There is another matter which calls for very prompt settlement. It is the last to which I shall refer before I sit down. I mean the speedy enforcing of the Peace Terms upon Germany. At the present moment we are bringing everything to a head with Germany. We are holding all our means of coercion in full operation, or in immediate readiness for use. We are enforcing the blockade with rigour. We have strong Armies ready to advance at the shortest notice. Germany is very near starvation. The evidence I have received from officers sent by the War Office all over Germany shows, first of all, the great privations which the German people are suffering, and secondly, the danger of collapse of the entire structure of German social and national life under the pressure of hunger and malnutrition.
Now is, therefore, the moment to settle. To delay indefinitely would be to run a grave risk of having nobody with whom to settle, and of having another great area of the world sink into Boshevik anarchy. That would be a very grave event. I dare say honorable.
Members recall the sinking of the "Titanic." The state of Europe seems to me to have many points of sinister comparison with that event. That great vessel had compartment after compartment invaded by the sea. She remained almost motionless upon the water as each new bulkhead filled, or as each new compartment was flooded. She gradually took a more pronounced list.
Finally, when the decisive compartments which regulated the flotation in the ocean, leaving all those on board, friend or foe, rich or poor, passengers or stokers, people of both sexes and of every age, swimming in the icy waters of the sea, with no help in sight, and no prospect of succour.
We must never forget that the ship of Europe carries with it all the glories and advantages which we have gained by the prodigies achieved by our soldiers in this war, and it is, therefore, very important to us to bring it safely to land, so that its previous injuries may be repaired.
Now is the time for action. Once Germany has accepted the terms to be imposed upon her - and until that moment all our forces must be held in the strongest condition of readiness - the revictualling of that country and the supplying of it with the necessary raw material can be begun and pushed forward with energy.
It is repugnant to the British nation to use this weapon of starvation - which falls mainly upon the women and children, upon the old, the weak, and the poor, after all the fighting has stopped - one moment longer than is necessary to secure the just terms for which we have fought. A good army is a far better weapon at the present time to exert pressure than any other that could be in your hands. (James, p. 2684)