VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
INFORMATION from Great Britain describes matters there as prosperous. Business flourishes, supported mainly by the orders for war materials for the Government, building of war vessels, etc. The streets have much the ordinary appearance, except that more black is worn by the women, as indicative of mourning, and more military uniform is to be seen.
Newspaper reports respecting the sinking of vessels by German submarines might give the impression that Great Britain is cut off from communication with the outer world and that few ships enter and leave her ports. Such, however, is not the case. Approximately three thousand vessels entered and left British ports last month, while only about four sustained injury from the German submarines. The good business condition and rise in the price of food are leading to labor troubles, strikes for shorter hours and better wages. The demands are being met very conservatively. Wages of British mechanics are still much below the American level.
Conditions in Russia, except in the war zone, are said to be good. The Government, which has for years had control of the liquor traffic, has entirely suppressed it. The effect upon the Russian people is said to be excellent, tending toward their enlightenment of mind and tending also, with the war demands for labor, toward their financial prosperity.
That part of France, which is outside of the war-zone, seems to be fairly prosperous also.
Germany, according to all accounts, is not nearly as badly off as we might suppose from press reports. The business of the country goes on with remarkable regularity, notwithstanding the war; nevertheless, lacking an outlet for her manufactures, German activities are mainly concerned with Government orders for war materials and home necessities. The food, being under Governmental control, is limited, but is said to be sufficient for the absolute needs of the people. All food supplies are being conserved, as in the case of a besieged [R5658 : page 99] city. Clocks have been set forward one hour to favor earlier rising and earlier retiring, thus effecting the saving of petroleum.
Great suffering and distress is reported from the war-zone-- Belgium, Northern France, Western Russia, Eastern Germany and the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains. These war-swept districts have suffered terribly-- the fortunes of war sometimes sweeping one way, sometimes the other, but always with terrible severity, not only as respects the soldiers, but also the inhabitants of the districts. Conditions in Servia are said to be terrible also.
The Dardanelles, controlled by Turkey, constitute a new war area. Great Britain has long upheld the Turkish Government and hindered Russia from gaining access to the Mediterranean Sea and the world by water. Russia long ago would have devoured Turkey at great cost; for Constantinople would have given her one of the most important sea-ports in the world. Now England and France must help their ally, Russia. Since they cannot utilize Constantinople themselves, they are anxious that Russia shall not have it. They will propose that the Dardanelles be maintained a free waterway, like the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. Whether or not this will satisfy Russia is doubtful; and a quarrel amongst the Allies may result. If a quarrel seem unavoidable, it may be determined that the Dardanelles are impregnable and Turkey be allowed to hold on to her possession.
Meantime the Allies are seeking for further assistance to blockade thoroughly and starve out Germany. To this end Italy and Greece are being urged to join in the war, the inducement being that in the settlement Italy shall receive certain Austrian Provinces and Greece be allowed to take over a large share of Turkey's domain --to keep Russia out. Selfishness, statecraft, fear of each other and ambition for world-power are thus seen to be the moving principles, so far as the world is concerned in the present war. Switzerland, Holland and Scandinavia are in fear and know not what to do. The interests of the great belligerents may force war upon them, although they are striving to the best of their ability to remain neutral.
RELIGIOUS INFLUENCES AND THE WAR
At first, the influence of the war upon the people of Europe was terrifying. In their distress they were inclined to become more religious. With the progress of the war this spirit of fear and looking to the Lord for help is passing away, giving place to colder sentiments and greater self-confidence. War is becoming the business of life to those engaged in it. Each of the nations involved sees matters from its own viewpoint. Each honestly believes that it is right. Each has the courage of its convictions and is ready to die for them.
The Germans hold that the Allies, jealous of their frugality and prosperity and thoroughness, have long [R5658 : page 100] been preparing to crush them, to annihilate them. They claim that if they had waited until the French army had been mobilized on their western frontier, and the Russian army on their eastern frontier it would have been too late for Germany to successfully defend herself; that it was necessary for her to take the steps she did take and to take them with the promptness with which she took them, in order to strike first at France and then at Russia, whose soldiers represented double the number of her own.
The Germans feel a special bitterness toward the British, believing that they are at the bottom of the Alliance and its schemes for the destruction of Germany. The Kaiser is evidently sincere in the thought that he and his people are God's ordained agencies for the propagation of system, law, economy and prosperity throughout the world. The Germans believe their cause to be just and that surely they will succeed. It is freely declared by them that, should they not succeed, they would altogether doubt the existence of God.
The Allies, also, feel that God is for them. Germany's preparation of a great army, they claim, was not in self-defense and to protect her life, but for aggressive warfare upon her neighbors. They claim that Germany stands for militarism and that its successful military rule throughout the world, the rule of force, would be much more injurious than the rule of naval force. Whatever the leaders think and know as respects motives for the war, and whatever their conclusions respecting how it must end in the annihilation of Germany, the public undoubtedly believe that the cause of the Allies is every way just and must surely have God's favor and blessing. The Russians, we are told, are content that they are serving God while obeying the commands of the "Little Father," the Czar. They are content to die. They refer to going to the front and into the tomb as "Off for America." In other words, having a glimmering of a future life and refusing to take the doctrine of eternal torture seriously, they conclude that dying is like setting sail for an unseen country.
The French soldiers are taking the matter of warfare as light-heartedly as possible--much as one might take to a hunting expedition where the chances were recognized to be rather doubtful.
The great generals of the war are saying freely that the war is only beginning; that the Winter time has interfered with operations and that as soon as the Spring floods are past, the bitterest warfare ever yet known to the world may be expected.
Meantime, Japan finds the present a favorable opportunity for gaining the mastery of the yellow race--of mastering China. Her Allies, of course, would not approve of this course, but Japan well knows that they are powerless to interfere. As to the objections of the United States, they will not be worthy of consideration; for the distance across the Pacific is so great and the Japanese navy is more than a match for what United States war vessels could be spared for Far Eastern waters. It would, indeed, tickle Japanese pride to have a conflict with the United States navy in Eastern waters, where they would be so far from fuel and other supplies as to be defeated. It would put Japan in the front rank of "Christian Nations" and the Philippines could be her reward. The Allies probably would be pleased to see the United States humiliated and sharer with them in the weakening influences of the present warfare. Undoubtedly Germany also would be glad to see the United States involved in war, as it would hinder further supplies of war materials going to the Allies. If the United States shall keep clear of entanglement under all these conditions it will be marvelous, almost indicating a Divine supervision of its affairs.
"MEN'S HEARTS FAILING THEM FOR FEAR"
As it is, the United States, indeed all the countries of America, North and South, and all the world except the warring nations, are experiencing most peculiar conditions because of the financial disruption created by the war. Not only Canada, but also Central and South America, China, Australasia and India, have been financed in the past by the nations now at war; especially by Great Britain. Their bank balances and loans are all interfered with by the war and by the necessity on the part of the warring nations of using their capital at home. The United States is not financially powerful enough to meet the conditions and supply money to the remainder of the world, previously dependent on Europe. Indeed stocks and bonds to the amount of five thousand millions of dollars are held in Europe against American improvements, etc. As the war progresses and Europeans need money, they may be expected to sell these American securities in American Exchanges. We have not the money to thus pay our unmatured obligations. Already our banks are full to overflowing with stocks and bonds--some excellent, some medium value, some worthless. Consequently gold will probably go to a premium in the United States as it is already at a premium in Canada. This will bring great distress everywhere, in connection with the liquidation of maturing obligations, bonds, mortgages, etc. No wonder financiers are perplexed--"men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to those things coming on the earth"!--Luke 21:26.
THE WORLD'S DEBTS NEVER TO BE PAID
The London Economist roughly estimates the debts of the warring nations at the close of February as follows, in millions of Pounds Sterling. For a rough estimate in dollars, multiply by five:
Debt Loss of Total
(Expressed in Millions) Old New Revenue Debt
L. L. L. L.
Great Britain.......... 661 312 nil 973
France................. 1,315 363 50 1,728
Russia................. 890 520 50 1,460
Germany................ 240 520 50 810
Austria-Hungary........ 490 363 50 903
Servia................. 26 26 4 56
Belgium................ 148 26 .. 174
The article says: "In the case of the five leading belligerents, we take the National Debt before the war, and add our estimate of the war expenditure, and also an estimate of the loss of ordinary revenue, which must, of course, be added to the debt. The figures for Servia and Belgium are guesswork, and may be very wide of the mark. The figures for the belligerents will, we fear, prove well within the mark. Both the old and the new debts are a mortgage on the future industry of Europe. A population which will have lost a large percentage of its best workers will have to find much larger annual [R5659 : page 100] sums than ever before in interest. In case of failure the State will have to pass into the hands of the receiver, and in its ruin great commercial and financial houses will be involved. We are all slaughtering one another's customers, and every week of international warfare spreads destruction among the fortunes of individuals. There is even a sense in which one may say the greater the success the greater the embarrassment. The debt of the German Empire, like the German Empire itself, is a new creation. The State debts of Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, etc., are, separate and together, [R5659 : page 101] much larger. Austria-Hungary, again, is not a unity like France. Suppose either Germany or Austria become dismembered by external force, or exploded by revolution, what becomes of their national or Imperial debts, or of the indemnities which the Allies might hope to exact? The more one looks into the financial and political future of Europe after the war the darker and more obscure do its problems appear. But that is all the more reason why independent men with knowledge and penetration and foresight should exercise their minds upon the political economy of this war. Never has there been such a collision of forces, never so much destruction in so short a time. Never has it been so difficult or so necessary to measure the calamity, to count the costs, to foresee and provide against the consequences to human society. Philanthropists profess to hope that the peace settlement will bring with it a great international reduction of armies and armaments, which will enable the nations to support their new war debt, and so to avoid the bankruptcy court. No doubt the fear of bankruptcy will count for something; otherwise the peace settlement might be expected to breed another series of preparations for another series of wars. But those who know the forces which really control the diplomacy of Europe see no Utopias. The outlook is for bloody revolutions and fierce wars between labor and capital, or between the masses and the governing classes of Continental Europe."
BIBLE STUDENTS AND THE FUTURE
In all the Continental Armies our Brethren, known as Bible Students, are to be found--not willingly, but by conscription. However opposed to the taking of life, they are subject to the powers that be in everything that does not conflict with conscience. Before the war we recommended to the Brethren that in the event of hostilities they should, so far as possible, if drafted, request positions in the hospital service or in the supplies department, where they could serve the Government efficiently; whereas, if they were ordered to the firing line, they would not be obliged to shoot to kill. We have reasons for believing that these suggestions are being followed and that meantime the Brethren are using the opportunities for proclaiming to their companions in military service the blessed message of the soon-to-be-established Kingdom of Christ, for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
We have exhorted the brethren to strict neutrality so far as the combatants are concerned, whatever might be their natural inclination through accident of birth or association. To Bible Students none of the belligerent nations are wholly in the right, and none of them entirely to blame. Let us more and more seek to take the Bible view of the great Armageddon, of which we are now having the prelude. It is the outgrowth of our civilization, developing in the soil of selfishness. We are seeing fruits which have been ripening for forty years.
We are never for a moment to forget that if the nations were Christian nations, as some of us once supposed, they would be bearing the fruits of the Spirit-- meekness, gentleness, patience, kindness, love. How great the mistake! Christendom--Christ's Kingdom--has not yet been established. It awaits the Lord's time and the manifestation of His power and great glory in its establishment. These are kingdoms of this world, actuated by the principles of selfishness and deceived by Satan, "the god of this world."
The Battle of Armageddon, to which this war is leading, will be a great contest between right and wrong, and will signify the complete and everlasting overthrow of the wrong, and the permanent establishment of Messiah's righteous Kingdom for the blessing of the world. All these things are probably easier to be seen from this side of the ocean than by the dear friends who are nearer to, and more directly influenced by, the war and their national, personal interests. Nevertheless, it is important that we all keep clearly before our minds that this is not the war of the Church, but the war of the world with carnal weapons; and that our sympathies are broad enough to cover all engaged in the dreadful strife, as our hope is broad enough and deep enough to include all in the great blessings which our Master and His Millennial Kingdom are about to bring to the world.
Meantime, another danger to the Lord's consecrated people lies along the lines of worldly-mindedness--neglecting the things of the Kingdom in favor of the things of this present life. Our Adversary is still alert. We, also, must be alert as children of the Light, children of the Day, soldiers of the Cross. There never was a better opportunity than now for lifting high the royal banner of our Redeemer. More people have ears to hear and sharper ears to hear than ever before. Thousands are anxious for the Message which we have to give them and which they do not find elsewhere--the Message of Hope, the Message which explains that the present reign of evil, and the past six thousand years of the reign of sin and death, have reached their culmination, and how and why they are about to be brought to an end by the great Redeemer, in fulfilment of our Heavenly Father's glorious plans which He purposed in Himself from before the foundation of the world.
SELL THE PHILIPPINES TO JAPAN
Two years ago, on our return from the Orient, we sent the below letter of suggestion to the Government with copies of it to the newspapers, some of which published the letter, which read as follows:--
Brooklyn, May 26, 1913.
Honorable Wm. J. Bryan,
Secretary of State, U.S.A.
Dear Sir:--I am addressing you, and through you the Honorable President of this Nation, and the Honorable Members of its Congress, upon a subject which I believe to be of prime importance to our Nation and to the world. I would have preferred to make this communication a private one, but believe that its object will be much better served if it be known at home and abroad that the suggestion comes from a native citizen, a minister and ambassador of Christ, rather than if the same suggestion were to emanate from some Official of our Government or from a politician.
THE WORLD'S PEACE ENDANGERED
A year ago I visited Japan and observed the congested conditions there prevailing, and learned that her population is increasing very rapidly, while every foot of arable land is under "intense" cultivation. Japan's need for room for her overflow population has already led her to grasp Korea, and it is no secret that she longs for possession of the Philippine Islands, and would be glad of a reasonable pretext for taking possession of them. Many broad-minded Americans have suggested that the United States has no desire to acquire colonies in an imperial sense, and that, therefore, the Philippine Islands should be surrendered to the Filipinos. The only objection urged against this move is that the Filipinos are not as yet sufficiently advanced in civilization to properly govern themselves. And those most intimate with the situation have not the slightest doubt that if the United States withdrew from the Philippines, the Japanese Government would immediately take control, and shortly the Philippine Islands would be inundated with Japanese--undoubtedly much to their benefit, as the latter people are more thrifty and prudent and energetic than the Filipinos.
SOME RADICAL SUGGESTIONS
I suggest that the United States Government select from amongst the Philippine Islands one island suitable as a naval [R5659 : page 102] base, and tender to Japan the opportunity to take over the Philippine Islands at precisely the same they have cost the United States. This would give our neighbors of the Far East exactly what they want, at no price at all compared with the cost of war. Additionally, it would make them our friends, and surely all Americans desire a world-wide friendship with all nations. I advise that this step be taken speedily, because there is a "jingo" party in Japan bent upon the acquirement of the Philippines, which party will always be ready to take advantage of such trifles as the California Alien Law to incite hatred against the United States and to force their Government, against its judgment, to seize the Philippines.
It is human nature for the Japanese to want those Islands --to feel that they need them. It is practical common sense to say that they can take them whenever they are ready. The United States could not retake the Philippines except at the expense of many lives and thousands of millions of dollars-- if at all.
Our Japanese neighbors, flushed with their victory over the Russian Navy, and courageous and proud-spirited, anyway, realize fully their ability to capture the Philippines and probably to hold them; but they do not realize that a war with America would be a very different one from that with Russia--that American pride and valor would spend thousands [R5660 : page 102] of lives and thousands of millions of dollars rather than surrender to Japan. Pride, courage, self-esteem, confidence, on both sides are the real dangers. Surely wisdom should dictate to both Nations that, in the interest of peace, cause for friction should be as far as possible eliminated. I believe that no more fair, no more just, no more honorable method for adjudicating this matter can be found than that we are suggesting--the sale of the Islands at cost to the Japanese.
Japan would give the Filipinos a splendid government-- better, I believe, than would any other nation under the sun except our own Government. No one can visit the Philippines without feeling pride for what America has done for that people--and done in so unselfish and noble a manner, as an elder brother amongst the nations helping a younger brother. Under no circumstances would I favor turning the Philippines over to the domination of a barbaric people. The Japanese are not barbarians, but highly civilized.
