Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/65

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59
THE PERIL OF NOT DOING ENOUGH

remembered, at a time when Germany was violating every law of God and man! Assume a reversal of the prevailing conditions: would Germany have been so foolishly indulgent towards us? Would she have treated us with more consideration than she showed towards the starving population of Paris in 1871? The very fact of our long inaction in this respect adds enormously to the strong suspicion that in other directions we are not doing as much as we should. Lord Fisher is credited with the saying, "The essence of war is violence: moderation in war is imbecility. Hit first, hit hard, hit everywhere."

I think it is safe to say that in more than one direction we have displayed an imbecility of moderation which has tended to encourage the Germans in the supreme folly of imagining that they are at liberty to play fast and loose with the opinion of the civilised world. Our treatment of German spies and enemy aliens in our midst is a classic example of our contemptuous tolerance of easily removable perils, just as much as is our incredible folly in neglecting to make the fullest use of our magnificent naval resources. Thanks to our tolerance, the Germans have been freely importing food and cotton, with probably an enormous quantity of copper smuggled through in the same ships. We have paid in the blood and lives of our gallant soldiers, husbands, brothers, lovers, while the Germans have laughed at us—and not without justice—as a nation of silly dolts and imbeciles. Yet we have tardily decided upon "retaliatory measures" which we were perfectly entitled to take the instant war was declared, only under the pressure of Germany's campaign of murder and piracy at sea! Are we doing enough in other directions?

Equally belated, and equally calculated to give