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eyes of America Russia was the petted child and England the Cinderella in the family of nations; so long as for Russia there was only affection and goodwill and for England the reverse; it was impossible to hope that Americans would deal more justly with England, or that they could be made to realise that Russia in her professions of friendship for the United States was simply making convenient use of a weapon lying at her hand to the injury of England. And it was always so easy for Russia to play the rôle of disinterested friendship, and always so difficult for England to prevent friction. Russia and the United States had no diplomatic points of contact; England and the United States had so many, and every point of contact generated friction. Canada and Alaska; fisheries in the Atlantic and the Pacific ; the wrongs of Ireland; a score of things—these were the poles of the battery that always emitted sparks. It was only by the exercise of much tact, at times much forbearance, and at other times much firmness, that the sparks were stamped out before they flamed. The diplomacy of Russia in so far as it related to the United States had all the virtue of simplicity. Russian diplomats were charged with the duty of preventing a rapprochement between England and the United States. Whenever there was a possibility of that happening, the Russian Minister, in the days before an Ambassador was accredited to Washington, or the Ambassador, since the Legation was raised to an Embassy, at once set the forces in motion to bring about confusion. Lord Pauncefote's treaty of arbitration owed its defeat in no small measure to the power wielded by Russia at that time and the influence she exercised in American politics. Having vision enough to realise that in the future the United States was destined to become a great force in international politics, and to play one of the leading parts in the affairs of the world, Lord Pauncefote saw that it would simplify the titanic task of British statesmen if the United States was the friend rather than the enemy of England, and that if she could not become a friend that she would at least maintain an attitude of strict and impartial neutrality as between England and Russia; and not by always casting her influence in the Russian scale, and by giving her sympathetic support, encourage Russia to the embarrassment of England. Apart from the fact that Lord Pauncefote was an Englishman and governed by the patriotic desire always to advance English interests, he cherished for the United States the most sincere WOLe XLIII I9
affection, and he honestly and frankly believed that the interests of all the world, and especially of the United States and Great Britain, would be best served by the most intimate and thorough understanding existing between the two great English-speaking peoples on both sides of the Atlantic. He comprehended the American people so well, he so fully understood their peculiarities of temperament and their political idiosyncrasies; he appreciated as few men did the prejudices which he had to overcome and the historical traditions that he had to break down, that he knew nothing could be done hastily, and that he must rely on time and circumstance to bring about the result he so ardently desired. Consequently he devoted all his energies and his great abilities to try and make the American Government as well as the American people understand that in England they had no foe; that in England they had a friend; that the interests of both were common, and not antagonistic ; that England, like America, was a commercial nation, America's greatest rival in the race for commercial supremacy, but whose political interests did not clash. Lord Pauncefote's hopes were dashed when the Senate, partly because of its dislike of President Cleveland and Secretary Olney, and partly through the influence brought to bear by Russia, refused to ratify the treaty. A man of less tenacious courage and of less optimistic nature, whose field of vision was less wide, would have acknowledged defeat and admitted the impossibility of accomplishing results. But although disappointed Lord Pauncefote was not disheartened. He never admitted even to himself failure, although he was forced to recognise a temporary check. He always believed that the United States was destined to be one of the Great Powers, and that self-interest would make her throw her influence either in the scale of England or that of Russia. He did not believe that the United States could for ever remain the hermit among nations and rest content with its continental supremacy. Remember this was the opinion of an acute observer prior to 1898. After that year that knowledge was the common property of even the most unobservant. His diplomacy had a single purpose in view—to nullify the malign influence of Russia and to cement the relations between England and the United States. Nor did he labour in vain. Had he lived until to-day, he would have rejoiced exceedingly, and he could have felt the triumph which comes when events justify perspicacity. Slowly but very surely during the last seven years the eyes of the American people have been opened, and now no longer are they arrayed in solid phalanxes, one full of unrea
soning enthusiasm for Russia, the other controlled by equally blind dislike of England. Russia, of course, still has her partisans, because the habits of half a century and the fables of childhood are not broken or forgotten in a day; but although Russia has her partisans, she also has her opponents. Men now realise that Russia in a measure antagonises American interests, and that antagonism will become intensified with time. The ends of Russia and the United States are so dissimilar and their methods so unlike that it is almost impossible to imagine that they can ever be moved by a common purpose.
All that Lord Pauncefote anticipated has happened. To-day finds the American papers talking in plain language to Russia and telling her why she can no longer count on American sympathy. “What temporarily wrecked her in American esteem and confidence,” says the New York Sun, “was the assumption of her sly diplomatists that methods successful at Pekin would also succeed in Washington, and that the solemn promise made to our State Department that Russia would evacuate Manchuria on October 8, 1903—nearly five months ago—could be violated with impunity. Then it was that the American people, regretting that the Tsar should be so badly served, felt themselves constrained to say to Russia that they could no longer trust her.”
