Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
In the second place, although the forces of a small country would necessarily be powerless against those of any of the great powers, yet they might be of the greatest importance as an ally; and the knowledge that any invasion of the frontier by one of the combatants would not only be vigourously opposed but would place the smaller country at once on the side of the enemy, would probably serve to safeguard the territory of the small nation.
But in order to serve these two purposes all that would be required would be a small but well-armed and well-trained body of soldiers, with a reserve of all adult males trained as they now are in your country. The whole question is, as to the size of the permanent army, and of that you are the best judges.
The greatest economy might probably be effected in the Navy, which should exist solely for coast protection. It seems to me to be madness for a small power to expend money on huge ironclad war-ships. All that is needed for defence are a few forts at critical points, thoroughly well armed: together with a sufficiency of small torpedo-vessels, and of torpedoes and mines at the entrances of all the ports. A very effectual defence may thus be obtained at a comparatively small cost.
But the agency to which I look with the greatest hope, is the extension of the feeling of social brotherhood among the workers of the different nations, leading them to refuse to invade other countries, or to fight at all except for purposes of national defence or in aid of nations justly struggling for freedom. This should be a fundamental principle of all Democratic or Socialistic associations; and when the armies of the great powers become permeated with it, peace and disarmament will follow, since kings and generals would never run the risk of bringing armies into the field when the majority of the soldiers would refuse to fire at their fellow men with whom they had no quarrel.
Till this state of feeling becomes general, I fear it will not be safe for the smaller nations to refrain altogether from military training and preparation for defence. As regards the standing army, however, the cost might be considerably reduced, and as regards the navy almost wholly abolished.
In conclusion, I wish to add that I have made no special study of this subject. I write only as a lover of peace and of human progress, and in response to the request you have done me the honour to send me.
Alfred R. Wallace.