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No. 3245 Sept. 15, 1906.
The Coming Hague Conference. By Harry Hodgson.
WESTMINSTER REVIEW 643
Charles Lever. By Lewis Melville.
When the Herring Come In. By Stephen Gwynn.
In the Footprints of Camoëns.
The Apostasy of a Wagnerian. By E. A. Baughan.
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A FORGOTTEN AIR.
"Tis the ecstasy of repose,
"Tis love when tired lids close,
O fresh and frail is the sound
What soul is this that complains
And what is it that it saith?
This lowly hymn I divine
In the warm night, low as a breath?
THE COMING HAGUE CONFERENCE.
In the recent resolution calling for a reduction of military expenditure, the House of Commons gave ostensible support to the method of effecting this purpose by an international agreement for the reduction of armaments. One cannot doubt that in this the House did more than it intended. It would appear that, in the ardor of its impulse to give support to the main part of the resolution, the latter portion, relating to the means of carrying out its purpose, was overlooked; and thus what some minds cannot regard as other than a very unsatisfactory scheme was endorsed.
At the first Hague Conference one section occupied itself with schemes for the limitation of armaments; and, after pointing out the many difficulties, they let the subject drop. To infer from this that no such scheme is practical I would not be wise; but we are bound to call upon those who propose this method of dealing with the problem to show how it can be practically carried out. One objection to any scheme for the limitation of armaments is the difficulty of securing a satisfactory ratio. To take the simplest form of such an agreement-one relating to amount of expenditure only. On what basis is the amount of each nation to be determined? Are all to be alike? Is it likely the greater nations will agree to that? Then what other? One proposal is that the agreement shall be not to exceed the average expenditure of the preceding three years. This would be satisfactory to the nations which have maintained a high standard during this period, but it is not likely to be acceptable to those that have been left behind. The great defect, however, of this method, is that it would be impossible for any of the nations to
have assurance that the others were faithfully carrying out the agreement. Each nation has control of its own resources, and it would not be difficult for any to violate the agreement without the others knowing it. Even in those States where military expenditure is publicly stated, there are ways by which the nation's fighting forces might be considerably increased without showing it at once. It would not be difficult, if war should be threatening, to induce, let us say, a patriotic firm of ship-builders to build a vessel on credit, with assurance of future payment; nor would it be difficult to raise money privately and secretly in the same way. Can any such scheme be regarded as satisfactory?
If a scheme for the limitation of armaments could be carried out, it would be one of relation. It would be the maintenance at a stationary ratio of certain proportionate forces. If we are anxious to have this relation keptas the proposal of such a scheme would imply-why don't we try to keep it without regard to agreements with other nations? In our modesty, we have assumed that we are entitled to keep a naval force equal to those of any other two nations. But this proportion has not been maintained. And by whom has it been infringed? Not by other nations, but by us. We have so far exceeded this proportion during recent years that our na val forces are now about equal to the combined forces of any other three nations. To an outside observer our position must appear ridiculous. It will seem incredible that this increased expenditure, about which we appear to be anxious to make agreements for its limitation, is not in the least caused by compulsion. If we desire to have
agreements with other nations for the limitation of armaments, which must be based on a ratio of forces, why don't we show our earnestness by keeping the ratio? The fact of our nation being the worst offender places us at a disadvantage for making a proposal of this kind. Other nations must think that our position does not betoken sincerity. Does it not lay on us, as sincere folk, to adjust our position before making a proposal of this nature to other nations?
Are we not in danger of overlooking the real nature of the evil, however, from preoccupation with its most obviOus feature? Armaments are stantly growing, so it appears on the face that we must check the increase by artificial regulation. But this is merely lopping the extreme branches; it is not going to the root of the evil. It is the whole problem of militarism that we have to deal with. To merely arrange that there shall be no increase of expenditure on armaments while the nations are at peace-for no nation will consent to be bound when engaged in war-and to leave them as free as ever to fall to war, is not a satisfactory way of dealing with it. To plan for the artificial regulation of armaments is to regard the evil only from the economic standpoint. But the evil is essentially of a moral nature, and we can never deal with it satisfactorily till we approach it from the moral standpoint.
