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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

STATEMENT OF PRIME MINISTER LLOYD-GEORGE ON THE FOURTEEN POINTS1
January 18, 1918

I have come here to thank you on behalf of the Government, and, I venture to say, on behalf of the country, for the spirit in which you have met the Government and its representatives. A spirit of complete frankness exists on both sides.

. . . . . . . . . . .

What is the position? I assume that you all here in your hearts believe that the war ends declared by the great labor conference represents the minimum of justice which you can possibly accept as a settlement of this terrible dispute--the minimum. If we are not able to defeat the German forces, if we are not able to resist the military power of Prussia, is there any man here in possession of his wits who believes that one of your terms--the least of them--would be enforced? I am not talking about the demands of Imperialism. I am not talking about the demands of extreme war men who want to grab everything and annex the earth and the heavenly firmament. I am talking of the moderate demands of the most pacifist soul in this assembly. Go to von Hindenburg with them. Try to cash that check at the Hindenburg bank. It will be returned dishonored. Whatever terms are set forward by any pacifist orator in these lands, you will not get them cashed by Ludendorf or the Kaiser, or any of those great magnates--not one of them--unless you have got the power to enforce them.

I felt very strongly that the time had come for restating our war aims, and for restating them in a way that would carry with us all the moderate rational opinions of this land and of all other lands. Almost simultaneously the same idea came to President Wilson, and without any opportunity of previous consultation--because there was none-- PresidentWilson and myself laid down what was substantially the same program of demands for the termination of this war. How has that program been received? Throughout the whole of the Allied land it has been received with acclaim. There has hardly been the voice of criticism except from a few men who wish I had made more extreme demands. The Socialists of France, the Socialists

____________________
1
Text in The Times, London, January 19, 1918, p. 7.

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