Diplomacy and the Study of International Relations/Part 1-5
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Diplomacy and the conduct of foreign policy (Cont'd)
The path of inquiry in comparative politics is very alluring, but it is dangerously devious. It is better to concentrate on one political system, and to get the lessons as sharp and decisive as possible. If we look to our own government since the time when a parliamentary system began to prevail in England, we find an almost unbroken line of appeal to close the ranks and maintain unity of mind and purpose for unity in action, where the interests of the country have had to be adjusted to the interests and the contentions of others. We need not press very far the charges made at the time, both at home and abroad, and later by historians, more especially Continental, that on several notable occasions Britain, through the force of party influences, was false of faith to her allies during the Spanish Succession War, and again in the War of the Austrian Succession, without taking account of the more exceptional case of the ' desertion ' or * betrayal ', as it has been termed, of the cause of Frederick II of Prussia before his day of danger was over. The historical and political writer, 1 to whom probably more than to any other these charges have owed wide currency, stated them dispassionately, without acrimony. They were urged as charges due to the faults of a constitutional system ; they were not brought forward as unqualified charges of a violation of public faith. The minister who was chiefly responsible for terminating the war in each case was not the minister, and did not represent the party or the political connexion, that had been in power when the war was entered
1 Heeren (A. H. L.), who was Knight of the Guelphic Order, Councillor, and Professor of History in the University of Gottingen, born 1760, died 1 842. See especially his ' Historical Development of the Rise and Growth of the Continental Interests of Great Britain '. Historical Treatises, translated (1836) from the German (1821), 351-2; cf. 314-15.
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upon, or when it was prosecuted with vigour and success. Hence, it was concluded, without reserve, if also without bitterness and the injustice of extremes, that the Government in Britain cannot guarantee with the same assurance as others the performance of its obligations ; and, it was rightly con- tended, the consequence in respect of foreign Powers was most pernicious. It was, however, admitted that on the part of Continental Powers physical impossibilities a total subjuga- tion or some extreme trial and distress might prevent the fulfilment of their obligations : ' a case which can scarcely be supposed to occur with respect to England '.* The capacity of Britain to endure physical strain was acknowledged to a degree that Montesquieu would have commended that high degree which the experience of two great wars, in spite of a bitter lesson in an intervening one, seemed to have established for the people of Britain since the eulogy of her by the author of the work De I'Esprit des Lois had been published. 2 Britain's non-fulfilment of obligations to foreign Powers was to be ascribed, if not to a clear breach of political morality, at least to the character and consequences of conventions, and to conventions that had acquired the force of principles, in the ordering of her political life. The non-fulfilment of obligations by Continental Powers was to be ascribed to physical duress, to the imperious calls of nature, to which the State for its own safety, the community for the sake of bare existence, must submit.
It is instructive to observe how such a critic and apologist finds no need to condone, as though it were reprehensible, the action of Frederick II as an ally of France in the course of his Silesian Wars and the designation of the wars is at once almost Frederick's condemnation and his defence between 1740 and 1745. He sees in Frederick's action ground for 1 Historical Treatises, 352. * In 1748.
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praise for consummate skill ; he claims for him political judge- ment almost unique. Frederick began the war on his own account against Austria, and without the help of France. Soon he was in active alliance with the French, but as early as 1742 he came to terms with Austria, and left France fighting. Two years later he resumed the struggle, was again allied to France, and again, after only sixteen months, abandoned her ; and his Christmas letter of 1745 to Louis we have already produced. The interests of Frederick did not coincide with those of France ; he was not a champion, accredited and self- sacrificing, of the interests of France, of the Westphalian role and historic mission of France. He had no desire to witness the aggrandizement of France at the cost of the annihilation of the monarchy of Austria. Therefore, it is contended, to understand him is to admire him. ' The art, till then unknown in Europe, of concluding alliances without committing one's self, of remaining unfettered while apparently bound, of seceding when the proper moment is arrived, can be learnt from him and only from him.' Intrepidity in conduct, freedom characterizing every movement, a straightforwardness which was not, however, unaccompanied by cunning in a word, superiority over his contemporaries : these are claimed for Frederick, and deduced from his conduct as an ally. ' The immutable truth, that independence of character is of more value in negotiation than brilliant talents, and rises in importance proportionately to the eminence of the station in which the possessor is placed, no one has more strikingly attested by his own example than Frederic at that period.' x
The apologist of Frederick well knew the fortitude displayed, in the course of the Seven Years' War, by Prussians and pre- eminently by the Prussian King a ' truly great King ', his 1 Heeren, op. cit., 316-17.
