I prayed for peace; God, answering my prayer,
      Sent down a grievous plague on humankind,
      A black and tumorous plague that softly slew
      Till nations and their armies were no more--
          And there was perfect peace ...
      But I awoke, wroth with high God and prayer.

      I prayed for peace; God, answering my prayer,
      Decreed the Truce of Life:--Wings in the sky
      Fluttered and fell; the quick, bright ocean things
      Sank to the ooze; the footprints in the woods
      Vanished; the freed brute from the abattoir
      Starved on green pastures; and within the blood
      The death-work at the root of living ceased;
      And men gnawed clods and stones, blasphemed and died--
          And there was perfect peace ...
      But I awoke, wroth with high God and prayer.

      I prayed for peace; God, answering my prayer,
      Bowed the free neck beneath a yoke of steel,
      Dumbed the free voice that springs in lyric speech,
      Killed the free art that glows on all mankind,
      And made one iron nation lord of earth,
      Which in the monstrous matrix of its will
      Moulded a spawn of slaves. There was One Might--
      And there was perfect peace ...
      But I awoke, wroth with high God and prayer.

      I prayed for peace; God, answering my prayer,
      Palsied all flesh with bitter fear of death.
      The shuddering slayers fled to town and field
      Beset with carrion visions, foul decay.
      And sickening taints of air that made the earth
      One charnel of the shrivelled lines of war.
      And through all flesh that omnipresent fear
      Became the strangling fingers of a hand
      That choked aspiring thought and brave belief
      And love of loveliness and selfless deed
      Till flesh was all, flesh wallowing, styed in fear,
      In festering fear that stank beyond the stars--
          And there was perfect peace ...
      But I awoke, wroth with high God and prayer.

      I prayed for peace; God, answering my prayer,
      Spake very softly of forgotten things,
      Spake very softly old remembered words
      Sweet as young starlight. Rose to heaven again
      The mystic challenge of the Nazarene,
      That deathless affirmation:--Man in God
      And God in man willing the God to be ...
      And there was war and peace, and peace and war,
      Full year and lean, joy, anguish, life and death,
      Doing their work on the evolving soul,
      The soul of man in God and God in man.
      For death is nothing in the sum of things,
      And life is nothing in the sum of things,
      And flesh is nothing in the sum of things,
      But man in God is all and God in man,
      Will merged in will, love immanent in love,
      Moving through visioned vistas to one goal--
      The goal of man in God and God in man,
      And of all life in God and God in life--
      The far fruition of our earthly prayer,
      “Thy will be done!” ... There is no other peace!



In the New York _Evening Post_ for September 30, 1814, a correspondent
writes from Washington that on the ruins of the Capitol, which had
just been burned by a small British army, various disgusted patriots
had written sentences which included the following: “Fruits of war
without preparation” and “Mirror of democracy.” A century later, in
December, 1914, the same paper, ardently championing the policy of
national unpreparedness and claiming that democracy was incompatible
with preparedness against war, declared that it was moved to tears by
its pleasure in the similar championship of the same policy contained
in President Wilson’s just-published message to Congress. The message
is for the most part couched in terms of adroit and dexterous, and
usually indirect, suggestion, and carefully avoids downright, or indeed
straight-forward, statement of policy--the meaning being conveyed in
questions and hints, often so veiled and so obscure as to make it
possible to draw contradictory conclusions from the words used. There
are, however, fairly clear statements that we are “not to depend upon
a standing army nor yet upon a reserve army,” nor upon any efficient
system of universal training for our young men, but upon vague and
unformulated plans for encouraging volunteer aid for militia service
by making it “as attractive as possible”! The message contains such
sentences as that the President “hopes” that “some of the finer
passions” of the American people “are in his own heart”; that “dread
of the power of any other nation we are incapable of”; such sentences
as, shall we “be prepared to defend ourselves against attack? We
have always found means to do that, and shall find them whenever it
is necessary,” and “if asked, are you ready to defend yourself? we
reply, most assuredly, to the utmost.” It is difficult for a serious
and patriotic citizen to understand how the President could have
been willing to make such statements as these. Every student even of
elementary American history knows that in our last foreign war with a
formidable opponent, that of 1812, reliance on the principles President
Wilson now advocates brought us to the verge of national ruin and of
the break-up of the Union. The President must know that at that time we
had not “found means” even to defend the capital city in which he was
writing his message. He ought to know that at the present time, thanks
largely to his own actions, we are not “ready to defend ourselves” at
all, not to speak of defending ourselves “to the utmost.” In a state
paper subtle prettiness of phrase does not offset misteaching of the
vital facts of national history.

In 1814 this nation was paying for its folly in having for fourteen
years conducted its foreign policy, and refused to prepare for defense
against possible foreign foes, in accordance with the views of the
ultrapacificists of that day. It behooves us now, in the presence of
a world war even vaster and more terrible than the world war of the
early nineteenth century, to beware of taking the advice of the equally
foolish pacificists of our own day. To follow their advice at the
present time might expose our democracy to far greater disaster than
was brought upon it by its disregard of Washington’s maxim, and its
failure to secure peace by preparing against war, a hundred years ago.

In his message President Wilson has expressed his laudable desire that
this country, naturally through its President, may act as mediator to
bring peace among the great European powers. With this end in view
he, in his message, deprecates our taking any efficient steps to
prepare means for our own defense, lest such action might give a wrong
impression to the great warring powers. Furthermore, in his overanxiety
not to offend the powerful who have done wrong, he scrupulously
refrains from saying one word on behalf of the weak who have suffered
wrong. He makes no allusion to the violation of the Hague conventions
at Belgium’s expense, although this nation had solemnly undertaken to
be a guarantor of those conventions. He makes no protest against the
cruel wrongs Belgium has suffered. He says not one word about the need,
in the interests of true peace, of the only peace worth having, that
steps should be taken to prevent the repetition of such wrongs in the

This is not right. It is not just to the weaker nations of the earth.
It comes perilously near a betrayal of our own interests. In his
laudable anxiety to make himself acceptable as a mediator to England,
and especially to Germany, President Wilson loses sight of the fact
that his first duty is to the United States; and, moreover, desirable
though it is that his conduct should commend him to Germany, to
England, and to the other great contending powers, he should not for
this reason forget the interests of the small nations, and above all of
Belgium, whose gratitude can never mean anything tangible to him or to
us, but which has suffered a wrong that in any peace negotiations it
should be our first duty to see remedied.

In the following chapters, substantially reproduced from articles
contributed to the Wheeler Syndicate and also to _The Outlook_, _The
Independent_, and _Everybody’s_, the attempt is made to draw from the
present lamentable contest certain lessons which it would be well for
our people to learn. Among them are the following:

We, a people akin to and yet different from all the peoples of Europe,
should be equally friendly to all these peoples while they behave well,
should be courteous to and considerate of the rights of each of them,
but should not hesitate to judge each and all of them by their conduct.

The kind of “neutrality” which seeks to preserve “peace” by timidly
refusing to live up to our plighted word and to denounce and take
action against such wrong as that committed in the case of Belgium, is
unworthy of an honorable and powerful people. Dante reserved a special
place of infamy in the inferno for those base angels who dared side
neither with evil nor with good. Peace is ardently to be desired, but
only as the handmaid of righteousness. The only peace of permanent
value is the peace of righteousness. There can be no such peace until
well-behaved, highly civilized small nations are protected from
oppression and subjugation.

National promises, made in treaties, in Hague conventions, and the like
are like the promises of individuals. The sole value of the promise
comes in the performance. Recklessness in making promises is in
practice almost or quite as mischievous and dishonest as indifference
to keeping promises; and this as much in the case of nations as in the
case of individuals. Upright men make few promises, and keep those they

All the actions of the ultrapacificists for a generation past, all
their peace congresses and peace conventions, have amounted to
precisely and exactly nothing in advancing the cause of peace. The
peace societies of the ordinary pacificist type have in the aggregate
failed to accomplish even the smallest amount of good, have done
nothing whatever for peace, and the very small effect they have had
on their own nations has been, on the whole, slightly detrimental.
Although usually they have been too futile to be even detrimental,
their unfortunate tendency has so far been to make good men weak and
to make virtue a matter of derision to strong men. All-inclusive
arbitration treaties of the kind hitherto proposed and enacted are
utterly worthless, are hostile to righteousness and detrimental to
peace. The Americans, within and without Congress, who have opposed the
fortifying of the Panama Canal and the upbuilding of the American navy
have been false to the honor and the interest of the nation and should
be condemned by every high-minded citizen.

In every serious crisis the present Hague conventions and the peace
and arbitration and neutrality treaties of the existing type have
proved not to be worth the paper on which they were written. This
is because no method was provided of securing their enforcement,
of putting force behind the pledge. Peace treaties and arbitration
treaties unbacked by force are not merely useless but mischievous in
any serious crisis.

Treaties must never be recklessly made; improper treaties should be
repudiated long before the need for action under them arises; and all
treaties not thus repudiated in advance should be scrupulously kept.

From the international standpoint the essential thing to do is
effectively to put the combined power of civilization back of the
collective purpose of civilization to secure justice. This can be
achieved only by a world league for the peace of righteousness, which
would guarantee to enforce by the combined strength of all the nations
the decrees of a competent and impartial court against any recalcitrant
and offending nation. Only in this way will treaties become serious

Such a world league for peace is not now in sight. Until it is created
the prime necessity for each free and liberty-loving nation is to keep
itself in such a state of efficient preparedness as to be able to
defend by its own strength both its honor and its vital interest. The
most important lesson for the United States to learn from the present
war is the vital need that it shall at once take steps thus to prepare.

Preparedness against war does not always avert war or disaster in
war any more than the existence of a fire department, that is, of
preparedness against fire, always averts fire. But it is the only
insurance against war and the only insurance against overwhelming
disgrace and disaster in war. Preparedness usually averts war and
usually prevents disaster in war; and always prevents disgrace in war.
Preparedness, so far from encouraging nations to go to war, has a
marked tendency to diminish the chance of war occurring. Unpreparedness
has not the slightest effect in averting war. Its only effect is
immensely to increase the likelihood of disgrace and disaster in
war. The United States should immediately strengthen its navy and
provide for its steady training in purely military functions; it
should similarly strengthen the regular army and provide a reserve;
and, furthermore, it should provide for all the young men of the
nation military training of the kind practised by the free democracy
of Switzerland. Switzerland is the least “militaristic” and most
democratic of republics, and the best prepared against war. If we
follow her example we will be carrying out the precepts of Washington.

We feel no hostility toward any nation engaged in the present
tremendous struggle. We feel an infinite sadness because of the black
abyss of war into which all these nations have been plunged. We admire
the heroism they have shown. We act in a spirit of warm friendliness
toward all of them, even when obliged to protest against the
wrong-doing of any one of them.

Our country should not shirk its duty to mankind. It can perform this
duty only if it is true to itself. It can be true to itself only by
definitely resolving to take the position of the just man armed; for a
proud and self-respecting nation of freemen must scorn to do wrong to
others and must also scorn tamely to submit to wrong done by others.


    January 1, 1915.


    FOREWORD                                                     vii

            OTHERS                                                 1

      II. THE BELGIAN TRAGEDY                                     15


      IV. THE CAUSES OF THE WAR                                   60

       V. HOW TO STRIVE FOR WORLD PEACE                           74

      VI. THE PEACE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS                              88

     VII. AN INTERNATIONAL POSSE COMITATUS                       104

    VIII. SELF-DEFENSE WITHOUT MILITARISM                        128

      IX. OUR PEACEMAKER, THE NAVY                               156

       X. PREPAREDNESS AGAINST WAR                               174

      XI. UTOPIA OR HELL?                                        220

     XII. SUMMING UP                                             244



In this country we are both shocked and stunned by the awful cataclysm
which has engulfed civilized Europe. By only a few men was the
possibility of such a wide-spread and hideous disaster even admitted.
Most persons, even after it occurred, felt as if it was unbelievable.
They felt that in what it pleased enthusiasts to speak of as “this age
of enlightenment” it was impossible that primal passion, working hand
in hand with the most modern scientific organization, should loose upon
the world these forces of dread destruction.

In the last week in July the men and women of the populous civilized
countries of Europe were leading their usual ordered lives, busy and
yet soft, lives carried on with comfort and luxury, with appliances
for ease and pleasure such as never before were known, lives led in
a routine which to most people seemed part of the natural order of
things, something which could not be disturbed by shocks such as the
world knew of old. A fortnight later hell yawned under the feet of
these hard-working or pleasure-seeking men and women, and woe smote
them as it smote the peoples we read of in the Old Testament or in the
histories of the Middle Ages. Through the rents in our smiling surface
of civilization the volcanic fires beneath gleamed red in the gloom.

What occurred in Europe is on a giant scale like the disaster to the
_Titanic_. One moment the great ship was speeding across the ocean,
equipped with every device for comfort, safety, and luxury. The men
in her stoke-hold and steerage were more comfortable than the most
luxurious travellers of a century ago. The people in her first-class
cabins enjoyed every luxury that a luxurious city life could demand
and were screened not only from danger but from the least discomfort
or annoyance. Suddenly, in one awful and shattering moment, death
smote the floating host, so busy with work and play. They were in that
moment shot back through immeasurable ages. At one stroke they were
hurled from a life of effortless ease back into elemental disaster;
to disaster in which baseness showed naked, and heroism burned like a
flame of light.

In the face of a calamity so world-wide as the present war, it behooves
us all to keep our heads clear and to read aright the lessons taught
us; for we ourselves may suffer dreadful penalties if we read these
lessons wrong. The temptation always is only to half-learn such a
lesson, for a half-truth is always simple, whereas the whole truth is
very, very difficult. Unfortunately, a half-truth, if applied, may turn
out to be the most dangerous type of falsehood.

Now, our business here in America in the face of this cataclysm is
twofold. In the first place it is imperative that we shall take the
steps necessary in order, by our own strength and wisdom, to safeguard
ourselves against such disaster as has occurred in Europe. Events have
shown that peace treaties, arbitration treaties, neutrality treaties,
Hague treaties, and the like as at present existing, offer not even
the smallest protection against such disasters. The prime duty of the
moment is therefore to keep Uncle Sam in such a position that by his
own stout heart and ready hand he can defend the vital honor and vital
interest of the American people.

But this is not our only duty, even although it is the only duty we
can immediately perform. The horror of what has occurred in Europe,
which has drawn into the maelstrom of war large parts of Asia, Africa,
Australasia, and even America, is altogether too great to permit us to
rest supine without endeavoring to prevent its repetition. We are not
to be excused if we do not make a resolute and intelligent effort to
devise some scheme which will minimize the chance for a recurrence of
such horror in the future and which will at least limit and alleviate
it if it should occur. In other words, it is our duty to try to devise
some efficient plan for securing the peace of righteousness throughout
the world.

That any plan will surely and automatically bring peace we cannot
promise. Nevertheless, I think a plan can be devised which will render
it far more difficult than at present to plunge us into a world war
and far more easy than at present to find workable and practical
substitutes even for ordinary war. In order to do this, however, it
is necessary that we shall fearlessly look facts in the face. We
cannot devise methods for securing peace which will actually work
unless we are in good faith willing to face the fact that the present
all-inclusive arbitration treaties, peace conferences, and the like,
upon which our well-meaning pacificists have pinned so much hope, have
proved utterly worthless under serious strain. We must face this fact
and clearly understand the reason for it before we can advance an
adequate remedy.

It is even more important not to pay heed to the pathetic infatuation
of the well-meaning persons who declare that this is “the last great
war.” During the last century such assertions have been made again and
again after the close of every great war. They represent nothing but
an amiable fatuity. The strong men of the United States must protect
the feeble; but they must not trust for guidance to the feeble.

In these chapters I desire to ask my fellow countrymen and countrywomen
to consider the various lessons which are being writ in letters of
blood and steel before our eyes. I wish to ask their consideration,
first, of the immediate need that we shall realize the utter
hopelessness under actually existing conditions of our trusting for
our safety merely to the good-will of other powers or to treaties or
other “bits of paper” or to anything except our own steadfast courage
and preparedness. Second, I wish to point out what a complicated and
difficult thing it is to work for peace and how difficult it may be
to combine doing one’s duty in the endeavor to bring peace for others
without failing in one’s duty to secure peace for one’s self; and
therefore I wish to point out how unwise it is to make foolish promises
which under great strain it would be impossible to keep.

Third, I wish to try to give practical expression to what I know is the
hope of the great body of our people. We should endeavor to devise some
method of action, in common with other nations, whereby there shall
be at least a reasonable chance of securing world peace and, in any
event, of narrowing the sphere of possible war and its horrors. To do
this it is equally necessary unflinchingly to antagonize the position
of the men who believe in nothing but brute force exercised without
regard to the rights of other nations, and unhesitatingly to condemn
the well-meaning but unwise persons who seek to mislead our people into
the belief that treaties, mere bits of paper, when unbacked by force
and when there is no one responsible for their enforcement, can be of
the slightest use in a serious crisis. Force unbacked by righteousness
is abhorrent. The effort to substitute for it vague declamation for
righteousness unbacked by force is silly. The policeman must be put
back of the judge in international law just as he is back of the judge
in municipal law. The effective power of civilization must be put back
of civilization’s collective purpose to secure reasonable justice
between nation and nation.

First, consider the lessons taught by this war as to the absolute
need under existing conditions of our being willing, ready, and able
to defend ourselves from unjust attack. What has befallen Belgium and
Luxembourg--not to speak of China--during the past five months shows
the utter hopelessness of trusting to any treaties, no matter how
well meant, unless back of them lies power sufficient to secure their

At the outset let me explain with all possible emphasis that in what
I am about to say at this time I am not criticising nor taking sides
with any one of the chief combatants in either group of warring
powers, so far as the relations between and among these chief powers
themselves are concerned. The causes for the present contest stretch
into the immemorial past. As far as the present generations of Germans,
Frenchmen, Russians, Austrians, and Servians are concerned, their
actions have been determined by deeds done and left undone by many
generations in the past. Not only the sovereigns but the peoples
engaged on each side believe sincerely in the justice of their several
causes. This is convincingly shown by the action of the Socialists in
Germany, France, and Belgium. Of all latter-day political parties the
Socialist is the one in which international brotherhood is most dwelt
upon, while international obligations are placed on a par with national
obligations. Yet the Socialists in Germany and the Socialists in France
and Belgium have all alike thrown themselves into this contest with
the same enthusiasm and, indeed, the same bitterness as the rest of
their countrymen. I am not at this moment primarily concerned with
passing judgment upon any of the powers. I am merely instancing certain
things that have occurred, because of the vital importance that we as a
people should take to heart the lessons taught by these occurrences.

At the end of July Belgium and Luxembourg were independent nations. By
treaties executed in 1832 and 1867 their neutrality had been guaranteed
by the great nations round about them--Germany, France, and England.
Their neutrality was thus guaranteed with the express purpose of
keeping them at peace and preventing any invasion of their territory
during war. Luxembourg built no fortifications and raised no army,
trusting entirely to the pledged faith of her neighbors. Belgium, an
extremely thrifty, progressive, and prosperous industrial country,
whose people are exceptionally hard-working and law-abiding, raised
an army and built forts for purely defensive purposes. Neither nation
committed the smallest act of hostility or aggression against any
one of its neighbors. Each behaved with absolute propriety. Each was
absolutely innocent of the slightest wrong-doing. Neither has the very
smallest responsibility for the disaster that has overwhelmed her.
Nevertheless as soon as the war broke out the territories of both were

Luxembourg made no resistance. It is now practically incorporated in
Germany. Other nations have almost forgotten its existence and not the
slightest attention has been paid to its fate simply because it did
not fight, simply because it trusted solely to peaceful measures and
to the treaties which were supposed to guarantee it against harm. The
eyes of the world, however, are on Belgium because the Belgians have
fought hard and gallantly for all that makes life best worth having
to honorable men and women. In consequence, Belgium has been trampled
under foot. At this moment not only her men but her women and children
are enduring misery so dreadful that it is hard for us who live at
peace to visualize it to ourselves.

The fate of Luxembourg and of Belgium offers an instructive commentary
on the folly of the well-meaning people who a few years ago insisted
that the Panama Canal should not be fortified and that we should trust
to international treaties to protect it. After what has occurred in
Europe no sane man has any excuse for believing that such treaties
would avail us in our hour of need any more than they have availed
Belgium and Luxembourg--and, for that matter, Korea and China--in their
hours of need.

If a great world war should arise or if a great world-power were at
war with us under conditions that made it desirable for other nations
not to be drawn into the quarrel, any step that the hostile nation’s
real or fancied need demanded would unquestionably be taken, and any
treaty that stood in the way would be treated as so much waste paper
except so far as we could back it by force. If under such circumstances
Panama is retained and controlled by us, it will be because our forts
and garrison and our fleets on the ocean make it unsafe to meddle with
the canal and the canal zone. Were it only protected by a treaty--that
is, unless behind the treaty lay both force and the readiness to use
force--the canal would not be safe for twenty-four hours. Moreover, in
such case, the real blame would lie at our own doors. We would not be
helped at all, we would merely make ourselves objects of derision, if
under these circumstances we screamed and clamored about the iniquity
of those who violated the treaty and took possession of Panama. The
blame would rightly be placed by the world upon our own supine folly,
upon our own timidity and weakness, and we would be adjudged unfit to
hold what we had shown ourselves too soft and too short-sighted to

The most obvious lesson taught by what has occurred is the utter
worthlessness of treaties unless backed by force. It is evident that
as things are now, all-inclusive arbitration treaties, neutrality
treaties, treaties of alliance, and the like do not serve one particle
of good in protecting a peaceful nation when some great military power
deems its vital needs at stake, unless the rights of this peaceful
nation are backed by force. The devastation of Belgium, the burning of
Louvain, the holding of Brussels to heavy ransom, the killing of women
and children, the wrecking of houses in Antwerp by bombs from air-ships
have excited genuine sympathy among neutral nations. But no neutral
nation has protested; and while unquestionably a neutral nation like
the United States ought to have protested, yet the only certain way to
make such a protest effective would be to put force back of it. Let our
people remember that what has been done to Belgium would unquestionably
be done to us by any great military power with which we were drawn into
war, no matter how just our cause. Moreover, it would be done without
any more protest on the part of neutral nations than we have ourselves
made in the case of Belgium.

If, as an aftermath of this war, some great Old-World power or
combination of powers made war on us because we objected to their
taking and fortifying Magdalena Bay or St. Thomas, our chance of
securing justice would rest exclusively on the efficiency of our
fleet and army, especially the fleet. No arbitration treaties, or
peace treaties, of the kind recently negotiated at Washington by the
bushelful, and no tepid good-will of neutral powers, would help us in
even the smallest degree. If our fleet were conquered, New York and
San Francisco would be seized and probably each would be destroyed as
Louvain was destroyed unless it were put to ransom as Brussels has
been put to ransom. Under such circumstances outside powers would
undoubtedly remain neutral exactly as we have remained neutral as
regards Belgium.

Under such conditions my own view is very strongly that the national
interest would be best served by refusing the payment of all ransom
and accepting the destruction of the cities and then continuing the
war until by our own strength and indomitable will we had exacted
ample atonement from our foes. This would be a terrible price to pay
for unpreparedness; and those responsible for the unpreparedness would
thereby be proved guilty of a crime against the nation. Upon them would
rest the guilt of all the blood and misery. The innocent would have
to atone for their folly and strong men would have to undo and offset
it by submitting to the destruction of our cities rather than consent
to save them by paying money which would be used to prosecute the war
against the rest of the country. If our people are wise and far-sighted
and if they still have in their blood the iron of the men who fought
under Grant and Lee, they will, in the event of such a war, insist upon
this price being paid, upon this course being followed. They will
then in the end exact, from the nation which assails us, atonement for
the misery and redress for the wrong done. They will not rely upon the
ineffective good-will of neutral outsiders. They will show a temper
that will make our foes think twice before meddling with us again.

The great danger to peace so far as this country is concerned arises
from such pacificists as those who have made and applauded our recent
all-inclusive arbitration treaties, who advocate the abandonment of
our policy of building battle-ships and the refusal to fortify the
Panama Canal. It is always possible that these persons may succeed in
impressing foreign nations with the belief that they represent our
people. If they ever do succeed in creating this conviction in the
minds of other nations, the fate of the United States will speedily be
that of China and Luxembourg, or else it will be saved therefrom only
by long-drawn war, accompanied by incredible bloodshed and disaster.

It is those among us who would go to the front in such event--as I
and my four sons would go--who are the really far-sighted and earnest
friends of peace. We desire measures taken in the real interest of
peace because we, who at need would fight, but who earnestly hope
never to be forced to fight, have most at stake in keeping peace. We
object to the actions of those who do most talking about the necessity
of peace because we think they are really a menace to the just and
honorable peace which alone this country will in the long run support.
We object to their actions because we believe they represent a course
of conduct which may at any time produce a war in which we and not they
would labor and suffer.

In such a war the prime fact to be remembered is that the men really
responsible for it would not be those who would pay the penalty. The
ultrapacificists are rarely men who go to battle. Their fault or their
folly would be expiated by the blood of countless thousands of plain
and decent American citizens of the stamp of those, North and South
alike, who in the Civil War laid down all they had, including life
itself, in battling for the right as it was given to them to see the



Peace is worthless unless it serves the cause of righteousness. Peace
which consecrates militarism is of small service. Peace obtained
by crushing the liberty and life of just and unoffending peoples
is as cruel as the most cruel war. It should ever be our honorable
effort to serve one of the world’s most vital needs by doing all in
our power to bring about conditions which will give some effective
protection to weak or small nations which themselves keep order and
act with justice toward the rest of mankind. There can be no higher
international duty than to safeguard the existence and independence of
industrious, orderly states, with a high personal and national standard
of conduct, but without the military force of the great powers; states,
for instance, such as Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the Scandinavian
countries, Uruguay, and others. A peace which left Belgium’s wrongs
unredressed and which did not provide against the recurrence of such
wrongs as those from which she has suffered would not be a real peace.

As regards the actions of most of the combatants in the hideous
world-wide war now raging it is possible sincerely to take and defend
either of the opposite views concerning their actions. The causes of
any such great and terrible contest almost always lie far back in the
past, and the seeming immediate cause is usually itself in major part
merely an effect of many preceding causes. The assassination of the
heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was partly or largely due to the
existence of political and often murderous secret societies in Servia
which the Servian government did not suppress; and it did not suppress
them because the “bondage” of the men and women of the Servian race in
Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria was such a source of ever-present
irritation to the Servians that their own government was powerless to
restrain them. Strong arguments can be advanced on both the Austrian
and the Servian sides as regards this initial cause of the present
world-wide war.

Again, when once the war was started between Austria and Servia, it can
well be argued that it was impossible for Russia not to take part. Had
she not done so, she would have forfeited her claims to the leadership
of the smaller Slav peoples; and the leading Russian liberals
enthusiastically support the Russian government in this matter,
asserting that Russia’s triumph in this particular struggle means a
check to militarism, a stride toward greater freedom, and an advance
in justice toward the Pole, the Jew, the Finn, and the people of the

When Russia took part it may well be argued that it was impossible
for Germany not to come to the defense of Austria, and that disaster
would surely have attended her arms had she not followed the course
she actually did follow as regards her opponents on her western
frontier. As for her wonderful efficiency--her equipment, the foresight
and decision of her General Staff, her instantaneous action, her
indomitable persistence--there can be nothing but the praise and
admiration due a stern, virile, and masterful people, a people entitled
to hearty respect for their patriotism and far-seeing self-devotion.

Yet again, it is utterly impossible to see how France could have acted
otherwise than as she did act. She had done nothing to provoke the
crisis, even although it be admitted that in the end she was certain
to side with Russia. War was not declared by her, but against her,
and she could not have escaped it save by having pursued in the past,
and by willingness to pursue in the future, a course which would have
left her as helpless as Luxembourg--and Luxembourg’s fate shows that
helplessness does not offer the smallest guarantee of peace.

When once Belgium was invaded, every circumstance of national honor
and interest forced England to act precisely as she did act. She could
not have held up her head among nations had she acted otherwise. In
particular, she is entitled to the praise of all true lovers of peace,
for it is only by action such as she took that neutrality treaties
and treaties guaranteeing the rights of small powers will ever be
given any value. The actions of Sir Edward Grey as he guided Britain’s
foreign policy showed adherence to lofty standards of right combined
with firmness of courage under great strain. The British position, and
incidentally the German position, are tersely stated in the following
extract from the report of Sir Edward Goschen, who at the outset of the
war was British ambassador in Berlin. The report, in speaking of the
interview between the ambassador and the German imperial chancellor,
Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, says:

    The chancellor [spoke] about twenty minutes. He said the step
    taken by Great Britain was terrible to a degree. Just for a
    word, “neutrality,” a word which in war time had been so often
    disregarded, just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain was
    going to make war on a kindred nation. What we had done was
    unthinkable. It was like striking a man from behind while he was
    fighting for his life against two assailants.

    I protested strongly against this statement, and said that in
    the same way as he wished me to understand that for strategical
    reasons it was a matter of life or death to Germany to advance
    through Belgium and violate the latter’s neutrality, so I would
    wish him to understand that it was, so to speak, a matter of life
    or death for the honor of Great Britain that she should keep her
    solemn engagement to do her utmost to defend Belgium’s neutrality
    if attacked. A solemn compact simply had to be kept, or what
    confidence could any one have in England’s engagement in the

There is one nation, however, as to which there is no room for
difference of opinion, whether we consider her wrongs or the justice
of her actions. It seems to me impossible that any man can fail to
feel the deepest sympathy with a nation which is absolutely guiltless
of any wrong-doing, which has given proof of high valor, and yet which
has suffered terribly, and which, if there is any meaning in the words
“right” and “wrong,” has suffered wrongfully. Belgium is not in the
smallest degree responsible for any of the conditions that during the
last half century have been at work to impress a certain fatalistic
stamp upon those actions of Austria, Russia, Germany, and France which
have rendered this war inevitable. No European nation has had anything
whatever to fear from Belgium. There was not the smallest danger of
her making any aggressive movement, not even the slightest aggressive
movement, against any one of her neighbors. Her population was mainly
industrial and was absorbed in peaceful business. Her people were
thrifty, hard-working, highly civilized, and in no way aggressive.
She owed her national existence to the desire to create an absolutely
neutral state. Her neutrality had been solemnly guaranteed by the great
powers, including Germany as well as England and France.

Suddenly, and out of a clear sky, her territory was invaded by an
overwhelming German army. According to the newspaper reports, it
was admitted in the Reichstag by German members that this act was
“wrongful.” Of course, if there is any meaning to the words “right”
and “wrong” in international matters, the act was wrong. The men who
shape German policy take the ground that in matters of vital national
moment there are no such things as abstract right and wrong, and that
when a great nation is struggling for its existence it can no more
consider the rights of neutral powers than it can consider the rights
of its own citizens as these rights are construed in times of peace,
and that everything must bend before the supreme law of national
self-preservation. Whatever we may think of the morality of this plea,
it is certain that almost all great nations have in time past again and
again acted in accordance with it. England’s conduct toward Denmark in
the Napoleonic wars, and the conduct of both England and France toward
us during those same wars, admit only of this species of justification;
and with less excuse the same is true of our conduct toward Spain in
Florida nearly a century ago. Nevertheless we had hoped by the action
taken at The Hague to mark an advance in international morality in such
matters. The action taken by Germany toward Belgium, and the failure by
the United States in any way to protest against such action, shows that
there has been no advance. I wish to point out just what was done, and
to emphasize Belgium’s absolute innocence and the horrible suffering
and disaster that have overwhelmed her in spite of such innocence. And
I wish to do this so that we as a nation may learn aright the lessons
taught by the dreadful Belgian tragedy.

Germany’s attack on Belgium was not due to any sudden impulse. It had
been carefully planned for a score of years, on the assumption that
the treaty of neutrality was, as Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg observed,
nothing but “paper,” and that the question of breaking or keeping
it was to be considered solely from the standpoint of Germany’s
interest. The German railways up to the Belgian border are for the
most part military roads, which have been double-tracked with a view
to precisely the overwhelming attack that has just been delivered into
and through Belgium. The great German military text-books, such as that
of Bernhardi, in discussing and studying possible German campaigns
against Russia and France, have treated advances through Belgium or
Switzerland exactly as they have treated possible advances through
German territory, it being assumed by the writers and by all for whom
they wrote that no efficient rulers or military men would for a second
consider a neutrality treaty or any other kind of treaty if it became
to the self-interest of a party to break it. It must be remembered
that the German system in no way limits its disregard of conventions
to disregard of neutrality treaties. For example, in General von
Bernhardi’s book, in speaking of naval warfare, he lays down the
following rule: “Sometimes in peace even, if there is no other means
of defending one’s self against a superior force, it will be advisable
to attack the enemy by torpedo and submarine boats, and to inflict
upon him unexpected losses.... War upon the enemy’s trade must also be
conducted as ruthlessly as possible, since only then, in addition to
the material damage inflicted upon the enemy, the necessary terror is
spread among the merchant marine, which is even more important than
the capture of actual prizes. A certain amount of terrorism must be
practised on the sea, making peaceful tradesmen stay in safe harbors.”

Belgium has felt the full effect of the practical application of these
principles, and Germany has profited by them exactly as her statesmen
and soldiers believed she would profit. They have believed that the
material gain of trampling on Belgium would more than offset any
material opposition which the act would arouse, and they treat with the
utter and contemptuous derision which it deserves the mere pacificist
clamor against wrong which is unaccompanied by the intention and effort
to redress wrong by force.

The Belgians, when invaded, valiantly defended themselves. They
acted precisely as Andreas Hofer and his Tyrolese, and Koerner and
the leaders of the North German Tugendbund acted in their day; and
their fate has been the fate of Andreas Hofer, who was shot after his
capture, and of Koerner, who was shot in battle. They fought valiantly,
and they were overcome. They were then stamped under foot. Probably it
is physically impossible for our people, living softly and at ease, to
visualize to themselves the dreadful woe that has come upon the people
of Belgium, and especially upon the poor people. Let each man think of
his neighbors--of the carpenter, the station agent, the day-laborer,
the farmer, the grocer--who are round about him, and think of these
men deprived of their all, their homes destroyed, their sons dead or
prisoners, their wives and children half starved, overcome with fatigue
and horror, stumbling their way to some city of refuge, and when they
have reached it, finding air-ships wrecking the houses with bombs and
destroying women and children. The King shared the toil and danger of
the fighting men; the Queen and her children suffered as other mothers
and children suffered.

Unquestionably what has been done in Belgium has been done in
accordance with what the Germans sincerely believe to be the course
of conduct necessitated by Germany’s struggle for life. But Germany’s
need to struggle for her life does not make it any easier for the
Belgians to suffer death. The Germans are in Belgium from no fault
of the Belgians but purely because the Germans deemed it to their
vital interest to violate Belgium’s rights. Therefore the ultimate
responsibility for what has occurred at Louvain and what has occurred
and is occurring in Brussels rests upon Germany and in no way upon
Belgium. The invasion could have been averted by no action of Belgium
that was consistent with her honor and self-respect. The Belgians would
have been less than men had they not defended themselves and their
country. For this, and for this only, they are suffering, somewhat as
my own German ancestors suffered when Turenne ravaged the Palatinate,
somewhat as my Irish ancestors suffered in the struggles that attended
the conquests and reconquests of Ireland in the days of Cromwell
and William. The suffering is by no means as great, but it is very
great, and it is altogether too nearly akin to what occurred in the
seventeenth century for us of the twentieth century to feel overmuch
pleased with the amount of advance that has been made. It is neither
necessary nor at the present time possible to sift from the charges,
countercharges, and denials the exact facts as to the acts alleged
to have been committed in various places. The prime fact as regards
Belgium is that Belgium was an entirely peaceful and genuinely neutral
power which had been guilty of no offence whatever. What has befallen
her is due to the further fact that a great, highly civilized military
power deemed that its own vital interests rendered imperative the
infliction of this suffering on an inoffensive although valiant and
patriotic little nation.

