Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 1914. DRIFTING TO TROUBLE.
President Wilson's "Yes-No" policy with' regard to.. Mexico seems likely to involve the armed intervention of Great Britain in order to exact reparation for the murder of the British suhject Benton 1, who, it appears to he plainly evident, fell a victim to Villa's revolver. Following on Mr Churchill's recent-statement that "the Government was deeply conscious., ot' v the strong feeling in England," with regard to the outrage, comes Mr Asquith's announcement that "Britain, does not^intend to let the matter rest j "•'^ There _is in this significant remark a hint of a challenge <to President Wilson's assertion that "foreign nations had no right to deiriand that the United States should look after their subjects. If they did, a very grave situation would be produced, and the United States would be compelled, to take action." London "Punch,'' some timo, ago, published a cari-' cature in which .the famous ruler of a country whose army and 'navy, though strong numerically, wore woefully weak in armaments and all that go to make for efficiency in war was represented as saying to a diminutive but belligerent neighbour that if he didn't stop his soldiers' depredations in the ruler's territory he would be compelled to—" go on shaking his finger at him." That seems to bo President Wilson's attitude on the Mexican question. He has repeatedly shaken his finger al Ilucria, and/
Villa, and Carranza, but those genial brigands are not worrying overmuch,,, for they know that the United ""States is practically powerless to effectively interfere. The sacrifice of a British subject will not have been in vain- if it compels the United States to take the action that on all sides it is agreed should have been taken !months ago. The only definite, move that the President has, mddc is to lift the embargo on| the importation of arms into 1 Mexico, and the avowed object of this action was as grotesque as it was unfortunate/ It was hoped •that free trade in arms would result in a sort of. Kilkenny conflict, in which most of the combatants would be killed, leaving the survivors, by 'reason of the chastening influence of a disastrous fight and owing to their hugelydiniiuished numbers, in a proper mood to listen to and to heed the counsels of the United States. But Villa and Carranza have upset this arrangement by the spectacular victories they have achieved over the federal troops, and such is the impression , that the rebels' prowess has created in the minds of the rank and file of Huerta's army that competent authorities assert that it needs but the intervention of a third party to consolidate both Mexican parties' into an " all-f orMexico" army. The position is, as President Wilson assures .the world, an exceedingly grave one. But its gravity lies in the fact that a- mob of undisciplined troops, ill-fed and badly accoutred, is permitted to flout the demands of one of the world's greatest nations, and to, set at defiance the most sacred obligations imposed by international l aw —that of the non-molestation of non-combatant foreigners. President Wilson's punctiliousness with respect to the "right" of a foreign nation to interfere is, under the circumstances, somewhat remarkable. A disintegrated State engaged in a civil war of the most ruthless kind, and ignoring every "right "that non-combatants are supposed to possess, is surely not entitled to any sort of consideration when the leaders of the revolution overstep the borderline of. constitutional methods and murder the citizens of a foreign nation. Only, one life has been sacrificed, it is true; but behind that fact is a principle^ which the British • nation has .on previous occasions spent many, many thousands of pounds, and lost many valuable lives to maintain. And if the British, Prime Minister's' words mean, anything, it seems probable'that, in "spite of President Wilson's j warning, the murderers of John Benton will be taught • that though the, mills of Britain, s wrath mdye slowly they move exceeding sure.