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Full Text


BRITISH WAR AIMS
STATEMENT BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
January Fifth, Nineteen Hundred and Eighteen,
Authorized Version as published by THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT

NEW YORK: GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY












BRITISH WAR AIMS
STATEMENT BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
January fifth, Nineteen hundred and eighteen
AUTHORIZED VERSION AS PUBLISHED BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT


W HEN the Government," said Lloyd George,
"invite organized labor in this country to
assist them to maintain the might of their armies in
the field, its representatives are entitled to ask that
any misgivings and doubts which any of them may
have about the purpose to which this precious
strength is to be applied should be definitely cleared,
and what is true of organized labour is equally true
of all citizens in this country, without regard to
grade or avocation.
"When men by the million are being called upon
to suffer and die, and vast populations are being
subjected to the sufferings and privations of war on
a scale unprecedented in the history of the world,
they are entitled to know for what cause or causes
they are making the sacrifice. It is only the clearest,
greatest and justest of causes that can justify the





2 BRITISH WAR AIMS
continuance even for one day of this unspeakable
agony of the nations, and we ought to be able to state
clearly and definitely, not only the principles for
which we are fighting, but also their definite and con-
crete application to the war map of the world.
"We have arrived at the most critical hour in this
terrible conflict, and before any government takes
the fateful decision as to the conditions under which
it ought either to terminate or continue the struggle,
it ought to be satisfied that the conscience of the na-
tion is behind these conditions, for nothing else can
sustain the effort which is necessary to achieve a
righteous end to this war.
"I have, therefore, during the last few days taken
special pains to ascertain the view and the attitude
of representative men of all sections of thought and
opinion in the country. Last week I had the privi-
lege, not merely of perusing the Declared War Aims
of the Labour Party, but also of discussing in detail
with the labour leaders the meaning and intention
of that declaration. I have also had an opportunity
of discussing this same momentous question with Mr.
Asquith and Viscount Grey. Had it not been that
the Nationalist leaders are in Ireland engaged in
endeavoring to solve the tangled problem of Irish
self-government, I should have been happy to ex-
change views with them, but Mr. Redmond, speak-
ing on their behalf, has, with his usual lucidity and
force, in many of his speeches, made clear what his
ideas are as to the object and purpose of the war.





DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 3
I have also had the opportunity of consulting cer-
tain representatives of the great dominions overseas.
"I am glad to be able to say, as a result of all these
discussions, that, although the Government are alone
responsible for the actual language I propose using,
there is national agreement as to the character and
purpose of our war aims and peace conditions, and
in what I say to you to-day, and through you to the
world, I can venture to claim that I am speaking, not
merely the mind of the Government, but of the
nation and of the empire as a whole.
"We may begin by clearing away some misunder-
standings and stating what we are not fighting for.
We are not fighting a war of aggression against the
German people. Their leaders have persuaded them
that they are fighting a war of self-defence against
a league of rival nations bent on the destruction of
Germany. That is not so. The destruction or dis-
ruption of Germany or the German people has never
been a war aim with us from the first day of this
war to this day. Most reluctantly, and indeed quite
unprepared for the dreadful ordeal, we were forced
to join in this war in self-defence. In defence of
the violated public law of Europe, and in vindication
of the most solemn treaty obligation on which the
public system of Europe rested, and on which Ger-
many had ruthlessly trampled in her invasion of
Belgium, we had to join in the struggle or stand
aside and see Europe go under and brute force tri-
umph over public right and international justice. It





4 BRITISH WAR AIMS
was only the realization of that dreadful alternative
that forced the British people into the war.
"And from that original attitude they have never
swerved. They have never aimed at the break-up of
the German peoples or the disintegration of their
state or country. Germany has occupied a great
position in the world. It is not our wish or intention
to question or destroy that position for the future,
but rather to turn her aside from hopes and schemes
of military domination, and to see her devote all her
strength to the great beneficent tasks of the world.
Nor are we fighting to destroy Austria-Hungary or
to deprive Turkey of its capital, or of the rich and
renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace, which
are predominantly Turkish in race.
"Nor did we enter this war merely to alter or
destroy the imperial constitution of Germany, much
as we consider that military, autocratic constitution
a dangerous anachronism in the Twentieth Century.
Our point of view is that the adoption of a really
democratic constitution by Germany would be the
most convincing evidence that in her the old spirit of
military domination had indeed died in this war, and
would make it much easier for us to conclude a broad
democratic peace with her. But, after all, that is a
question for the German people to decide.
"It is now more than a year since the President of
the United States, then neutral, addressed to the bel-
ligerents a suggestion that each side should state
clearly the aims for which they were fighting. We







DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 5
Sand our allies responded by the note of the tenth of
January, 1917.
"To the President's appeal the Central Empires
made no reply, and in spite of many adjurations
from their opponents and from neutrals, they have
maintained a complete silence as to the objects for
which they are fighting. Even on so crucial a mat-
ter as their intentions with regard to Belgium, they
have uniformly declined to give any trustworthy
indication.
"On the twenty-fifth of December last, however,
Count Czernin, speaking on behalf of Austria-Hun-
gary and her Allies, did make a pronouncement of a
kind. It is, indeed, deplorably vague. We are told
that it is not the intention of the Central Powers to
appropriate forcibly any occupied territories or to
rob of its independence any nation which has lost its
political independence during the war. It is obvious
that almost any scheme of conquest and annexation
could be perpetrated within the literal interpretation
of such a pledge.
"Does it mean that Belgium, and Serbia, Monte-
negro and Roumania will be as independent and
as free to direct their own destinies as the German
or any other nation? Or does it mean that all man-
ner of interference and restrictions, political and
economic, incompatible with the status and dignity
of a free and self-respecting people, are to be im-
posed? If this is the intention then there will be
one kind of independence for a great nation and an







6 BRITISH WAR AIMS
inferior kind of independence for a small nation. We
must know what is meant for equality of right
among nations, small as well as great, is one of the
fundamental issues this country and her Allies are
fighting to establish in this war. Reparation for the
wanton damage inflicted on Belgian towns and vil-
lages and their inhabitants is emphatically repudi-
ated.
"The rest of the so-called 'offer' of the Central
Powers is almost entirely a refusal of all concessions.
All suggestions about the autonomy of subject na-
tionalities are ruled out of the peace terms alto-
gether. The question whether any form of self-gov-
ernment is to be given to Arabs, Armenians or
Syrians is declared to be entirely a matter for the
Sublime Porte. A pious wish for the protection of
minorities 'in so far as it is practically realizable' is
the nearest approach to liberty which the Central
statesmen venture to make.
"On one point only are they perfectly clear and
definite. Under no circumstances will the 'German
demand' for the restoration of the whole of Ger-
many's colonies be departed from. All principles of
self-determination or, as our earlier phrase goes, gov-
ernment by consent of the governed, here vanish into
thin air.
"It is impossible to believe that any edifice of per-
manent peace could be erected on such a foundation
as this. Mere lip-service to the formula of no an-
nexations and no indemnities or the right of self-







DAVID LLOYD GEORGE


determination is useless. Before any negotiations
can even be begun, the Central Powers must realize
the essential facts of the situation.
"The days of the Treaty of Vienna are long past.
We can no longer submit the future of European
civilization to the arbitrary decisions of a few nego-
tiators striving to secure by chicanery or persuasion
the interests of this or that dynasty or nation. The
settlement of the new Europe must be based on such
grounds of reason and justice as will give some prom-
ise of stability. Therefore, it is that we feel that
Government with the consent of the governed must
be the basis of any territorial settlement in this war.
For that reason also, unless treaties be upheld, unless
every nation is prepared at whatever sacrifice to hon-
our the national signature, it is obvious that no treaty
of peace can be worth the paper on which it is
written.
"The first requirement, therefore, always put for-
ward by the British Government and their Allies,
has been the complete restoration, political, terri-
torial and economic, of the independence of Bel-
gium, and such reparation as can be made for the
devastation of its towns and provinces. This is no
demand for war indemnity, such as that imposed on
France by Germany in 1871. It is not an attempt to
shift the cost of warlike operations from one bellig-
erent to another, which may or may not be defens-
ible. It is no more and no less than an insistence
that, before there can be any hope for a stable peace,








