Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Today -100: April 6, 1916: If our adversaries want to continue the slaughter of human beings and the devastation of Europe theirs will be the guilt, and we shall have to stand it as men


Theodore Roosevelt tells a prospective Republican Convention delegate his “terms” for accepting a Republican nomination: “don’t you do it if you expect me to pussy-foot on any single issue I have raised.” No hyphenated Americans, build up the military, etc. Nothing particularly new, but the strongest statement yet that Roosevelt intends to run. Tomorrow, the NYT will write this about the performance:


The Dutch government clarifies the reasons for its military mobilization orders. It was because of “certain information” which it won’t for the present make public.

German Chancellor Theobald Bethmann Hollweg tells the Reichstag that Germany does not intend to attack the United States or annex Canada or Brazil after it wins the current war. Which should be soon, because Germany is totally winning. Even if the Allies succeed in creating food shortages, which they totally aren’t, Germany will rely on its “moral reserves” to lower its standard of living, which after all has risen sharply in recent decades. So maybe meat consumption gets reduced to the level of the 1870s, no biggee. “I should think our adversaries would remember how strong was the German race of those days.” When Prussia kicked France’s ass, he means.

This speech is the closest Germany has come to setting out peace terms. The chancellor says that after the war there must be a “new Belgium,” which can’t be a Franco-British vassal or a fortification against Germany. “Also here Germany cannot sacrifice the oppressed Flemish race, but must assure them sound evolution which corresponds to their rich natural gifts, which is based on their mother tongue and follows their national character.” And all the lands in Poland and the Baltic “freed” by Germany won’t be returned to “reactionary Russia.”

He says any peace predicated on the destruction of Prussian militarism is a no go. “If our adversaries want to continue the slaughter of human beings and the devastation of Europe theirs will be the guilt, and we shall have to stand it as men.” He says that when the Allies talk of eliminating Prussian militarism, they really want the annihilation of united Germany. This war, he says again, is a war of pure self-defense. And definitely not territorial aggression: “Who can readily believe that greed of land inspires our columns at Verdun and makes them accomplish ever day new deeds of heroism?”

Any peace, he says, must be a lasting peace, “It must not bear the germs of new wars”. So that all worked out.


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