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戴维·劳合·乔治 告国民书

2006-07-07 17:00

David Lloyd George


September 1g,1914

  There is no man in this room who has always re-garded the prospect of engaging in a great war with greater reluctance and with greater repugnance than I have done throughout the whole of my polit-ical life.There is no man either inside or outside this room more convinced that we could not have avoided it without national dishonor.I am fully alive to the fact that every nation that has ever en-gaged in war has always invoked the sacred name of honor.Many a crime has been committed in its name;there are some being committed now.All the same,national honor is a reality,and any na-tion that disregards it is doomed.Why is our honor as a country involved in this war? Because,in the first instance,we are bound by honorable obliga-tions to defend the independence,the liberty,the integrity,of a small neighbor that has always lived peaceably.She could not have compelled us; shewas weak; but the man who declines to discharge his duty because his creditor is too poor to enforce it is a blackguard.We entered into a treaty—a solemn treaty—two treaties—to defend Belgium and her integrity.Our signatures are attached to the documents.Our signatures do not stand there alone;this country was not the only country that undertook to defend the integrity of Belgium.Rus-sia,France,Austria,Prussia—they are all there.Why are Austria and Prussia not performing the obligations of their bond? It is suggested that when we quote this treaty it is purely an excuse on our part—it is our low craft and cunning to cloak our jealousy of a superior civilization—that we are at-temyting to destroy.

  It is the interest of Prussia to break the treaty,and she has done it.She avows it with cynical contempt for every principle of justice.She says “Treaties only bind you when your interest is to keep them.”“What is a treaty?” says the Ger-man Chancellor:“A scrap of paper.” Have you any £5 notes about you? I am not calling for them.Have you any of those neat little Treasury £ 1notes? If you have,burn them; they are only scraps of paper.What are they made of? Rags.What are they worth? The whole credit of the British Empire.Scraps of paper!I have been deal-ing with scraps of paper within the last month.One suddenly found the commerce of the world coming to a standstill.The machine had stopped Why? I will tell you.We discovered—many of us for the first time,for I do not pretend that I do not know much more about the machinery of commerce to-day than I did six weeks ago,and there are many others like me—we discovered that the ma-chinery of commerce was moved by bills of ex-change.I have seen some of them—wretched,crinkled,scrawled over,blotched,frowsy,and yet those wretched little scraps of paper move great ships laden with thousands of tons of pre-cious cargo from one end of the world to the other.What is the motive power behind them? The honor of commercial men.Treaties are the currency of International statesmanship.Let us be fair: Ger-man merchants,German traders,have the reputa-tion of being as upright and straightforward as any traders in the world—but if the currency of Ger-man commerce is to be debased to the level of that of her statesmanship,no trader from Shanghai to Valparaiso will ever look at a German signature a-gain.This doctrine of the scrap of paper,this doc-tine which is proclaimed by Bernhardi,that treaties only bind a nation as long as it is to its in-terest,goes under the root of all public law.It is the straight road to barbarism.It is as if you were to remove the Magnetic Pole because it was in the way of a German cruiser.The whole navigation of the seas would become dangerous,difficult,and impossible; and the whole machinery of civilization will break down if this doctrine wins in this way.We are fighting against barbarism and there is one way of putting it right.If there are nations that say they will only respect treaties when it is to their interest to do so,we must make it to their in-terest to do so for the future.

  What is their defense? Consider the interviewwhich took place between our Ambassador and thegreat German officials.When their attention wascalled to this treaty to which they were parties,they said,“We cannot help that.Rapidity of ac-tion is the great German asset.”There is a greaterasset for a nation than rapidity of action and that ishonest dealing.What are Germany's excuscs? Shesays Belgium was plotting against her;Belgiumwas engaged in a great conspiracy with Britain andFrance to attack her.Not merely is it not true,butGermany knows it is not true.France offered Bel-gium five army corps to defend her if she was at-tacked Belgium said,“I do not require them;Ihave the word of the Kaiser.Shall C$sar send alie?” All these tales about conspiracy have beenvamped up since.A great nation ought to be ashamed to behave like a fraudulent bankrupt,per-juring its way through its obligations.What shesays is not true.She has deliberately broken this treaty,and we are in honor bound to stand by it.

  Belgium has been treated brutally.How bru-tally we shall not yet know.We already know too much.What had she done? Had she sent an ulti-matum to Germany? Had she challenged Germany?Was she preparing to make war on Germany? Hadshe inflicted any wrong upon Germany which theKaiser was bound to redress?She was one of themost unoffending little countries in Europe.Thereshe was—peaceable,industrious,thrifty,hard- working,giving offense to no one.And her corn- fields have been trampled,her villages have beenburnt,her art treasures have been destroyed,hermen have been slaughtered—yea,and her womenand children too.Hundreds and thousands of herpeople,their neat comfortable little homes burntto the dust,are wandering homeless in their ownland.What was their crime?Their crime was thatthey trusted to the word of a Prussian King.

  Have you read the Kaiser's speeches?If youhave not a copy I advise you to buy one;they willsoon be out of print,and you will not have manymore of the same sort.They are full of the glitterand bluster of German militarism—“mailed fist,”and“shining armor.”Poor old mailed fist.Itsknuckles are getting a little bruised.Poor shiningarmor!The shine is being knocked out of it.Thereis the same swagger and boastfulness running through the whole of the speeches.

  Treaties?They tangle the feet of Germany inher advance.Cut them with the sword.Little na-tions?They hinder the advance of Germany.

  Trample them in the mire under the German heel!The Russian Slav?He challenges the supremacy ofGermany in Europe.Hurl your legions at him andmassacre him!Christianity?Sickly sentimentalismabout sacrifice for others!Poor pap for German di-gestion!We will have a new diet.We will force itupon the world.It will be made in Germany—adiet of blood and iron.What remains?Treatieshave gone.The honor of nations has gone.Libertyhas gone.What is left?Germany!Germany isleft!—“Deutschland über Alles!”

  They think we cannot beat them.It will notbe easy.It will be a long job;it will be a terriblewar;but in the end we shall march through terrorto triumph.We shall need all our qualities—everyquality that Britain and its people possess—pru-dence in counsel,daring in action,tenacity in pur-pose,courage in defeat,moderation in victory;inall things faith.










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