It is no good pretending that mere pacifism will end war; what will end war, what, indeed, may be ending war at the present time, is war—against militarism. Force respects itself and no other power. The hope for a world of peace in the future lies in that, in the possibility of a great alliance, so powerful that it will compel adhesions, an alliance prepared to make war upon and destroy and replace the Government of any State that became aggressive in its militarism. This alliance will be in effect a world congress perpetually restraining aggressive secession, and obviously it must regard all the No-Man’s Lands—and particularly that wild waste, the ocean—as its highway. The fleets and marines of the allied world powers must become the police of the wastes and waters of the earth.
Now, such a collective control of belligerence and international relations is the obvious common sense settlement of the present world conflict, it is so manifest, so straight-forward that were it put plainly to them it would probably receive the assent of nineteen sane men out of twenty in the world. This, or some such thing as this, they would agree, is far better than isolations and the perpetual threat of fresh warfare.
But against it there work forces, within these people and without, that render the attainment of this generally acceptable solution far less probable than a kind of no-solution that will only be a reopening of all our hostilities and conflicts upon a fresh footing. Some of these forces are vague and general, and can only be combated by a various and abundant liberal literature, in a widely dispersed battle in which each right-thinking man must do as his conscience directs him. There are the vague national antagonisms, the reservations in favor of one’s own country’s righteousness, harsh religious and social and moral cant of the Carlyle type, greed, resentment, and suspicion. The greatest of these vague oppositions is that want of faith which makes man say war has always been and must always be, which makes them prophesy that whatever we do will become corrupted and evil, even in the face of intolerable present evils and corruptions.
When at the outbreak of the war I published an article headed “The War That Will End War,” at once Mr. W.L. George hastened to reprove my dreaming impracticability. “War there has always been.” Great is the magic of a word! He was quite oblivious to the fact that war has changed completely in its character half a dozen times in half a dozen centuries; that the war we fought in South Africa and the present war and the wars of mediaeval Italy and the wars of the Red Indians have about as much in common as a cat and a man and a pair of scissors and a motor car—namely, that they may all be the means of death.
If war can change its character as much as it has done it can change it altogether; if peace can be kept indefinitely in India or North America, it can be kept throughout the world. It is not I who dream, but Mr. George and his like who are not yet fully awake, and it is their somnolence that I dread more than anything else when I think of the great task of settlement before the world.