I admire and respect the German people. I am proud of the German blood
in my veins. But the sympathy and support of the American people should
go out unreservedly to Belgium, and we should learn the lesson taught
by Belgium’s fall. What has occurred to Belgium is precisely what would
occur under similar conditions to us, unless we were able to show that
the action would be dangerous.

The rights and wrongs of these cases where nations violate the rules
of morality in order to meet their own supposed needs can be precisely
determined only when all the facts are known and when men’s blood is
cool. Nevertheless, it is imperative, in the interest of civilization,
to create international conditions which shall neither require nor
permit such action in the future. Moreover, we should understand
clearly just what these actions are and just what lessons we of the
United States should learn from them so far as our own future is

There are several such lessons. One is how complicated instead of how
simple it is to decide what course we ought to follow as regards any
given action supposed to be in the interest of peace. Of course I am
speaking of the thing and not the name when I speak of peace. The
ultrapacificists are capable of taking any position, yet I suppose
that few among them now hold that there was value in the “peace” which
was obtained by the concert of European powers when they prevented
interference with Turkey while the Turks butchered some hundreds of
thousands of Armenian men, women, and children. In the same way I do
not suppose that even the ultrapacificists really feel that “peace”
is triumphant in Belgium at the present moment. President Wilson has
been much applauded by all the professional pacificists because he
has announced that our desire for peace must make us secure it for
ourselves by a neutrality so strict as to forbid our even whispering a
protest against wrong-doing, lest such whispers might cause disturbance
to our ease and well-being. We pay the penalty of this action--or,
rather, supine inaction--on behalf of peace for ourselves, by
forfeiting our right to do anything on behalf of peace for the Belgians
in the present. We can maintain our neutrality only by refusal to do
anything to aid unoffending weak powers which are dragged into the gulf
of bloodshed and misery through no fault of their own. It is a grim
comment on the professional pacificist theories as hitherto developed
that, according to their view, our duty to preserve peace for ourselves
necessarily means the abandonment of all effective effort to secure
peace for other unoffending nations which through no fault of their own
are trampled down by war.

The next lesson we should learn is of far more immediate consequence
to us than speculations about peace in the abstract. Our people
should wake up to the fact that it is a poor thing to live in a
fool’s paradise. What has occurred in this war ought to bring home
to everybody what has of course long been known to all really
well-informed men who were willing to face the truth and not try to
dodge it. Until some method is devised of putting effective force
behind arbitration and neutrality treaties neither these treaties nor
the vague and elastic body of custom which is misleadingly termed
international law will have any real effect in any serious crisis
between us and any save perhaps one or two of the great powers. The
average great military power looks at these matters purely from the
standpoint of its own interests. Several months ago, for instance,
Japan declared war on Germany. She has paid scrupulous regard to
our own rights and feelings in the matter. The contention that she
is acting in a spirit of mere disinterested altruism need not be
considered. She believes that she has wrongs to redress and strong
national interests to preserve. Nineteen years ago Germany joined
with Russia to check Japan’s progress after her victorious war with
China, and has since then itself built up a German colonial possession
on Chinese soil. Doubtless the Japanese have never for one moment
forgotten this act of Germany. Doubtless they also regard the presence
of a strong European military power in China so near to Korea and
Manchuria as a menace to Japan’s national life. With businesslike
coolness the soldierly statesmen of Nippon have taken the chance which
offered itself of at little cost retaliating for the injury inflicted
upon them in the past and removing an obstacle to their future
dominance in eastern Asia. Korea is absolutely Japan’s. To be sure, by
treaty it was solemnly covenanted that Korea should remain independent.
But Korea was itself helpless to enforce the treaty, and it was out of
the question to suppose that any other nation with no interest of its
own at stake would attempt to do for the Koreans what they were utterly
unable to do for themselves. Moreover, the treaty rested on the false
assumption that Korea could govern herself well. It had already been
shown that she could not in any real sense govern herself at all. Japan
could not afford to see Korea in the hands of a great foreign power.
She regarded her duty to her children and her children’s children as
overriding her treaty obligations. Therefore, when Japan thought the
right time had come, it calmly tore up the treaty and took Korea, with
the polite and businesslike efficiency it had already shown in dealing
with Russia, and was afterward to show in dealing with Germany. The
treaty, when tested, proved as utterly worthless as our own recent
all-inclusive arbitration treaties--and worthlessness can go no further.

Hysteria does not tend toward edification; and in this country hysteria
is unfortunately too often the earmark of the ultrapacificist. Surely
at this time there is more reason than ever to remember Professor
Lounsbury’s remark concerning the “infinite capacity of the human brain
to withstand the introduction of knowledge.” The comments of some
doubtless well-meaning citizens of our own country upon the lessons
taught by this terrible cataclysm of war are really inexplicable to
any man who forgets the truth that Professor Lounsbury thus set forth.
A writer of articles for a newspaper syndicate the other day stated
that Germany was being opposed by the rest of the world because it had
“inspired fear.” This thesis can, of course, be sustained. But Belgium
has inspired no fear. Yet it has suffered infinitely more than Germany.
Luxembourg inspired no fear. Yet it has been quietly taken possession
of by Germany. The writer in question would find it puzzling to point
out the particulars in which Belgium and Luxembourg--not to speak of
China and Korea--are at this moment better off than Germany. Of course
they are worse off; and this because Germany _has_ “inspired fear,”
and they have not. Nevertheless, this writer drew the conclusion that
“fear” was the only emotion which ought not to be inspired; and he
advocated our abandonment of battle-ships and other means of defense,
so that we might never inspire “fear” in any one. He forgot that,
while it is a bad thing to inspire fear, it is a much worse thing to
inspire contempt. Another newspaper writer pointed out that on the
frontier between us and Canada there were no forts, and yet peace
obtained; and drew the conclusion that forts and armed forces were
inimical to national safety. This worthy soul evidently did not know
that Luxembourg had no forts or armed forces, and therefore succumbed
without a protest of any kind. If he does not admire the heroism of the
Belgians and prefer it to the tame submission of the Luxembourgers,
then this writer is himself unfit to live as a free man in a free
country. The crown of ineptitude, however, was reached by an editor
who announced, in praising the recent all-inclusive peace treaties,
that “had their like been in existence between some of the European
nations two weeks ago, the world might have been spared the great war.”
It is rather hard to deal seriously with such a supposition. At this
very moment the utter worthlessness, under great pressure, of even the
rational treaties drawn to protect Belgium and Luxembourg has been
shown. To suppose that under such conditions a bundle of bits of paper
representing mere verbiage, with no guarantee, would count for anything
whatever in a serious crisis is to show ourselves unfit to control the
destinies of a great, just, and self-respecting people.

These writers wish us to abandon all means of defending ourselves.
Some of them advocate our abandoning the building of an efficient
fleet. Yet at this moment Great Britain owes it that she is not in
worse plight than Belgium solely to the fact that with far-sighted
wisdom her statesmen have maintained her navy at the highest point of
efficiency. At this moment the Japanese are at war with the Germans,
and hostilities have been taking place in what but twenty years ago
was Chinese territory, and what by treaty is unquestionably Chinese
territory to-day. China has protested against the Japanese violation of
Chinese neutrality in their operations against the Germans, but no heed
has been paid to the protest, for China cannot back the protest by the
use of armed force. Moreover, as China is reported to have pointed out
to Germany, the latter power had violated Chinese neutrality just as
Japan had done.

Very possibly the writers above alluded to were sincere in their belief
that they were advocating what was patriotic and wise when they urged
that the United States make itself utterly defenseless so as to avoid
giving an excuse for aggression. Yet these writers ought to have known
that during their own lifetime China has been utterly defenseless and
yet has suffered from aggression after aggression. Large portions
of its territory are now in the possession of Russia, of Japan, of
Germany, of France, of England. The great war between Russia and Japan
was fought on what was nominally Chinese territory. At present, because
a few months ago Servian assassins murdered the heir to the Austrian
monarchy, Japan has fought Germany on Chinese territory. Luxembourg
has been absolutely powerless and defenseless, has had no soldiers and
no forts. It is off the map at this moment. Not only are none of the
belligerents thinking about its rights, but no neutral is thinking
about its rights, and this simply because Luxembourg could not defend
itself. It is our duty to be patient with every kind of folly, but it
is hard for a good American, for a man to whom his country is dear and
who reveres the memories of Washington and Lincoln, to be entirely
patient with the kind of folly that advocates reducing this country to
the position of China and Luxembourg.

One of the main lessons to learn from this war is embodied in the
homely proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Persistently only
half of this proverb has been quoted in deriding the men who wish to
safeguard our national interest and honor. Persistently the effort has
been made to insist that those who advocate keeping our country able to
defend its rights are merely adopting “the policy of the big stick.”
In reality, we lay equal emphasis on the fact that it is necessary to
speak softly; in other words, that it is necessary to be respectful
toward all people and scrupulously to refrain from wronging them,
while at the same time keeping ourselves in condition to prevent wrong
being done to us. If a nation does not in this sense speak softly,
then sooner or later the policy of the big stick is certain to result
in war. But what befell Luxembourg five months ago, what has befallen
China again and again during the past quarter of a century, shows that
no amount of speaking softly will save any people which does not carry
a big stick.

America should have a coherent policy of action toward foreign powers,
and this should primarily be based on the determination never to
give offense when it can be avoided, always to treat other nations
justly and courteously, and, as long as present conditions exist, to
be prepared to defend our own rights ourselves. No other nation will
defend them for us. No paper guarantee or treaty will be worth the
paper on which it is written if it becomes to the interest of some
other power to violate it, unless we have strength, and courage and
ability to use that strength, back of the treaty. Every public man,
every writer who speaks with wanton offensiveness of a foreign power or
of a foreign people, whether he attacks England or France or Germany,
whether he assails the Russians or the Japanese, is doing an injury to
the whole American body politic. We have plenty of shortcomings at home
to correct before we start out to criticise the shortcomings of others.
Now and then it becomes imperatively necessary in the interests of
humanity, or in our own vital interest, to act in a manner which will
cause offense to some other power. This is a lamentable necessity; but
when the necessity arises we must meet it and act as we are honorably
bound to act, no matter what offense is given. We must always weigh
well our duties in such a case, and consider the rights of others as
well as our own rights, in the interest of the world at large. If after
such consideration it is evident that we are bound to act along a
certain line of policy, then it is mere weakness to refrain from doing
so because offense is thereby given. But we must never act wantonly or
brutally, or without regard to the essentials of genuine morality--a
morality considering our interests as well as the interests of others,
and considering the interests of future generations as well as of the
present generation. We must so conduct ourselves that every big nation
and every little nation that behaves itself shall never have to think
of us with fear, and shall have confidence not only in our justice
but in our courtesy. Submission to wrong-doing on our part would be
mere weakness and would invite and insure disaster. We must not submit
to wrong done to our honor or to our vital national interests. But
we must be scrupulously careful always to speak with courtesy and
self-restraint to others, always to act decently to others, and to give
no nation any justification for believing that it has anything to fear
from us as long as it behaves with decency and uprightness.

Above all, let us avoid the policy of peace with insult, the policy of
unpreparedness to defend our rights, with inability to restrain our
representatives from doing wrong to or publicly speaking ill of others.
The worst policy for the United States is to combine the unbridled
tongue with the unready hand.

We in this country have of course come lamentably short of our ideals.
Nevertheless, in some ways our ideals have been high, and at times we
have measurably realized them. From the beginning we have recognized
what is taught in the words of Washington, and again in the great
crisis of our national life in the words of Lincoln, that in the
past free peoples have generally split and sunk on that great rock
of difficulty caused by the fact that a government which recognizes
the liberties of the people is not usually strong enough to preserve
the liberties of the people against outside aggression. Washington
and Lincoln believed that ours was a strong people and therefore fit
for a strong government. They believed that it was only weak peoples
that had to fear strong governments, and that to us it was given to
combine freedom and efficiency. They belonged among that line of
statesmen and public servants whose existence has been the negation of
the theory that goodness is always associated with weakness, and that
strength always finds its expression in violent wrong-doing. Edward
the Confessor represented exactly the type which treats weakness and
virtue as interchangeable terms. His reign was the prime cause of the
conquest of England. Godoy, the Spanish statesman, a century ago, by
the treaties he entered into and carried out, actually earned the title
of “Prince of Peace” instead of merely lecturing about it; and the
result of his peacefulness was the loss by Spain of the vast regions
which, she then held in our country west of the Mississippi, and
finally the overthrow of the Spanish national government, the setting
up in Madrid of a foreign king by a foreign conqueror, and a long-drawn
and incredibly destructive war. To statesmen of this kind Washington
and Lincoln stand in as sharp contrast as they stand on the other side
to the great absolutist chiefs such as Cæsar, Napoleon, Frederick the
Great, and Cromwell. What was true of the personality of Washington
and Lincoln was true of the policy they sought to impress upon our
nation. They were just as hostile to the theory that virtue was to
be confounded with weakness as to the theory that strength justified
wrong-doing. No abundance of the milder virtues will save a nation that
has lost the virile qualities; and, on the other hand, no admiration
of strength must make us deviate from the laws of righteousness. The
kind of “peace” advocated by the ultrapacificists of 1776 would have
meant that we never would have had a country; the kind of “peace”
advocated by the ultrapacificists in the early ’60’s would have meant
the absolute destruction of the country. It would have been criminal
weakness for Washington not to have fought for the independence of this
country, and for Lincoln not to have fought for the preservation of
the Union; just as in an infinitely smaller degree it would have been
criminal weakness for us if we had permitted wrong-doing in Cuba to go
on forever unchecked, or if we had failed to insist on the building
of the Panama Canal in exactly the fashion that we did insist; and,
above all, if we had failed to build up our navy as during the last
twenty years it has been built up. No alliance, no treaty, and no
easy good-will of other nations will save us if we are not true to
ourselves; and, on the other hand, if we wantonly give offense to
others, if we excite hatred and fear, then some day we will pay a heavy

The most important lesson, therefore, for us to learn from Belgium’s
fate is that, as things in the world now are, we must in any great
crisis trust for our national safety to our ability and willingness to
defend ourselves by our own trained strength and courage. We must not
wrong others; and for our own safety we must trust, not to worthless
bits of paper unbacked by power, and to treaties that are fundamentally
foolish, but to our own manliness and clear-sighted willingness to face

There is, however, another lesson which this huge conflict may at least
possibly teach. There is at least a chance that from this calamity
a movement may come which will at once supplement and in the future
perhaps altogether supplant the need of the kind of action so plainly
indicated by the demands of the present. It is at least possible that
the conflict will result in a growth of democracy in Europe, in at
least a partial substitution of the rule of the people for the rule of
those who esteem it their God-given right to govern the people. This,
in its turn, would render it probably a little more unlikely that there
would be a repetition of such disastrous warfare. I do not think that
at present it would prevent the possibility of warfare. I think that
in the great countries engaged, the peoples as a whole have been behind
their sovereigns on both sides of this contest. Certainly the action of
the Socialists in Germany, France, and Belgium, and, so far as we know,
of the popular leaders in Russia, would tend to bear out the truth of
this statement. But the growth of the power of the people, while it
would not prevent war, would at least render it more possible than at
present to make appeals which might result in some cases in coming to
an accommodation based upon justice; for justice is what popular rule
must be permanently based upon and must permanently seek to obtain or
it will not itself be permanent.

Moreover, the horror that right-thinking citizens feel over the awful
tragedies of this war can hardly fail to make sensible men take an
interest in genuine peace movements and try to shape them so that they
shall be more practical than at present. I most earnestly believe in
every rational movement for peace. My objection is only to movements
that do not in very fact tell in favor of peace or else that sacrifice
righteousness to peace. Of course this includes objection to all
treaties that make believe to do what, as a matter of fact, they
fail to do. Under existing conditions universal and all-inclusive
arbitration treaties have been utterly worthless, because where there
is no power to compel nations to arbitrate, and where it is perfectly
certain that some nations will pay no respect to such agreements unless
they can be forced to do so, it is mere folly for others to trust to
promises impossible of performance; and it is an act of positive bad
faith to make these promises when it is certain that the nation making
them would violate them. But this does not in the least mean that we
must abandon hope of taking action which will lessen the chance of
war and make it more possible to circumscribe the limits of war’s

For this result we must largely trust to sheer growth in morality and
intelligence among the nations themselves. For a hundred years peace
has obtained between us and Great Britain. No frontier in Europe is
as long as the frontier between Canada and ourselves, and yet there
is not a fort, nor an armed force worthy of being called such, upon
it. This does not result from any arbitration treaty or any other
treaty. Such treaties as those now existing are as a rule observed
only when they serve to make a record of conditions that already exist
and which they do not create. The fact simply is that there has been
such growth of good feeling and intelligence that war between us and
the British Empire is literally an impossibility, and there is no more
chance of military movements across the Canadian border than there
is of such movement between New York and New Hampshire or Quebec
and Ontario. Slowly but surely, I believe, such feelings will grow,
until war between the Englishman and the German, or the Russian, or
the Frenchman, or between any of them and the American, will be as
unthinkable as now between the Englishman or Canadian and the American.

But something can be done to hasten this day by wise action. It may
not be possible at once to have this action as drastic as would be
ultimately necessary; but we should keep our purpose in view. The utter
weakness of the Hague court, and the worthlessness when strain is put
upon them of most treaties, spring from the fact that at present there
is no means of enforcing the carrying out of the treaty or enforcing
the decision of the court. Under such circumstances recommendations for
universal disarmament stand on an intellectual par with recommendations
to establish “peace” in New York City by doing away with the police.
Disarmament of the free and liberty-loving nations would merely mean
insuring the triumph of some barbarism or despotism, and if logically
applied would mean the extinction of liberty and of all that makes
civilization worth having throughout the world. But in view of what has
occurred in this war, surely the time ought to be ripe for the nations
to consider a great world agreement among all the civilized military
powers _to back righteousness by force_. Such an agreement would
establish an efficient world league for the peace of righteousness.



In studying certain lessons which should be taught the United States by
this terrible world war, it is not necessary for us to try exactly to
assess or apportion the blame. There are plenty of previous instances
of violation of treaties to be credited to almost all the nations
engaged on one side or the other. We need not try to puzzle out why
Italy and Japan seemingly construed similar treaties of alliance in
diametrically opposite ways; nor need we decide which was justified or
whether both were justified. It is quite immaterial to us, as regards
certain of the lessons taught, whether the treaties alleged to be
violated affect Luxembourg on the one hand or Bosnia on the other,
whether it is the neutrality of China or the neutrality of Belgium that
is violated.

Yet again, we need always to keep in mind that, although it is culpable
to break a treaty, it may be even worse recklessly to make a treaty
which cannot be kept. Recklessness in making promises is the surest
way in which to secure the discredit attaching to the breaking of
promises. A treaty at present usually represents merely promise, not
performance; and it is wicked to promise what will not or cannot be
performed. Genuine good can even now be accomplished by narrowly
limited and defined arbitration treaties which are not all-inclusive,
if they deal with subjects on which arbitration can be accepted. This
nation has repeatedly acted in obedience to such treaties; and great
good has come from arbitrations in such cases as, for example, the
Dogger Bank incident, when the Russian fleet fired on British trawlers
during the Russo-Japanese war. But no good whatever has come from
treaties that represented a sham; and under existing conditions it is
hypocritical for a nation to announce that it will arbitrate questions
of honor or vital interest, and folly to think that opponents will
abide by such treaties. Bad although it is to negotiate such a treaty,
it would be worse to abide by it.

Under these conditions it is mischievous to a degree for a nation to
trust to any treaty of the type now existing to protect it in great
crises. Take the case of China as a living and present-day example.
China has shown herself utterly impotent to defend her neutrality.
Again and again she made this evident in the past. Order was not
well kept at home and above all she was powerless to defend herself
from outside attack. She has not prepared for war. She has kept
utterly unprepared for war. Yet she has suffered more from war, in
our own time, than any military power in the world during the same
period. She has fulfilled exactly the conditions advocated by these
well-meaning persons who for the last five months have been saying
in speeches, editorials, articles for syndicates, and the like that
the United States ought not to keep up battle-ships and ought not to
trust to fortifications nor in any way to be ready or prepared to
defend herself against hostile attack, but should endeavor to secure
peace by being so inoffensive and helpless as not to arouse fear in
others. The well-meaning people who write these editorials and make
these speeches ought to understand that though it is a bad thing for
a nation to arouse fear it is an infinitely worse thing to excite
contempt; and every editor or writer or public man who tells us that we
ought not to have battle-ships and that we ought to trust entirely to
well-intentioned foolish all-inclusive arbitration treaties and abandon
fortifications and not keep prepared, is merely doing his best to bring
contempt upon the United States and to insure disaster in the future.

Nor is China the only case in point. Luxembourg is a case in point.
Korea is a case in point. Korea was utterly inoffensive and helpless.
It neither took nor was capable of taking the smallest aggressive
action against any one. It had no forts, no war-ships, no army worthy
of the name. It excited no fear and no anger. But it did excite
measureless contempt, and therefore it invited aggression.

The point I wish to make is, first, the extreme unwisdom and
impropriety of making promises that cannot be kept, and, second, the
utter futility of expecting that in any save exceptional cases a strong
power will keep a promise which it finds to its disadvantage, unless
there is some way of putting force back of the demand that the treaty
be observed.

America has no claim whatever to superior virtue in this matter. We
have shown an appalling recklessness in making treaties, especially
all-inclusive arbitration treaties and the like, which in time of
stress would not and could not be observed. When such a treaty is not
observed the blame really rests upon the unwise persons who made the
treaty. Unfortunately, however, this apportionment of blame cannot be
made by outsiders. All they can say is that the country concerned--and
I speak of the United States--does not keep faith. The responsibility
for breaking an improper promise really rests with those who make it;
but the penalty is paid by the whole country.

There are certain respects in which I think the United States can
fairly claim to stand ahead of most nations in its regard for
international morality. For example, last spring when we took Vera
Cruz, there were individuals within the city who fired at our troops in
exactly the same fashion as that which is alleged to have taken place
in Louvain. But it never for one moment entered the heads of our people
to destroy Vera Cruz. In the same way, when we promised freedom to
Cuba, we kept our promise, and after establishing an orderly government
in Cuba withdrew our army and left her as an independent power;
performing an act which, as far as I know, is entirely without parallel
in the dealings of stronger with weaker nations.

In the same way our action in San Domingo, when we took and
administered her customs houses, represented a substantial and
efficient achievement in the cause of international peace which stands
high in the very honorable but scanty list of such actions by great
nations in dealing with their less fortunate sisters. In the same way
our handling of the Panama situation, both in the acquisition of the
canal, in its construction, and in the attitude we have taken toward
the dwellers on the Isthmus and all the nations of mankind, has been
such as to reflect signal honor on our people. In the same way we
returned the Chinese indemnity, because we deemed it excessive, just
as previously we had returned a money indemnity to Japan. Similarly
the disinterestedness with which we have administered the Philippines
for the good of the Philippine people is something upon which we have a
right to pride ourselves and shows the harm that would have been done
had we not taken possession of the Philippines.

But, unfortunately, in dealing with schemes of universal peace and
arbitration, we have often shown an unwillingness to fulfil proper
promises which we had already made by treaty, coupled with a reckless
willingness to make new treaties with all kinds of promises which
were either improper and ought not to be kept or which, even if
proper, could not and would not be kept. It has again and again proved
exceedingly difficult to get Congress to appropriate money to pay some
obligation which under treaty or arbitration or the like has been
declared to be owing by us to the citizens of some foreign nation.
Often we have announced our intention to make sweeping arbitration
treaties or agreements at the very time when by our conduct we were
showing that in actual fact we had not the slightest intention of
applying them with the sweeping universality we promised. In these
cases we were usually, although not always, right in our refusal
to apply the treaties, or rather the principles set forth in the
treaties, to the concrete case at issue; but we were utterly wrong,
we were, even although perhaps unintentionally, both insincere and
hypocritical, when at the same time we made believe we intended that
these principles would be universally applied. This was particularly
true in connection with the universal arbitration treaties which our
government unsuccessfully endeavored to negotiate some three years
ago. Our government announced at that time that we intended to enter
into universal arbitration treaties under which we would arbitrate
everything, even including questions of honor and of vital national
interest. At the very time that this announcement was made and the
negotiation of the treaties begun, the government in case after case
where specific performance of its pledges was demanded responded with
a flat refusal to do the very thing it had announced its intention of

Recently, there have been negotiated in Washington thirty or forty
little all-inclusive arbitration or so-called “peace” treaties, which
represent as high a degree of fatuity as is often achieved in these
matters. There is no likelihood that they will do us any great material
harm because it is absolutely certain that we would not pay the
smallest attention to them in the event of their being invoked in any
matter where our interests were seriously involved; but it would do us
moral harm to break them, even although this were the least evil of
two evil alternatives. It is a discreditable thing that at this very
moment, with before our eyes such proof of the worthlessness of the
neutrality treaties affecting Belgium and Luxembourg, our nation should
be negotiating treaties which convince every sensible and well-informed
observer abroad that we are either utterly heedless in making promises
which cannot be kept or else willing to make promises which we have no
intention of keeping. What has just happened shows that such treaties
are worthless except to the degree that force can and will be used in
backing them.

There are some well-meaning people, misled by mere words, who doubtless
think that treaties of this kind do accomplish something. These good
and well-meaning people may feel that I am not zealous in the cause
of peace. This is the direct reverse of the truth. I abhor war. In
common with all other thinking men I am inexpressibly saddened by the
dreadful contest now waging in Europe. I put peace very high as an
agent for bringing about righteousness. But if I must choose between
righteousness and peace I choose righteousness. Therefore, I hold
myself in honor bound to do anything in my power to advance the cause
of the peace of righteousness throughout the world. I believe we can
make substantial advances by international agreement in the line
of achieving this purpose and in this book I state in outline just
what I think can be done toward this end. But I hold that we will do
nothing and less than nothing unless, pending the accomplishment of
this purpose, we keep our own beloved country in such shape that war
shall not strike her down; and, furthermore, unless we also seriously
consider what the defects have been in the existing peace, neutrality,
and arbitration treaties and in the attitude hitherto assumed by the
professional pacificists, which have rendered these treaties such
feeble aids to peace and the ultrapacificist attitude a positive
obstacle to peace.

The truth is that the advocates of world-wide peace, like all
reformers, should bear in mind Josh Billings’s astute remark that “it
is much easier to be a harmless dove than a wise serpent.” The worthy
pacificists have completely forgotten that the Biblical injunction is
two-sided and that we are bidden not only to be harmless as doves but
also to be wise as serpents. The ultrapacificists have undoubtedly been
an exceedingly harmless body so far as obtaining peace is concerned.
They have exerted practically no influence in restraining wrong,
although they have sometimes had a real and lamentable influence in
crippling the forces of right and preventing them from dealing with
wrong. An appreciable amount of good work has been done for peace
by genuine lovers of peace, but it has not been done by the feeble
folk of the peace movement, loquacious but impotent, who are usually
unfortunately prominent in the movement and who excite the utter
derision of the great powers of evil.

Sincere lovers of peace who are wise have been obliged to face the fact
that it is often a very complicated thing to secure peace without the
sacrifice of righteousness. Furthermore, they have been obliged to face
the fact that generally the only way to accomplish anything was by not
trying to accomplish too much.

The complicated nature of the problem is shown by the fact that whereas
the real friends of righteousness believe that our duty to peace ought
to be fulfilled by protesting against--and doubtless if necessary doing
more than merely protest against--the violation of the rights secured
to Belgium by treaty, the professional pacificists nervously point
out that such a course would expose us to accusations of abandoning
our “neutrality.” In theory these pacificists admit it to be our duty
to uphold the Hague treaties of which we were among the signatory
powers; but they are against effective action to uphold them, for they
are pathetic believers in the all-sufficiency of signatures, placed
on bits of paper. They have pinned their faith to the foolish belief
that everything put in these treaties was forthwith guaranteed to all
mankind. In dealing with the rights of neutrals Article 10 of Chapter
1 explicitly states that if the territory of a neutral nation is
invaded the repelling of such invasion by force shall not be esteemed a
“hostile” act on the part of the neutral nation. Unquestionably under
this clause Belgium has committed no hostile act. Yet, this sound
declaration of morality, in a treaty that the leading world-powers have
signed, amounts to precisely and exactly nothing so far as the rights
of poor Belgium are concerned, because there is no way provided of
enforcing the treaty and because the American government has decided
that it can keep at peace and remain neutral only by declining to do
what, according to the intention of the Hague treaty, it would be
expected to do in securing peace for Belgium. In practice the Hague
treaties have proved and will always prove useless while there is no
sanction of force behind them. For the United States to proffer “good
offices” to the various powers entering such a great conflict as the
present one accomplishes not one particle of good; to refer them, when
they mutually complain of wrongs, to a Hague court which is merely
a phantom does less than no good. The Hague treaties can accomplish
nothing, and ought not to have been entered into, unless in such a
case as this of Belgium there is willingness to take efficient action
under them. There could be no better illustration of how extremely
complicated and difficult a thing it is in practice instead of in
theory to make even a small advance in the cause of peace.

I believe that international opinion can do something to arrest wrong;
but only if it is aroused and finds some method of clear and forceful
expression. For example, I hope that it has been aroused to the
point of preventing any repetition at the expense of Brussels of the
destruction which has befallen Louvain. The peaceful people of Brussels
now live in dread of what may happen to them if the Germans should
evacuate the city. In such an event it is possible that half a dozen
fanatics, or half a dozen young roughs of the “Apache” type, in spite
of everything that good citizens may do, will from some building fire
on the retiring soldiers. In such case the offenders ought to be and
must be treated with instant and unsparing rigor, and those clearly
guilty of aiding or shielding them should also be so treated. But if
in such case Brussels is in whole or in part destroyed as Louvain
was destroyed, those destroying it will be guilty of a capital crime
against civilization; and it is heartily to be regretted that civilized
nations have not devised some method by which the collective power of
civilization can be used to prevent or punish such crimes. In every
great city there are plenty of reckless or fanatical or downright
evil men eagerly ready to do some act which is abhorrent to the vast
majority of their fellows; and it is wicked to punish with cruel
severity immense multitudes of innocent men, women, and children for
the misdeeds of a few rascals or fanatics. Of course, it is eminently
right to punish by death these rascals or fanatics themselves.

Kindly people who know little of life and nothing whatever of the
great forces of international rivalry have exposed the cause of peace
to ridicule by believing that serious wars could be avoided through
arbitration treaties, peace treaties, neutrality treaties, and the
action of the Hague court, without putting force behind such treaties
and such action. The simple fact is that none of these existing
treaties and no function of the Hague court hitherto planned and
exercised have exerted or could exert the very smallest influence in
maintaining peace when great conflicting international passions are
aroused and great conflicting national interests are at stake. It
happens that wars have been more numerous in the fifteen years since
the first Hague conference than in the fifteen years prior to it. It
was Russia that called the first and second Hague conferences, and in
the interval she fought the war with Japan and is now fighting a far
greater war. We bore a prominent part at the Hague conferences; but if
the Hague court had been in existence in 1898 it could not have had the
smallest effect upon our war with Spain; and neither would any possible
arbitration treaty or peace treaty have had any effect. At the present
moment Great Britain owes its immunity from invasion purely to its navy
and to the fact that that navy has been sedulously exercised in time
of peace so as to prepare it for war. Great Britain has always been
willing to enter into any reasonable--and into some unreasonable--peace
and arbitration treaties; but her fate now would have been the fate
of Belgium and would not have been hindered in the smallest degree by
these treaties, if she had not possessed a first-class navy. The navy
has done a thousand times more for her peace than all the arbitration
treaties and peace treaties of the type now existing that the wit of
man could invent. I believe that national agreement in the future
can do much toward minimizing the chance for war; but it must be by
proceeding along different lines from those hitherto followed and in
an entirely different spirit from the ultrapacificist or professional
peace-at-any-price spirit.

The Hague court has served a very limited, but a useful, purpose. Some,
although only a small number, of the existing peace and arbitration
treaties have served a useful purpose. But the purpose and the service
have been strictly limited. Issues often arise between nations which
are not of first-class importance, which do not affect their vital
honor and interest, but which, if left unsettled, may eventually cause
irritation that will have the worst possible results. The Hague court
and the different treaties in question provide instrumentalities for
settling such disputes, where the nations involved really wish to
settle them but might be unable to do so if means were not supplied.
This is a real service and one well worth rendering. These treaties
and the Hague court have rendered such service again and again in time
past. It has been a misfortune that some worthy people have anticipated
too much and claimed too much in reference to them, for the failure
of the excessive claims has blinded men to what they really have
accomplished. To expect from them what they cannot give is merely
short-sighted. To assert that they will give what they cannot give is
mischievous. To promise that they will give what they cannot give is
not only mischievous but hypocritical; and it is for this reason that
such treaties as the thirty or forty all-inclusive arbitration or peace
treaties recently negotiated at Washington, although unimportant, are
slightly harmful.

The Hague court has proved worthless in the present gigantic crisis.
There is hardly a Hague treaty which in the present crisis has not
in some respect been violated. However, a step toward the peaceful
settlement of questions at issue between nations which are not vital
and which do not mark a serious crisis has been accomplished on certain
occasions in the past by the action of the Hague court and by rational
and limited peace or arbitration treaties. Our business is to try to
make this court of more effect and to enlarge the class of cases where
its actions will be valuable. In order to do this, we must endeavor to
put an international police force behind this international judiciary.
At the same time we must refuse to do or say anything insincere.
Above all, we must refuse to be misled into abandoning the policy of
efficient self-defense, by any unfounded trust that the Hague court,
as now constituted, and peace or arbitration treaties of the existing
type, can in the smallest degree accomplish what they never have
accomplished and never can accomplish. Neither the existing Hague
court nor any peace treaties of the existing type will exert even the
slightest influence in saving from disaster any nation that does not
preserve the virile virtues and the long-sightedness that will enable
it by its own might to guard its own honor, interest, and national



From what we have so far considered, two things are evident. First, it
is quite clear that in the world, as it is at this moment situated,
it is literally criminal, literally a crime against the nation, not
to be adequately and thoroughly prepared in advance, so as to guard
ourselves and hold our own in war. We should have a much better army
than at present, including especially a far larger reserve upon which
to draw in time of war. We should have first-class fortifications,
especially on the canal and in Hawaii. Most important of all, we should
not only have a good navy but should have it continually exercised
in manœuvring. For nearly two years our navy has totally lacked
the practice in manœuvring in fleet formation indispensable to its

Of all the lessons hitherto taught by the war, the most essential
for us to take to heart is that taught by the catastrophe that has
befallen Belgium. One side of this catastrophe, one lesson taught by
Belgium’s case, is the immense gain in the self-respect of a people
that has dared to fight heroically in the face of certain disaster and
possible defeat. Every Belgian throughout the world carries his head
higher now than he has ever carried it before, because of the proof
of virile strength that his people have given. In the world at large
there is not the slightest interest concerning Luxembourg’s ultimate
fate; there is nothing more than amusement as to the discussion whether
Japan or Germany is most to blame in connection with the infringement
of Chinese neutrality. This is because neither China nor Luxembourg has
been able and willing effectively to stand for her own rights. At this
moment Luxembourg is enjoying “peace”--the peace of death. But Belgium
has stood for her own rights. She has shown heroism, courage, and
self-sacrifice, and, great though the penalty, the ultimate reward will
be greater still.