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fellow-worker, the elder Pitt, called him. 1 He had, moreover, lived through the years of Prussia's humiliation and agony under the iron heel of Napoleon, and had witnessed her political recovery and her national triumph. He was a student of Frederick's historical writings, 2 and from laudation of his achievements and success he went back, and was almost forced, to approval of his means to an apologia of his political morality. The same thinker declared that history would never forget the almost incredible exertions made by Britain in the final struggle against Napoleon for the liberation of Europe. In appraising her achievement he thought not only of the advan- tages conferred upon her by her insular position, but also of the fertilizing effects of her constitutional system in propagating on the Continent those political opinions which inspired the last fight against the despot and called for sustenance and constant encouragement if they were to prevail. He was no advocate for imposing her constitutional system as a general model, and yet he was so gravely impressed with the results of its working and with the force of its example, and so favour- ably disposed to the mediating function which Britain exercised among Continental Powers, as to express, not less for her than for his own country, the wish Esto Perpetual The recording of such judgements has at least the value that we may guard
1 ' . . . the heroic constancy of spirit and unexampled activity of mind of that truly great King.' Pitt to Andrew Mitchell, September 9, 1760, Correspondence of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. (1838), ii. 58. Cf. his letter to Mitchell, March 31, 1757: 'The most grateful sentiments of veneration and zeal for a Prince, who stands the unshaken bulwark of Europe, against the most powerful and malignant confederacy that ever yet has threatened the independence of mankind.' Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd series, iv. 404.
- Contained in (Euvres postbumes de Frederic 77, Rot de Prusse, 12 tomes,
Berlin (1788), published when Hecren was twenty-eight years of age.
3 Historical Treatises, 420-2.
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ourselves against losing all sense of perspective when we are concentrating attention on the bearing of one political system on the conduct of foreign policy.
William III was his own Foreign and War Minister. That was the condition of his action. 1 It is also, in large part, the explanation of his success. He would not be a mere Doge of Venice. No more bitter anxiety of mind fell on Marlborough in the conduct of war than that which came to him from uncertainty of the course of party politics at home ; and it was the most continuously depressing of all his anxieties. With the accession of George I the constitution became still more parliamentary and still more dependent upon party and a party ministry. But, with the bearings of a parliamentary constitu- tion better understood through an accumulating and diversified experience, criticism of its working and effects becomes more direct ; misgivings assert themselves. Yet, the ministerial changes and uncertainties of the reigns of George I and George II were changes and uncertainties within one party, and were not primarily due to the criticisms and the policy of the Tories. Within a year of the accession of the new House we find the French Government instructing its repre- sentatives abroad to observe that one of the grounds for the failure of Stanhope's mission to the Emperor was the Emperor's recognition that little reliance could be placed on a Govern- ment subject to changes so frequent 2 as there had lately been in Britain. An additional element of uncertainty was
1 See Miss H. C. Foxcroft, Life and Letters of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1898), ii. 137, for William's plea of urgency of supplies and for unity, in the King's Speech, October 1690, and Halifax's inquiry, in his Notes for a Speech, ' Of what use are Parliaments if, when there is war, everything that is asked is to be given f '
2 ' Connoissant le peu de solidite des mesures qu'il prendroit avec un gouvernement sujet a des changements si frequents.' Instruction, 17 mars 1715, a M. Mandat, allant a Vienne : Instructions . . . : Autricbe, pp. 186-7.
