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BRITISH WAR AIMS.

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BRITISH WAR AIMS. Premier's Re-Statement Receives General Approval. Mr. Lloyd Ghorgf. made a momen- tous statement on war aim! at the conference of Trade Union delegates held at Westminster on Saturday to consider the Man-Power Bill. After declaring Labour's right to know for what cause or causes they were fighting, the Prime Minister said it was only the clearest, greatest, and juetest of causes that could justify the oontinuance, even for one day, of this unspeakable agony of the nations. At this, the moet critical hour of the terrible conflict, the Government, be- fore taking a fateful decision-whether to ¡,;thp or go oll-ought to be satisfied they had the nation behind them. 1 have, therefore, during the last few days (he pipceedcd) taken special pains to ascertain the view and the attitude of representative men of all sections of thought and opinion in the country. Last week I had the privilege not mere- of persuing the declared war aims of the Labour Party, but also of discuss- ing in detail with the Labour leaders the Meaning and intention of that de- claration. I have also had an oppor- tunity of discussing this same momen- tous question with Mr. Asquith and Viscount Grey. Mr. Redmond has, with his usual lucidity and force, in many of his speeches, niifiade clear what his ideas are AS to the object and purpose of the Avar. I have also had the oppor- tunity of consulting certain represen- tatives of the Great Dominions Over- seas. I am glad to be able to say as a re- sult of all these discussions that, al-. though the Government are alone re- sponsible for the actual language I > propose using, there is national agree- ment as to the character and purpose of our war aims and peace conditions. and in what I say to you to-day, and through you to the world, I can ven- ture to claim that I am speaking not merely the mind of the Government, but of the nation and of the Empire as a whole. WHAT WE ARE NOT FIGHTING FOR. We may begin by clearing away some misunderstandings and stating what we are not fighting for. We are not fighting a war of aggression against the German people. Their lc-aders have persuaded them that they are fighting a war of self-defence against a league of rival nations bent on the destruc- tion of Germany. That is not so. The destruction or disruption of Germany or the German people has never been a war aim with us from the first day of this w::r to this day. Most reluctant- ly, and indeed quite unprepared for the dreadful ofrdeal, we were forced to join. in this war in self-defence, in defence of the violated public law of Europe, and in vindication of most solemn obligations. Wo had to join in the struggle or stand aside and see Europe go under and brute force triumph over public right and international justice. Germany has occupied a groat position in the world. It is not our wish or in- tention to question or destroy "that position for the future, but rather .-to turn her aside from hopes and schemes of military domination, and to see her devote all her strength to the great beneficent tasks of the world. Nor are we fighting to destroy Aus- tria-Hungary, or to deprive Turkey of > its capital, or of the rich and renowned I lands of Aisa Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in raoo. i i GERMANY'S CONSTITUTION. Nor did we enter this war merely to alter or destroy the Imperial consti- tution of Germany, much as we con- sider that military autocratic constitu- tion a dangerous anachronism in the i twentieth century. Our point of view is that the adoption of a really democra- tic constitution by Germany would be the most convincing evidence that in ¡ her the old spirit of military domina- tion has indeed died in this war, and would make it much easier for us to conclude a broad, democratic peace with her. But, after all, that is a ques- tion for the German people to decide. GERMANY'S SILENCE. It is now more than a year since the I President of the United States, then neutral, addressed to the belligerents a suggestion that each side should state clearly the aims for which they were fighting. We and our Allies re- sponded by the Note of January 10, 1917. To the President's appeal the Central Empires made no reply, and in spite of many adjurations, both from their opponents and from neutrals, they have maintained a. complete silence as to the objects for which they are fighting. Even on so crucial a matter as their intention with regard to Belgium, they have uniformly de- clined to give any trustworthy indica- tion. j COUNT CZERNIN S VAGUE PHRASES. On December 25th last, however, Count Czernin, speaking on behalf of Austria-Hungary and her Allies, did made a pronouncement of a kind. It is, indeed, deplorably vague. We are told that "it is not the intention" of the Central Powers "to appropriate forci- bly" any occupied territorities or "to rob of its independence" any nation which 'has lost its "political indepen- dence" during the war. It is obvious that almost any scheme of conquest and annexation could be perpetrated within the literal interpretation of such a pledge. Does it mean that Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and Rumania will be as independent as to direct their own des- tinies as the Germans or any other nation ? Or does it mean that all man- ner of interferences and restrictions, political and economic, incompatible with the status and dignity of a freed self-respecting people, arc to be im-, posed ? If that is the intention, then there will be one kind of independence for a great nation and an inferior kind of independence for a small nation. We J must know what is meant, for eqnality I of right amongst nations, small as well as great, is one of the fundamental issues this country and her Allies are fighting to establish in this war. THE CENTRAL EMPIRES' PEACE OFFER. Reparation for the wanton damage inflicted on Beljyan towns and villages and their inhabitants is emphatically repudiated. T!