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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

ADDRESS OF MR. ASQUITH AT LIVERPOOL ON WAR AIMS1
October 11, 1917

This, as you know, is one of a series of meetings which are being held in our centers of population to make clear both to ourselves and to the rest of the world, what it is that we have been and still are, fighting for, and thereby, as we hope, to accelerate the well-founded and lasting peace which has become the overmastering need of mankind.

Speaking the other day at Leeds, I summarized what seemed to me to be our war aims in two short phrases: First, that it is a war for peace, and, next, that it is a war against war. We can not, of course, attain the second object until we have achieved the first, but the first--cessation of hostilities and the signing of a treaty--will be nothing better than a transient and precarious halting place unless it provides adequate and durable safeguards against the possible reopening of strife.

It is no part of our purpose in this movement, as I understand it, and so far as I have any responsibility for it, to go about the country waving the flag, and blowing the bugle and, as it were, flogging the martial ardor of the nation. The British people stand in no need of any such incitements.

Their teeth are set, and they are ready to go on giving without stint their blood and their treasure, rather than that the incalculable sacrifices which they and their allies--both great States and small States--have made, should be thrown away. No, it is precisely because we are looking through the smoke clouds of the battlefields to the ends which made it our duty to enter the war, and which, until they are within sight of attainment, make it equally our duty to continue the war, that we think it right that those ends should be clearly set forth with definiteness, with emphasis, if need be with iteration. I make no apology, therefore, if, in contributing what I can to the accomplishment of that task, I may seem from time to time to be repeating what I have said before.

I wish, indeed, I could say the same of the declarations, inspired or uninspired, of the spokesmen and writers who are for the moment the chosen exponents of German policy. What is the state of the case so far as they are concerned? Some months ago, at the outset of the régime of the new Chancellor who owed his elevation to the triumph

____________________
1

Text in The Times, London, October 12, 1917, p. 7.

-162-

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