If ever this country is attacked and drawn into war as Belgium, through
no fault of her own, was drawn into war, I hope most earnestly that
she will emulate Belgium’s courage; and this she cannot do unless she
is prepared in advance as Belgium was prepared. In one point, as I
have already stated, I very earnestly hope that she will go beyond
Belgium. If any great city, such as New York or San Francisco, Boston
or Seattle, is held for ransom by a foreign foe, I earnestly hope that
Americans, within the city and without, will insist that not one dollar
of ransom shall be paid, and will gladly acquiesce in the absolute
destruction of the city, by fire or in any other manner, rather than
see a dollar paid into the war chest of our foes for the further
prosecution of the war against us. Napoleon the Great made many regions
pay for their own conquest and the conquest of the nations to which
they belonged. But Spain and Russia would not pay, and the burning of
Moscow and the defense of Saragossa marked the two great stages in the
turn of the tide against him. The prime lesson of this war is that no
nation can preserve its own self-respect, or the good-will of other
nations, unless it keeps itself ready to exact justice from others,
precisely as it should keep itself eager and willing to do justice to

The second lesson is the utter inadequacy in times of great crises of
existing peace and neutrality treaties, and of all treaties conceived
in the spirit of the all-inclusive arbitration treaties recently
adopted at Washington; and, in fact, of all treaties which do not put
potential force behind the treaty, which do not create some kind of
international police power to stand behind international sense of right
as expressed in some competent tribunal.

It remains to consider whether there is not--and I believe there
is--some method which will bring nearer the day when international
war of the kind hitherto waged and now waging between nations shall
be relegated to that past which contains the kind of private war that
was habitually waged between individuals up to the end of the Middle
Ages. By degrees the work of a national police has been substituted
for the exercise of the right of private war. The growth of sentiment
in favor of peace within each nation accomplished little until an
effective police force was put back of the sentiment. There are a few
communities where such a police force is almost non-existent, although
always latent in the shape of a sheriff’s posse or something of the
kind. In all big communities, however, in all big cities, law is
observed, innocent and law-abiding and peaceful people are protected
and the disorderly and violent classes prevented from a riot of
mischief and wrong-doing only by the presence of an efficient police
force. Some analogous international police force must be created if war
between nations is to be minimized as war between individuals has been

It is, of course, essential that, if this end is to be accomplished, we
shall face facts with the understanding of what they really signify.
Not the slightest good is done by hysterical outcries for a peace which
would consecrate wrong or leave wrongs unredressed. Little or nothing
would be gained by a peace which merely stopped this war for the moment
and left untouched all the causes that have brought it about. A peace
which left the wrongs of Belgium unredressed, which did not leave her
independent and secured against further wrong-doing, and which did not
provide measures hereafter to safeguard all peaceful nations against
suffering the fate that Belgium has suffered, would be mischievous
rather than beneficial in its ultimate effects. If the United States
had any part in bringing about such a peace it would be deeply to our
discredit as a nation. Belgium has been terribly wronged, and the
civilized world owes it to itself to see that this wrong is redressed
and that steps are taken which will guarantee that hereafter conditions
shall not be permitted to become such as either to require or to permit
such action as that of Germany against Belgium. Surely all good and
honest men who are lovers of peace and who do not use the great words
“love of peace” to cloak their own folly and timidity must agree that
peace is to be made the handmaiden of righteousness or else that it is

England’s attitude in going to war in defense of Belgium’s rights,
according to its guarantee, was not only strictly proper but represents
the only kind of action that ever will make a neutrality treaty or
peace treaty or arbitration treaty worth the paper on which it is
written. The published despatches of the British government show that
Sir Edward Grey clearly, emphatically, and scrupulously declined to
commit his government to war until it became imperative to do so if
Great Britain was to fulfil, as her honor and interest alike demanded,
her engagements on behalf of the neutrality of Belgium. Of course, as
far as Great Britain is concerned, she would not be honorably justified
in making peace unless this object of her going to war was achieved.
Our hearty sympathy should go out to her in this attitude.

The case of Belgium in this war stands by itself. As regards all the
other powers, it is not only possible to make out a real case in favor
of every nation on each side, but it is also quite possible to show
that, under existing conditions, each nation was driven by its vital
interests to do what it did. The real nature of the problem we have
ahead of us can only be grasped if this attitude of the several powers
is thoroughly understood. To paint the Kaiser as a devil, merely bent
on gratifying a wicked thirst for bloodshed, is an absurdity, and
worse than an absurdity. I believe that history will declare that the
Kaiser acted in conformity with the feelings of the German people and
as he sincerely believed the interests of his people demanded; and, as
so often before in his personal and family life, he and his family
have given honorable proof that they possess the qualities that are
characteristic of the German people. Every one of his sons went to
the war, not nominally, but to face every danger and hardship. Two of
his sons hastily married the girls to whom they were betrothed and
immediately afterward left for the front.

This was a fresh illustration of one of the most striking features
of the outbreak of the war in Germany. In tens of thousands of cases
the officers and enlisted men, who were engaged, married immediately
before starting for the front. In many of the churches there were
long queues of brides waiting for the ceremony, so as to enable their
lovers to marry them just before they responded to the order that meant
that they might have to sacrifice everything, including life, for the
nation. A nation that shows such a spirit is assuredly a great nation.
The efficiency of the German organization, the results of the German
preparation in advance, were strikingly shown in the powerful forward
movement of the first six weeks of the war and in the steady endurance
and resolute resourcefulness displayed in the following months.

Not only is the German organization, the German preparedness, highly
creditable to Germany, but even more creditable is the spirit lying
behind the organization. The men and women of Germany, from the
highest to the lowest, have shown a splendid patriotism and abnegation
of self. In reading of their attitude, it is impossible not to feel a
thrill of admiration for the stern courage and lofty disinterestedness
which this great crisis laid bare in the souls of the people. I most
earnestly hope that we Americans, if ever the need may arise, will show
similar qualities.

It is idle to say that this is not a people’s war. The intensity of
conviction in the righteousness of their several causes shown by the
several peoples is a prime factor for consideration, if we are to take
efficient means to try to prevent a repetition of this incredible world
tragedy. History may decide in any war that one or the other party was
wrong, and yet also decide that the highest qualities and powers of the
human soul were shown by that party. We here in the United States have
now grown practically to accept this view as regards our own Civil War,
and we feel an equal pride in the high devotion to the right, as it was
given each man to see the right, shown alike by the men who wore the
blue and the men who wore the gray.

The English feel that in this war they fight not only for themselves
but for principle, for justice, for civilization, for a real and
lasting world peace. Great Britain is backed by the great free
democracies that under her flag have grown up in Canada, in Australia,
in South Africa. She feels that she stands for the liberties and rights
of weak nations everywhere. One of the most striking features of the
war is the way in which the varied peoples of India have sprung to arms
to defend the British Empire.

The Russians regard the welfare of their whole people as at stake.
The Russian Liberals believe that success for Russia means an end of
militarism in Europe. They believe that the Pole, the Jew, the Finn,
the man of the Caucasus will each and all be enfranchised, that the
advance of justice and right in Russia will be immeasurably furthered
by the triumph of the Russian people in this contest, and that the
conflict was essential, not only to Russian national life but to the
growth of freedom and justice within her boundaries.

The people of Germany believe that they are engaged primarily in a
fight for life of the Teuton against the Slav, of civilization against
what they regard as a vast menacing flood of barbarism. They went to
war because they believed the war was an absolute necessity, not merely
to German well-being but to German national existence. They sincerely
feel that the nations of western Europe are traitors to the cause of
Occidental civilization, and that they themselves are fighting, each
man for his own hearthstone, for his own wife and children, and all
for the future existence of the generations yet to come.

The French feel with passionate conviction that this is the last stand
of France, and that if she does not now succeed and is again trampled
under foot, her people will lose for all time their place in the
forefront of that great modern civilization of which the debt to France
is literally incalculable. It would be impossible too highly to admire
the way in which the men and women of France have borne themselves in
this nerve-shattering time of awful struggle and awful suspense. They
have risen level to the hour’s need, whereas in 1870 they failed so to
rise. The high valor of the French soldiers has been matched by the
poise, the self-restraint, the dignity and the resolution with which
the French people and the French government have behaved.

Of Austria and Hungary, of Servia and Montenegro, exactly the same is
true, and the people of each of these countries have shown the sternest
and most heroic courage and the loftiest and most patriotic willingness
for self-sacrifice.

To each of these peoples the war seems a crusade against threatening
wrong, and each man fervently believes in the justice of his cause.
Moreover, each combatant fights with that terrible determination to
destroy the opponent which springs from fear. It is not the fear
which any one of these powers has inspired that offers the difficult
problem. It is the fear which each of them genuinely feels. Russia
believes that a quarter of the Slav people will be trodden under the
heel of the Germans, unless she succeeds. France and England believe
that their very existence depends on the destruction of the German
menace. Germany believes that unless she can so cripple, and, if
possible, destroy her western foes, as to make them harmless in the
future, she will be unable hereafter to protect herself against the
mighty Slav people on her eastern boundary and will be reduced to a
condition of international impotence. Some of her leaders are doubtless
influenced by worse motives; but the motives above given are, I
believe, those that influence the great mass of Germans, and these are
in their essence merely the motives of patriotism, of devotion to one’s
people and one’s native land.

We nations who are outside ought to recognize both the reality of
this fear felt by each nation for others, together with the real
justification for its existence. Yet we cannot sympathize with that
fear-born anger which would vent itself in the annihilation of the
conquered. The right attitude is to limit militarism, to destroy the
menace of militarism, but to preserve the national integrity of each
nation. The contestants are the great civilized peoples of Europe and

Japan’s part in the war has been slight. She has borne herself with
scrupulous regard not only to the rights but to the feelings of the
people of the United States. Japan’s progress should be welcomed by
every enlightened friend of humanity because of the promise it contains
for the regeneration of Asia. All that is necessary in order to remove
every particle of apprehension caused by this progress is to do what
ought to be done in reference to her no less than in reference to
European and American powers, namely, to develop a world policy which
shall guarantee each nation against any menace that might otherwise be
held for it in the growth and progress of another nation.

The destruction of Russia is not thinkable, but if it were, it would
be a most frightful calamity. The Slavs are a young people, of
limitless possibilities, who from various causes have not been able
to develop as rapidly as the peoples of central and western Europe.
They have grown in civilization until their further advance has become
something greatly to be desired, because it will be a factor of immense
importance in the welfare of the world. All that is necessary is
for Russia to throw aside the spirit of absolutism developed in her
during the centuries of Mongol dominion. She will then be found doing
what no other race can do and what it is of peculiar advantage to the
English-speaking peoples that she should do.

As for crushing Germany or crippling her and reducing her to political
impotence, such an action would be a disaster to mankind. The Germans
are not merely brothers; they are largely ourselves. The debt we owe
to German blood is great; the debt we owe to German thought and to
German example, not only in governmental administration but in all the
practical work of life, is even greater. Every generous heart and every
far-seeing mind throughout the world should rejoice in the existence of
a stable, united, and powerful Germany, too strong to fear aggression
and too just to be a source of fear to its neighbors.

As for France, she has occupied, in the modern world, a position as
unique as Greece in the world of antiquity. To have her broken or cowed
would mean a loss to-day as great as the loss that was suffered by
the world when the creative genius of the Greek passed away with his
loss of political power and material greatness. The world cannot spare

Now, the danger to each of these great and splendid civilizations
arises far more from the fear that each feels than from the fear that
each inspires. Belgium’s case stands apart. She inspired no fear.
No peace should be made until her wrongs have been redressed, and
the likelihood of the repetition of such wrongs provided against.
She has suffered incredibly because the fear among the plain German
people, among the Socialists, for instance, of the combined strength
of France and Russia made them acquiesce in and support the policy of
the military party, which was to disregard the laws of international
morality and the plain and simple rights of the Belgian people.

It is idle merely to make speeches and write essays against this fear,
because at present the fear has a real basis. At present each nation
has cause for the fear it feels. Each nation has cause to believe that
its national life is in peril unless it is able to take the national
life of one or more of its foes or at least hopelessly to cripple
that foe. The causes of the fear must be removed or, no matter what
peace may be patched up to-day or what new treaties may be negotiated
to-morrow, these causes will at some future day bring about the same
results, bring about a repetition of this same awful tragedy.



In the preceding chapters I have endeavored to set forth, in a spirit
of absolute fairness and calmness, the lessons as I see them that this
war teaches all the world and especially the United States. I believe
I have shown that, while, at least as against Belgium, there has been
actual wrong-doing, yet on the whole and looking back at the real and
ultimate causes rather than at the temporary occasions of the war,
what has occurred is due primarily to the intense fear felt by each
nation for other nations and to the anger born of that fear. Doubtless
in certain elements, notably certain militaristic elements, of the
population other motives have been at work; but I believe that the
people of each country, in backing the government of that country, in
the present war have been influenced mainly by a genuine patriotism and
a genuine fear of what might happen to their beloved land in the event
of aggression by other nations.

Under such conditions, as I have shown, our duty is twofold. In the
first place, events have clearly demonstrated that in any serious
crisis treaties unbacked by force are not worth the paper upon which
they are written. Events have clearly shown that it is the idlest of
folly to assert and little short of treason against the nation for
statesmen who should know better to pretend, that the salvation of any
nation under existing world conditions can be trusted to treaties,
to little bits of paper with names signed on them but without any
efficient force behind them. The United States will be guilty of
criminal misconduct, we of this generation will show ourselves traitors
to our children and our children’s children if, as conditions are now,
we do not keep ourselves ready to defend our hearths, trusting in great
crises not to treaties, not to the ineffective good-will of outsiders,
but to our own stout hearts and strong hands.

So much for the first and most vital lesson. But we are not to be
excused if we stop here. We must endeavor earnestly but with sanity to
try to bring around better world conditions. We must try to shape our
policy in conjunction with other nations so as to bring nearer the day
when the peace of righteousness, the peace of justice and fair dealing,
will be established among the nations of the earth. With this object
in view, it is our duty carefully to weigh the influences which are at
work or may be put to work in order to bring about this result and
in every effective way to do our best to further the growth of these
influences. When this has been done no American administration will
be able to assert that it is reduced to humiliating impotence even
to protest against such wrong as that committed on Belgium, because,
forsooth, our “neutrality” can only be preserved by failure to help
right what is wrong--and we shall then as a people have too much
self-respect to enter into absurd, all-inclusive arbitration treaties,
unbacked by force, at the very moment when we fail to do what is
clearly demanded by our duty under the Hague treaties.

Doubtless in the long run most is to be hoped from the slow growth of a
better feeling, a more real feeling of brotherhood among the nations,
among the peoples. The experience of the United States shows that
there is no real foundation in race for the bitter antagonism felt
among Slavs and Germans, French and English. There are in this country
hundreds of thousands, millions, of men who by birth and parentage are
of German descent, of French descent or Slavonic descent, or descended
from each of the peoples within the British Islands. These different
races not only get along well together here, but become knit into one
people, and after a few generations their blood is mingled. In my own
veins runs not only the blood of ancestors from the various peoples of
the British Islands, English, Scotch, Welsh, and Irish, but also the
blood of Frenchman and of German--not to speak of my forefathers from
Holland. It is idle to tell us that the Frenchman and the German, the
Slav and the Englishman are irreconcilably hostile one to the other
because of difference of race. From our own daily experiences we know
the contrary. We know that good men and bad men are to be found in
each race. We know that the differences between the races above named
and many others are infinitesimal compared with the vital points of

But this growth is too slow by itself adequately to meet present
needs. At present we are confronted with the fact that each nation
must keep armed and must be ready to go to war because there is a real
and desperate need to do so and because the penalty for failure may be
to suffer a fate like that of China. At present in every great crisis
treaties have shown themselves not worth the paper they are written on,
and the multitude of peace congresses that have been held have failed
to secure even the slightest tangible result, as regards any contest in
which the passions of great nations were fully aroused and their vital
interests really concerned. In other words, each nation at present in
any crisis of fundamental importance has to rely purely on its own
power, its own strength, its own individual force. The futility of
international agreements in great crises has come from the fact that
force was not back of them.

What is needed in international matters is to create a judge and then
to put police power back of the judge.

So far the time has not been ripe to attempt this. Surely now, in view
of the awful cataclysm of the present war, such a plan could at least
be considered; and it may be that the combatants at the end will be
willing to try it in order to secure at least a chance for the only
kind of peace that is worth having, the peace that is compatible with
self-respect. Merely to bring about a peace at the present moment,
without providing for the elimination of the causes of war, would
accomplish nothing of any permanent value, and the attempt to make it
would probably represent nothing else than the adroit use of some more
or less foolish or more or less self-interested outsider by some astute
power which wished to see if it could not put its opponents in the

If the powers were justified in going into this war by their vital
interests, then they are required to continue the war until these
vital interests are no longer in jeopardy. A peace which left without
redress wrongs like those which Belgium has suffered or which in effect
consecrated the partial or entire destruction of one or more nations
and the survival in aggravated form of militarism and autocracy, and
of international hatred in its most intense and virulent form, would
really be only a worthless truce and would not represent the slightest
advance in the cause of righteousness and of international morality.

The essential thing to do is to free each nation from the besetting
fear of its neighbor. This can only be done by removing the causes of
such fear. The neighbor must no longer be a danger.

Mere disarmament will not accomplish this result, and the disarmament
of the free and enlightened peoples, so long as a single despotism or
barbarism were left armed, would be a hideous calamity. If armaments
were reduced while causes of trouble were in no way removed, wars
would probably become somewhat more frequent just because they would
be less expensive and less decisive. It is greatly to be desired that
the growth of armaments should be arrested, but they cannot be arrested
while present conditions continue. Mere treaties, mere bits of papers,
with names signed to them and with no force back of them, have proved
utterly worthless for the protection of nations, and where they are the
only alternatives it is not only right but necessary that each nation
should arm itself so as to be able to cope with any possible foe.

The one permanent move for obtaining peace, which has yet been
suggested, with any reasonable chance of attaining its object, is by an
agreement among the great powers, in which each should pledge itself
not only to abide by the decisions of a common tribunal but to back
with force the decisions of that common tribunal. The great civilized
nations of the world which do possess force, actual or immediately
potential, should combine by solemn agreement in a great World League
for the Peace of Righteousness. In a later chapter I shall briefly
outline what such an agreement should attempt to perform. At present
it is enough to say that such a world-agreement offers the only
alternative to each nation’s relying purely on its own armed strength;
for a treaty unbacked by force is in no proper sense of the word an

Of course, if there were not reasonable good faith among the nations
making such an agreement, it would fail. But it would not fail merely
because one nation did not observe good faith. It would be impossible
to say that such an agreement would at once and permanently bring
universal peace. But it would certainly mark an immense advance. It
would certainly mean that the chances of war were minimized and the
prospects of limiting and confining and regulating war immensely
increased. At present force, as represented by the armed strength
of the nations, is wholly divorced from such instrumentalities
for securing peace as international agreements and treaties. In
consequence, the latter are practically impotent in great crises.
There is no connection between force, on the one hand, and any scheme
for securing international peace or justice on the other. Under these
conditions every wise and upright nation must continue to rely for its
own peace and well-being on its own force, its own strength. As all
students of the law know, a right without a remedy is in no real sense
of the word a right at all. In international matters the declaration of
a right, or the announcement of a worthy purpose, is not only aimless,
but is a just cause for derision and may even be mischievous, if force
is not put behind the right or the purpose. Our business is to make
force the agent of justice, the instrument of right in international
matters as it has been made in municipal matters, in matters within
each nation.

One good purpose which would be served by the kind of international
action I advocate is that of authoritatively deciding when treaties
terminate or lapse. At present every treaty ought to contain provision
for its abrogation; and at present the wrong done in disregarding a
treaty may be one primarily of time and manner. Unquestionably it may
become an imperative duty to abrogate a treaty. The Supreme Court of
the United States set forth this right and duty in convincing manner
when discussing our treaty with France during the administration of
John Adams, and again a century later when discussing the Chinese
treaty. The difficulty at present is that each case must be treated on
its own merits; for in some cases it may be right and necessary for a
nation to abrogate or denounce (not to violate) a treaty; and yet in
other cases such abrogation may represent wrong-doing which should be
suppressed by the armed strength of civilization. At present in cases
where only two nations are concerned there is no substitute for such
abrogation or violation of the treaty by one of them; for each of the
two has to be judge in its own case. But the tribunal of a world league
would offer the proper place to which to apply for the abrogation
of treaties; and, with international force back of such a tribunal,
the infraction of a treaty could be punished in whatever way the
necessities of the case demanded.

Such a scheme as the one hereinafter briefly outlined will not bring
perfect justice any more than under municipal law we obtain perfect
justice; but it will mark an immeasurable advance on anything now
existing; for it will mean that at last a long stride has been taken
in the effort to put the collective strength of civilized mankind
behind the collective purpose of mankind to secure the peace of
righteousness, the peace of justice among the nations of the earth.

It may be, though I sincerely hope to the contrary, that such a
scheme is for the immediate future Utopian--it certainly will not be
Utopian for the remote future. If it is impossible in the immediate
future to devise some working scheme by which force shall be put
behind righteousness in disinterested and effective fashion, where
international wrongs are concerned, then the only alternative will be
for each free people to keep itself in shape with its own strength
to defend its own rights and interests, and meanwhile to do all that
can be done to help forward the slow growth of sentiment which is
assuredly, although very gradually, telling against international
wrong-doing and violence.

Man, in recognizedly human shape, has been for ages on this planet,
and the extraordinary discoveries in Egypt and Mesopotamia now enable
us to see in dim fashion the beginning of historic times six or seven
thousand years ago. In the earlier ages of which history speaks there
was practically no such thing as an international conscience. The
armies of Babylon and Assyria, Egypt and Persia felt no sense of
obligation to outsiders and conquered merely because they wished to
conquer. In Greece a very imperfect recognition of international
right grew up so far as Greek communities were concerned, but it never
extended to barbarians. In the Roman Empire this feeling grew slightly,
if only for the reason that so many nations were included within its
bounds and were forced to live peaceably together. In the Middle Ages
the common Christianity of Europe created a real bond. There was at
least a great deal of talk about the duties of Christian nations to
one another; and although the action along the lines of the talk
was lamentably insufficient, still the talk itself represented the
dawning recognition of the fact that each nation might owe something
to other nations and that it was not right to base action purely on

There has undoubtedly been a wide expansion of this feeling during the
last few centuries, and particularly during the last century. It now
extends so as to include not only Christian nations but also those
non-Christian nations which themselves treat with justice and fairness
the men of different creed. We are still a lamentably long distance
away from the goal toward which we are striving; but we have taken a
few steps toward that goal. A hundred years ago the English-speaking
peoples of Britain and America regarded one another as inveterate and
predestined enemies, just as three centuries previously had been the
case in Great Britain itself between those who dwelt in the northern
half and those who dwelt in the southern half of the island. Now war is
unthinkable between us. Moreover, there is a real advance in good-will,
respect, and understanding between the United States and all the other
nations of the earth. The advance is not steady and it is interrupted
at times by acts of unwisdom, which are quite as apt to be committed by
ourselves as by other peoples; but the advance has gone on. There is
far greater sentiment than ever before against unwarranted aggressions
by stronger powers against weak powers; there is far greater feeling
against misconduct, whether in small or big powers; and far greater
feeling against brutality in war.

This does not mean that the wrong-doing as regards any one of these
matters has as yet been even approximately stopped or that the
indignation against such wrong-doing is as yet anything like as
effective as it should be. But we must not let our horror at the
wrong that is still done blind us to the fact that there has been
improvement. As late as the eighteenth century there were continual
instances where small nations or provinces were overrun, just as
Belgium has been overrun, without any feeling worth taking into account
being thereby excited in the rest of mankind. In the seventeenth
century affairs were worse. What has been done in Belgian cities has
been very dreadful and the Belgian countryside has suffered in a way
to wring our hearts; but our sympathy and indignation must not blind
us to the fact that even in this case there has been a real advance
during the last three hundred years and that such things as were done
to Magdeburg and Wexford and Drogheda and the entire Palatinate in the
seventeenth century are no longer possible.

There is every reason to feel dissatisfied with the slow progress that
has been made in putting a stop to wrong-doing; it is our bounden duty
now to act so as to secure redress for wrong-doing; but nevertheless
we must also recognize the fact that some progress has been made, and
that there is now a good deal of real sentiment, and some efficient
sentiment, against international wrong-doing. There has been a real
growth toward international peace, justice, and fair dealing. We have
still a long way to go before reaching the goal, but at least we have
gone forward a little way toward the goal. This growth will continue.
We must do everything that we can to make it continue. But we must not
blind ourselves to the fact that as yet this growth is not such as in
any shape or way to warrant us in relying for our ultimate safety in
great national crises upon anything except the strong fibre of our
national character, and upon such preparation in advance as will give
that character adequate instruments wherewith to make proof of its



     “Come, Peace! not like a mourner bowed
        For honor lost and dear ones wasted,
      But proud, to meet a people proud,
        With eyes that tell o’ triumph tasted!
      Come, with han’ gripping on the hilt,
        An’ step that proves ye Victory’s daughter!
      Longin’ for you, our sperits wilt
        Like shipwrecked men’s on raf’s for water.

     “Come, while our country feels the lift
        Of a great instinct shouting ‘Forwards!’
      An’ knows that freedom ain’t a gift
        Thet tarries long in han’s of cowards!
      Come, sech ez mothers prayed for, when
        They kissed their cross with lips that quivered,
      An’ bring fair wages for brave men,
        A nation saved, a race delivered!”

These are the noble lines of a noble poet, written in the sternest days
of the great Civil War, when the writer, Lowell, was one among the
millions of men who mourned the death in battle of kinsfolk dear to
him. No man ever lived who hated an unjust war more than Lowell or who
loved with more passionate fervor the peace of righteousness. Yet, like
the other great poets of his day and country, like Holmes, who sent
his own son to the war, like gentle Longfellow and the Quaker Whittier,
he abhorred unrighteousness and ignoble peace more than war. These men
had lofty souls. They possessed the fighting edge, without which no man
is really great; for in the really great man there must be both the
heart of gold and the temper of steel.

In 1864 there were in the North some hundreds of thousands of men who
praised peace as the supreme end, as a good more important than all
other goods, and who denounced war as the worst of all evils. These
men one and all assailed and denounced Abraham Lincoln, and all voted
against him for President. Moreover, at that time there were many
individuals in England and France who said it was the duty of those
two nations to mediate between the North and the South, so as to stop
the terrible loss of life and destruction of property which attended
our Civil War; and they asserted that any Americans who in such event
refused to accept their mediation and to stop the war would thereby
show themselves the enemies of peace. Nevertheless, Abraham Lincoln
and the men back of him by their attitude prevented all such effort at
mediation, declaring that they would regard it as an unfriendly act to
the United States. Looking back from a distance of fifty years, we can
now see clearly that Abraham Lincoln and his supporters were right.
Such mediation would have been a hostile act, not only to the United
States but to humanity. The men who clamored for unrighteous peace
fifty years ago this fall were the enemies of mankind.

These facts should be pondered by the well-meaning men who always
clamor for peace without regard to whether peace brings justice or
injustice. Very many of the men and women who are at times misled into
demanding peace, as if it were itself an end instead of being a means
of righteousness, are men of good intelligence and sound heart who only
need seriously to consider the facts, and who can then be trusted to
think aright and act aright. There is, however, an element of a certain
numerical importance among our people, including the members of the
ultrapacificist group, who by their teachings do some real, although
limited, mischief. They are a feeble folk, these ultrapacificists,
morally and physically; but in a country where voice and vote are
alike free, they may, if their teachings are not disregarded, create
a condition of things where the crop they have sowed in folly and
weakness will be reaped with blood and bitter tears by the brave men
and high-hearted women of the nation.

The folly preached by some of these individuals is somewhat startling,
and if it were translated from words into deeds it would constitute a
crime against the nation. One professed teacher of morality made the
plea in so many words that we ought to follow the example of China and
deprive ourselves of all power to repel foreign attack. Surely this
writer must have possessed the exceedingly small amount of information
necessary in order to know that nearly half of China was under foreign
dominion and that while he was writing the Germans and Japanese were
battling on Chinese territory and domineering as conquerors over the
Chinese in that territory. Think of the abject soul of a man capable
of holding up to the admiration of free-born American citizens such a
condition of serfage under alien rule!

Nor is the folly confined only to the male sex. A number of women
teachers in Chicago are credited with having proposed, in view of the
war, hereafter to prohibit in the teaching of history any reference
to war and battles. Intellectually, of course, such persons show
themselves unfit to be retained as teachers a single day, and indeed
unfit to be pupils in any school more advanced than a kindergarten. But
it is not their intellectual, it is also their moral shortcomings which
are striking. The suppression of the truth is, of course, as grave an
offense against morals as is the suggestion of the false or even the
lie direct; and these teachers actually propose to teach untruths to
their pupils.

True teachers of history must tell the facts of history; and if they
do not tell the facts both about the wars that were righteous and the
wars that were unrighteous, and about the causes that led to these wars
and to success or defeat in them, they show themselves morally unfit to
train the minds of boys and girls. If in addition to telling the facts
they draw the lessons that should be drawn from the facts, they will
give their pupils a horror of all wars that are entered into wantonly
or with levity or in a spirit of mere brutal aggression or save under
dire necessity. But they will also teach that among the noblest deeds
of mankind are those that have been done in great wars for liberty, in
wars of self-defense, in wars for the relief of oppressed peoples, in
wars for putting an end to wrong-doing in the dark places of the globe.

Any teachers, in school or college, who occupied the position that
these foolish, foolish teachers have sought to take, would be forever
estopped from so much as mentioning Washington and Lincoln; because
their lives are forever associated with great wars for righteousness.
These teachers would be forever estopped from so much as mentioning
the shining names of Marathon and Salamis. They would seek to blind
their pupils’ eyes to the glory held in the deeds and deaths of Joan of
Arc, of Andreas Hofer, of Alfred the Great, of Arnold von Winkelried,
of Kosciusko and Rákóczy. They would be obliged to warn their pupils
against ever reading Schiller’s “William Tell” or the poetry of
Koerner. Such men are deaf to the lament running:

     “Oh, why, Patrick Sarsfield, did we let your ships sail,
      Across the dark waters from green Innisfail?”

To them Holmes’s ballad of Bunker Hill and Whittier’s “Laus Deo,”
MacMaster’s “Ode to the Old Continentals” and O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the
Dead” are meaningless. Their cold and timid hearts are not stirred by
the surge of the tremendous “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” On them
lessons of careers like those of Timoleon and John Hampden are lost;
in their eyes the lofty self-abnegation of Robert Lee and Stonewall
Jackson was folly; their dull senses do not thrill to the deathless
deaths of the men who died at Thermopylæ and at the Alamo--the fight of
those grim Texans of which it was truthfully said that Thermopylæ had
its messengers of death but the Alamo had none.

It has actually been proposed by some of these shivering apostles of
the gospel of national abjectness that, in view of the destruction that
has fallen on certain peaceful powers of Europe, we should abandon all
efforts at self-defense, should stop building battle-ships, and cease
to take any measures to defend ourselves if attacked. It is difficult
seriously to consider such a proposition. It is precisely and exactly
as if the inhabitants of a village in whose neighborhood highway
robberies had occurred should propose to meet the crisis by depriving
the local policeman of his revolver and club.

There are, however, many high-minded people who do not agree with
these extremists, but who nevertheless need to be enlightened as to
the actual facts. These good people, who are busy people and not able
to devote much time to thoughts about international affairs, are often
confused by men whose business it is to know better. For example, a
few weeks ago these good people were stirred to a moment’s belief
that something had been accomplished by the enactment at Washington
of a score or two of all-inclusive arbitration treaties; being not
unnaturally misled by the fact that those responsible for the passage
of the treaties indulged in some not wholly harmless bleating as
to the good effects they would produce. As a matter of fact, they
_probably_ will not produce the smallest effect of any kind or sort.
Yet it is _possible_ they may have a mischievous effect, inasmuch
as under certain circumstances to fulfil them would cause frightful
disaster to the United States, while to break them, even although under
compulsion and because it was absolutely necessary, would be fruitful
of keen humiliation to every right-thinking man who is jealous of our
international good name.

If for example, whatever the outcome of the present war, a great
triumphant military despotism declared that it would not recognize
the Monroe Doctrine or seized Magdalena Bay, or one of the Dutch West
Indies, or the Island of St. Thomas, and fortified it; or if--as would
be quite possible--it announced that we had no right to fortify the
Isthmus of Panama, and itself landed on adjacent territory to erect
similar fortifications; then, under these absurd treaties, we would
be obliged, if we happened to have made one of them with one of the
countries involved, to go into an interminable discussion of the
subject before a joint commission, while the hostile nation proceeded
to make its position impregnable. It seems incredible that the United
States government could have made such treaties; but it has just done
so, with the warm approval of the professional pacificists.

These treaties were entered into when the administration had before
its eyes at that very moment the examples of Belgium and Luxembourg,
which showed beyond possibility of doubt, especially when taken in
connection with other similar incidents that have occurred during the
last couple of decades, that there are various great military empires
in the Old World who will pay not one moment’s heed to the most solemn
and binding treaty, if it is to their interest to break it. If any
one of these empires, as the result of the present contest, obtains
something approaching to a position of complete predominance in the
Old World, it is absolutely certain that it would pay no heed whatever
to these treaties, if it desired to better its position in the New
World by taking possession of the Dutch or Danish West Indies or of the
territory of some weak American state on the mainland of the continent.
In such event we would be obliged either instantly ourselves to
repudiate the scandalous treaties by which the government at Washington
has just sought to tie our hands--and thereby expose ourselves in our
turn to the charge of bad faith--or else we should have to abdicate our
position as a great power and submit to abject humiliation.

Since these articles of mine were written and published, I am glad to
see that James Bryce, a lifelong advocate of peace and the stanchest
possible friend of the United States, has taken precisely the position
herein taken. He dwells, as I have dwelt, upon the absolute need of
protecting small states that behave themselves from absorption in
great military empires. He insists, as I have insisted, upon the need
of the reduction of armaments, the quenching of the baleful spirit of
militarism, and the admission of the peoples everywhere to a fuller
share in the control of foreign policy--all to be accomplished by
some kind of international league of peace. He adds, however, as the
culminating and most important portion of his article:

“But no scheme for preventing future wars will have any chance of
success unless it rests upon the assurance that the states which enter
it will loyally and steadfastly abide by it and that each and all of
them will join in coercing by their overwhelming united strength any
state which may disregard the obligations it has undertaken.”

This is almost exactly what I have said. Indeed, it is almost word for
word what I have said--an agreement which is all the more striking
because when he wrote it Lord Bryce could not have known what I
had written. We must insist on righteousness first and foremost.
We must strive for peace always; but we must never hesitate to put
righteousness above peace. In order to do this, we must put force back
of righteousness, for, as the world now is, national righteousness
without force back of it speedily becomes a matter of derision. To the
doctrine that might makes right, it is utterly useless to oppose the
doctrine of right unbacked by might.

It is not even true that what the pacificists desire is right. The
leaders of the pacificists of this country who for five months now have
been crying, “Peace, peace,” have been too timid even to say that
they want the peace to be a righteous one. We needlessly dignify such
outcries when we speak of them as well-meaning. The weaklings who raise
their shrill piping for a peace that shall consecrate successful wrong
occupy a position quite as immoral as and infinitely more contemptible
than the position of the wrong-doers themselves. The ruthless strength
of the great absolutist leaders--Elizabeth of England, Catherine of
Russia, Peter the Great, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Bismarck--is
certainly infinitely better for their own nations and is probably
better for mankind at large than the loquacious impotence, ultimately
trouble-breeding, which has recently marked our own international
policy. A policy of blood and iron is sometimes very wicked; but it
rarely does as much harm, and never excites as much derision, as a
policy of milk and water--and it comes dangerously near flattery to
call the foreign policy of the United States under President Wilson
and Mr. Bryan merely one of milk and water. Strength at least commands
respect; whereas the prattling feebleness that dares not rebuke any
concrete wrong, and whose proposals for right are marked by sheer
fatuity, is fit only to excite weeping among angels and among men the
bitter laughter of scorn.

