It is manifest that Germany’s supreme desire is to fasten Teutonic rule on Europe, to crush Russia, to be sure, but also to crush France and French civilization and to reduce England to the rank of a second-class nation. It is obvious that this is a struggle between militarism and its evils as represented by the Hohenzollern dynasty and democracy as represented by England and France.
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 5, 1914.
By Lyman Abbott.
A Letter to The New York Sun.
Editor in Chief of The
Outlook; author of numerous works on
theology, religion, and democracy.
To the Editor of The New York Sun:
In answer to your request for a statement of the causes and meaning of the European war I write with necessary brevity, both because of the limits on my time and the limits on your crowded columns.
What is the cause of the explosion of a powder magazine? The gases stored in the powder. The lighted match is the occasion, not the cause of the explosion. The cause of the European war is the spirit of envy, jealousy, selfishness and suspicion in the so-called Christian nations. The assassination by a Servian of the Crown Prince of Austria was only the lighted match which set the European combustibles in flame.
In the United States we recognize the truth that the interests of each State are identical with the interests of the Union, and that no State can permanently prosper by reason of the misfortune of its neighbor. In the German Empire since its unification each principality similarly recognizes that the interests of the German Empire and the interests of the several principalities are essentially identical. But there is no such recognition of the common interest binding the warring nations of Europe together.
Each nation looks with envy on the prosperity of its neighbor and acts upon the assumption that its neighbor is a rival, and that its own commerce and wealth can be built up only at the expense of its rival. New York is quite willing that the harbor of Boston should be improved. Bremen is quite willing that the harbor of Hamburg should be improved. The west coast of England does not object to harbor facilities on the east coast of England. But Germany envies England’s harbor facilities, and England and Germany are both resolved to prevent if possible Russia from getting harbor facilities on the Mediterranean Sea. Not every individual German, Austrian, Frenchman, and Englishman holds this opinion, but the policies of these nations are governed by this spirit of international rivalry.