(Written in March, 1913.)

The foregoing reflections and the arguments drawn from them were penned before the outbreak of the war between Turkey and the Balkan Allies.[5]

That war is still undecided as I write (March, 19 13), but whatever its precise outcome may be, it is clear that the doom of Turkey as a great power is sealed, and that the complications of the Near East will, in future, assume an entirely fresh aspect. Hitherto, there was always the possibility that Germany might find at least a commercial and financial outlet in the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan. There was even the possibility, had Turkey held together, that England, to mitigate pressure elsewhere, would have conceded to an expanding and insistent Germany a friendly interest and control in Asia Minor. It is true that the greatest possible development, and under the most favored conditions of German interests in that region, could not have met the needs or satisfied the ever increasing necessities of Teutonic growth; but at least it would have offered a safety valve, and could have involved preoccupations likely to deflect the German vision, for a time, from the true path to greatness, the western highways of the sea.

An occupation or colonization of the Near East by the Germanic peoples could never have been a possible solution under any circumstances of the problem that faces German statesmanship. As well talk of reviving the Frank Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The occupation by the fair-haired peoples of the Baltic and North Seas of the lands of Turk and Tartar, of Syrian and Jew, of Armenian and Mesopotamian, was never a practical suggestion or one to be seriously contemplated. “East is East and West is West,” sings the poet of Empire, and Englishmen cannot complain if the greatest of Western peoples, adopting the singer, should apply the dogma to themselves. Germany, indeed, might have looked for a considerable measure of commercial dominance in the Near East, possibly for a commercial protectorate such as France applies to Tunis and Algeria, and hopes to apply to Morocco, or such as England imposes on Egypt, and this commercial predominance could have conferred considerable profits on Rhenish industries and benefited Saxon industrialism, but it could never have done more than this. A colonization of the realms of Bajazet and Saladin by the fair-skinned peoples of the North, or the planting of Teutonic institutions in the Valley of Damascus, even with the benevolent neutrality of England, is a far wilder dream (and one surely no German statesman ever entertained), than a German challenge to the sea supremacy of England.

The trend of civilized man in all great movements since modern civilization began, has been from East to West, not from West to East. The tide of the peoples moved by some mysterious impulse from the dawn of European expansion has been towards the setting sun. The few movements that have taken place in the contrary direction have but emphasized the universality of this rule, from the days of the overthrow of Rome, if we seek no earlier date. The Crusades furnished, doubtless, the classic example. The later contrary instance, that of Russia towards Siberia, scarcely, if at all, effects the argument, for there the Russian overflow is filling up Northern rather than Eastern lands, and the movement involves to the Russian emigrant no change of climate, soil, law, language or environment, while that emigrant himself belongs, perhaps, as much to Asia as to Europe.

But whatever value to German development the possible chances of expansion in the Near East may have offered before the present Balkan War, those chances to-day. as the result of that war, scarcely exist. It is, probably the perception of this outcome of the victory of the Slav States that has influenced and accelerated the characteristic change of English public opinion that has accompanied with shouts of derision the dying agonies of the Turk. “In matters of mind,” as a recent English writer says in the Saturday Review, “the national sporting instinct does not exist. The English public invariably backs the winner.” And just as the English public invariably backs the winner, British policy invariably backs the anti-German, or supposedly anti-German side in all world issues. “What 191 2 seems to have effected is a vast aggrandizement of the Slavonic races in their secular struggle against the Teutonic races. Even a local and temporary triumph of Austria over Servia cannot conceal the fact that henceforth the way Southeast to the Black Sea and the Ægean Sea is barred to the Germans.”[6]

That is the outstanding fact that British public opinion perceives with growing pleasure from the breakup of Turkey.

No matter where the dispute or what the purpose of conflict may be, the supreme issue for England is “Where is Germany?”

