MoboReader> Literature > The Audacious War


The Audacious War By Clarence W. Barron Characters: 18569

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

Not When but How-The Argument for War-Right over Might-National Hate as a Political Asset-The Human Pathway-Peace by International Police-The Practical Way-Is a New Age Approaching?

The endeavor in these pages has been to show from close personal research in Europe the cause and cost of this war-cost in finance and human lives,-and also the lessons that America, and particularly the United States, should derive from this greatest war.

It is not so material when this war terminates, as how it terminates. Many people, and especially those sympathetic with Germany, are looking for a drawn battle. This means a world-disaster, and no world-progress.

The British Empire is determined that this war shall mean for generations a lasting peace by the destruction of the German war machine. The Germans likewise declare that what they are fighting for is the peace of Europe. The Germans, high and low, declare that this peace has been disrupted by jealousy of German culture, German efficiency, and German success. It is difficult to understand the German logic, for wars do not lessen jealousy, envy, or race, or national hate. They only increase the jealousy and put peace further away than before, unless there is real conquest, division, and absorption.

Bismarck declared in 1867 that he was opposed to any war upon France, and that if the military party convinced him of ability to crush France and occupy Paris, he would be unalterably opposed to the attack. For, said he, one war with France is only the first of at least six, and were we victorious in all six, it would only mean ruin for Germany, and for her neighbor and best customer.

"Do you think a poor, bankrupt, starving, ragged neighbor as desirable as a healthy, solvent, fat, well-clothed one?" demanded Bismarck.

France attacked Germany in 1870 and found her well-prepared armies impregnable. Many believe that the Allies will find the German trench-defences now impregnable. I do not think the Allies will pay the price in human sacrifice to invade Germany from the west. The break-up of Germany is more likely to come from her exhaustion and the weakness of Austria, against which the pressure will be steadily increased. But what follows the war is most important. If the victorious or defeated nations are to go on arming, they will go on warring to the extent that there be left in the world no small nations and no unfortified area.

If Germany is to grow other navies, and England is still to build two for one, North and South America must in time have navies, the support of which will burden the western hemisphere and the progress of humanity. It ought to be clear that this audacious war can mean nothing unless it means tremendous progress toward universal peace; unless it means that nations are to be guided by the same principles, practices, and morality that should guide individuals.

I know all the arguments for the needfulness of war, and there is not one of them that will hold water. Wars exist for the same reason that they formerly existed with individuals, or between cities, or states,-because there was no organization regulating the relations between individuals, cities, and states. Wars exist between nations to-day because there is no organization regulating international relations.

Out of this war and its alliances must ultimately come such a regulating of international relations, or the world goes back toward bankruptcy and barbarism.

It is declared that the people of Europe have wanted this war; that the Germans wanted to expand by war; that the French have wanted to fight for Alsace-Lorraine; that the Russians must war for a water outlet; that the English have favored war for a readjustment of the European balances in power. There are many individuals who want their neighbors' goods, or redivision; there are many cities jealous of their commercial rivals; there are many states jealous of the progress of others; but all these no longer think of war as a method of readjustment, or even of redress of grievances.

Patriotism and nationality should no more be a basis of war than civic pride or family pride.

Perhaps the first error to be blotted out before a universal peace is that which arises from the German teaching that the state is a distinct entity or individuality apart from ourselves; that a state has no moral status, no moral principles, and can do no wrong; that while we may not steal individually, we will justify ourselves in stealing, murdering, and plundering collectively, in the name of the state.

When once this error is clearly seen and rooted out, we shall still find in every community men who believe that what a man is able to get and hold is his by right of possession and power; and we shall still have police regulations, departments of justice, and courts of law, to defend the weak against injustice from the strong.

We have constitutions in civilized communities to prevent robbery and the injustice of majorities upon minorities. We have sheriffs, police, and military power to enforce the edict of right, when once the highest tribunal has made the nearest possible human approach to justice.

A distinguished lawyer once said to me that, to him, the most wonderful thing in the world was an edict of the Supreme Court of the United States; "A few words scrawled upon a scrap of paper and approved by some aged individuals of no great physical vigor; and, behold, it is instantly the law of a hundred million people!"

And, for the benefit of future human progress, the argument supporting that edict is later printed with it; and that in future any errors therein may be corrected, the wisdom of the minority or dissenting judges is as carefully preserved and bound up with the major opinion and edict, that all public sources for correction of error may be preserved in the clear amber of legal justice in truth as betwixt man and man.

"For what avail the plow or sail,

Or land or life, if freedom fail?"

And freedom fails when justice falls and right of might succeeds.

