The chief effect of Mr. Wilson’s policy is not going to be felt during this war, but in the future. At the beginning of his administration he emphasised the fact that in a democracy public opinion was a bigger factor than armies and navies. If all Europe emerges from this war as democratic as seems possible now one can see that Mr. Wilson has already laid the foundation for future international relations between free people and republican forms of governments. This war has defeated itself. It is doubtful whether there ever will be another world war because the opinion of all civilised people is mobilised against war. After one has seen what war is like, one is against not only war itself but the things which bring about war. This great war was made possible because Europe has been expecting and preparing for it ever since 1870 and because the governments of Europe did not take either the people or their neighbours into their confidence. President Wilson tried to show while he was president that the people should be fully informed regarding all steps taken by the Government. In England where the press has had such a tussle to keep from being curbed by an autocratic censorship the world has learned new lessons in publicity. The old policy of keeping from the public unpleasant information has been thrown overboard in Great Britain because it was found that it harmed the very foundations of democracy.
[Illustration: A POST-CARD FROM GENERAL VON KLUCK.]
International relations in the future will, to a great extent, be moulded along the lines of Mr. Wilson’s policies during this war. Diplomacy will be based upon a full discussion of all international issues. The object of diplomacy will be to reach an understanding to prevent wars, not to avoid them at the eleventh hour. Just as enlightened society tries to prevent murder so will civilised nations in the future try to prevent wars.
Mr. Wilson expressed his faith in this new development in international affairs by saying that “the opinion of the world is the mistress of the world.”
The important concern to-day is: How can this world opinion be moulded into a world power?
Opinion cannot be codified like law because it is often the vanguard of legislation. Public opinion is the reaction of a thousand and one incidents upon the public consciousness. In the world to-day the most important influence in the development of opinion is the daily press. By a judicious interpretation of affairs the President of the United States frequently may direct public opinion in certain channels while his representatives to foreign governments, especially when there is opportunity, as there is to-day, may help spread our ideas abroad.