At this moment any peace which leaves unredressed the wrongs of
Belgium, and which does not effectively guarantee Belgium and all other
small nations that behave themselves, against the repetition of such
wrongs would be a well-nigh unmixed evil. As far as we personally are
concerned, such a peace would inevitably mean that we should at once
and in haste have to begin to arm ourselves or be exposed in our turn
to the most frightful risk of disaster. Let our people take thought
for the future. What Germany did to Belgium because her need was great
and because she possessed the ruthless force with which to meet her
need she would, of course, do to us if her need demanded it; and in
such event what her representatives now say as to her intentions toward
America would trouble her as little as her signature to the neutrality
treaties troubled her when she subjugated Belgium. Nor does she stand
alone in her views of international morality. More than one of the
great powers engaged in this war has shown by her conduct in the past
that if it profited her she would without the smallest scruple treat
any land in the two Americas as Belgium has been treated. What has
recently happened in the Old World should be pondered deeply by the
nations of the New World; by Chile, Argentina, and Brazil no less than
by the United States. The world war has proved beyond peradventure that
the principle underlying the Monroe Doctrine is of vast moment to the
welfare of all America, and that neither this nor any other principle
can be made effective save as power is put behind it.

Belgium was absolutely innocent of offense. Her cities have been laid
waste or held to ransom for gigantic sums of money; her fruitful
fields have been trampled into mire; her sons have died on the field
of battle; her daughters are broken-hearted fugitives; a million of
her people have fled to foreign lands. Entirely disregarding all
accusations as to outrages on individuals, it yet remains true that
disaster terrible beyond belief has befallen this peaceful nation
of six million people who themselves had been guilty of not even
the smallest wrong-doing. Louvain and Dinant are smoke-grimed and
blood-stained ruins. Brussels has been held to enormous ransom,
although it did not even strive to defend itself. Antwerp did strive
to defend itself. Because soldiers in the forts attempted to repulse
the enemy, hundreds of houses in the undefended city were wrecked with
bombs from air-ships, and throngs of peaceful men, women, and children
were driven from their homes by the sharp terror of death. Be it
remembered always that not one man in Brussels, not one man in Antwerp,
had even the smallest responsibility for the disaster inflicted upon
them. Innocence has proved not even the smallest safeguard against
such woe and suffering as we in this land can at present hardly imagine.

What befell Antwerp and Brussels will surely some day befall New York
or San Francisco, and may happen to many an inland city also, if we
do not shake off our supine folly, if we trust for safety to peace
treaties unbacked by force. At the beginning of last month, by the
appointment of the President, peace services were held in the churches
of this land. As far as these services consisted of sermons and prayers
of good and wise people who wished peace only if it represented
righteousness, who did not desire that peace should come unless it
came to consecrate justice and not wrong-doing, good and not evil,
the movement represented good. In so far, however, as the movement
was understood to be one for immediate peace without any regard to
righteousness or justice, without any regard for righting the wrongs of
those who have been crushed by unmerited disaster, then the movement
represented mischief, precisely as fifty years ago, in 1864, in our own
country a similar movement for peace, to be obtained by acknowledgment
of disunion and by the perpetuation of slavery, would have represented
mischief. In the present case, however, the mischief was confined
purely to those taking part in the movement in an unworthy spirit; for
(like the peace parades and newspaper peace petitions) it was a merely
subjective phenomenon; it had not the slightest effect of any kind,
sort, or description upon any of the combatants abroad and could not
possibly have any effect upon them. It is well for our own sakes that
we should pray sincerely and humbly for the peace of righteousness; but
we must guard ourselves from any illusion as to the news of our having
thus prayed producing the least effect upon those engaged in the war.

There is just one way in which to meet the upholders of the doctrine
that might makes right. To do so we must prove that right will make
might, by backing right with might.

In his second inaugural address Andrew Jackson laid down the rule by
which every national American administration ought to guide itself,
saying: “The foreign policy adopted by our government is to do justice
to all, and to submit to wrong by none.”

The statement of the dauntless old fighter of New Orleans is as true
now as when he wrote it. We must stand absolutely for righteousness.
But to do so is utterly without avail unless we possess the strength
and the loftiness of spirit which will back righteousness with deeds
and not mere words. We must clear the rubbish from off our souls and
admit that everything that has been done in passing peace treaties,
arbitration treaties, neutrality treaties, Hague treaties, and the
like, with no sanction of force behind them, amounts to literally and
absolutely zero, to literally and absolutely nothing, in any time of
serious crisis. We must recognize that to enter into foolish treaties
which cannot be kept is as wicked as to break treaties which can and
ought to be kept. We must labor for an international agreement among
the great civilized nations which shall put the full force of all of
them back of any one of them, and of any well-behaved weak nation,
which is wronged by any other power. Until we have completed this
purpose, we must keep ourselves ready, high of heart and undaunted of
soul, to back our rights with our strength.



Most Western Americans who are past middle age remember young, rapidly
growing, and turbulent communities in which there was at first
complete anarchy. During the time when there was no central police
power to which to appeal every man worth his salt, in other words
every man fit for existence in such a community, had to be prepared
to defend himself; and usually, although not always, the fact that he
was prepared saved him from all trouble, whereas unpreparedness was
absolutely certain to invite disaster.

In such communities before there was a regular and fully organized
police force there came an interval during which the preservation of
the peace depended upon the action of a single official, a sheriff
or marshal, who if the law was defied in arrogant fashion summoned
a posse comitatus composed of as many armed, thoroughly efficient,
law-abiding citizens as were necessary in order to put a stop to the
wrong-doing. Under these conditions each man had to keep himself armed
and both able and willing to respond to the call of the peace-officer;
and furthermore, if he had a shred of wisdom he kept himself ready in
an emergency to act on his own behalf if the peace-officer did not or
could not do his duty.

In such towns I have myself more than once seen well-meaning but
foolish citizens endeavor to meet the exigencies of the case by simply
passing resolutions of disarmament without any power back of them.
That is, they passed self-denying ordinances, saying that nobody was
to carry arms; but they failed to provide methods for carrying such
ordinances into effect. In every case the result was the same. Good
citizens for the moment abandoned their weapons. The bad men continued
to carry them. Things grew worse instead of better; and then the
good men came to their senses and clothed some representative of the
police with power to employ force, potential or existing, against the

Affairs in the international world are at this time in analogous
condition. There is no central police power, and not the least
likelihood of its being created. Well-meaning enthusiasts have tried
their hands to an almost unlimited extent in the way of devising
all-inclusive arbitration treaties, neutrality treaties, disarmament
proposals, and the like, with no force back of them, and the result
has been stupendous and discreditable failure. Preparedness for war on
the part of individual nations has sometimes but not always averted
war. Unpreparedness for war, as in the case of China, Korea, and
Luxembourg, has invariably invited smashing disaster, and sometimes
complete conquest. Surely these conditions should teach a lesson that
any man who runs may read unless his eyes have been blinded by folly or
his heart weakened by cowardice.

The immediately vital lesson for each individual nation is that as
things are now it must in time of crisis rely on its own stout hearts
and ready hands for self-defense. Existing treaties are utterly
worthless so far as concerns protecting any free, well-behaved people
from one of the great aggressive military monarchies of the world. The
all-inclusive arbitration treaties such as those recently negotiated
by Messrs. Wilson and Bryan, when taken in connection with our refusal
to act under existing treaties, represent about the highest point of
slightly mischievous fatuity which can be attained in international
matters. Inasmuch as we ourselves are the power that initiated their
negotiation, we can do our plain duty to ourselves and our neighbors
only by ourselves proceeding from the outset on the theory, and by
warning our neighbors, that these treaties in any time of crisis will
certainly not be respected by any serious adversary, and probably will
of necessity be violated by ourselves. They do not in even the very
smallest degree relieve us of the necessity of preparedness for war. To
this point of our duty to be prepared I will return later.

But we ought not to and must not rest content merely with working for
our own defense. The utterly appalling calamity that has befallen
the civilized world during the last five months, and, above all, the
horrible catastrophe that has overwhelmed Belgium without Belgium’s
having the smallest responsibility in the matter, must make the
least thoughtful realize how unsatisfactory is the present basis of
international relations among civilized powers. In order to make things
better several things are necessary. We must clearly grasp the fact
that mere selfish avoidance of duty to others, even although covered by
such fine words as “peace” and “neutrality,” is a wretched thing and an
obstacle to securing the peace of righteousness throughout the world.
We must recognize clearly the old common-law doctrine that a right
without a remedy is void. We must firmly grasp the fact that measures
should be taken to put force back of good faith in the observance of
treaties. The worth of treaties depends purely upon the good faith with
which they are executed; and it is mischievous folly to enter into
treaties without providing for their execution and wicked folly to
enter into them if they ought not to be executed.

It is necessary to devise means for putting the collective and
efficient strength of all the great powers of civilization back of any
well-behaved power which is wronged by another power. In other words,
we must devise means for executing treaties in good faith, by the
establishment of some great international tribunal, and by securing
the enforcement of the decrees of this tribunal through the action of
a posse comitatus of powerful and civilized nations, all of them being
bound by solemn agreement to coerce any power that offends against
the decrees of the tribunal. That there will be grave difficulties in
successfully working out this plan I would be the first to concede,
and I would be the first to insist that to work it out successfully
would be impossible unless the nations acted in good faith. But the
plan is feasible, and it is the only one which at the moment offers
any chance of success. Ever since the days of Henry IV of France there
has been a growth, slow and halting to be sure but yet evidently a
growth, in recognition by the public conscience of civilized nations
that there should be a method of making the rules of international
morality obligatory and binding among the powers. But merely to trust
to public opinion without organized force back of it is silly. Force
must be put back of justice, and nations must not shrink from the duty
of proceeding by any means that are necessary against wrong-doers.
It is the failure to recognize these vital truths that has rendered
the actions of our government during the last few years impotent
to preserve world peace and fruitful only in earning for us the
half-veiled derision of other nations.

The attitude of the present administration during the last five months
shows how worthless the present treaties, unbacked by force, are, and
how utterly ineffective mere passive neutrality is to secure even
the smallest advance in world morality. I have been very reluctant
in any way to criticise the action of the present administration in
foreign affairs; I have faithfully, and in some cases against my
own deep-rooted personal convictions, sought to justify what it has
done in Mexico and as regards the present war; but the time has come
when loyalty to the administration’s action in foreign affairs means
disloyalty to our national self-interest and to our obligations toward
humanity at large. As regards Belgium the administration has clearly
taken the ground that our own selfish ease forbids us to fulfil our
explicit obligations to small neutral states when they are deeply
wronged. It will never be possible in any war to commit a clearer
breach of international morality than that committed by Germany in the
invasion and subjugation of Belgium. Every one of the nations involved
in this war, and the United States as well, have committed such
outrages in the past. But the very purpose of the Hague conventions
and of all similar international agreements was to put a stop to such
misconduct in the future.

At the outset I ask our people to remember that what I say is based on
the assumption that we are bound in good faith to fulfil our treaty
obligations; that we will neither favor nor condemn any other nation
except on the ground of its behavior; that we feel as much good-will
to the people of Germany or Austria as to the people of England, of
France, or of Russia; that we speak for Belgium only as we could
speak for Holland or Switzerland or one of the Scandinavian or Balkan
nations; and that if the circumstances as regards Belgium had been
reversed we would have protested as emphatically against wrong action
by England or France as we now protest against wrong action by Germany.

The United States and the great powers now at war were parties to the
international code created in the regulations annexed to the Hague
conventions of 1899 and 1907. As President, acting on behalf of this
government, and in accordance with the unanimous wish of our people,
I ordered the signature of the United States to these conventions.
Most emphatically I would not have permitted such a farce to have
gone through if it had entered my head that this government would not
consider itself bound to do all it could to see that the regulations to
which it made itself a party were actually observed when the necessity
for their observance arose. I cannot imagine any sensible nation
thinking it worth while to sign future Hague conventions if even such a
powerful neutral as the United States does not care enough about them
to protest against their open breach. Of the present neutral powers the
United States of America is the most disinterested and the strongest,
and should therefore bear the main burden of responsibility in this

It is quite possible to make an argument to the effect that we never
should have entered into the Hague conventions, because our sole duty
is to ourselves and not to others, and our sole concern should be to
keep ourselves at peace, at any cost, and not to help other powers
that are oppressed, and not to protest against wrong-doing. I do not
myself accept this view; but in practice it is the view taken by the
present administration, apparently with at the moment the approval of
the mass of our people. Such a policy, while certainly not exalted, and
in my judgment neither far-sighted nor worthy of a high-spirited and
lofty-souled nation, is yet in a sense understandable, and in a sense

But it is quite indefensible to make agreements and not live up to
them. The climax of absurdity is for any administration to do what
the present administration during the last five months has done. Mr.
Wilson’s administration has shirked doing the duty plainly imposed on
it by the obligations of the conventions already entered into; and at
the same time it has sought to obtain cheap credit by entering into a
couple of score new treaties infinitely more drastic than the old ones,
and quite impossible of honest fulfilment. When the Belgian people
complained of violations of the Hague tribunal, it was a mockery,
it was a timid and unworthy abandonment of duty on our part, for
President Wilson to refer them back to the Hague court, when he knew
that the Hague court was less than a shadow unless the United States
by doing its clear duty gave the Hague court some substance. If the
Hague conventions represented nothing but the expression of feeble
aspirations toward decency, uttered only in time of profound peace, and
not to be even expressed above a whisper when with awful bloodshed and
suffering the conventions were broken, then it was idle folly to enter
into them. If, on the other hand, they meant anything, if the United
States had a serious purpose, a serious sense of its obligations to
world righteousness, when it entered into them, then its plain duty as
the trustee of civilization is to investigate the charges solemnly made
as to the violation of the Hague conventions. If such investigation is
made, and if the charges prove well founded, then it is the duty of the
United States to take whatever action may be necessary to vindicate the
principles of international law set forth in these conventions.

I am not concerned with the charges of individual atrocity. The prime
fact is that Belgium committed no offense whatever, and yet that her
territory has been invaded and her people subjugated. This prime fact
cannot be left out of consideration in dealing with any matter that
has occurred in connection with it. Her neutrality has certainly been
violated, and this is in clear violation of the fundamental principles
of the Hague conventions. It appears clear that undefended towns have
been bombarded, and that towns which were defended have been attacked
with bombs at a time when no attack was made upon the defenses. This
is certainly in contravention of the Hague agreement forbidding the
bombardment of undefended towns. Illegal and excessive contributions
are expressly condemned under Articles 49 and 52 of the conventions. If
these articles do not forbid the levying of such sums as $40,000,000
from Brussels and $90,000,000 from the province of Brabant, then the
articles are absolutely meaningless. Articles 43 and 50 explicitly
forbid the infliction of a collective penalty, pecuniary or otherwise,
on a population on account of acts of individuals for which it cannot
be regarded as collectively responsible. Either this prohibition is
meaningless or it prohibits just such acts as the punitive destruction
of Visé, Louvain, Aerschot, and Dinant. Furthermore, a great deal of
the appalling devastation of central and eastern Belgium has been
apparently terrorizing and not punitive in its purpose, and this is
explicitly forbidden by the Hague conventions.

Now, it may be that there is an explanation and justification for
a portion of what has been done. But if the Hague conventions mean
anything, and if bad faith in the observation of treaties is not
to be treated with cynical indifference, then the United States
government should inform itself as to the facts, and should take
whatever action is necessary in reference thereto. The extent to
which the action should go may properly be a subject for discussion.
But that there should be some action is beyond discussion; unless,
indeed, we ourselves are content to take the view that treaties,
conventions, and international engagements and agreements of all kinds
are to be treated by us and by everybody else as what they have been
authoritatively declared to be, “scraps of paper,” the writing on
which is intended for no better purpose than temporarily to amuse the

If the above statements seem in the eyes of my German friends hostile
to Germany, let me emphasize the fact that they are predicated upon a
course of action which if extended and applied as it should be extended
and applied would range the United States on the side of Germany if
any such assault were made upon Germany as has been made upon Belgium,
or if either Belgium or any of the other allies committed similar
wrong-doing. Many Germans assert and believe that if Germany had not
acted as she did France and England would have invaded Belgium and have
committed similar wrongs. In such case it would have been our clear
duty to behave toward them exactly as we ought now to behave toward
Germany. But the fact that other powers might under other conditions do
wrong, affords no justification for failure to act on the wrong that
has actually been committed. It must always be kept in mind, however,
that we cannot expect the nation against whose actions we protest to
accept our position as warranted, unless we make it clear that we have
both the will and the power to interfere on behalf of that nation if in
its turn it is oppressed. In other words, we must show that we believe
in right and therefore in living up to our promises in good faith; and,
furthermore, that we are both able and ready to put might behind right.

As I have before said, I think that the party in Germany which believes
in a policy of aggression represents but a minority of the nation.
It is powerful only because the great majority of the German people
are rightfully in fear of aggression at the expense of Germany, and
sanction striking only because they fear lest they themselves be
struck. The greatest service that could be rendered to peace would
be to convince Germany, as well as other powers, that in such event
we would do all we could on behalf of the power that was wronged.
Extremists in England, France, and Russia talk as if the proper outcome
of the present war would be the utter dismemberment of Germany and her
reduction to impotence such as that which followed for her upon the
Thirty Years’ War. I have actually received letters from Frenchmen and
Englishmen upbraiding me for what they regard as a pro-German leaning
in these articles I have written. To these well-meaning persons I can
only say that Americans who remember the extreme bitterness felt by
Northerners for Southerners, and Southerners for Northerners, at the
end of the Civil War, are saddened but in no wise astonished that
other peoples should show a like bitterness. I can only repeat that to
dismember and hopelessly shatter Germany would be a frightful calamity
for mankind, precisely as the dismemberment and shattering of the
British Empire or of the French Republic would be. It is right that the
United States should regard primarily its own interests. But I believe
that I speak for a considerable number of my countrymen when I say that
we ought not solely to consider our own interests. Above all, we should
not do as the present administration does; for it refuses to take any
concrete action in favor of any nation which is wronged; and yet it
also refuses to act so that we may ourselves be sufficient for our own

We ought not to trust in words unbacked by deeds. We should be able
to defend ourselves. We should also be ready and able to join in
preventing the infliction of disaster of the kind of which I speak upon
any civilized power, great or small, whether it be at the present time
Belgium, or at some future day Germany or England, Holland, Sweden or
Hungary, Russia or Japan.

So much for questions of international right, and of our duty to others
in international affairs. Now for our duty to ourselves.

A sincere desire to act well toward other nations must not blind us to
the fact that as yet the standard of international morality is both
low and irregular. The behavior of the great military empires of the
Old World, in reference to their treaty obligations and their moral
obligations toward countries such as Belgium, Finland, and Korea, shows
that it would be utter folly for us in any grave crisis to trust to
anything save our own preparedness and resolution for our safety. The
other day there appeared in the newspapers extracts from a translation
of a report made by an officer of the Prussian army staff outlining
the plan of operations by Germany in the event of war with America.
Great surprise was expressed by innocent Americans that such plans
should be in existence, and certain gentlemen who speak for Germany
denied that the report (which was printed and openly sold in Germany
in pamphlet form) was “official.” Neither the resentment expressed
nor yet the denials were necessary. One feature of the admirable
preparedness in which Germany and Japan stand so far above all other
nations, and especially above our own, is their careful consideration
of hostilities with all possible antagonists. Bernhardi’s famous books
treat of possible war with Austria, and possible attack by Austria upon
Germany, although the prime lessons that they teach are those contained
in the possibility of war as it has actually occurred, with Germany
and Austria in alliance. This does not indicate German hostility to
Austria; it merely indicates German willingness to look squarely in
the face all possible facts. Of course, and quite properly, the German
General Staff has carefully considered the question of hostilities
with America, and, of course, plans were drawn up with minute care
and prevision at the time when there was friction between the two
countries over Samoa, at the time when Admiral Dietrich clashed with
Dewey in Manila Bay, and on the later occasion when there was friction
in connection with Venezuela. This did not represent any special German
ill will toward America. It represented the common-sense--albeit
somewhat cold-blooded--consideration of possibilities by Germany’s
rulers; and the failure to give this consideration would have reflected
severely upon these rulers--although I do not regard some of the
actions proposed as proper from the standpoint of warfare as the United
States has practised it. To become angry because such plans exist would
be childish. To fail to profit by our knowledge that they certainly
do exist would, however, be not merely childish but imbecile. I have
myself become personally cognizant of the existence of such plans for
operations against us, and of the larger features of their details, in
two cases, affecting two different nations.

The essential feature of these plans was (and doubtless is) the
seizure of some of our great coast cities and the terrorization of
these cities so as to make them give enormous ransoms; ransoms of
such size that our own country would be crippled, whereas our foes
would be enabled to run the war against us with a handsome profit to
themselves. These plans are based, of course, upon the belief that we
have not sufficient foresight and intelligence to keep our navy in
first-class condition, and upon not merely the belief but the knowledge
that our regular army is so small and our utter unpreparedness
otherwise so great that on land we would be entirely helpless against
a moderate-sized expeditionary force belonging to any first-class
military power. Foreign military and naval observers know well that
our navy has been used during the last eighteen months in connection
with the Mexican situation in such manner as to accomplish the minimum
of results as regards Mexico, while at the same time to do the maximum
of damage in interrupting the manœuvring and the gun practice of our
fleets. They regard Messrs. Wilson and Bryan as representative of the
American people in their entire inability to understand the real nature
of the forces that underlie international relations and the importance
of preparedness. They are entirely cold-blooded in their views of us.
Foreign rulers may despise us for our supine unpreparedness, and for
our readiness to make treaties, taken together with our refusal to
fulfil these treaties by seeking to avert wrong done to others. But
their contempt will not prevent their using this nation as arbiter in
order to bring about peace if to do so suits their purposes; and if, on
the contrary, one or the other of the several great military empires
becomes the world mistress as the result of this war, that power
will infringe our rights whenever and to the extent that it deems it
advantageous to do so, and will make war upon us whenever it believes
that such war will be to its own advantage.

In the event of such a war against us it is well to remember that the
spiritless and selfish type of neutrality which we have observed in
the present war will be remembered by all other nations on whichever
side they have been engaged in this contest, and will give each of them
more or less satisfaction in the event of disaster befalling us. These
nations, if they come to a deadlock as the result of this war, will not
be withheld by any sentiment of indignation against or contempt for us
from utilizing the services of the President as a medium for bringing
about peace, if this seems the most convenient method of getting peace.
But, whether they do this or not, they will retain a smouldering ill
will toward us, one and all of them; and if we were assailed it would
be utterly quixotic, utterly foolish of any one of them to come to
our aid no matter what wrongs were inflicted upon us. It would be
quite impossible for any power to treat us worse than Belgium has been
treated by Germany or to attack us with less warrant than was shown
when Belgium was attacked. Bombs have been continually dropped by the
Germans in the city of Paris and in other cities, wrecking private
houses and killing men, women, and children at a time when there was no
pretense that any military attacks were being made upon the cities, or
that any other object was served than that of terrorizing the civilian
population. Cities have been destroyed and others held to huge ransom.
All these practices are forbidden by the Hague conventions. Inasmuch as
we have not made a single protest against them when other powers have
suffered, it would be both ridiculous and humiliating for us to make
even the slightest appeal for assistance or to expect any assistance
from any other powers if ever we in our turn suffer in like fashion.
It would be purely our affair. We would have no right to expect that
other powers would take the kind of action which we ourselves have
refused to take. It would be our time to take our medicine, and it
would be folly and cowardice to make wry faces over it or to expect
sympathy, still less aid, from outsiders. As I have already stated, my
own view is most strongly that, if we are assailed in accordance with
the plans of foreign powers above mentioned, it would be our business
positively to refuse to allow any city to ransom itself, and sternly
to accept the destruction of New York, or San Francisco, or any other
city as the alternative of such ransom. Our duty would be to accept
these disasters as the payment rightfully due from us to fate for our
folly in having listened to the clamor of the feeble folk among the
ultrapacificists, and in having indorsed the unspeakable silliness of
the policy contained in the proposed all-inclusive arbitration treaties
of Mr. Taft and in the accomplished all-inclusive arbitration treaties
of Messrs. Wilson and Bryan.

I very earnestly hope that this nation will ultimately adopt a
dignified and self-respecting policy in international affairs. I
earnestly hope that ultimately we shall live up to every international
obligation we have undertaken--exactly as we did live up to them
during the seven and a half years while I was President. I earnestly
hope that we shall ourselves become one of the joint guarantors of
world peace under such a plan as that I in this book outline, and that
we shall hold ourselves ready and willing to act as a member of the
international posse comitatus to enforce the peace of righteousness as
against any offender big or small. This would mean a great practical
stride toward relief from the burden of excessive military preparation.
It would mean that a long step had been taken toward at least
minimizing and restricting the area and extent of possible warfare. It
would mean that all liberty-loving and enlightened peoples, great and
small, would be freed from the haunting nightmare of terror which now
besets them when they think of the possible conquest of their land.

Until this can be done we owe it to ourselves as a nation effectively
to safeguard ourselves against all likelihood of disaster at the hands
of a foreign foe. We should bring our navy up to the highest point of
preparedness, we should handle it purely from military considerations,
and should see that the training was never intermitted. We should make
our little regular army larger and more effective than at present. We
should provide for it an adequate reserve. In addition, I most heartily
believe that we should return to the ideal held by our people in the
days of Washington although never lived up to by them. We should
follow the example of such typical democracies as Switzerland and
Australia and provide and require military training for all our young
men. Switzerland’s efficient army has unquestionably been the chief
reason why in this war there has been no violation of her neutrality.
Australia’s system of military training has enabled her at once to ship
large bodies of first-rate fighting men to England’s aid. Our northern
neighbors have done even better than Australia; perhaps special mention
should be made of St. John, Newfoundland, which has sent to the front
one in five of her adult male population, a larger percentage than
any other city of the empire; a feat probably due to the fact that in
practically all her schools there is good military training, while her
young men have much practice in shooting tournaments. England at the
moment is saved from the fate of Belgium only because of her navy; and
the small size of her army, her lack of arms, her lack of previous
preparations doubtless afford the chief reason why this war has
occurred at all at this time. There would probably have been no war if
England had followed the advice so often urged on her by the lamented
Lord Roberts, for in that case she would have been able immediately to
put in the field an army as large and effective as, for instance, that
of France.

Training of our young men in field manœuvres and in marksmanship, as
is done in Switzerland, and to a slightly less extent in Australia,
would be of immense advantage to the physique and morale of our whole
population. It would not represent any withdrawal of our population
from civil pursuits, such as occurs among the great military states
of the European Continent. In Switzerland, for instance, the ground
training is given in the schools, and the young man after graduating
serves only some four months with the branch of the army to which he
is attached, and after that only about eight days a year, not counting
his rifle practice. All serve alike, rich and poor, without any
exceptions; and all whom I have ever met, the poor even more than the
rich, are enthusiastic over the beneficial effects of the service and
the increase in self-reliance, self-respect, and efficiency which it
has brought. The utter worthlessness of make-believe soldiers who have
not been trained, and who are improvised on the Wilson-Bryan theory,
will be evident to any one who cares to read such works as Professor
Johnson’s recent volume on Bull Run. Our people should make a thorough
study of the Swiss and Australian systems, and then adapt them to our
own use. To do so would not be a stride toward war, as the feeble folk
among the ultrapacificists would doubtless maintain. It would be the
most effectual possible guarantee that peace would dwell within our
borders; and it would also make it possible for us not only to insure
peace for ourselves, but to have our words carry weight if we spoke
against the commission of wrong and injustice at the expense of others.

But we must always remember that no institutions will avail unless the
private citizen has the right spirit. When a leading congressman,
himself with war experience, shows conclusively in open speech in
the House that we are utterly unprepared to do our duty to ourselves
if assailed, President Wilson answers him with a cheap sneer, with
unworthy levity; and the repeated warnings of General Wood are treated
with the same indifference. Nevertheless, I do not believe that this
attitude on the part of our public servants really represents the real
convictions of the average American. The ideal citizen of a free state
must have in him the stuff which in time of need will enable him to
show himself a first-class fighting man who scorns either to endure
or to inflict wrong. American society is sound at core and this means
that at bottom we, as a people, accept as the basis of sound morality
not slothful ease and soft selfishness and the loud timidity that
fears every species of risk and hardship, but the virile strength of
manliness which clings to the ideal of stern, unflinching performance
of duty, and which follows whithersoever that ideal may lead.



The other day one of the typical ultrapacificists or peace-at-any-price
men put the ultrapacificist case quite clearly, both in a statement of
his own and by a quotation of what he called the “golden words” of Mr.
Bryan at Mohonk. In arguing that we should under no conditions fight
for our rights, and that we should make no preparation whatever to
secure ourselves against wrong, this writer pointed out China as the
proper model for America. He did this on the ground that China, which
did not fight, was yet “older” than Rome, Greece, and Germany, which
had fought, and that its example was therefore to be preferred.

This, of course, is a position which saves the need of argument. If
the average American wants to be a Chinaman, if China represents his
ideal, then he should by all means follow the advice of pacificists
like the writer in question and be a supporter of Mr. Bryan. If any man
seriously believes that China has played a nobler and more useful part
in the world than Athens and Rome and Germany, then he is quite right
to try to Chinafy the United States. In such event he must of course
believe that all the culture, all the literature, all the art, all the
political and cultural liberty and social well-being, which modern
Europe and the two Americas have inherited from Rome and Greece, and
that all that has been done by Germany from the days of Charlemagne to
the present time, represent mere error and confusion. He must believe
that the average German or Frenchman or Englishman or inhabitant of
North or South America occupies a lower moral, intellectual, and
physical status than the average coolie who with his fellows composes
the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population. To my mind such
a proposition is unfit for debate outside of certain types of asylum.
But those who sincerely take the view that this gentleman takes are
unquestionably right in copying China in every detail, and nothing that
I can say will appeal to them.

The “golden words” of Mr. Bryan were as follows:

    I believe that this nation could stand before the world to-day
    and tell the world that it did not believe in war, that it did
    not believe that it was the right way to settle disputes, that
    it had no disputes which it was not willing to submit to the
    judgment of the world. If this nation did that, it not only
    would not be attacked by any other nation on the earth, but it
    would become the supreme power in the world.

Of course, it is to be assumed that Mr. Bryan means what he says. If he
does, then he is willing to submit to arbitration the question whether
the Japanese have or have not the right to send unlimited numbers
of immigrants to this shore. If Mr. Bryan does not mean this, among
other specific things, then the “golden words” in question represent
merely the emotionalism of the professional orator. Of course if Mr.
Bryan means what he says, he also believes that we should not have
interfered in Cuba and that Cuba ought now to be the property of
Spain. He also believes that we ought to have permitted Colombia to
reconquer and deprive of their independence the people of Panama, and
that we should not have built the Panama Canal. He also believes that
California and Texas ought now to be parts of Mexico, enjoying whatever
blessings complete abstinence from foreign war has secured that country
during the last three years. He also believes that the Declaration
of Independence was an arbitrable matter and that the United States
ought now to be a dependency of Great Britain. Unless Mr. Bryan does
believe all of these things then his “golden words” represent only a
rhetorical flourish. He is Secretary of State and the right-hand man
of President Wilson, and President Wilson is completely responsible for
whatever he says and for the things he does--or rather which he leaves

Now, it is quite useless for me to write with any view to convincing
gentlemen like Mr. Bryan and the writer in question. If they really
do represent our fellow countrymen, then they are right in holding
up China as our ideal; not the modern China, not the China that is
changing and moving forward, but old China. In such event Americans
ought frankly to class themselves with the Chinese. That is where, on
this theory, they belong. If this is so, then let us fervently pray
that the Japanese or Germans or some other virile people that does not
deify moral, mental, and physical impotence, may speedily come to rule
over us.

I am, however, writing on the assumption that Americans are still on
the whole like their forefathers who followed Washington, and like
their fathers who fought in the armies of Grant and Lee. I am writing
on the assumption that, even though temporarily misled, they will
not permanently and tamely submit to oppression, and that they will
ultimately think intelligently as to what they should do to safeguard
themselves against aggression. I abhor unjust war, and I deplore that
the need even for just war should ever occur. I believe we should set
our faces like flint against any policy of aggression by this country
on the rights of any other country. But I believe that we should look
facts in the face. I believe that it is unworthy weakness to fear to
face the truth. Moreover, I believe that we should have in us that
fibre of manhood which will make us follow duty whithersoever it may
lead. Unquestionably, we should render all the service it is in our
power to render to righteousness. To do this we must be able to back
righteousness with force, to put might back of right. It may well be
that by following out this theory we can in the end do our part in
conjunction with other nations of the world to bring about, if not--as
I hope--a world peace, yet at least an important minimizing of the
chances for war and of the areas of possible war. But meanwhile it is
absolutely our duty to prepare for our own defense.

This country needs something like the Swiss system of war training for
its young men. Switzerland is one of the most democratic governments in
the world, and it has given its young men such an efficient training as
to insure entire preparedness for war, without suffering from the least
touch of militarism. Switzerland is at peace now primarily because
all the great military nations that surround it know that its people
have no intention of making aggression on anybody and yet that they
are thoroughly prepared to hold their own and are resolute to fight to
the last against any invader who attempts either to subjugate their
territory or by violating its neutrality to make it a battle-ground.

A bishop of the Episcopal Church recently wrote me as follows:

    How lamentable that we should stand idle, making no preparations
    to enforce peace, and crying “peace” when there is none! I have
    scant sympathy for the short-sightedness of those who decry
    preparation for war as a means of preventing it.

The manager of a land company in Alabama writes me urging that some one
speak for reasonable preparedness on the part of the nation. He states
that it is always possible that we shall be engaged in hostilities with
some first-class power, that he hopes and believes that war will never
come, but adds:

    I may not believe that my home will burn down or that I am going
    to die within the period of my expectancy, but nevertheless I
    carry fire and life insurance to the full insurable value on my
    property and on my life to the extent of my ability. The only
    insurance of our liberties as a people is full preparation for
    a defense adequate against any attack and made in time to fully
    meet any attack. We do not _know_ the attack is coming; but to
    wait until it does come will be too late. Our present weakness
    lies in the wide-spread opinion among our people that this
    country is invincible because of its large population and vast
    resources. This I believe is true if, and only if, we use these
    resources or a small part of them to protect the major part,
    and if we train at least a part of our people how to defend the
    nation. Under existing conditions we can hardly hope to have
    an effective army in the field in less time than eight or ten
    months. To-day not one per cent of our people know anything about
    rifle shooting.

I quote these two out of many letters, because they sum up the general
feeling of men of vision. Both of my correspondents are most sincerely
for peace. No man can possibly be more anxious for peace than I am.
I ask those individuals who think of me as a firebrand to remember
that during the seven and a half years I was President not a shot was
fired at any soldier of a hostile nation by any American soldier or
sailor, and there was not so much as a threat of war. Even when the
state of Panama threw off the alien yoke of Colombia and when this
nation, acting as was its manifest duty, by recognizing Panama as
an independent state stood for the right of the governed to govern
themselves on the Isthmus, as well as for justice and humanity,
there was not a shot fired by any of our people at any Colombian.
The blood recently shed at Vera Cruz, like the unpunished wrongs
recently committed on our people in Mexico, had no parallel during my
administration. When I left the presidency there was not a cloud on
the horizon--and one of the reasons why there was not a cloud on the
horizon was that the American battle fleet had just returned from its
sixteen months’ trip around the world, a trip such as no other battle
fleet of any power had ever taken, which it had not been supposed
could be taken, and which exercised a greater influence for peace than
all the peace congresses of the last fifty years. With Lowell I most
emphatically believe that peace is not a gift that tarries long in the
hands of cowards; and the fool and the weakling are no improvement on
the coward.

Nineteen centuries ago in the greatest of all books we were warned
that whoso loses his life for righteousness shall save it and that he
who seeks to save it shall lose it. The ignoble and abject gospel of
those who would teach us that it is preferable to endure disgrace and
discredit than to run any risk to life or limb would defeat its own
purpose; for that kind of submission to wrong-doing merely invites
further wrong-doing, as has been shown a thousand times in history and
as is shown by the case of China in our own days. Moreover, our people,
however ill-prepared, would never consent to such abject submission;
and indeed as a matter of fact our publicists and public men and our
newspapers, instead of being too humble and submissive, are only too
apt to indulge in very offensive talk about foreign nations. Of all the
nations of the world we are the one that combines the greatest amount
of wealth with the smallest ability to defend that wealth. Surely one
does not have to read history very much or ponder over philosophy a
great deal in order to realize the truth that the one certain way
to invite disaster is to be opulent, offensive, and unarmed. There
is utter inconsistency between the ideal of making this nation the
foremost commercial power in the world and of disarmament in the face
of an armed world. There is utter inconsistency between the ideal of
making this nation a power for international righteousness and at the
same time refusing to make us a power efficient in anything save empty
treaties and emptier promises.

