ROLAND G. USHER
THE CAUSES OF GERMAN AGGRESSION
FOR some years those at all familiar with current international affairs have known that it was the custom in the German navy to drink a toast, "To the day." Many people have hugged to themselves with glee the "secret" information that the officers were drinking to the day when war should be declared against England, but few indeed seem to have realized the splendor of the vision now before German eyes, or the ideas of the international situation which makes victory seem so near as to send German blood coursing swiftly in the anticipation of triumph. The Germans aim at nothing less than the domination of Europe and of the world by the Germanic race.(1) One of the fundamental errors, of which idealists and advocates of peace have been often guilty, is to treat this vast project as an unreality. In fact, it is already half accomplished. An equally mistaken view declares it the conception of an individual which chances to find for the moment a response in the German people, or a scheme which depends for its existence upon the transient personal influence of a few men. No doubt, a few men only know the full details of the plans for the realization of this stupendous enterprise, but the whole nation is none the less fired by their spirit and is working as a unit in accordance with their directions. It is literally true that Germany has "become Bismarckian. His heavy spirit has settled upon it. It wears his scowl. It has adopted his brutality, as it has his greatness. It has taken his criterion of truth, which is Germanic; his indifference to justice, which is savage; his conception of a state, which is sublime." "This nation has forgotten God in its exaltation of the Germanic race." Bombastic as such phrases are, they do convey some notion of the militant spirit which has roused that nation. When Li Hung Chang first learned from Bismarck the magnitude of these plans, he was skeptical. But before his brief stay in Germany was over, he wrote in his diary: "From all that I have seen, I am more than ever convinced that the Kaiser and Prince Bismarck meant what they said when they averred that the German Empire was destined to become a dominant factor in Europe."
The magnitude of the conception, the degree of success already attained, the probability of its complete realization, the grave dangers which it involves to other nations, are most clearly demonstrated by the alarm manifested by the latter. England's foremost soldier, Lord Roberts, has publicly declared that she has never been in all her history in a position of greater peril. The leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons has solemnly affirmed the truth of his statement. Ten years ago, he said, England had command of every sea; now she held control only of the North Sea. Ten years ago her fleet was so strong that she could have confidently expected to emerge victorious from a struggle of the magnitude of the Napoleonic wars; to-day there was no such probability. The ex-Premier of France, M. Clemenceau, said in public: "When I look towards the boundary of a territory which was French when I was young, and when I see there the massing of lines of bayonets, I cannot dream of disarming." A crisis of the utmost gravity is thus facing Europe, and may at any moment result in a war whose consequences would be felt alike by the farmers in North Dakota, the operators in Lancashire cotton mills, and the savages in the heart of Africa. At the very least, it will overthrow political boundaries whose permanence has been thought assured; at the worst, it may involve the actual destruction of the prosperity and happiness of two or three of the largest countries in Europe and inflict untold misery upon the countless thousands dependent upon European rule in Africa and Asia.
The vital factor in the modern international situation is the aggression of Germany, her determination to expand her territories, to increase her wealth and power. Three centuries ago, Prussia was a tiny state whose many parts were separated from each other by the lands of her neighbors. Cut off from the sea on all sides, pushed hither by the oncoming Russian, dragged thither by the encroaching French, surrounded by tiny incompetent states, her rulers saw in aggression the only possible method of preserving the national life. To prevent her absorption by her neighbors, she must grow faster than they; she must rob them instead of waiting for them to rob her. By war, she secured access to the Baltic; by war, she obtained the coveted Silesia; by war, she annexed much of Poland; by war, she spread her aegis over the whole of northern Germany. The humiliation of conquest she knew under Napoleon, and she has never forgotten nor ever will that no natural barriers stand between her and the invader. Poverty-stricken, still recovering from the ravages of the wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, menaced on all sides by powerful enemies, her only safety, Bismarck saw, lay in aggression, her only chance of victory depended upon striking the first blow. By this policy, she has built up one of the most powerful states in the world and one of the most populous and prosperous. But she has reached the boundaries of Germany; further expansion means the acquisition of what other nations now own.
The logic of facts, proving the necessity of expansion, is, to such Germans as General Bernhardi, unanswerable. The population has increased so rapidly that it is already difficult for efficient, well-trained men to secure any employment. Not only is the superficial area of the country suitable for cultivation practically exhausted, but intensive scientific agriculture is speedily limiting the possibilities of the employment of more hands on the same acres or the further increase of the produce. Industry has grown at a stupendous rate, and the output from German factories is enormously in excess of the needs of even the growing population. Her exports per capita are $24 a year, as against England's $40, and France's $25, and she has not their exclusive colonial markets. Unless some outlet can be found for the surplus population, and a new and extensive market discovered for this enormous surplus production, prosperity will be inevitably succeeded by bankruptcy. There will be more hands than there is work for, more mouths than there is food, and Germany must either get rid of the surplus mouths and hands or swell the surplus product by employing them at home, which cannot be done without entailing national ruin. Expansion is, therefore, the only alternative, for the German considers equivalent to ruin the reduction of the pressure of population by emigration,(2) and the avoidance of overproduction by the proportionate reduction of output. For Germany to be thus forced to remain static in population and in wealth, while her neighbors continue to expand, England in her colonies, France in Morocco, Russia in Siberia and Turkestan, means that the date of her annihilation will be fixed by the rate of their growth. And such action on her part would compel her in fact to be an accessory to her own destruction, for her emigrants must strengthen her rivals both in the field and in the factory. To ask a German, therefore, whether the expansion of Germany is desirable, is merely to ask him whether he believes it desirable from any point of view for the German nation to survive.
Already the boundaries of Germany in Europe have been pushed to their furthest extent; more territory can be added only at the expense of other nations, either of her powerful rivals, France and Russia, or of her weaker neighbors, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden. Nor would the accession of such territory solve the difficulty. All European nations are already experiencing to some degree the necessity of an outlet for their surplus population and manufactures. A war for expansion in Europe would be without purpose and could only be detrimental to all. Germany must find some territory suitable for development by her own people which is not already choked with men and women. She is seeking the counterpart of the fertile plains of western Canada, of the rich valleys of northern Africa, where her people may build a new Germany whose existence will strengthen her and not her rivals. But such a promised land, tenanted only by native races, is not to be found. Every really available spot is held by England, France, or Russia. Germany can, therefore, obtain colonies suitable for her purposes only at the expense of these last. This is what is meant by the oft-reiterated statements that England, France, and Russia are by their very existence inimical to Germany's welfare, that, if she is to escape ruin, she must fight them. The alternative to colonies is access to some new market for her products, so vast in extent and so unlimited in its capacity of continued absorption, that her surplusage of population can be provided with work at home, and thus prosperity and the increase of the national strength indefinitely insured. The total annual imports into her own colonies she knows to be well under ten millions of dollars; the exports from England to the English colonies alone she knows to total several hundred millions of dollars.(3) Such a market she is determined to have, cost what it may.
