WHAT events will follow as a result of the outbreak of war between this Government and Spain, are as yet matters of conjecture; but there is one result which it requires no supernatural vision to foresee. It is one which the nations have already foreseen, and which is giving them no small concern. It is the development of militarism in the United States.
Whether this country wins or loses in the contest will not be a matter of so much consequence to this country and to the world as will the development of the military power in this country which the war must inevitably bring.
For be it remembered that the situation to day is governed by vastly different circumstances from those which prevailed at the time of the contest between North and South. At the end of that war the great armies which had been called into the field melted quickly and easily away into the general body of civilians engaged in the peaceful pursuits of life, and so far as the military power was concerned, there was soon little evidence remaining that the nation had fought one of the greatest wars in modern history. But the ascendancy of the military power to day would not be followed by a like result.
The world is dominated to-day by the war spirit to an extent that was not dreamed of thirty years ago. For years Europe has been a great armed camp, and the peace of the world has been in unstable equilibrium. The nations, in reaching out under the impulse given by advancing science, exploration, and the desire for colonial extension, have come into closer contact with each other; so that a move on the part of any one of them is liable to cause a serious disturbance. There has come to be a “balance of power”; that is, the military power of Europe is balanced, and as every person knows, it requires no great thing to upset things when they are evenly balanced. Let something be added to one scale, or taken from it, and the balance is upset at once.
And this “balance of power” really extends over the whole civilized world. For in these days of swift travel and intercommunication, even the broad expanse of ocean does not isolate the affairs of one nation from those of others. The interests of the nations of the Old World are in intimate contact with those of the American republic; they touch the shores of every nation of the Western hemisphere. And a disturbance on this side of the Atlantic may easily be of such proportions as to  throw the balance of power out of its present equilibrium and necessitate a readjustment which could only come after a fearful expenditure of life and treasure.
It is stated—and there is every reason to credit it—that the real reason why the threatened “concert of Europe” against the United States was not put into effect, was that the Powers of Europe feared that such a step would so arouse the military spirit in this country that Americans would not be satisfied until they had built a navy which would be one of the most formidable in the world. The Powers fear that they will have to reckon with this nation, not only in maintaining their possessions in American waters, but in pursuing their policy of dividing up the rest of the world between themselves; and there is certainly ground for their apprehensions. Hence they are most unwilling to see the United States become a power which could back up any of its demands by a tremendous armament on the seas.
Already it is beginning to be talked that as an outgrowth of the present state of things, the near future will see an alliance between England, the United States, and Japan, which will entirely upset the present balance of power throughout the world. An alliance between nations of a common origin, language and religion is only naturally to be expected in the face of hostility from other powers; while force of circumstances has put Japan where she may be looked upon as a probable third party in such a compact.
But most significant of all is the fact that the United States itself is beginning to favor a departure from the traditional policy of keeping aloof from the affairs of other nations. That was the policy urged upon the Government by Washington, when the nation started out upon its career as an independent power. That policy, it is now said, was good while the nation was in its infancy and needed to give its attention to the development of its own territory; but—and this is said by men in positions of influence—it was not meant to be the policy of the nation for all time; and the time has now come when the United States should assert its position among the nations, and take a part in the dividing up of the territory of the earth.
This policy is being advocated to-day; this sentiment is growing, and it is growing rapidly. And these things being so, it is evident that whatever may be the events of the war, the outcome will be one which will vitally affect the interests of the nation, and of the world. For, at the least, the war will greatly stimulate the military sentiment which is already too prevalent in the land, as witness the “Boys’ Brigades” which are a common feature of the public—and even of the church—schools. It must greatly stimulate the growth of the navy, and the tendency to an alliance with some one or more of the Powers of Europe. In short, its direct tendency must be to join this nation with the military powers of the Old World in a general melee of war and strife for which the nations have long been in arms, and which is set down in prophecy as the final catastrophe of the world.