Matters of Common Interest
"THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IS NOT TRYING TO DRAG YOU INTO THE WAR"
By the MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN, Ambassador of Great Britain
Delivered Before the Chicago Council of Foreign Relations, January 4, 1940
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 197-201.
WE in Europe tend to regard the Middle West as an unknown and incomprehensible land. We hear a lot about New York and the Eastern States. We hear even more about California and Hollywood. But we are told that the real heart of America beats beyond the Alleghanies and that it is there that the real decisions about American policy are made. So I am glad to be among you, for the first time, in my new role of British Ambassador to the United States.
I am not sure that the so-called mystery land of the Middle West is really so mysterious. I came here first in 1912 and I have visited it many times since. I have found as warm hearts and as hard heads here as in any other part of your country, and personally I have received nothing but kindness and friendliness wherever I have gone.
I conceive that it is part of the duty of a British Ambassador to explain to the American public, so far as he judiciously can, what his own countrymen think about matters of common interest just as your excellent Ambassador in London, Mr. Kennedy, is continually explaining to the British people what you think. That, I believe, is essential to healthy relations between any two democratically controlled peoples.
The genius of Democracy depends upon freedom of speech. That means that every true democracy wants to hear all sides of every great question, whether it is domestic or whether it is international. It must do so if it is to arrive at sound judgments. I don't believe that you want me merely to utter a few meaningless diplomatic commonplaces tonight. I believe that you would prefer to hear an honest account of what we in Britain think and hope and fear about the most serious problem in the world today—the European war. So I am going to take my courage in my hands and talk to you about the war.
To do this is not, I think, propaganda. The free peoples, I believe, are entitled to speak to one another, provided they tell the truth, as I shall endeavor to do. I do not see how we can arrive at any sane program for peace unless we do talk frankly to one another.
Propaganda, as I see it, is quite a different thing. Propaganda is the deliberate attempt to influence your own countrymen, or other nations, to a particular course of action, by lies or half truths or tendentious innuendoes. The truth is never propaganda; it is the very staff of public life. The mark of a good citizen in a democracy is his or her capacity to distinguish between truth and error. The subjects of a dictatorship are never given any training in this vital function. The government, and the party which controls it, does their thinking for them.
That is why democracies turn out citizens of independence and character, and why they are so difficult to propagandize for long. And that is why the subjects of the dictatorship who are taught only to obey authority, fall such ready victims to propaganda.
I do not propose to spend much time in discussing the origins of this war. We must now leave that task to the historians. I would hope that when the time comes for making peace, those who have to make the peace will have studied the history of the last twenty years and so avoid some of the mistakes which were made last time. But first, in our opinion, we have to win the war.
We in Britain have no doubt, whatever we may think about the far past, that the immediate responsibility for letting war loose this Autumn rests on the shoulders of Herr Hitler. There was no reason whatever for forcing war on unfortunate Poland last August. The security and prosperity of Germany were not threatened in any way by Polish policy or by the Polish frontiers. Poland, France and Great Britain had repeatedly said that they were prepared for discussion, either between Poland and Germany alone or at a round-table conference.
Yet, as Count Ciano made clear in his recent speech in Rome, Hitler would neither wait nor negotiate. He insisted on settling the Polish question in his own way at once, loosing on the Polish people unlimited total war, and then partitioning Poland with Russia.
It is sometimes said that Great Britain and France should have gone more vigorously to the rescue of Poland last September. But everybody knew, the Polish Government itself knew, once the German-Russian pact was signed, that it would be futile to try to save Poland by diverting planes or troops to Poland to the East from the West, or to waste our still undeveloped resources by flinging them against the Siegfried Line. That would simply have been to play the German game. From the date of the pact every thinking person knew that the freedom and future of Poland really depended on the ultimate victory of the Allies in the war against Hitlerism.
Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Rumania were all overrun in the last war, as Poland has been overrun in this war, because the Allies could not effectively help them. But they were all released, with their independence restored in 1918. And so it will be with Poland.
But there is a second reason for not discussing responsibility for the origins of the war at length tonight and that is because once war has been launched the issues rapidly change as its area extends. The World War of 1914 began with the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary. The issue then was whether the sovereign independence of Serbia could be saved. Yet within a few days almost the whole of Europe was dragged into war by that terrible military timetable, which always appears when nations are living in anarchy and have to form alliances for national safety.