One other fact marks England as the greatest obstacle in the path of her legitimate growth. The English Channel is the only available safe passageway for her merchant fleets. The voyage round the British Isles is long and during the winter months positively dangerous even for steamships. Natural conditions, therefore, by compelling Germany to use the Channel, force her to expose her commerce to the assaults of the English fleet so long as the latter controls the Channel. Even if she should acquire colonies and a great market, she cannot really possess them until she acquires a highroad to them safe from the attacks of her enemies. Short of conquering England and France, she can never free her commerce from actual danger; without a great fleet in the North Sea, strong enough to terrify England into inaction, she cannot even be assured of the continuance of her present freedom of passage.(4)
Her fleet, therefore, seems to her merely the guarantee of her present position, and it will continue to be a guarantee only as long as its size makes it formidable. Merely to retain what she now has, Germany is condemned to increase her navy at any pace the English see fit to set. Something more will be absolutely essential if the dire consequences of an economic crisis are not to impoverish her and pave the way for her ultimate destruction at the hands of her hereditary enemies, France and Russia.
To secure a share of the world's trade in some fashion which will not expose her to the attacks of the English fleet, and which will create an empire less vulnerable in every way than she believes the British Empire to be, an overland route to the East must be found. The Germans consider perfectly feasible the construction of a great confederation of states including Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Balkan States, and Turkey, which would control a great band of territory stretching southeast from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf. A railway from Constantinople to Baghdad would effectually tie the great trunk lines, leading from the Rhine and Danube valleys, to Constantinople and the Persian Gulf, and so establish a shorter route to India than that via Suez. Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Persia, India herself, the mother of nations, would fall into German hands and be held safe from conquest by this magnificent overland route to the East. Pan-Germanism is, therefore, in the first place, a defensive movement for self-preservation, for escaping the pressure of France and Russia, both bent on her destruction. It is, in the second place, an offensive movement directed against England, its object, the conquest of the English possessions in the Mediterranean and in Asia. She expects thus to obtain an outlet for her surplus population and manufactures and to create an empire as little vulnerable politically, economically, or strategically as any the world has yet seen.
In reply to the outcries from other nations, denouncing these plans as unprovoked aggression and lacking in morality, as a reversion to the forcible methods of bygone centuries whose brutalities the world long ago outgrew, the Germans derisively point to the presence of the English in India, of the French in Morocco, of the Russians in Manchuria, of the United States in Panama. They insist that their aims and methods are absolutely identical with those their detractors have so long employed. Now that the latter's work is complete and their own futures assured, they are no doubt eager to establish "moral," "ethical," and "legal" precepts whose acceptance by other nations would insure them the undisturbed possession of all they now hold. This, the Germans admit, is but natural and not blameworthy; but they ought not to expect other nations to subscribe to such principles from motives of love or admiration.(5) General Bernhardi, a man whose undoubted attainments and learning compel the respect of his enemies, and whose following in Germany is large in numbers and influential in character, declares openly that might is right, and that right is decided by war. He scoffs at such ideas of ethics and morality as his critics represent, and insinuates that, if war happened to promise other nations at this moment as many advantages as it does Germany, they would hold views similar to his upon that subject.
With him, the Germans as a whole refuse to admit the validity of any theoretical notions whose application would in any way restrict or interfere with Germany's "full share in the mastery of the world." Do they not see about them the splendidly tangible results of the investment(6) of the huge war indemnity paid by France to ransom her lands from the German army? Do they not know that the indemnity created modern Germany? As a prominent German manufacturer said to the writer two years ago, "Next time we will ask five times as much." In the face of the undeniable territorial gains, equal in amount to several times the area of Prussia and Brandenburg combined in 1640, in the face of that five billions of francs which they have invested and reinvested with such brilliant success for forty years, how can the Germans be expected to believe that the fruits of peace are greater than those of war? Is not the very existence of Imperial Germany due to war? Could it conceivably have been created by anything else? Will anything less preserve it? They deny the validity of any particular set of ethical notions of right and wrong to decide issues vital to the continued existence of the Germanic race. If such considerations are to be dragged into the discussion, the notion of the relativity of truth, the doctrine that moral and ethical standards are not fixed but merely reflect the stage of progress each particular age has reached, the Darwinian doctrine of the survival of the fittest, all seem to them infinitely more satisfactory theoretical grounds for action than what Bismarck sneeringly called "the English phrases about humanity."
The most significant question now before the Anglo-Saxon race, therefore, is the truth or falsity of those notions of strategical geography, of military and naval organization, of finance and commerce upon which these vast schemes are based. If the factors, on which the Germans rely, are what they think they are, the domination of the world by Germany and her allies can be only a question of time. If they are not valid, the world will certainly develop along different lines. So widely do the economic and political interests ramify, so completely are all sections of the globe influenced by them, that nothing can happen, from this moment until the final decision of the issue, which will not vitally affect it or be vitally affected by it. The Boer War, Morocco, the strangling of Persia, the war in Tripoli, the Balkan crisis are only incidents in this gigantic struggle in which the very pawns are kingdoms and the control of the entire globe the stake. Indeed, the forces at the disposal of the combatants are so comprehensive that navies and armies might almost be called incidental factors, which it may or may not be necessary to employ, and which might not indeed be decisive for victory or defeat.
Naturally, even to sketch the history of the world in its relation to the modern crisis, even to, enumerate the multifold phases, political, constitutional, economic, military, which it necessarily displays, is an impossibility in anything briefer than a series of volumes. An attempt to describe merely the features and factors essential to a comprehension of the most significant phases of Pan-Germanism alone will require the omission of much that is important and will make impossible any account at all of the narrative of recent history. What has happened, what is happening, is of infinitely less consequence than the scope and character of the German plans. The most vital fact for the Anglo-Saxon race to grasp at present is the German view of European history, of European life and ideals, their estimation of the comparative strength of political, economic, and ethical forces. From a grasp of these points, and from it alone, can we hope to understand the apparently inexplicable and inconsistent ideas upon which has been based the most audacious attempt yet made consciously to direct through a long term of years the evolution of a nation and the fate of the world.(7) The following chapters, therefore, will attempt to describe Europe and Germany, as the Germans see them, as the necessary prelude to a brief statement of the progress Germany has made toward a realization of her scheme and a description of the attempts of her "victims" to frustrate it. Then, there will be an opportunity to weigh the scheme in the balance, to point out its elements of strength and weakness, and thus to arrive at some approximation of the probability of its success or failure.
