Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/393

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Its basic principle is plainly that of a limitation of war to the belligerent powers directly concerned. But neutrality in its practical applications is more than this. A distinct relation arises at once between the contending governments and those bearing no immediate share in the conflict, and situations are ipso facto created pregnant with the gravest complexities and responsibilities. It is, indeed, in this day of a highly expanded world commerce, impossible that the disasters of war should be wholly confined to the actual belligerents. The neutral will inevitably experience some phases of the general loss and damage, since each belligerent must, by universal consent, be allowed to so far restrain commercial intercourse with the opposing belligerent as to insure the cutting off of all intentional or incidental neutral aid. Neutrality, to be genuine, can know no degrees whatsoever, no divisions, no limits; it must be absolute and unconditional; should it be permitted to develop, under a specious pretext of safeguarding its own economic interests, any quality of relativity, it at once incurs the peril of becoming essentially less aloof from the interests of one side than of the other, and undeniably open to the charge of partiality. A neutral power may not even be permitted to vary its required attitude on the plea that proposed deviations may benefit the belligerents equally; since an identical concession or absence of restriction must operate with varying effect on those whose local environment is dissimilar. Such an imperfect neutrality becomes in substance a participation in a belligerent struggle. We need not, of course, stop to point out the distinctions arising from a partial territorial neutrality such as exists in the Savoy districts of Eastern France and where, should war occur between France and Italy, the districts in question may be occupied by Swiss troops to preserve the neutralization accorded this region at the Congress of Vienna.[1] The very fact of neutralization, indeed, would appear to properly imply a prerogative of defense by force of arms if need be. Upon two celebrated occasions (in 1780 and in 1800) the states of northern Europe agreed to maintain, with their allies, certain dogmas of maritime neutral regulation by force of their combined fleets and troops, nor were these "armed neutralities" thought to derogate from true neutral character. Exceptions, too, are seen in the beneficent activities of the Red Cross and ambulance service, and in such cases as may justify a neutral in granting pilotage assistance to a disabled belligerent or in permitting him to take supplies of fuel limited by the requirements of distance to his nearest national or colonial port. But in such a crisis as confronts the world to-day, the chief stress of international perplexities arises from the threatened interests of commerce,—the detention by a belligerent of goods claimed as contraband, whether destined to an opposing belligerent or to neutral territory whence transshipment to belligerent territory is considered more than probable; or, again, the

  1. Fuller, C. J., in the case of The Three Friends, 166 U. S. 1, 52, March 1. 1897