The issue then became whether the independence not only of Serbia but of Belgium, and later of Greece and Rumania, could be restored. And by the time the United States entered the war the issue was whether the world was going to give allegiance to the liberal ideals for which the Western nations stood or be dominated by the ideals and militarist methods which lay behind Ludendorff and the Kaiser.
So today we think that the central issue is no longer whether the peoples of Poland and Czecho-Slovakia are to be freed from the Gestapo, though that is certainly one of our war aims. It is the larger one of which of two conflicting ways of life, which may be loosely described as the democratic and the totalitarian, are going to be dominant in Europe and possibly the world.
When Hitler started his career his claim was that Germany should be freed from such discriminations as the demilitarization of the Rhineland and that the frontiers of the Reich should correspond with the boundaries of the German people. These aims he won and without war. What he is fighting for today is quite different.
Whatever the defects of the Versailles Treaty, its great merit was that it gave every nation in Europe the right to self-government, it gave to racial minorities in Europe statutory safeguards and it gave the protection of the mandatory system to backward peoples elsewhere. The frontiers may not have been perfect, though they were certainly the justest frontiers Europe had ever known.
But it is now clear that Hitler has never been concerned with the justice of frontiers. His remedy for imperfections in frontiers has been to destroy the independence of nations altogether. Thus by brutal violence he has annihilated Austria, Czecho-Slovakia and Poland and condemned their inhabitants to serfdom, without even the protection against oppression secured by the native inhabitants of the ex-German colonies by the mandatory system.
It now seems quite clear to us that what Hitler really seeks is not justice for Germany, but conquest and domination. There is no other explanation for the fact that Hitler had subordinated every other consideration to the creation of the most tremendous totalitarian military and aerial organization the world has even seen, that he has used it with utter ruthlessness to gain his ends both in diplomacy and in war, and that promises and treaties have been to him merely the means of lulling his neighbors into a false sense of security before he attacks them.
His true purpose was quite frankly stated by Hitler himself in "Mein Kampf"—"The idea of pacifism," he wrote, "may be quite good after the supreme race has conquered and subdued the world in such a measure as he makes it its exclusive master. . . . Therefore, first fight and then perhaps pacifism," And only a few days ago, to prove that this is still the National Socialist plan, Dr. Ley, one of the leaders of the party, attempted to justify the conquest of Poland on the grounds that it was a necessary step toward the establishment of the dominion of the supreme German ruling race.
That is why we in Britain and France and in the young democracies across the seas have gradually been driven to the conclusion, especially since the Russian invasion of Finland, that we are confronted with one more of those tremendous struggles between freedom and tyranny which have been the central theme of history ever since the Greeks turned back the power of Persia at Thermopylae and Salamis.
The democracies to today are the heirs, the fortunate heirs, of the struggles of their ancestors to establish freedom firmly upon earth. For them freedom has meant two things. First it has meant freedom for religion, freedom from arrest, except for violation of law, freedom of opinion and the public expression of opinion on the platform and in the press. Second, it has meant the responsibility of the individual citizen for law and government expressed in such phrases as "government must rest on the consent of the governed" and in the constitutional systems of modern democracy.
This process of freedom began far back in history with the Israelites and the Greeks. It was carried on by the Republic of Rome. It was developed still further in England, and also in some of the small European States, in the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the parliamentary system. It received a vast new impetus from the French and the American Revolutions and especially from the system of government established by the American Constitution.
The broad purpose of the whole movement was to allow the individual to lead his life in his own way, subject to the restraint of law which he helped to frame, to curb the ambitions and privileges of race or class or caste, to dethrone militarism and conquest, and to make the State and those who directed it the servants and not the masters of the people. Nowhere has that ideal been more fully realized than in the United States.
By the beginning of this century, it had become clear that to complete the development of freedom, two new problems would be tackled. One was to overcome the excessive inequality in wealth and the unemployment to which the later development of the capitalist system had led—that is to establish economic freedom. The other was to give security to national as well as individual freedom and to overcome war, which today as always has been the greatest destroyer of both.
We, in the British Commonwealth, think that by the end of the last war, the Democracies had begun to formulate successfully the basic solution for both these problems. The solution for the economic problem was what is perhaps best called social reform. Social reform includes graduated taxation, insurance against unemployment and sickness, old age pensions, good relations between employers and trades unions, and other methods of social security which still maintain intact the right to private property and to individual economic initiative.
