Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/33

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THE PERIL OF "MUDDLING THROUGH"

efficient guarantee that Germany should not be able to injure us in the future would be a strenuous effort to capture her enormous foreign trade. Modern wars, it must be remembered, are not merely a matter of the clash of arms on the stricken field. The enormous ramifications of commercial undertakings, immeasurably greater to-day than at any time in history, mean that, in the conduct of a great campaign, economic weapons may be even more powerful than the sword of the big battalions. This unquestionable fact has been fully realised by our leading thinkers. Thoughtless people have been heard to say that, if France and Russia wish to conclude peace, England must necessarily join with them because she cannot carry on the war alone. There could be no greater mistake.

Just so long as the British Fleet holds the command of the sea, Germany's foreign trade is in the paralysing grip of an incubus which cannot be shaken off. In the meantime, all the seas of all the world are free to our ships and our commerce, and, though the volume of world-trade is necessarily diminished by the war, there remains open to British manufacturers an enormous field which has been tilled hitherto mainly by German firms.

We may now ask ourselves whether our business men are taking full advantage of this priceless opportunity offered them for building up and consolidating a commercial position which in the future, when the war is ended, will be strong enough to defy even the substantial attacks of their German competitors. I sincerely wish I could see some evidence of it. I wish I could feel that our business men of England were looking ahead, studying methods and markets, and planning the campaigns which, in the days to come, shall reach their full