The following testimony was given under oath in a court of law by the editor of the Rheinisch-Westfälsche Zeitung in a political libel suit instituted by him against the editor of the Grenzboten. It was printed only [so far as can be learned] by the Rheinisch-Westfälische Zeitung and the Täglische Rundschau, but was not denied by the gentlemen named in it, and seems to have been suppressed so far as was possible. The following translation is taken from a semi-official article in the Fortnightly Review, xci, New Series, 462. Whether or not the words credited to the important personages quoted were ever used, they express sentiments which are widely believed to represent their views. After all, it is not so much the truth itself, but what intelligent and sincere men believe to be the truth, which influences the trend of human events.
"Mr. Class, the President of the Pan-Germanic League, is prepared to state upon oath before this court (8) that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Herr von Kiderlen Wächter, writing to him from Kissingen, requested Mr. Class to meet him at the Hotel Pfälzer Hof in Mannheim. During the interview, which occupied several hours, Herr von Kiderlen Wächter stated: 'The Pan-Germanic demand for the possession of Morocco is absolutely justified. You can absolutely rely upon it that the Government will stick to Morocco. Monsieur Cambon is wriggling before me like a worm. The German Government is in a splendid position. You can rely upon me and you will be very pleased with our Morocco policy. I am as good a Pan-German as you are.'(8) On the 1st of July, Mr. Class called at the German Foreign Office, and, failing to find Herr von Kiderlen Wächter, was received by Herr Zimmermann, the Under-Secretary. Mr. Zimmermann told him: 'You come at an historic hour. To-day the Panther appears before Agadir and at this moment (12 o'clock mid-day) the Foreign Cabinets are being informed of its mission. The German Government has sent two agents provocateurs to Agadir and these have done their duty very well. German firms have been induced to make complaints and to call upon the Government in Berlin for protection. It is the Government's intention to seize the district and it will not give it up again. The German people require absolutely a settlement colony. Please prevent, wherever in the Press you have influence, the raising of claims for compensation elsewhere. Possibly France will offer us the Congo. However, the German does not want compensation elsewhere, but a part of Morocco.'"
THE MYTH OF ENGLISH PREPONDERANCE IN EUROPE
"ENGLAND, with all her bluster and show," said Bismarck to Li Hung Chang, "has a hundred weak points, and she knows that a conflict with a power nearly her equal will mean her undoing." A vital part of the German scheme for the control of the world depends upon the belief that power is not absolute, but comparative. Not alone Germany's strength, but her rivals' weakness, will be significant factors for victory or defeat. To Germans it is an error to suppose that England is decadent. The fundamental misconception is to suppose that England ever was strong. She has been strong by reason of others' weakness, by the use of others' resources, by the spoils of conquest. She has not less cohesion than before, not fewer vital interests in common with her dependencies. The British Empire has never possessed cohesion; never has had a common, vital economic, or geographical interest; has always been a sham, a figment of the imagination, a glittering generality whose unreality has remained concealed only by reason of the inability of other nations to perceive it.(9)
England's naval power has been the result of accident, not of genius, think the Germans, and has rested chiefly upon the accidents of geography and geology. The formation of the British Isles, the meeting of strong oceanic currents to the north of them, made the narrow passageway between England and Europe the most important single bit of water in the world. The commerce of northern Europe was forced to pass through the Channel because it could not safely go round. The navigation of this safer passage was made exceedingly difficult for wooden sailing ships by the peculiar formation of the shores and by the treacherous tides, winds, and currents. Chance had, moreover, placed most of the natural harbors on the English side. There was, indeed, between Brest and Hamburg but one spot on the continental side which might serve as a base of operations for a great fleet, the district now known as the Netherlands. The constant use of the Channel necessarily involved, therefore, the use of English harbors as a refuge from storms. Nor were the difficulties of navigation limited to the passage of ships through the Channel. To sail across that narrow way, especially with a fleet, was literally an almost impossible feat except from one or two points on the European shore, the more favorable of which was the Netherlands. The natural barriers to invasion thus furnished by the Channel so limited the possibilities of assault that its defense became comparatively simple. Invasion after invasion, decade after decade, was defeated because the unfavorable weather, continuing for weeks at a time, made it impossible for the enemy to leave Europe. These natural barriers are gone forever, destroyed by the steamship, which is not limited in the time of its departure nor in its course by winds and waves.(10) Never again can an English fleet adopt Nelson's tactics of allowing the weather to guard the Channel while he crushed the enemy elsewhere. Napoleon, waiting at Boulogne, once truly said that seven hours of darkness and a fair wind would change the fate of the world. In the next war the invader will not need to pray for either.
The Germans also correctly appreciate the fact that the English control of the Baltic --- the only considerable source of naval stores from which wooden fleets might be built or maintained --- was a vital factor in their naval supremacy. Not only did they possess a superior fleet; they possessed the chief supply of materials from which rival fleets could be built. Trafalgar gave England supremacy on the sea, not so much because she won the battle, as because her control of the sea prevented Napoleon from obtaining the materials out of which alone he might rebuild his shattered fleet. This monopoly is gone forever. Ships are now built of a material of which no nation has a monopoly, and of which England does not even control one of the chief sources of supply.
The peculiar strategical geography of northern Europe the Germans also hold responsible for England's power. The land on either side of the mouth of the Rhine is the key to northern Europe.
