The Promise of American Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about The Promise of American Life.
from the possible break-up of the Ottoman Empire.  How seriously such ambitions are entertained, it is difficult to say; and it is wholly improbable that more than a small part of this enormous programme of national aggrandizement will ever be realized.  But when Germany has the chance of gaining and holding such advantages as these from a successful war, it is no wonder that she remains the chief possible disturber of the European peace.  In her case certainly the fruits of victory look more seductive than the penalties of defeat look dangerous; and the resolute opposition to the partial disarmament, which she has always offered at the Hague Conference, is the best evidence of the unsatisfied nature of her ambitions.

Germany’s standing in the European system is, then, very far from being as well-defined as are those of the older nations, like France and Great Britain.  The gradual growth of a better understanding between France, Great Britain, and Russia is largely due to an instinctive coalition of those powers who would be most injured by an increase of the German influence and dominion; and the sense that Europe is becoming united against them makes German statesmen more than ever on their guard and more than ever impatient of an embarrassing domestic opposition.  Thus Germany’s aggressive foreign policy has so far tended to increase the distance between her responsible leaders and the popular party; and there are only two ways in which this schism can be healed.  If German foreign policy should continue to be as brilliantly successful as it was in the days of Bismarck, the authorities will have no difficulty in retaining the support of a sufficient majority of the German people—­just as the victory over Austria brought King William and Bismarck forgiveness from their parliamentary opponents.  On the other hand, any severe setback to Germany in the realization of its aggressive plans would strengthen the domestic opposition and might lead to a severe internal crisis.  It all depends upon whether German national policy has or has not overstepped the limits of practical and permanent achievement.

VI

MILITARISM AND NATIONALITY

The foregoing considerations in respect to the existing international situation of Germany bring me to another and final aspect of the relation in Europe between nationality and democracy.  One of the most difficult and (be it admitted) one of the most dubious problems raised by any attempt to establish a constructive relationship between those two principles hangs on the fact that hitherto national development has not apparently made for international peace.  The nations of Europe are to all appearances as belligerent as were the former European dynastic states.  Europe has become a vast camp, and its governments are spending probably a larger proportion of the resources of their countries for military and naval purposes than did those of the eighteenth century.  How can these warlike preparations, in which all the European nations share, and the warlike spirit which they have occasionally displayed, be reconciled with the existence of any constructive relationship between the national and the democratic ideas?

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The Promise of American Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.