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"it is much easier to be a harmless dove than a wise serpent." 1
I ABHOR war. In common with all other thinking men I am inexpressibly saddened by the dreadful contest now raging in Europe. I put peace very high as an agent for bringing about righteousness. But if I must choose between righteousness and peace, I choose righteous
ONE of the main lessons to learn from this war is embodied in the homely proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Persistently only half of this proverb has been quoted in deriding the men who wish to safeguard our national interest and honor. Persistently the effort has been made to insist that those who advocate keeping our country able to defend its rights are merely adopting "the policy of the big stick." In reality, we lay equal emphasis on the fact that it is necessary to speak softly; in other words, that it is necessary to be respectful toward all people and scrupulously to refrain from wronging them, while at the same time keeping ourselves in condition to prevent wrong being done to us. If a nation does not in this sense speak softly, then sooner or later the policy of the big stick is certain to result in war. But what befell Luxembourg five months ago, what has befallen China again and again during the past quarter of a century, shows that no amount of
1 This and the two following sections are from America and the World War. Copyright, 1915. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers.
speaking softly will save any people which does not carry a big stick.
America should have a coherent policy of action toward foreign powers, and this should primarily be based on the determination never to give offense when it can be avoided, always to treat other nations justly and courteously, and, as long as present conditions exist, to be prepared to defend our own rights ourselves. No other nation will defend them for us. No paper guarantee or treaty will be worth the paper on which it is written if it becomes to the interest of some other power to violate it, unless we have strength, and courage and ability to use that strength, back of the treaty.
I HOLD that the laws of morality which should govern individuals in their dealings one with the other are just as binding concerning nations in their dealings one with the other. The application of the moral law must be different in the two cases, because in one case it has, and in the other it has not, the sanction of a civil law with force behind it. The individual can depend for his rights upon the courts, which themselves derive their force from the police power of the State. The nation can depend upon nothing of the kind; and therefore, as things are now, it is the highest duty of the most advanced and freest peoples to keep themselves in such a state of readiness as to forbid to any barbarism or despotism the hope of arresting the progress of the world by striking down the nations that lead in that progress. It would be foolish indeed to pay heed to the unwise persons who desire disarmament to be begun by the very people who, of all
others, should not be left helpless before any possible foe. But we must reprobate quite as strongly both the leaders and the peoples who practice, or encourage or condone, aggression and iniquity by the strong at the expense of the weak. We should tolerate lawlessness and wickedness neither by the weak nor by the strong; and both weak and strong we should in return treat with scrupulous fairness. The foreign policy of a great and self-respecting country should be conducted on exactly the same plane of honor, of insistence upon one's own rights and of respect for the rights of others, as when a brave and honorable man is dealing with his fellows. Permit me to support this statement out of my own experience. For nearly eight years I was the head of a great nation and charged especially with the conduct of its foreign policy; and during those years I took no action with reference to any other people on the face of the earth that I would not have felt justified in taking as an individual in dealing with other individuals.1
1 Address delivered at Oxford University, Oxford, England, June 7, 1910. From African and European Addresses. Copyright, 1910. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, publishers.
IV. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION
It was no mere accident that made our three mightiest men, two of them soldiers, and one the great war President. It is only through work and strife that either nation or individual moves on to greatness. The great man is always the man of mighty effort, and usually the man whom grinding need has trained to mighty effort. Rest and peace are good things, are great blessings, but only if they come honorably; and it is those who fearlessly turn away from them, when they have not been earned, who in the long run deserve best of their country. In the sweat of our brows do we eat bread, and though the sweat is bitter at times, yet it is far more bitter to eat the bread that is unearned, unwon, unde served. America must nerve herself for labor and peril. The men who have made our national greatness are those who faced danger and overcame it, who met difficulties and surmounted them, not those whose lines were cast in such pleasant places that toil and dread were ever far from them.
Neither was it an accident that our three leaders were men who, while they did not shrink from war, were nevertheless heartily men of peace. The man who will not fight to avert or undo wrong is but a poor creature; but, after all, he is less dangerous than the man who fights on the side of wrong. Again and again in a nation's history the time may, and indeed sometimes must,
come when the nation's highest duty is war. But peace must be the normal condition, or the nation will come to a bloody doom.
Twice in great crises, in 1776 and 1861, and twice in lesser crises, in 1812 and 1898, the Nation was called to arms in the name of all that makes the words "honor,' "freedom," and "justice" other than empty sounds. On each occasion the net result of the war was greatly for the benefit of mankind. But on each occasion this net result was of benefit only because after the war came peace, came justice and order and liberty. If the Revolution had been followed by bloody anarchy, if the Declaration of Independence had not been supplemented by the adoption of the Constitution, if the freedom won by the sword of Washington had not been supplemented by the stable and orderly government which Washington was instrumental in founding, then we should have but added to the chaos of the world, and our victories would have told against and not for the betterment of mankind. So it was with the Civil War. If the four iron years had not been followed by peace, they would not have been justified. If the great silent soldier, the Hammer of the North, had struck the shackles off the slave only, as so many conquerors in civil strife before him had done, to rivet them around the wrists of freemen, then the war would have been fought in vain, and worse than in vain. If the Union, which so many men shed their blood to restore, were not now a union in fact, then the precious blood would have been wasted.
But it was not wasted; for the work of peace has made good the work of war, and North and South, East and West, we are now one people in fact as well as in name;