Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/336

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Viscount Haldane

believe that the world is going so to organize itself that no nation, out of ambition or fear, or because of any other influence or motive, will be permitted to go to war. This means that differences somehow must be settled by arbitration. If the world had been so organized last July, Germany could not have refused to accept our proposal for a peaceful settlement of the issue at stake.

As regards the fate of Constantinople and the Dardenelles, I feel certain it can be settled satisfactorily. In any case I imagine the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus will be open to the merchant ships of all nations. What a glorious thing it would be for Germany and for every one else if, following the American example at Panama, she dealt with the Kiel Canal as America has dealt with the Panama Canal, and then settled down to fifty years of peace, industry, and reform! If she did this—abandoned all her ideals of war as a means of getting on—I do not think the future would suggest to her any reason to return to the discarded system.

I am far from sure that, even if Germany had respected the neutrality of Belgium, England would have remained out of the war. Belgium touched our honour; France touched our feelings and our interests. Having regard to the theories of world conquest behind the successful German movement in favour of a war of aggression, it seems to me it would have been madness on our part to have sat with hands folded while Germany removed the Continental obstacles in the way of her laying siege to the British Empire.

In the best of circumstances we are very near the striking power of Germany. I do not think we possibly could have permitted that striking power to come still nearer and absorb the States nearest to us without a desperate attempt to prevent it; but the attack upon Belgium gave us no time for thought or choice; we had to resist the violation of the treaty and the wrong done to a weaker State, or we should have been disgraced.