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presented by the character of the personal union between Great Britain and Hanover. The Elector of Hanover per- sisted in the exercise of his right to treat with foreign Powers regarding Hanover as Elector merely, without having to submit to the galling restraints imposed upon the British sovereign in the conduct of the foreign policy of Britain. 1 The confusion of issues that followed was hardly avoidable. But it was the manner of conducting the policy of Hanover that almost equally with the substance of that policy led to opposition and to outspoken resentment in Parliament. 2 It was the means adopted as well as the ends pursued that inspired the critics of the Hanover policy. The true inwardness of that policy, and the way in which it could be related to the further- ance of the interests of Britain, were grasped, in varying degrees and in changing situations, by Stanhope, by Carteret and, after his years of waywardness and irresponsibility, by the elder Pitt ; and they did not vastly differ in the view they took of the use that was to be made of the rights of the executive in carrying out the policy. It was necessary to reckon with Parliament, and with a Parliament that was moved by home politics more than by foreign, except at a national crisis, and that was influenced by great family connexions and by the barter of patronage for power. For this Carteret, unlike Walpole and the Pelhams, was too proud, too brilliantly independent, to make the due allowance that discretion demanded ; and he fell before those who were his inferiors in knowledge and capacity. It was necessary for ministers to win over Parliament, to manage it and even coerce it. It was expedient, under the imperious conditions of the parliamentary
1 See Ward (A. W.), Great Britain and Hanover : some Aspects of the Personal Union (1899).
8 For a concise statement see the Lords' Protests, February 17, 1725; cf. Protest of April 17, 1730.
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system of the eighteenth century, to attend to the making of bishops and of revenue officers not less than to the fulfilling of the boast of Carteret the making of kings and emperors and maintaining the balance of power in Europe. But it was equally necessary for ministers of the Crown to assert a right to initiative and to a considerable measure of discretionary authority in the conduct of foreign affairs.
Addison, writing in The Freeholder' 1 of the mutability in politics charged by foreigners against the English, 2 tells how the famous Prince of Conde would ask the English Ambassador, on the arrival of a mail, ' Who was Secretary of State in England by that post ? ' One of the chief arguments advanced for the passing of the Septennial Bill was the greater trust that foreign States would repose in this country if general elections and changes of ministers were less frequent. Just a little later, at the time of the Whig Schism, we find Lord Stair, Ambassador to France, invoking a plague on both parties, and especially on Whig factions. In his own words, in a letter to Craggs, 3 who within a few months was made Secretary of War, ' I look upon what has happened, as the most dangerous thing could befall us, both as to the matter, and as to the manner. What the devil did Lord Sunderland and Stanhope mean, to make such a step 4 without concerting it ? ... I am afraid these
1 No. 25. Cf. Nos. 37 and 54.
2 Cf. Milton : ' I know not, therefore, what should be peculiar in England, to make successive parliaments thought safest, or convenient here more than in other nations, unless it be the fickleness which is attributed to us as we are islanders.' The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth: English Prose Writings of John Milton, ed. by Henry Morley (1889), 434.
3 Hardwicke, State Papers (1778), ii. 556, January 4, 1717.
4 The removal of Townshend from the Secretaryship of State for the Northern Department. Walpole also retired from office. Both were opposed to the Hanoverian junta.