I do not believe in a large standing army. Most emphatically I do not
believe in militarism. Most emphatically I do not believe in any policy
of aggression by us. But I do believe that no man is really fit to be
the free citizen of a free republic unless he is able to bear arms and
at need to serve with efficiency in the efficient army of the republic.
This is no new thing with me. For years I have believed that the young
men of the country should know how to use a rifle and should have a
short period of military training which, while not taking them for any
length of time from civil pursuits, would make them quickly capable of
helping defend the country in case of need. When I was governor of New
York, acting in conjunction with the administration at Washington under
President McKinley, I secured the sending abroad of one of the best
officers in the New York National Guard, Colonel William Cary Sanger,
to study the Swiss system. As President I had to devote my attention
chiefly to getting the navy built up. But surely the sight of what has
happened abroad ought to awaken our people to the need of action, not
only as regards our navy but as regards our land forces also.

Australia has done well in this respect. But Switzerland has worked out
a comprehensive scheme with practical intelligence. She has not only
solved the question of having men ready to fight, but she has solved
the question of having arms to give these men. At present England is in
more difficulty about arms than about men, and some of her people when
sent to the front were armed with hunting rifles. Our own shortcomings
are far greater. Indeed, they are so lamentable that it is hard to
believe that our citizens as a whole know them. To equip half the
number of men whom even the British now have in the field would tax
our factories to the limit. In Switzerland, during the last two or
three years of what corresponds to our high-school work the boy is
thoroughly grounded in the rudiments of military training, discipline,
and marksmanship. When he graduates he is put for some four to six
months in the army to receive exactly the training he would get in time
of war. After that he serves eight days a year and in addition often
joins with his fellows in practising at a mark. He keeps his rifle
and accoutrements in his home and is responsible for their condition.
Efficiency is the watchword of Switzerland, and not least in its army.
At the outbreak of this terrible war Switzerland was able to mobilize
her forces in the corner of her territory between France and Germany
as quickly as either of the great combatants could theirs; and no one
trespassed upon her soil.

The Swiss training does not to any appreciable extent take the man away
from his work. But it does make him markedly more efficient for his
work. The training he gets and his short service with the colors render
him appreciably better able to do whatever his job in life is, and, in
addition, benefit his health and spirits. The service is a holiday, and
a holiday of the best because of the most useful type.

There is no reason whatever why Americans should be unwilling or unable
to do what Switzerland has done. We are a far wealthier country
than Switzerland and could afford without the slightest strain the
very trifling expense and the trifling consumption of time rendered
necessary by such a system. It has really nothing in common with the
universal service in the great conscript armies of the military powers.
No man would be really taken out of industry. On the contrary, the
average man would probably be actually benefited so far as doing his
life-work is concerned. The system would be thoroughly democratic in
its workings. No man would be exempted from the work and all would have
to perform the work alike. It would be entirely possible to arrange
that there should be a certain latitude as to the exact year when the
four or six months’ service was given.

Officers, of course, would need a longer training than the men. This
could readily be furnished either by allowing numbers of extra students
to take partial or short-term courses at West Point or by specifying
optional courses in the high schools, the graduates of these special
courses being tested carefully in their field-work and being required
to give extra periods of service and being under the rigid supervision
of the regular army. There could also be opportunities for promotion
from the ranks for any one who chose to take the time and the trouble
to fit himself.

The four or six months’ service with the colors would be for the most
part in the open field. The drill hall and the parade-ground do not
teach more than five per cent of what a soldier must actually know.
Any man who has had any experience with ordinary organizations of the
National Guard when taken into camp knows that at first only a very
limited number of the men have any idea of taking care of themselves
and that the great majority suffer much from dyspepsia, just because
they do not know how to take care of themselves. The soldier needs
to spend some months in actual campaign practice under canvas with
competent instructors before he gets to know his duty. If, however, he
has had previous training in the schools of such a type as that given
in Switzerland and then has this actual practice, he remains for some
years efficient with no more training than eight or ten days a year.

The training must be given in large bodies. It is essential that men
shall get accustomed to the policing and sanitary care of camps in
which there are masses of soldiers. Moreover, officers and especially
the higher officers are wholly useless in war time unless they are
accustomed to handle masses of men in co-operation with one another.

There are small sections of our population out of which it is possible
to improvise soldiers in a short time. Men who are accustomed to ride
and to shoot and to live in the open and who are hardy and enduring and
by nature possess the fighting edge already know most of what it is
necessary that an infantryman or cavalryman should know, and they can
be taught the remainder in a very short time by good officers. Morgan’s
Virginia Riflemen, Andrew Jackson’s Tennesseans, Forrest’s Southwestern
Cavalry were all men of this kind; but even such men are of real use
only after considerable training or else if their leaders are born
fighters and masters of men. Such leaders are rare. The ordinary
dweller in civilization has to be taught to shoot, to walk (or ride if
he is in the cavalry), to cook for himself, to make himself comfortable
in the open, and to take care of his feet and his health generally.
Artillerymen and engineers need long special training.

It may well be that the Swiss on an average can be made into good
troops quicker than our own men; but most assuredly there would be
numbers of Americans who would not be behind the Swiss in such a
matter. A body of volunteers of the kind I am describing would of
course not be as good as a body of regulars of the same size, but they
would be immeasurably better than the average soldiers produced by any
system we now have or ever have had in connection with our militia. Our
regular army would be strengthened by them at the very beginning and
would be set free in its entirety for immediate aggressive action;
and in addition a levy in mass of the young men of the right age would
mean that two or three million troops were put into the field, who,
although not as good as regulars, would at once be available in numbers
sufficient to overwhelm any expeditionary force which it would be
possible for any military power to send to our shores. The existence
of such a force would render the immediate taking of cities like San
Francisco, New York, or Boston an impossibility and would free us
from all danger from sudden raids and make it impossible even for an
army-corps to land with any prospect of success.

Our people are so entirely unused to things military that it is
probably difficult for the average man to get any clear idea of our
shortcomings. Unlike what is true in the military nations of the Old
World, here the ordinary citizen takes no interest in the working of
our War Department in time of peace. No President gains the slightest
credit for himself by paying attention to it. Then when a crisis comes
and the War Department breaks down, instead of the people accepting
what has happened with humility as due to their own fault during the
previous two or three decades, there is a roar of wrath against the
unfortunate man who happens to be in office at the time. There was such
a roar of wrath against Secretary Alger in the Spanish War. Now, as a
matter of fact, ninety per cent of our shortcomings when the war broke
out with Spain could not have been remedied by any action on the part
of the Secretary of War. They were due to what had been done ever since
the close of the Civil War.

We were utterly unprepared. There had been no real manœuvring of so
much as a brigade and very rarely had any of our generals commanded
even a good-sized regiment in the field. The enlisted men and the
junior officers of the regular army were good. Most of the officers
above the rank of captain were nearly worthless. There were striking
exceptions of course, but, taking the average, I really believe that
it would have been on the whole to the advantage of our army in 1898
if all the regular officers above the rank of captain had been retired
and if all the captains who were unfit to be placed in the higher
positions had also been retired. The lieutenants were good. The lack
of administrative skill was even more marked than the lack of military
skill. No one who saw the congestion of trains, supplies, animals, and
men at Tampa will ever forget the impression of helpless confusion
that it gave him. The volunteer forces included some organizations and
multitudes of individuals offering first-class material. But, as a
whole, the volunteer army would have been utterly helpless against any
efficient regular force at the outset of the 1898 war, probably almost
as inefficient as were the two armies which fought one another at Bull
Run in 1861. Even the efficiency of the regular army itself was such
merely by comparison with the volunteers. I do not believe that any
army in the world offered finer material than was offered by the junior
officers and enlisted men of the regular army which disembarked on
Cuban soil in June, 1898; and by the end of the next two weeks probably
the average individual infantry or cavalry organization therein was
at least as good as the average organization of the same size in an
Old-World army. But taking the army as a whole and considering its
management from the time it began to assemble at Tampa until the
surrender of Santiago, I seriously doubt if it was as efficient as a
really good European or Japanese army of half the size. Since then we
have made considerable progress. Our little army of occupation that
went to Cuba at the time of the revolution in Cuba ten years ago was
thoroughly well handled and did at least as well as any foreign force
of the same size could have done. But it did not include ten thousand
men, that is, it did not include as many men as the smallest military
power in Europe would assemble any day for manœuvres.

This is no new thing in our history. If only we were willing to learn
from our defeats and failures instead of paying heed purely to our
successes, we would realize that what I have above described is one of
the common phases of our history. In the War of 1812, at the outset of
the struggle, American forces were repeatedly beaten, as at Niagara and
Bladensburg, by an enemy one half or one quarter the strength of the
American army engaged. Yet two years later these same American troops
on the northern frontier, when trained and commanded by Brown, Scott,
and Ripley, proved able to do what the finest troops of Napoleon were
unable to do, that is, meet the British regulars on equal terms in the
open; and the Tennessee backwoodsmen and Louisiana volunteers, when
mastered and controlled by the iron will and warlike genius of Andrew
Jackson, performed at New Orleans a really great feat. During the year
1812 the American soldiers on shore suffered shameful and discreditable
defeats, and yet their own brothers at sea won equally striking
victories, and this because the men on shore were utterly unprepared
and because the men at sea had been thoroughly trained and drilled long
in advance.

Exactly the same lessons are taught by the histories of other nations.
When, during the Napoleonic wars, a small force of veteran French
soldiers landed in Ireland they defeated without an effort five times
their number of British and Irish troops at Castlebar. Yet the men
whom they thus drove in wild flight were the own brothers of and often
the very same men who a few years later, under Wellington, proved an
overmatch for the flower of the French forces. The nation that waits
until the crisis is upon it before taking measures for its own safety
pays heavy toll in the blood of its best and its bravest and in bitter
shame and humiliation. Small is the comfort it can then take from the
memory of the times when the noisy and feeble folk in its own ranks
cried “Peace, peace,” without taking one practical step to secure peace.

We can never follow out a worthy national policy, we can never be of
benefit to others or to ourselves, unless we keep steadily in view
as our ideal that of the just man armed, the man who is fearless,
self-reliant, ready, because he has prepared himself for possible
contingencies; the man who is scornful alike of those who would advise
him to do wrong and of those who would advise him tamely to suffer
wrong. The great war now being waged in Europe and the fact that
no neutral nation has ventured to make even the smallest effort to
alleviate[1] or even to protest against the wrongs that have been
done show with lamentable clearness that all the peace congresses
of the past fifteen years have accomplished precisely and exactly
nothing so far as any great crisis is concerned. Fundamentally this is
because they have confined themselves to mere words, seemingly without
realizing that mere words are utterly useless unless translated into
deeds and that an ounce of promise which is accompanied by provision
for a similar ounce of effective performance is worth at least a ton
of promise as to which no effective method of performance is provided.
Furthermore, a very serious blunder has been to treat peace as the end
instead of righteousness as the end. The greatest soldier-patriots
of history, Timoleon, John Hamden, Andreas Hofer, Koerner, the great
patriot-statesman-soldiers like Washington, the great patriot-statesmen
like Lincoln whose achievements for good depended upon the use of
soldiers, have all achieved their immortal claim to the gratitude of
mankind by what they did in just war. To condemn war in terms which
include the wars these men waged or took part in precisely as they
include the most wicked and unjust wars of history is to serve the
devil and not God.

    [1] The much advertised sending of food and supplies to
        Belgium has been of most benefit to the German conquerors
        of Belgium. They have taken the money and food of the
        Belgians and permitted the Belgians to be supported by
        outsiders. Of course, it was far better to send them food,
        even under such conditions, than to let them starve; but
        the professional pacificists would do well to ponder the
        fact that if the neutral nations had been willing to
        prevent the invasion of Belgium, which could only be done
        by willingness and ability to use force, they would by
        this act of “war” have prevented more misery and suffering
        to innocent men, women, and children than the organized
        charity of all the “peaceful” nations of the world can now

Again, these peace people have persistently and resolutely blinked
facts. One of the peace congresses sat in New York at the very time
that the feeling in California about the Japanese question gravely
threatened the good relations between ourselves and the great empire
of Japan. The only thing which at the moment could practically be
done for the cause of peace was to secure some proper solution of the
question at issue between ourselves and Japan. But this represented
real effort, real thought. The peace congress paid not the slightest
serious attention to the matter and instead devoted itself to listening
to speeches which favored the abolition of the United States navy and
even in one case the prohibiting the use of tin soldiers in nurseries
because of the militaristic effect on the minds of the little boys and
girls who played with them!

Ex-President Taft has recently said that it is hysterical to endeavor
to prepare against war; and he at the same time explained that the
only real possibility of war was to be found “in the wanton, reckless,
wicked willingness on the part of a narrow section of the country to
gratify racial prejudice and class hatred by flagrant breach of treaty
right in the form of state law.” This characterization is, of course,
aimed at the State of California for its action toward the Japanese.
If--which may Heaven forfend--any trouble comes because of the action
of California toward the Japanese, a prime factor in producing it will
be the treaty negotiated four years ago with Japan; and no clearer
illustration can be given of the mischief that comes to our people from
the habit our public men have contracted of getting cheap applause for
themselves by making treaties which they know to be shams, which they
know cannot be observed. The result of such action is that there is
one set of real facts, those that actually exist and must be reckoned
with, and another set of make-believe facts which do not exist except
on pieces of paper or in after-dinner speeches, which are known to be
false but which serve to deceive well-meaning pacificists. Four years
ago there was in existence a long-standing treaty with Japan under
which we reserved the right to keep out Japanese laborers. Every man
of any knowledge whatever of conditions on the Pacific Slope, and,
indeed, generally throughout this country, knew, and knows now, that
any immigration in mass to this country of the Japanese, whether the
immigrants be industrial laborers or men whose labor takes the form of
agricultural work or even the form of small shopkeeping, was and is
absolutely certain to produce trouble of the most dangerous kind. The
then administration entered on a course of conduct as regards Manchuria
which not only deeply offended the Japanese but actually achieved the
result of uniting the Russians and Japanese against us. To make amends
for this serious blunder the administration committed the far worse
blunder of endeavoring to placate Japanese opinion by the negotiation
of a new treaty in which our right to exclude Japanese laborers,
that is, to prevent Japanese immigration in mass, was abandoned. The
extraordinary and lamentable fact in the matter was that the California
senators acquiesced in the treaty. Apparently they took the view, which
so many of our public men do take and which they are encouraged to take
by the unwisdom of those who demand impossible treaties, that they were
perfectly willing to please some people by passing the treaty because,
if necessary, the opponents of the treaty could at any time be placated
by its violation. One item in securing their support was the statement
by the then administration that the Japanese authorities had said
that they would promise under a “gentlemen’s agreement” to keep the
immigrants out if only they were by treaty given the right to let them
in. Under the preceding treaty, during my administration, the Japanese
government had made and had in good faith kept such an agreement, the
agreement being that as long as the Japanese government itself kept out
Japanese immigrants and thereby relieved us of the necessity of passing
any law to exclude them, no such law would be passed. Apparently the
next administration did not perceive the fathomless difference between
retaining the power to enact a law which was not enacted as long as no
necessity for enacting it arose, and abandoning the power, surrendering
the right, and trusting that the necessity to exercise it would not

I immensely admire and respect the Japanese people. I prize their
good-will. I am proud of my personal relations with some of their
leading men. Fifty years ago there was no possible community between
the Japanese and ourselves. The events of the last fifty years have
been so extraordinary that now Japanese statesmen, generals, artists,
writers, scientific men, business men, can meet our corresponding men
on terms of entire equality. I am fortunate enough to have a number
of Japanese friends. I value their friendship. They and I meet on a
footing of absolute equality, socially, politically, and in every
other way. I respect and regard them precisely as in the case of my
German and Russian, French and English friends. But there is no use
blinking the truth because it is unpleasant. As yet the differences
between the Japanese who work with their hands and the Americans who
work with their hands are such that it is absolutely impossible for
them, when brought into contact with one another in great numbers, to
get on. Japan would not permit any immigration in mass of our people
into her territory, and it is wholly inadvisable that there should be
such immigration of her people into our territory. This is not because
either side is inferior to the other but because they are different.
As a matter of fact, these differences are sometimes in favor of the
Japanese and sometimes in favor of the Americans. But they are so
marked that at this time, whatever may be the case in the future,
friction and trouble are certain to come if there is any immigration
in mass of Japanese into this country, exactly as friction and trouble
have actually come in British Columbia from this cause, and have been
prevented from coming in Australia only by the most rigid exclusion
laws. Under these conditions the way to avoid trouble is not by making
believe that things which are not so are so but by courteously and
firmly facing the situation. The two nations should be given absolutely
reciprocal treatment. Students, statesmen, publicists, scientific men,
all travellers, whether for business or pleasure, and all men engaged
in international business, whether Japanese or American, should have
absolute right of entry into one another’s countries and should be
treated with the highest consideration while therein, but no settlement
in mass should be permitted of the people of either country in the
other country. All travelling and sojourning by the people of either
country in the other country should be encouraged, but there should be
no immigration of workers to, no settlement in, either country by the
people of the other. I advocate this solution, which for years I have
advocated, because I am not merely a friend but an intense admirer of
Japan, because I am most anxious that America should learn from Japan
the great amount that Japan can teach us and because I wish to work
for the best possible feeling between the two countries. Each country
has interests in the Pacific which can best be served by their cordial
co-operation on a footing of frank and friendly equality; and in
eastern Asiatic waters the interest and therefore the proper dominance
of Japan are and will be greater than those of any other nation.
If such a plan as that above advocated were once adopted by both
our nations all sources of friction between the two countries would
vanish at once. Ultimately I have no question that all restrictions of
movement from one country to the other could be dispensed with. But
to attempt to dispense with them in our day and our generation will
fail; and even worse failure will attend the attempt to make believe to
dispense with them while not doing so.

It is eminently necessary that the United States should in good faith
observe its treaties, and it is therefore eminently necessary not to
pass treaties which it is absolutely certain will not be obeyed, and
which themselves provoke disobedience to them. The height of folly, of
course, is to pass treaties which will not be obeyed and the disregard
of which may cause the gravest possible trouble, even war, and at
the same time to refuse to prepare for war and to pass other foolish
treaties calculated to lure our people into the belief that there will
never be war.

I advocate that our preparedness take such shape as to fit us to
resist aggression, not to encourage us in aggression. I advocate
preparedness that will enable us to defend our own shores and to
defend the Panama Canal and Hawaii and Alaska, and prevent the seizure
of territory at the expense of any commonwealth of the western
hemisphere by any military power of the Old World. I advocate this
being done in the most democratic manner possible. We Americans do
not realize how fundamentally democratic our army really is. When
I served in Cuba it was under General Sam Young and alongside of
General Adna Chaffee. Both had entered the American army as enlisted
men in the Civil War. Later, as President, I made both of them in
succession lieutenant-generals and commanders of the army. On the
occasion when General Chaffee was to appear at the White House for
the first time as lieutenant-general, General Young sent him his own
starred shoulder-straps with a little note saying that they were from
“Private Young, ’61, to Private Chaffee, ’61.” Both of the fine old
fellows represented the best type of citizen-soldier. Each was simply
and sincerely devoted to peace and justice. Each was incapable of
advocating our doing wrong to others. Neither could have understood
willingness on the part of any American to see the United States
submit tamely to insult or injury. Both typified the attitude that we
Americans should take in our dealings with foreign countries.



The course of the present administration in foreign affairs has now
and then combined officiously offensive action toward foreign powers
with tame submission to wrong-doing by foreign powers. As a nation we
have refused to do our duty to others and yet we have at times tamely
submitted to wrong at the hands of others. This has been notably
true of our conduct in Mexico; and we have come perilously near such
conduct in the case of Japan. It is also true of our activities as
regards the European war. We failed to act in accordance with our
obligations as a signatory power to the Hague treaties. In addition to
the capital crime committed against Belgium we have seen outrage after
outrage perpetrated in violation of the Hague conventions, and yet the
administration has never ventured so much as a protest. It has even at
times, and with wavering and vacillation, adopted policies unjust to
one or the other of the two sets of combatants. But it has immediately
abandoned these policies when the combatants in violent and improper
fashion overrode them; and it has submitted with such tame servility
to whatever the warring nations have dictated that in effect we see,
as Theodore Woolsey, the expert on international law, has pointed out,
the American government protecting belligerent interests abroad at the
expense of neutral interests both at home and abroad. Not since the
Napoleonic wars have belligerents acted with such high-handed disregard
of the rights of neutrals. Germany was the first and greatest offender;
and when we failed to protest in her case the administration perhaps
felt ashamed to protest, felt that it was estopped from protesting, in
other cases. England in its turn has violated our neutrality rights,
and while exercising both force and ingenuity in making this violation
effective has protested as if she herself were the injured party. As a
matter of fact, England and France should note that in view of their
command of the seas our war trade is of such value to them that certain
congressmen, whose interest in Germany surpasses their interest in
the United States, have sought by law totally to prohibit it. This
proposed--and thoroughly improper--action is a sufficient answer to
the charges of the Allies, and should remind them how ill they requite
the service rendered by our merchants when they seek to block all our
intercourse with other nations. They, however, are only to be blamed
for short-sightedness; there is no reason why they should pay heed to
American interests. But the administration should represent American
interests; it should see that while we perform our duties as neutrals
we should be protected in our rights as neutrals; and one of these
rights is the trade in contraband. To prohibit this is to take part in
the war for the benefit of one belligerent at the expense of another
and to our own cost.

Of course it would be an ignoble action on our part after having
conspicuously failed to protest against the violation of Belgian
neutrality to show ourselves overeager to protest against comparatively
insignificant violations of our own neutral rights. But we should never
have put ourselves in such a position as to make insistence on our own
rights seem disregard for the rights of others. The proper course for
us to pursue was, on the one hand, scrupulously to see that we did
not so act as to injure any contending nation, unless required to do
so in the name of morality and of our solemn treaty obligations, and
also fearlessly to act on behalf of other nations which were wronged,
as required by these treaty obligations; and, on the other hand, with
courteous firmness to warn any nation which, for instance, seized or
searched our ships against the accepted rules of international conduct
that this we could not permit and that such a course should not be
persevered in by any nation which desired our good-will. I believe I
speak for at least a considerable portion of our people when I say that
we wish to make it evident that we feel sincere good-will toward all
nations; that any action we take against any nation is taken with the
greatest reluctance and only because the wrong-doing of that nation
imposes a distinct, although painful, duty upon us; and yet that we do
not intend ourselves to submit to wrong-doing from any nation.

Until an efficient world league for peace is in more than mere process
of formation the United States must depend upon itself for protection
where its vital interests are concerned. All the youth of the nation
should be trained in warlike exercises and in the use of arms--as
well as in the indispensable virtues of courage, self-restraint, and
endurance--so as to be fit for national defense. But the right arm of
the nation must be its navy. Our navy is our most efficient peacemaker.
In order to use the navy effectively we should clearly define to
ourselves the policy we intend to follow and the limits over which we
expect our power to extend. Our own coasts, Alaska, Hawaii, and the
Panama Canal and its approaches should represent the sphere in which
we should expect to be able, single-handed, to meet and master any
opponent from overseas.

I exclude the Philippines. This is because I feel that the present
administration has definitely committed us to a course of action which
will make the early and complete severance of the Philippines from
us not merely desirable but necessary. I have never felt that the
Philippines were of any special use to us. But I have felt that we had
a great task to perform there and that a great nation is benefited by
doing a great task. It was our bounden duty to work primarily for the
interests of the Filipinos; but it was also our bounden duty, inasmuch
as the entire responsibility lay upon us, to consult our own judgment
and not theirs in finally deciding what was to be done. It was our
duty to govern the islands or to get out of the islands. It was most
certainly not our duty to take the responsibility of staying in the
islands without governing them. Still less was it--or is it--our duty
to enter into joint arrangements with other powers about the islands;
arrangements of confused responsibility and divided power of the
kind sure to cause mischief. I had hoped that we would continue to
govern the islands until we were certain that they were able to govern
themselves in such fashion as to do justice to other nations and to
repel injustice committed on them by other nations. To substitute for
such government by ourselves either a government by the Filipinos with
us guaranteeing them against outsiders, or a joint guarantee between us
and outsiders, would be folly. It is eminently desirable to guarantee
the neutrality of small civilized nations which have a high social
and cultural status and which are so advanced that they do not fall
into disorder or commit wrong-doing on others. But it is eminently
undesirable to guarantee the neutrality or sovereignty of an inherently
weak nation which is impotent to preserve order at home, to repel
assaults from abroad, or to refrain from doing wrong to outsiders. It
is even more undesirable to give such a guarantee with no intention of
making it really effective. That this is precisely what the present
administration would be delighted to do has been shown by its refusal
to live up to its Hague promises at the very time that it was making
similar new international promises by the batch. To enter into a joint
guarantee of neutrality which in emergencies can only be rendered
effective by force of arms is to incur a serious responsibility which
ought to be undertaken in a serious spirit. To enter into it with no
intention of using force, or of preparing force, in order at need to
make it effective, represents the kind of silliness which is worse than

Above all, we should keep our promises. The present administration was
elected on the outright pledge of giving the Filipinos independence.
Apparently its course in the Philippines has proceeded upon the theory
that the Filipinos are now fit to govern themselves. Whatever may be
our personal and individual beliefs in this matter, we ought not as a
nation to break faith or even to seem to break faith. I hope therefore
that the Filipinos will be given their independence at an early date
and without any guarantee from us which might in any way hamper our
future action or commit us to staying on the Asiatic coast. I do not
believe we should keep any foothold whatever in the Philippines. Any
kind of position by us in the Philippines merely results in making
them our heel of Achilles if we are attacked by a foreign power. They
can be of no compensating benefit to us. If we were to retain complete
control over them and to continue the course of action which in the
past sixteen years has resulted in such immeasurable benefit for them,
then I should feel that it was our duty to stay and work for them
in spite of the expense incurred by us and the risk we thereby ran.
But inasmuch as we have now promised to leave them and as we are now
abandoning our power to work efficiently for and in them, I do not
feel that we are warranted in staying in the islands in an equivocal
position, thereby incurring great risk to ourselves without conferring
any real compensating advantage, of a kind which we are bound to
take into account, on the Filipinos themselves. If the Filipinos are
entitled to independence then we are entitled to be freed from all the
responsibility and risk which our presence in the islands entails upon

The great nations of southernmost South America, Brazil, the Argentine,
and Chile are now so far advanced in stability and power that there is
no longer any need of applying the Monroe Doctrine as far as they are
concerned; and this also relieves us as regards Uruguay and Paraguay
the former of which is well advanced and neither of which has any
interests with which we need particularly concern ourselves. As regards
all these powers, therefore, we now have no duty save that doubtless if
they got into difficulties and desired our aid we would gladly extend
it, just as, for instance, we would to Australia and Canada. But we can
now proceed on the assumption that they are able to help themselves and
that any help we should be required to give would be given by us as an
auxiliary rather than as a principal.

Our naval problem, therefore, is primarily to provide for the
protection of our own coasts and for the protection and policing of
Hawaii, Alaska, and the Panama Canal and its approaches. This offers
a definite problem which should be solved by our naval men. It is for
them, having in view the lessons taught by this war, to say what is
the exact type of fleet we require, the number and kind of submarines,
of destroyers, of mines, and of air-ships to be used against hostile
fleets, in addition to the cruisers and great fighting craft which must
remain the backbone of the navy. Civilians may be competent to pass
on the merits of the plans suggested by the naval men, but it is the
naval men themselves who must make and submit the plans in detail. Lay
opinion, however, should keep certain elementary facts steadily in mind.

The navy must primarily be used for offensive purposes. Forts, not the
navy, are to be used for defense. The only permanently efficient type
of defensive is the offensive. A portion, and a very important portion,
of our naval strength must be used with our own coast ordinarily as a
base, its striking radius being only a few score miles, or a couple
of hundred at the outside. The events of this war have shown that
submarines can play a tremendous part. We should develop our force of
submarines and train the officers and crews who have charge of them
to the highest pitch of efficiency--for they will be useless in time
of war unless those aboard them have been trained in time of peace.
These submarines, when used in connection with destroyers and with
air-ships, can undoubtedly serve to minimize the danger of successful
attack on our own shores. But the prime lesson of the war, as regards
the navy, is that the nation with a powerful seagoing navy, although it
may suffer much annoyance and loss, yet is able on the whole to take
the offensive and do great damage to a nation with a less powerful
navy. Great Britain’s naval superiority over Germany has enabled her
completely to paralyze all Germany’s sea commerce and to prevent goods
from entering her ports. What is far more important, it has enabled the
British to land two or three hundred thousand men to aid the French,
and has enabled Canada and Australia to send a hundred thousand men
from the opposite ends of the earth to Great Britain. If Germany had
had the more powerful navy England would now have suffered the fate of

The capital work done by the German cruisers in the Atlantic, the
Pacific, and the Indian Oceans shows how much can be accomplished in
the way of hurting and damaging an enemy by even the weaker power if
it possesses fine ships, well handled, able to operate thousands of
miles from their own base. We must not fail to recognize this. Neither
must we fail heartily and fully to recognize the capital importance of
submarines as well as air-ships, torpedo-boat destroyers, and mines,
as proved by the events of the last three months. But nothing that
has yet occurred warrants us in feeling that we can afford to ease up
in our programme of building battle-ships and cruisers, especially the
former. The German submarines have done wonderfully in this war; their
cruisers have done gallantly. But so far as Great Britain is concerned
the vital and essential feature has been the fact that her great battle
fleet has kept the German fleet immured in its own home ports, has
protected Britain from invasion, and has enabled her land strength to
be used to its utmost capacity beside the armies of France and Belgium.
If the men who for years have clamored against Britain’s being prepared
had had their way, if Britain during the last quarter of a century had
failed to continue the upbuilding of her navy, if the English statesmen
corresponding to President Wilson and Mr. Bryan had seen their ideas
triumph, England would now be off the map as a great power and the
British Empire would have dissolved, while London, Liverpool, and
Birmingham would be in the condition of Antwerp and Brussels.

The efficiency of the German personnel at sea has been no less
remarkable than the efficiency of the German personnel on land. This
is due partly to the spirit of the nation and partly to what is itself
a consequence of that spirit, the careful training of the navy during
peace under the conditions of actual service. When, early in 1909, our
battle fleet returned from its sixteen months’ voyage around the world
there was no navy in the world which, size for size, ship for ship,
and squadron for squadron, stood at a higher pitch of efficiency. We
blind ourselves to the truth if we believe that the same is true now.
During the last twenty months, ever since Secretary Meyer left the Navy
Department, there has been in our navy a great falling off relatively
to other nations. It was quite impossible to avoid this while our
national affairs were handled as they have recently been handled.
The President who intrusts the Departments of State and the Navy to
gentlemen like Messrs. Bryan and Daniels deliberately invites disaster,
in the event of serious complications with a formidable foreign
opponent. On the whole, there is no class of our citizens, big or
small, who so emphatically deserve well of the country as the officers
and the enlisted men of the army and navy. No navy in the world has
such fine stuff out of which to make man-of-war’s men. But they must
be heartily backed up, heartily supported, and sedulously trained.
They must be treated well, and, above all, they must be treated so as
to encourage the best among them by sharply discriminating against the
worst. The utmost possible efficiency should be demanded of them. They
are emphatically and in every sense of the word men; and real men
resent with impatient contempt a policy under which less than their
best is demanded. The finest material is utterly worthless without
the best personnel. In such a highly specialized service as the navy
constant training of a purely military type is an absolute necessity.
At present our navy is lamentably short in many different material
directions. There is actually but one torpedo for each torpedo tube. It
seems incredible that such can be the case; yet it is the case. We are
many thousands of men short in our enlistments. We are lamentably short
in certain types of vessel. There is grave doubt as to the efficiency
of many of our submarines and destroyers. But the shortcomings in our
training are even more lamentable. To keep the navy cruising near
Vera Cruz and in Mexican waters, without manœuvring, invites rapid
deterioration. For nearly two years there has been no fleet manœuvring;
and this fact by itself probably means a twenty-five per cent loss of
efficiency. During the same periods most of the ships have not even
had division gun practice. Not only should our navy be as large as our
position and interest demand but it should be kept continually at the
highest point of efficiency and should never be used save for its own
appropriate military purposes. Of this elementary fact the present
administration seems to be completely ignorant.

President Wilson and Secretary Daniels assert that our navy is in
efficient shape. Admiral Fiske’s testimony is conclusive to the
contrary, although it was very cautiously given, as is but natural
when a naval officer, if he tells the whole truth, must state what
is unpleasant for his superiors to hear. Other naval officers have
pointed out our deficiencies, and the newspapers state that some
of them have been reprimanded for so doing. But there is no need
for their testimony. There is one admitted fact which is absolutely
conclusive in the matter. There has been no fleet manœuvring during
the past twenty-two months. In spite of fleet manœuvring the navy may
be unprepared. But it is an absolute certainty that without fleet
manœuvring it cannot possibly be prepared. In the unimportant domain
of sport there is not a man who goes to see the annual football game
between Harvard and Yale who would not promptly cancel his ticket
if either university should propose to put into the field a team
which, no matter how good the players were individually, had not been
practised as a team during the preceding sixty days. If in such event
the president of either university or the coach of the team should
announce that in spite of never having had any team practice the
team was nevertheless in first-class condition, there is literally
no intelligent follower of the game who would regard the utterance as
serious. Why should President Wilson and Secretary Daniels expect the
American public to show less intelligence as regards the vital matter
of our navy than they do as regards a mere sport, a mere play? For
twenty-two months there has been no fleet manœuvring. Since in the
daily press, early in November, I, with emphasis, called attention to
this fact Mr. Daniels has announced that shortly manœuvring will take
place; and of course the failure to manœuvre for nearly two years has
been due less to Mr. Daniels than to President Wilson’s futile and
mischievous Mexican policy and his entire ignorance of the needs of
the navy. I am glad that the administration has tardily waked up to
the necessity of taking some steps to make the navy efficient, and if
the President and the Secretary of the Navy bring forth fruits meet
for repentance, I will most heartily acknowledge the fact--just as
it has given me the utmost pleasure to praise and support President
Wilson’s Secretary of War, Mr. Garrison. But misstatements as to actual
conditions make but a poor preparation for the work of remedying these
conditions, and President Wilson and Secretary Daniels try to conceal
from the people our ominous naval shortcomings. The shortcomings
are far-reaching, alike in material, organization, and practical
training. The navy is absolutely unprepared; its efficiency has been
terribly reduced under and because of the action of President Wilson
and Secretary Daniels. Let them realize this fact and do all they can
to remedy the wrong they have committed. Let Congress realize its own
shortcomings. Far-reaching and thoroughgoing treatment, continued for
a period of at least two and in all probability three years, is needed
if the navy is to be placed on an equality, unit for unit, no less than
in the mass, with the navies of England, Germany, and Japan. In the
present war the deeds of the _Emden_, of the German submarines, of Von
Spee’s squadron, have shown not merely efficiency but heroism; and the
navies of Great Britain and Japan have been handled in masterly manner.
Have the countrymen of Farragut, of Cushing, Buchanan, Winslow, and
Semmes, of Decatur, Hull, Perry, and MacDonough, lost their address and
courage, and are they willing to sink below the standard set by their

It has been said that the United States never learns by experience
but only by disaster. Such method of education may at times prove
costly. The slothful or short-sighted citizens who are now misled by
the cries of the ultrapacificists would do well to remember events
connected with the outbreak of the war with Spain. I was then
Assistant Secretary of the Navy. At one bound our people passed from
a condition of smug confidence that war never could occur (a smug
confidence just as great as any we feel at present) to a condition of
utterly unreasoning panic over what might be done to us by a very weak
antagonist. One governor of a seaboard State announced that none of the
National Guard regiments would be allowed to respond to the call of the
President because they would be needed to prevent a Spanish invasion
of that State--the Spaniards being about as likely to make such an
invasion as we were to invade Timbuctoo or Turkestan. One congressman
besought me to send a battle-ship to protect Jekyll Island, off the
coast of Georgia. Another congressman asked me to send a battle-ship
to protect a summer colony which centred around a large Atlantic-coast
hotel in Connecticut. In my own neighborhood on Long Island clauses
were gravely inserted into the leases of property to the effect that
if the Spaniards destroyed the property the leases should terminate.
Chambers of commerce, boards of trade, municipal authorities, leading
business men, from one end of the country to the other, hysterically
demanded, each of them, that a ship should be stationed to defend
some particular locality; the theory being that our navy should be
strung along both seacoasts, each ship by itself, in a purely defensive
attitude--thereby making certain that even the Spanish navy could pick
them all up in detail. One railway president came to protest to me
against the choice of Tampa as a point of embarkation for our troops,
on the ground that his railway was entitled to its share of the profit
of transporting troops and munitions of war and that his railway
went to New Orleans. The very senators and congressmen who had done
everything in their power to prevent the building up and the efficient
training of the navy screamed and shrieked loudest to have the navy
diverted from its proper purpose and used to protect unimportant
seaports. Surely our congressmen and, above all, our people need to
learn that in time of crisis peace treaties are worthless, and the
ultrapacificists of both sexes merely a burden on and a detriment to
the country as a whole; that the only permanently useful defensive is
the offensive, and that the navy is properly the offensive weapon of
the nation.