Belgium controls the shortest route to Paris; Holland is the only point of departure from which an invasion of England is likely to be successful; both countries hold between them the door of the Rhine valley, the gateway to the heart of Germany. Their possession by any one of the three nations nearest them would give her immediately a most deadly offensive weapon against the other two. To possess them has been the dream of all; to secure them half the wars in European history have been fought. Those two tiny states are now independent because England, France, and Germany cannot permit each other to control them. To the east lies the gateway between France and Germany, Alsace-Lorraine, through whose fair fields pass the roads to Cologne and Berlin, to Frankfort, Leipzig, and Dresden, to Basel, Switzerland, and Italy, to the Danube valley and Vienna. Its possession permits France to enter the heart of Germany; its possession puts Germany at the very doors of France; it is a potent weapon of offense or defense and enables its holder to begin a war with tremendous advantages. For its possession, France and Germany have struggled for fifteen hundred years. The existence of these strategic points has made England important. If France assailed the Rhine from Lorraine, Germany would ally with England, who could assail Paris from the north through Belgium. If Germany threatened France from the east, the English might be induced to invade Germany from the Netherlands. Should either country obtain the cooperation of England against the other, the most disastrous results were probable. These conditions made England a factor in politics during the Middle Ages, out of all proportion to her actual strength as compared with France or Germany. She was in a position to deliver a deadly flank attack on either; the Channel effectually prevented retaliation; she could have consummated the dynastic ambitions of either; she preferred to thwart the aims of both. When the Netherlands fell into Spanish hands in the sixteenth century and the power of the Hapsburgs threatened to absorb all Europe, the cooperation of the islanders, who controlled the stormy Channel and who could so easily invade the Netherlands, was seen by every one to be the controlling factor in a complex situation. Their assistance would almost certainly decide the war in favor of France or Spain. Not England's strength, but the fact that her position made her valuable to stronger nations, gave her a voice in the days of Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Not her strength, but the evenness of the balance of power in Europe, the rivalry of Bourbon and Hapsburg, their fear of each other, gave her the casting vote.(11)
Until the nineteenth century, France was the only strong, organic nation on the continent of Europe: Spain, Italy, and Germany were geographical expressions, whose weakness and fear of France forced them to call on England for aid. No doubt immense significance ought to be attached to England's own condition during these same centuries. She attained in the days of William the Norman, in the eleventh century, a territorial unity which Spain did not attain until the fifteenth century, France until the sixteenth century, Germany and Italy until the nineteenth century. Her strong centralized monarchy, certainly the most powerful feudal government in Europe, the strong Tudor monarchy in later years were able to throw into the European balance the whole force of a territorial and economic unit. England, united and ruled by a single king, easily able to suppress local uprisings, was actually stronger than a vastly more populous and wealthy state, like France, Germany, or Spain, whose international strength was limited to such force as could be exerted by that one of her princes who had been able to secure the ascendency for the time being, and who was invariably hard pressed at home by ambitious rivals scarcely less powerful than he. The strategical position of the continental nations laid them open to invasion from so many quarters that they must be continually withholding from their offensive army in one place enough men to insure safety in others. Not so England, whom the Channel enabled to concentrate her forces at one point without fear of invasion elsewhere. England fought with her whole strength those who had not yet finished fighting among themselves. The number of years during which England has been the scene of actual warfare are astonishingly few. Since the days of Henry VIII, there has been domestic peace except for the civil wars of the seventeenth century. Such a record no other nation can show. Nor were the wars which did take place on English soil as disastrous or destructive as the wars on the Continent. When the Continent was almost laid waste, England could husband or utilize her full economic strength at will. Not alone, therefore, because of her position and the rivalries of others has England played the controlling part in international affairs. Compared to any individual nation, her strength has been great.
The growth during the nineteenth century of Prussia, Austria, and Italy has given England as rivals, in place of the old decentralized, inefficient, quarreling federations of tiny states, strong centralized governments, larger than she in area, with more numerous populations, with greater resources. She has lost her old position, despite the fact that she was never more prosperous or better governed than she is at present, because of the proportionately more rapid development of her rivals. Nor can she longer claim a more efficient use of her resources than they. For a strong king, has been substituted a ministry; for the rapidity, vigor, and secrecy of the king's unhampered discretion, has been substituted the less rapid and efficient direction of a many-headed executive whose actions are hampered and hindered by the House of Commons. However admirable the results of parliamentary government have been for the individual Englishman, it can scarcely be denied that the new democratic government is comparatively less efficient than the old centralized monarchy, and that, from the international point of view, England has lost immensely in offensive strength.
In the Government, too, exist the gravest dissensions. The assumption has always been that there would be a clear majority in the House of Commons in favor of one of two policies; that the Ministry would represent this majority, and from its unity and strength would derive support for the exercise of the discretionary authority necessary for all emergencies. Yet, for twenty years, the English parties in the House of Commons have both remained almost constant in size, and the decision has usually rested with the Irish and labor members, who have entertained views highly inconsistent with policy as the great majority of the English people have conceived it. And these two parties, thus fortuitously placed in so commanding a position, have more than once given clear expression to their determination to use the exigencies of the occasion to extort from the reluctant English the consent necessary for the attainment of their own aims. In fact, it is not Ireland but England that needs home rule. The constitutional development of the nineteenth century has, for the time being, made difficult the efficient use of English resources. Lord Esher recently gave public expression to the opinion that the difficulty of coordinating the offensive and defensive forces of the nation made impracticable the adoption by the military authorities in England "of a plan, Napoleonic in scope and design, and resting upon a centralized basis."
During these same decades, precisely the opposite type of development has taken place in Europe. The decentralized administration, which so long rendered impotent the great resources of Germany, Austria, and Italy in men and money, was replaced in each country by a centralized monarchy whose efficiency made the prompt utilization of every resource a certainty. Where in England the direction of policy passed from the hands of a few into the hands of many, in Germany, Austria, and Italy it passed, from the hands of many princes, with various antagonistic aims, into the hands of a few men whose ideas were essentially the same. The fact that such development could not be foreseen does not alter its significance. England no longer possesses as much strength as she used to have; relatively to her rivals, she has suffered even more seriously, for while she has gone backward, they have gone forward. Compared to what she used to be, she is actually administratively weaker; compared with her rivals, she is relatively not twice but four times less strong than she used to be.
Her "control of the sea" has also been vitally changed by the development of Europe during the last three centuries. The offensive power of the English fleet naturally must depend upon the possibility of injuring the enemy either by the destruction of his warships or by the cutting of lines of communication vital to his commerce. In the old days, the absence of good roads compelled the transportation of bulky goods by water, and the extent of the facilities for water communication was the measure of the size of that country's trade. In northern Europe, merchandise necessarily traveled down a series of parallel rivers into the English Channel, the North Sea, and the Baltic, through which it proceeded to its destination. Goods could be shipped from Cologne to Hamburg only through the Channel and the North Sea. Most of the internal trade between different parts of Germany or France was thus exposed in transit to the operations of the English fleet. All commerce by sea between northern Europe and the Mediterranean or the East was forced to go through the English Channel, exposed to the English fleet and the Channel weather.(12) But the coming of the railway in the nineteenth century destroyed for all time this phase of England's sea power. The internal trade of Germany, and, indeed, much of her international trade, goes overland by rail and is thus entirely freed from the menace of English assault. Even with the Far East, trade is possible by rail, and the coming decade will undoubtedly see a further development of transcontinental trunk lines. The importance, therefore, of the Channel as the chief means of intercommunication in northern Europe has disappeared, and with it has gone England's control of the trade of northern Europe.
Further, England's prosperity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was due in no small degree to her control of the chief or only supplies of sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee, cotton goods, and all those varied products supplied by the East and West Indies. For those the Continent depended upon her, as Napoleon discovered when the imposition of the Continental System excluded English goods from the European market. The men actually seemed to resent far more the loss of their tobacco, and the women the deprivation of their tea, than they had the destruction of the political units to which they had formerly owed allegiance. The Continental System failed to bankrupt England because Europe absolutely refused to do without English goods. Another trade monopoly, far more fundamental, was due to England's industrial revolution of the eighteenth century. The smelting of iron with coal, the blast furnace, the steam hammer revolutionized the working of metals; the new spinning and weaving machinery, the stationary steam engine and the factory revolutionized all industry; the breeding of cattle, the use of the turnip, of manure, and of selected seeds revolutionized agriculture. Such significant economic changes had not been seen since man began to record his own doings. For more than a generation, England enjoyed the exclusive monopoly of these processes and the consequent benefits. English goods commanded higher prices because they were more uniform; English profits were again larger than European to the extent that machinery was cheaper than the old hand processes. England was, therefore, economically doubly more powerful than any other nation in Europe, because she alone controlled the supply of commodities which Europe insisted upon having, and because she alone possessed the secret of the improved processes. But her advantage in these respects has disappeared. Sugar cane from Louisiana and Hawaii, American cotton, Brazilian coffee, and the complete utilization by her chief rivals of all modern inventions has robbed her of the unique economic position she held in 1815.