The solution of the war problem was to be found toward the following truisms. Mankind is a community, not an anarchy of many races and nations. War is fratricide. Nations as well as individuals have the right to life, liberty and happiness. Backward peoples have the right to security against exploitation and to be guided toward self-government. The status of all nations, great and small, should be equal before the law. The strong and powerful nations have no greater rights than the small and the weak. The remedy for war is a form of international organization which will prevent resort to violence, provide pacific methods for the just settlement of international disputes, and establish a true reign of law among the nations.
Of course the realization of this dual program will be a tremendous task—one of the greatest ever presented to mankind. It is quite clear that the task was badly bungled after the last war. I think there is in this country a widespread misunderstanding of what was done at Versailles. It was not a good treaty, but it was nothing like as bad as, under Dr. Goebbels's inspiration, is generally supposed. What happened after Versailles did far more harm than the treaty itself.
I often wish that three American, three French and three British historians would publish a joint statement of the true facts during the post-war era. I think it would astonish a lot of people. But there is not the slightest doubt that having won the greatest victory for freedom and democracy in 1918, of which history has record, the Allied Powers threw away their chance, both by faults of omission and commission.
For that tragedy no nation and no statesman can establish a full alibi. None the less, we in Britain and the democracies across the seas are convinced that the basic ideas for the future set forth during the war were sound and that there is in fact no other way forward if our freedom and our happiness are to be preserved and enlarged. Our task is not to abandon hope, but in the spirit of Kipling's "If," stoop to begin our task anew.
Unfortunately, the dislocation caused by the war itselfand the many mistakes made after the war led not to the extension of liberty and democracy on a stable basis, but to the revival of the old enemy tyranny in a more formidable form than has ever yet been known.
The economic form of tyranny has been communism, which preached that if only all property were communalized economic freedom and equality would result. Unfortunately, experience has shown that the Communist system only means that the citizens become the regimented and often starving slaves of the party bureaucracy which controls the State. By a final irony for the Marxists, the capitalist democracies have not initiated war since 1920, while Communist Russia has now joined the ranks of the war-making aggressors.
The political form of tyranny has been National Socialism, whose program is to give peace to mankind by creating the universal despotism of a supreme ruling race. The essential characteristics of both totalitarian systems are the same. The State becomes the master and not the servant of the people and exacts from its subjects blind obedience to the dogmas and the party which control it. They are hostile to free religion, to independence of character, intellectual integrity and moral courage in the individual.
They establish the dominance not of law but of the irresponsible secret police and substitute cruelty and propaganda for free discussion as the basis of public policies. Both systems end in the same way; they create a race of moral morons who are used as the instrument of conquest, domination and war.
The overwhelming majority of people in Britain and the British Commonwealth are now convinced that our primary task is to resist and defeat the totalitarian aggression against the values of our democratic world. In the light of recent experience, we do not think that we can impose democracy on nations who do not want it and who are not ready for it. But we do not think it is necessary to prevent the dictatorships from extending their empire over the mind and spirit of man by force. That is why we are fighting to restore liberty to Poland and Czecho-Slovakia and why we are giving all the help we can spare to Finland.
And my people are equally convinced that once that primary task is achieved, the truest safeguard of freedom and the free way of life in the future will be to so organize our own countries that the general standard of living will be so stable, the volume of unemployment so small, the freedom of the individual so secure, and the guarantees against war so strong, that the totalitarian systems, if they survive, will begin to disintegrate gradually by the impact not of our armies but of our example.
Let me tell you now something about the way the war itself is going.
The central struggle is between Germany, supported by Russia on the one side, and Great Britain and the dominions, allied with France, on the other. The real prize for which they are contending is not territory, but sea power. For that is the real key to victory.
If Germany can defeat England either by direct attack upon her naval and her sea communication, or on France through Belgium, or the Maginot Line and compel us to surrender our fleet, or a large part of it, and the naval bases, whereby fleets may travel all over the face of the globe, Germany will then be on top of the world. The opposition to her in Europe will disappear. Most of the other nations will hasten to get upon her bandwagon and she will be able to dictate the basis upon which world politics shall be conducted.
If the German thrust for sea power fails, it is only a question of time before the relentless pressure of the blockade upon her capacity to carry on the war effectively will end inthe defeat of her purpose and the democracies will then have the chance of determining the kind of world in which we are to live.
So far the struggle has been indecisive, though occasionally an encounter like the sea battle off Montevideo suddenly reveals the grim intensity of the struggle which is going on day and night, week after week, month after month, on and below and above the sea.
