CHARLES W. ELIOT.
Cambridge, Mass., Nov. 14, 1914.
DR. ELIOT’S FIFTH LETTER.
A Hopeful Road to Lasting Peace
To the Editor of The New York Times:
The great war has now been going on long enough to enable mankind to form approximately correct views about its vast extent and scale of operations, its sudden interference with commerce and all other helpful international intercourse, its unprecedented wrecking of family happiness and continuity, its wiping out, as it proceeds, of the accumulated savings of many former generations in structures, objects of art, and industrial capital, and the huge burdens it is likely to impose on twentieth century Europe. From all these points of view, it is evidently the most horrible calamity that has ever befallen the human race and the most crucial trial to which civilization has been exposed. It is, and is to be, the gigantic struggle of these times between the forces which make for liberty and righteousness and those which make for the subjection of the individual man, the exaltation of the State, and the enthronement of physical force directed by a ruthless collective will. It threatens a sweeping betrayal of the best hopes of mankind.
Each of the nations involved, horrified at the immensity of the disaster, maintains that it is not responsible for the war; and each Government has issued a statement to prove that some other Government is responsible for the outbreak. This discussion, however, relates almost entirely to actions by monarchs and Cabinets between July 23 and Aug. 4—a short period of hurried messages between the Chancelleries of Europe—actions which only prove that the monarchs and Ministers for Foreign Affairs could not, or at least did not, prevent the long-prepared general war from breaking out. The assassination of the Archduke and Duchess of Hohenberg on the 28th of June was in no proper sense a cause of the war, except as it was one of the consequences of the persistent aggressions of Austria-Hungary against her southeastern neighbors. Neither was Russian mobilization in four military districts on July 29 a cause of the war; for that was only an external manifestation of the Russian state of mind toward the Balkan peoples, a state of mind well known to all publicists ever since the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. No more was the invasion of Belgium by the German Army on Aug. 4 a true cause of the war, or even the cause, as distinguished from the occasion, of Great Britain’s becoming involved in it. By that action Germany was only taking the first step in carrying out a long-cherished purpose and in executing a judicious plan of campaign prepared for many years in advance. The artificial panic in Germany about its exposed position between two powerful enemies, France and Russia, was not a genuine cause of the war; for the General Staff knew they had crushed France once, and were confident they could do it again in a month. As to Russia, it was, in their view, a huge nation, but very clumsy and dull in war.