( Originally Published 1917 )
I WAS credited by the Germans with having hood-winked and jollied the Foreign Office and the Government into refraining for two years from using illegally their most effective weapon.
This, of course, is not so. I always told the Foreign Office the plain simple truth and the event showed that I correctly predicted the attitude of America.
Our American national game, poker, has given us abroad an unfair reputation. We are always supposed to be bluffing. A book was published in Germany about the President called, "President Bluff."
I only regret that those high in authority in Germany should have preferred to listen to pro-German correspondents who posed as amateur super-Ambassadors rather than to the authorised representatives of America. I left Germany with a clear conscience and the knowledge that I had done everything possible to keep the peace.
An Ambassador, of course, does not determine the policy of his own country. One of his principal duties, if not the principal one, is to keep his own country informed to know beforehand what the country to which he is accredited will do, and I think that I managed to give the State Department advance information of the moves of the rulers of Germany.
I had the support of a loyal and devoted staff of competent secretaries and assistants, and both Secretaries Bryan and Lansing were most kind in the backing given by their very ably organised department.
I sent Secretary Lansing a confidential letter every week and, of course, received most valuable hints from him. Secretary Lansing was very successful in his tactful handling of the American Ambassadors abroad and in getting them to work together as cheerful members of the same team.
When I returned to America, after living for two and a half years in the centre of this world calamity, everything seemed petty and small. I was surprised that people could still seek little advantages, still be actuated by little jealousies and revenges. Freed from the round of daily work I felt for the first time the utter horror and uselessness of all the misery these Prussian military autocrats had brought upon the world; and what a reckoning there will be in Germany some day when the plain people realise the truth, when they learn what base motives actuated their rulers in condemning a whole generation of the earth to war and death !
Is it not a shame that the world should have been so disturbed; that peaceful men are compelled to lie out in the mud and filth in the depth of raw winter, shot at and stormed at and shelled, waiting for a chance to murder some other inoffensive fellow creature? Why must the people in old Poland die of hunger, not finding dogs enough to eat in the streets of Lemberg? The long lines of broken peasants in Serbia and in Roumania; the population of Belgium and Northern France torn from their homes to work as slaves for the Germans; the poor prisoners of war starving in their huts or working in factories and mines; the cries of the old and the children, wounded by bombs from Zeppelins; the wails of the mothers for their sons; the very rustling of the air as the souls of the ten million dead sweep to another world, —why must all these horrors come upon a fair green earth, where we believed that love and help and friendship, genius and science and commerce, religion and civilisation, once ruled?
It is because in the dark, cold Northern plains of Germany there exists an autocracy, deceiving a great people, poisoning their minds from one generation to another and preaching the virtue and necessity of war; and until that autocracy is either wiped out or made powerless, there can be no peace on earth.
The golden dream of conquest was almost accomplished. A little more advance, a few more wagon loads of ammunition, and there would have been no battle of the Marne, no Joffre, a modern Martel, to hammer back the invading hordes of barbarism.
I have always stated that Germany is possessed yet of immense military power; and, to win, the nations opposed to Germany must learn to think in a military way. The mere entrance, even of a great nation like our own, into the war, means nothing in a military way unless backed by military power.
And there must be no German peace. The old régime, left in control of Germany, of Bulgaria, of Turkey, would only seek a favourable moment to renew the war, to strive again for the mastery of the world.
Fortunately America bars the way, America led by a fighting President who will allow no compromise with brutal autocracy.