The navy of the United States is the right arm of the United States and
is emphatically the peacemaker. Woe to our country if we permit that
right arm to become palsied or even to become flabby and inefficient!



Military preparedness meets two needs. In the first place, it is a
partial insurance against war. In the next place, it is a partial
guarantee that if war comes the country will certainly escape dishonor
and will probably escape material loss.

The question of preparedness cannot be considered at all until we
get certain things clearly in our minds. Right thinking, wholesome
thinking, is essential as a preliminary to sound national action. Until
our people understand the folly of certain of the arguments advanced
against the action this nation needs, it is, of course, impossible to
expect them to take such action.

The first thing to understand is the fact that preparedness for war
does not always insure peace but that it very greatly increases the
chances of securing peace. Foolish people point out nations which, in
spite of preparedness for war, have seen war come upon them, and then
exclaim that preparedness against war is of no use. Such an argument
is precisely like saying that the existence of destructive fires in
great cities shows that there is no use in having a fire department.
A fire department, which means preparedness against fire, does not
prevent occasional destructive fires, but it does greatly diminish and
may completely minimize the chances for wholesale destruction by fire.
Nations that are prepared for war occasionally suffer from it; but if
they are unprepared for it they suffer far more often and far more

Fifty years ago China, Korea, and Japan were in substantially the
same stage of culture and civilization. Japan, whose statesmen had
vision and whose people had the fighting edge, began a course of
military preparedness, and the other two nations (one of them in
natural resources immeasurably superior to Japan) remained unprepared.
In consequence, Japan has immensely increased her power and standing
and is wholly free from all danger of military invasion. Korea on the
contrary, having first been dominated by Russia has now been conquered
by Japan. China has been partially dismembered; one half of her
territories are now subject to the dominion of foreign nations, which
have time and again waged war between themselves on these territories,
and her remaining territory is kept by her purely because these foreign
nations are jealous of one another.

In 1870 France was overthrown and suffered by far the most damaging
and disastrous defeat she had suffered since the days of Joan of
Arc--because she was not prepared. In the present war she has suffered
terribly, but she is beyond all comparison better off than she was in
1870, because she has been prepared. Poor Belgium, in spite of being
prepared, was almost destroyed, because great neutral nations--the
United States being the chief offender--have not yet reached the
standard of international morality and of willingness to fight for
righteousness which must be attained before they can guarantee small,
well-behaved, civilized nations against cruel disaster. England,
because she was prepared as far as her navy is concerned, has been able
to avoid Belgium’s fate; and, on the other hand, if she had been as
prepared with her army as France, she would probably have been able to
avert the war and, if this could not have been done, would at any rate
have been able to save both France and Belgium from invasion.

In recent years Rumania, Bulgaria, and Servia have at times suffered
terribly, and in some cases have suffered disaster, in spite of being
prepared for war; but Bosnia and Herzegovina are under alien rule at
this moment because they could no more protect themselves against
Austria than they could against Turkey. While Greece was unprepared she
was able to accomplish nothing, and she encountered disaster. As soon
as she was prepared, she benefited immensely.

Switzerland, at the time of the Napoleonic wars, was wholly unprepared
for war. In spite of her mountains, her neighbors overran her at will.
Great battles were fought on her soil, including one great battle
between the French and the Russians; but the Swiss took no part in
these battles. Their territory was practically annexed to the French
Republic, and they were domineered over first by the Emperor Napoleon
and then by his enemies. It was a bitter lesson, but the Swiss learned
it. Since then they have gradually prepared for war as no other small
state of Europe has done, and it is in consequence of this preparedness
that none of the combatants has violated Swiss territory in the present

The briefest examination of the facts shows that unpreparedness for war
tends to lead to immeasurable disaster, and that preparedness, while
it does not certainly avert war any more than the fire department of a
city certainly averts fire, yet tends very strongly to guarantee the
nation against war and to secure success in war if it should unhappily

Another argument advanced against preparedness for war is that such
preparedness incites war. This, again, is not in accordance with
the facts. Unquestionably certain nations have at times prepared
for war with a view to foreign conquest. But the rule has been that
unpreparedness for war does not have any real effect in securing peace,
although it is always apt to make war disastrous, and that preparedness
for war generally goes hand in hand with an increased caution in going
to war.

Striking examples of these truths are furnished by the history of the
Spanish-American states. For nearly three quarters of a century after
these states won their independence their history was little else than
a succession of bloody revolutions and of wars among themselves as well
as with outsiders, while during the same period there was little or
nothing done in the way of effective military preparedness by one of
them. During the last twenty or thirty years, however, certain of them,
notably Argentina and Chile, have prospered and become stable. Their
stability has been partly caused by, and partly accompanied by, a great
increase in military preparedness. During this period Argentina and
Chile have known peace as they never knew it before, and as the other
Spanish-American countries have not known it either before or since,
and at the same time their military efficiency has enormously increased.

Proportionately, Argentina and Chile are in military strength beyond
all comparison more efficient than the United States; and if our navy
is permitted to deteriorate as it has been deteriorating for nearly
two years, the same statement can soon be made, although with more
qualification, of their naval strength. Preparedness for war has
made them far less liable to have war. It has made them less and not
more aggressive. It has also made them for the first time efficient
potential factors in maintaining the Monroe Doctrine as coguarantors,
on a footing of complete equality with the United States. The Monroe
Doctrine, conceived not merely as a measure of foreign policy vital to
the welfare of the United States, but even more as the proper joint
foreign policy of all American nations, is by far the most efficient
guarantee against war that can be offered the western hemisphere. By
whatever name it is called, it is absolutely indispensable in order to
keep this hemisphere mistress of its own destinies, able to prevent any
part of it from falling under the dominion of any Old World power, and
able absolutely to control in its own interest all colonization on and
immigration to our shores from either Europe or Asia.

The bloodiest and most destructive war in Spanish-American history,
that waged by Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay against Paraguay, was
waged when all the nations were entirely unprepared for war, especially
the three victorious nations. During the last two or three decades
Mexico, the Central American states, Colombia, and Venezuela have been
entirely unprepared for war, as compared with Chile and Argentina.
Yet, whereas Chile and Argentina have been at peace, the other states
mentioned have been engaged in war after war of the most bloody
and destructive character. Entire lack of preparedness for war has
gone hand in hand with war of the worst type and with all the worst
sufferings that war can bring.

The lessons taught by Spanish-America are paralleled elsewhere. When
Greece was entirely unprepared for war she nevertheless went to war
with Turkey, exactly as she did when she was prepared; the only
difference was that in the one case she suffered disaster and in the
other she did not. The war between Italy and Turkey was due wholly
to the fact that Turkey was not prepared--that she had no navy. The
fact that in 1848 Prussia was entirely unprepared, and moreover
had just been engaged in a revolution heartily approved by all the
ultrapacificists and professional humanitarians, did not prevent her
from entering on a war with Denmark. It merely prevented the war from
being successful.

Utter and complete lack of preparation on our part did not prevent our
entering into war with Great Britain in 1812 and with Mexico in 1848.
It merely exposed us to humiliation and disaster in the former war; in
the latter, Mexico was even worse off as regards preparation than we
were. As for civil war, of course military unpreparedness has not only
never prevented it but, on the contrary, seems usually to have been one
of the inciting causes.

The fact that unpreparedness does not mean peace ought to be patent
to every American who will think of what has occurred in this country
during the last seventeen years. In 1898 we were entirely unprepared
for war. No big nation, save and except our opponent, Spain, was more
utterly unprepared than we were at that time, nor more utterly unfit
for military operations. This did not, however, mean that peace was
secured for a single additional hour. Our army and navy had been
neglected for thirty-three years. This was due largely to the attitude
of the spiritual forebears of those eminent clergymen, earnest social
workers, and professionally humanitarian and peace-loving editors,
publicists, writers for syndicates, speakers for peace congresses,
pacificist college presidents, and the like who have recently come
forward to protest against any inquiry into the military condition of
this nation, on the ground that to supply our ships and forts with
sufficient ammunition and to fill up the depleted ranks of the army and
navy, and in other ways to prepare against war, will tend to interfere
with peace. In 1898 the gentlemen of this sort had had their way for
thirty-three years. Our army and navy had been grossly neglected. But
the unpreparedness due to this neglect had not the slightest effect of
any kind in preventing the war. The only effect it had was to cause
the unnecessary and useless loss of thousands of lives in the war.
Hundreds of young men perished in the Philippine trenches because,
while the soldiers of Aguinaldo had modern rifles with smokeless
powder, our troops had only the old black-powder Springfield. Hundreds
more, nay thousands, died or had their health impaired for life in
fever camps here in our own country and in the Philippines and Cuba,
and suffered on transports, because we were entirely unprepared for
war, and therefore no one knew how to take care of our men. The lives
of these brave young volunteers were the price that this country paid
for the past action of men like the clergymen, college presidents,
editors, and humanitarians in question--none of whom, by the way,
risked their own lives. They were also the price that this country paid
for having had in previous cabinets just such incompetents as in time
of peace Presidents so often, for political reasons, put into American
cabinets--just such incompetents as President Wilson has put into the
Departments of State and of the Navy.

Now and then the ultrapacificists point out the fact that war is bad
because the best men go to the front and the worst stay at home. There
is a certain truth in this. I do not believe that we ought to permit
pacificists to stay at home and escape all risk, while their braver and
more patriotic fellow countrymen fight for the national well-being.
It is for this reason that I wish that we would provide for universal
military training for our young men, and in the event of serious war
make all men do their part instead of letting the whole burden fall
upon the gallant souls who volunteer. But as there is small likelihood
of any such course being followed in the immediate future, I at least
hope that we will so prepare ourselves in time of peace as to make our
navy and army thoroughly efficient; and also to enable us in time of
war to handle our volunteers in such shape that the loss among them
shall be due to the enemy’s bullets instead of, as is now the case,
predominantly to preventable sickness which we do not prevent. I call
the attention of the ultrapacificists to the fact that in the last
half century all the losses among our men caused by “militarism,” as
they call it, that is, by the arms of an enemy in consequence of our
going to war, have been far less than the loss caused among these same
soldiers by applied pacificism, that is, by our government having
yielded to the wishes of the pacificists and declined in advance to
make any preparations for war. The professional peace people have
benefited the foes and ill-wishers of their country; but it is probably
the literal fact to say that in the actual deed, by the obstacles they
have thrown in the way of making adequate preparation in advance, they
have caused more loss of life among American soldiers, fighting for
the honor of the American flag, during the fifty years since the close
of the Civil War than has been caused by the foes whom we have fought
during that period.[2]

    [2] Some of the leading pacificists are men who have made great
        fortunes in industry. Of course industry inevitably takes
        toll of life. Far more lives have been lost in this country
        by men engaged in bridge building, tunnel digging, mining,
        steel manufacturing, the erection of sky-scrapers, the
        operations of the fishing fleet, and the like, than in all
        our battles in all our foreign wars put together. Such loss
        of life no more justifies us in opposing righteous wars
        than in opposing necessary industry. There was certainly
        far greater loss of life, and probably greater needless
        and preventable and uncompensated loss of life, in the
        industries out of which Mr. Carnegie made his gigantic
        fortune than has occurred among our troops in war during
        the time covered by Mr. Carnegie’s activities on behalf of

But the most striking instance of the utter failure of unpreparedness
to stop war has been shown by President Wilson himself. President
Wilson has made himself the great official champion of unpreparedness
in military and naval matters. His words and his actions about foreign
war have their nearest parallel in the words and the actions of
President Buchanan about civil war; and in each case there has been
the same use of verbal adroitness to cover mental hesitancy. By his
words and his actions President Wilson has done everything possible
to prevent this nation from making its army and navy effective and to
increase the inefficiency which he already found existing. We were
unprepared when he took office, and every month since we have grown
still less prepared. Yet this fact did not prevent President Wilson,
the great apostle of unpreparedness, the great apostle of pacificism
and anti-militarism, from going to war with Mexico last spring. It
merely prevented him, or, to speak more accurately, the same mental
peculiarities which made him the apostle of unpreparedness also
prevented him, from making the war efficient. His conduct rendered the
United States an object of international derision because of the way in
which its affairs were managed. President Wilson made no declaration
of war. He did not in any way satisfy the requirements of common
international law before acting. He invaded a neighboring state, with
which he himself insisted we were entirely at peace, and occupied the
most considerable seaport of the country after military operations
which resulted in the loss of the lives of perhaps twenty of our men
and five or ten times that number of Mexicans; and then he sat supine,
and refused to allow either the United States or Mexico to reap any
benefit from what had been done.

It is idle to say that such an amazing action was not war. It was an
utterly futile war and achieved nothing; but it was war. We had ample
justification for interfering in Mexico and even for going to war
with Mexico, if after careful consideration this course was deemed
necessary. But the President did not even take notice of any of the
atrocious wrongs Americans had suffered, or deal with any of the
grave provocations we had received. His statement of justification
was merely that “we are in Mexico to serve mankind, if we can find a
way.” Evidently he did not have in his mind any particular idea of
how he was to “serve mankind,” for, after staying eight months in
Mexico, he decided that he could not “find a way” and brought his
army home. He had not accomplished one single thing. At one time it
was said that we went to Vera Cruz to stop the shipment of arms into
Mexico. But after we got there we allowed the shipments to continue.
At another time it was said that we went there in order to exact an
apology for an insult to the flag. But we never did exact the apology,
and we left Vera Cruz without taking any steps to get an apology. In
all our history there has been no more extraordinary example of queer
infirmity of purpose in an important crisis than was shown by President
Wilson in this matter. His business was either not to interfere at
all or to interfere hard and effectively. This was the sole policy
which should have been allowed by regard for the dignity and honor of
the government of the United States and the welfare of our people.
In the actual event President Wilson interfered, not enough to quell
civil war, not enough to put a stop to or punish the outrages on
American citizens, but enough to incur fearful responsibilities. Then,
having without authority of any kind, either under the Constitution
or in international law or in any other way, thus interfered, and
having interfered to worse than no purpose, and having made himself
and the nation partly responsible for the atrocious wrongs committed
on Americans and on foreigners generally in Mexico by the bandit
chiefs whom he was more or less furtively supporting, President
Wilson abandoned his whole policy and drew out of Mexico to resume
his “watchful waiting.” When the President, who has made himself the
chief official exponent of the doctrine of unpreparedness, thus shows
that even in his hands unpreparedness has not the smallest effect in
preventing war, there ought to be little need of discussing the matter

Preparedness for war occasionally has a slight effect in creating or
increasing an aggressive and militaristic spirit. Far more often it
distinctly diminishes it. In Switzerland, for instance, which we
can well afford to take as a model for ourselves, effectiveness in
preparation, and the retention and development of all the personal
qualities which give the individual man the fighting edge, have in no
shape or way increased the militarist or aggressive spirit. On the
contrary, they have doubtless been among the factors that have made the
Swiss so much more law-abiding and less homicidal than we are.

The ultrapacificists have been fond of prophesying the immediate
approach of a universally peaceful condition throughout the world,
which will render it unnecessary to prepare against war because there
will be no more war. This represents in some cases well-meaning
and pathetic folly. In other cases it represents mischievous and
inexcusable folly. But it always represents folly. At best, it
represents the inability of some well-meaning men of weak mind, and of
some men of strong but twisted mind, either to face or to understand

These prophets of the inane are not peculiar to our own day. A little
over a century and a quarter ago a noted Italian pacificist and
philosopher, Aurelio Bertela, summed up the future of civilized mankind
as follows: “The political system of Europe has arrived at perfection.
An equilibrium has been attained which henceforth will preserve peoples
from subjugation. Few reforms are now needed and these will be
accomplished peaceably. Europe has no need to fear revolution.”

These sapient statements (which have been paralleled by hundreds of
utterances in the many peace congresses of the last couple of decades)
were delivered in 1787, the year in which the French Assembly of
Notables ushered in the greatest era of revolution, domestic turmoil,
and international war in all history--an era which still continues and
which shows not the smallest sign of coming to an end. Never before
have there been wars on so great a scale as during this century and
a quarter; and the greatest of all these wars is now being waged.
Never before, except for the ephemeral conquests of certain Asiatic
barbarians, have there been subjugations of civilized peoples on so
great a scale.

During this period here and there something has been done for peace,
much has been done for liberty, and very much has been done for reform
and advancement. But the professional pacificists, taken as a class
throughout the entire period, have done nothing for permanent peace
and less than nothing for liberty and for the forward movement of
mankind. Hideous things have been done in the name of liberty, in the
name of order, in the name of religion; and the victories that have
been gained against these iniquities have been gained by strong men,
armed, who put their strength at the service of righteousness and who
were hampered and not helped by the futility of the men who inveighed
against all use of armed strength.

The effective workers for the peace of righteousness were men like
Stein, Cavour, and Lincoln; that is, men who dreamed great dreams, but
who were also pre-eminently men of action, who stood for the right, and
who knew that the right would fail unless might was put behind it. The
prophets of pacificism have had nothing whatever in common with these
great men; and whenever they have preached mere pacificism, whenever
they have failed to put righteousness first and to advocate peace as
the handmaiden of righteousness, they have done evil and not good.

After the exhaustion of the Napoleonic struggles there came thirty-five
years during which there was no great war, while what was called “the
long peace” was broken only by minor international wars or short-lived
revolutionary contests. Good, but not far-sighted, men in various
countries, but especially in England, Germany, and our own country,
forthwith began to dream dreams--not of a universal peace that should
be founded on justice and righteousness backed by strength, but of a
universal peace to be obtained by the prattle of weaklings and the
outpourings of amiable enthusiasts who lacked the fighting edge.
About 1850, for instance, the first large peace congress was held.
There were numbers of kindly people who felt that this congress, and
the contemporary international exposition, also the first of its kind,
heralded the beginning of a régime of universal peace. As a matter of
fact, there followed twenty years during which a number of great and
bloody wars took place--wars far surpassing in extent, in duration, in
loss of life and property, and in importance anything that had been
seen since the close of the Napoleonic contest.

Then there came another period of nearly thirty years during which
there were relatively only a few wars, and these not of the highest
importance. Again upright and intelligent but uninformed men began to
be misled by foolish men into the belief that world peace was about to
be secured, on a basis of amiable fatuity all around and under the lead
of the preachers of the diluted mush of make-believe morality. A number
of peace congresses, none of which accomplished anything, were held,
and also certain Hague conferences, which did accomplish a certain
small amount of real good but of a strictly limited kind. It was well
worth going into these Hague conferences, but only on condition of
clearly understanding how strictly limited was the good that they
accomplished. The hysterical people who treated them as furnishing a
patent peace panacea did nothing but harm, and partially offset the
real but limited good the conferences actually accomplished. Indeed,
the conferences undoubtedly did a certain amount of damage because
of the preposterous expectations they excited among well-meaning but
ill-informed and unthinking persons. These persons really believed
that it was possible to achieve the millennium by means that would not
have been very effective in preserving peace among the active boys
of a large Sunday-school--let alone grown-up men in the world as it
actually is. A pathetic commentary on their attitude is furnished by
the fact that the fifteen years that have elapsed since the first Hague
conference have seen an immense increase of war, culminating in the
present war, waged by armies, and with bloodshed, on a scale far vaster
than ever before in the history of mankind.

All these facts furnish no excuse whatever for our failing to work
zealously for peace, but they absolutely require us to understand that
it is noxious to work for a peace not based on righteousness, and
useless to work for a peace based on righteousness unless we put force
back of righteousness. At present this means that adequate preparedness
against war offers to our nation its sole guarantee against wrong and

Emerson has said that in the long run the most uncomfortable truth is
a safer travelling companion than the most agreeable falsehood. The
advocates of peace will accomplish nothing except mischief until they
are willing to look facts squarely in the face. One of these facts is
that universal military service, wherever tried, has on the whole been
a benefit and not a harm to the people of the nation, so long as the
demand upon the average man’s life has not been for too long a time.
The Swiss people have beyond all question benefited by their system
of limited but universal preparation for military service. The same
thing is true of Australia, Chile, and Argentina. In every one of these
countries the short military training given has been found to increase
in marked fashion the social and industrial efficiency, the ability to
do good industrial work, of the man thus trained. It would be well for
the United States from every standpoint immediately to provide such
strictly limited universal military training.

But it is well also for the United States to understand that a system
of military training which from our standpoint would be excessive and
unnecessary in order to meet our needs, may yet work admirably for some
other nation. The two nations that during the last fifty years have
made by far the greatest progress are Germany and Japan; and they are
the two nations in which preparedness for war in time of peace has
been carried to the highest point of scientific development. The feat
of Japan has been something absolutely without precedent in recorded
history. Great civilizations, military, industrial, and artistic,
have arisen and flourished in Asia again and again in the past. But
never before has an Asiatic power succeeded in adopting civilization
of the European or most advanced type and in developing it to a point
of military and industrial efficiency equalled only by one power of
European blood.

As for Germany, we believers in democracy who also understand, as every
sound-thinking democrat must, that democracy cannot succeed unless it
shows the same efficiency that is shown by autocracy (as Switzerland
on a small scale has shown it) need above all other men carefully to
study what Germany has accomplished during the last half century. Her
military efficiency has not been more astounding than her industrial
and social efficiency; and the essential thing in her career of
greatness has been the fact that this industrial and social efficiency
is in part directly based upon the military efficiency and in part
indirectly based upon it, because based upon the mental, physical, and
moral qualities developed by the military efficiency. The solidarity
and power of collective action, the trained ability to work hard for an
end which is afar off in the future, the combination of intelligent
forethought with efficient and strenuous action--all these together
have given her her extraordinary industrial pre-eminence; and all of
these have been based upon her military efficiency.

The Germans have developed patriotism of the most intense kind, and
although this patriotism expresses itself in thunderous songs, in
speeches and in books, it does not confine itself to these methods
of expression, but treats them merely as incitements to direct and
efficient action. After five months of war, Germany has on the whole
been successful against opponents which in population outnumber her
over two to one, and in natural resources are largely superior. Russian
and French armies have from time to time obtained lodgement on German
soil; but on the whole the fighting has been waged by German armies on
Russian, French, and Belgian territory. On her western frontier, it is
true, she was checked and thrown back after her first drive on Paris,
and again checked and thrown slightly back when, after the fall of
Antwerp, she attempted to advance along the Belgian coast. But in the
west she has on the whole successfully pursued the offensive, and her
battle lines are in the enemies’ territory, although she has had to
face the entire strength of France, England, and Belgium.

Moreover, she did this with only a part of her forces. At the same time
she was also obliged to use immense armies, singly or in conjunction
with the Austrians, against the Russians on her Eastern frontier. No
one can foretell the issue of the war. But what Germany has already
done must extort the heartiest admiration for her grim efficiency.
It could have been done only by a masterful people guided by keen
intelligence and inspired by an intensely patriotic spirit.

France has likewise shown to fine advantage in this war (in spite
of certain marked shortcomings, such as the absurd uniforms of her
soldiers) because of her system of universal military training. England
has suffered lamentably because there has been no such system. Great
masses of Englishmen, including all her men at the front, have behaved
so as to command our heartiest admiration. But qualification must
be made when the nation as a whole is considered. Her professional
soldiers, her navy, and her upper classes have done admirably; but
the English papers describe certain sections of her people as making
a poor showing in their refusal to volunteer. The description of
the professional football matches, attended by tens of thousands of
spectators, none of whom will enlist, makes a decent man ardently
wish that under a rigid conscription law the entire body of players,
promoters, and spectators could be sent to the front. Scotland and
Canada have apparently made an extraordinary showing; the same thing
is true of sections, high and low, of society in England proper; but
it is also true that certain sections of the British democracy under
a system of free volunteering have shown to disadvantage compared to
Germany, where military service is universal. The lack of foresight
in preparation was also shown by the inability of the authorities to
furnish arms and equipment for the troops that were being raised. These
shortcomings are not alluded to by me in a censorious spirit, and least
of all with any idea of reflecting on England, but purely that our own
people may profit by the lessons taught. America should pay heed to
these facts and profit by them; and we can only so profit if we realize
that under like conditions we should at the moment make a much poorer
showing than England has made.

It is indispensable to remember that in the cases of both Germany and
Japan their extraordinary success has been due directly to that kind
of efficiency in war which springs only from the highest efficiency in
preparedness for war. Until educated people who sincerely desire peace
face this fact with all of its implications, unpleasant and pleasant,
they will not be able to better present international conditions. In
order to secure this betterment, conditions must be created which
will enable civilized nations to achieve such efficiency without being
thereby rendered dangerous to their neighbors and to civilization
as a whole. Americans, particularly, and, to a degree only slightly
less, Englishmen and Frenchmen need to remember this fact, for while
the ultrapacificists, the peace-at-any-price men, have appeared
sporadically everywhere, they have of recent years been most numerous
and noxious in the United States, in Great Britain, and in France.

Inasmuch as in our country, where, Heaven knows, we have evils enough
with which to grapple, none of these evils is in even the smallest
degree due to militarism--inasmuch as to inveigh against militarism
in the United States is about as useful as to inveigh against eating
horse-flesh in honor of Odin--this seems curious. But it is true.
Probably it is merely another illustration of the old, old truth
that persons who shrink from grappling with grave and real evils
often strive to atone to their consciences for such failure by empty
denunciation of evils which to them offer no danger and no temptation;
which, as far as they are concerned, do not exist. Such denunciation is
easy. It is also worthless.

American college presidents, clergymen, professors, and publicists
with much pretension--some of it founded on fact--to intelligence
have praised works like that of Mr. Bloch, who “proved” that war was
impossible, and like those of Mr. Norman Angell, who “proved” that it
was an illusion to believe that it was profitable. The greatest and
most terrible wars in history have taken place since Mr. Bloch wrote.
When Mr. Angell wrote no unprejudiced man of wisdom could have failed
to understand that the two most successful nations of recent times,
Germany and Japan, owed their great national success to successful war.
The United States owes not only its greatness but its very existence
to the fact that in the Civil War the men who controlled its destinies
were the fighting men. The counsels of the ultrapacificists, the
peace-at-any-price men of that day, if adopted, would have meant not
only the death of the nation but an incalculable disaster to humanity.
A righteous war may at any moment be essential to national welfare; and
it is a lamentable fact that nations have sometimes profited greatly by
war that was not righteous. Such evil profit will never be done away
with until armed force is put behind righteousness.

We must also remember, however, that the mischievous folly of the
men whose counsels tend to inefficiency and impotence is not worse
than the baseness of the men who in a spirit of mean and cringing
admiration of brute force gloss over, or justify, or even deify, the
exhibition of unscrupulous strength. Writings like those of Homer
Lea, or of Nietzsche, or even of Professor Treitschke--not to speak of
Carlyle--are as objectionable as those of Messrs. Bloch and Angell.
Our people need to pay homage to the great efficiency and the intense
patriotism of Germany. But they need no less fully to realize that this
patriotism has at times been accompanied by callous indifference to the
rights of weaker nations, and that this efficiency has at times been
exercised in a way that represents a genuine setback to humanity and
civilization. Germany’s conduct toward Belgium can be justified only
in accordance with a theory which will also justify Napoleon’s conduct
toward Spain and his treatment of Prussia and of all Germany during
the six years succeeding Jena. I do not see how any man can fail to
sympathize with Stein and Schornhorst; with Andreas Hofer, with the
Maid of Saragossa, with Koerner and the Tugendbund; and if he does so
sympathize, he must extend the same sympathy and admiration to King
Albert and the Belgians.

Moreover, it is well for Americans always to remember that what
has been done to Belgium would, of course, be done to us just as
unhesitatingly if the conditions required it.

Of course, the lowest depth is reached by the professional pacificists
who continue to scream for peace without daring to protest against any
concrete wrong committed against peace. These include all of our fellow
countrymen who at the present time clamor for peace without explicitly
and clearly declaring that the first condition of peace should be the
righting of the wrongs of Belgium, reparation to her, and guarantee
against the possible repetition of such wrongs at the expense of any
well-behaved small civilized power in the future. It may be that peace
will come without such reparation and guarantee but if so it will be
as emphatically the peace of unrighteousness as was the peace made at
Tilsit a hundred and seven years ago.

When the President appoints a day of prayer for peace, without
emphatically making it evident that the prayer should be for the
redress of the wrongs without which peace would be harmful, he cannot
be considered as serving righteousness. When Mr. Bryan concludes
absurd all-inclusive arbitration treaties and is loquacious to peace
societies about the abolition of war, without daring to protest against
the hideous wrongs done Belgium, he feebly serves unrighteousness.
More comic manifestations, of course entirely useless but probably
too fatuous to be really mischievous, are those which find expression
in the circulation of peace postage-stamps with doves on them, or in
taking part in peace parades--they might as well be antivaccination
parades--or in the circulation of peace petitions to be signed by
school-children, which for all their possible effect might just as well
relate to the planet Mars.

International peace will only come when the nations of the world form
some kind of league which provides for an international tribunal to
decide on international matters, which decrees that treaties and
international agreements are never to be entered into recklessly and
foolishly, and when once entered into are to be observed with entire
good faith, and which puts the collective force of civilization
behind such treaties and agreements and court decisions and against
any wrong-doing or recalcitrant nation. The all-inclusive arbitration
treaties negotiated by the present administration amount to almost
nothing. They are utterly worthless for good. They are however slightly
mischievous because:

1. There is no provision for their enforcement, and,

2. They would be in some cases not only impossible but improper to

A treaty is a promise. It is like a promise to pay in the commercial
world. Its value lies in the means provided for redeeming the promise.
To make it, and not redeem it, is vicious. A United States gold
certificate is valuable because gold is back of it. If there were
nothing back of it the certificate would sink to the position of
fiat money, which is irredeemable, and therefore valueless; as in the
case of our Revolutionary currency. The Wilson-Bryan all-inclusive
arbitration treaties represent nothing whatever but international fiat
money. To make them is no more honest than it is to issue fiat money.
Mr. Bryan would not make a good Secretary of the Treasury, but he
would do better in that position than as Secretary of State. For his
type of fiat obligations is a little worse in international than in
internal affairs. The all-inclusive arbitration treaties, in whose free
and unlimited negotiation Mr. Bryan takes such pleasure, are of less
value than the thirty-cent dollars, whose free and unlimited coinage he
formerly advocated.

An efficient world league for peace is as yet in the future; and it may
be, although I sincerely hope not, in the far future. The indispensable
thing for every free people to do in the present day is with efficiency
to prepare against war by making itself able physically to defend its
rights and by cultivating that stern and manly spirit without which no
material preparation will avail.

The last point is all essential. It is not of much use to provide
an armed force if that force is composed of poltroons and
ultrapacificists. Such men should be sent to the front, of course, for
they should not be allowed to shirk the danger which their braver
fellow countrymen willingly face, and under proper discipline some use
can be made of them; but the fewer there are of them in a nation the
better the army of that nation will be.

A Yale professor--he might just as well have been a Harvard
professor--is credited in the press with saying the other day that
he wishes the United States would take the position that if attacked
it would not defend itself, and would submit unresistingly to any
spoliation. The professor said that this would afford such a beautiful
example to mankind that war would undoubtedly be abolished. Magazine
writers, and writers of syndicate articles published in reputable
papers, have recently advocated similar plans. Men who talk this way
are thoroughly bad citizens. Few members of the criminal class are
greater enemies of the republic.

American citizens must understand that they cannot advocate or
acquiesce in an evil course of action and then escape responsibility
for the results. If disaster comes to our navy in the near future it
will be directly due to the way the navy has been handled during the
past twenty-two months, and a part of the responsibility will be shared
by every man who has failed effectively to protest against, or in any
way has made himself responsible for, the attitude of the present
administration in foreign affairs and as regards the navy.

The first and most important thing for us as a people to do, in order
to prepare ourselves for self-defense, is to get clearly in our minds
just what our policy is to be, and to insist that our public servants
shall make their words and their deeds correspond. As has already been
pointed out, the present administration was elected on the explicit
promise that the Philippines should be given their independence, and
it has taken action in the Philippines which can only be justified
on the theory that this independence is to come in the immediate
future. I believe that we have rendered incalculable service to the
Philippines, and that what we have there done has shown in the most
striking manner the extreme mischief that would have followed if,
in 1898 and the subsequent years, we had failed to do our duty in
consequence of following the advice of Mr. Bryan and the pacificists
or anti-imperialists of that day. But we must keep our promises; and
we ought now to leave the islands completely at as early a date as

There remains to defend--the United States proper, the Panama Canal and
its approaches, Alaska, and Hawaii. To defend all these is vital to our
honor and interest. For such defense preparedness is essential.

The first and most essential form of preparedness should be making the
navy efficient. Absolutely and relatively, our navy has never been at
such a pitch of efficiency as in February, 1909, when the battle fleet
returned from its voyage around the world. Unit for unit, there was
no other navy in the world which was at that time its equal. During
the next four years we had an admirable Secretary of the Navy, Mr.
Meyer--we were fortunate in having then and since good Secretaries of
War in Mr. Stimson and Mr. Garrison. Owing to causes for which Mr.
Meyer was in no way responsible, there was a slight relative falling
off in the efficiency of the navy, and probably a slight absolute
falling off during the following four years. But it remained very

Since Mr. Daniels came in, and because of the action taken by Mr.
Daniels under the direction of President Wilson, there has been a most
lamentable reduction in efficiency. If at this moment we went to war
with a first-class navy of equal strength to our own, there would be a
chance not only of defeat but of disgrace. It is probably impossible
to put the navy in really first-class condition with Mr. Daniels at
its head, precisely as it is impossible to conduct our foreign affairs
with dignity and efficiency while Mr. Bryan is at the head of the State

But the great falling off in naval efficiency has been due primarily
to the policy pursued by President Wilson himself. He has kept the
navy in Mexican waters. The small craft at Tampico and elsewhere could
have rendered real service, but the President refused to allow them
to render such service, and left English and German sea officers to
protect our people. The great war craft were of no use at all; yet at
this moment he has brought back from Mexico the army which could be
of some use and has kept there the war-ships which cannot be of any
use, and which suffer terribly in efficiency from being so kept. The
fleet has had no manœuvring for twenty-two months. It has had almost
no gun practice by division during that time. There is not enough
powder; there are not enough torpedoes; the bottoms of the ships are
foul; there are grave defects in the submarines; there is a deficiency
in aircraft; the under-enlistments indicate a deficiency of from ten
thousand to twenty thousand men; the whole service is being handled in
such manner as to impair its fitness and morale.