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convulsions at home may hurt our affairs abroad.' ' Head, and hearts, and hands ' there must be. Surely there was a sound common platform on which leading men of the party could stand together : ' half a dozen of good men would go far ; but they must be men indeed '. Only essentials of conformity should be exacted as a test. 1
And so we might by illustration proceed. We might show, on the one side, how Carteret in the conduct of his diplomacy, whatever in substance and objects be its merits, was obstructed by the intrigues and jealousies of the Pelhams in the ministry, 2 and, on the other side, the great and brilliant results achieved
1 The standard for co-operation and solidarity among ministers is very prudently conceived by Stanhope and in a way that furnishes an instructive comment on the means some of them drastic soon to be employed by Walpole for establishing his ascendancy as First Minister. ' And I agree with you, likewise, that in public affairs, when a measure is taken that a man does not approve of in his judgment, if it be only a matter of policy and not against the direct interest of one's country, I think one should support the measure when once it is resolved, as if it was their own, and as if they had advised it . . . : in taking public measures, I think the wisest and most moderate men's opinions should be asked and followed. For if rash councils are followed, you will not find hands to support them. By attempting things, even right things, which you are not able to carry, you expose yourself, in our popular government, to the having the adminis- tration wrested out of your hands, and put into other hands ; may be, into the hands of the enemies of our constitution. . . . But if heat and impatience will make you go out of the entrenchments, and attack a formid- able enemy with feeble forces, and troops that follow you unwillingly, you will run a risk to be beat, and you wont get people to go along with you to purpose, by reproaching them that they are of this cabal, or of the other cabal, or by reproaching them that they are afraid.' Letter, October 5, 1717, to Craggs. Hardwicke, op. cit., ii. 559-60.
- In the Newcastle Papers, Brit. Mus., Add. MSS., see especially the
letters of Richmond (with George II on the Continent) to Newcastle, June 3/14, I743> and of Newcastle to Carteret (on the Continent), June 24, '743' and J ul X 5. '743-
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under the elder Pitt when party was forgotten, and the Council, in the words of the aged Carteret, Lord Granville, was a happy conciliabulum. Or, again, we might show why precisely it came that Frederick II of Prussia * conceived his deep distrust of the English constitution for its influence on the conduct of foreign affairs, and ' abused Parliaments ' sentiments which were entertained also, in different degrees of bitterness and contempt, by Catherine II, by Kaunitz, and others. 2 The composition and the cohesion of parties in Britain, the cohesion and security of ministries, seemed to depend upon temporary and changing circumstances of a domestic character. Could anything be taken for certain in dealings with a State whose politics were thus founded, and thus displayed to foreign observers ? Such assertions and charges, even when they were not justified, or were but little sustainable, from facts, had a diplomatic use : they could be made to serve a diplomatic end, immediate or ulterior.
While foreign princes and foreign ministers, as well as some ministers and critics at home, were thus passing adverse judge- ment on the British constitution for its imperfections and excesses caused by the parliamentary system, leaders of the Opposition were demanding the production of dispatches, papers, and reports which the Government was withholding on the plea of State necessity. Of many complaints the two following are typical. They are taken from the Lords' Pro- tests : they are drawn from the armoury of the Opposition to Sir Robert Walpole. In the first 3 it was contended, with reference to the trading interests of the British colonies and
1 ' The King of Prussia, who never loses time.' Andrew Mitchell (from Leipzig), October 30, 1757, to Holdernesse. P.R.O., Prussia, 70. .
2 Sorel, La Question f Orient au XV IIP siicle (1880), pp. 83, 84, 85 of the English translation.
3 March 26, 1734.
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plantations in America, that treaties alone would not bind those Powers which might seem to have advantages in prospect from opportune aggression, and that ' the interposition of a British Parliament would be more respected and more effectual than the occasional expedients of fluctuating and variable negotiations, which in former times have been often more adapted to the present necessities of the ministers than to the real honour and lasting security of the nation '. The second Protest x was framed on the rejection of a motion that a secret committee, consisting of those Peers who were Privy Councillors, be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the war against Spain towards the close of Walpole's ministry.
