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 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 concrete application to the war map of the world.
We may begin by clearing away some misunderstandings 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 disruption 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 Germany 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 triumph over public right and international justice. It was only the realization of that dreadful alternative that forced the British people into the war.
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.
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. Russian accepted war with all its horrors because, true to her traditional guardianship of the weaker communities of her race, she stepped in to protect Serbia from a plot against her independence. It is this honourable 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 chivalrous respect for her treaty led to the wanton invasion 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 reproaches; I am merely stating facts with a view to making it clear why Britain cannot be held accountable for decisions taken in her absence and concerning 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 intention. Whatever phrases she may use to delude Russia, 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 henceforth 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 people of Russia will be partly enticed by specious phrases and partly bullied by the threat of continued war against an impotent army into a condition of complete economic and ultimate political enslavement to Germany.
We all deplore the prospect. The democracy of this country means to stand to the last by the democracies of France and Italy and all our other Allies. 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 independent of their Allies we have no means of intervening to arrest the catastrophe which is assuredly befalling their country. Russia can only be saved by her own people.
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 before permanent peace can be hoped for three conditions must be fulfilled; firstly, the sanctity of treaties must be established; secondly, a territorial settlement 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 international 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.
There’s very little trade going on so close to Christmas. There’s almost no one attending, and even less goods to sell.
The Council of People's Commissars issued a decree introducing new spelling.
Letters ѣ, е, ъ, i and similar are excluded.
Starting from January 1918, all government-issued publications, newspapers, magazines and books have to utilize new spelling.
I am tired, it’s late. Different people. Was busy with different things. Zenzinov came to visit. In the entryway, I did not fail to show him some clippings from “People Affairs” with its obviously mendacious words about Savinkov. He made excuses that in the report the words were misreported. See more
But I did not relent.
Rumours…Freezing weather, -20 degrees.
The weather became mild, and a wet snow fell. We all worked up on the hill. At 9 o'clock vespers was held.
You will probably get this in February, so I congratulate you on your name day. God help you in future and bless you. We always remember and speak of you. May God guard all your ways. Don't be sad, dear. All will be well, and we shall be together again. I kiss you tenderly. Maria.
A betrayal already means love. You can’t betray an acquaintance.
At seven this morning a few of us went out shooting with Prince Leopold of Bavaria. We went for a distance of 20 to 30 kilometres by train, and then in open automobiles to a magnificent primeval forest extending over two to three hundred square kilometres. Weather very cold, but fine, much snow, and pleasant company. See more
From the point of view of sport, it was poorer than one could have expected. One of the Prince's aides stuck a pig, another shot two hares, and that was all. Back at 6 P.M.
Trotsky has raised another awkward question by proposing to appoint a Russian Representative in London. It is very difficult for us to consent to this, while, if we refuse, he may retaliate by divesting the AUied Embassies of their diplomatic immunities. See more
I have pointed out to the Foreign Office that we shall have to choose between coming to some working arrangement with the Bolsheviks or breaking with them altogether. A complete rupture would leave the Germans a clear field in Russia and would deprive our vested interests of such protection as the Embassy can give them. We should, therefore, in my opinion, only have recourse to it in the last resort.
Trotsky, who is leaving for Brest Litovsk to renew; the peace negotiations, is now accusing us of intending to make a peace sur le dos de la Russie. He told a friend of mine yesterday that it is clear from what Mr. Lloyd George said in a recent speech that the Allies would like to see Germany make a peace ' ' with annexa- tions " with Russia, in the hope that she would, after gorging herself in the east, be more disposed to make concessions in the west. It seems pretty clear from this that he is preparing to beat a retreat and to accept Germany's terms.