In fact, to the German, England's economic strength has been changed into fatal economic weakness. She no longer produces sufficient food to supply her population for a month; her supplies of coal and wood are diminishing at a rate which causes serious reflection; the raw material needed to supply her looms and factories she does not produce; the raw material to build or maintain a fleet she cannot produce.(13) The area of land under cultivation has steadily diminished. Population on the soil is decreasing at a more rapid rate and is drifting into the cities, where it further complicates the serious economic and administrative problems which worry her rulers. Every family moved from the land into the factory means so many less individuals who supply themselves with the necessities of life, so many more dependent upon the perfect operation of a complicated economic machinery for feeding them. Suppose now that the German fleet could secure control of the Channel for a brief time only, would not England be starved into submission, would not her looms soon stop from the lack of material to feed them, would not her whole artisan class be thrown out of work, would not she be bankrupted as a nation in the most fundamental fashion by the simple loss of the control of the sea? Once the English fleet were beaten, could she ever obtain material with which to rebuild it, as long as the German fleet existed? Disaster on the sea would infallibly mean for England economic destruction at the hands of elemental foes far more potent than armies. And it would be irretrievable! Each decade, moreover, brings it nearer and nearer, by diminishing the number of mouths that feed themselves and increasing the number to be fed by the fleet; nearly every year shortens the length of time which the Germans must control the Channel in order literally to destroy England by means of the economic weapons which control of the Channel would enable them to wield.
Furthermore, the Germans believe that so many years of peace, otherwise so fruitful of advantages, have produced the most serious results upon the temper of the people. They are no longer warlike. They are unwilling to bear the burdens of taxation which the preparation for a great war renders inevitable. The spreading among them of humanitarian notions has actually deprived them of morale, rendered them supine, and apt material for conquest.(14) Not only has England no army worth considering, but she has not the human stuff out of which great armies are made, for her people are not as a whole willing to cooperate in the creation of the only sort of army of any avail in modern warfare. In fact, the German notion of England is not so seriously exaggerated by such words as these: "Look at England --- fat and fifty, overfed, short of breath, thickening in girth, deepening in brain.... England, entering upon her inevitable period of physical decadence, boasting of conquests, like a middle-aged man with rheum in his eye, the clog of senility under his waistcoat, stiffness in his joints, and the red lights of apoplexy bright upon his throat --who throws out his chest among his sons and pants that he is 'better than ever, e'gad!' England, sensuous in the home, crowding her homes like a squirrel's nest in the frosts; an animated stomach, already cultivating and condimenting her fitful but necessary appetites; wise and crafty in the world, but purblind to her own perversions and lying in the rot of them --- England, who will not put away boyish things and look to God. . . . She is draining India as Rome drained Gaul, as Spain drained Mexico, and accelerating the bestiality that spells ruin --- with the spoils."
THE FATAL WEAKNESS OF IMPERIAL ENGLAND
TO the German, the grandeur and splendor of Imperial England which has so long been impressed upon the world is nothing but bluster and show, masking congenital weakness of the most serious description. Some have not scrupled to say that Imperial England is nothing but a trading monopoly, a chain of forts, a great fleet, and a monumental impudence. That the English won their empire by force of arms, the Germans deny. It is hardly likely that a few thousand men, even headed by a beardless clerk who turned out to be a genius, could conquer by strength or craft the teeming millions of Hindus. Miracles are no longer common, and such miracles as fill the annals of the history of the building of the English Empire, as told by Englishmen, have never happened. The Empire, is not a reality; it is a sham.
The Germans quote with satisfaction such statements regarding the position of the English in India as Lord Curzon's remark that the English are only a bit of froth upon an unfathomable ocean. That, they deem to be no mere rhetorical flourish, as the English believe it to be, but the bare statement of the literal truth regarding the strength of the English hold on India. Really, the English never have conquered India. The Hindus, with the assistance of the English, conquered each other. Had it not been for the existence in India of many races, many languages, many religions, and those multitudinous jealousies and antipathies which grew out of them and filled the annals of that unhappy country with a record of discord and treachery, the English would not even be at this moment the froth tossing on that restless sea. They continue to rule by reason of those same factors which lay at the bottom of their so-called conquest and which make unity of the native races impossible. The Germans, nevertheless, do not fail to appraise at its true value the skill and tact which they have displayed in utilizing these factors. Knowing that physical force of their own could never maintain their authority or impose upon the really powerful native rulers regulations not to their liking, they have taken the greatest care to do what the Hindus would permit, rather than what they themselves felt to be desirable. A single native state --- the only alternative to united rule by the English ---has always been impossible of realization because of the variety of races forced by the exigencies of the past to dwell together in the great plains of the Himalayas. In fact, the English have succeeded to that shadowy authority known in the olden time as the Sovereignty of the Emperor, and have correctly interpreted it to confer upon them the right of direction, of suggestion, of assistance, not of control. Undoubtedly they have helped the Hindu rulers by the businesslike administration of their estates; by showing them better methods of collecting the taxes, of utilizing their revenues, of administering justice. The condition of the peasants has been vastly improved, and has not, as the rajahs feared, reduced their authority or diminished the loyalty of their subjects. But could not Germans also do as much? Do the English give the Hindu anything which the Germans could not give as well? Have the English ever earned the enduring gratitude of the Hindu?
The English power in India has to no small degree depended, the Germans think, upon that obvious fact that they have had no competitors for the exercise of their overlordship in India since the middle of the eighteenth century. Their supremacy on the sea, which rested upon their control of the Channel, upon their wonderful seamanship, upon their practical monopoly of the naval stores in the Baltic, enabled them to keep far from India any possible European rival. The whole of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans lay between India and any nation who wished to challenge England's rights there. Furthermore, there was no overland route to India sufficiently practical for military purposes, nor was there in Europe any nation except France strong enough and sufficiently well organized to undertake so colossal a feat as the invasion of India. In fact, the English have remained in India, as they say, supreme for a century and a half, solely because they have prevented the natives from uniting against them, and have yet to defend themselves from a determined assault from without. Now that the old supremacy on the sea is vitally altered in character, that the strategical position of the Channel and the monopoly of the naval stores have disappeared, that the Baghdad Railroad is nearly finished, that a Russian railroad is within striking distance of Herat, the isolation of India has practically vanished. A very little force from without, a little discord within, and the waves will swallow up that bit of froth.