Our view is that everything today points to the probability that Germany will attempt early this Spring to gain a decision against England and France by a terrific attack by land, air and sea in which she will use every weapon in her armory. The reason we think this is not only the news we get but because by her own tradition it is the right thing for her to do.
The object of war is to reach a decision, and Germany cannot afford to wait. Moreover, from the point of view of the National Socialist party and the militarists who support it, not only is there a chance of a rapid decision today, but it is a decision which may give them the supreme prize, world empire. That chance may never come again.
Nazi Germany is in a better position to win it today than she was in the last war. Then she had to fight a war on two fronts. Today she can concentrate almost every force she has in the West.
A month ago, despite the Russo-German pact, she cast a suspicious eye toward her rear. Today the resistance of the heroic Finns has shown up the weakness of the Russian Army.
Again, in the last war she had no effective long distance air power. Today she has the most terrific air force in the world and is daily adding to it.
Even in the last war the German General Staff made three desperate bids for world power. The first was the thrust against France and through Belgium in 1914. The second was in 1917. Ludendorff had been warned by Bethman-Hollweg and by Bernstorff—the German Ambassador in Washington—that to introduce unlimited submarine warfare against all merchant vessels traveling to Great Britain and France would certainly bring in the United States against Germany.
Ludendorff replied that he did not care, because if the submarine campaign was quickly successful nothing that the United States could do would save England from defeat or Germany from taking her position. Not soon shall I forget the anxiety of the following months when 800,000 tons of shipping were being sunk a month.
If Germany had been able to continue sinking at this rate for a year the Allies would have lost the war. As it was, the submarine was mastered by the Autumn of 1917 by the convoy system, by the depth charge, and by the destroyer patrols, in which your young sailors, under Admiral Sims, played so notable and effective a part.
So far, in this war, Great Britain has only lost an average of slightly more than 102,000 tons per month, and neutrals have lost an average of about 75,000 tons per month. During the same period British tonnage has received an increment, by new construction and otherwise, of more than 100,000 tons.
Even in 1917, Ludendorff only just failed. Yet he tried again in 1918. The moderate element in the German High Command wanted to stand on the defensive in the West, to reinforce it with the seasoned German troops which had just annihilated the Russian Army, and then set to work to organize economically Eastern Europe and Southern Russia, while leaving the Allies to hurl themselves fruitlessly against the reinforced Hindenburg Line.
They calculated that when the Allies were tired of losing life in this way, Germany would be able to secure a peacewhich would make her dominant in Europe east of the Rhine by making them pay a handsome price for the evacuation of Belgium and Northern France. But Ludendorff, faithful to the Prussian military tradition, would have none of it. It was, for him, world-power or downfall. So he staked everything on victory through the gigantic offensive of March, 1918, hoping to drive the British into the sea and the French south of Paris before American aid on land could be effective.
He failed, though he again only just failed, and caught on the recoil by the masterly generalship of General Foch, using the seasoned veterans of France, Britain and the Dominions, and that indispensable aid of your own intrepid divisions, Germany went not to world power but to downfall.
Today we hear exactly the same story. Dr. Goebbels said only a fortnight ago that the issue before Germany was world empire or downfall.
That is why the Allies think the National Socialist Germany and not Communist Russia is the centre of the struggle. And that is why we believe that, unless something unexpected occurs, there will be a terrific attack on France and on the bases of British naval and aerial power as soon as the weather improves.
We have, all of us, perhaps, been a little misled by the relative calm of the war in the West so far. But while we have been overtaking our own shortage of munitions and building up our naval patrols our air squadrons and our mechanized divisions, Germany has been expanding her armaments also with all the frenzied energy of a Nazi totalitarian drive.
Germany now has over 80,000,000 of her own citizens, 30,000,000 helots, and the factories of Poland and Czechoslovakia, as well as her own factories, to put to work, and for the present only the Western Front to worry about.
So long as she thinks there is a chance of wresting sea power from Britain, either by direct attack or through France, she will not think of peace—except the kind of peace which will only make it easy for her to renew the attack under more favorable conditions in a short while.
We think she will try for victory first. And it is certain that if and when the attack comes it will be with all the ferocity and ruthlessness the Nazi have taught us to expect.
