The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The War and Democracy.

Now, the Foreign Office largely exists in order to watch this growth and, like a gardener, to train and lead it in directions where it can expand without danger.  But for this work intimate knowledge is necessary—­knowledge not so much of the personal character or policy of those who govern the different nations, but knowledge of the character, the economic needs, the beliefs, the feelings, and the aspirations of the half-dumb millions who form and ultimately determine the life of each nation.  The diplomatist must study every political and social movement which goes on in a nation; he must estimate the effect which the national system of education is having on the mind of the nation; he must form an idea of the lessons which the Government of his own country should learn from the government of other countries, whether it be, for instance, lessons in constitutional government or in municipal sanitation; and he must above all be able to warn his Government of the dangers to his own country which the growth of foreign countries seems to entail, in order that peaceful measures may be taken in time to prevent a collision.

This, then, is a rough account of the actual work of diplomacy.  It is not a full account.  There are many wrong things done which deserve criticism, but which we have not had space to mention.  There is also much self-sacrificing and thankless work done by diplomatists and consuls in distant parts of the world—­much seeming drudgery which can hope for no reward—­many honourable services rendered to the public of which the public never hears.  But the above account will suffice to give a rough idea of the organisation with which we are dealing, and we may now pass on to consider the question of how this organisation should be managed and controlled.

B. THE DEMOCRATISATION OF FOREIGN POLICY

This phrase is rapidly becoming a political catchword.  As such it requires to be approached with the utmost caution.  Before going further it is necessary to test the assumptions underlying it and to inquire how far they really correspond to the facts.

Sec.1. Democracy and Peace.—­First of all, the main assumption made by Englishmen who advocate the democratisation of foreign policy is that international peace would thereby be assured.  True, the extension of the democratic principle is to many men an end in itself, quite apart from the question whether it tends to peace.  But great masses of men are not moved to make political demands merely by theoretical considerations; it is the pressure of definite and imminent evils which arouses them to action.  In the case of England the demand for greater democratic control in the sphere of foreign policy arose in large measure from the sudden realisation, in the late summer of 1911, at the time of the so-called Agadir crisis, that war between this country and Germany was a possibility with which English statesmen and

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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