In the Mediterranean the English Empire has rested upon similar forces. The native races were, at odds with themselves and with each other; the other Mediterranean powers were weak or hopelessly divided, and were unable to create in the Mediterranean a fleet to cope with England without first bringing their materials through the Channel which she controlled. These conditions have so vitally changed that the rule of the English in Egypt can now, say the Germans, scarcely be considered as more than a transient phase in the long line of Egyptian administrative failures. For some decades England practically controlled Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, exercising a very intangible and shadowy suzerainty exceedingly difficult to define, without effective powers for controlling or directing, to say nothing of utilizing, the resources of those countries. England possessed whatever degree of authority she had, not for administrative reasons of significance or value to the countries themselves, but to keep other nations at a distance. Turkey was not so much to obey England's behests as to frustrate Russia's designs. The, same factors which have elsewhere sapped the peculiar structure of the English Empire have here also performed deadly work. There are now other strong powers possessed of fleets in the Mediterranean, able to equip and maintain them from their own resources, and possessed of the will to contest the control of the Mediterranean with her.
The long list of strategic points in England's hands does not frighten the Germans. It is little to them that England holds the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and controls the passageway between the Indian Ocean and the Yellow Sea, Magellan Strait, the Cape of Good Hope, and the most advantageous coaling-stations on all these routes. Such a chain of forts and islands would be useful as the bases for the action of a fleet of the old type, operating against similar fleets in a war between England, as she was, against her enemies, as they were. To protect so long a chain, England must keep a "masking fleet" at each threatened point. The work of science in creating steel ships, moved by steam, has compelled England to concentrate her fleet in the North Sea, has built up powerful rivals whose operations are not restricted by the considerations of a century ago, and has forced her to leave undefended all but a few points. It is doubtful whether England can be again defended at Trafalgar, or India saved at Aboukir. Every chain is as strong as its weakest link, and the chain of English strategical positions seems to the Germans certain to yield to an attack in force delivered at any point.
There can, furthermore, be no doubt that in all parts of the English Empire the old condition upon which England's rule of the native races depended, the supineness and inefficiency of native administration, has given way before the ambitions, of at least the educated natives, for autonomy. The democratic impulse which has so strongly manifested itself in Europe has also appeared in the Mediterranean and in the East. Already the Egyptian, the Persian, and the Hindu are dreaming of a new land from which foreigners shall be excluded, of a splendid nation composed solely of natives administering their own country in their own interests, paying tribute to no one, independent of all. English rule is hardly likely, the Germans think, to be permanent, even if the forces at present at work are allowed to develop in their normal way. The chief thing, in fact, which helped the English was the natives' lack of initiative and desire to rule themselves. The English undertook the burden of government which the native did not want. Now that the native is aroused by a sense of the possibilities of self-government, and has come to believe himself capable of securing for himself the sort of administration the English have given him, he is hardly likely to acquiesce much longer in English rule. Would it not now be easy for a nation to secure from all England's subjects the exclusive right to trade with them in exchange for a little assistance in putting the government of their own country into their own hands, and for promises to protect them in future from outside interference ?
While not the most apparent, the most vital weakness of the Empire lies in its own size. England in one way or another controls to some extent territory in every quarter of the globe. There is scarcely a nation at whose doors there does not lie some valuable English dependency which she would be glad to have. The extent of the booty is the measure of England's enemies. There is too much to be divided, should she fall, for her to survive long, assert the Germans. The cupidity of too many nations is already aroused to make possible any adequate assistance in propping up the frail and worthless fabric. Where literally the whole world has something to gain which England alone will lose, is it not likely that one defeat in any part of the world would so shake English prestige and so instantly reveal the rottenness of her imperial fabric as to cause a rush for the plunder similar to that which marked the downfall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1814?
The bond between England and her self-governing colonies is even weaker, say the Germans, and has infinitely fewer factors of fundamental importance to keep it in existence. Canada is separated from England by the width of the Atlantic; South Africa by the whole length of the Atlantic, a distance nearly equal to the length of the globe; Australia is more than twelve thousand miles from Liverpool; and these enormous distances effectively prevent these colonies from possessing an economic interest in common with the mother country. Nor is it probable that any strong interest could possibly be created. Despite the progress of steam navigation, the voyage to them is still so long as to prevent any real cooperation in time of peace, or any effective assistance in time of war. There is no natural geographical basis for the British Empire. Such enormous tracts of land, so thinly populated, so far distant from each other, have nothing but the accident of their discovery and settlement by men of the same race to give them even that appearance of unity and common interest that they do possess. Unquestionably, the concentration of the English fleet in the North Sea and in the Mediterranean has deprived her colonies of the only thing they could have been expected to value. While it is not likely that any of them will require the services of a fleet to protect them from any enemies who would normally attack them, England can certainly no longer promise them such protection. They possess no privilege in England, or as a result of their connection with England, which the Germans themselves do not have. No trading privileges in England, or with England, are theirs. If they were to declare their complete independence to-morrow, nothing would be changed. Indeed, it is literally true, and the English themselves admit it, that the Empire has been held together in name during the last century by resolutely sacrificing its reality.
Why should the colonies fight for the maintenance of an empire whose existence is not of benefit to them and whose destruction could not injure them? How could they furnish England any effective assistance in a war fought in the North Sea, the Mediterranean, or the Near East? Even should they send troops or supplies so far, their population is not large enough nor their resources sufficient, think the Germans, and above all their military organization is not enough perfected, to make such support decisive for victory. Besides, Canada would expose herself to assault from the United States, a danger which the Germans seem to think sufficiently real to detain the Canadian regiments at home; Australia would be exposed to the Japanese, of whom the Germans think they stand in daily fear; in Africa, the English confederation is exposed to the much more real danger of an attack from German East or West Africa, and besides is sufficiently imperiled by the disparity in numbers between the whites and the natives.
Indeed, it is conceivable that in Africa the English colonies would be in such danger from the outbreak of a war with Germany that they would be compelled in self-defense to sever their connection with the Empire. The loyalty of the colonies as a whole has been verbal, personal, a matter of sentiment, with which interests have never been allowed to clash. That it will stand the strain of real sacrifice, the Germans believe highly improbable.
The boasted millions of population, the countless acres of territory, the stupendous wealth of the British Empire are real --- but they are not England's. They belong to peoples more widely sundered in race, language, and interests than are the English and the Germans. Indeed, there are many vital facts common to the latter which the English colonies utterly lack, and which they can never possess. The English Empire has never been a reality, nor ever will be. Its weakness merely needs to be made apparent.
FRANCE AND RUSSIA AS THE GERMAN SEES THEM
ENGLAND, Germany hates, disdains, and despises. For France and Russia she possesses a wholesome respect mingled with fear, but not with love. France, she considers a strong man who has run his race and is now beginning to reach senility; Russia, she looks upon as an uncouth stripling not yet conscious of his strength, not yet skillful enough to use the strength of which he is conscious, and not yet intelligent enough to avoid being easily deceived. There are, perhaps, no more characteristic pages in Bismarck's memoirs than those in which he discusses the comparative ease of deceiving the English, French, and Russians.
