AN ARMISTICE THAT WAS
NOT AN ARMISTICE
"We have, no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering upon this war." WOODROW WILSON, April 2, 1917.
THERE ARE many who now feel that it was a mistake for Wilson to insist in his public addresses that we were not really fighting the German people but their "military masters." This pleasant fiction led ultimately to tragic consequences.
Governments are the responsible spokesmen -- in fact the only spokesmen -- for the peoples they presume to govern. Not infrequently, to be sure, those governments do not faithfully represent the wishes of their people. When this happens, it is assumed that the people will cause the government to change its policy, or failing that, change the government, either by ballots or by bullets.
It often happens that peoples, through inertia or ignorance or fear, tolerate governmental policies of which they do not approve. It also happens that governments, through control of the press and other agencies of propaganda, deliberately deceive their own people. But in international relations the only practicable course is to assume that a government speaks for the entire nation. To go behind the returns will almost invariably create more problems than will be solved.
The German people bitterly resented and heatedly denied Wilson's assertions that they were not supporting the Imperial German government. One has only to turn to the contemporary German press, from the most liberal, journals to the most conservative, to find abundant evidence that Germans of all classes,