The breaking up of the world's physical body, or of the material dwellings and possessions of humanity, may be necessary for "a new birth of freedom"; for the incoming of the larger light; for a broader, more universal brotherhood.

Individual robbery or wrong may beget individual hate, but law in social organization prevents its full expression. The extent to which individual hate may be expanded indefinitely where guns take the place of law, may be illustrated by some communities in sparsely settled mountainous countries in our Southern states. Here family feuds and individual murder went on through generations, until nobody could tell how or why they ever began.

A journalist friend just arrived from Berlin in this month of February tells me he detects a general policy in Germany to direct the national spirit solely against England, possibly with a view to bringing the German people into line for proposals of peace with everybody else. The sentiment of Germany is being swung to-day, just as it has been from the beginning under the present Kaiser, against England as the real and only enemy to a German world-conquest.

Punch says the Germans spell "culture" with a K because England has command of all the "C's." But the English-speaking race has also command of the biggest letter in the alphabet, and can say damn with a force surpassing expression in any other language. The most popular song to-day in Germany is the "Hymn of Hate," by Ernest Lissauer, whom, it is reported, the Kaiser has decorated for this-the only real German literature from the war. It is a hymn and chant, and has rhythm, hiss, and fight in it. It runs to the sentiment,-

"French and Russian, they matter not,

A blow for a blow, a shot for a shot,"

but ends,-

"We love as one, we hate as one;

We have one foe, and one alone-


And when that last line and that last word burst from thousands of German throats, as in the crowded cafés of Berlin, it is the fullest German damn that can find expression in German consonants. I believe the Prussians of Berlin would be as pleased to megaphone that line from Calais to Dover as they would be to throw their first shell across the English Channel. But if enforced international law did not permit them to strive for that shot as the expression of their passion, they would soon forget their hot hate and put their shoulder again beneath the progress of the world.

Man has come up from the dug-out or the cave where in primordial condition he won his food by his own hands from the uncut forests and the unfarmed waters. As family policeman he had no incentive to accumulations of food, clothing, or luxuries. These involved added police responsibilities and enlarged the temptations of his neighbors, both men and animals.

Later, his family becomes a tribe. In combination the duties of protection for the common good take on a larger view. The village, the walled city and the armed state naturally follow. Each stage of communal growth reduces the number of men set apart for defence or police duty. There is a corresponding increase in the common store of human possessions and human happinesses.

From states grow nat

ions, then empires, until but a small fraction of the people is engaged in any way in aggressive or defensive warfare, or even police work or the determination or enforcement of laws of justice as between individuals, cities, states, or communities of any sort.

The individual club at the mouth of the cave protecting the family has become for England a surrounding line of steel ships; for the United States, of 100,000,000 people, a mere outline of a military defensive organization, to be filled in when needed. But for a few communities in the world that individual club has become a national armory, with human energies perfecting the most destructive machinery of warfare, that aggression may be carried on against neighbors, and territory expanded for purposes of national government and the increment of national wealth.

The twentieth century has been distinguished by a call to the humanities; a summons to a larger brotherhood. This has been the meaning of the clashes of the classes within all growing nations-Germany, Russia, the United States. All that outcry of humanity against mere commercialism, against the mere financial exploitation of man and his labor, in this age takes on a larger meaning.

In great wars material things go back; but the man goes to the front; and the victorious survivors make a newer and broader human creation-a new world with a new spirit.

The world has been seeking a solution of many social problems. They instantly disappear as dissolved in the hot cauldron of war. In the settlement of peace following, they are found precipitated in the fired solution, refined, clarified,-"settled."

To-day all social problems are merged in the greater problem of national existence. Alliances and a larger nationality become necessities. Man comes forth in a larger citizenship-a citizen of the whole world. There is, there can be, no other solution, no other universal peace. From this war must follow a world federation and international citizenship.

The first recognition of the brotherhood of nations may arise under the Monroe Doctrine. While this doctrine primarily is one for our national defense, it should properly embrace the defense of both North and South America, any aggression from the other side of the ocean to be unitedly resented on this side.

The increasing responsibility of nations for their fellow nations may be illustrated by the case of Cuba. The United States heard the cry of the Cubans under Spanish rule, turned out the Spanish rulers, and gave Cuba over to the Cubans. In the same spirit the United States, finding itself in possession of the Philippines, is now attempting to develop them not for the United States but for the Filipinos.

Lastly, we have the example of President Wilson, who has decreed that government by assassination in the countries to the south of us must cease, and that the United States will not recognize any government thus set up in Mexico.