- The so-often urged argument of secrecy ', which in another
Protest of the same times 2 was termed ' the stale objection ', is an argument, it was said, that ' proves too much, and may as often without as with reason be used in bar of all inquiries, that any Administration, conscious either of their guilt or their ignorance, may desire to defeat '. Secrecy of this
- timorous ' and ' scrupulous ' kind was * much oftener the
refuge of guilt than the resort of innocence '. The case for inquiry and for openness in the conduct of foreign policy was ably presented in the House of Commons by Wyndham in the session 1733-4, when the Polish Succession or Election War was in progress. A motion that the letters and instruc- tions to British ministers in France and Spain be produced was rejected by 195 votes to 104. Wyndham argued that Parliament, if denied such knowledge, could not sustain its part in upholding the interests of the nation abroad, and could not comprehend the extent of the interests of Britain in the war which was at that time being fought on the Con- tinent without her. Even if we were to take no part in the war, it was necessary to provide for the safety of the nation ;
1 January 28, 1740/1, * December 8, 1740.
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and the grounds for making adequate provision were not disclosed. How (he asked) could members of the House of Commons judge of the estimates to be laid before them as a provision for national safety, if they did not know by what danger the nation was confronted ? How, further, could we know our danger without knowing how we then stood with regard to foreign alliances and engagements ?
The case for the Government in these and like transactions was moderately and clearly put by Henry Pelham in the House of Commons. His ministry was criticized for not having laid the preliminaries of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle before Parliament, so that its opinion might be taken beforehand, as had been done on the occasion of the Treaty of Utrecht. Pelham, in his defence, disclaimed any intention to limit in any degree the right of Parliament to examine and criticize any treaty after it was concluded, and to censure and punish those who advised and negotiated the treaty if it should seem to have wantonly or unnecessarily sacrificed the interests or the honour of the nation. Such a right on the part of Par- liament was to be upheld as a salutary check on the conduct of ministers. But, * if Parliament should encroach upon the prerogative of the Crown, by assuming a right to make peace or war, and to inquire into foreign transactions under negotia- tion, our affairs will be reduced to a dangerous predicament ; for no foreign State will negotiate with our ministers, or con- clude any treaty with them, either political or commercial.' 1 These considerations of national advantage similarly required that Parliament should not assume a constitutional right to prescribe rules to the Crown for its conduct in any future negotiation or treaty. Advice either House is competent to offer ; but, if the advice be coupled with the condition that
1 Coxe, Memoirs of the Administration of the Right Honourable Henry Pelbam (1829), ii. 87.
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in no case can it be departed from without the consent of the House, it ceases to be advice : it becomes a rule or law, which Parliament has no right to prescribe to the Sovereign, and which no minister, faithful to his position and its obligations, could advise him to accept as a rule or law. 1 For ministers to seek the approval of Parliament it might be a tame and controlled and submissive Parliament in the course of nego- tiations and in the acceptance of the preliminaries of a treaty, might reveal that they were conscious of failure to secure the interests of the nation, rather than that they were moving towards an indubitable success such as could never fear the light of criticism in days to come.
But it was more especially with the establishment of a more democratically based constitution in the nineteenth century that criticisms of the parliamentary system of Britain, in relation to the conduct of foreign policy, became sharp and severe. Under a parliamentary party system, resting on the ultimate power which is vested in a wide and inconstant electorate, it has been only with the utmost care and difficulty that the principle of continuity in foreign policy has been, in general, successfully asserted in Britain ; and, with continuity, has come the gain of a large measure of trustworthiness in the eyes of foreign States. The presumption in a system that rests on parties and majorities is in favour of change and towards in- stability. 2 Bismarck, pre-eminently on this account, distrusted the foreign policy of Britain and the making of compacts
1 Coxe, loc. cit.
2 We are not here engaged upon a comparative study of political delin- quency. Cf. the words of Napoleon III when he was expressing to Malmes- bury his desire to be inseparable from England : ' The great difficulty is your form of Government, which changes the Queen's Ministers so often and so suddenly. It is such a risk to adopt a line of policy with you, as one may be left in the lurch by a new Administration.' Memoirs, under date March 20, 1853.
