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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

STATEMENT OF PREMIER PAINLEVÉ IN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES IN PARIS ON PEACE TERMS: ALSACE-LORRAINE1
September 18, 1917

No enemy maneuver, no internal weakness can turn France from her unshakable determination. That determination she draws from the purest traditions of our race--those generous principles of liberty which the Revolution sowed among the peoples and which today bring together the civilized universe against German imperialism. If France pursues this war it is neither for conquest nor for vengeance. It is to defend her own liberty, her independence, and at the same time the liberty and independence of the world. Her claims are those of right; they are even independent of the issue of battles. She proclaimed them solemnly in 1871 when she was beaten. She proclaims them today when she is making the aggressor feel the weight of her arms.

The disannexation of Alsace-Lorraine, reparation for the damage and ruin wrought by the enemy, and a peace which shall not be a peace of constraint or violence, containing in itself the germ of future wars, but a just peace, in which no people, whether strong or weak, shall be oppressed, a peace in which effective guarantees shall protect the society of nations against all aggression on the part of one of them--these are the noble war aims of France, if one can speak of war aims when it is a question of a nation which, during forty-four years, despite her open wounds, has done everything in order to spare humanity the horrors of war.

As long as these aims are not reached France will continue to fight. To prolong the war one day more than necessary would indeed be to commit the greatest crime in history, but to stop it a day too soon would be to deliver France into the most degrading servitude, to a moral and material misery from which nothing would ever deliver her.

. . . . . . . . . . .

____________________
1
Text in The New York Times Current History magazine for November, 1917, p. 294.

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