Carnegie Endowment for International peace
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
We have noted the objections that have been presented to us, and the principal ones are as follows:
How is the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace going to make an investigation into the atrocities committed in the Balkans? Why should a Commission interfere? If it discover that the atrocities were inevitable, inseparable from the condition of war, what an exposure of the powerlessness of civilization! If it find, as certain newspapers proclaim, that the evils are to be imputed to some and not to others, what hatred and bitterness will be
re-awakened between the scarcely pacified belligerents! We have heard this argument for thirty years. It has helped the evil to live and grow. We know what we must think about the results of European abstention. It is the fear of compromise, the fear of displeasing one or another of the nations, the terror, in short, of intervening reasonably and in time, which has brought about a crisis, the gravity of which is not only of yesterday and of today, but also of tomorrow. It is to the interest of all the governments, as well as of the peoples, that the light of truth should at last illuminate and regenerate these unhappy countries. The duty and the purpose of the Carnegie Endowment was to contribute in dissipating the shadows and dangers of a night indefinitely prolonged.
It has been further asked: What are you going to do in the Balkans, you French, you Americans, you English, you Russians, you Germans? Have you not enough to do with Morocco to look after, with Mexico, with South Africa, India, Persia? Yes, we have plenty to do at home, but let us give up all exterior action if we pretend to wait until everything in our own house or conduct is reformed, before we can attempt to help others. I do not consider the French State more perfect than any other human organization, but nevertheless my own imperfection need not prevent me from doing my utmost to be useful.
Other objections are of a less elevated order, but not less insistent. This for example: that everyone does not lose by war. Without speaking of the patriotism kept alive by war, the Great Powers lend their money to the belligerents and sell them the materials of war. This is good for trade and enriches both bankers and contractors. War is exhibited as an operation of twofold patriotism, of moral benefit, because it exalts heroism, and of material profit because it increases several important industries. A little more, and we shall be told that it nourishes the population!
We have replied to these sophisms over and over again. Once more we shall set aside the war that is defensive and in the cause of independence. Such a war is not to be confounded with any other, because it is the resistance to war, to conquest, to oppression. It is the supreme protest against violence, and generally the protest of the weak against the strong. Such was the first Balkan war,-and for this reason it was glorious and popular throughout the civilized world. We are only speaking of real war, such as a State undertakes in order to extend its possessions, or to assert its strength to the detriment of another country;-this was the case in the second Balkan war. Today no one gains in this sort of warfare. Both victor and vanquished lose morally and materially. It is false that peace encourages slothfulness. To speak only of France living under a rule of peace that has lasted for forty-three years, never has youth been more enterprising, more daring, more patriotic than in our day. In default of a war, courage applies itself to fertile invention, towards
exploration, to dangerous scientific experiments, to aerial and submarine navigation. Is this a sign of decadence?
And as for trade, which certainly gains by selling a battleship at nearly a hundred million francs, is it possible not to foresee the terrible stoppage of work and the consequent crisis, that must ensue when the peoples, tired of the ruinous competition, will claim a juster balance between the expenditure really necessary for national defense, and that wanted for developing the resources of each country and its useful activity? Nobody will contest the fact that one or several industries do certainly profit by war. It will even be read in this report that a new and flourishing kind of business has been created since the two Balkan wars, that of artificial legs! But the main body of trade? The main body of the people? There is the whole question. On the one hand the increase of armaments leading inevitably to catastrophe, on the other emulation, economic competition leading to progress, always insufficient indeed, but better assured each day by general cooperation, and finally, to security.
Must we allow these two Balkan wars to pass, without at least trying to draw some lesson from them, without knowing whether they have been a benefit or an evil, if they should begin again tomorrow and go on for ever extending?
We have made up our
mind. The objections that we have summarized are always the same, not one
of them holds against the fact that the two Balkan wars, different as each
was from the other, finally sacrificed treasures of riches, lives, and
heroism. We can not authenticate these sacrifices without protesting, without
denouncing their cost and their danger for the future. For this reason,
I constituted our Commission, and today I am presenting the report which
it has drawn up in truth, independence and complete disinterestedness.
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