We are in no way dismayed by the prospect. We in the British Commonwealth are prepared for it as France is, morally and physically. The European neutrals are standing on the sidelines, most of them I believe gambling on the hope of an Allied victory. We believe that we shall successfully repel the German attack, and if it is repelled as it was in 1918 it will not be long before Hitlerism itself goes down in defeat.
But we have no illusion as to the terrible nature of the clash if and when it comes, or of the prodigious consequences for mankind which hang upon the result.
Now a word about peace. Of course all our ideas are based on the assumption that Hitler loses the war. If Hitler wins, all the many societies in Europe which are trying to think out how the present catastrophe can be prevented from recurring and the world healed when the fighting is over, can shut up shop at once. The pattern of the post-war world will be determined by him and not by us, and we have as yet no clear indication of what that pattern will be like, except that it certainly will not correspond with our ideas of freedom.
Even assuming victory, it is not easy to talk about peace with this tremendous threat hanging over us, but the general British view is clear. The kind of world of which the democracies dreamed twenty years ago was not a false dream. We think it was a right dream and that in some form it mustbe realized because in substance it is the only way forward for those who believe in liberty and the freedom of the human spirit.
But it is now clear that in 1919 none of us understood what it was necessary to do if our hopes were to be fulfilled. The ideals which lay behind the League of Nations can only succeed if all its members are democracies. The covenant of the League was too rigid. It had no effective machinery for making changes peacefully. The principle of universal national self-determination was incompatible with the unity recently given to the world by mechanical invention and economic progress and made both peace and prosperity impossible.
Yet, if any form of world organization is to work, Europe must be equipped to manage its own internal affairs by some system of federalism. The greatest of our mistakes were economic. What did more to wreck civilization than anything else was the belief that a war-stricken world could recover by a system which combined immense international indebtedness with unrestrained tariff protectionism. That was probably the major cause of the world depression of 1929.
We profoundly hope that the nations will think out far more thoroughly than they did last time how the world can be economically reconstructed when the present war is over. Trade and production will then be in dislocation. The needs of the war will have canalized the trade not only of the belligerents but of the neutrals. Those canals will serve war and not peace purposes.
Yet to go back immediately to an economic free-for-all fight will simply mean that the end of this war will produce worse results than the last. In my personal view it will be imperative for a time to maintain these controls, but to reverse their purpose, so that they are used to restore the standard of living without which the end of this war will only be the signal for fiercer revolution and fiercer wars than the last. Once the standard of living is restored with all that means in markets for the producing nations we should be able safely to return to a freer economy. It is in this field that we most want your assistance and advice.
But there is one central point to which we in Britain attach supreme importance, and which I feel I ought frankly to put before you tonight. For it vitally affects the peace and is the answer to the common talk that the present is only a war between rival imperialisms. We feel that the only foundation for a stable and liberal world will be the control of the seas on agreed principles by the democracies. This view we base upon experience, for that was the foundation of the remarkable Victorian Age.
The greatest expansion both of freedom and prosperity of which the world has record took place in the century between 1815 and 1914. The standard of living of the Western World was raised fourfold by the industrial revolution. The immense adjustments following the enormous movement of capital and population all over the world which the industrial revolution caused were made without world war. There were many local wars but no world war—and it is world wars, not local wars, which wreck civilization.
You on this side of the Atlantic were left free to develop your own culture, prosperity and institutions without any serious international complication for a whole century. Partly] because of the long peace and partly because of the example of the success of your democratic experiment, Great Britain itself became steadily more democratic and the British Empire became a Commonwealth of Nations, in which Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and at long last Ireland became independent self-governing nations, entirely free from British control.
Self-government is in progress of development everywhere else within it—according to the education and advancement of the peoples. Egypt and Iraq are independent States. Even India with its immense population of 360,000,000 people, its dozen languages, its Hindu-Moslem tension and its feudal princes who control one-fourth of the country, has made immense strides in the last twenty years. Already the eleven provinces, possessed of about the same sphere of powers as your States, are self-governed, with Ministries responsible to the electorate.
The real difficulty today is to find the basis upon which these diverse elements will agree to federate so that India can govern and defend itself. The solution of this vast problem cannot be accomplished in a day. Patience, prudence, good-will, and common sense are the only road.
The rest of the world profited also during the nineteenth century. Italy won its unity and introduced parliamentary institutions. Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria won their freedom. Germany was united by Bismarck. Europe as a whole began to become prosperous.