8 BRITISH WAR AIMS
this great breach of the public law of Europe must
be repudiated and, so far as possible, repaired. Rep-
aration means recognition. Unless international
right is recognized by insistence on payment for in-
jury done in defiance of its canons it can never be a
reality.
"Next comes the restoration of Serbia, Montenegro
and the occupied parts of France, Italy and Rou-
mania. The complete withdrawal of the alien armies
and the reparation for injustice done is a fundamen- j
tal condition of permanent peace. '
"We mean to stand by the French Democracy to
the death in the demand they make for a reconsid-
eration of the great wrong of 1871, when, without
any regard to the wishes of the population, two
French provinces were torn from the side of France
and incorporated in the German Empire. This sore
has poisoned the peace of Europe for half a century,
and, until it is cured, healthy conditions will not
have been restored. There can be no better illustra-
tion of the folly and wickedness of using a transient
military success to violate national right.
"I will not attempt to deal with the question of
the Russian territories now in German occupation.
The Russian policy since the revolution has passed
so rapidly through so many phases that it is difficult
to speak without some suspension of judgment as
to what the situation will be when the final terms
of European peace come to be discussed. Russia
accepted war with all its horrors because, true to her







DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 9
traditional guardianship of the weaker communities
of her race, she stepped in to protect Serbia from a
plot against her independence. It is this honour-
able sacrifice which not merely brought Russia into
the war, but France as well. France, true to the
conditions of her treaty with Russia, stood by her
ally in a quarrel which was not her own. Her chiv-
alrous respect for her treaty led to the wanton in-
vasion of Belgium; and the treaty obligation of
Great Britain to that little land brought us into the
war.
"The present rulers of Russia are now engaged
without any reference to the countries whom Russia
brought into the war, in separate negotiations with
their common enemy. I am indulging in no re-
proaches; I am merely stating facts with a view to
making it clear why Britain cannot be held account-
able for decisions taken in her absence and concern-
ing which she has not been consulted or had her aid
invoked.
"No one who knows Prussia and her designs upon
Russia can for a moment doubt her ultimate inten-
tion. Whatever phrases she may use to delude Rus-
sia, she does not mean to surrender one of the fair
provinces or cities of Russia now occupied by her
forces. Under one name and another-and the name
hardly matters-these Russian provinces will hence-
forth be in reality part of the dominions of Prussia.
They will be ruled by the Prussian sword in the
interests of Prussian autocracy, and the rest of the







BRITISH WAR AIMS


people of Russia will be partly enticed by specious
phrases and partly bullied by the threat of contin-
ued war against an impotent army into a condition
of complete economic and ultimate political enslave-
ment to Germany.
"We all deplore the prospect. The democracy of
this country means to stand to the last by the de-
mocracies of France and Italy and all our other Al-
lies. We shall be proud to fight to the end side by
side with the new democracy of Russia; so will
America and so will France and Italy. But if the
present rulers of Russia take action which is inde-
pendent of their Allies we have no means of inter-
vening to arrest the catastrophe which is assuredly
befalling their country. Russia can only be saved
by her own people.
"We believe, however, that an independent Po-
land comprising all those genuinely Polish elements
who desire to form part of it, is an urgent necessity
for the stability of Western Europe.
"Similarly, though we agree with President Wil-
son that the break-up of Austria-Hungary is no part
of our war aims, we feel that unless genuine self-
government on true democratic principles is granted
to those Austro-Hungarian nationalities who have
long desired it, it is impossible to hope for the re-
moval of those causes of unrest in that part of Eu-
rope which have so long threatened its general peace.
"On the same grounds we regard as vital the sat-
isfaction of the legitimate claims of the Italians for







DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 11
union with those of their own race and tongue. We
also mean to press that justice be done to men of
Roumanian blood and speech in their legitimate as-
pirations.
"If these conditions are fulfilled Austria-Hungary
would become a power whose strength would con-
duce to the permanent peace and freedom of Europe,
instead of being merely an instrument to the perni-
cious military autocracy of Prussia, which uses the
resources of its allies for the furtherance of its own
sinister purposes.
"Outside Europe, we believe that the same prin-
ciples should be applied. While we do not chal-
lenge the maintenance of the Turkish Empire in the
homelands of the Turkish race with its capital at
Constantinople, the passage between the Mediter-
ranean and the Black Sea being internationalized
and neutralized, Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia,
Syria and Palestine are in our judgment entitled to
a recognition of their separate national conditions.
What the exact form of that recognition in each par-
ticular case should be need not here be discussed, be-
yond stating that it would be impossible to restore
to their former sovereignty the territories to which I
have already referred.
"Much has been said about the arrangements we
have entered into with our Allies on this and on
other subjects. I can only say that as new circum-
stances, like the Russian collapse and the separate
Russian negotiations, have changed the conditions








