This will have the tendency of calling a better class of young men into the service; it will also do away with the well-founded criticism that army life and its idleness, or partly-enforced idleness, unfits a man for useful industrial service after he quits the army. If this same system is extended through the navy, as it can be, both army and navy service will meet the American requirement - that neither military nor naval service take great numbers of men from productive employment, to be in turn supported by other workers. Instead of so much dead timber, they are all the time producing while in active service, and are being trained to be highly efficient as producers, when they leave the service.
Under this system the Federal Government can build its own ordnance works and its own munition factories and become its own maker of whatever may be required in all lines of output. We will then be able to escape the perverse influence of gain on the part of large munition industries, and the danger that comes from that portion of a military party whose motives are actuated by personal gain.
If the occasion arises, or if we permit the occasion to arise, Kruppism in America will become as dangerous and as sinister in its influences and its proportions, as it became in Germany.
The war has also taught us that we must be awake to the folly of having the bulk of our munition factories and our munition magazines gathered within the radius of a few miles along our Atlantic seaboard. They must be wisely distributed over the entire country.
Another great service that the war has done us, is by way of bringing home to us the lesson that has been so prominently brought to the front in connection with the other nations at war, namely, the necessity of the speedy and thorough mobilisation of all lines of industries and business; for the thoroughness and the efficiency with which this can be done may mean success that otherwise would result in failure and disaster. We are now awake to the tremendous importance of this.
The Committee on Industrial Preparedness of the Naval Consulting Board is under the chairmanship of one of our ablest engineers, who is thoroughly organising the industries of the country for readiness and action. The responses of practically all our various industries to the call that has been sent out as to what they are best fitted for, and the capacity of their output have been very quick and most satisfactory.
It is at last becoming clearly understood among the peoples and the nations of the world that, as a nation, we have no desire for conquest, for territory, for empire - we have no purposes of aggression; we have quite enough to do to develop our resources and our as yet great undeveloped areas.
A few months before the war broke, I had conversations with the heads or with the representatives of leading publishing houses in several European countries. It was at a time when our Mexican situation was beginning to be very acute. I remember at that time especially, the conversation with the head of one of the largest publishing houses in Italy, in Milan. I could see plainly his scepticism when, in reply to his questions, I endeavoured to persuade him that as a nation we had no motives of conquest or of aggression in Mexico, that we were interested solely in the restoration of a representative and stable government there. And since that time, I am glad to say that our acts as a nation have all been along the line of persuading him, and also many other like-minded ones in many countries abroad, of the truth of this assertion. By this general course we have been gaining the confidence and have been cementing the friendship of practically every South American republic, our immediate neighbours on the southern continent. This has been a source of increasing economic power with us, and an element of greatly added strength, and "also a tremendous energy working all the time for the preservation of peace.
One can say most confidently, even though recognising our many grave faults as a nation, that our course along this line has been such, especially of late years, as to inspire confidence on the part of all the fair-minded nations of the world.
Without therefore any designs of aggression, any dreams of world empire, knowing that we have quite enough to do to attend to our own affairs as they are, the immediate question is: how shall we be prepared, adequately prepared for defence, without the enormous burden, the nuisance, the dangers, and the enormous cost of a large standing army?
Our theory of the state, the theory of democracy, is not that the state is above all, and that the individual and his welfare are as nothing when compared to it, but rather that the state is the agency through which the highest welfare of all its subjects is to be evolved, expressed, maintained. No other theory, to my mind, is at all compatible with the intelligence of any free-thinking people.
Otherwise, there is always the danger and also the likelihood, while human nature is as it is, for some ruler, some clique, or factions so to concentrate power into their own hands, that for their own ambitions, for aggrandisement, or for false or short-sighted and half-baked ideas of additions to their country, it is dragged into periodic wars with other nations.
Nor do we share in the belief that the state is above morality, but rather that identically the same moral ideals, precepts and obligations that bind individuals must be held sacred by the state, otherwise it becomes a pirate among nations, and it will inevitably in time be hunted down and destroyed as such, however great its apparent power. Nor do we as a nation share in the belief that war is necessary and indeed good for a nation, to inspire and to preserve its manly qualities, its virility, and therefore its power. Were this the only way that this could be brought about, it might be well and good; but the price to be paid is a price that is too enormous and too frightful, and the results are too uncertain. We believe that these same ideals can be inculcated, that these same energies can be used along useful, conserving, constructive lines, rather than along lines of destruction.
A nation may have the most colossal and perfect military system in the world, and still may suffer defeat in any given while, because of those unseen things that pertain to the soul of another people, whereby powers and forces are engendered and materialised that make defeat for them impossible; and in the matter of big guns, it is well always to remember that no nation can build them so great that another nation may not build them still greater. National safety does not necessarily lie in that direction. Nor, on the other hand, along the lines of extreme pacificism - surely not as long as things are as they are. The argument of the lamb has small deterrent effect upon the wolf - as long as the wolf is a wolf. And sometimes wolves hunt in packs. The most preeminent lesson of the great war for us as a nation should be this - there should be constantly a degree of preparedness sufficient to hold until all the others, the various portions of the nation, thoroughly coordinated and ready, can be summoned into action. Thus are we prepared, thus are we safe, and there is no danger or fear of militarism.
In a democracy it should, it seems to me, be a fundamental fact that hand in hand with equal rights there should go a sense of equal duty. A call for defence should have a universal response. So it is merely good common-sense, good judgment, if you please, for all the young men of the nation to have a training sufficient to enable them to respond effectively if the nation's safety calls them to its defence. It is no crime, however we may deprecate war, to be thus prepared.
For young men - and we must always remember that it is the young men who are called for this purpose - for young men to be called to the colours by the tens or the hundreds of thousands, unskilled and untrained, to be shot down, decimated by the thoroughly trained and skilled troops of another nation, or a combination of other nations, is indeed the crime. Never, moreover, was folly so great as that shown by him or by her who will not see. And to look at the matter without prejudice, we will realise that this is merely policing what we have. It is meeting force with adequate force, if it becomes necessary, so to meet it.
This is necessary until such time as we have in operation among nations a machinery whereby force will give place to reason, whereby common sense will be used in adjusting all differences between nations, as it is now used in adjusting differences between individuals.
This is indeed our duty to ourselves and to the nation; but it should not blind us to the fact that there is immediately before us another duty to the nation, conjointly with a duty to all nations.