Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

SPEECH OF PREMIER LLOYD-GEORGE ON THE GERMAN PROPOSALS IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS1
December 19, 1916

The responsibilities of the new Government have been suddenly accentuated by a declaration made by the German Chancellor, and I propose to deal with that at once. The statement made by him in the German Reichstag has been followed by a note presented to us by the United States of America without any note or comment. The answer that will be given by the Government will be given in full accord with all our brave allies. Naturally there has been an interchange of views, not upon the note, because it has only recently arrived, but upon the speech which propelled it, and, inasmuch as the note itself is practically only a reproduction or certainly a paraphrase of the speech, the subject-matter of the note itself has been discussed informally between the Allies, and I am very glad to be able to state that we have each of us, separately and independently, arrived at identical conclusions. I am very glad that the first answer that was given to the statement of the German Chancellor was given by France and by Russia. They have the unquestioned right to give the first answer to such an invitation. The enemy is still on their soil. Their sacrifices have been greater. The answer they have given has already appeared in all the papers, and I simply stand here today on behalf of the Government to give a clear and definite support to the statement which they have already made. Let us examine what the statement is and examine it calmly. Any man or set of men who wantonly or without sufficient cause prolong a terrible conflict like this would have on his soul a crime that oceans could not cleanse. Upon the other hand it is equally true that any man or set of men who from a sense of weariness or despair abandoned the struggle without achieving the high purpose for which he had entered into it would have been guilty of the costliest act of poltroonery ever perpetrated by any statesman. I should like to quote the very well-known words of Abraham Lincoln under similar conditions:--"We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God I hope it will never end until that time." Are we likely to achieve that object by accepting the invitation

____________________
1

The Times, London, December 20, 1916.

-16-

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