Brougham's Memorandum of Interview with President Wilson

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WWI Document Archive > 1914 Documents > Brougham's Memorandum of Interview with President Wilson


Herbert Bruce Brougham was the editor of the New York Times.
This is an excerpt; the rest of the interview dealt mainly with matters of business and shipping.


The President hopes for a deadlock in Europe. During the half hour I was with him he talked mainly on this subject. He praised The Times for its fair spirit in printing the chief documents of the war, and for its editorial analysis of them. He said he could not forsee what would come of it all, but he thought the greatest advantages for all concerned in the war, including the neutral nations, would accrue from a deadlock that "will show to them the futility of employing force in the attempt to resolve their differences." The rest of what he said I will give as nearly as I can recollect in his own words:

The Powers are making the most tremendous display of force in history. If the result of it all is merely to w[e]ar each other down without coming to a decision, the point will be at length reached when they will be glad to say, we have tried both bluff and force, and since neither could avail, there remains this alternative of trying to reason out our differences according to the principles of right and justice. So I think that the chance of a just and equitable peace, and of the only possible peace that will be lasting, will be happiest if no nation gets the decision by arms; and the danger of an unjust peace, one that will be sure to invite further calamities, will be if some one nation or group of nations succeeds in enforcing its will upon the others.

It may be found before long that Germany is not alone responsible for the war, and that other nations will have to bear a portion of the blame in our eyes. The others may be blamed, and it might be well if there were no exemplary triumph and punishment. I believe thoroughly that the settlement should be for the advantage of the European nations regarded as Peoples and not for any nation imposing its governmental will upon alien peoples. Bismarck was long-headed when he urged Germany not to take Alsace and Lorraine. It seems to me that the Government of Germany must be profoundly changed, and that Austria-Hungary will go to pieces altogether -- ought to go to pieces for the welfare of Europe.

As for Russia, I cannot help sympathizing with its aims to secure natural outlets for its trade with the world, and a proper settlement should permit this.

If the decision is not to be reached wholly by the forces of reason and justice after the trial of arms is found futile, if the decision by arms should be in favor of the nations that are parties of the Triple Entente; I cannot regard this as an ideal solution; at the same time I cannot see now that it would hurt greatly the interests of the United States if either France or Russia or Great Britain should finally dictate the settlement. England has already extended her empire as far as she wants to -- in fact she has got more than she wants -- and she now wishes to be let alone in order that she may bend all her energies to the task of consolidating the ports [parts] of her empire. Russia's ambitions are legitimate, and when she gets the outlets she needs her development will go on and the world will be benefited.


WWI Document Archive > 1914 Documents > Brougham's Memorandum of Interview with President Wilson