INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS OF
This historical fact is
contrary to the notions diligently spread by certain apologists of
156 THE NEUTRALITY OF
perpetual neutrality rests on convention; and only part of this rests on guarantee, the same authority subdividing conventional perpetual neutrality into recognized neutrality and guaranteed neutrality.1
Applying the above terminology to
At all events, not only has
As mentioned before, in recent years, especially
since the annexation of the
If, at that time,
1 Descamps, La neutralite de la Belgique, quoted by the Norwegian statesman, F. Hagerup, in his essay La neutralite permanente (Revue generate de droit international publique, Vol. XII, pages 577-602). The original was not accessible to me.
short of impertinence. But, according to the reports on those demarches, it
was not looked at in that light, either in
As far as the demarche in
Concerning the identical demarche
The latter document reports on the contents of an article published in the semi-official North German Gazette concerning a non-public debate of the
1 See page 87.
2 Belgian Gray Book, No. 12.
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Budget Committee of the German Reichstag in 1913, in the course of which the German Secretary of State is credited with the statement: "The neutrality of Belgium is determined by international conventions, and Germany is resolved to respect these conventions"; whilst the Prussian Minister of War is reported to have declared: "Germany will not lose sight of the fact that Belgium neutrality is guaranteed by international treaties."1
Supposing that the statements of the three high
German functionaries are really authentic, it would yet be difficult, even for
the most searching eye, to detect in them any declaration or admission to the
effect that the German Empire considered herself a guarantor of
Belgium's neutrality. No claim whatsoever was made that
1 Belgian Gray Book, Enclosure to No. 12.
live up to her particular international obligations.
The only one of those
three statements of diplomatic consequence was the message of the Imperial
Chancellor to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is devoid of any
acknowledgment, of any reference even, as to specific treaty obligations
As for the obligations of
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The world knows how this "sacred" treaty obligation has been
kept,—extensively fortified since 1859,
As for the perpetual neutrality of
status as a neutralized country, and as a de-facto abrogation of her perpetual neutrality.1
There can be no doubt that any one of those infractions of the Twenty-Four Articles annexed to the Quintuple Treaty would have fully entitled any of the guarantors to consider the Quintuple guarantee void and extinct. For, as G. B. Davis says: "Any change in the guaranteed treaty, without the consent of the guarantor, annuls the obligation."2
Besides, any other
country, for that matter, might have taken the stand that
However, the perpetual neutrality originally imposed on Belgium by the treaties of 1831 and 1839 and continually professed by her till the outbreak of the present war, has been violated by her not only by the above stated open transgressions, but, in an even graver manner, by under-handed dealings, making the legal institution of perpetual neutrality a mere mockery!
To realize fully the lawlessness of
1 See page 70.
2 Elements of International Law (1908), page 243.
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versations," discussed in Chapter IV, it is necessary to take into account the duties incumbent upon perpetually neutral states.
The Quintuple Treaty,
One of the most prominent of the relatively few authorities on international law who have laid down the doctrine on those obligations is the Belgian Des-
camps, who shows a natural tendency toward minimizing the duties of neutralized states, to which class his own country belongs. He writes:
"Among the acts to which a state, in virtue of its independence, is free to resort, there is one of the facultative order and of a particularly compromising nature which consists in taking sides, in case of war between other countries, for the one or the other belligerent. Perpetual neutrality positively excludes from the sphere of licit action of the neutral state such an act, no matter whether it presents itself in the form of an alliance or in any other way. In this respect, therefore, it puts a limitation on the sovereignty of that state, within a clearly defined sphere."1
The French lawyer V. G. Wampach formulates the general principles guiding these questions in the following way:
"International law knows, in times of peace, neither belligerents nor neutrals. However, perpetual neutrality produces, nevertheless, obligations of a rather negative character—obligations of not doing things (des obligations de ne pas faire), the observation of which imposes itself in times of peace. Perpetually neutral states must, in times of peace, abstain from calling into existence or from allowing to come into existence juridical situations which would offer obstacles to the rigorous observation of the duties of neutrality in times of war.
"The perpetually neutral states must, in times of peace, oppose the formation of any conventional bond (doivent s' opposer a l'etablissement de tout lien conventionnel) as
well as of any actual or legal situation (situation de fait ou de droit) the consequences of which would be incompatible with the strict observation of their duties of neutrality."
