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   Chapter 3 TARIFFS AND COMMERCE THE WAR CAUSES

The Audacious War By Clarence W. Barron Characters: 10683

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


War with Russia was Inevitable-Finance and Tariffs made Germany great-Commercial War-How Germany loses in the United States-The Tariff Danger.

For the causes of this most audacious war of 1914 one must study, not only Germany and her imperial policy, but most particularly her relations with Russia. These relations are very little understood in America, but they become vital to us when open to public view.

Disregarding all the counsels of Bismarck and the previous reigning Hohenzollerns, the present Kaiser has steadily offended Russia. War with her within two years was inevitable, irrespective of any causes in relation to Servia. Russia knew this and was diligently preparing for it. Germany-the war party of Germany-knew it and with supreme audacity determined through Austria first to smash Servia and put the Balkan States and Turkey in alignment with herself for this coming war with Russia.

Sergius Witte is one of the great statesmen of Russia. He formulated the programme for the Siberian railroad and Russian Asiatic development. The party of nobles opposed to him arranged that he should receive the humiliation of an ignoble peace with Japan, under which it was expected that Russia would have to pay a huge indemnity.

But when Witte arrived at the naval station at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to make the famous treaty with Japan, his first declaration was, "Not one kopeck for indemnity." He won out and returned in triumph to Russia.

But during the progress of the Japanese war Germany thrust her commercial treaties upon St. Petersburg. Goods from Russia into Germany were taxed while German goods went under favorable terms into Russia, with the result that Russia has had a struggle now for ten years to keep her gold basis and her financial exchanges.

It was Witte who was sent to Berlin to protest against these proposed treaties and secure more favorable terms. Witte made his protest and refused to accept the German demands. Then suddenly he received peremptory orders from the Czar to grant all the demands of Germany. The Czar declared Russia was in no condition to have trouble with Germany. These commercial treaties expire within two years. Russia many months back proposed the discussion of new terms. Germany responded that the present treaties were satisfactory to her and he should call for their renewal.

This meant either further humiliation to Russia or war. Russia had already suffered the affront of being forced by Germany at the point of the bayonet to assent to the taking by Austria of Bosnia and Herzegovina in violation of the Treaty of Berlin. The Czar realized many months ago that Russia must now fight for her commercial life. She would not, however, be ready for the war until 1916.

Let Americans consider what this means-a German war over commercial tariffs-and see what, if successful in Europe, it would lead to.

The German nation is a fighting unit under the dominion of Prussia, the greatest war state, not only of the empire, but of the world. Having welded Germany by the Franco-Prussian war into a nation with unified tariffs, transportation, currency, and monetary systems, Prussia has been able to point to the war as the cause of the phenomenal prosperity of Germany.

It is a popular fallacy in Germany that militarism makes the greatness of a nation. Germany's prosperity did not begin with the war of 1870. This was only the beginning of German unity which made possible unified transportation and later unified finances and tariffs. Several years after the war, France, which had paid an indemnity to Germany of a thousand million dollars, or five billion francs, was found, to the astonishment of Bismarck, more prosperous than Germany which had thus received the expenses of her military campaign and a dot of Spandau Tower war-reserve moneys.

In 1875 came the great Reichsbank Act, which consolidated all the banking power of the empire. Then came her scientific tariffs which put up the bars here, and let them down there, according as Germany needed export or import trade in any quarter of the earth. The German people, on a soil poorer than that of France, worked hard and long hours for small wages. But they worked scientifically and under the most intelligent protective tariff the world has ever seen. In a generation they built up a foreign trade surpassing that of the United States and reaching $4,500,000,000 per annum. By her rate of progress she was on the way to distance England, whose ports and business were open to her merchants without even the full English income tax. She built the biggest passenger steamers ever conceived of and reached for the freight carrying trade of the world. She mined in coal and iron and built solidly of brick and stone. She put the world under tribute to her cheap and scientific chemistry. She dug from great depths the only potash mines in the world and from half this potash she fertilized her soil until it laughed with abundant harvests.