The strategic position of Germany renders her singularly open to attack from France and Russia. The three nations occupy the vast plain sloping to the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic from the crests of the Jura and the Alps, a great plain with no natural barriers separating, one from another, the different peoples who occupy it. There is no special reason for placing the German boundary at one spot rather than another; France has invariably claimed the Rhine as her natural boundary; Russia looks upon the whole Baltic as her especial property of which she is most unfairly deprived. The ambitions of both nations are of vital import to Germany, for France can obtain her natural boundary, or Russia, in Peter the Great's expressive words, can open her windows only at Germany's expense. Certainly, there can be little doubt that the expansion of either France or Russia means economic and political death for Germany by depriving a large section of her territory of the control of the natural highways. There are, furthermore, no mountains, no deep rivers demarking the present lines between her and her neighbors. Her only fortifications are the regiments of the German army. At the same time, if Germany is open to attack, the door also stands open for her to assault her enemies. No natural barriers prevent her from annexing land either along the Rhine or in Poland. Her expansion in Europe, therefore, is possible, but it means, inevitably, that she must take from her two powerful neighbors or absorb the smaller nations, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark, whose existence her rivals regard as necessary to their own safety.
Germany, fully realizing the seriousness of the situation, at the same time confidently expects to turn it to her own advantage. It is perfectly true that she stands between France and Russia; but the central position, deadly to a weak nation, will afford so strong a nation as she an enviable opportunity for the offense. Her armies can support each other without severing their communications, can deliver an attack in force on either side with equal facility, while the most that her rivals can hope to do is to deliver a simultaneous attack from two sides. Actual cooperation between them, the massing of forces at the same time, at the same spot, is so difficult as to be practically impossible.
Again, she already holds the most important ports on the Baltic, and by the cutting of the Kiel Canal through the Danish peninsula has robbed Denmark of much of her strategic importance and has united the Baltic with the Atlantic Ocean by a passageway which she exclusively controls. Could she now secure possession of Denmark, she would not only possess freedom of passage for herself, but she could close the Baltic to Russia and England. She already holds Alsace-Lorraine, and stands on the very borders of France with many strategic posts of the utmost importance in her hands. On the northwest she impinges upon the French frontier at many points so near Paris that she is confident of an entry into the French capital a few days after the beginning of the campaign. The Russian fleet in the Baltic is not sufficiently powerful, she thinks, to be dangerous. The French fleet is not enough of a factor in the Atlantic to frighten her. She fears their armies, not their fleets. She does not underestimate the strength of their position, the size of their population, their wealth, or their patriotism. She does not believe them sufficiently well organized to utilize to the full their resources, and she is confident that nothing short of a complete utilization of every resource can make them really dangerous to her.
The most vital weakness in France, say the Germans, is the Republic. French administration, by the admission of French publicists themselves, is inefficient, failing to secure the best men for office, failing to keep competent men in office, failing to keep out of vitally important offices ignorant and corrupt appointees. Democracy in France has not worked well. It has not failed, perhaps, to benefit the individual so much as it has to organize the State, which lacks the power of vigorous initiative, and which is incapable of the consistent policy absolutely indispensable to prepare the nation to meet a great crisis. Surely, the destruction of more than one first-class battleship has proved with sufficient clearness the lamentable deficiency of her naval administration. The Dreyfus case proved the organization of the army to be singularly open to a type of influence which would be only too likely to be fatal in time of war. Merit, and merit alone, can be in the long run the proper test in all military and administrative appointments. It is in the selection of officials that democracy has everywhere most conspicuously failed. It could have scarcely failed in anything more vital to the protection of the State.
France, too, is no longer united. The people are courageous, unquestionably loyal, filled with ambition, but they have been growing apart as steadily as the Germans have been growing together. The German believes the forces hostile to the Republic were never stronger than at the present moment. The administration has recently succeeded in alienating the Royalists, the Church, and the Socialists; and their strength makes all three dangerous. Especially is this true in the difficulties raised by the quarrel with the Pope. The French have always been peculiarly devoted Catholics, and have more than once followed their Church rather than the State. The growth of Socialist, Syndicalist, and Anarchistic notions certainly augurs ill for the solidarity of the coming generation, or its loyalty to the Republic. A violent intestinal quarrel in France would certainly rob her of most of her offensive power, if not of her defensive strength. The Germans believe that the Republic has alienated large classes of the community, whose support will be far less warm in moments of danger than it would have been ten years ago.
France is growing physically weaker each decade. The birth rate has long been declining, and of late the number of births has shown not alone a proportional but an actual decrease. Emigration does not account for this decrease in the total population, which becomes steadily more serious each year. The most alarming aspect of the situation lies, however, in the very rapid increase of illegitimacy and juvenile crime. The Apaches of Paris were never so bold as now, and they and the juvenile criminals frankly declare their preference for a life of crime with a frequency and abandon truly astonishing. It seems, therefore, as if the newer generation which is growing up in France is hardly likely to furnish strong, steady, capable men to take the place of the generations who are passing.
Her colonial power, like England's, hangs by a thread. She has, indeed, but one valuable colony, northern Africa, where the Germans believe the natives to be so clearly dissatisfied with her rule as to render its continuance highly problematical; her commercial monopoly in her colonies is purely political; and if freedom of trade were permitted, Germany could undersell her in her own field without the slightest difficulty. Her political control, therefore, being unstable, her commercial monopoly depending upon it, the Germans do not consider it a matter of insuperable difficulty to filch from her the really valuable privilege of holding Morocco at all. The excellence of Colonel Mangin's troops and his own skill and bravery the Germans do not underestimate, but they count upon the blunderers in Paris to upset all his dispositions.
The extent of Russia's possessions, her enormous population, her astonishing growth in the last two centuries, the Germans fully appreciate. They well know that her population was twelve millions in 1700 and was one hundred and fifty millions in 1900; that her revenue of five million dollars in 1700 had become one billion dollars by 1900; that whereas she controlled in 1700 an area not much larger than Germany herself, she now controls one seventh of the land surface of the globe. Men and money she has lavishly spent in the ruthless pursuit of those same ambitions which she has to-day. To secure the Baltic cost Russia seven hundred thousand lives. Her territory on the Black Sea cost the same. In the eighteenth century she sent five million men into the field, and a similar number into the wars of the nineteenth century, and did this with a population only a fraction of that she can now command. There is small chance that she will not exert the same proportional amount of effort in the coming century in the same ruthless pursuit of the same aims. Above all, the Germans know that nothing stands between them and these multitudes of men but their own army.