The English authority on international law, Professor
Oppenheim of the
"The condition of neutralization is that the neutralized state abstains from any hostile action and further from any international engagement which could indirectly drag it into hostilities against any other state."2
I have already quoted, in connection with this matter, the views of the French Professor de Lapradelle, who states that not only the right of contracting alliances is denied to neutralized countries,3 but even the capacity of concluding international agreements of, politically, such innocent nature as customs unions; and I have also mentioned how the London Times interpreted Belgium's obligations as a neutralized country.4
On the strength of these authoritative views on the obligations of a neutral state, there can be no
1La situation Internationale des chemins
de fer du Grand-Duche de
2 Oppenheim, International Law (1905), Vol. I, page 142.
3 See page 73.
4 See page 60.
doubt that Belgium, by allowing her military authorities to enter into the closest confidential relations with the military authorities of Great Britain, committed a grave violation of her professed status as a perpetually neutral country, no matter whether those "conversations" were followed up by an actual written treaty of alliance, or not.
As already pointed out above, the Ducarne-Barnardiston and Jungbluth-Bridges
"conversations" bear a very marked resemblance to those other
"conversations" between the military and naval authorities of Great
Britain and France which were carried on for about six years without the
knowledge of the British Cabinet. They constituted no formal treaty, duly
submitted to Parliament, and yet were, in point of fact, the guiding principle
for the disposition of the British and French naval forces as well as for the
direction of the European policy of the two countries. It is those Anglo-French
"conversations" which Mr. E. D. Morel, a prominent English author, in
a letter to the Executive of the Birkenhead Liberal Association, dated
"While negative assurances were given to the House of Commons, positive acts diametrically opposed to these assurances had been concerted by the War Office and the Admiralty with the authority of the Foreign Office. All the obligations of an open alliance had been incurred by the
most dangerous and subtle of methods; incurred in such a way as to leave the Cabinet free to deny the existence of any formal parchment recording them, and free to represent its policy at home and abroad as one of contractual detachment from the rival Continental group."1
This criticism of the Anglo-French
conversations applies, without any doubt, in an equal degree to the
Anglo-Belgian conversations. No formal treaty which would have had to be
submitted to the British Parliament and the Belgian Chamber,
was drawn up, because such a step would have meant an official repudiation of
the principle of
1 Reprinted in
2 See Appendix, plate after page 220.
However, no matter whether those conversations constitute in themselves a secret Anglo-Belgian alliance or not, and no matter whether the conversations between the Anglo-Belgian military authorities were followed up by similar secret arrangements between the political departments of the two countries or otherwise, the contents of the "Brussels Documents" furnish complete proof that Belgium had secretly surrendered most important secrets of her General Army Staff to one foreign Power—an action which was one-sided, i.e., un-neutral, in the highest degree!
In an official statement without date, entitled, "Observation
de la neutrality belge,"1
the Belgian Government has taken exception to the German accusations. In
this statement the obvious attempt is made to cause the impression that
However, one will search Ducarne's report in vain for such a trivial assertion! What the said
1 La Neutralite de la Belgique,
Edition oficielle du Gouvernement
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General, who was in charge of the very intricate plans
of mobilization of the Belgian Army, discussed with the British military agent
was a detailed secret plan for concerted action of the Belgian and British
forces, in a certain contingency! The Belgian Government finds these
conversations "very natural," on account of certain
"legitimate" apprehensions that
Moreover, the fact that the German Government has not found—thus far at least, has not made public—any documentary proof with regard to conversations between the competent Belgian and British
authorities referring to the years between 1906 and 1912, is
not the slightest evidence that such conversations did not take place. On the
contrary, the fact that, in 1912, the British Colonel Bridges, without any
preliminaries whatsoever, transmits to the Belgian General Jungbluth
the information, not exactly customary between a Chief of the General Staff and
a foreign Military Attache, that his country has in readiness
160,000 troops for a campaign on the Continent, shows a degree of intimacy
which plainly indicates that those two officers must have had conversations on
the same subject before. Very likely such conversations had taken place every
year since 1906, as it is necessary for allied or otherwise co-operating armies
to readjust their plans for concerted action after the annual revision of the
plans for mobilization of their respective forces. In the statement under discussion, the Belgian Government raises
the question: "Was
In contradiction to this view of the Belgian Government, the King of the Belgians evidently was of the opinion that such notice was necessary. In an interview granted to Mr. Henry N. Hall, cor-
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respondent of the New York World, published in that paper's
"No one in Belgium ever gave the name of Anglo-Belgian conventions to the letter of General Ducarne to the Minister of War detailing the entirely informal conversations with the British military attache, but I was so desirous of avoiding even the semblance of anything that might be construed as un-neutral that I had the matters of which it is now sought to make so much communicated to the German military attache in Brussels."