What were the foundations of this wonderful century? There were four. First, all the main currencies were based on gold and, therefore, were interchangeable on a stable basis. Second, the British Empire and a good deal of the rest of the world was free trade or low tariff, so that capital and goods could flow freely everywhere. Third, the New World, and especially the United States, was still an open held for immigration so that the population pressures of the Old World, then at their worst because of the high birth rate, could find relief. Fourth, and most important of all, there was a rudimentary police power in the world, the control of the sea by Great Britain and the United States, which made world war—though not local war—impossible until some other nation was strong enough to challenge their power on the seas.
That police system originated in the idea that no further political expansion of Europe into North and South America should be permitted. The policy was formulated by Lord Canning and President Monroe.
Originally proposed by Canning as a joint Anglo-American doctrine, it was eventually carried out in two parts by you and us separately. You threw your protection around South and Central America; we created the outer defense for that doctrine by controlling the entrance from Europe into the Atlantic, through the North Sea and the English Channel, past Gibraltar and round the Cape of Good Hope.
So long as we have a navy which could hold these positions no European power, except for a few casual raiders and submarines, could get into the Atlantic at all and so leave to you the sole responsibility for defending the Monroe system.
Those were the four foundations of the Victorian Age. Personally, I believe that in some new form they will have to be restored, if the rest of this century is to be without another world war. They were challenged by Imperial Germany at the beginning of this century. They are being challenged by Hitler again today.
But the nineteenth-century system cannot now be restored in its old form. In the first place, economically the world has advanced beyond laissez-faire, whether in trade or migration. In the second place, by itself Britain neither can nor ought to play by herself the dominant role she played in the last century.
The rights of new naval nations and the rise of air power makes that impossible. And sea power should be in the hands of the democracies, and not of one power. Even at this moment, if we face honestly the facts, our present safety today rests upon the fact that we control the Atlantic andyou control the Pacific. Neither we nor you, nor the overseas republics and dominions, would be so secure if either of us was left to act alone.
The nineteenth-century system, of course, was by no means perfect. But can any fair-minded person doubt that, on the whole, it promoted freedom, prosperity and peace better than any system which preceded it in modern times? And can any fair-minded person doubt that if Herr Hitler and his friends were to win the war and seize its sea power and sea bases from Britain that the world would get any equivalent prosperity or freedom? It might get peace, but it would be a peace with the light of liberty gone out. That is the real answer to the charge that this is a mere war between imperialisms.
I have practically finished. I have endeavored to put in front of you frankly and honestly what we in Britain think about the present struggle. I believe that to do this is to act in accord with true democratic principle. You will probably by no means agree with all I have said. But I believe it is important that you should know what we think.
My countrymen would like to have an equally frank and honest opinion from you. And neither would be propaganda. But having spoken my piece, it is now for you, and for you, alone, to decide whether or how far you agree with my analysis and what, if anything, you are going to do. That is your inalienable right and nobody in Britain wants to diminish it in the slightest degree. Respect both for individual and national responsibility is the foundation upon which the democratic way of life depends.
And may I add this. The British Government is not trying to drag you into this war. It knows that no democracy will accept the hideous consequences of war unless it is convinced that its own vital interests, which include its ideals, are at stake. It knows, too, that there is nothing on which the American people are more determined that to avoid entanglement in Europe, and to pursue their own independent international policy, free from alliances and commitments to other nations. If ever you are driven to action it will not be because of propaganda but because of the relentless march of events.
In this war we believe we are fighting for principle; to prevent the ideas and institutions which alone can lead mankind forward to greater liberty, prosperity and peace from being overwhelmed by brute force.
We do not think that we have a monopoly of virtue, or that we have not made many and grievous mistakes in the past. But we are sure we are in the right now. This faith is held not in England alone but not less strongly in France, in Canada, in Australia, in South Africa, in New Zealand and among the other peoples who have joined our side in this war.
We are not fighting for empire or for domination or to deprive Germany of any legitimate right. I have long been a deep admirer of President Lincoln. I believe we are fighting in the spirit he so nobly described in his second inaugural. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right."
At the moment we stand necessarily in the darkness. Matthew Arnold once wrote, "But aims in hours of insight willed, must be through years of gloom fulfilled."
Only the other day a distinguished friend of mine going to the front said that he had little sympathy with those who complained of the trouble and dangers by which we are faced today. With the possibility of an unutterable disaster on the one side, and on the other of the birth of a far better world for everybody if the nations will put selfishness aside and combine for the common good, he thanked God for the opportunity to live and strive in such tremendous times.