RITISH WAR AIMS
i.


under which those arrangements were made, we are
and always have been perfectly ready to discuss
them with our Allies.
"With regard to the German colonies, I have re-
peatedly declared that they are held at the disposal
of a conference whose decision must have primary
regard to the wishes and interests of the native in-
habitants of such colonies. None of those territories
are inhabited by Europeans. The governing consid-
eration, therefore, in all these cases must be that the
inhabitants should be placed under the control of an
administration, acceptable to themselves, one of
whose main purposes will be to prevent their exploi-
tation for the benefit of European capitalists or gov-
ernments. The natives live in their various tribal
organizations under chiefs and councils who are com-
petent to consult and speak for their tribes and mem-
bers and thus to represent their wishes and interests
in regard to their disposal. The general principle of
national self-determination is, therefore, as applic-
able in their cases as in those of occupied European
territories.
"The German declaration that the natives of the
German colonies have, through their military fidelity
in the war, shown their attachment and resolve un-
der all circumstances to remain with Germany is ap-
plicable not to the German colonies generally, but
only to one of them, and in that case (German East
Africa) the German authorities secured the attach-
ment, not of the native population as a whole, which


'i *


^


B





DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 13
is and remains profoundly anti-German, but only
of a small warlike class from whom their Askaris or
soldiers were selected. These they attached to them-
selves by conferring on them a highly privileged posi-
tion as against the bulk of the native population,
which enabled these Askaris to assume a lordly and
oppressive superiority over the rest of the natives.
By this and other means they secured the attach-
ment of a very small and insignificant minority,
whose interests were directly opposed to those of the
rest of the population, and for whom they have no
right to speak. The German treatment of their na-
tive populations in their colonies has been such as
amply to justify their fear of submitting the future
of those colonies to the wishes of the natives them-
selves.
"Finally, there must be reparation for injuries
done in violation of international law. The Peace
Conference must not forget our seamen and the serv-
ices they have rendered to, and the outrages they
have suffered for the common cause of freedom.
"One omission we notice in the proposal of the
Central Powers, which seems to us especially regret-
table. It is desirable and, indeed, essential, that the
settlement after this war shall be one which does not
in itself bear the seed of future war. But that is
not enough. However wisely and well we may
make territorial and other arrangements, there will
still be many subjects of international controversy.
Some, indeed, are inevitable.





14 BRITISH WAR AIMS
"The economical conditions at the end of the war
will be in the highest degree difficult. Owing to the
diversion of human effort to warlike pursuits, there
must follow a world-shortage of raw materials,
which will increase the longer the war lasts, and it
is inevitable that those countries which have con-
trol of the raw materials will desire to help them-
selves and their friends first.
"Apart from this, whatever settlement is made
will be suitable only to the circumstances under
which it is made and, as those circumstances change,
changes in the settlement will be called for.
"So long as the possibility of dispute between na-
tions continues-that is to say, so long as men and
women are dominated by passion and ambition, and
war is the only means of settling a dispute-all na-
tions must live under the burden, not only of having
from time to time to engage in it, but of being com-
pelled to prepare for its possible outbreak. The
crushing weight of modem armaments, the increasing
evil of compulsory military service, the vast waste of
wealth and effort involved in warlike preparation,
these are blots on our civilization of which every
thinking individual must be ashamed.
"For these and other similar reasons, we are confi-
dent that a great attempt must be made to establish
by some international organization an alternative to
war as a means of settling international disputes.
After all, war is a relic of barbarism and, just as
law has succeeded violence as the means of settling





DAVID LLOYD GEORGE 15
disputes between individuals, so we believe that it
is destined ultimately to take the place of war in
the settlement of controversies between nations.
"If, then, we are asked what we are fighting for,
we reply as, we have often replied: we are fighting
for a just and lasting peace, and we believe that be-
fore permanent peace can be hoped for three con-
ditions must be fulfilled; firstly, the sanctity of trea-
ties must be established; secondly, a territorial set-
tlement must be secured, based on the right of self-
determination or the consent of the governed, and,
lastly, we must seek by the creation of some interna-
tional organization to limit the burden of armaments
and diminish the probability of war.
"On these conditions the British Empire would
welcome peace; to secure these conditions its peoples
are prepared to make even greater sacrifices than those
they have yet endured."











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