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England had only to offer Germany her friendship to have it at once accepted. They forget that when once she had made friends with France, nothing that we could offer her would have much value in her eyes. What Germany wants is 'not our help against anyone, but France's neutrality when Germany is at grips with us.'1 A Franco-German understanding; concluded in advance of a war with England, would put an end to any hope of help coming at the last moment from an alienated friend, and we should have to face the probable hostility of two Great Powers without having a single ally whose help could be of any service. It is even possible that France's neutrality might be secured without any previous overtures from Germany to France. Our discarded ally might be so indignant at our desertion of her that her attitude in a war between Germany and England would be one of ostentatious indifference.
This is the new policy which is pressed upon us by a section of English politicians as giving better security for peace than the policy which has consistently been pursued by Lord Lansdowne and Sir Edward Grey. It will be seen that the security is not the same in the two cases. In a German Alliance it would be the ardent desire for peace which is credited to our new partner. I do not doubt that the German Government and the German nation are sincerely anxious for peace. It is scarcely conceivable, considering the scale on which a European war must be waged, that any nation should deliberately provoke one. But a nation may have objects in view-objects perfectly legitimate in themselves—which may not be attainable except by war. This, as everybody knows, is the case with Germany to-day. Her desire for territorial expansion, for 'a place in the sun,' is not concealed. Nor is it in itself a desire which Englishmen have any right to condemn. The whole history of the British Empire has had expansion for its dominant note, and a large part of that Empire is in the sun.' But between the two cases there is this significant difference. The growth of the British Empire began at a time when much of the world lay open to the first
The extension of the German Empire has to be carried on at a time when there is practically no vacant territory left. What her people will eventually have to determine is whether expansion is so necessary to them that war is not too high a price to pay for it. That is a question which no one outside Germany can answer. But the fact that it must be answered some day disqualifies Germany from posing as a Power which has a single eye to peace. Peace, no doubt, is one of her objects, but it is only one, and in the rough and tumble of European politics it may quite possibly be sent to the wall.
1 I borrow this sentence from a striking article in the Eye-Witness.
This is what England must be prepared for if she allies herself with Germany. The consideration for such an alliance will include, at the very least, acquiescence in German colonial enterprises, and even if England succeeds in limiting her part to acquiescence, the peace of Europe will still be endangered by the carrying out of such enterprises. The only solid guarantee against a European war lies in an agreement between the Powers which have a common interest in preventing it. No alliance in which Germany is a partner can be trusted to make this interest the corner-stone of its policy. For in a desire for peace is included a certain contentment with things as they are, and this contentment is not even professed by Germany. She does not want war; she would far rather get what she wants without war. But this does not prove that the thing she wants may not at any moment appear so important to her that she will prefer to fight rather than forgo it. I say again that Englishmen have no right to blame Germany on this ground. The peace of Europe may be broken for what Germany holds to be a very good reason, but none the less it will be broken. In other words, a disaster which it is our supreme interest to prevent will not be prevented. To find ourselves on the side of the strongest combatant-even if it proved that we had chosen our side wisely-would be but poor comfort for a nation which had no concern in the quarrel and was only anxious to see Europe at rest. The one vital difference between Sir Edward Grey and the Dissentient Radicals is that his foreign policy aims at preventing war, while theirs aims at gaining a powerful ally in the event of war. No doubt if our principal anxiety were to get some good thing for ourselves this latter purpose might have a semblance of sense about it. We could not expect to get the prize without fighting, and with Germany at our back we should fight to much greater advantage. But putting aside the certainty on which I have already insisted, that Germany would exact a substantial payment for any help she might give us, there is a conclusive objection to the proposed alliance in the fact that we want nothing. All that we are anxious for is that Europe should remain quiet. That peace is the greatest of British interests has become a commonplace, and it is an interest which is admirably served by the Triple Entente. Not one of the three Powers included in it has any reason for desiring war. France, indeed, may be busy in preparing against distant eventualities, but they are not eventualities which she has any present wish to provoke. She has abundance to occupy her at home so long as peace lasts, and unless war is forced upon her she only asks to be let alone. Russia has still more reason for keeping Europe undisturbed. A peaceful Revolution is still in progress,
there is much leeway to be made up in the organisation of her army and her navy, and her agricultural system is undergoing reconstruction on an enormous scale. In these three facts there is matter enough to convince any reasonable man that she is not likely to be a party to any wanton breach of international peace. The third member of the Entente has a record at least as clean as those of the other two. Englishmen are sometimes almost nervously anxious lest they should themselves be attacked, but they have no disposition to attack other people. With England, as with France and Russia, the object of the Agreement between the three Powers is the maintenance of peace, not among themselves only, but in Europe.
