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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

REPLY OF COLONIAL MINISTER SOLF TO MR. BALFOUR1
August 21, 1918

We have before us today one of the most important utterances of British policy in Mr. Balfour's speech in the House of Parliament. The British Foreign Secretary formally announces Great Britain's plans for the annexation of our colonies and does not hesitate to advance moral grounds for this plan.

Mr. Balfour's accusation against Germany demands a reply. . . . Mr. Balfour asserts that intellectually Germany is dominated by a moral (mailed fist) doctrine. Here and there are chauvinists and jingoes, here and there are people who worship the eternal yesterday and await with anxiety and lack of understanding the approaching tomorrow of a new time. Before the war these people formed in this country a small group without influence in politics, and without influence under government which constantly combated them. During the war their number has indeed increased.

Where does the blame lie? Nowhere but in the spirit which animates our enemies, that spirit which dishonors and has turned to scorn the grand ideal of a League of Nations by its simultaneous demand for a commercial war against Germany. If I believed that that spirit, which at present seems to prevail in England, which speaks clearly in Mr. Balfour's speech, or which was manifested against us in the Pemberton-Billing case--if I had to believe that this spirit would always have the upper hand in England, then I also would advocate that the war should be fought out to the death. I am, however, firmly convinced that before the end of the war comes an intellectual revulsion must and will supervene against this knock-out spirit. For otherwise the realization of the League of Nations remains a Utopian war aim.

I now turn to the points of Mr. Balfour's speech in detail. Mr. Balfour first mentions Belgium. The Chancellor declared last month in the Reichstag to all who wished to hear that we do not intend to retain Belgium in any form whatsoever. Belgium shall arise again after the war as an independent State, vassal to no one. Gentlemen, nothing stands in the way of the restoration of Belgium but the enemy's will to war. How small a part regard for Belgium plays in the plans of the Entente is most clearly shown by an extract from the American

____________________
1

Text in The Times, London, August 22, 1918, p. 4.

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