The only effective way to deal with any evil is to seek the cause and alter that. What is the nature of the evil with which we are concerned? Why do the nations provide these large armaments, and what is the cause of their constant growth? The reason is that each wishes to be able to assert its authority in any affair of difference that may arise between it and other nations. But is it well that differences between civilized nations should be settled in this way? We do not expect,
we do not allow, citizens to settle their differences one with another by violent means: if they cannot settle them peaceably between themselves, they must appeal to a recognized judicial authority. Should the code for the nation be lower than that for the single man? Ought not the nations to settle their differences by appeal to justice? It has been generally allowed that they ought: as a theory, we have given approval to the principle of arbitration. Let the nations establish the practice of appealing to an Arbitration Court for the settlement of all their differences, and reduction of armaments will inevitably follow. They will reduce then because they will have no real use for them at their present size. How is it that individual citizens are under no necessity to make agreements for the limitation of personal expenditure on instruments of violence? any man desires to lay out a large part of his income in this way he may do so; he is not bound by agreements with other men to limit his expenditure in this direction. But there is no such disposition. Why? Because men don't spend money on things that are useless. So would the establishment of the practice of settling all their differences by appeal to justice influence the nations. When this shall be done, nations will be as little disposed to spend money on instruments of violence as are individual citizens.
It will be asked, if this be true, why have not the recent arbitration treaties already had such an effect? The reason is that they are not thorough. They apply only to "questions of a juridical character or relating to the interpretation of existing treaties"; and by further stipulation that they shall apply only to such matters as do not involve "the vital interests, the independence or the honor" of the contracting parties, a way is provided to avoid taking even these to arbitration, since
no difference arises which may not be claimed to affect the vital interests or the honor of the nation. Thus they really bind the nations to nothing. They are, to speak plain truth, sham agreements. They have a certain value, as indicating that the nations are beginning to see that the solution of the problem lies in arbitration; but they show also that they yet fear to trust themselves to it.
If we are to benefit we shall have to accept arbitration thoroughly. We shall have to bind ourselves in sincerity with other nations that all differences that may occur between us and them shall be submitted to an Arbitration Court for settlement. There must be no exceptions of any nature. The proposal to bind ourselves in this manner will evoke strong objections. It will be said to be imprudent. Many people will point to the reservations of the existing treaties as showing that the prudent and experienced statesmen who formed them see that unreserved committal would be unsafe. We invite these to show how it would be unsafe. We cannot allow our judgment to be influenced by assertions. It is questionable whether ever a beneficial public proposal escaped opposition from prejudiced and short-sighted people.
Το prevent misunderstanding, it ought to be said that the purpose is not to utterly abolish war, but one that particularly concerns the relations subsisting between the great nations. We recognize that in the present stage of man's development armed force is necessary for the maintenance of society, and consequently for a good life. There are elements of lawlessness and disorder, both outside and within every State, which require force for their repression. An armed force properly stands for order and justice. To allow this, however, is not to acknowledge the necessity of armed
forces as they now exist among the great nations, nor that war between these has a moral justification. largeness of these forces, and their constant increase, is not due to the needs for the suppression of lawlessness, but to considerations of the possibility of conflict one with another. Thus the forces, whose true purpose is the maintenance of order and justice, are maintained with a view to use in a purpose which is a violation of justice. In so far as the armed forces of the civilized nations are used against each other, or shaped with a view to such use, they are in opposition to the sole purpose which justifies their being. This is the evil. How have the nations come to this dilemma? It is a situation of natural growth. Each of these States represents an established Government maintaining that order and justice which is necessary for the wellbeing of a civilized society. Each is a growth: each has absorbed the many small societies and petty kingdoms which have in the past occupied the same area. Each, during this growth, has not only had to be on the guard against inimical forces within itself, but constantly against an hostile world without. Thus they stand, separate and on guard, at the point of time which men in this part of the world mark as 1906. The way of relief is obvious. It is by unity. All the nations that stand for order and justice should act in concert. Differences that occur between them ought never to be settled by the method of each interested party insisting on its own interpretation, but by appeal to justice.
The distinction implied in the existing treaties in the nature of the differences that rise between nations is real. There are differences relating to matters of fact, termed "juridical," and there are differences which rise from conflicting interests and policies. Be