It is not the purpose of this narrative to enter into biographical sketches of those individuals who played the leading roles in this great and world-wide tragedy, for only in a few selected instances will names be mentioned, but this narrative will dwell upon the study of those mighty events as a whole, leaving to others the biographical sketches of those who carried out the production of this great and absorbing drama of which the whole world was the stage.
Perhaps he overestimates how great and absorbing the drama is, most likely because he dispenses with any drama whatsoever. If by "drama" we mean a story of engaging characters, there is none. Fitzpatrick's passion is clearly for politics on a global scale and, for a good chunk of the final chapters, military tactics. His work is provocative for the slightly skewed manner in which he got certain things right.
The most obvious one of these is the thing to which the title refers. The Coming Conflict of Nations is just one of several anticipations of armed conflict between East and West written in the years succeeding the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War. Whether to Ernest Hugh Fitzpatrick or Milo Hastings or Jack London or Shunro Oshikawa or Ichiu Miyazaki, it seemed that a clash between the preeminent powers flanking the Pacific was inevitable.
Fitzpatrick also successfully prognosticated an ocean war between England and Germany, and a land war in Europe with Germany and Austria-Hungary united against everyone else. Furthermore, he considered this backdrop of global conflict to be a key ingredient in the movement for Indian independence. Concerns over the liberty of the subcontinent are, more than a war between Japan and America, the immediate political concern of his novel.
Though grasping the broad strokes of events two World Wars down the road, its the errors in the details that prove most illuminating for the author's character. The war between Japan and America is launched by Japan, but not by a sneak attack on a naval base in the middle of the ocean. Instead, it comes when, en masse, the Japanese immigrants to California and the Pacific coast rise up and become a standing army for the Empire. They storm the seaboard, the only check on their expansion being the Rocky Mountains. There is nothing subtle about this "Yellow Peril."
England might have been able to offer support for its Anglophone daughter but for a non-aggression pact signed with Japan and a brewing contest for naval supremacy with Germany. The ingenious tactics of the Royal Navy defeat the Germans, who revenge themselves as an incontestable land army. With Germany out of their hair, the British are able to return attention to the problem of freedom fighters in India. Not that Fitzpatrick would deign to address them as such. In his own words, culled from the first chapter:
The British in India had long been standing over a volcano.
None were more conscious of this than that great body of self-sacrificing Englishmen, who constituted the Indian civil service, men of unimpeachable integrity, and untiring in their devotion to the wellbeing of the teeming millions of Hindoostan, exiled for the most part into distant and unattractive provinces; proconsuls, as it were, of the great British Raj, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India and Sovereign of the British Provinces beyond the seas.
Great Britain had unified India by the outpouring of her best blood. The purblind disturbers of India's peace now sought to accomplish the disintegration of the Indian Empire by attempting to throw the Empire into a state of anarchy. These insensate and wicked agitators, tutored for the most part in the universities of the large cities of Europe and the United States of North America, had been indebted to the benevolent and fostering care of the British Raj for their primary and fundamental education, leaving the shores of India for the further pursuance of their studies in Europe and America, they seemed to have imbibed a relentless hatred to the British government of their native country. Strange as it may appear to relate, it was in England, the center and hub around which the affairs of the almost limitless British Empire revolved, they received most sympathy and support.
There has always existed and will always exist weak-headed sentimentalists who, with unabashed self-complaisancy, eagerly look forward to that golden era when silly sentimentalism is run riot. From the sentimentalists these students received much encouragement.
These malcontent students, on returning to their native land, spent their lives, which otherwise would have been useful, in the furtherance of their revolutionary dreams and to the spread of their anarchistic propaganda. They had sown to the wind, but were destined to reap the whirlwind.
Ah yes, the ungrateful savages who have no appreciation for the selfless sacrifices that the British have made to spread civilization in their direction. Fitzpatrick's movement to Indian independence is, of course, treacherously violent, with the retrospective irony that he almost accurately describes Mohandas Gandhi. At the time of The Coming Conflict of Nations' publication, the London-educated Gandhi was active in South Africa advocating for the rights of Indians and refining his tactics of non-violent civil disobedience. It's even plausible that Fitzpatrick had Gandhi in mind when he wrote, and is betraying his own suspicions.
Once the British subdue the movement to independence, to the surprise gratitude of Indians themselves who suddenly see the revolutionaries for thugs, sufficient resources are cleared up for England to renege on its treaty and join the side of the United States. Furthermore, the war in Europe is halted as it becomes apparent to everyone that Japan's actions are an affront to the whole of white civilization. A new alliance is founded and it is primarily the British who distress Japan on the seas while a coalition fights a land war through the mountain passes of Wyoming and Montana into Japanese-held territory.
What happens next is the most bizarre, from the perspective of a century after the fact. The great war fought, Japan's government accepts unconditional surrender and its people unconditionally accept the American and British occupiers as heroes. A global alliance of Anglophone nations is formed, primarily reuniting England and the United States. A global parliament is also formed to peacefully resolve conflicts and formulate the post-war treaties. The borders are agreed upon in Europe and Africa is neatly divided up between the imperial powers. Russia, Fitzpatrick writes, was originally displeased with having to give up Asian territories to Japan until it was calmly explained to them that Japan's natural expansion was in Asia. In The Coming Conflict of Nations we see a colonialist's utopia; a naive faith in the virtue of the colonizers and the simple amicability of the colonized, with no thought given to the idea that maybe there is no such thing as a "natural right" for one group to invade and dominate another. I suppose that is why he is Ernest Hugh Fitzpatrick, however, and not Gandhi.
Were this not enough, the last few pages communicate the true agenda at work. The global war as the means to the International Congress, which was itself a means to Fitzpatrick's true end: the establishment of global free trade!
At one bold stroke the International Congress struck down that great barrier and detriment to human progress and to the development of a high national character... There is nothing in all the recent history of the human race that has done more to demoralize the consciences of men, pervert their ideals and cause inequalities in the distribution of wealth and the products of toil than that pernicious system by which one country elects to erect commercial barriers against the free access into its markets of the products and commodities of other nations.
Railing on for several more pages about the evils of protectionism and liberating virtues of globalization, it would be easy enough to dismiss Fitzpatrick as an antique - as we have been doing so far - if his views weren't so de rigueur even today. Whether we're talking about the power brokers of Washington or the social justice capitalists of San Francisco, they share Fitzpatrick's cry of peace through commerce.
Eternal peace, for God even gets in on the act in the last paragraph: "By this enactment, the greatest in the history of the human race... were all united in this one great purpose. True Freedom for man to gain, and thus to make fitting this earth of ours for Christ's transcendent Second Reign." We might call it precognitive on the part of Fitzpatrick, or simply the perniciousness of his viewpoint, but perhaps the most accurate thing that The Coming Conflict of Nations reflect of American culture, left-wing or right-wing, is a zealous idolatry in the spread of Anglophone culture and free market capitalism as a religious imperative.