Against that side the whole weight of Great Britain will, openly or covertly, be thrown. German expansion in the Near East has gone by the board, and in its place the development of Greek naval strength in the Mediterranean, to take its stand by the Triple Entente, comes to be jauntily considered, while the solid wedge of a Slav Empire or Federation, commanding in the near future 2,000,000 of armed men, is agreeably seen to be driven across Southeastern Europe between Austro-German efforts and the fallow lands of Asia Minor. These latter can safely be left in Turkish hands yet a while longer, until the day comes for their partition into “spheres of influence;” just as Persia and parts of China are to-day being apportioned between Russia and England. This happy consummation, moreover, has fallen from heaven. aid Turkey is being cut up for the further extension of British interests clearly by the act of God.

The victory of the Balkan States becomes another triumph for the British Bible; it is the victory of righteousness over wrongdoing.

The true virtue of the Balkan “Christians” lies in the possibility of their being moulded into an anti-German factor of great weight in the European conflict clearly impending, and in their offering a fresh obstacle, it is hoped, to German world policy.

Let us first inspect the moral argument on the lips of its professors. We are assured, by it, that the claim of the Balkan allies to expel Turkey from Europe rests upon a just and historic basis.

Briefly stated it is that the Turk has held his European provinces by a right or conquest only. What the sword took, the sword may take away. When the sword was struck from the Ottoman’s grasp his right to anything it had given him fell, too. Thus Adrianople—a city he has held for over five hundred years—must be given up to a new conqueror[7], to a conqueror who never owned it in the past and who certainly has far less moral claim to be there to-day than the descendants of Selim’s soldiers.

But the moral argument brings strange revenges.

If Turkey has no right to Adrianople, to Thrace—”right of the sword to be shattered by the sword”—what right has England to Ireland, to Dublin, to Cork? She holds Ireland by exactly the same title as that by which Turkey has hitherto held Macedonia, Thrace, Salonica—a right of invasion, of seizure, of demoralization. If Turkey’s rights, nearly six hundred years old, can be shattered in a day by one successful campaign, and if the Powers of Europe can insist, with justice, that this successful sword shall outweigh the occupation of centuries, then, indeed, have the Powers, led by England, furnished a precedent in the Near East which the victor in the next great struggle should not be slow to apply to the Near West, when a captive Ireland shall be rescued from the hands of a conqueror whose title is no better, indeed, somewhat worse than that of Turkey to Macedonia. And when the day of defeat shall strike for the Turkey of the Near West, then shall an assembled Europe remember the arguments of 1912—13 and a freed Ireland shall be justified on the very grounds England to-day has been the first to advance against a defeated Turkey.

“But the Turk is an Asiatic.” say the English Bashaws: to which, indeed, Europe might aptly reply, “and are the English European or non-European?” The moral argument and the “Asiatic argument” are strange texts for the desecrator of Christian Ireland to appeal to against that continent which she would fain hem in with Malayan and Indian battleships and Canadian and Australasian dreadnoughts. Not the moral argument, but the anti-German argument, furnishes the real ground for the changed British attitude in the present war.

The moral failure of Turkey, her inability to govern her Christian peoples, is only the pretext; but just as the moral argument brings its strange revenges and shows an Ireland that has suffered all that Macedonia has suffered, and this at the hands of Christians, and not of Moslems, so the triumph of the Balkan Allies, far from benefiting Britain, must, in the end, react to her detriment.

The present apparent injury to German interests by the closing of Southeastern Europe and the road to Asia Minor, will inevitably force Germany to still more resolutely face the problem of opening the western seaways. To think otherwise is to believe that Germany will accept a quite impossible position tamely and without a struggle.

Hemmed in by Russia on the East and the New Southern Slav states on the South East, with a vengeful France being incited on her Western frontier to fresh dreams of conquest, Germany sees England preparing still mightier armaments to hold and close the seaways of the world. The Canadian naval vote, the Malayan “gift” of a battleship, come as fresh rivets in the chain forged for the perpetual binding of the seas, or it might more truly be said, for the perpetual binding of the hands of the German people.