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with her. He spoke with contempt of newspapers having more force than was commanded by settled principles of policy, and of ruling by the mere opinions of the day. Since the Reform Bill of 1832, he said in 1859, it had been impossible for the old hereditary wisdom to discipline the uncurbed passions of party, and he could not place confidence in a country in which an article in a newspaper was of more value than a principle. ' Good Heavens ! ' he continued, * if that lot should befal the Prussian monarchy if she also should have her Reform Bill if the power were to be taken from the sacred hands of the King only to fall into those of the lawyers and the professors and the babblers who style themselves Liberals ! ' The Danes do not forget the expectations, with a semblance of promises, by which they were deluded on the Schleswig-Holstein question through British newspapers and British party politicians ; and Bismarck expressed the view that the Schleswig-Holstein diplomatic campaign was the success in diplomacy of which he felt most proud, so that when he was made Prince he would rather have had Schleswig- Holstein than Alsace and Lorraine put into his armorial bearings. 1 If, again, we turn to Lord Lyons at the anxious time of excitement over the ' Trent ' affair, we shall commend him for ignoring popular clamour whether in the United States of America or in Britain, and for deliberately and resolutely abstaining for six weeks from uttering any opinion of his own , and by such prudent reticence going far to save the situation. 2 A wise diplomacy must know how to delay decisions as well as how to anticipate ; there have been critical times when it showed its wisdom by knowing how to put off till to-morrow what could not be safely done to-day, and when it not the less truly interpreted the public interest by opposing a barrier
1 Busch, Bismarck, ii. 337.
2 See Newton, Lord Lyons, 2 vols. (1913).
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to the demands of a clamorous public opinion of a ' will of all ' that may not have known the true * general will '.
- If I could from this place address the English people ', said
Lord Derby in 1878, ' I would venture to ask them how they can expect to have a foreign policy, I do not say far-sighted, but even consistent and intelligent, if within eighteen months the great majority of them are found asking for things directly contradictory '. 1 The measuring of public opinion is for the statesman as hard a task as its instruction. Even to public opinion, when voiced by representatives, and in its action not immediate and not impulsive, there are limits of competence, bounds imposed by discretion. We should not forget that in 1890, in the course of discussions on the proposed cession of Heligoland to Germany, Mr. Gladstone questioned both the constitutionality and the high expediency of asking the Houses of Parliament to share the treaty-making power a power exer- cised by ministers who are well aware of their responsibility to Parliament and to the nation. 2 And who shall yet say how far diplomacy in the decisive week at the end of July 1914 had to reckon with a consideration that should have been out of the reckoning altogether the limits to party cohesion and party allegiance where the interest and the honour of the whole British Commonwealth were at stake ?
The lessons of example and the force of historical evidence are not wholly cast in one mould. But the very nature of the problems should preclude, in the modern State, anything like direct participation of a vast number of minds and tongues in the initiation, the conduct, and the control of foreign policy ; not least in Great Britain. A plainer foreign policy than there has usually been may be possible. 3 But that any