^ rest of the so-called "offer" of th<?Ccntral Powers is al- most entirely a refusal of all conces- sions. All suggestions about the auto- nomy of subject nationalities are ruled out of the peace terms altogether. The question whether any form of self- government is to be given to Arabs, Armenians, or Syrians is declared to be entirely a matter for the Sublime Porte. A pious wish for the protection of minorities, "in so far as it is prac- tical!yN realisable," is the nearest ap- proach to liberty which the Central statesmen venture to make. On one point only are they perfect- ly clear and definite. Under no circum- stances will the "German demand" for the restoration of the whole of Ger- many's colonies be departed from. All principles of self-determination, or, as our earlier phrase goes, government bv i ii. m ■■ i i consent of the governed, here vanish I into thin air. THE OLD DIPLOMACY GONE FOR I ,v EYER. It is impossible to believe that any I edifioe of permanent peace could be erected on such a foundation as this. Mere lip-servioe to t-e formula of no annexations and no indemnities or the right of self-determination is useless. Before any negotiations can even be begun, the Central Powers must realise the essential facts of the situation. The days of the Treaty of Vienna are long past. We can no longer submit the future of European civilisation to the arbitrary decisions of a few nego- tiators striving to secure by chicanery or persuasion the interests of this or that .dynasty or nation. The settlement of the new Europe must be based on suoh grounds of reason and justice as will give some grounds of stability. Therefore it is that we feel that government with the oonsent of the governed must be the basis of any ter- I ritorial settlement in this war. For that reason also, unless treaties be up- held, unless every nation is prepared at whatever sacrifice to honour the national signature, it is obvious that no treaty of peace can be worth the paper in which it is written. REPARATION TO BELGIUM. The first requirements, therefore, al- I ways put forward by the British Gov- ernment and their Allies has been the complete restoration, political, terri- torial, and economic, of the independ- ence of Belgium and such reparation as can be made for the devastation of its towns and provinces. This is. no demand for war indemnity such as that imposed on France by Germany in 1871. It is not an attempt to shift the cost of warlike operations from one belligerent to another, which may or may not be defensible. It is no more and no less than fin insistence that, before there can be any hope for a stable peace, this groat breach of the public law of Europe must be re piuliated, and, so far as possible, re, paired. Reparation moans recognition. Unless international right is recognised by insistenoe on payment for injury done in defiance of its canons it can never be a reality. Next comes the restoration of Serbia Montenegro, and the occupied parts fcf France, Italy, and Rumania. The com- plete withdrawal of the alien armies and the reparation for injustice don<* is a fundamental condition of permanent WITH FRANCE TO THE DEATH FOR ALSACE-LORRAINE. Wo mean to stand by the French democracy to the death in the demand they make for a reconsideration of the great wrong of 1871. /vixen, without any regard to the wishes of the popu- lation, two French Provinces were torn from the side of France and incorporat- ed in the German Empire. This sore has poisoned the peace of Europe for half a. century, and until it is cured healthy conditions will not have been restored. There can be no bettor illustration of the folly and wickedness of using a transient mili- tary success to violate national right. RUSSIA'S PERIL. I will not attempt to deal with the question of the Russian territorities now in German occupation. The Rus- sian policy since the Revolution has passed so rapidly through so many phases that it is difficult to speak without some suspension of judgment as to what the situation will be when the final terms of European peace come to bo discussed. The present rulers of Russia are now engaged, without any reference to the countries whom Russia brought into the war, in separate nego- tiations with their common enemy. I am indulging in no reproaches; 1 am merely stating facts with a view to making it clear why Britain cannot be held accountable for decisions taken in her absence and concerning- which she has not been consulted or her aid invoked. No one who knows Prussia and her I designs upon Russia can for a moment doubt her ultimate intention. What- ever phrases she may surrender one of the fair p rovinoes or cities of Russia now occupied by her forces. Under one name or another—and the name hard- ly matters—these Russian provinces will henceforth be in reality part of the dominions of Prussia. They will be ruled by the Prussian sword in the in- terests of Prussian autocracy, and the rest of the people of Russia will be partly enticed by specious phrases and partly bullied by the threat of con- tinued war against an impotent army into a condition of complete economic and ultimate political enslavement to Germany. We all deplore the prospect. The democracy of this country mean to stand to the last by the democracies of France and Italy and all our other All ies. We shall be proud to fight to the end, side by side by the new de- mocracy of Russia; so will America, and so will France and. Italy. But if the present rulers of Russia take ac- tion which is independent of their j Allies, we have have no means of in- tervening to arrest the catostrophe which is assuredly befalling their coun- try. Russia can only be saved by her own people. AUSTRIA-HUNGARY. Similarly, though we agree with President Wilson that the break-up of Austria-Hungary is no part of our war aims, we feel that, unless genuine self- government on true democratic prin- ciples is granted to, those Austro-Hun- garian nationalities who have long de- sired it, it is impossible to hope for the removal of those causes of unrest in that part of Europe which have so long threatened its general peace. ITALY AND RUMANIA. On the same grounds W;, regard as vital the satisfaction of the legitimate claims of the Italians for union with those of their own race and tongue. Wo also mean to press that justice be done to men of Rumanian blood and speech in their legitimate aspirations. If these conditions are fulfilled Austria-I Hungary would become a Power whose strength would conduce to the perma- nent peace and freedom of Europe, in- stead of being merely an instrument to the pernicious military autocracy of Prussia that uses the resources of its Allies for the furtherance of its own sinister purposes. FUTURE OF TURKEY. Outside Europe we