These are only some of the things it is necessary to remember before we finally decide to desert a temporarily sick friend. If I were the ruler of a state I should pray the gods to preserve me from half-hearted Allies and over-cautious friends. If I wished to help a fallen state or lend an honest hand in a great cause, whether it were to eradicate a hideous and fatal national malady or assert a principle of right and justice, first shield me from the palsy of Allied diplomacy! One clear-sighted, honest helper is worth a dozen powerful aiders whose main business is to put obstacles in each other’s way.
If we were discussing the question of Allied interference before the fact, I could give many reasons for remaining neutral; but we have to recognise that for their own purposes they have interfered, that their Military Missions and forces have been operating in the country for over a year, during which time they have made commitments and given pledges of a more or less binding character. That these commitments and pledges are not the irresponsible acts of subordinates on the spot, but have been made by Allied statesmen, both in and out of their several Parliaments; and in this respect our national leaders are no exception to the rule. Without filling my pages with quotations, readers will be able to find and tabulate such for themselves. So categorical are the nature of these that it is impossible to imagine them to have been made without fully understanding their import and significance to the orderly section of the Russian people who, on the faith of these pledges, gave us their trust.
It cannot, therefore, be a discussion upon interference or non-interference; that has long since been disposed of by our words and acts. It is now a question whether we shall withdraw from Russia because we have thought fit to change our attitude to the Russian problem. It is certain that our decision to-day upon this subject will decide our future relations with this great people. If you desert a friend in his hour of need, you cannot expect that he will be particularly anxious to help you when he has thrown off his ill-health and is in a position to give valuable help to those who gave succour in his distress.
If our desertion turns this people from us, they will become the prey of our recent enemies, and if that happens we can prate about the Treaty of Paris as much as we like. The Teuton will have more than balanced the account.