Belgium has Great Britain to thank for every drop of blood shed by her people, and every franc of damage inflicted within her territory during this war. With a million of German soldiers on her eastern border demanding unhindered passage through one end of her territory, under the pledge of guarding her independence and integrity and reimbursing every franc of damage, and no British force nearer than Dover, across the Channel, it was one of the most inconsiderate, reckless, and selfish acts ever committed by a great power when Sir Edward Grey directed, as is stated in No. 155 of the British “White Paper,” the British Envoy in Brussels to inform the “Belgian Government that if pressure is applied to them by Germany to induce them to depart from neutrality, his Majesty’s Government expects that they will resist by any means in their power.”
It is plain enough that Great Britain was not thinking so much of protecting Belgium as of Belgium protecting her, until she could prepare to attack Germany in concert with Russia and France. She was willing to let Belgium, yea almost to command Belgium, to take the fearful risk of complete destruction in order that she might gain a little time in perfecting the co-operation of Russia and France with herself for the crushing of Germany, and in order to hold the public opinion of neutral powers, especially of the United States of America, in leash under the chivalrous issue of protecting a weaker country, which she has done little or nothing to protect, but which she could have effectively protected by simply remaining neutral herself.
We Americans have been greatly confused in mind in regard to the issues of this war. We have confounded causes and occasions and purposes and incidents until it has become almost impossible for any considerable number of us to form a sound and correct judgment in regard to it. But we shall emerge from that nebulous condition. We are beginning to see more clearly now, and it would not surprise me greatly if the means used for producing our confusion would some day come back, if not to plague the consciences, at least to foil the purposes of their inventors.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Prof. Burgess’s amazing communication on Belgian neutrality omits an essential piece of evidence. Granting, for the sake of argument, that the German Empire might repudiate all treaty obligations of the earlier German confederations, (very odd law, this;) granting also the still more novel plea that Belgium had outgrown the need, and the privilege of neutralization, Germany had agreed to treat all neutral powers under the following provisions of The Hague Conventions of 1907 concerning the rights and duties of neutral powers:
1. The territory of neutral powers is inviolable.
are forbidden to move troops or either
munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral