Carnegie Endowment for International
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
The lesson of the two wars
Never was a lesson clearer and more brutal. United, the peoples of the Balkan peninsula, oppressed for so long, worked miracles that a mighty but divided Europe could not even conceive. Crete, Salonica, Uskub, even Scutari and Adrianople they took, and after a few months they almost entered Constantinople. It was the end, the Gordian knot was cut. Disunited, they were forced to come to a standstill and to exhaust themselves further in their effort to begin again, an effort indefinitely prolonged. For, far from being a solution,
the second war was only the beginning of other wars, or rather of a continuous war, the worst of all, a war of religion, of reprisals, of race, a war of one people against another, of man against man and brother against brother. It has become a competition, as to who can best dispossess and "denationalize" his neighbor. The Turks in any case remain in Europe. The hecatombs of the siege of Adrianople have been in vain; Macedonia, no longer a tomb, has become a hell. Thrace is torn in pieces. Albania erected into a principality, remains the most unhappy and the wildest object of the eager watching of Austria, Servia, Montenegro, Greece and Italy. The churches and the Christian schools are fighting among themselves, enjoying less liberty than under Ottoman rule. Constantinople, more than ever, will be the eternal apple of discord under the surveillance of the Russians, who are themselves under the surveillance of Germany, Austria Hungary and Roumania, in fact of all the Powers, friends, allies and enemies. Greater Greece, Greater Bulgaria, and Greater Servia, the children of contemporary megalomania, will in their turn keep a close watch over the Bosphorus. The islands bring on a contest between Turkey and Asia on one hand, and Italy, Greece, England and all the great European Powers on the other. The Mediterranean open to new rivalries, becomes again the battlefield which she had ceased to be.
A dark prospect, which however, might become brighter if Europe and the great military Powers so wished. They could, in spite of everything, solve the problem if they were not determined to remain blind.
The real struggle in the Balkans, as in Europe and America, is not between oppressors and oppressed. It is between two policies, the policy of armaments and that of progress. One day the force of progress triumphs, but the next the policy of rousing the passions and jealousies that lead to armaments and to war, gets the upper hand.
With the second Balkan war, the policy of armaments spreads more strongly than ever. After having been the resource of European governments, it is about to become their punishment.
A paradoxical situation! The competition of armaments could not go on indefinitely, at this time of open economic competition between all the peoples of the Old World and the New. Already by reason of the increase of our budgets, and in spite of desperate efforts, it is losing prestige in popular opinion. It is being questioned, and consequently condemned.The extravagance of armaments appears like the development of a monstrous business, incompatible with national work. In spite of all the workmen that it employs, the salaries it pays, the auxiliary activities it supports, the war trade only flourishes by universal insecurity, lives only upon the increase of public expense, by all of which the normal business of all countries suffers. Under this regime of armed peace, only the little countries or the new countries are favored, those which have no debts, no immense war budgets.
What finally succeeds in bringing armed peace into disrepute, is that today the Great Powers are manifestly unwilling to make war. Each one of them,. Germany, England, France and the United States, to name a few, has discovered the obvious truth that the richest country has the most to lose by war,. and each country wishes for peace above all things. This is so true that these two Balkan wars have wrought us a new miracle,-we must not forget it,- namely, the active and sincere agreement of the Great Powers who, changing their tactics, have done everything to localize the hostilities in the Balkans and have become the defenders of the peace that they themselves threatened thirty-five years ago, at the time of the Berlin Congress. We might be tempted to attribute this evolution of public opinion and that of the governments in part to the new education which we are striving to spread, but let us stick to facts:
The exigencies of the universal competition, the increased means of communication, the protest of tax payers, and the dread of socialism and of the unknown, have been more efficacious in forcing the governments to think than any exhortations.
If this is so, why not end it? That is the dream, but how to realize it? Every one ignores it. A large body of persons, possessing immense capital, is engaged in the manufacture of armaments; more still, a formidable plant which must be sunk has been created and continues to be created every day. Is there anyone who will ignore this accumulation of strength and of riches? Who will be able to stop short this impulse? True, the home market is overstocked in every country with orders for armaments. Neither the jingo papers nor those in the hands of the federation of military contractors, who are so admirably organized into national and international syndicates, can urge indefinitely for a national consummation. There comes a time when public opinion refuses to submit any longer to this so-called patriotic regime; and the war trade, inspired with new ambition, turns its attention towards exportation. As the home market is not sufficient, a foreign market is created. The war trade believes that the foreign policy of a great nation is first and foremost the policy of armaments. The main duty of diplomacy according to it, is the struggle as to who shall carry off from a great rival nation, such and such a contract for guns, cannon or ironclads, and who shall subordinate political interventions or loans of money to army contracts.
