The foregoing reflections and the
arguments drawn from them were penned before the outbreak
of the war between Turkey and the Balkan Allies.
That war is still undecided as I write
(March 1913), 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 only 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 favoured 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 colonisation of the
Near East by the Germanic peoples could never have
been a possible solution under any circumstances of
the problem that faces German statemanship. 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 colonisation
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 wider
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 affects the argument,
for there the Russian overthrow 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 1912 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 south-east
to the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea is barred to the
That is the outstanding fact that
British public opinion perceives with growing pleasure
from the break up 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 South-eastern
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, and Turkey is being cut up for the further
extension of British interests clearly by the act
The victory of the Balkan States becomes
another triumph for the British Bible; it is the victory
of righteousness over wrong-doing.
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 these 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 of conquest
only. What the sword took, die 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 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 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, Salonika 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
tide 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 desecrater 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 South-eastern 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 die German people.
We read in a recent London 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,
The naïve 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 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. Edgecumbe), addressing that Liberal journal
in words that no one but an Englishman would dream
of giving public utterance to. Sir R. Edgecumbe
deprecated a statement that had gone round to the
effect that the Malayan battleship was not a free
gift of the toiling Tamils, Japanese, 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 upon these humble,
but indifferent Asiatics by their English administration.
Far from being indifferent, Sir R.
Edgecumbe 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 Englishman alone. The
German trader, the Italian and Frenchman all are,
in their speech coloured 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 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
twofold 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
That war of the seas is inevitable.
It may be 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 domination. 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 of 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 a new 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