THERE is one subject in the field of our international relations on which all Americans are in agreement. We wish to keep out of war. We are somewhat vague as to how this is to be accomplished, and divergence of opinion immediately arises when we discuss the form our insurance against war should take. Also, we are too apt to jump to the conclusion that our aims can be achieved without much thought or planning on our part. Quickly forgetful both of the immediate past and of the lessons of history, we assume that we blundered into our wars largely because of the mistakes of our leaders. We are tempted to believe that the World War finally taught us a lesson, that we have achieved a kind of immunity from war as the result of our disillusionment over that experience and its effect upon our domestic and international relations. Finally, we assume that, with proper respect for the rules of neutrality, we can without much difficulty keep in the straight and narrow path of peace.
The facts hardly justify any such complacency. The country was certainly as peacefully-minded in 1914 as it is today. Further, our whole past history shows that the American people, even more than many other peoples, have those temperamental qualities which make it particularly easy for the war fever to spread as an epidemic in the face of provocation. In the past we have engaged in our share of wars, and more, and in most instances not because war was brought to our own shores but because we were goaded into making war outside of our territorial limits.
If the situation is looked at abstractly, it is true that no country is better situated than the United States to keep out of war. It is almost inconceivable that anyone will attack us as long as we maintain the present policy of adequate defense at sea. Unfortunately, however, this is only a very superficial view. The interests of the
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