« AnteriorContinuar »
on which the Government of the United States now 80 solemnly insists. They are both contending for the freedom of the seas. The Government of the United States will continue to contend for that freedom from whatever quarter it is violated, without compromise and at any cost. It invites the practical co-operation of the Imperial German Government at this time, when.co-operation may accomplish most, and this great common object can be most strikingly and effectively achieved. The Imperial German Government expresses the hope that this object may in some measure be accomplished even before the present war ends. It can be.
“The Government of the United States not only feels obliged to insist upon it, by whomsoever it is violated or ignored, in the protection of its own citizens, but it is also deeply interested in seeing it made practicable between the belligerents themselves. It holds itself ready at any time to act as a common friend who may be privileged to suggest a way.'
It seemed possible to reach some sort of agreement on the basis of the above request from America that we should co-operate in endeavoring to restore the freedom of the seas; but there remained the question of finding a formula which should serve as a basis for the settlement of the Lusitania question and prevent any repetition of such incidents.
I was aware that there were two political counter-currents in Berlin: the one party desiring at all costs to prevent war with the United States, the other preferring to risk war for the sake of continuing the submarine campaign. I was clearly bound to co-operate with the first named, as I was convinced that America's participation in the war would certainly result in our eventual defeat; this view was, I knew, that Von Jagow, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whose opinion on this point was identical with mine. Up to January 31st, 1917, however, I could never ascertain which of these two views was the accepted one in Berlin, although, of course, I always hoped that the party of common sense would eventually prevail, nor was I able to discover what degree of success, if any, Meyer Gerhardt, who had been sent to represent my views to the authorities in Berlin, or Dr. Dernburg, who was working for the same end, had managed to achieve. As will be seen from my account of the subsequent course of events, my information on this point was very insufficient, and I was not even made acquainted with the views of the Berlin Government, on the conduct of the submarine campaign, or on the subsequent peace proposals put forward by the President. I was never informed beforehand as to the real intentions of Berlin, and I cannot understand, even to-day, why I was not told, until after the Arabic incident, that the German submarine commanders had been instructed immediately after the torpedoing of the Lusitania not to attack liners. A knowledge of this fact at the time would have assisted me greatly in my dealings with Washington. I do not intend to assert that in all this there was any deliberate neglect on the part of the Berlin Government, but neither, on the other hand, can I credit the commonly accepted explanation that the technical difficulties of transmitting reports were insuperable. It should have been possible to give me definite information on these matters by any one of the various channels of communication which were available between the Foreign Office and the Embassy at Washington. No other explanation is possible, except that which is to be found in the conflict of the two parties in Germany. The head of the Foreign Office was well aware that my policy in Washington was the same as his own in Berlin, but he was frequently unable to send me definite and early information because he, himself, could not tell whether his own views could be accepted and acted upon.
At this time I sent the following report to Berlin:
“Cedarhurst, 28th July, 1915. “I have on more than one occasion respectfully begged your Excellency to be so good as to wait for my report before deciding whether the last American Lusitania Note is to be answered, and if a reply is to be sent, in what sense it should be drafted. Neither the Government nor public opinion considers such a reply absolutely necessary, so that there is no danger in delay; but I respectfully request that I may be permitted at all events to undertake further negotiations here, verbally and confidentially, even if my instructions have to be sent by letter. Experience has proved that negotiations, if they are to have any prospect of success with the American Government, must be carried on in Washington. Both President Wilson and Mr. Lansing are now prepared to attempt to reach an agreement by this means. In Germany, where the tone of the American Note must have appeared unnecessarily abrupt, this fact is perhaps not realized; the explanation of course is that Mr. Wilson was carried away by the popular excitement over the Lusitania incident, and was, thus, compelled to adopt an intransigeant attitude, from which he cannot now recede, without making his position impossible here. Then besides the resignation of Mr. Bryan, and that unfortunate telegram of Dr. Dumba's, which has become known here, has convinced him that we are not in earnest. Finally, he wishes to come to some kind of settlement with us by means of this exchange of Notes, in order that he may then turn his attention to England; and his wellknown pride confirms him in the view that only after he
has concluded his negotiations with us, can he take up the matter with her. It should be clearly understood that Mr. Wilson does not want war with us, nor does he wish to side with England, despite all statements to the contrary in the Press of the Eastern States. This Press, in agreement with other powerful and influential circles is Anglophile to a degree and not altogether averse to a war with Germany; but this view is not shared by Mr. Wilson, or the large majority of the American people.
"The great danger of the present situation is that we may be driven to war, either by the efforts of this Press, or by a new Lusitania incident. What Mr. Wilson wants is to satisfy public opinion here, by the serious tone of the Note sent to us, and at the same time to induce as to make certain concessions and thus carry out his darling project of the freedom of the seas, by finding some middle course between the German and English views. In his last note, the President has certainly modified his views in our favor by his admission that submarine warfare is legitimate, whereas he formerly maintained that it could not be regarded as permissible from the point of view of international law.
“It is not my business, even were I in possession of all the necessary facts, to say whether it would be better policy from our point of view, to reply to this Note, or to leave it unanswered; I can only describe the situation, as it appears to me at the moment. From that point of view the decision must depend very largely on the results which we expect to follow from the submarine campaign. If this campaign is regarded as an end in itself, and we are justified in believing that it can bring about the overthrow of England, it would be wiser to leave the American note unanswered, and carry on with the submarine campaign and turn a deaf ear to neutral protests. If, on the other hand, this campaign is only a means to an end, the
end being the removal or slackening of the British blockade restrictions, then I beg respectfully to urge that it would be worth our while to make some concessions to President Wilson's convictions, in the hope of achieving our object through his co-operation. He is reported by a witness in whom I have complete confidence, to have said: 'If I receive a favorable answer from Germany I will see this thing through with England to the end.'
“Before this report reaches your Excellency, Wilson's Note will have been delivered to the English Government. If this is couched in as peremptory a tone as the one addressed to us, then I urgently recommend that we should endeavor to come to an agreement with the American Government on the basis of the following draft note. I hope that your Excellency will send me an authorization by wireless—it should be sent in duplicate for greater safety's sake-to enter into negotiations on this basis; I believe that I can guarantee to find a satisfactory principle to serve as a weapon for Wilson in his attack on England. If we show ourselves ready to help him out of his present difficulties, I am sure he for his part will energetically prosecute against England his design of vindicating the validity of international law. 'It can be,' said the President himself in his last Note. In these three words may be seen the conviction of Mr. Wilson, that he can impose his will upon England in this matter.
“As I have already reported, I earnestly hope that it will be decided to reply to the American note; and a reply should, to my mind, deal with these three points:
“(1) Settlement of the Lusitania incident. In this connection it would be well to state that from the point of view of reprisals we were entirely justified in attacking the Lusitania. In so doing, however, we had no intention of taking American lives, and deeply regret that through a combination of unfortunate circumstances this has