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a slight economic interest in the cause of our enemies. It is also probable that the senators from the south will all stand by us, because they are very much embittered against England on account of the cotton question. Nevertheless, we must, as I have already pointed out by telegram, be fully prepared for further negotiations on the subject of the Lusitania. If we refuse to give way at all, the breaking of diplomatic relations, followed by war, is inevitable. In my opinion it is out of the question to find a formula that will satisfy public opinion on both sides. It may, however, be possible to find a formula that will skim over the points of contention, as was done in the Arabic case. In spite of all the outcry over here there is no doubt that the American Government and the greater part of public opinion would be only too delighted if we could find a graceful way of settling the Lusitania question without a conflict. What is required in the first place is :
“1. A declaration on our side that the attack on the Lusitania should be regarded as an act of reprisal and, therefore, not within the scope of existing international law.
“2. The payment of an indemnity, which in my opinion could be made without committing ourselves on the question of responsibility.
“President Wilson had hoped that the whole question could be shelved until after the end of the war. Now the war still drags on, and Mr. Wilson is afraid of radical intervention on the part of Congress. Over here it is quite impossible to prophesy. The unexpected is the only thing that consistently recurs. No one can say what Congress will do. Meanwhile, it is my duty to describe the situation as I see it to-day. Whether the Lusitania question is of sufficient practical importance to allow it to bring upon us the breaking-off of diplomatic relations and war with the United States I must leave it to the exalted judgment of your Excellency to decide.”
The American Government had established a basis for the negotiations with regard to the Lusitania and “the Freedom of the Seas” which was in our favor when, on the 21st October, they sent a very circumstantial Note to London in which they demonstrated that the English blockade was a breach of international law and definitely stated that this blockade was neither effective, legal nor defensible. Further, that the United States could not, therefore, submit to an infringement of her rights as a neutral through measures which were admittedly reprisals, and, consequently, contrary to international law. That she could not with equanimity allow her rights to be subordinated to the plea that the peculiar geographical position of the enemies of Great Britain justified measures contrary to international law.
The conclusion of the Note read as follows:
“It is of the highest importance to neutrals not only of the present day, but of the future, that the principles of international right be maintained unimpaired.
“This task of championing the integrity of neutral rights, which have received the sanction of the civilized world against the lawless conduct of belligerents arising out of the bitterness of the great conflict which is now wasting the countries of Europe, the United States unhesitatingly assumes, and to the accomplishment of that task it will devote its energies, exercising always that impartiality which from the outbreak of the war it has sought to exercise in its relations with the warring nations."
The above programme was in accordance with the proposal of the American Note of 21st July, which had touched on the subject of co-operation in realizing the “Freedom of the Seas." It was, however, clear to me,
, apart from anything else, that the United States would not expend energy in championing the rights of neutrals so long as a conflict with Germany threatened. The settlement of the Arabic question gave grounds for hope that the views of the two Governments on the question of submarine warfare would coincide. This appeared to me to be the most important point; the American Government, however, insisted on the settlement of the Lusitania incident, which I foresaw was going to prove a very difficult problem. Even in the Arabic affair it was only by my own independent action that it was possible to avoid a break. The Lusitania question, however, was much more unfavorable to us because at that time the old instructions to submarine captains were still in force. I should, therefore, have been glad to avoid negotiations on the Lusitania question, but Mr. Lansing insisted on a settlement before he spoke on the future “Freedom of the Seas." The reason for this attitude of the Secretary of State, as appears in my reports reproduced above, lay in the state of public opinion. It was unfortunately impossible for the American Government to carry through the policy they had adopted in respect to England so long as the Lusitania question was brought forward daily in the American Press.
The negotiations should have been carried through orally and confidentially between Mr. Lansing and myself. Unfortunately, however, it was impossible to keep anything confidential in Washington, particularly as, very much against my wishes, the conversations were protracted for weeks. The state department was continually besieged by journalists, who reported in their papers a medley of truth and fiction about each of my visits. In this way they provoked denials, and so ended by getting a good idea of how the situation stood. In addition to this, authoritative persons in Berlin gave interviews to American journalists, who reported to the United States papers everything that they did not already know. Consequently, the negotiations did not progress in the way Mr. Lansing and I had expected. We wanted to arrive quickly at a formula and make it known at once. Public opinion in both countries would then have been set at rest, and the past would have been buried so long as no fresh differences of opinion and conflict arose out of the submarine war. The formula, however, was not so easy to arrive at. The wording of the Memorandum which I was to present to the American Government had to be repeatedly cabled to Berlin, where each time some alteration was required in the text that Mr. Lansing wanted.
The American Government held to the point of view which they had formulated in the Note of the 21st July, as follows:
for a belligerent act of retaliation is per se an act beyond the law and the defense of an act as retaliatory is an admission that it is illegal."
The standpoint of the American Note of the 21st July, 1915, shows clearly the mistake of treating the submarine war as reprisals. It shows how every surrender of a position compromises the next.
The German Government, on the other hand, refused under any circumstances to admit the illegality of the submarine warfare within the war-zone, because they regarded the right to make reprisals as a recognized part of the existing international law. Further, the American demand was regarded in Germany as a deliberate humiliation, as well as an attempt to coerce as unconditionally to renounce unrestricted submarine warfare once and for all. To have admitted that the submarine war was a breach of international law would have involved us in the same unpleasant consequences to which now, after our defeat, we are compelled to submit. If we admitted the illegality of the submarine campaign we should have been obliged, on the conclusion of peace, to meet all the demands for damages arising out of it.
For the third time, then, the word “illegal” brought us face to face with a crisis which was within an ace of causing a rupture of diplomatic relations. The last days of the negotiations turned out very unfortunately for us. Mr. Lansing and I had agreed upon a formula in which the word “illegal" did not occur, because my instructions
” categorically prohibited its use. In Berlin it was not yet known that we had arrived at the desired agreement, and it was there thought necessary to call public attention to the danger of the situation, and explain the seriousness of the position in the hope that by this means the American Government might be moved to adopt a more conciliatory attitude.
On 5th February, Under-Secretary of State Zimmermann gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said he did not wish to conceal the seriousness of the position. That Germany could under no circumstances admit the illegality of the submarine campaign within the war-zone. The whole crisis arose from the new demand of America that Germany should admit the sinking of the Lusitania to be an act infringing the law of nations. Germany could not renounce the submarine as a weapon. If the United States insisted on bringing about a break Germany could do nothing further to avoid it. The