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The Austrian Government is therefore of opinion that its former assurance to the Washington Cabinet could not be held to apply to armed merchant vessels, since these, according to the legal standards prevailing, whereby hostilities are restricted to organised military forces, must be regarded as privateers (freebooters) which are liable to immediate destruction. History shows us that, according to the general law of nations, merchant vessels have never been justified in resisting the exercise by warships of the right of taking prizes. But even if a standard to this effect could be shown to exist, it would not mean that the vessels had the right to provide themselves with guns. It should also be borne in mind that the arming of merchant ships must necessarily alter the whole conduct of warfare at sea, and that such alteration cannot correspond to the views of those who seek to regulate maritime warfare according to the principles of humanity. As a matter of fact, since the practice of privateering was discontinued, until a few years back no Power has ever thought of arming merchant vessels. Throughout the whole proceedings of the second Peace Conference, which was occupied with all questions of the laws of warfare at sea, not a single word was ever said about the arming of merchant ships. Only on one occasion was a casual observation made with any bearing on this question, and it is characteristic that it should have been by a British naval officer of superior rank, who impartially declared: "Lorsqu'un navire de guerre se propose d'arrêter et de visiter un vaisseau marchand, le commandant, avant de mettre une embarcation