1 Speech in the House of Lords, April 8, 1878.
2 See Appendix, pp. 2100-3.
8 General Smuts on May 15, 1917 about a month before he became
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large number of men should ever be qualified, or that they should even seek, with good results, to qualify themselves, for the exercise of an initiative that shall be wise, and for a control that shall be well informed, in the conduct of foreign affairs, where the conditions are of necessity complex and the issues involved are momentous, no student of history and no honest mind will ever admit. Even were it possible, it would not be desirable. In the modern State democracy is and must be indirect, not direct : it loses impulsiveness, and it gains in knowledge, in impressiveness, and in power, through being
a member of the War Cabinet (see p. 283) spoke of the need for ' a common policy in common matters for the Empire. . . .' Further, ' they could not settle a common foreign policy for the whole of the British Empire without changing that policy very much from what it had been in the past, because the policy would have to be, for one thing, far simpler. In the other parts of the Empire they did not understand diplomatic finesse. If our foreign policy was going to rest not only on the basis of our Cabinet here, but, finally, on the whole of the British Empire, it would have to be a simpler policy, a more intelligible policy, and a policy which would in the end lead to less friction and greater security. No one would dispute the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament. They would always look upon the British Government as the senior partner in the concern. But the Imperial policy would always be subject to the principles laid down from time to time at the meetings of the Imperial Conference. Such a policy would, he thought, in the long run be saner and safer for the Empire as a whole. He also thought it would lead to greater publicity. After the great catastrophe which had overtaken Europe, nations in future would want to know more about that foreign policy. He was sure that the after effects of a change like this, although it looked a simple change, were going to be very important, not only for the Commonwealth of nations, but for the world as a whole. People were inclined to forget that the world was growing more democratic, and that public opinion and the forces finding expression in public opinion, were going to be far more powerful than they had been in the past. Where they built up a common patriotism and a common ideal, the instrument of government would not be a thing that mattered so much as the spirit which actuated the whole of government.' The Times, May 16, 1917.
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representative and mediate. Democracy needs checks for its own security, just as monarchy has needed and submitted to checks against its own abuse. The power of a democracy when once it is set in motion along any line may be irresistible, but it stands in need of guarantees of stability and endurance.
In Britain, even more than in the American Common- wealth, 1 adequate provisions exist for an ultimate and true national control over the determination of foreign policy. They are found in the nation's capacities being represented, and in their being raised, in the process of representation, to a higher level of efficiency. They are found formally and practically, to the knowledge of every citizen, in the command of the purse held by the House of Commons, and in the daily and continuous responsibility of ministers to that House the House of the nation's chosen representatives. No foreign policy can be maintained, and none, in prudence, can even be embarked upon, that does not look to the interests of the nation interests of commerce and material well-being, and not less for Britain the interests of honour and prestige ; and any foreign policy once embarked upon must reckon with the necessity of making the general and substantial title to such support clear and convincing. 2 That condition may prove to be a defect in the execution of policy an opinion which has already been sufficiently implied and enforced. But acceptance of the condition is required for the ultimate sustenance of policy and for the assurance of its strength. Among political virtues prudence stands the first and the last. Much will depend more in the near future than in the recent past upon the prudence of party leaders and party men and
1 See Appendix, pp. 278-9, 281.
8 For views expressed on this part of the subject by Palmcrston, Claren- don (1866), Salisbury (1885), and Mr. Balfour, see Appendix, pp. 263-9.
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the press, and upon the restraints which they may freely and wisely accept.
But diplomacy will still remain. It will still be a means to ends. Those who have to conduct business between nations cannot, without detriment and disaster, violate the rules and methods that are essential to the conduct of business and to success. 1 Instruments and agents may vary with conditions. They may come to be quite unexceptionable in work and character. But the need for circumspection is not likely to become less. For the conduct of international business, in whatsoever atmosphere of mind and morals, men who under- stand men and affairs will still be required. A Duke of Albany as drawn by the Earl of Surrey, son of the victor of Flodden, may still have a place and successors, but his is not the place of a discreet diplomatist.
- And by many wayes I am advertised that the Duke of Albany
is a mervelous wilfull man, and woll beleve noo mannys counsaill, but woll have his owne opinion folowed. And bicause the Frenche King hath be at soo greate chardges by his provoking, having his wiffs inherytance lying within his domynyons, dare not for no Scottish counsell forbere t' envade this realme. I am also advertised that he is so passionate that and he bee aperte amongis his familiers, and doth here any thing contrarius to his myende and pleasure, his accustumed manner is too take his bonet sodenly of his hed and to throwe it in the fire ; and no man dare take it oute, but let it be brent. My Lord Dacre doth affirme that at his last being in Scotland he did borne above a dosyn bonetts after that maner. And if he be suche a man, with Gods grace we shall spede the bettir with hym.' 2
Is it the picture of an open diplomatist ? Travesty let it be : by no accession of the merit of plainness can the conduct of
1 See Appendix, p. 266: Mr. Balfour, House of Commons, March 19, 1918. 8 Surrey, at Newcastle, to Wolsey, October 8, 1523. Ellis, Original Letters (first series), i. 226-7.
