LONDON, Aug. 29, 1914 (UP) -- Winston Churchill, first lord of the admiralty, today granted me an interview on the subject of the European war. On my asking him about the cause, he handed me the celebrated "white paper" of Sir Edward Grey's negotiations saying:
"Oh, there is our case and all we ask of the American people is that they should study it with severe and impartial attention."
I then asked him what was the underlying cause apart from the actual steps which had led to the rupture. He replied, in effect, that the war was started and was being maintained by the Prussian military aristocracy, which set no limits to its ambition of worldwide predominance.
"In a word," he said, "it is the old struggle of a hundred years ago against Napoleon. The grouping of forces is different; the circumstances are different; the occasion is different; the man, above all, is different-happily.
"But the issue is the same. We are at grips with Prussian militarism. England stands right in the path of this ever-growing power.
"Our military force is perhaps small, but it is good, and it will grow; our naval and financial resources are considerable; and with these we stand between this mighty army and a dominion which would certainly not be content with European limits."
I asked whether the end of the war would see some abatement of the struggle of armaments.
Mr. Churchill replied: "That depends on the result. If we succeed, and if, as a result of our victory, Europe is rearranged as far as possible with regard to the principle of nationality, and in accordance with the wishes of the peoples who dwell in the various disputed areas, we may look forward with hope to a great relaxation and easement.
"But if Germany wins, it will not be a victory of the quiet, sober, commercial elements in Germany, nor of the common people of Germany, with all their virtues, but the victory of the blood and iron military school whose doctrines and principles will then have received a supreme and terrible vindication.
"I cannot understand," he continued, "why Germany has not been contented with her wonderful progress since the battle of Waterloo. For the last half century she has been the center of Europe; courted by many; feared by many; treated with deference by all. No country has had such a reign of prosperity and splendor.
"Yet all the time she has been discontented; solicitous of admiration; careless of international law; worshiping force; and giving us all to understand that her triumphs in the past and her power in the present were little compared to what she sought in the future.
"And now the great collision has come, and it is well that the democratic nations of the world-the nations, I mean, where the people own the government, and not the government the people-should realize what is at stake.
"The French, English and American systems of government by popular election and parliamentary debate, with the kind of civilization which flows from such institutions, are brought into direct conflict with the highly efficient imperialist bureaucracy and military organization of Prussia. That is the issue. No partisanship is required to make it plain. No sophistry can obscure it."
I asked whether the democracy of the United States, apart from the moral issues involved, had any direct interests in the result of the war.
"You are the judges of that," replied the first lord. "You do not require me to talk to your of your interests. If England were to be reduced in this war-or another which would be sure to follow from it, if this war were inconclusive-to the position of a small country like Holland, then however far across the salt water your country may lie, the burden which we are bearing now would fall on to your shoulders.
"I do not mean by that that Germany would attack you, or that if you were attacked you would need to fear the result as far as the United States was concerned.
"The Monroe doctrine, however, carries you very far, in South as well as North America, and is it likely that victorious German militarism, which would then have shattered France irretrievably, have conquered Belgium, and have broken forever the power of England, would allow itself to be permanently cut off from all hopes of that oversea expansion and development with which South America alone can supply it.
"Now the impact is on us. Our blood, which flows in your veins, should lead you to expect that we shall be stubborn enough to bear that impact. But if we go down and are swept in ruin into the past, you are the next in line.
"This war is for us a war of honor, of respect for obligations into which we have entered and of loyalty toward friends in desperate needs. But now that it has begun, it has become a war of self-preservation.
"The British democracy, with its limited monarchy, its ancient parliament, its ardent social and philanthropic dreams, is engaged for good or for ill in deadly grapple with the formidable might of Prussian autocratic rule.
"It is our system of civilization and government against theirs. It is our life or theirs.
"We are conscious of the greatness of the times. We recognize the consequence and proportion of events. We feel that, however inadequate we may be, however unexpected the ordeal may be, we are under the eye of history.
"And the issue being joined, England must go forward to the very end."
While I was speaking to Mr. Churchill a telegram came in from Belgium, announcing the total destruction of the town of Louvain as an act of military execution. Handing it to me, he said:
"What further proof is needed of the cause at issue? Tell that to your American fellow countrymen.
"You know," he added, "I am half American myself."
(Copyright 1914, by the United Press)