The other half she sold outside so that her own potash stood her free and a profit besides. No nation ever recorded the progress that Germany made after the inauguration of her bank act and her scientific tariffs. The government permitted no waste of labor, no disorganization of industry. Capital and labor could each combine, but there must

be no prolonged strikes, no waste, no loss; they must work harmoniously together and for the upbuilding of the empire.

Germany did not want war except as means to an end. She wanted the fruits of her industry. She wanted her people, her trade, and her commerce to expand over the surface of the earth, but to be still German and to bring home the fruit of German industry.

Germany has been at war-commercial war-with the whole world now for a generation, and in this warfare she has triumphed. Her enterprise, her industry, and her merchants have spread themselves over the surface of the earth to a degree little realized until her diplomacy again slipped and the present war followed-such a war as was planned for by nobody and not expected even by herself. She was giving long credits and dominating the trade of South America. She had given free trade England a fright by the stamp, "Made in Germany." She was pushing forward through Poland into Russia to the extent that her merchants dominated Warsaw and were spreading out even over the Siberian railroad. Her finance was intertwined with that of London and Paris.

In the United States she was the greatest loser. Here taxes were lowest and freedom greatest. German blood flowed in the veins of 20,000,000 Americans and not one fourth of them could she call her own. The biggest newspaper publisher in America, William Randolph Hearst, figured that New York was one of the big German cities of the world. He turned his giant presses to capture the German sentiment. He spent tens of thousands of dollars upon German cable news, devoting at times a whole page to cable presentations from Europe which he thought would interest Germans. But the investment proved fruitless; he found there was in America no German sentiment such as he had reckoned upon. He could not increase his circulation, for the German-Americans seemed little concerned as to what happened in Berlin or Bavaria.

Prussia learned what Hearst learned, that Germans were soon lost in the United States. She studied this exodus and the wage question and by various arts and organizations arrested the German emigration to America. She saw to it that employment at home was more stable. It was figured that if the German emigration could be centralized under the German eagle it would be to her advantage. The question was where to get land that could be made German. Europe has for some years expected a German dash in Patagonia, and the Europeans outside of Germany have taken very kindly of late years to the Monroe Doctrine. In Africa and the islands of the sea the German colonial policy has not been a success. Dr. Dernburg as colonial secretary has many a time stood up in the Reichstag and warned the Germans that the home military system and rules were not adaptable to colonization in foreign parts; that Germans must adapt themselves to foreign countries and not attempt at first to make their manners the standard in the colonies they undertook to dominate.

While German colonies have not yet passed beyond the experimental stage, German tariffs and German commerce have been great successes.

The population of Russia is 166,000,000 people. This is the latest figure I gathered from those intimate with the government at St. Petersburg. This is just 100,000,000 more than Germany. Germany thinks she must trade to her own advantage with the people now crowding her eastern border.

The example of America in putting up tariff bars against "Made in

Germany" has many advocates in England and in the rest of the world.

When France, only a few years ago, was angered that Italy should sign up in "triple alliance" with Austria and Germany, she did not dare to attack Italy with arms, but she did attack Italy by tariff measures, and for a time Italy and France fought-by tariffs.

What might be the position of Germany if the American protective tariff system were expanded over the earth? In the view of some people tariffs, taxation, and armaments go hand in hand. There is a town in Prussia that finished payment only twenty years ago on the indemnity Napoleon exacted from it.

Can a country afford to develop an industrial system dependent upon an outside world and then suddenly find the outside world closed by tariff barriers?

When an American ambassador protested against Bismarck's discriminatory treatment of American pork, the great chancellor asked, "What have you to talk with? You have no army or navy." "No," said the American ambassador, "but we have the ability to build them as big as anybody. Do you wish to tempt us?" "No," said the German chancellor, "and your goods shall not be discriminated against."

Dr. Dernburg has given the key to the German colonial military, tariff, and financial policy. German unity in tariffs and transportation has made German prosperity, and Dr. Dernburg, her former colonial secretary and now in New York, says the mouth of the Rhine and the channel ports must be free to Germany and that Belgium must come into tariff and transportation union with Germany. Belgium is being taxed, tariffed, pounded, and impounded into the German empire.

There is some difference in size between Belgium and Russia, but no difference in principle with respect to their German relations.

"World power or downfall," Bernhardi put it.

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