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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

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372 _---------------------------------------------------------------
doubt if any of my predecessors during the last hundred years
has had to contend with more trying and anxious conditions
than we have encountered during the last eighteen months,
and it would be too much to expect that anyone in my position,
forced by circumstances to walk continually through dark and
perilous ways, should escape criticism from some who think
they see further or clearer than I. But since for the time being
the responsibility for guidance rests on my shoulders, I am
bound to discharge it to the best of my ability in the light of
the conditions as I see them, for if I were ultimately to fail it
would afford little consolation to me or to anyone else to be
able to say that I had followed the advice of others instead of
relying on my own judgment,
" My aim has been consistently the same from beginning
to end. Faced with a situation in which relations between
this country on the one hand and Germany and Italy on the
other were rapidly deteriorating and in so doing steadily
destroying the confidence in Europe in the maintenance of
peace, it seemed to me that only two alternatives were open
to us. One was to make up our minds that war was inevitable
and to throw the whole energies of the country into prepara-
tion for it. The other was to make a prolonged and determined
effort to eradicate the possible causes of war and to try out the
methods of personal contact and discussion, while at the same
time proceeding steadily with such rearmament as was
necessary to restore the power of defence which we had
voluntarily abandoned for a period of many years.
" There are some who sincerely believe that the first
course was the one we should have taken. I believe that in
this country they are in a small minority. I did not take that
view myself and I do not take it now. War to-day differs
fundamentally from all the wars of the past, inasmuch as
to-day its first and its most numerous victims are not the
professional fighters but the civilian population, the workman
and the clerk, the housewife and, most horrible of all, the
children. And when the war is over, whoever may be the
victor, it leaves behind a trail of loss and suffering which
two generations will not obliterate, and it sows the dragon's
teeth which are the seeds of fresh quarrels, fresh injustic^ and
fresh conflicts,