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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

ENTENTE REPLY TO GERMAN PROPOSALS1
December 29, 1916

The Allied Governments of Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, and Serbia, unitedly in the defense of the liberty of nations and faithful to the engagement they have taken not to lay down arms separately, have resolved to answer collectively the so-called proposals of peace which have been addressed them on behalf of the enemy Governments, through the intermediary of the United States, of Spain, of Switzerland, and of the Netherlands.

The Allied Powers are constrained to preface their answer by protesting strongly against the two essential assertions in the note of the enemy Powers, which attempts to throw upon the Allies the responsibility of the war and which proclaims the victory of the Central Powers.

The Allies can not admit an assertion which is doubly inexact and which is sufficient to render barren any attempt at negotiation.

For thirty months the Allied Powers have suffered a war which they had tried by every means to avoid. They have demonstrated their attachment to peace by their acts. This attachment is as strong today as it was in 1914; after the violation of her engagements, it is not upon the word of Germany that peace, broken by her, can be based.

A suggestion without any conditions for initiating negotiations is not an offer of peace. The so-called proposal, devoid of substance and of precision, circulated abroad by the Imperial Government, appears less as an offer of peace than as a maneuver of war.

It is based upon a systematic disregard of the nature of the struggle of the past, present, and future.

As to the past, the German note ignoring all the facts, dates, and figures which prove that the war was desired, incited, and declared by Germany and Austria-Hungary. At The Hague it was the German delegate who rejected all suggestion of disarmament. In July, 1914, it was Austria-Hungary who, after having addressed to Serbia an ultimatum, of which there exists no precedent, declared war on her despite the satisfaction immediately obtained. The Central Empires thereafter repulsed every attempt made by the Entente to bring about a pacific solution to what was a local conflict. England's offer of a conference, the French proposal of an international commission, the

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1
4 Dip. Corr., 311.

-26-

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