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SOME LEADING EVENTS IN THE CURRENT
STORY OF THE WORLD.
BY DR. J. M. TANNER, SUPERINTENDENT OF CHURCH SCHOOLS.
The Far Eastern Question.
At this writing, January 15, it looks not at all likely that Russia and Japan will come to blows. Behind both of these countries stand France and England. England and Japan are under treaty obligations to each other-so are France and Russia. If Japan won in a naval engagement, she might perhaps possess Corea, and there is a possibility that if the movement "at arms" was a rapid one, she could force Russia out of Manchuria. If, however, on the other hand, Japan were unsuccessful in a short, early, naval engagement, her island empire would be in jeopardy. England would not permit Russia to absorb Japan nor even to weaken too greatly her war powers; and France, in the event of coalition between England and Japan, would be compelled to take sides with Russia, even though at this time England and France are approaching a very friendly attitude towards each other. France has urged Russia to pursue a peaceful policy, and England has informed the Czar that she does not consider Japan's requests at all unreasonable. Under these circumstances, Russia cannot maintain a rigid determination to have her own way. The trouble is chiefly over the question as to whether there shall be a neutral zone in the northern third part of Corea. Japan demands that Corea be regarded as within her political sphere of influence. The Russian power of absorption is so much more rapid in the East, at the present time, than that of any other European nation, (and, indeed, it is more rapid than all the other nations of Europe and Japan combined), that neutrality in the northern third of Corea to day would mean practically
Russian absorption tomorrow. The trouble is that the great powers do not take seriously any promise that Russia makes, as she was to have vacated Manchuria on the eighth of last October. Ever since then, Russia has been pouring troops into Manchuria, as fast as she could, pretending all the time that China is to blame for her continued occupation of that Chinese province. Both Russia and Japan have not been slow to send their compliments to the people of the United States, and assure us that both of them are acting in our interest and behalf.
We have made a treaty with China, granting us free ports for our merchandise, at Mukden and Antung. There is no difficulty about getting our goods into the country, but the railroads there are in the hands of the Russians, and reports already come that our merchants are subjected to so many petty, trivial, and exasperating annoyances, that they are withdrawing their commercial enterprises altogether from Manchuria. It may be safely said that hereafter Manchuria will be to us, in a commercial way, nothing more than any other Russian province. A few years ago, we enjoyed sixty per cent of its foreign trade; a year or two hence, we shall not probably enjoy six per cent. But it is not worth fighting for. However, there are in this country those who will lay it up against Russia, and the timehonored sentiment of friendship, existing between the United States and the Czar, will have undergone a great change. Our interest and policy are more nearly akin to those of England and Japan, in oriental countries, than to those of any other nations. If war came, we should, perhaps, in a final settlement, demand a hearing, and perhaps fight if we did not get it. Whether there is an armed conflict in Asia between Japan and Russia, there is at least a commercial conflict now going on among the Russians, Germans, Japanese and English. In this commercial conflict, Russia is certainly at an advantage over all competitors. She is getting more out of China than all other nations combined, for the reason that she is putting more into China. The unhappy thought about it all is that even if Russia recedes and comes to an amicable settlement with Japan, the settlement can only be temporary. Russia will find one excuse or another to disregard, it, and will either worry Japan into a submissive attitude or
compel her to fight, in the end. Japan is anxious to fight now. The Japanese are an excitable people. The government has even found it necessary recently to suppress songs whose music and words were written to incite a hostile and militant feeling towards Russia. The Japanese government has, however, at its head, statesmen who compare very well in breadth of view with those of many of the leading European nations. Whatever we may think of Japanese judgment, in the display of so much hostile attitude towards Russia, we are compelled to admire her pluck.
The Panama Question.