They know at the same time that a nation's strength is not what she possesses, but what she can effectively use, and German diplomats are still of Bismarck's opinion that Russia's international value depends upon "a single pair of eyes," in other words, upon the Tsar himself. Russia, they claim, is too autocratic to be dangerous in proportion to her strength; the Tsar can make the alliance and with equal rapidity and ease be persuaded to break it; Russia's actions depend too entirely upon the personal opinion of her rulers and too commonly lack support in the opinion of the nation to make her a very valuable ally or a very dangerous enemy. The administration is overladen with red tape, nor can the confusion and inefficiency be lessened while her rulers insist upon directing from St. Petersburg the details of administration in so enormous an empire. Russia, in other words, is so large that centralized government is inefficient. The hierarchy in St. Petersburg cannot, in the very nature of things, possess enough knowledge about the different localities they govern to direct their subordinates successfully; they are necessarily thrown upon the mercy of the subordinates themselves, from whom they must, perforce, derive the great bulk of their information about conditions in the district, and the conduct of affairs. Such a government is necessarily blind, slow, cumbrous, hesitating, incapable of acting promptly, or of executing ably the details of a complex scheme of offense.
The Russian people are, in the opinion of Germans, too numerous, too widely separated, to have a truly national consciousness obtained by common experience in thought and action, even were they all of the same race, and even if they were all enthusiastically in favor of the Government. The educated class in Russia is capable but small, and its numbers and character have both been vitally influenced by the policy of the Tsars in restricting education to non-political subjects. In order to limit the forces against them, in order to limit the possible leaders of the subject nations, and the possible leaders of the Russian people in the war upon the dynasty, they have systematically opposed the extension of education and training, and have thus conserved the dynasty at the price of a very real loss to the nation in vital strength. Underneath the nobles are the educated and the administrators, and underneath the somewhat larger merchant class is the great bulk of the people, of whom those who are not too miserable, ignorant, and downtrodden to have thoughts beyond existence itself, are mostly irreconcilables who hate the government with an energy almost beyond conception. Their numbers are considerable and include such vitally important districts as Finland and Poland, where Germany might easily receive important assistance by instigating a popular revolt. Indeed, Russia's power can never be more than potential until she has pacified and consolidated her own people.
Financially, Russia is bankrupt, think the Germans, despite her enormous resources, for the revenues which succeed in reaching St. Petersburg (certainly a fraction only of the taxes collected from the people) are for the most part pledged to the payment of the interest and capital of the Japanese War loans. Certainly, it is widely believed that the money for another great war could not be raised in Russia and would not be supplied by foreign capitalists without more securities than Russia has left to pledge. Where so enormous a proportion of the population still exists upon an essentially primitive type of agriculture, where manufactures are as yet in their infancy, where the vast mineral resources are still largely undeveloped, the available resources within Russia herself for the prosecution of the war are really inconsiderable compared to her ostensible strength.
The army the Germans do not consider dangerous. The Japanese showed clearly how easily the Russian generals could be outmanoeuvred, and how incapable the Russians were of holding even strong positions against a determined assault directed by real tacticians. The greatest difficulties which the Russian generals had to meet arose from the quality of the human material with which they had to deal. The men, and even the non-commissioned officers, only too often lacked sufficient intelligence to execute any movement requiring something more than obedience to the letter of the orders issued them. Blind courage, the capacity to suffer hunger and cold which would have caused the German army to mutiny, the dull qualities of the brute, these the Russian troops possessed; intelligence, discretion, capability, and initiative, all these, and more, vital to so complex an organization as the modern army, the rank and file did not possess at all. An army, insist the Germans, is not a machine composed of a certain number of parts, but an organization of men which must be intelligent to be effective. It is in the army, especially, that the inefficiency of Russian administration and the lack of intelligence in the rank and file of the Russian people produce the most striking results for evil.
Russia's real destiny, the Germans believe, is in Asia, not in Europe. Her people are more closely allied to the Asiatic than to the European; her methods in government are those of the East, not of the West; her religion is Oriental, not Occidental. She is placed so as to command ready entrance into the very heart of China and India, where native administrations less efficient than hers rule a people still more ignorant. Sooner or later, Russia, think the Germans, will realize this and renounce her foolish ambitions in Europe. Needless to add, the Russians have not the slightest intention of doing anything of the kind.
The existence of France and Russia, dangerous as it is to Germany, is not without its compensations, for their positions bind to her firmly her allies, Austria and Italy, without whose help the great scheme of Pan-Germanism would be impossible of execution. To be sure, if France and Russia did not exist, the great scheme might not be necessary, but it is certainly fortunate that their existence makes simple the securing of aid. Austria, as well as Germany, lies in the path of Russian progress, not so much because of her territory in Austria proper as because of her own determination to expand into Poland and to reach the sea through the Adriatic and the Ægean. Austria, therefore, depends for the realization of her dynastic aims upon obtaining possession of the Balkans. If she should do so, the Russian plans for obtaining control of the Black Sea and for securing an exit into the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles would become impossible of execution, for even if Austria permitted Russia to obtain Constantinople and the Straits, her own possession of Macedonia and the great port of Saloniki would effectively prevent Russia from controlling the Ægean. Austria, therefore, whose assistance Germany vitally needs in the North, equally needs the help of Germany to prevent Russia from taking possession of the Balkans and thus ending for once and all her own hopes of expansion. The ambition of Russia makes Germany and Austria permanent allies.
Italy, without fears of absorption by Russia and without vital fear of invasion from France, nevertheless finds the assistance of Germany imperative for the realization of her own plans of expansion in the Mediterranean. It is obvious that to obtain colonies in Africa she must either take them with the consent of England and France, or fight the latter for them, a proceeding hardly possible in view of the preponderance of the English and French fleets in the Mediterranean. Germany and Austria, therefore, can alone enable her to obtain a position in the Mediterranean in the face of the opposition of France and England; Germany by her threats of attack upon the English fleet, Austria by actual assistance in the Mediterranean itself. In addition, Italy is well situated to assist Germany in her struggle against France by an attack upon the French rear through the passes of the Alps. She would also be in admirable position to fight Russia in the Balkans, should the latter succeed in penetrating so far, while her navy would be of the utmost importance in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the position of Sicily, the great ports at Naples and Messina, would be of paramount importance in depriving Malta, the key of the English defense, of much of its strength; and from Genoa, the Austrian and Italian fleets might together easily contest with the French at Toulon the possession of the western Mediterranean, and the Italian fleet alone, mobilized at Genoa, might prevent the cooperation of the French and English fleets by forcing the French to remain behind to protect their naval base. Should they sail, the Italian fleet could menace the rear, or might actually destroy Marseilles, if not Toulon. In short, if the Triple Alliance should ever propose to contest the supremacy of the Mediterranean with England and France, the cooperation of Italy would be indispensable. Austria and Italy could in all probability be depended upon to keep Russia and France occupied while Germany dealt with England.
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