The War and Democracy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 414 pages of information about The War and Democracy.
But it will also be their duty to create a situation which, while safeguarding the Empire’s vital interests, shall not render improved relations with the central European Powers impossible from the very outset.  It is one thing to abandon our allies and friends, it is quite another thing to perpetuate a feud which, though converted by circumstances into a struggle between two unanimous nations, was in the first instance the work of mischievous if powerful minorities.

The final settlement will inevitably bring many disappointments and errors in its train.  We can best guard against such a result by preparing ourselves for all eventualities and giving the most careful consideration to each of the many problems at issue.  Our obvious aim must be a settlement which shows some reasonable prospect of permanence, and this can best be achieved if we respect so far as possible the wishes of the populations concerned.  The principle of Nationality is not a talisman which will open all gates, for in some parts of Europe the different races are so inextricably intermingled as to defy all efforts to create ethnographic boundaries.  This does not, however, affect the central fact that Nationality is the best salve for existing wounds, and that its application will enormously reduce the infected area.  But if the peoples are to make their wishes felt there must be a regeneration of diplomatic methods throughout Europe.  Attempts will be made to revive the pernicious principles of the Congress of Vienna, by which a few autocrats and aristocrats carved out the fate of millions according to their dynastic appetites or fancies, and thus tied a whole series of unnecessary knots for subsequent wars to sever.  A healthy and informed public opinion—­especially in the West—­must watch over the doings of those who represent it at the fateful Congress, according loyal support to their declared policy, but promptly checking the reactionary tendencies which are certain to reveal themselves.  It is still unhappily possible for the arrogant impatience of a single ruler or the persistent intrigue and misrepresentation of an ambassador to embroil the European situation.  Unless the nations in council can devise some practical checks upon irresponsible meddling, the flower of their manhood will have massacred each other in vain.  The antecedents of Sir Edward Grey, and more especially his attitude during the crisis which led to war, justify us in the hope that his entire influence will be employed in the right direction when the decisive moment arrives, and that he will insist upon such crucial questions as the reduction of armaments, the substitution of “citizen” for “conscript” armies, the control of armament firms and their occult influence, the effective extension of arbitration and the elimination of impossible time-limits, being discussed in all seriousness, and not merely dismissed with a few ironic platitudes and expressions of hypocritical goodwill.  We must not be unduly discouraged if some of these

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The War and Democracy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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