One day the German people will know the full truth and then there will be a dreadful reckoning for those who have plunged a noble and peace-loving nation into this fathomless chasm of misfortune.
“Though the mills of
God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceeding small,
Though with patience He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.”
Critics Dispute Mr. Beck
To the Editor of The New York Times:
It is regrettable that President Wilson’s admirable policy of strict neutrality is not more sincerely and carefully observed by the press and public of this country.
We are a cosmopolitan nation. Citizens of the five great warring countries and their descendants, to a very great extent, constitute our population. Partiality of any kind tends to destroy the elemental ties which bind us together, to disrupt our Union, and to make us a house divided against itself. James M. Beck’s article in last Sunday’s TIMES is of the kind which, serving no good purpose, helps to loosen, if not sever, our most vital domestic ties. While not for an instant doubting Mr. Beck’s sincerity, we must take issue with his inadvertently ill-timed expression of opinion.
The article in question is based on the following statement: “Any discussion of the ethical merits of this great controversy must start with the assumption that there is such a thing as international morality.” How does Mr. Beck define “international morality”? How can he assume that to exist which each of the contending nations by their diverse actions prove to be non-extant? How can he claim that there is an “international morality” of accepted form when each nation claims that its interpretation must be accepted by the others?
Mr. Beck’s allegation that the question “Was England justified in declaring war against Germany?” is more easily disposed of than the questions “Was Austria justified in declaring war against Servia?” and “Was Germany justified in declaring war against Russia and France?” proves two things—first, that his interest lies primarily in the vindication of England; second, that he disregards the fundamental causes and recognizes only the precipitating causes of the war.
The precipitating cause of the war between England and Germany is verbosely if inadequately covered by his article. We must admit that a treaty was broken by Germany, yet we contend that this broken agreement was a pretext for a war fomented and impelled by basic economic causes. At the outset, let us distinguish between a contract and a treaty. A contract is an agreement between individuals contemplating enforcement by a court of law; punishment by money damages in the great majority of cases, by a specific performance in a very few. A treaty is an agreement between nations contemplating enforcement by a court of international public opinion; punishment by money indemnity in the great majority of cases, by specific performance (i.e., force of arms) in a very few.