The struggles become Homeric conflicts of influence and intrigue. Ambassadors can not disregard them without a kind of abdication. Has not even the Emperor of a great neighboring country made it a point of honor to militarize Turkey?-without any great success it is true. But what of Turkey or the colonies or the small states of few resources? An effort has been made to militarize North and South America, and Australia as well. Canada, whose future lies precisely in her exemption from all military burdens, has been forced to order a fleet from England, and to extract from a population still insufficient,
the elements of a navy which they have done very well without for a hundred years! Australia has not hesitated. Brazil, the Argentine, Chile and the other republics of South America did resist, thus giving Europe an example of peaceful cooperation; but now their former good sense has been overcome by attempts of all sorts continually repeated.Commercial travelers in patriotism have hurried from every corner of Europe to demonstrate the necessity for ordering the biggest battleships possible. We may recall the extraordinary experience of Brazil, the first dupe of these campaigns, when her great "Armada" arrived from the English ship yards and she saw it make its first attempt to cannonade Rio de Janeiro! It was the beginning of disillusion, the mastodon killed by ridicule. Since then, the propaganda of armaments has declined, even in the United States, where, however, the yellow press, typical of its kind, has given its proofs and is agitating the matter again, thanks to the providential events in Mexico. In the last few years, the House of Representatives at Washington has refused to vote more than one ironclad against two. In Germany, the Krupp case, the Saverne events, and many other incidents, without speaking of the Berne Conference, have been the answer to the furious excitement of the pan-Germanic press. In Japan itself there has just burst the unprecedented scandal of the naval contracts.
Russia nevertheless, happily for the great war trade, forgets how much the disasters of her navy have cost, and once more has allowed herself to be imposed upon. Austria has capitulated too, even Spain asks nothing better than to be persuaded, inasmuch as she can afford it. But on the whole the enthusiasm was cooling when the practice of the new Balkan States came to renew it. The acclamations of the jingo press of all countries greeted these fortunate countries, new centers for imports.
Even the battleships with which Brazil and the Argentine are disgusted, are being handed over to Turkey and Greece. Constantinople will become a vast arsenal and a naval port, worthy of her name and her past. The Greek fleet will oblige Italy, whose ardor was declining, to increase her navy as well; and following this example, the great countries of Europe and America will not remain unaffected. The naval leagues will agitate, the embassies will report these imposing manifestations, by sending confidential despatches, communicated as soon as received to the leading papers. Patriotic speakers, in print and on the platform, will inveigh against the "lie of pacifism," and so the prediction of the Americans that "the next war will be declared by the press," will be realized.
Then the Greeks, the Turks, the Servians, the Bulgarians, the Montenegrins and the Albanians, armed to the teeth, provided with all the guns and all the dreadnoughts for which we have no further use, can kill each other once more, and even drag into their quarrel the European governments, who will be as they themselves are, victims of the press and commercial patriotism, or in other words, of the policy of armaments.
Confronted by these follies or these crimes,-the word matters little,-our
sole resource while waiting for the day when we shall see the rise of an independent press, is our duty of speaking the truth which even the most sensible people hesitate to admit, for fear of compromising themselves.
In one of the speeches that I made in the Senate to free my conscience, before an audience sympathetic at heart, but fully determined not to support me, I calculated that France has imposed upon herself more than a hundred billion francs in unproductive expenditure during the last forty-three years, an average of more than two billion francs a year. This is the minimum price of armed peace for one country only. Several hundreds of billions in a half century for the Great Powers together!!
Think what United Europe might have done with these millions, had she consecrated even half to the service of progress! Imagine Europe herself, not to speak of Africa and Asia, penetrated and regenerated by the pure air, in its most distant parts, of free intercourse, of education and security. Can we picture what might have been the position today of these unfortunate Balkan peoples, if their patrons, the Great Powers of Europe, had competed with each other in aiding them, in giving them roads, and railways, and waterways, schools, laboratories, museums, hospitals and public works!
The most suitable title for this report would have been, "Europe Divided and her Demoralizing Action in the Balkans," but taking it all round this might have been unjust.
The real culprits in this long list of executions, assassinations, drownings, burnings, massacres and atrocities furnished by our report, are not, we repeat, the Balkan peoples. Here pity must conquer indignation. Do not let us condemn the victims. Nor are the European governments the real culprits. They at least tried to amend things and certainly they wished for peace without knowing how to establish it. The true culprits are those who mislead public opinion and take advantage of the people's ignorance to raise disquieting rumors and sound the alarm bell, inciting their country and consequently other countries into enmity. The real culprits are those who by interest or inclination, declaring constantly that war is inevitable, end by making it so, asserting that they are powerless to prevent it. The real culprits are those who sacrifice the general interest to their own personal interest which they so little understand, and who hold up to their country a sterile policy of conflict and reprisals. In reality there is no salvation, no way out either for small states or for great countries except by union and conciliation.
D'ESTOURNELLES DE CONSTANT
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