When the future historian comes to review the first decade of our twentieth century he may indeed be puzzled, but if he is fair to us he will recognize some of the difficulties under which our world-troubles and world-problems are being worked out. He will see that we are living, not in an ideal state of world-sympathy, but divided among many independent nations separated one from the other by commercial and political differences and by the strong barriers of national patriotism. The persistent conception of world-empire seems at length to have given way before a number of communities intent upon their separate national existences, and uniting only to preserve a balance of power among themselves or to prevent any one from obtaining predominance over the rest. In our own decade this separation has been still further emphasized by tariff walls and colonial preferences, by carefully stimulated patriotisms, and, especially, by an enormous increase in the military and naval armaments of each country. The nations have become less subject to outside coercion, at the cost of an intolerable burden of militarism which has overrun the world.
The price of peace in battleships and cruisers, in coast-defense and dockyards, in armies, arsenals, and maintenance, has become the destructive plague of the civilized world. England has spent in the past year a third of a billion upon her army and her navy. The United States, great peace nation that we are, with a continent’s work to do and millions of acres to be reclaimed and utilized, spent one hundred and ten million dollars on our navy alone; and in twelve years we have increased our standing army three-fold. Four hundred millions from our revenues are pledged annually in pension for past wars or in preparation for wars to come, while a bill to create an Appalachian forest reserve at the cost of a single battleship, a bill which would save double its cost to the nation each year in preserving timber and water-supply and soil, has failed three times, as being too expensive to be undertaken. In France, the financial situation is yearly more hopeless and alarming. Military debts and the expenses of new armaments absorb three-fifths of the entire national revenue. Germany has borrowed the money for her new navy, and thrown the burden on the coming generation; the empire which started life with a credit of a billion dollars is now, after forty years, bearing the burden of a debt more than twice as large. The total expenditure of the world last year upon entirely unproductive armaments by sea and land is not far short of two billion dollars.