The armed force has always been a matter of very great expense. It has always required the anxious care of the government and the people. The men comprising it have always been subjected to restraint and discipline, compelled to undergo hardships and dangers greater than those of civil life, and developed by a training highly specialized and exacting.
The armed force in every state has had not only continuous existence always, but continuous, potential readiness, if not continuous employment; and the greatest changes in the mutual relations of nations have been brought about by the victory of the armed force of one state over the armed force of another state. This does not mean that the fundamental causes of the changes have been physical, for they have been psychological, and have been so profound and so complex as to defy analysis; but it does mean that the actual and immediate instrument producing the changes has been physical force; that physical force and physical courage acting in conjunction, of which conjunction war is the ultimate expression, have always been the most potent instruments in the dealings of nations with each other.
Is there any change toward peaceful methods now?
No, on the contrary; war is recognized as the most potent method still; the prominence of military matters is greater than ever before; at no time in the past has interest in war been so keen as at the present, or the expenditure of blood and money been so prodigal; at no time before has war so thoroughly engaged the intellect and energy of mankind.
In other words, the trend of the nations has been toward a clearer recognition of the efficacy of military power, and an increasing use of the instrumentality of war.
This does not mean that the trend of the nations has been regular; for, on the contrary, it has been spasmodic. If one hundred photographs of the map of Europe could be taken, each photograph representing in colors the various countries as they appeared upon the map at one hundred different times, and if those hundred photographs could be put on films and shown as a moving-picture on a screen, the result would resemble the shifting colored pieces in a kaleidoscope. Boundaries advanced and receded, then advanced again; tribes and nations moved their homes from place to place; empires, kingdoms, principalities, duchies, and republics flourished brilliantly for a while, and then went out; many peoples struggled for an autonomous existence, but hardly a dozen acquired enough territory or mustered a sufficiently numerous population to warrant their being called “great nations.” Of those that were great nations, only three have endured as great nations for eight hundred years; and the three that have so endured are the three greatest in Europe now—the French, the British, and the German.