The Radical objection to this account of the European situation is that it is inconsistent with the facts. The Entente with France might be an excellent arrangement if it were directed against real danger. It can only be mischievous when it is directed against an imaginary danger. Those who take this view are bound to explain how it is that every alarm which has arisen in Europe of recent years has come from the same quarter. Twice in the course of last summer an English expeditionary force was held in readiness for service abroad, and during the whole of the summer two of the Great Powers were engaged in negotiations which again and again seemed almost certain to end in war. What was the solitary cause of these ominous incidents? The danger, at times the imminent danger, that Germany would attack France. What was to all appearance the reason why the German Government suddenly changed its tone? The discovery that the understanding between England and France was still unbroken and that a war with one of the two Powers meant a war with both. The benefit of the Entente, the absolute necessity of the Entente, could not have been more clearly demonstrated. It is impossible to point to a single hitch in the whole course of the negotiations which did not originate in Berlin. They began with an unreasonable demand on France, they lasted for months because it took all that time to bring the aggressor to the point of accepting a concession which, though not really due, did at least serve the purpose of saving his face. The sympathy with Germany now professed by English Radicals is specially hard to understand, when we remember that the German experiments in Morocco were really directed against England rather than against France. It was England, not France, that had cause to fear the establishment of a naval station at Aguadir.
To recognise these plain facts is not necessarily to censure the author of this recurrent uneasiness. A Great Power is the only proper judge of its own foreign policy. The business of other Governments is simply to take precautions against any injury with
which the carrying out of this policy may threaten them. Germany may think it essential to her safety to look to her armaments as the proper instrument with which to mould Europe to her will. It is not our business to find fault with her. It is our business to take care that her ‘shining sword' is not left free to do the moulding in a fashion injurious to ourselves. It is the merit of the Triple Entente that it does this, and that it does nothing more than this. The one interest which its members have in common is the peace of Europe, and their geographical positions give them the means of securing this to an extent to which it would be hard to find a parallel. So long as they are of one mind, it seems impossible for Germany to go to war with any one of the three, and in the present position of affairs there is no other Power with which she is likely to have any occasion of quarrel. With Russia and France ready to move their troops to each other's assistance, and Great Britain ready to give the aid of her vast strength at sea and of a small expeditionary force on land, any desire that Germany may entertain of altering the distribution of power in Europe is sure to be kept in check.
It is very hard to get at the bottom of the Radicals' dislike of an arrangement so well suited to its purpose. They are lovers of peace, yet if their power were equal to their will they would upset an arrangement which gives them exactly what they want. It is hardly credible that they can wish to see the old enmity between England and France revived, yet they are ardent advocates of a policy which would inevitably have this result. So far as can be gathered from their organs, they have become, by a singular inversion of parts, the sole inheritors of the policy of Lord Beaconsfield. They are the enemies of Russia and the friends of Turkey, and their only idea of peace is that it should be secured by a new Treaty of Berlin. Politicians who are so ready to adore what their predecessors in title were eager to burn will, I trust, find it hard to establish any claim on the confidence of reasonable Englishmen.
D. C. LATHBURY.
WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE LIBERAL
It is not proposed to discuss in this paper the merits or demerits of the case for Woman Suffrage, which are already too familiar to us all. The public are as far as ever from agreeing whether the Parliamentary vote, and the powers of government which it inevitably carries, should or should not be reserved, as hitherto, for men; whether Woman Suffrage is a natural step in the emancipation of humanity, or a mistaken claim to powers for which most women are not specially well suited, too hastily put forward by those who have not realised the differences of function which differences of sex involve; whether it would make our politics sweeter or bitterer, purer or more personal, loftier in character or more unscrupulous in tone; whether 'militant' methods have proved the political capacity of those who use them, or have dishonoured the cause which they have advertised so well. On these perplexing problems men may be allowed to differ where women deeply disagree. But, leaving them on one side, it is now beginning to be generally admitted that, as regards the present political situation, there is a certain amount of common ground between the two contending sides. I do not mean that it is possible to make any statement on the subject which some Suffragist or AntiSuffragist might not be found to deny. But I think that the
. majority of disputants in both camps would go far to acknowledge the following points. Most people are agreed, though many admit it with reluctance, that, whatever the chances of a limited Woman Suffrage Bill may have been some months ago, to-day it is the whole large issue, identity of rights for men and women, and nothing less, that Parliament must face. It is not now a question whether women of property alone should be enfranchised, whether, as Mr. Jacob Bright once pleaded in the House of Commons, ' every house should have a vote.' It is not a question whether unmarried women should get the vote and married women go without it. The day for half-measures of this kind
The larger issue, broadly stated, and advocated by Ministers as a practicable claim, can never be so narrowed down again. The only question now to be decided is whether it is for the advantage of this country to sweep away the sex distinction which