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same conclusion. The neutral claims took the form of freedoms," whose principal characteristic was the. development of an admitted truth into a fallacy favourable to the enemy. Thus, freedom of trade upon the sea became "freedom of neutral trade with the enemy." Thus also that state of quiescence which neutrality not merely enjoins, but which the security of neutral States demands, was transformed into the freedom of the neutral flag to protect enemy property at sea, known familiarly in the form of the maxim, "free ships free goods." And so the fact that the sea is free was perverted into an all-embracing "Freedom of the Seas, favourable to neutral activities of commerce with the enemy, and restricting within the narrowest limits belligerent activities to prevent it.
These general statements are borne out by the outstanding fact that this spurious "Freedom of the Seas," conceived by the neutrals to serve their own ends, became Bonaparte's catchword when he sought to destroy England's supremacy at sea as an essential preliminary to establishing it for himself, and so achieving worlddominion. The new formulas which it included would, if they had been admitted, have become effective weapons. They would have supplied him with merchantmen to carry his commerce in place of his own, which had been driven from the sea; the neutral flag would have saved him from the necessity of supplying them with the escort of men-of-war.
The foundations of fallacy once laid, further fallacies, devised with the same object, came to be built upon them. Of these the most notorious were, that neutral produce should be free; that private property should be exempt from capture at sea; that war on the sea should be conducted in the same way as war on land; that merchant ships under convoy should be exempt from search and seizure.
The acceptance of these theories by the majority of European States at different times has undoubtedly given them the appearance of being founded in justice; and they were endowed with a fictitious morality
because they do, at first sight, seem to come within the scope of the true "Freedom of the Seas."
If there were any substance in the contention that a widely spread recognition of a theory entitles it to rank as a principle of the Law of Nations, then undoubtedly there is a mass of evidence favourable to this theory of the neutrals. On this so-called unanimity the writers persistently dwell, and on the strength of it the Declaration of Paris was framed. The other side of the case was ignored. Of greater weight than England's consistent refusal to accept the theory is the fact that, when these neutrals went to war, they had no qualms of conscience about abandoning it. They advocated it only when it suited their purpose and brought them profit. English statesmanship during the great wars was specially directed to combating what were rightly called new-fangled doctrines, to whose appearance a specific date, 1752, and to whose development a specific period, 1752 to 1815, can be assigned.
The form of this treatise, which is essentially historical, does not admit of any prolonged study of the doctrines themselves; but they must be briefly examined in order to make history intelligible. historical analysis makes this much plain: that the doctrines had their origin in a human desire, as old as fighting itself, to make profit out of other peoples' wars. The trader contended that " commerce attracts to itself certain natural rights which are paramount in war. But the rights of commerce had been reduced into something like order in the thirteenth century by the Consolato del Mare, in which the claims of the neutral trader to non-interference were nicely balanced against the claims of the belligerent to non-interference. The principles worked out by the Consolato had become time-honoured through their adoption by the majority of States. The new contention involved a departure from them.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries another person forced himself prominently into notice-the carrier. He, like the trader, pursued a profitable
calling, and his profits, like those of the trader, were enhanced by other peoples' wars. He also resorted to formulas to protect and develop those profits; but in justice it must be said that it was long before he turned them into assertions of rights. He achieved his end by the more legitimate method of barter, offering something in exchange for the privilege he sought to acquire; more often than not, an alliance.
In 1752 the dispute developed dangerous symptoms. Without offering the same consideration, the trader claimed the carrier's privileges as his own rights; then in process of time vendor and carrier merged into one person, the "neutral," who surrounded himself with a barrier of formulas.
Finally, the enemy adopted for his own benefit all the formulas, together with all the privileges and rights they represented. They exactly fitted the necessities of his case; and the analogy of a legal principle stood him in good stead. He was purchaser of the commodities, consignee of the cargoes; the rights of vendor and carrier, once established, enured to his benefit. There was thus established the most powerful weapon a belligerent can possess the sympathy of the neutral trader, springing from community of interest.