As soon as possible after the revolution in Panama, our department of state succeeded in formulating a treaty with the new republic, and the new republic, through its provisional government, ratified that treaty as soon as it could be reached from the United States. With the ratification of the treaty by the United States, everything will have been done necessary to the opening of the work on the canal which is to cross the isthmus. The rapidity with which this country recognized the revolution in Panama, treated it as successful, and assumed protectorate over the new republic, gave rise to some criticism. For a while it was feared that the Democrats would vote solidly against the adoption of the treaty, which would have defeated it. However, some legislatures in Democratic states were in session, and they declared in favor of the treaty. In other states, governors in prominent political gatherings declared also in its favor. A considerable part of the Democratic press urged that the treaty be not rejected. It means more, perhaps, to the south, and the west, than it does to the north, and there is quite a strong and unanimous desire, on the part of the southern states, that the canal be therefore constructed as soon as possible. One or two Republicans, notably Mr. Hoar, demanded a full explanation from the President, in order that it might be known whether this country could be implicated in the Panama revolution. Did we encourage or abate it, or did we simply avail ourselves of an accomplished fact? A full and free statement was demanded from the President who sent to the Senate of the United States a
special document, giving a detailed history of the attitude of the United States, in its relationship both to Colombia and Panama. In that statement, the President emphatically denies any complicity, on our part, in the revolution of Panama, in the following direct and forceful statement:
I hesitate to refer to the injurious insinuations which have been made of complicity by this government in the revolutionary movement in Panama. They are as destitute of foundation as of propriety.
The only excuse for my mentioning them is the fear least unthinking persons might mistake for acquiescence the silence of mere self respect. I think proper to say, therefore, that no one connected with this government had any part in preparing, inciting, or encouraging the late revolution in the isthmus of Panama, and that, save from the reports of our military and naval officers given above, no one connected with this government had any previous knowledge of the revolution except such as was accessible to any person of ordinary intelligence who read the newspapers and keep up a current acquaintance with public affairs.
Shall we Rule the Seas?
Those who have watched the recent course of events must have frequently been impressed by the thought that our navy would, before many years, exceed in number of vessels and efficiency that of any nation of Europe. The increase of our navy will lead to the extension of our maritime commerce, and, indeed, the ocean seems to be the next great financial province which it will be the ambition of the United States to exploit, and in some measure control. The great Napoleon, in a prophetic way, foreshadowed our greatness, as a naval and maritime power, when he sold us Louisiana. He did so with the hope of thwarting the maritime supremacy of Great Britain. In view of recent events, his language is quite significant, and his words are here given that it may be seen how rapidly we are fulfilling his predictions. They are as follows:
The principles of a maritime supremacy are subversive of one of the most precious rights which nature, science and genius have given to men; the right to traverse the seas with the same freedom as the bird cleaves the air; to enjoy the wind, the waves, the climate, all the productions of the world; to draw together by hardy seamanship peoples separated since the creation, and to carry civilization into
countries a prey to ignorance and barbarism. That empire England wishes to usurp over all other nations . . . Should we leave commerce and navigation in possession of any one people, the globe will be subject to its arms and to its gold, which will take the place of armies.
To emancipate the nations from the commercial tyranny of England, it is necessary to counterpoise her by a maritime power which may one day become her rival, and that is the United States. The English aspire to dispose of all the wealth of the world. I shall be useful to the entire universe if I can prevent them from dominating America as they dominate Asia.
There are three reasons why we should be the foremost maritime power in the world: 1. The necessity for the transportation of our numerous products to the markets of the world. 2. Our supply of coal and iron has no parallel in any of the countries of Europe. 3. Our great inland lakes, and our long coast lines, excellently adapted for sea traffic, make it easy to educate trained sailors.
Deep down in the breasts of those who are now advocating an enlarged navy is the feeling that we must, before long, rule the seas. We are perhaps today the third naval power in the world, excelled only by Great Britain and France. We shall not long be in the rear of France, and we have wealth, population, and trade, to excel Great Britain, before many years.
Is Abyssinia the coming country? Is it to be the bone of future contention? Recently two agents of the American government have returned from that land, and are very enthusiastic over the opportunities for commerce between this country and Abyssinia, over whose destinies Menelik, the great warrior now presides. It is thought that this East African land would be a sort of Paradise for the various over-products of our factories. We have been in the habit of thinking Abyssinia was part of Dark Africa. The fact is, they are Christians of the Coptic sect. If the reports of their treatment of the Italian prisoners, captured at the time they defeated the Italians, be true, there is a good deal of the barbarian about them. However, England has been exploiting the country, and has constructed a railroad from Djibuti into the country, as far as Harrar. Harrar and the