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the business of States be attuned to openness so markedly naked and so frankly unabashed. A Duke of Albany thus active and thus open may have his successors yet, whether we are thinking of individual politicians or of masses of men. But his place is not that of Managing Director of the Board of Control for Foreign Affairs. Still, even to open diplomacy must be conceded its several types, its several grades.
Those in Britain who have lately criticized the very founda- tions of the British plan of conducting foreign policy, on the ground of its disregard of democratic methods and national rights, are neither genuinely democratic nor genuinely national. They do not recognize the nature of democracy in the large and extended communities of to-day, and they convey the impression that the foreign policy of Britain can be, and has been, conducted, under the prevailing forms and facts of her politics, not only with the secrecy but even with the inde- pendence which characterized the methods and the powers of the Council of Ten in the Republic of Venice. 1 They protest on the ground of ' freedom '. They have probably false notions of freedom. They do not inquire, as we should always be asking ourselves, and should inquire of others, when that word is used, ' Freedom ? From what ? ' ' Freedom ? For what ? ' * Freedom ? To whom ? ' May it be free- dom to those who repudiate a State obligation at a time of national danger ? If we were to carry farther our analysis of this species of democratic fervour and of the movement which it inspires and is designed to help, we should find that many of those who speak and labour under its influence cannot take a dispassionate view of the manner and the instruments of the conduct of foreign policy. Many of them there are who have been influenced by considerations of an extraneous kind by an economic bias, for example, with the consequences it seems
1 See Horatio F. Brown, Venice : An Historical Sketch (1893), e.g. p. 182.
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to entail in spheres not primarily or not exclusively economic, or by a diffused and bounteous humanitarianism of not less insecure foundations.
We must never forget that any movement of this character and there are more than one in our midst, and there are likely to be more still must proceed with some approximation to equal step and equal weight in the several leading States, if it is not to carry with it grave misfortune for that State which outruns the rest in its trust and confidence in men and humanity. Neither for means nor for ends is it specially called for in Britain. For the means it advocates it may contain elements of good for a State a State, let us say, strongly organized and mechanically efficient which does not yet know the parliamentary system, knows not responsi- bility of ministers to Parliament, knows not democracy. Nor for its declared end a better and more stable international understanding is any appeal, justifying such movement, specially required in Britain. The highest interest of Britain for herself and for the Empire has been known to be was too well known to be peace ; and in future her interest will still be peace, but without a slothful overtrust. She can enter in spirit into a true League of Nations, even without requiring to be attached to it by compliance with prescribed and rigid forms ; and no League of Nations, for unity and concord, can have being by mechanism chiefly and without the dis- position that is requisite to give it life.
But if we in Britain do modify, as we shall and already have begun x to modify, the kind of indirect national control which has prevailed with us, this we shall do wisely by imparting to it greater breadth, a larger representative character, a character truer to the facts, a stronger vitality. We shall make it represen- tative not of the British at home only, but of the whole British 1 See Appendix, pp f 282-4.
76 Diplomacy and Foreign Policy
Commonwealth, in accordance with a community of interest and a partnership in achieving. We should have the assurance that this more representative direction and control of foreign policy by a Council of the Empire would express the mind of a Commonwealth of peoples, and would be the informed check of mind upon mind. It would help to promote the collective responsibility of all civilized nations in upholding International Law and developing and safeguarding international morality. This it would do without relaxing its grip on the solid truth that there is only one effective way of resisting wrong done by force, or of warding off wrong threatened by force : there must be the means, and there must be readiness, to exert force on the side of right and justice.