Page 3519

3519 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

international law remained vague and undetermined upon many points, and in large

measure was made up of precedents handed

down from the past, many of them conflicting. Only a few great principles were

generally recognized prior to the war,

and even some of these were to be ruthlessly violated.

We have already said something about

the outcry that arose over the violation of

Belgium's neutrality and over the barbarous manner in which the civilian population were treated. The bombardment

of unfortified places, either from the sea

or from the air, also shocked the neutral

world, as did many other practices that

were adopted on the land; but a controversy fully as violent as that over the

German course in Belgium developed over

the course of the belligerents upon the

seas.

It was obvious, of course, that, following the custom that had always obtained

in time of war, the Allies would endeavor

to make use of their control of the sea

to cut off German and Austrian trade

with the rest of the world. The right of

a nation to blockade another, provided a

real and not a "paper" blockade is maintained, has never been questioned. The

Federal Government resorted to it in the

case of the American Civil War, and forbade trade of any sort whatever, either

outgoing or in going, whether in guns and

ammunition, or combs, flax-hackles, coffee,

flour, sugar, or medicinal supplies.

The Allied nations were naturally anxious to use their predominance in sea-power

to cut off their enemies from commercial

relations with the rest of the world, but

many difficulties lay in the way of a complete realization of this desire. So long

as the Germans retained control of the

Baltic, it was, of course, impossible for

the Allies to blockade the Baltic coast of

Germany or prevent trade between Germany and the Scandinavian countries.

Furthermore, both of the Central Powers

touched states that had remained neutral;

and four of these neutral states-Roumania, Italy, Holland, and Denmark-had outlets upon the sea. Even Switzerland, which touches both Germany and

Austria, though landlocked, could receive

goods from Italy and pass them on to the

enemies of the Allies. The entrance of