This expression from the Sun acquires added significance because the Sun has been strongly pro-Russian, and because the Sun indulges in this outspoken criticism of Russia at the close of a column and a half leader pointing out that the sympathies of America are not with Japan because she is the under dog, as in any war at the eastern extremity of Asia Japan has an immense advantage over her opponent, and it is Russia and not Japan that is the under dog. “To Japan,” says the Sun, “the United States is under no sort of obligation, while to Russia, on the other hand, we have never had but once before an opportunity of rendering the slightest service, whereas she on her part has placed us under inestimable indebtments. To enumerate them would be superfluous, but it is our duty to show that we do not forget them when we endeavour to explain why it is that Russia lacks our moral support at this juncture.” The Sun recites a long catalogue of favours which Russia is supposed to have conferred on the United States, beginning at the time of the “birth throes of the nation in the revolutionary war up to our recent war with Spain.”
The fury with which the knowledge has been received in Russia that the sympathies of the American people are with Japan and not with Russia, excites the amusement of the American Press, which tells the Russian Press that if their people desire to remain on friendly terms with the United States, they can do so by dealing honestly, and not resorting to the usual dubious methods of Muscovite diplomacy. The savage onslaught made by the Russian Press on the Washington Government, and the charge brought against Secretary Hay of being inspired by feelings friendly to England, is not more absurd than the sudden volte face of some of the leading Russian newspapers, which, for some mysterious reason, after the most violent attacks on America, now rush to the other extreme, and indulge in effusive expressions of joy over the suddenly changed attitude of the American Government, which is now no longer hostile. In the one case as in the other the Russian Press is an unsafe guide. There has been nothing to reverse either popular sentiment or the attitude of the Government. The sympathy of the American people still remains with the Japanese, and the American Government still maintains its attitude of strict neutraltty.
Russia's criticism of the United States [says the Washington Star] is pretty sharp, and probably will continue so. Well, the United States can stand it. The world knows the story. We have injured Russia in nothing. She has injured us in several things. She misled us, as she did everybody else, about Manchuria. Her real purposes there were concealed from us from the start, just as they were from the other Powers. We relied upon the assurance that she would retire from Manchuria according to promise, although there was the prediction freely made in several quarters that she was there to stay unless dislodged by force. As we had no thought of using force, we could but await developments. This we did, and they came as predicted. Russia broke her promise, and then undertook to justify her course by some fine-spun explanation which did not explain.
Count Cassini, Russia's Ambassador to the United States, who, despite his long residence here, totally fails to comprehend the genius of American institutions or the difference between a free republic and an autocratic monarchy, essays the impossible task of stemming public opinion and influencing sentiment by freely using the Press and issuing verbose statements justifying the course of Russia. Coincidently the American newspapers have long despatches from St. Petersburg, reciting the irritation aroused in Russia by American expressions of sympathy for Japan and the danger of America losing her Russian trade. Circumstantial accounts are given of the cancellation of orders for American goods because merchants refuse to buy from America so long as that country champions Russia's opponents. This is part of the newspaper campaign to influence American public opinion.
The action taken by Secretary Hay immediately after the outbreak of hostilities to guarantee the neutrality of China and secure her administrative entity is a striking proof of Lord Pauncefote's clarity of vision and his insight into the American character, when he predicted that America must become one of the dominant factors in world politics. Whatever happens nowadays the “Vice-Regent of God,” as an irreverent commentator without the fear of lèse majesté has called the Kaiser, must pose as the deus ex machina to guide the thunderbolts of heaven. When the knowledge of Mr. Hay's note became public, it was announced in Berlin that the initiative was taken by Germany, who suggested it to the American Government, but if the United States refused to assume the responsibility Germany would lead. Similar to many other diplomatic statements that have emanated from Berlin in recent years, this semi-official réclame is only a half-truth. It is true that the original proposition was made by Germany, but it was in such form and coupled with such impossible conditions that it would have been instantly rejected by both of the belligerents as well as by the neutral Powers. I am not at liberty to say more than that at this time. It was then that Mr. Hay took up the subject, at once addressed the Governments interested, and, without waiting for objections to be interposed or action to be taken that would nullify the success of the scheme, sent his note to Russia and Japan and secured the adhesion of Great Britain, Germany, and France, in support of the proposal. The credit for having brought the world to stand as sponsor for the neutrality of China and the guarantors of her administrative entity belongs solely to Mr. Hay.
Having accomplished this Mr. Hay has accomplished a very great deal, but more yet remains to be done. There is the future of China to be considered after the close of hostilities. If Japan is victorious and if Japan is as self-sacrificing and disinterested as the United States was after the close of the Spanish War, and if Japan, like the United States, adheres to her promises made prior to the war, the future is assured, the door of Manchuria will be kept open, and there will be little to occupy the attention of diplomacy; but if Russia should be victorious, Russia alone cannot be permitted to dictate terms of peace. The world will have to be consulted. The agreement of all the world to respect the “administrative entity” of China will enable the Powers to have a voice in the final settlement. The United States no longer remains indifferent to the politics of the Far East, because the United States has both political and commercial interests there that must be safeguarded.