My discourse in Washington on the 25th, "Peace Desirable, War a Necessity," was evidently misunderstood by some of my peace friends. While I claimed that nations have never been able to avoid war, and that they never will be able to wholly avoid it until the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom, nevertheless I believe that all lovers of peace should unite their hearts and voices and pens and every energy in removing all unnecessary friction between nations, by doing in advance those things which would make for peace, and by promoting them. For instance, if the move I am suggesting were delayed until the Japanese had made an attack upon the Philippines, it would be too late. American pride would never consent to an overture of sale under stress; nor would the Japanese probably be willing to purchase then. NOW seems to be the psychological moment, and, as stated at first, it seems best that these suggestions should come from an ambassador of Christ, rather than from a politician of any party, so that partisan feeling may not interfere, but our nation as a whole approve and uphold and carry speedily forward this peace-promoting measure. I call for its endorsement by peace societies and all who believe that war should be only a last resort. Faithfully yours,
A servant of the Lord Jesus Christ,
(Signed) C. T. RUSSELL.
JEWISH PALESTINE EMIGRATION
The following is a synopsis of an article which appeared in the Algemeen Handelsblad of March 6, 1915, published in Amsterdam:
"In Jewish circles the Jewish question is believed to be nearing a crisis. Poland, one of the countries suffering most from the present war, has millions of Jewish citizens. They are mainly artisans and commissionmen, and have with many others practically lost their all. While others have the hope of recuperating after the war is over, the Jews see none because of a strong Polish boycott of Jews. Already articles appear in the Russian press and in the English press, as Russia's ally, expressing the wish that Jews be obliged to emigrate from Poland after the war.
"Since Palestine has become part of the war-territory, the antagonism in the Jewish world against Zionism is disappearing, all seeming to be actuated by greater love for the Land. Conditions in Palestine are not what the news items, mainly from English sources, would cause one to think. The Turk is more favorable to the Jewish inhabitants than to those of other nationalities. When a local official tried to hinder the Zionists he was sharply reprimanded from Constantinople. The German, Italian and especially the United States representatives have contributed a great deal to bring about the good will of the Turk for the Jews. On Dec. 17 the Jaffa officials had 600 Russian Jews transported to Egypt, but the same day the United States representative, Mr. Morgenthau, brought influence to bear on Constantinople which caused the transportation of Jews, citizens of countries at war with Turkey, to be stopped; and now they are permitted to remain, although watched by the authorities. It seems now that even the Anglo-Palestine Company at Jaffa, the Zionist Bank, will be allowed to continue its business. Economically Palestine is suffering. Although the model-farms and the reforesting enterprises are still going on as usual, the individual owners of orange groves and vineyards are suffering on account of the cessation of export trade. Besides, there is practically no import, causing unemployment. But those who are well informed are hopeful for the future, the present need being money.
"America has in a comparatively short period received one million Jews from other countries. Representative Morgenthau is helping the members of his race in Palestine in working out the policy of the United States Government.
"All of the interest manifested at present by the prominent Jewish American financiers is largely selfish. Not only so in the United States, but in all of Western Europe as well. A sudden extensive emigration of Polish and Russian Jews would seriously disturb the economical structure in those countries. And Jews and Gentiles are concerned over the possible catastrophe of emigration of large numbers of Jews from Poland and Russia. In Jewish circles they are earnestly preparing to organize the emigration. This has been the desire of a few for some years, but now that the danger of losing their own well-established positions comes home to them, it is becoming the desire of the majority of influential Jews, and union on that point is in sight. Regulating emigration will probably include diversion of the already over-population of Jews in New York City.
"The Zionists in the Netherlands are at work with might and main to bring together a Palestine fund--a drop in the bucket; but American Jews also are working along this line and the hope is entertained that the non-nationalists among the Jews will join in, understanding the necessity and urgency of the case."
* * *
"God's ways are equal: storm or calm,
Seasons of peril and of rest,
The hurtling dart, the healing balm,
Are all appointed as is best.
In judgments oft misunderstood,
In ways mysterious and obscure,
He brings from evil, lasting good,
And makes the final gladness sure.
While Justice takes its course with strength,
Love bids our faith and hope increase:
He'll give the chastened world at length
His afterward of Peace."