Conditions politically are very unsettled, and much will turn I suppose on what Congress does. More and more I am getting to believe that it would be a good thing to have universal military service. To have a boy of eighteen given a couple of months for two or three years in the open would be a good thing for him and would develop a very strong national sense, which we much lack. The country believes that a man must be paid for doing anything for his country. We even propose to pay men for the time they put in drilling, so as to protect their own liberties and property. This is absurd! We must all learn that sacrifices are necessary if we are to have a country. The theory of the American people, apparently, is that the country is to give, give, give, and buy everything that it gets.
Hope things are going well with you. Drop me a line when you can. Affectionately,
TO JOHN CRAWFORD BURNS
Washington, July 30, 1915
My dear John,—Things have come to such a tension here that I doubt the wisdom of my discussing international politics with you; nevertheless, I want you not to be weary in well-doing, but continue to give me the views of the Tory Squire. I hope that your admiration for Balfour will prove justified. Of course, our press, which can not be said to sympathize strongly with the conservative side, makes it appear that Lloyd George is now bearing a great part in the work of securing ammunition. This is the inevitable result of allowing the people to vote. The man who has the people’s confidence proves to be the most useful in a time of emergency. However, it may be that Balfour is himself directing all that Lloyd George does.
This morning’s papers contain an official statement from Petrograd suggesting that the English get to work upon the west line. This seems to me extremely unkind, inasmuch as the English have already lost over 300,000 and have furnished a large amount of money to Russia, I understand.
Pfeiffer sent me an article the other day from a German professor, in which he said that the three million men that Kitchener talked about was all a bluff. Pfeiffer keeps sending me long protests against England’s attitude regarding our trade, which seem to me to be fair statements of international law.
The word that I get rather leads me to believe that the war will last for at least another year and a half, which is quite in line with Kitchener’s prophecy, but where will all these countries be from a financial standpoint at the end of that time? I fancy some of them will have to go into bankruptcy and actually repudiate their debt, and what will become by that time of the high-spirited French, who are holding three hundred and fifty miles of line against eleven held by the British and thirty by the Belgians?