CURRENT HISTORY OF THE EUROPEAN WAR
January 9, 1915.
What Americans Say to Europe
[Illustration: Charles W. Eliot
(Photo (c) by Paul Thompson.)
See Page 473]
[Illustration: James M. Beck
See Page 413]
In the Supreme Court of Civilization
Argued by James M. Beck.
The new York times submitted the evidence contained in the official “White Paper” of Great Britain, the “Orange Paper” of Russia, and the “Gray Paper” of Belgium to James M. Beck, late Assistant Attorney General of the United States and a leader of the New York bar, who has argued many of the most important cases before the Supreme Court. On this evidence Mr. Beck has argued in the following article the case of Dual Alliance vs. Triple Entente. It has been widely circulated in France and Great Britain.
Let us suppose that in this year of dis-Grace, Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen, there had existed, as let us pray will one day exist, a Supreme Court of Civilization, before which the sovereign nations could litigate their differences without resort to the iniquitous and less effective appeal to the arbitrament of arms.
Let us further suppose that each of the contending nations had a sufficient leaven of Christianity to have its grievances adjudged not by the ethics of the cannon or the rifle, but by the eternal criterion of justice.
What would be the judgment of that august tribunal?
Any discussion of the ethical merits of this great controversy must start with the assumption that there is an international morality.
This fundamental axiom, upon which the entire basis of civilization necessarily rests, is challenged by a small class of intellectual perverts.
Some hold that moral considerations must be subordinated either to military necessity or so-called manifest destiny. This is the Bernhardi doctrine.
Others teach that war is a beneficent fatality and that all nations engaged in it are therefore equally justified. On this theory all of the now contending nations are but victims of an irresistible current of events, and the highest duty of the State is to prepare itself for the systematic extermination, when necessary or expedient, of its neighbors.
Notwithstanding the clever platitudes under which both these doctrines are veiled, all morally sane minds are agreed that this war is a great crime against civilization, and the only open question is, which of the two contending groups of powers is morally responsible for that crime?
Was Austria justified in declaring war against Servia?
Was Germany justified in declaring war against Russia and France?
Was England justified in declaring war against Germany?