Congress should summon before its committees the best naval experts
and provide the battle-ships, cruisers, submarines, floating mines,
and aircraft that these experts declare to be necessary for the full
protection of the United States. It should bear in mind that while
many of these machines of war are essentially to be used in striking
from the coasts themselves, yet that others must be designed to keep
the enemy afar from these coasts. Mere defensive by itself cannot
permanently avail. The only permanently efficient defensive arm is
one which can act offensively. Our navy must be fitted for attack,
for delivering smashing blows, in order effectively to defend our own
shores. Above all, we should remember that a highly trained personnel
is absolutely indispensable, for without it no material preparation is
of the least avail.

But the navy alone will not suffice in time of great crisis. If England
had adopted the policy urged by Lord Roberts, there would probably have
been no war and certainly the war would now have been at an end, as
she would have been able to protect Belgium, as well as herself, and
to save France from invasion. Relatively to the Continent, England was
utterly unprepared; but she was a miracle of preparedness compared to
us. There are many ugly features connected with the slowness of certain
sections of the English people to volunteer and with their deficiency
in rifles, horses, and equipment; and there have been certain military
and naval shortcomings; but until we have radically altered our
habits of thought and action we can only say with abashed humility
that if England has not shown to advantage compared to Germany, she
has certainly done far better than we would have done, and than, as
a matter of fact, we actually have done during the past twenty-two
months, both as regards Mexico and as regards the fulfilment of our
duty in the situation created by the world war.

Congress should at once act favorably along the lines recommended in
the recent excellent report of the Secretary of War and in accordance
with the admirable plan outlined in the last report of the Chief
of Staff of the army, General Wotherspoon--a report with which his
predecessor as Chief of Staff, General Wood, appears to be in complete
sympathy. Our army should be doubled in size. An effective reserve
should be created. Every year there should be field manœuvres on a
large scale, a hundred thousand being engaged for several weeks. The
artillery should be given the most scientific training. The equipment
should be made perfect at every point. Rigid economy should be demanded.

Every officer and man should be kept to the highest standard of
physical and moral fitness. The unfit should be ruthlessly weeded out.
At least one third of the officers in each grade should be promoted
on merit without regard to seniority, and the least fit for promotion
should be retired. Every unit of the regular army and reserve should be
trained to the highest efficiency under war conditions.

But this is not enough. There should be at least ten times the
number of rifles and the quantity of ammunition in the country that
there are now. In our high schools and colleges a system of military
training like that which obtains in Switzerland and Australia should
be given. Furthermore, all our young men should be trained in actual
field-service under war conditions; preferably on the Swiss, but if not
on the Swiss then on the Argentinian or Chilean model.

The Swiss model would probably be better for our people. It would
necessitate only four to six months’ service shortly after graduation
from high school or college, and thereafter only about eight days a
year. No man could buy a substitute; no man would be excepted because
of his wealth; all would serve in the ranks on precisely the same terms
side by side.

Under this system the young men would be trained to shoot, to march,
to take care of themselves in the open, and to learn those habits of
self-reliance and law-abiding obedience which are not only essential
to the efficiency of a citizen soldiery, but are no less essential to
the efficient performance of civic duties in a free democracy. My own
firm belief is that this system would help us in civil quite as much
as in military matters. It would increase our social and industrial
efficiency. It would help us to habits of order and respect for law.

This proposal does not represent anything more than carrying out the
purpose of the second amendment to the Federal Constitution, which
declares that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security
of a free nation. The Swiss army is a well-regulated militia; and,
therefore it is utterly different from any militia we have ever had.
The system of compulsory training and universal service has worked
admirably in Switzerland. It has saved the Swiss from war. It has
developed their efficiency in peace.

In theory, President Wilson advocates unpreparedness, and in the actual
fact he practises, on our behalf, tame submission to wrong-doing
and refusal to stand for our own rights or for the rights of any
weak power that is wronged. We who take the opposite view advocate
merely acting as Washington urged us to act, when in his first annual
address he said: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual
means for preserving peace. A free people ought not only to be armed
but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is
requisite.” Jefferson was not a fighting man, but even Jefferson,
writing to Monroe in 1785, urged the absolute need of building up
our navy if we wished to escape oppression to our commerce and “the
present disrespect of the nations of Europe,” and added the pregnant
sentence: “A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of
spirit.” As President, he urged our people to train themselves to arms,
so as to constitute a citizen soldiery, in terms that showed that his
object was to accomplish exactly what the Swiss have accomplished, and
what is advocated in this book. In one annual message he advocated
“the organization of 300,000 able-bodied men between the ages of
eighteen and twenty-five for offense or defense at any time or in any
place where they may be wanted.” In a letter to Monroe he advocated
compulsory military service, saying: “We must train and classify the
whole of our male citizenry and make military instruction a part of
collegiate education. We can never be safe until this is done.” The
methods taken by Jefferson and the Americans of Jefferson’s day to
accomplish this object were fatally defective. But their purpose was
the same that those who think as we do now put forward. The difference
is purely that we present efficient methods for accomplishing this
purpose. Washington was a practical man of high ideals who always
strove to reduce his ideals to practice. His address to Congress in
December, 1793, ought to have been read by President Wilson before
the latter sent in his message of 1914 with its confused advocacy
of unpreparedness and its tone of furtive apology for submission to
insult. Washington said: “There is much due to the United States
among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the
reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able
to repel it. If we desire to secure peace ... it must be known that we
are at all times ready for war,” and he emphasized the fact that the
peace thus secured by preparedness for war is the most potent method of
obtaining material prosperity.

The need of such a system as that which I advocate is well brought out
in a letter I recently received from a college president. It runs in
part as follows:

    What the average young fellow of eighteen to thirty doesn’t know
    about shooting and riding makes an appalling total. I remember
    very well visiting the First Connecticut Regiment a day or two
    before it left for service in the Spanish War. A good many of
    my boys were with them and I went to see them off. One fellow
    in particular, of whom I was and am very fond, took me to his
    tent and proudly exhibited his rifle, calling attention to the
    beautiful condition to which he had brought it. It certainly was
    extremely shiny, and I commended him for his careful cleansing of
    his death-dealing weapon. Then I discovered that the firing-pin
    (it was an old Springfield) was rusted immovably into its place,
    and that my boy didn’t know that there was any firing-pin. He had
    learned to expect that if you put a cartridge into the breech,
    pulled down the block, and pulled the trigger, it would probably
    go off if he had previously cocked it; but he had never done any
    of these things.

    It was my fortune to grow up amid surroundings and in a time
    when every boy had and used a gun. Any boy fourteen years old
    who was not the proprietor of some kind of shooting-iron and
    fairly proficient in its use was in disgrace. Such a situation
    was unthinkable. So we were all fairly dependable shots with
    a fowling-piece or rifle. As a result of this and subsequent
    experience, I really believe that so long as my aging body would
    endure hardship, and provided further that I could be prevented
    from running away, I should be a more efficient soldier than most
    of the young fellows on our campus to-day.

    I have watched with much dissatisfaction the gradual
    disappearance of the military schools here in the East. There
    are some prominent and useful ones in the West, but they are far
    too few, and I do not believe there is any preliminary military
    training of any sort in our public schools. I fear that the
    military training required by law in certain agricultural and
    other schools receiving federal aid is more or less of a fake;
    the object seeming to be to get the appropriation and make the
    least possible return.

    If in any way you can bring it about that our boys shall be
    taught to shoot, I believe with you that they can learn the
    essentials of drill very quickly when need arises. And even so,
    however, our rulers must learn the necessity of having rifles
    enough and ammunition enough to meet any emergency at all likely
    to occur.

It is idle for this nation to trust to arbitration and neutrality
treaties unbacked by force. It is idle to trust to the tepid good-will
of other nations. It is idle to trust to alliances. Alliances change.
Russia and Japan are now fighting side by side, although nine years ago
they were fighting against one another. Twenty years ago Russia and
Germany stood side by side. Fifteen years ago England was more hostile
to Russia, and even to France, than she was to Germany. It is perfectly
possible that after the close of this war the present allies will fall
out, or that Germany and Japan will turn up in close alliance.

It is our duty to try to work for a great world league for righteous
peace enforced by power; but no such league is yet in sight. At present
the prime duty of the American people is to abandon the inane and
mischievous principle of watchful waiting--that is, of slothful and
timid refusal either to face facts or to perform duty. Let us act
justly toward others; and let us also be prepared with stout heart and
strong hand to defend our rights against injustice from others.

In his recent report the Secretary of War, Mr. Garrison, has put the
case for preparedness in the interest of honorable peace so admirably
that what he says should be studied by all our people. It runs in part
as follows:

    “This, then, leaves for consideration the imminent questions of
    military policy; the considerations which, in my view, should be
    taken into account in determining the same; and the suggestions
    which occur to me to be pertinent in the circumstances.

    It would be premature to attempt now to draw the ultimate lessons
    from the war in Europe. It is an imperative duty, however, to
    heed so much of what it brings home to us as is incontrovertible
    and not to be changed by any event, leaving for later and
    more detailed and comprehensive consideration what its later
    developments and final conclusions may indicate.

    For orderly treatment certain preliminary considerations may be
    usefully adverted to. It is, of course, not necessary to dwell on
    the blessings of peace and the horrors of war. Every one desires
    peace, just as every one desires health, contentment, affection,
    sufficient means for comfortable existence, and other similarly
    beneficent things. But peace and the other states of being just
    mentioned are not always or even often solely within one’s own
    control. Those who are thoughtful and have courage face the facts
    of life, take lessons from experience, and strive by wise conduct
    to attain the desirable things, and by prevision and precaution
    to protect and defend them when obtained. It may truthfully be
    said that eternal vigilance is the price which must be paid in
    order to obtain the desirable things of life and to defend them.

    In collective affairs the interests of the group are confided
    to the government, and it thereupon is charged with the duty to
    preserve and defend these things. The government must exercise
    for the nation the precautionary, defensive, and preservative
    measures necessary to that end. All governments must therefore
    have force--physical force--_i. e._, military force, for these
    purposes. The question for each nation when this matter is under
    consideration is, How much force should it have and of what
    should that force consist?

    In the early history of our nation there was a natural, almost
    inevitable, abhorrence of military force, because it connoted
    military despotism. Most, if not all, of the early settlers
    in this country came from nations where a few powerful persons
    tyrannically imposed their will upon the people by means of
    military power. The consequence was that the oppressed who
    fled to this country necessarily connected military force with
    despotism and had a dread thereof. Of course, all this has
    long since passed into history. No reasonable person in this
    country to-day has the slightest shadow of fear of military
    despotism, nor of any interference whatever by military force
    in the conduct of civil affairs. The military and the civil are
    just as completely and permanently separated in this country as
    the church and the state are; the subjection of the military
    to the civil is settled and unchangeable. The only reason for
    adverting to the obsolete condition is to anticipate the action
    of those who will cite from the works of the founders of the
    republic excerpts showing a dread of military ascendancy in
    our government. Undoubtedly, at the time such sentiments were
    expressed there was a very real dread. At the present time such
    expressions are entirely inapplicable and do not furnish even a
    presentable pretext for opposing proper military preparation.

    It also seems proper, in passing, to refer to the frame of
    mind of those who use the word “militarism” as the embodiment
    of the doctrine of brute force and loosely apply it to any
    organized preparation of military force, and therefore deprecate
    any adequate military preparation because it is a step in the
    direction of the contemned “militarism.” It is perfectly apparent
    to any one who approaches the matter with an unprejudiced mind
    that what constitutes undesirable militarism, as distinguished
    from a necessary, proper, and adequate preparation of the
    military resources of the nation, depends upon the position in
    which each nation finds itself, and varies with every nation
    and with different conditions in each nation at different
    times. Every nation must have adequate force to protect itself
    from domestic insurrections, to enforce its laws, and to repel
    invasions; that is, every nation that has similar characteristics
    to those of a self-respecting man. (The Constitution obliges the
    United States to protect each State against invasion.) If it
    prepares and maintains more military force than is necessary for
    the purposes just named, then it is subject to the conviction, in
    the public opinion of the world, of having embraced “militarism,”
    unless it intends aggression for a cause which the public
    opinion of the world conceives to be a righteous one. To the
    extent, however, that it confines its military preparedness
    to the purposes first mentioned, there is neither warrant nor
    justification in characterizing such action as “militarism.”
    Those who would thus characterize it do so because they have
    reached the conclusion that a nation to-day can properly dispense
    with a prepared military force, and therefore they apply the word
    to any preparation or organization of the military resources of
    the nation. Not being able to conceive how a reasonable, prudent,
    patriotic man can reach such a conclusion, I cannot conceive any
    arguments or statements that would alter such a state of mind. It
    disregards all known facts, flies in the face of all experience,
    and must rest upon faith in that which has not yet been made

    Whatever the future may hold in the way of agreements between
    nations, followed by actual disarmament thereof, of international
    courts of arbitration, and other greatly-to-be-desired measures
    to lessen or prevent conflict between nation and nation, we all
    know that at present these conditions are not existing. We can
    and will eagerly adapt ourselves to each beneficent development
    along these lines; but to merely enfeeble ourselves in the
    meantime would, in my view, be unthinkable folly. By neglecting
    and refusing to provide ourselves with the necessary means of
    self-protection and self-defense we could not hasten or in any
    way favorably influence the ultimate results we desire in these



Sherman’s celebrated declaration about war has certainly been borne
out by what has happened in Europe, and above all in Belgium, during
the last four months. That war is hell I will concede as heartily as
any ultrapacificist. But the only alternative to war, that is to hell,
is the adoption of some plan substantially like that which I herein
advocate and which has itself been called utopian. It is possible that
it is utopian for the time being; that is, that nations are not ready
as yet to accept it. But it is also possible that after this war has
come to an end the European contestants will be sufficiently sobered to
be willing to consider some such proposal, and that the United States
will abandon the folly of the pacificists and be willing to co-operate
in some practical effort for the only kind of peace worth having, the
peace of justice and righteousness.

The proposal is not in the least utopian, if by utopian we understand
something that is theoretically desirable but impossible. What I
propose is a working and realizable Utopia. My proposal is that the
efficient civilized nations--those that are efficient in war as well as
in peace--shall join in a world league for the peace of righteousness.
This means that they shall by solemn covenant agree as to their
respective rights which shall not be questioned; that they shall agree
that all other questions arising between them shall be submitted to a
court of arbitration; and that they shall also agree--and here comes
the vital and essential point of the whole system--to act with the
combined military strength of all of them against any recalcitrant
nation, against any nation which transgresses at the expense of any
other nation the rights which it is agreed shall not be questioned,
or which on arbitrable matters refuses to submit to the decree of the
arbitral court.

In its essence this plan means that there shall be a great
international treaty for the peace of righteousness; that this treaty
shall explicitly secure to each nation and except from the operations
of any international tribunal such matters as its territorial
integrity, honor, and vital interest, and shall guarantee it in the
possession of these rights; that this treaty shall therefore by its
own terms explicitly provide against making foolish promises which
cannot and ought not to be kept; that this treaty shall be observed
with absolute good faith--for it is worse than useless to enter into
treaties until their observance in good faith is efficiently secured.
Finally, and most important, this treaty shall put force back of
righteousness, shall provide a method of securing by the exercise of
force the observance of solemn international obligations. This is to be
accomplished by all the powers covenanting to put their whole strength
back of the fulfilment of the treaty obligations, including the decrees
of the court established under and in accordance with the treaty.

This proposal, therefore, meets the well-found objections against the
foolish and mischievous all-inclusive arbitration treaties recently
negotiated by Mr. Bryan under the direction of President Wilson. These
treaties, like the all-inclusive arbitration treaties which President
Taft started to negotiate, explicitly include as arbitrable, or as
proper subjects for action by joint commissions, questions of honor
and of vital national interest. No such provision should be made. No
such provision is made as among private individuals in any civilized
community. No man is required to “arbitrate” a slap in the face or an
insult to his wife; no man is expected to “arbitrate” with a burglar
or a highwayman. If in private life one individual takes action which
immediately jeopardizes the life or limb or even the bodily well-being
and the comfort of another, the wronged party does not have to go into
any arbitration with the wrong-doer. On the contrary, the policeman or
constable or sheriff immediately and summarily arrests the wrong-doer.
The subsequent trial is not in the nature of arbitration at all. It is
in the nature of a criminal proceeding. The wronged man is merely a
witness and not necessarily an essential witness. For example, if, in
the streets of New York, one man assaults another or steals his watch,
and a policeman is not near by, the wronged man is not only justified
in knocking down the assailant or thief, but fails in his duty if he
does not so act. If a policeman is near by, the policeman promptly
arrests the wrong-doer. The magistrate does not arbitrate the question
of property rights in the watch nor anything about the assault. He
satisfies himself as to the facts and delivers judgment against the

A covenant between the United States and any other power to arbitrate
all questions, including those involving national honor and interest,
neither could nor ought to be kept. Such a covenant will be harmless
only if no such questions ever arise. Now, all the worth of promises
made in the abstract lies in the way in which they are fulfilled in the
concrete. The Wilson-Bryan arbitration treaties are to be tested in
this manner. The theory is, of course, that these treaties are to be
made with all nations, and this is correct, because it would be a far
graver thing to refuse to make them with some nations than to refuse
to enter into them with any nation at all. The proposal is, in effect,
and disregarding verbiage, that all questions shall be arbitrated or
settled by the action of a joint commission--questions really vital to
us would, as a matter of fact, be settled adversely to us pending such
action. There are many such questions which in the concrete we would
certainly not arbitrate. I mention one, only as an example. Do Messrs.
Wilson and Bryan, or do they not, mean to arbitrate, if Japan should
so desire, the question whether Japanese laborers are to be allowed
to come in unlimited numbers to these shores? If they do mean this,
let them explicitly state that fact--merely as an illustration--to the
Senate committee, so that the Senate committee shall understand what
it is doing when it ratifies these treaties. If they do not mean this,
then let them promptly withdraw all the treaties so as not to expose
us to the charge of hypocrisy, of making believe to do what we have no
intention of doing, and of making promises which we have no intention
of keeping. I have mentioned one issue only; but there are scores of
other issues which I could mention which this government would under no
circumstances agree to arbitrate.

In the same way, we must explicitly recognize that all the peace
congresses and the like that have been held of recent years have done
no good whatever to the cause of world peace. All their addresses and
resolutions about arbitration and disarmament and such matters have
been on the whole slightly worse than useless. Disregarding the Hague
conventions, it is the literal fact that none of the peace congresses
that have been held for the last fifteen or twenty years--to speak
only of those of which I myself know the workings--have accomplished
the smallest particle of good. In so far as they have influenced free,
liberty-loving, and self-respecting nations not to take measures for
their own defense they have been positively mischievous. In no respect
have they achieved anything worth achieving; and the present world war
proves this beyond the possibility of serious question.

The Hague conventions stand by themselves. They have accomplished a
certain amount--although only a small amount--of actual good. This was
in so far as they furnished means by which nations which did not wish
to quarrel were able to settle international disputes not involving
their deepest interests. Questions between nations continually arise
which are not of first-class importance; which, for instance, refer to
some illegal act by or against a fishing schooner, to some difficulty
concerning contracts, to some question of the interpretation of a
minor clause in a treaty, or to the sporadic action of some hot-headed
or panic-struck official. In these cases, where neither nation wishes
to go to war, the Hague court has furnished an easy method for the
settlement of the dispute without war. This does not mark a very great
advance; but it is an advance, and was worth making.

The fact that it is the only advance that the Hague court has
accomplished makes the hysterical outbursts formerly indulged in by the
ultrapacificists concerning it seem in retrospect exceedingly foolish.
While I had never shared the hopes of these ultrapacificists, I had
hoped for more substantial good than has actually come from the Hague
conventions. This was because I accept promises as meaning something.
The ultrapacificists, whether from timidity, from weakness, or from
sheer folly, seem wholly unable to understand that the fulfilment
of a promise has anything to do with making the promise. The most
striking example that could possibly be furnished has been furnished
by Belgium. Under my direction as President, the United States signed
the Hague conventions. All the nations engaged in the present war
signed these conventions, although one or two of the nations qualified
their acceptance, or withheld their signatures to certain articles.
This, however, did not in the least relieve the signatory powers from
the duty to guarantee one another in the enjoyment of the rights
supposed to be secured by the conventions. To make this guarantee
worth anything, it was, of course, necessary actively to enforce it
against any power breaking the convention or acting against its clear
purpose. To make it really effective it should be enforced as quickly
against non-signatory as against signatory powers; for to give a power
free permission to do wrong if it did not sign would put a premium on
non-signing, so far as big, aggressive powers are concerned.

I authorized the signature of the United States to these conventions.
They forbid the violation of neutral territory, and, of course, the
subjugation of unoffending neutral nations, as Belgium has been
subjugated. They forbid such destruction as that inflicted on Louvain,
Dinant, and other towns in Belgium, the burning of their priceless
public libraries and wonderful halls and churches, and the destruction
of cathedrals such as that at Rheims. They forbid the infliction of
heavy pecuniary penalties and the taking of severe punitive measures at
the expense of civilian populations. They forbid the bombardment--of
course including the dropping of bombs from aeroplanes--of unfortified
cities and of cities whose defenses were not at the moment attacked.
They forbid such actions as have been committed against various cities,
Belgian, French, and English, not for military reason but for the
purpose of terrorizing the civilian population by killing and wounding
men, women, and children who were non-combatants. All of these offenses
have been committed by Germany. I took the action I did in directing
these conventions to be signed on the theory and with the belief that
the United States intended to live up to its obligations, and that our
people understood that living up to solemn obligations, like any other
serious performance of duty, means willingness to make effort and to
incur risk. If I had for one moment supposed that signing these Hague
conventions meant literally nothing whatever beyond the expression
of a pious wish which any power was at liberty to disregard with
impunity, in accordance with the dictation of self-interest, I would
certainly not have permitted the United States to be a party to such
a mischievous farce. President Wilson and Secretary Bryan, however,
take the view that when the United States assumes obligations in order
to secure small and unoffending neutral nations or non-combatants
generally against hideous wrong, its action is not predicated on any
intention to make the guarantee effective. They take the view that
when we are asked to redeem in the concrete, promises we made in the
abstract, our duty is to disregard our obligations and to preserve
ignoble peace for ourselves by regarding with cold-blooded and timid
indifference the most frightful ravages of war committed at the expense
of a peaceful and unoffending country. This is the cult of cowardice.
That Messrs. Wilson and Bryan profess it and put it in action would
be of small consequence if only they themselves were concerned. The
importance of their action is that it commits the United States.

Elaborate technical arguments have been made to justify this timid and
selfish abandonment of duty, this timid and selfish failure to work for
the world peace of righteousness, by President Wilson and Secretary
Bryan. No sincere believer in disinterested and self-sacrificing work
for peace can justify it; and work for peace will never be worth much
unless accompanied by courage, effort, and self-sacrifice. Yet those
very apostles of pacificism who, when they can do so with safety,
scream loudest for peace, have made themselves objects of contemptuous
derision by keeping silence in this crisis, or even by praising Mr.
Wilson and Mr. Bryan for having thus abandoned the cause of peace. They
are supported by the men who insist that all that we are concerned
with is escaping even the smallest risk that might follow upon the
performance of duty to any one except ourselves. This last is not a
very exalted plea. It is, however, defensible. But if, as a nation,
we intend to act in accordance with it, we must never promise to do
anything for any one else.

The technical arguments as to the Hague conventions not requiring us to
act will at once be brushed aside by any man who honestly and in good
faith faces the situation. Either the Hague conventions meant something
or else they meant nothing. If, in the event of their violation, none
of the signatory powers were even to protest, then of course they meant
nothing; and it was an act of unspeakable silliness to enter into them.
If, on the other hand, they meant anything whatsoever, it was the duty
of the United States, as the most powerful, or at least the richest and
most populous, neutral nation, to take action for upholding them when
their violation brought such appalling disaster to Belgium. There is no
escape from this alternative.

The first essential to working out successfully any scheme whatever for
world peace is to understand that nothing can be accomplished unless
the powers entering into the agreement act in precisely the reverse
way from that in which President Wilson and Secretary Bryan have acted
as regards the Hague conventions and the all-inclusive arbitration
treaties during the past six months. The prime fact to consider in
securing any peace agreement worth entering into, or that will have
any except a mischievous effect, is that the nations entering into the
agreement shall make no promises that ought not to be made, that they
shall in good faith live up to the promises that are made, and that
they shall put their whole strength unitedly back of these promises
against any nation which refuses to carry out the agreement, or which,
if it has not made the agreement, nevertheless violates the principles
which the agreement enforces. In other words, international agreements
intended to produce peace must proceed much along the lines of the
Hague conventions; but a power signing them, as the United States
signed the Hague conventions, must do so with the intention in good
faith to see that they are carried out, and to use force to accomplish
this, if necessary.

To violate these conventions, to violate neutrality treaties, as
Germany has done in the case of Belgium, is a dreadful wrong. It
represents the gravest kind of international wrong-doing. But it is
really not quite so contemptible, it does not show such short-sighted
and timid inefficiency, _and, above all, such selfish indifference to
the cause of permanent and righteous peace_ as has been shown by us of
the United States (thanks to President Wilson and Secretary Bryan) in
refusing to fulfil our solemn obligations by taking whatever action
was necessary in order to clear our skirts from the guilt of tame
acquiescence in a wrong which we had solemnly undertaken to oppose.

It has been a matter of very real regret to me to have to speak in the
way I have felt obliged to speak as to German wrong-doing in Belgium,
because so many of my friends, not only Germans, but Americans of
German birth and even Americans of German descent, have felt aggrieved
at my position. As regards my friends, the Americans of German birth
or descent, I can only say that they are in honor bound to regard all
international matters solely from the standpoint of the interest of the
United States, and of the demands of a lofty international morality.
I recognize no divided allegiance in American citizenship. As regards
Germany, my stand is for the real interest of the mass of the German
people. If the German people as a whole would only look at it rightly,
they would see that my position is predicated upon the assumption that
we ought to act as unhesitatingly in favor of Germany if Germany were
wronged as in favor of Belgium when Belgium is wronged.

There are in Germany a certain number of Germans who adopt
the Treitschke and Bernhardi view of Germany’s destiny and of
international morality generally. These men are fundamentally exactly
as hostile to America as to all other foreign powers. They look down
with contempt upon Americans as well as upon all other foreigners.
They regard it as their right to subdue these inferior beings. They
acknowledge toward them no duty, in the sense that duty is understood
between equals. I call the attention of my fellow Americans of German
origin who wish this country to act toward Belgium, not in accordance
with American traditions, interests, and ideals, but in accordance
with the pro-German sympathies of certain citizens of German descent,
to the statement of Treitschke that “to civilization at large the
[Americanizing] of the German-Americans means a heavy loss. Among
Germans there can no longer be any question that the civilization of
mankind suffers every time a German is transformed into a Yankee.”

I do not for one moment believe that the men who follow Treitschke
in his hatred of and contempt for all non-Germans, and Bernhardi in
his contempt for international morality, are a majority of the German
people or even a very large minority. I think that the great majority
of the Germans, who have approved Germany’s action toward Belgium, have
been influenced by the feeling that it was a vital necessity in order
to save Germany from destruction and subjugation by France and Russia,
perhaps assisted by England. Fear of national destruction will prompt
men to do almost anything, and the proper remedy for outsiders to work
for is the removal of the fear. If Germany were absolutely freed from
danger of aggression on her eastern and western frontiers, I believe
that German public sentiment would refuse to sanction such acts as
those against Belgium. The only effective way to free it from this
fear is to have outside nations like the United States in good faith
undertake the obligation to defend Germany’s honor and territorial
integrity, if attacked, exactly as they would defend the honor and
territorial integrity of Belgium, or of France, Russia, Japan, or
England, or any other well-behaved, civilized power, if attacked.

This can only be achieved by some such world league of peace as that
which I advocate. Most important of all, it can only be achieved by
the willingness and ability of great, free powers to put might back
of right, to make their protest against wrong-doing effective by, if
necessary, punishing the wrong-doer. It is this fact which makes the
clamor of the pacificists for “peace, peace,” without any regard to
righteousness, so abhorrent to all right-thinking people. There are
multitudes of professional pacificists in the United States, and of
well-meaning but ill-informed persons who sympathize with them from
ignorance. There are not a few astute persons, bankers of foreign
birth, and others, who wish to take sinister advantage of the folly
of these persons, in the interest of Germany. All of these men clamor
for immediate peace. They wish the United States to take action for
immediate peace or for a truce, under conditions designed to leave
Belgium with her wrongs unredressed and in the possession of Germany.
They strive to bring about a peace which would contain within itself
the elements of frightful future disaster, by making no effective
provision to prevent the repetition of such wrong-doing as has been
inflicted upon Belgium. All of the men advocating such action,
including the professional pacificists, the big business men largely
of foreign birth, and the well-meaning but feeble-minded creatures
among their allies, and including especially all those who from sheer
timidity or weakness shrink from duty, occupy a thoroughly base and
improper position. The peace advocates of this stamp stand on an exact
par with men who, if there was an epidemic of lawlessness in New York,
should come together to demand the immediate cessation of all activity
by the police, and should propose to substitute for it a request that
the highwaymen, white slavers, black-handers, and burglars cease
their activities for the moment on condition of retaining undisturbed
possession of the ill-gotten spoils they had already acquired. The
only effective friend of peace in a big city is the man who makes the
police force thoroughly efficient, who tries to remove the causes of
crime, but who unhesitatingly insists upon the punishment of criminals.
Pacificists who believe that all use of force in international matters
can be abolished will do well to remember that the only efficient
police forces are those whose members are scrupulously careful not to
commit acts of violence when it is possible to avoid them, but who
are willing and able, when the occasion arises, to subdue the worst
kind of wrong-doers by means of the only argument that wrong-doers
respect, namely, successful force. What is thus true in private life is
similarly true in international affairs.

No man can venture to state the exact details that should be followed
in securing such a world league for the peace of righteousness. But,
not to leave the matter nebulous, I submit the following plan. It would
prove entirely workable, if nations entered into it with good faith,
and if they treated their obligations under it in the spirit in which
the United States treated its obligations as regarded the independence
of Cuba, giving good government to the Philippines, and building
the Panama Canal; the same spirit in which England acted when the
neutrality of Belgium was violated.

All the civilized powers which are able and willing to furnish and to
use force, when force is required to back up righteousness--and only
the civilized powers who possess virile manliness of character and the
willingness to accept risk and labor when necessary to the performance
of duty are entitled to be considered in this matter--should join to
create an international tribunal and to provide rules in accordance
with which that tribunal should act. These rules would have to accept
the _status quo_ at some given period; for the endeavor to redress all
historical wrongs would throw us back into chaos. They would lay down
the rule that the territorial integrity of each nation was inviolate;
that it was to be guaranteed absolutely its sovereign rights in certain
particulars, including, for instance, the right to decide the terms
on which immigrants should be admitted to its borders for purposes
of residence, citizenship, or business; in short, all its rights in
matters affecting its honor and vital interest. Each nation should be
guaranteed against having any of these specified rights infringed upon.
They would not be made arbitrable, any more than an individual’s right
to life and limb is made arbitrable; they would be mutually guaranteed.
All other matters that could arise between these nations should be
settled by the international court. The judges should act not as
national representatives, but purely as judges, and in any given case
it would probably be well to choose them by lot, excluding, of course,
the representatives of the powers whose interests were concerned. Then,
and most important, the nations should severally guarantee to use their
entire military force, if necessary, against any nation which defied
the decrees of the tribunal or which violated any of the rights which
in the rules it was expressly stipulated should be reserved to the
several nations, the rights to their territorial integrity and the
like. Under such conditions--to make matters concrete--Belgium would be
safe from any attack such as that made by Germany, and Germany would be
relieved from the haunting fear its people now have lest the Russians
and the French, backed by other nations, smash the empire and its

In addition to the contracting powers, a certain number of outside
nations should be named as entitled to the benefits of the court.
These nations should be chosen from those which are as civilized and
well-behaved as the great contracting nations, but which, for some
reason or other, are unwilling or unable to guarantee to help execute
the decrees of the court by force. They would have no right to take
part in the nomination of judges, for no people are entitled to do
anything toward establishing a court unless they are able and willing
to face the risk, labor, and self-sacrifice necessary in order to
put police power behind the court. But they would be treated with
exact justice; and in the event of any one of the great contracting
powers having trouble with one of them, they would be entitled to go
into court, have a decision rendered, and see the decision supported,
precisely as in the case of a dispute between any two of the great
contracting powers themselves.

No power should be admitted into the first circle, that of the
contracting powers, unless it is civilized, well-behaved, and able
to do its part in enforcing the decrees of the court. China, for
instance, could not be admitted, nor could Turkey, although for
different reasons, whereas such nations as Germany, France, England,
Italy, Russia, the United States, Japan, Brazil, the Argentine, Chile,
Uruguay, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Belgium
would all be entitled to go in. If China continues to behave as well
as it has during the last few years it might soon go into the second
line of powers which would be entitled to the benefits of the court,
although not entitled to send judges to it. Mexico would, of course,
not be entitled to admission at present into either circle. At present
every European power with the exception of Turkey would be so entitled;
but sixty years ago the kingdom of Naples, for instance, would not
have been entitled to come in, and there are various South American
communities which at the present time would not be entitled to come
in; and, of course, this would at present be true of most independent
Asiatic states and of all independent African states. The council
should have power to exclude any nation which completely fell from
civilization, as Mexico, partly with the able assistance of President
Wilson’s administration, has fallen during the past few years. There
are various South and Central American states which have never been
entitled to the consideration as civilized, orderly, self-respecting
powers which would entitle them to be treated on terms of equality in
the fashion indicated. As regards these disorderly and weak outsiders,
it might well be that after a while some method would be devised to
deal with them by common agreement of the civilized powers; but until
this was devised and put into execution they would have to be left as
at present.

Of course, grave difficulties would be encountered in devising such
a plan and in administering it afterward, and no human being can
guarantee that it would absolutely succeed. But I believe that it could
be made to work and that it would mark a very great improvement over
what obtains now. At this moment there is hell in Belgium and hell
in Mexico; and the ultrapacificists in this country have their full
share of the responsibility for this hell. They are not primary factors
in producing it. They lack the virile power to be primary factors in
producing anything, good or evil, that needs daring and endurance.
But they are secondary factors; for the man who tamely acquiesces in
wrong-doing is a secondary factor in producing that wrong-doing. Most
certainly the proposed plan would be dependent upon reasonable good
faith for its successful working, but this is only to say what is also
true of every human institution. Under the proposed plan there would be
a strong likelihood of bettering world conditions. If it is a Utopia,
it is a Utopia of a very practical kind.

Such a plan is as yet in the realm of mere speculation. At present
the essential thing for each self-respecting, liberty-loving nation
to do is to put itself in position to defend its own rights. Recently
President Wilson, in his message to Congress, has announced that we
are in no danger and will not be in any danger; and ex-President Taft
has stated that the awakening of interest in our defenses indicates
“mild hysteria.” Such utterances show fatuous indifference to the
teachings of history. They represent precisely the attitude which a
century ago led to the burning of Washington by a small expeditionary
hostile force, and to such paralyzing disaster in war as almost to
bring about the break-up of the Union. In his message President Wilson
justifies a refusal to build up our navy by asking--as if we were
discussing a question of pure metaphysics--“When will the experts tell
us just what kind of ships we should construct--and when will they
be right for ten years together? Who shall tell us now what sort of
navy to build?” and actually adds, after posing and leaving unanswered
these questions: “I turn away from the subject. It is not new. There
is no need to discuss it.” Lovers of Dickens who turn to the second
paragraph of chapter XI of “Our Mutual Friend” will find this attitude
of President Wilson toward preparedness interestingly paralleled by
the attitude Mr. Podsnap took in “getting rid of disagreeables” by
the use of the phrases, “I don’t want to know about them! I refuse
to discuss them! I don’t admit them!” thus “clearing the world of
its most difficult problems by sweeping them behind him. For they
affronted him.” If during the last ten years England’s attitude toward
preparedness for war and the upbuilding of her navy had been determined
by statesmanship such as is set forth in these utterances of President
Wilson, the island would now be trampled into bloody mire, as Belgium
has been trampled. If Germany had followed such advice--or rather no
advice-during the last ten years, she would now have been wholly unable
so much as to assert her rights anywhere.

