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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

ADDRESS OF PRIME MINISTER LLOYD-GEORGE ON WAR AIMS1
September 12, 1918

My view is that nothing but heart failure can prevent us from achieving a real victory. Still, the end of all war is to impose a just and desirable peace on your enemies. What are the conditions of a just and desirable peace? The first indispensable condition, in my judgment, is that civilization should establish beyond doubt its power to enforce its decrees. As long as there is doubt left in the mind of either the offender or the defender of the irresistible character of this power, once it is challenged, this war will not have achieved its purpose. Victory is essential to sound peace. Unless you have the image of victories stamped on the surface the peace will depreciate in value. As time goes on the Prussian military power must not only be beaten but Germany itself must know it. The German people must know that if their rulers outraged the law of nations, the Prussian military strength can not protect them from punishment. There is no right you can establish, national or international, unless you establish the fact that the man who breaks the law will meet inevitable punishment. Unless this is accomplished the loss, the suffering, and the burden of this war will have been in vain. We shall have to repeat the horror, our children will have to repeat the horror, of war.

Do you realize what this war means? We went into it with an equipment which every soldier regarded as perfectly adequate. So it was to every conception of war that has been formed. What has happened? Discoveries have been made in the art of destruction which if we had only time to perfect them would simply destroy and crush civilization from the face of the globe. You can see now what these weapons of war are. High explosives, powerful artillery that has never taken a battlefield before, cities bombarded at a distance of seventy or eighty miles--and there is no reason why it should not be a hundred--bombarding aeroplanes getting more and more powerful and more and more destructive, submarines, poison in the air; that is the result of three or four years of intense thought and human ingenuity. Give a man that most terrible of all things, give him twenty or thirty years of concentrated thought on these lines, and what is to happen to following generations? This must be the last war. The last or, believe me--I have been studying all this machinery of war

____________________
1
Text in The Times. London, September 13, 1918, p. 7.

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