It is, however, not yet incumbent upon any nation, as upon individuals, to say to its neighbor, "You shall not arm; you shall not build a war machine of aggression; your offense against one is an offense against all; your military invasion against one for purposes of expansion or self-aggrandizement will be resented by all."

Until we have practical application of a world-wide police in maintenance of the peace of nations, not alone by international agreement, which can be broken, but by agreement and international police-enforcement, so that it cannot be broken, there can be no universal peace.

We are now approaching that time.

There is no more reason why aggregations of people should have the right of murder, destruction, piracy, and pillage, than that individuals should have such right.

This is just a simple, practical question in human advancement. The world should now be big enough to grasp and effectively deal with it. The true meaning of this war is, therefore, human progress: humanity taking on larger responsibilities-the whole world answering the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" with a thunderous, "Aye! we are one and all our brother's keeper, and we may well keep the peace of the world!"

There is no question, national or international, no question of the individual or collection of individuals, which cannot be settled by the laws which belong in the human heart. Such laws may be called spiritual or natural, divine or human; they are one and the same.

Moses wrote no new law on the tables of stone on Mount Sinai. The laws were before the tables of stone, and before the creation of the mountain itself. It was only for the people to hear and to do.

It is the same to-day. The laws of brotherhood-brotherhood of individuals, brotherhood of nations, or aggregations of individuals-are unchanged and unchangeable. It is only for the world to hear and to do.

The doctrine that war is a biological necessity must go by the board. The teaching that war is needed to harden men and nations must be placed in the realm of pagan fiction.

If war is a necessity for man, it is a necessity for woman. If it is good for men, it is good for children. If it is good for nations, it is good for states. If it is good for states, it is certainly good for cities. If it is good for peoples, it is good for individuals.

War is Hell, and from Hell. Hell may not be abolished, but it may be regulated.

Wars may not be abolished from the human heart, but they may be restrained from breaking forth to the destruction of the innocent and the guiltless.

There is only one practical way to do this, and that is to have nations under restraint, just as nations have states and cities under restraint. Then international courts of justice may perform the same work national courts now perform in respect to differences between states.

Man has come up from the individual, or dual, unit through family and tribal relation, the walled city, the policed state, into the armed nation. He is now steadily stepping forth into the world as ruler of himself, the creator of his own government, the heir and sovereign of the world. He can step into the kingdom of manhood suffrage or government only so far as the rights of his fellow men are recognized. Evil holds its own destruction, and nations that live by the sword perish by the sword.

For the United States to rush into the maelstrom of war, with organization of armies and the building of armaments, is to invite its own destruction.

For just one hundred years the North American continent has held the practical example of the impotency of the war-spirit where there is no war machinery.

By the Bush memorandum of agreement one hundred years ago it was provided that there should be no guns, forts, or naval ships on the greatest national boundary line of the world-4000 miles across the American continent between the United States and Canada. Nowhere else in the world have armed men attempted invasion, and yet provoked no war, no reprisal. What might have been the relations between the United States and Canada when the "Fenians" armed in New England and attempted a raid across the border, if there had been armies and fortifications on that border?

How securely now dwells in Canada $100,000,000 of the Bank of England reserve gold! When German representatives in the United States talk of Germany's right to invade Canada and get that gold. Uncle Sam only smiles and frowns. And the smile and the frown are potential. That boundary has been consecrated to peace; and what would be thought of the proposal, did Germany command the seas, that Uncle Sam accept some money or promises to pay and permit the German armies to go through, according to the proposal to Belgium?

In an age which has abolished human slavery, broken the walls of China, which is bringing the yellow races into the labor and white light of civilization, which has made Germany a nation, and spanned a continent with the human voice so that Boston talks with San Francisco, is it too much to expect that it can bring the boon of an international civilization, abolishing national wars?

Indeed, it is right at our doors if the United States would only welcome it and join it, instead of preparing to invite the old-world barbarism of national warfare by planning military defenses and naval fleets.

Did anybody ever hear before of ten nations, and nearly a billion people, at war, and all declaring that they are warring for purposes of peace; and may there not yet be that universal peace by reason of this war, and the war's alliances?

Suppose that, either before or after the nations of Europe lay down their arms, universal disarmament is assented to, and the peace of the world is entrusted to an international tribunal, which takes such part of the armies and navies as it may need to enforce its decrees, the balance so far as not needed for local police duty to be put back into industry or laid on the shelf, and all border fortifications ordered dismantled or turned into public recreation grounds-is it too much to expect in this Age?

What would be simpler than, in the end, to find fortified Heligoland, not back in the hands of England, but the naval base of a Hague Tribunal enforcing international peace?

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top