Strange as it must seem that the King of the Belgians made this most important statement only in March—although the contents of the "Brussels Documents" had been made public in Berlin as early as October 14th and fac-simile reproductions of some of the documents had been given out on November 25th—there can be no doubt, nevertheless, that if the contents of those military conversations had been officially communicated to the German military attache at Brussels, such line of action would put a totally different aspect upon the said secret arrangements. However, were such communications really made? Nobody will dare to challenge the word of a monarch who is known to be incapable of an untruth. Therefore, it seems beyond doubt that King Albert actually did give orders to that effect, at least some time after he ascended the throne, in December, 1909. But it seems equally
beyond doubt that his orders in this respect were not
carried out and, probably for this reason, not even alluded to in the
above-mentioned official statement of the Belgian Government. For it is
positively asserted by the German Government that no such communications ever
reached the German military attache in
newspaper reports, the New York World, on the basis of an alleged utterance of
the King of the Belgians, asserts that he had himself caused the German
Military Attache in
Also the British Government which, at first, had attempted to minimize the portent of the Anglo-Belgian military conversations by styling them "merely academic," has subsequently seen fit to refer to this matter in an official statement.
By a communique
to The Times of
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"If the German Chancellor wishes to know why there were conversations on military subjects between British and Belgian officers, he may find one reason in a fact well known to him—namely, that Germany was establishing an elaborate network of strategical railways, leading from the Rhine to the Belgian frontier, through a barren, thinly-populated tract—railways deliberately constructed to permit of a sudden attack upon Belgium such as was carried out in August last.1 This fact alone was enough to justify any
the myth of the "strategical railways"
which has been disseminated in neutral countries like so many other myths, I
wish to invite the reader to convince himself by a good railway map whether the
allegations are in any way warranted. There are, in all, four railway lines
crossing the German-Belgian frontier and five more passing from
American railroad man whose sympathies are, evidently, not with Germany, writes
in this respect, in a letter to the Editor of the Evening Sun (published in its
The British Secretary thus takes the stand of other apologists of Belgium who, studiously sup-pressing the fact that any sort of secret political dealings with foreign Powers were unlawful for her, try to excuse her relations with England by arguing that she happened to have her suspicions concerning an invasion of her territory only in the direction of Germany, and that subsequent events had fully borne out how well founded her apprehensions had been.
Even if such should really have been the case, however, it would not exculpate in the least the unneutral attitude of the Belgian Government, whose particular position made it, to repeat the words of The Times, simply "impracticable"—it would be more correct to say unlawful—"to enter into any conversation or arrangement, military or other, which would insure her the rapid and effective support of her English friends," no matter what her apprehensions were!
Besides, the despatch of Baron Greindl to the
the German Government with such
consummate efficiency in detail
is to its credit." (Signed) Luis Jackson,
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Belgian Foreign Department1 clearly shows
that that high Belgian official, at least, had apprehensions in quite a
different direction; and it is not probable that his were isolated views. That
statesman, in 1911, plainly indicated the course of action which, if adopted by
the Belgian Government, though it could not have blotted out the five
intervening years of secret un-neutral dealings with
Nobody can blame the
Belgians that, during the years of ever increasing political tension, preceding
the war, they felt increasingly uneasy for the safety of their country, in the
event of a European conflict. They knew as well as anybody else that, as far
back as 1870, the old Quintuple Guarantee had not been an effective means of
safeguarding their neutrality, but that it had required a special measure on
the part of
1 See page 83 and following.
INTERNATIONAL OBLIGATIONS OF
ity, or she would have gained freedom from the fetters of neutrality and, with that, the possibility of an open alliance with whom she chose.
Another course of action open to her would have
been to make openly the same kind of detailed military arrangements
which she made with England, in view of a possible German invasion of her
territory, with Germany as well, in the event that either France should invade
her soil or England despatch an expeditionary force
there—"en tout etat de cause."
The one-sided course, however, which
According to the rules of international
As for the Belgian Government, it has, by its
176 THE NEUTRALITY OF
status of perpetual neutrality of
To foreign troops the entrance into the service of the Kingdom or the occupation of or passing through its territory can only be granted by a law.
According to this provision of the fundamental law of the country, the Belgian Government which, since 1906, had been preparing for the entrance and the passage of English (and most likely also of French) troops, was bound to lay an adequate bill, permitting such action, before the Belgian parliament. The fact that it failed to do so adds to its responsibility for its un-neutral policy the guilt of a grave infringement of its constitutional duties.