Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/340

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Philip Snowden

about this awful disaster. I do not think that the democracies of Europe can escape their responsibility for this war. It may be due to the military spirit of Prussia—to the desire of Germany for world domination; it may be due to the imperial aggrandizement of Russia putting forward another effort to extend the Slav domination which now rules the half of Europe and the half of Asia; it may be due to a desire on the part of France to avenge her defeat forty years ago; but, if it be any one of these causes or any other cause, the responsibility rests primarily with the democracies of the respective countries, who have taken little or no interest in international affairs, and who have left European foreign politics to be managed by Kaisers, Tsars, militarists, and diplomatists, who were altogether out of sympathy with democracy, and had economic and other interests opposed to those of the workers of the world. I would set this down as the first cause of the war; and unless the outcome of this war be the full recognition of that fact by the democracies of Europe, and the establishment of some system of democratic control of national and international affairs, then the war will have been fought in vain, and the awful sacrifices will have been to no useful end. The workers of the European countries are responsible for the war, in the sense that they have been negligent in preventing it, but they are not responsible in the sense that they desired the war.

Only a democrat or a socialist would agree with what I have just said about the responsibility of the working classes of the different countries for the war. A student of European history, or an intelligent and experienced diplomatist, would assign other reasons, and he would be right in his description of the influences which have been operating in foreign policy and diplomatic embassies. In the narrower, but very important, sense this is not a war between Germany and Great Britain, nor between France and Germany. Both France and Great Britain are in the war because of alliances and treaty obligations. It is primarily a war between Russia and Germany; it is the old quarrel for supremacy between the Teuton and the Slav. On the part of Russia it arose from their desire to protect the people of their own race in the Near East. On the part of Germany it was a war prompted by the fear of Russian aggression. The Germans may have been wrong I can express no opinion on the point, but no one who has travelled in Germany or who has associated with German socialists can be ignorant of the genuine fear of Russian aggres-