We read in a recent periodical how these latest naval developments portend the coming of the day when “the Imperial navy shall keep the peace of the seas as a policeman does the peace of the streets. The time is coming when a naval war (except by England), will be as relentlessly suppressed as piracy on the high seas.” (Review of Reviews, December, 1912.)

The naive arrogance of this utterance is characteristically English. It is, after all, but the journalistic echo of the Churchill Glasgow speech and the fullest justification of the criticism of the Kreuz-Zeitung already quoted. It does not stand alone; it could be paralleled in the columns of any ordinary English paper—Liberal as much as Conservative—every day in the week. Nothing is clearer than that no Englishman can think of other nations save in terms of permanent inferiority. Thus, for instance, in a November, (1912), issue of the Daily News we find a representative Englishman (Sir R. Edgcumbe), addressing that Liberal journal in words that no one but an Englishman would dream of giving public utterance to. Sir R. Edgcumbe deprecated a statement that had gone round to the effect that the Malayan battleship was not a free gift of the toiling Tamils, Javanese, Chinese, and other rubber workers who make up, with a few Malays, the population of that peninsula, but was really the fruit of an arbitrary tax imposed on these humble but indifferent Asiatics by their English administration.

Far from being indifferent, Sir R. Edgcumbe asserted these poor workers nourished a reverence “bordering on veneration” for the Englishman. “This is shown in a curious way by their refusing to call any European ‘a white man’ save the Englisman alone. The German trader, the Italian, the Frenchman and all are, in their speech, ‘colored men.'”

After this appreciation of themselves the English cannot object to the present writer’s view that they are non-Europeans.

Thus, while the Eastern question is being settled while I write, by the expulsion of the Turk from Europe, England, who leads the cry in the name of Europe, is preparing the exclusion of Europe from all world affairs that can be dominated by sea power. Lands and peoples held for centuries by Turkey by a right not less moral than that by which England has held Ireland, are being forcibly restored to Europe. So be it.

With the settlement of the Eastern question by this act of restitution Europe must inevitably gain the clarity of vision to deal with the Western question by a similar act of restoration.

The Western Macedonia must go the way of its Eastern fellow. Like those of the Orient, the problems of the Occident for Europe are two-fold—a near Western and a far Western question. Ireland, keeper of the seas, constitutes for Europe the near Western question.

The freedom of those seas and their opening to all European effort alike on equal terms constitutes the far Western question. But in both cases the antagonist of Europe, the non-European power is the same. The challenge of Europe must be to England, and the champion of Europe must be and can be only Germany. No other European people has the power, the strength of mind, of purpose, and of arm to accomplish the great act of deliverance. Europe, too long blinded to her own vital interests while disunited, must now, under the guidance of a united Germany, resolutely face the problem of freeing the seas.

THAT WAR OF THE SEAS IS INEVITABLE. It maybe fought on a Continent; it may be waged in the air—it must be settled on the seas and it must mean either the freeing of those seas or the permanent exclusion of Europeans from the affairs of the world. It means for Europe the future, the very existence of European civilization as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon world dominion. In that war, Germany will stand not alone as the champion of Europe, she will fight for the freedom of the world.

As an Irishman, I have no fear of the result to Ireland from a German triumph. I pray for it; for with the coming of that day the “Irish Question,” so dear to British politicians, becomes a European, a world question.

With the humbling of Great Britain and the destruction of her sea ownership, European civilization assumes anew stature, and Ireland, oldest and yet youngest of the European peoples, shall enter into free partnership with the civilization, culture, and prosperity that that act of liberation shall bring to mankind.


[5] Save for a few newspaper extracts and remarks appended to them, Articles I, II and III, were written in August, 1911, and September, 1912.

[6] Mr. Frederick Harrison in the English Review, January, 1912.

[7] This was written before the second Balkan War began between Bulgaria and her former allies.