Let us immediately make our navy thoroughly efficient; and this can
only be done by reversing the policy that President Wilson has followed
for twenty-two months. Recently Secretary Daniels has said, as quoted
by the press, that he intends to provide for the safety of both the
Atlantic and Pacific coasts by dividing our war fleet between the
two oceans. Such division of the fleet, having in view the disaster
which exactly similar action brought on Russia ten years ago, would be
literally a crime against the nation. Neither our foreign affairs nor
our naval affairs can be satisfactorily managed when the President is
willing to put in their respective departments gentlemen like Messrs.
Bryan and Daniels. President Wilson would not have ventured to make
either of these men head of the Treasury Department, because he would
thereby have offended the concrete interests of American business men.
But as Secretary of State and Secretary of the Navy the harm they do
is to the country as a whole. No concrete interest is immediately
affected; and, as it is only our own common welfare in the future, only
the welfare of our children, only the honor and interest of the United
States through the generations that are concerned, it is deemed safe to
disregard this welfare and to take chances with our national honor and



“Blessed are the peacemakers,” not merely the peace lovers; for action
is what makes thought operative and valuable. Above all, the peace
prattlers are in no way blessed. On the contrary, only mischief has
sprung from the activities of the professional peace prattlers, the
ultrapacificists, who, with the shrill clamor of eunuchs, preach the
gospel of the milk and water of virtue and scream that belief in the
efficacy of diluted moral mush is essential to salvation.

It seems necessary every time I state my position to guard against
the counterwords of wilful folly by reiterating that my disagreement
with the peace-at-any-price men, the ultrapacificists, is not in the
least because they favor peace. I object to them, first, because they
have proved themselves futile and impotent in working for peace, and,
second, because they commit what is not merely the capital error but
the crime against morality of failing to uphold righteousness as the
all-important end toward which we should strive. In actual practice
they advocate the peace of unrighteousness just as fervently as they
advocate the peace of righteousness. I have as little sympathy as
they have for the men who deify mere brutal force, who insist that
power justifies wrong-doing, and who declare that there is no such
thing as international morality. But the ultrapacificists really play
into the hands of these men. To condemn equally might which backs
right and might which overthrows right is to render positive service
to wrong-doers. It is as if in private life we condemned alike both
the policeman and the dynamiter or black-hand kidnapper or white
slaver whom he has arrested. To denounce the nation that wages war in
self-defense, or from a generous desire to relieve the oppressed, in
the same terms in which we denounce war waged in a spirit of greed
or wanton folly stands on an exact par with denouncing equally a
murderer and the policeman who, at peril of his life and by force of
arms, arrests the murderer. In each case the denunciation denotes not
loftiness of soul but weakness both of mind and of morals.

In a capital book, by a German, Mr. Edmund von Mach, entitled “What
Germany Wants,” there is the following noble passage at the outset:

    During the preparation of this book the writer received from his
    uncle, a veteran army officer living in Dresden, a brief note
    containing the following laconic record:

    “1793, your great-grandfather at Kostheim.

    “1815, your grandfather at Liegnitz.

    “1870, myself--all severely wounded by French bullets.

    “1914, my son, captain in the 6th Regiment of Dragoons.

    “Four generations obliged to fight the French!”

    When the writer turns to his American friends of French descent,
    he finds there similar records, and often even greater sorrow,
    for death has come to many of them. In Europe their families and
    his have looked upon each other as enemies for generations, while
    a few years in the clarifying atmosphere of America have made
    friends of former Frenchmen, Germans, Russians, and Englishmen.

    Jointly they pray that the present war may not be carried to
    such a pass that an early and honorable peace becomes impossible
    for any one of these great nations. Is it asking too much that
    America may be vouchsafed in not too distant a future to do for
    their respective native lands what the American institutions
    have done for them individually, help them to regard each other
    at their true worth, unblinded by traditional hatred or fiery

It is in the spirit of this statement that we Americans should act. We
are a people different from, but akin, to all the nations of Europe.
We should feel a real friendship for each of the contesting powers and
a real desire to work so as to secure justice for each. This cannot
be done by preserving a tame and spiritless neutrality which treats
good and evil on precisely the same basis. Such a neutrality never
has enabled and never will enable any nation to do a great work for
righteousness. Our true course should be to judge each nation on its
conduct, unhesitatingly to antagonize every nation that does ill as
regards the point on which it does ill, and equally without hesitation
to act, as cool-headed and yet generous wisdom may dictate, so as
disinterestedly to further the welfare of all.

One of the greatest of international duties ought to be the protection
of small, highly civilized, well-behaved, and self-respecting states
from oppression and conquest by their powerful military neighbors. Such
nations as Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Uruguay, Denmark, Norway,
and Sweden play a great and honorable part in the development of
civilization. The subjugation of any one of them is a crime against,
the destruction of any one of them is a loss to, mankind.

I feel in the strongest way that we should have interfered, at least
to the extent of the most emphatic diplomatic protest and at the
very outset--and then by whatever further action was necessary--in
regard to the violation of the neutrality of Belgium; for this act
was the earliest and the most important and, in its consequences, the
most ruinous of all the violations and offenses against treaties
committed by any combatant during the war. But it was not the only
one. The Japanese and English forces not long after violated Chinese
neutrality in attacking Kiao-Chau. It has been alleged and not denied
that the British ship _Highflyer_ sunk the _Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse_
in neutral Spanish waters, this being also a violation of the Hague
conventions; and on October 10th the German government issued an
official protest about alleged violations of the Geneva convention by
the French. Furthermore, the methods employed in strewing portions of
the seas with floating mines have been such as to warrant the most
careful investigation by any neutral nations which treat neutrality
pacts and Hague conventions as other than merely dead letters. Not a
few offenses have been committed against our own people.

If, instead of observing a timid and spiritless neutrality, we had
lived up to our obligations by taking action in all of these cases
without regard to which power it was that was alleged to have done
wrong, we would have followed the only course that would both have
told for world righteousness and have served our own self-respect. The
course actually followed by Messrs. Wilson, Bryan, and Daniels has
been to permit our own power for self-defense steadily to diminish
while at the same time refusing to do what we were solemnly bound to
do in order to protest against wrong and to render some kind of aid
to weak nations that had been wronged. Inasmuch as, in the first and
greatest and the most ruinous case of violation of neutral rights and
of international morality, this nation, under the guidance of Messrs.
Wilson and Bryan, kept timid silence and dared not protest, it would
be--and is--an act of deliberate bad faith to protest only as regards
subsequent and less important violations. Of course, if, as a people,
we frankly take the ground that our actions are based upon nothing
whatever but our own selfish and short-sighted interest, it is possible
to protest only against violations of neutrality that at the moment
unfavorably affect our own interests. Inaction is often itself the most
offensive form of action; the administration has persistently refused
to live up to the solemn national obligations to strive to protect
other unoffending nations from wrong; and this conduct adds a peculiar
touch of hypocrisy to the action taken at the same time in signing a
couple of score of all-inclusive arbitration treaties pretentiously
heralded as serving world righteousness. If we had acted as we ought to
have acted regarding Belgium we could then with a clear conscience have
made effective protest regarding every other case of violation of the
rights of neutrals or of offenses committed by the belligerents against
one another or against us in violation of the Hague conventions.
Moreover, the attitude of the administration has not even placated
the powers it was desired to please. Thanks to its action, the United
States during the last five months has gained neither the good-will nor
the respect of any of the combatants. On the contrary, it has steadily
grown rather more disliked and rather less respected by all of them.

In facing a difficult and critical situation, any administration is
entitled to a free hand until it has had time to develop the action
which it considers appropriate, for often there is more than one
way in which it is possible to take efficient action. But when so
much time has passed, either without action or with only mischievous
action, as gravely to compromise both the honor and the interest of
the country, then it becomes a duty for self-respecting citizens to
whom their country is dear to speak out. From the very outset I felt
that the administration was following a wrong course. But no action of
mine could make it take the right course, and there was a possibility
that there was some object aside from political advantage in the
course followed. I kept silence as long as silence was compatible
with regard for the national honor and welfare. I spoke only when it
became imperative to speak under penalty of tame acquiescence in tame
failure to perform national duty. It has become evident that the
administration has had no plan whatever save the dexterous avoidance
of all responsibility and therefore of all duty, and the effort to
persuade our people as a whole that this inaction was for their
interest--combined with other less openly expressed and less worthy
efforts of purely political type.

There is therefore no longer any reason for failure to point out that
if the President and Secretary of State had been thoroughly acquainted
in advance, as of course they ought to have been acquainted, with
the European situation, and if they had possessed an intelligent and
resolute purpose squarely to meet their heavy responsibilities and
thereby to serve the honor of this country and the interest of mankind,
they would have taken action on July 29th, 30th, or 31st, certainly
not later than August 1st. On such occasions there is a peculiar
applicability in the old proverb: Nine tenths of wisdom consists in
being wise in time. If those responsible for the management of our
foreign affairs had been content to dwell in a world of fact instead of
a world of third-rate fiction, they would have understood that at such
a time of world crisis it was an unworthy avoidance of duty to fuss
with silly little all-inclusive arbitration treaties when the need of
the day demanded that they devote all their energies to the terrible
problems of the day. They would have known that a German invasion
of Switzerland was possible but improbable and a German invasion of
Belgium overwhelmingly probable. They would have known that vigorous
action by the United States government, taken with such entire good
faith as to make it evident that it was in the interest of Belgium
and not in the interest of France and England, and that if there was
occasion it would be taken against France and England as quickly as
against Germany, might very possibly have resulted in either putting
a stop to the war or in localizing and narrowly circumscribing its
area. It is, of course, possible that the action would have failed of
its immediate purpose. But even in that case it cannot be doubted that
it would have been efficient as a check upon the subsequent wrongs

Nor was the opportunity for action limited in time. Even if the
administration had failed thus to act at the outset of the war, the
protests officially made both by the German Emperor and by the Belgian
government to the President as to alleged misconduct in the prosecution
of the war not only gave him warrant for action but required him to
act. Meanwhile, from the moment when the war was declared, it became
inexcusable of the administration not to take immediate steps to
put the navy into efficient shape, and at least to make our military
forces on land more respectable. It is possible not to justify but to
explain the action of the administration in using the navy for the
sixteen months prior to this war in such a way as greatly to impair
its efficiency; for of course when the President selected Mr. Daniels
as Secretary of the Navy he showed, on the supposition that he was not
indifferent to its welfare, an entire ignorance of what that welfare
demanded; and therefore the failure to keep the navy efficient may have
been due at first to mere inability to exercise foresight. But with war
impending, such failure to exercise foresight became inexcusable. None
of the effective fighting craft are of any real use so far as Mexico
is concerned. The navy should at once have been assembled in northern
waters, either in the Atlantic or the Pacific, and immediate steps
taken to bring it to the highest point of efficiency.

It is because I believe our attitude should be one of sincere good-will
toward all nations that I so strongly feel that we should endeavor
to work for a league of peace among all nations rather than trust to
alliances with any particular group. Moreover, alliances are very
shifty and uncertain. Within twenty years England has regarded France
as her immediately dangerous opponent; within ten years she has felt
that Russia was the one power against which she must at all costs
guard herself; and during the same period there have been times when
Belgium has hated England with a peculiar fervor. Alliances must be
based on self-interest and must continually shift. But in such a world
league as that of which we speak and dream, the test would be conduct
and not merely selfish interest, and so there would be no shifting of

It is not yet opportune to discuss in detail the exact method by
which the nations of the world shall put the collective strength of
civilization behind the purpose of civilization to do right, using as
an instrumentality for peace such a world league. I have in the last
chapter given the bare outline of such a plan. Probably at the outset
it would be an absolute impossibility to devise a non-national or
purely international police force which would be effective in a great
crisis. The prime necessity is that all the great nations should agree
in good faith to use their combined warlike strength to coerce any
nation, whichever one it may be, that declines to abide the decision of
some competent international tribunal.

Our business is to create the beginnings of international order out of
the world of nations as these nations actually exist. We do not have to
deal with a world of pacificists and therefore we must proceed on the
assumption that treaties will never acquire sanctity until nations are
ready to seal them with their blood. We are not striving for peace in
heaven. That is not our affair. What we were bidden to strive for is
“peace on earth and good-will toward men.” To fulfil this injunction
it is necessary to treat the earth as it is and men as they are, as
an indispensable pre-requisite to making the earth a better place in
which to live and men better fit to live in it. It is inexcusable moral
culpability on our part to pretend to carry out this injunction in such
fashion as to nullify it; and this we do if we make believe that the
earth is what it is not and if our professions of bringing good-will
toward men are in actual practice shown to be empty shams. Peace
congresses, peace parades, the appointment and celebration of days
of prayer for peace, and the like, which result merely in giving the
participants the feeling that they have accomplished something and are
therefore to be excused from hard, practical work for righteousness,
are empty shams. Treaties such as the recent all-inclusive arbitration
treaties are worse than empty shams and convict us as a nation of
moral culpability when our representatives sign them at the same time
that they refuse to risk anything to make good the signatures we have
already affixed to the Hague conventions.

Moderate and sensible treaties which mean something and which can
and will be enforced mark a real advance for the human race. As has
been well said: “It is our business to make no treaties which we are
not ready to maintain with all our resources, for every such ‘scrap
of paper’ is like a forged check--an assault on our credit in the
world.” Promises that are idly given and idly broken represent profound
detriment to the morality of nations. Until no promise is idly entered
into and until promises that have once been made are kept, at no
matter what cost of risk and effort and positive loss, just so long
will distrust and suspicion and wrong-doing rack the world. No honest
lawyer will hesitate to advise his client against signing a contract
either detrimental to his interests or impossible of fulfilment;
and the individual who signs such a contract at once makes himself
either an object of suspicion to sound-headed men or else an object of
derision to all men. One of the stock jokes in the comic columns of
the newspapers refers to the man who swears off or takes the pledge,
or makes an indefinite number of good resolutions on New Year’s Day,
and fails to keep his pledge or promise or resolution; this was one of
Mark Twain’s favorite subjects for derision. The man who continually
makes new promises without living up to those he has already made, and
who takes pledges which he breaks, is rightly treated as an object for
contemptuous fun. The nation which behaves in like manner deserves no
higher consideration.

The conduct of President Wilson and Secretary Bryan in signing these
all-inclusive treaties at the same time that they have kept silent
about the breaking of the Hague conventions has represented the kind of
wrong-doing to this nation that would be represented in private life
by the conduct of the individuals who sign such contracts as those
mentioned. The administration has looked on without a protest while
the Hague conventions have been torn up and thrown to the wind. It has
watched the paper structure of good-will collapse without taking one
step to prevent it; and yet foolish pacificists, the very men who in
the past have been most vociferous about international morality, have
praised it for this position. The assertion that our neutrality carries
with it the obligation to be silent when our own Hague conventions are
destroyed represents an active step against the peace of righteousness.
The only way to show that our faith in public law was real was to
protest against the assault on international morality implied in the
invasion of Belgium.

Unless some one at some time is ready to take some chance for the
sake of internationalism, that is of international morality, it will
remain what it is to-day, an object of derision to aggressive nations.
Even if nothing more than an emphatic protest had been made against
what was done in Belgium--it is not at this time necessary for me
to state exactly what, in my judgment, ought to have been done--the
foundations would have been laid for an effective world opinion against
international cynicism. Pacificists claim that we have acted so as to
preserve the good-will of Europe and to exercise a guiding influence
in the settlement of the war. This is an idea which appeals to the
thoughtless, for it gratifies our desire to keep out of trouble and
also our vanity by the hope that we shall do great things with small
difficulty. It may or may not be that the settlement will finally be
made by a peace congress in which the President of the United States
will hold titular position of headship. But under conditions as they
are now the real importance of the President in such a peace congress
will be comparable to the real importance of the drum-major when he
walks at the head of a regiment. Small boys regard the drum-major as
much more important than the regimental commander; and the pacificist
grown-ups who applaud peace congresses sometimes show as regards the
drum-majors of these congresses the same touching lack of insight
which small boys show toward real drum-majors. As a matter of fact,
if the United States enters such a congress with nothing but a record
of comfortable neutrality or tame acquiescence in violated Hague
conventions, plus an array of vague treaties with no relation to
actual facts, it will be allowed to fill the position of international
drum-major and of nothing more; and even this position it will be
allowed to fill only so long as it suits the convenience of the men
who have done the actual fighting. The warring nations will settle
the issues in accordance with their own strength and position. Under
such conditions we shall be treated as we deserve to be treated, as a
nation of people who mean well feebly, whose words are not backed by
deeds, who like to prattle about both their own strength and their own
righteousness, but who are unwilling to run the risks without which
righteousness cannot be effectively served, and who are also unwilling
to undergo the toil of intelligent and hard-working preparation without
which strength when tested proves weakness.

In this world it is as true of nations as of individuals that the
things best worth having are rarely to be obtained in cheap fashion.
There is nothing easier than to meet in congresses and conventions and
pass resolutions in favor of virtue. There is also nothing more futile
unless those passing the resolutions are willing to make them good by
labor and endurance and active courage and self-denial. Readers of John
Hay’s poems will remember the scorn therein expressed for those who
“resoloot till the cows come home,” but do not put effort back of their
words. Those who would teach our people that service can be rendered or
greatness attained in easy, comfortable fashion, without facing risk,
hardship, and difficulty, are teaching what is false and mischievous.
Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all
essential to successful life. As a rule, the slothful ease of life is
in inverse proportion to its true success. This is true of the private
lives of farmers, business men, and mechanics. It is no less true of
the life of the nation which is made up of these farmers, business men,
and mechanics.

As yet, as events have most painfully shown, there is nothing to be
expected by any nation in a great crisis from anything except its
own strength. Under these circumstances it is criminal in the United
States not to prepare. Critics have stated that in advocating universal
military service on the Swiss plan in this country, I am advocating
militarism. I am not concerned with mere questions of terminology. The
plan I advocate would be a corrective of every evil which we associate
with the name of militarism. It would tend for order and self-respect
among our people. Not the smallest evil among the many evils that
exist in America is due to militarism. Save in the crisis of the Civil
War there has been no militarism in the United States and the only
militarist President we have ever had was Abraham Lincoln. Universal
service of the Swiss type would be educational in the highest and
best sense of the word. In Switzerland, as compared with the United
States, there are, relatively to the population, only one tenth the
number of murders and of crimes of violence. Doubtless other causes
have contributed to this, but doubtless also the intelligent collective
training of the Swiss people in habits of obedience, of self-reliance,
self-restraint and endurance, of applied patriotism and collective
action, has been a very potent factor in producing this good result.

As I have already said, I know of my own knowledge that two nations
which on certain occasions were obliged, perhaps as much by our fault
as by theirs, to take into account the question of possible war with
the United States, planned in such event to seize the Panama Canal and
to take and ransom or destroy certain of our great coast cities. They
planned this partly in the belief that our navy would intermittently
be allowed to become extremely inefficient, just as during the last
twenty months it has become inefficient, and partly in the belief
that our people are so wholly unmilitary, and so ridden to death
on the one hand by foolish pacificists and on the other by brutal
materialists whose only God is money, that we would not show ourselves
either resolutely patriotic or efficient even in what belated action
our utter lack of preparation permitted us to take. I believe that
these nations were and are wrong in their estimate of the underlying
strength of the American character. I believe that if war did really
come both the ultrapacificists, the peace-at-any-price men, and the
merely brutal materialists, who count all else as nothing compared to
the gratification of their greed for gain or their taste for ease,
for pleasure, and for vacuous excitement, would be driven before the
gale of popular feeling as leaves are driven through the fall woods.
But such aroused public feeling in the actual event would be wholly
inadequate to make good our failure to prepare.

We should in all humility imitate not a little of the spirit so much
in evidence among the Germans and the Japanese, the two nations which
in modern times have shown the most practical type of patriotism,
the greatest devotion to the common weal, the greatest success in
developing their economic resources and abilities from within, and the
greatest far-sightedness in safeguarding the country against possible
disaster from without. In the _Journal of the Military Service
Institution_ for the months of November and December of the present
year will be found a quotation from a Japanese military paper, _The
Comrades’ Magazine_, which displays an amount of practical good sense
together with patriotism and devotion to the welfare of the average
man which could well be copied by our people and which is worthy of
study by every intelligent American. Germany’s success in industrialism
has been as extraordinary and noteworthy as her success in securing
military efficiency, and fundamentally has been due to the development
of the same qualities in the nation.

At present the United States does not begin to get adequate return
in the way of efficient preparation for defense from the amount of
money appropriated every year. Both the executive and Congress are
responsible for this--and of course this means that the permanent
and ultimate responsibility rests on the people. It is really less a
question of spending more money than of knowing how to get the best
results for the money that we do spend. Most emphatically there should
be a comprehensive plan both for defense and for expenditure. The best
military and naval authorities--not merely the senior officers but the
best officers--should be required to produce comprehensive plans for
battle-ships, for submarines, for air-ships, for proper artillery,
for a more efficient regular army, and for a great popular reserve
behind the army. Every useless military post should be forthwith
abandoned; and this cannot be done save by getting Congress to accept
or reject plans for defense and expenditure in their entirety. If each
congressman or senator can put in his special plea for the erection
or retention of a military post for non-military reasons, and for
the promotion or favoring of some given officer or group of officers
also for non-military reasons, we can rest assured that good results
can never be obtained. Here, again, what is needed is not plans by
outsiders but the insistence by outsiders upon the army and navy
officers being required to produce the right plans, being backed up
when they do produce the right plans, and being held to a strict
accountability for any failure, active or passive, in their duty.

Moreover, these plans must be treated as part of the coherent policy of
the nation in international affairs. With a gentleman like Mr. Bryan
in the State Department it may be accepted as absolutely certain that
we never will have the highest grade of efficiency in the Departments
of War and of the Navy. With a gentleman like Mr. Daniels at the
head of the navy, it may be accepted as certain that the navy will
not be brought to the level of its possible powers. This means that
the people as a whole must demand of their leaders that they treat
seriously the navy and army and our foreign policy.

The waste in our navy and army is very great. This is inevitable as
long as we do not discriminate against the inefficient and as long
as we fail to put a premium upon efficiency. When I was President I
found out that a very large proportion of the old officers of the
army and even of the navy were physically incompetent to perform many
of their duties. The public was wholly indifferent on the subject.
Congress would not act. As a preliminary, and merely as a preliminary,
I established a regulation that before promotion officers should be
required to walk fifty miles or ride one hundred miles in three days.
This was in no way a sufficient test of an officer’s fitness. It
merely served to rid the service of men whose unfitness was absolutely
ludicrous. Yet in Congress and in the newspapers an extraordinary
din was raised against this test on the ground that it was unjust to
faithful elderly officers! The pacificists promptly assailed it on
the ground that to make the army efficient was a “warlike” act. All
kinds of philanthropists, including clergymen and college presidents,
wrote me that my action showed not only callousness of heart but also
a regrettable spirit of militarism. Any officer who because of failure
to come up to the test or for other reasons was put out of the service
was certain to receive ardent congressional championship; and every
kind of pressure was brought to bear on behalf of the unfit, while
hardly the slightest effective championship was given the move from
any outside source. This was because public opinion was absolutely
uneducated on the subject. In our country the men who in time of
peace speak loudest about war are usually the ultrapacificists whose
activities have been shown to be absolutely futile for peace, but who
do a little mischief by persuading a number of well-meaning persons
that preparedness for war is unnecessary.

It is not desirable that civilians, acting independently of and without
the help of military and naval advisers, shall prepare minute or
detailed plans as to what ought to be done for our national defense.
But civilians are competent to advocate plans in outline exactly as
I have here advocated them. Moreover, and most important, they are
competent to try to make public opinion effective in these matters. A
democracy must have proper leaders. But these leaders must be able to
appeal to a proper sentiment in the democracy. It is the prime duty of
every right-thinking citizen at this time to aid his fellow countrymen
to understand the need of working wisely for peace, the folly of acting
unwisely for peace, and, above all, the need of real and thorough
national preparedness against war.

Former Secretary of the Navy Bonaparte, in one of his admirable
articles, in which he discusses armaments and treaties, has spoken as

    Indeed, it is so obviously impolitic, on the part of the
    administration and its party friends, to avow a purpose to keep
    the people in the dark as to our preparedness (or rather as to
    our virtually admitted unpreparedness) to protect the national
    interests, safety, and honor, that a practical avowal of such
    purpose on their part would seem altogether incredible, but for
    certain rather notorious facts developed by our experience during
    the last year and three quarters.

    It has gradually become evident, or, at least, probable that
    the mind (wherever that mind may be located) which determines,
    or has, as yet, determined, our foreign policy under President
    Wilson, really relies upon a timid neutrality and innumerable
    treaties of general arbitration as sufficient to protect us from
    foreign aggression; and advisedly wishes to keep us virtually
    unarmed and helpless to defend ourselves, so that a sense of
    our weakness may render us sufficiently pusillanimous to pocket
    all insults, to submit to any form of outrage, to resent no
    provocation, and to abdicate completely and forever the dignity
    and the duties of a great nation.

    In the absence of actual experience, a strong effort of the
    imagination would be required, at least on the part of the
    writer, to conceive of anybody’s not finding such an outlook
    for his country utterly intolerable; but incredulity must yield
    to decisive proof. Even the votaries of this novel cult of
    cowardice, however, are evidently compelled to recognize that, as
    yet, they constitute a very small minority among Americans, and,
    for this reason, they would keep their fellow countrymen, as far
    as may be practicable, in the dark as to our national weakness
    and our national dangers; they delight in gagging soldiers and
    sailors and, to the extent of their power, everybody else who
    may speak with any authority, and, if they could, would shut out
    every ray of light which might aid public opinion to see things
    as they are.

       *       *       *       *       *

    There is no room for difference as to the utter absurdity of
    reliance on treaties, no matter how solemn or with whomsoever
    made, as substitutes for proper armaments to assure the national
    safety; Belgium’s fate stares in the face any one who should even
    dream of this. Her neutrality was established and guaranteed, not
    by one treaty but by several treaties, not by one power but by
    all the powers; yet she has been completely ruined because she
    relied upon these treaties, refused to violate them herself and
    tried, in good faith, to fulfil the obligations they imposed on

    For any public man, with this really terrible object-lesson
    before his eyes, to seriously ask us to believe that arbitration
    treaties or Hague tribunals or anything else within that order of
    ideas can be trusted to take the place of preparation impeaches
    either his sincerity or his sanity, and impeaches no less
    obviously the common sense of his readers or hearers.

    A nation unable to protect itself may have to pay a frightful
    price nowadays as a penalty for the misfortune of weakness; the
    Belgians may be, in a measure, consoled for their misfortune by
    the world’s respect and sympathy; in the like case, we should
    be further and justly punished by the world’s unbounded and
    merited contempt, for our weakness would be the fruit of our own
    ignominious cowardice and incredible folly.

Secretary Garrison in his capital report says that if our outlying
possessions are even insufficiently manned our mobile home army will
consist of less than twenty-five thousand men, only about twice the
size of the police force of New York City. Yet, in the face of this,
certain newspaper editors, college presidents, pacificist bankers and,
I regret to say, certain clergymen and philanthropists enthusiastically
champion the attitude of President Wilson and Mr. Bryan in refusing
to prepare for war. As one of them put it the other day: “The way
to prevent war is not to fight.” Luxembourg did not fight! Does
this gentleman regard the position of Luxembourg at this moment as
enviable? China has not recently fought. Does the gentleman think
that China’s position is in consequence a happy one? If advisers of
this type, if these college presidents and clergymen and editors of
organs of culture and the philanthropists who give this advice spoke
only for themselves, if the humiliation and disgrace were to come
only on them, no one would have a right to object. They have servile
souls; and if they chose serfdom of the body for themselves only, it
would be of small consequence to others. But, unfortunately, their
words have a certain effect upon this country; and that effect is
intolerably evil. Doubtless it is the influence of these men which is
largely responsible for the attitude of the President. The President
attacks preparedness in the name of antimilitarism. The preparedness we
advocate is that of Switzerland, the least militaristic of countries.
Autocracy may use preparedness for the creation of an aggressive
and provocative militarism that invites and produces war; but in a
democracy preparedness means security against aggression and the best
guarantee of peace. The President in his message has in effect declared
that his theory of neutrality, which is carried to the point of a
complete abandonment of the rights of innocent small nations, and his
theory of non-preparedness, which is carried to the point of gross
national inefficiency, are both means for securing to the United States
a leading position in bringing about peace. The position he would thus
secure would be merely that of drum-major at the peace conference; and
he would do well to remember that if the peace that is brought about
should result in leaving Belgium’s wrongs unredressed and turning
Belgium over to Germany, in enthroning militarism as the chief factor
in the modern world, and in consecrating the violation of treaties,
then the United States, by taking part in such a conference, would have
rendered an evil service to mankind.

At present our navy is in wretched shape. Our army is infinitesimal.
This large, rich republic is far less efficient from a military
standpoint than Switzerland, Holland, or Denmark. In spite of the
fact that the officers and enlisted men of our navy and army offer
material on the whole better than the officers and men of any other
navy or army, these two services have for so many years been neglected
by Congress, and during the last two years have been so mishandled
by the administration, that at the present time an energetic and
powerful adversary could probably with ease drive us not only from
the Philippines but from Hawaii, and take possession of the Canal and
Alaska. If invaded by a serious army belonging to some formidable Old
World empire, we would be for many months about as helpless as China;
and, as nowadays large armies can cross the ocean, we might be crushed
beyond hope of recuperation inside of a decade. Yet those now at the
head of public affairs refuse themselves to face facts and seek to
mislead the people as to the facts.

President Wilson is, of course, fully and completely responsible for
Mr. Bryan. Mr. Bryan appreciates this and loyally endeavors to serve
the President and to come to his defense at all times. As soon as
President Wilson had announced that there was no need of preparations
to defend ourselves, because we loved everybody and everybody loved us
and because our mission was to spread the gospel of peace, Mr. Bryan
came to his support with hearty enthusiasm and said: “The President
knows that if this country needed a million men, and needed them in
a day, the call would go out at sunrise and the sun would go down on
a million men in arms.” One of the President’s stanchest newspaper
adherents lost its patience over this utterance and remarked: “More
foolish words than these of the Secretary of State were never spoken
by mortal man in reply to a serious argument.” However, Mr. Bryan had
a good precedent, although he probably did not know it. Pompey, when
threatened by Cæsar, and told that his side was unprepared, responded
that he had only to “stamp his foot” and legions would spring from
the ground. In the actual event, the “stamping” proved as effectual
against Cæsar as Mr. Bryan’s “call” would under like circumstances. I
once heard a Bryanite senator put Mr. Bryan’s position a little more
strongly than it occurred to Mr. Bryan himself to put it. The senator
in question announced that we needed no regular army, because in the
event of war “ten million freemen would spring to arms, the equals of
any regular soldiers in the world.” I do not question the emotional
or oratorical sincerity either of Mr. Bryan or of the senator. Mr.
Bryan is accustomed to performing in vacuo; and both he and President
Wilson, as regards foreign affairs, apparently believe they are living
in a world of two dimensions, and not in the actual workaday world,
which has three dimensions. This was equally true of the senator in
question. If the senator’s ten million men sprang to arms at this
moment, they would have at the outside some four hundred thousand
modern rifles to which to spring. Perhaps six hundred thousand more
could spring to squirrel pieces and fairly good shotguns. The remaining
nine million men would have to “spring” to axes, scythes, hand-saws,
gimlets, and similar arms. As for Mr. Bryan’s million men who would at
sunset respond under arms to a call made at sunrise, the suggestion is
such a mere rhetorical flourish that it is not worthy even of humorous
treatment; a high-school boy making such a statement in a theme would
be marked zero by any competent master. But it is an exceedingly
serious thing, it is not in the least a humorous thing, that the man
making such a statement should be the chief adviser of the President
in international matters, and should hold the highest office in the
President’s gift.

Nor is Mr. Bryan in any way out of sympathy with President Wilson in
this matter. The President, unlike Mr. Bryan, uses good English and
does not say things that are on their face ridiculous. Unfortunately,
his cleverness of style and his entire refusal to face facts apparently
make him believe that he really has dismissed and done away with ugly
realities whenever he has uttered some pretty phrase about them. This
year we are in the presence of a crisis in the history of the world.
In the terrible whirlwind of war all the great nations of the world,
save the United States and Italy, are facing the supreme test of their
history. All of the pleasant and alluring but futile theories of the
pacificists, all the theories enunciated in the peace congresses
of the past twenty years, have vanished at the first sound of the
drumming guns. The work of all the Hague conventions, and all the
arbitration treaties, neutrality treaties, and peace treaties of the
last twenty years has been swept before the gusts of war like withered
leaves before a November storm. In this great crisis the stern and
actual facts have shown that the fate of each nation depends not in
the least upon any elevated international aspirations to which it has
given expression in speech or treaty, but on practical preparation, on
intensity of patriotism, on grim endurance, and on the possession of
the fighting edge. Yet, in the face of all this, the President of the
United States sends in a message dealing with national defense, which
is filled with prettily phrased platitudes of the kind applauded at the
less important type of peace congress, and with sentences cleverly
turned to conceal from the average man the fact that the President has
no real advice to give, no real policy to propose. There is just one
point as to which he does show real purpose for a tangible end. He
dwells eagerly upon the hope that we may obtain “the opportunity to
counsel and obtain peace in the world” among the warring nations and
adjures us not to jeopardize this chance (for the President to take
part in the peace negotiations) by at this time making any preparations
for self-defense. In effect, we are asked not to put our own shores
in defensible condition lest the President may lose the chance to
be at the head of the congress which may compose the differences
of Europe. In effect, he asks us not to build up the navy, not to
provide for an efficient citizen army, not to get ammunition for our
guns and torpedoes for our torpedo-tubes, lest somehow or other this
may make the President of the United States an unacceptable mediator
between Germany and Great Britain! It is an honorable ambition for the
President to desire to be of use in bringing about peace in Europe;
but only on condition that the peace thus brought is the peace of
righteousness, and only on condition that he does not sacrifice this
country’s vital interests for a clatter of that kind of hollow applause
through which runs an undertone of sinister jeering. He must not
sacrifice to this ambition the supreme interest of the American people.
Nor must he believe that the possibility of his being umpire will have
any serious effect on the terrible war game that is now being played;
the outcome of the game will depend upon the prowess of the players.
No gain will come to our nation, or to any other nation, if President
Wilson permits himself to be deluded concerning the part the United
States may take in the promotion of European peace.

Peace in Europe will be made by the warring nations. They and they
alone will in fact determine the terms of settlement. The United States
may be used as a convenient means of getting together; but that is all.
If the nations of Europe desire peace and our assistance in securing
it, it will be because they have fought as long as they will or can. It
will not be because they regard us as having set a spiritual example to
them by sitting idle, uttering cheap platitudes, and picking up their
trade, while they have poured out their blood like water in support of
the ideals in which, with all their hearts and souls, they believe.
For us to assume superior virtue in the face of the war-worn nations
of the Old World will not make us more acceptable as mediators among
them. Such self-consciousness on our part will not impress the nations
who have sacrificed and are sacrificing all that is dearest to them in
the world, for the things that they believe to be the noblest in the
world. The storm that is raging in Europe at this moment is terrible
and evil; but it is also grand and noble. Untried men who live at ease
will do well to remember that there is a certain sublimity even in
Milton’s defeated archangel, but none whatever in the spirits who kept
neutral, who remained at peace, and dared side neither with hell nor
with heaven. They will also do well to remember that when heroes have
battled together, and have wrought good and evil, and when the time has
come out of the contest to get all the good possible and to prevent as
far as possible the evil from being made permanent, they will not be
influenced much by the theory that soft and short-sighted outsiders
have put themselves in better condition to stop war abroad by making
themselves defenseless at home.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not

Simple typographical errors and occasional unbalanced quotation marks
were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

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