believe that the same principles should be applied. While we do not challenge the main- tenance of the Turkish Empire in the homelands of the Turkish race with its capital at Constantinople—the pas- sage between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea being internationalised a.nd neutralised Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine are, in our judgment, entitled to recogni- tion of their separate national condi- tions. What the exact form of that recogni- tion in each particular case should be need not here be discussed, beyond stating that it would be impossible to restore to t former sovereignty the territories to which I have already re- ferred. Much Jias been said about the ar- rangements we have entered into with our Allies on this and on other sub- jects. I can only say that as new cir- cumstances, like the Russian collapse and the separate Russian negotiations, have changed the conditions under which those arrangements were made, we are and always have been perfectly ready to discuss them with out Allies. GERMAN COLONIES. With regard to the German colonies I have repeatedly declared that they are held at the disposal of a conference whose decision must have primary re- gard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants of such colonies. None of these territories are inhabited by uEropeans. The governing con- sideration, therefore, in all these cases must be that the inhabitants should be placed under the control of an adminis- tration acceptable to themselves, one i WIIOH main purposes will be ui pre- vent their exploitation for the benefit of European capitalists or Govern- incuts. The natives live in thqir various tribal organisations under chiefs and councils, who are competent to consult and speak for their tribes and members and thus to represent their wishes and interests in regard to their disposal. The general principle of national self- determination is, therefore, as applic- able in their cases as in those of occu- pied European territories. The Ge rman declaration that the natives of the German colonies have, through their military fidelity in the war, shown their attachment and re- solve under all circumstances to remain with Germany is applicable not to the German colonies generally, but only to one of them, and in that case (German East Africa) the German authorities secured tha attachment, not of the native population as a whole, which is and remains profoundly anti-German, but only of a small warlike class, from whom their Askaris, or soldiers, were selected. These they attached to them- selves by conferring on them a highly privileged position as against the bulk of the, native population, which en- abled those Askaris to a.ssume a lordly and oppressive superiority over the rest of the natives. By this and other means they secured the attachment of a very small and insignificant minority whose interests were directly opposed to those of the rest of the population, .and for whom they have no right to speak. The German treatment of their native populations in their colonies has been such as ampjy to justify their fear of submitting the future of those colo- nies to the wishes of the natives them- selves. U BOAT ATROCITIES. Finally, there must be reparation for injuries done in violation of inter- national law. The Peaoe Conferenco must not. forget our seamen and the services they have rendered to and the outrages tlin. hare suffered for the c-jinnion cause of freedom. I PREVENTION OF FUTURE WARS. One omission we notice in the pro-- posal of the Central Powers, which:, seems to llS especially regrettable. h. Is desirable, and indeed essential, that the settlement after this war shall be one which does not in itself bear the I seed of future war. But that is not enough. However wisely and well we may make territorial and other ar- I r<l¿gemcnts, there will still be many subjects of internationa l controversy. Some, indeed, are inevita ble. I The economic conditions at the end of the war will be in the highest degree I difficult. Owing to the diversion of human effort to warlike pursuits, there ij must follow a world-shortage of raw materials, which will increase the long- er the war lasts, and it is inevitable that those countries which have control I of the materials will desire to help themselves and their frfends first. Apart from this, w hatever settle- ment is made will be suitable only to the circumstances under which it is made, and as those circumstances changes, changes in the settlement will be called for. So long as the possibility of dispute between nations continues, that is to say, so long as men and women are dominated by passion and ambition, and war is the only means of settling a dispute, all nations must live under the burden not only of having from time to time to engage in it. but of being compelled to prepare for its possible outbreak. The crushing weight of modern armaments, the increasing evil of compulsory military service, the I' vast waste of wealth and effort in- volved in warlike I)r.,I).tritioti-the&o are blots on our civilisation of which I every thinking individual must be ashamed. For these and similar reasons, we are confident that a great attempt must be muffi to establish by some interna- tional organisation an alternative to war as a niwtiis of settling internation- al disputes. After all, war is a relic of barbarism, and, just as law has suc- ceeded violence as the means of settl- ing disputes between individuals, so we believe that it is destined ultimate- ly to take the place of war in the settlement of controversies between nations. If, then, we are asked wlint we are fighting for, we reply, is we have often replied, "Wq, are fighting for a just and a lasting peace" and we believe, that before permanent peace can be hoped for three conditions must be fulfilled. Firstly, the scancitv of treaties must be re-established. Secondly, a territorial settlement must be secured based on the right of self-determination or the consent of the' governed. And, lastly, we must seek, bv the creation of some international or- ganisation, to limit the burden of ar- maments and diminish the probability of war. On these conditions the British Em- pire would welcome peace; to--Aeurc, these conditions its people are pre- pared to make even greater sacrifices I than those they have yet endured.

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