It is very necessary to appreciate one feature of the discussion which has already been hinted at. The rights were asserted as belonging to neutral nations, and were thus lifted from the plane of mere profit. But the privileges and the rights, if they existed. were to be enjoyed by individuals. Undoubtedly the resultant mass of profit benefited the individual's Government, since the prosperity of the subject reacts beneficially on its fiscal departments. But a clear insight into the problems raised can only be obtained by remembering that the actual questions in dispute were not national. To endow them with that quality is to eliminate the element of the human trader with which every phase of the subject abounds. At one
stage of the dispute "the flag" was introduced, and the real issue still further obscured.
On the other hand, this also must be constantly borne in mind. "Neutrality" is a state which affects Governments, not individuals. Strictly speaking, there is no such being as a "neutral person. Any duties of non-interference by individuals in war must be imposed by municipal legislation, and may vary in each State. They lie outside the province of “International Law." That law does not forbid trading by subjects of a neutral State, even in contraband of war, with either belligerent; nor does it prohibit carrying the objects of that trading even in contraband, on the sea. If there were any such law it would apply on land as well as on the sea. carriage of commodities to one belligerent by sea is subject to a risk-the risk that the other belligerent may seize them. Disregard of this principle characterized the Armed Neutralities; and their municipal legislation did not fulfil its promise.
These, however, are abstract considerations; the point lies in their concrete application to the great struggle in which they were forced into prominence. Supremacy at sea could not be wrested from England otherwise than by fighting her at sea. Fighting at sea necessitated repairing battered ships and building new ones. The special trade with the neutrals which was essential to the enemy was in ship's timber and naval stores, in which the principal traders were Russia and the Scandinavian Powers. Thus it came about that the formulas were specially concerned with the protection of this trade, and their chief advocates were the Northern Powers of Europe. The controversy reached its climax in the Napoleonic Wars.
German ambition in the late war reflected the ambition of Bonaparte. The claim of the spurious "Freedom of the Seas," and of all the old formulas included in it, was revived to serve the old purposethe destruction of the great impediment to worlddominion, England's supremacy at sea,
The following quotations from German writers during the war state quite frankly German aims:
What do we Germans understand by freedom of the seas? Of course, we do not mean by it that free use of the sea which is the common privilege of all nations in time of peace, the right to the open highways of international trade. That sort of freedom we had before the war. What we understand today by this doctrine is that Germany should possess such maritime territories, and such naval bases, that at the outbreak of a war we should be able, with our navy ready, reasonably to guarantee ourselves the command of the seas. We want such a jumping-off place for our navy as would give us a fair chance of dominating the seas, and of being free of the seas during a war. The inalienable possession of the Belgian seaboard is therefore a matter of life and death to us, and the man is a traitor who would faint-heartedly relinquish this coast to England. Our aim should be not only to keep what our arms have already won on this coast, but sooner or later to extend our seaboard to the south of the Strait of Calais.”
This statement was made by Count Reventlow at a public meeting in Berlin in March 1917, and was afterwards quoted by Lord Robert Cecil in the House of Commons. An attempt was made to attribute it to the German Navy League only, but there is no doubt that it expresses views widely held in Germany, and enjoying at least semi-official approval, which are to be found in many other similar statements in the public press. The following are typical examples:
From an article in the semi-official monthly, Ueberall, by Lieut.-Commander Bierbrauer zu Brennstein, towards the end of 1917:
"For Germany there is only one freedom of the seas,' which is the liberation of the seas from the tyranny of England. England's outrageous power must be broken for ever. achieve this end a strong and mighty Germany is required, and then the seas will be free. To achieve this a strong and powerful German navy is also required. We must have defended naval bases in our colonies and also on the Belgian coast, where no Englishman may land with hostile intent. Germany will then be the real protector of the neutrals and of the freedom of the seas. It must and shall be so."