Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

ernments established and the old ones cut down) and to enforce the settlements peaceably arrived at.

The news that amendments are being considered in the League of Nations and that it is nearly ready for incorporation in the treaty itself demonstrates that it has not interfered at all with reaching terms of peace with Germany. The truth is, a league of nations is necessary to a satisfactory treaty. It helps and speeds it.

OPEN DIPLOMACY" SLOW 1

The fluid conditions in the countries of the Central Powers lead all to press for a speedy peace treaty that shall stabilize them. But this very fluidity adds to the complexity of the problem and delays its solution. The Allies are also embarrassed by the unrest of their troops, who regarded the armistice as the end of the war and wish now to be released and to go home. Yet armies of occupation, and perhaps armies for further campaigns, are necessary. Then, between the seven Powers which fought the war, the peace terms are not easy to agree upon

the treatment Germany is to receive, the amount of indemnity she is to pay, the restrictions, if any, upon her competition in the world trade pending the slow industrial recovery of France and Belgium, the balancing considerations of the heavy indemnity and her opportunity for freedom in trade to enable her to pay it, the defensive frontier of France, the Italian frontier on the Adriatic shore, the boundaries of the new States, the definition of neighborhood rights, the Balkan

1 Article in Public Ledger Apr. 5, 1919.

boundaries, the autonomous units in Asia Minor, the disposition of the German colonies — all involve controversy, some of it of the most acute and irritating character.

We must bear in mind that the conference was delayed by the need to gather together, from fourteen nations from all over the world, men who are to frame the treaty. Special commissions had to be formed to get at the facts. Hearings had to be held for claimants. The British elections kept Lloyd George at home, and during that time made it impossible for him to join in those confidential interviews with other leaders and premiers so necessary in smoothing out difficulties and reaching understandings. While the making of the terms has been in the absence of the defeated powers, the interests of the conferees themselves are often acutely adverse. Then, too, the disinterested attitude of the

United States leads its representatives to consider more carefully than those of the conferees seeking purely selfish objects the wisdom of restrictions upon Germany. Too great severity may defeat its own purpose.

The treaty is being negotiated by representatives of popular constituencies and not by kings. Explanation is easier to one man than to a people. Room has to be given for what is called in this country “buncombe.” A show of fight must be made on hopeless issues for home consumption.

Open " diplomacy cannot move so swiftly as the oldfashioned kind.

Then, there is a more substantial reason for time in the deliberations: the negotiators must discuss and argue all of the conflicting issues over and over again until each one has deeply impressed on him the real point of view of every other. This often takes the form of heated criticism and even recrimination, apparently most discouraging to a pros

pect of agreement but necessary to clear the air. Such talk is not waste of time. It is the usual and the only way to reach a compromise.

The armistice in our Spanish war was signed on the 12th of August, 1898, and the treaty of Paris was not signed till December 12, a period of four months. This was in connection with a war which had only begun in the previous April. And it was a peace which involved the settlement of rather simple issues between only two nations.

The period between the armistice and the treaty of peace in the Franco-Prussian War was about the same and there, also, the issues were simple and limited to two countries. The Congress of Vienna, convened to arrange the

map

of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, took a year for its deliberations, and the conferees had only kings and emperors to satisfy. We see, therefore, that the delegates now at Paris have not been unreasonably slow in their work, considering the great detail and the many conflicting interests they have to settle and agree upon.

RUSSIA, FRANCE, DANZIG 1

One may admit that a great mistake was made in not sending large armies to Archangel and Vladivostok to establish an Eastern front in Russia during the war. Had this been done, Bolshevism could have been then repressed and an opportunity for a Russian constituent assembly and popular government could have been secured. But that is

1 Article in Public Ledger Apr. 7, 1919.

past history and the conference at Paris is dealing with present conditions. One of these is the difficulty of maintaining large armies at this juncture to enter upon a military crusade against Bolshevism in Russia. All the Allies hope to do is to prevent its spread into other countries. It will probably burn itself out in Russia because of its unfulfilled and impossible promises.

The issue with France as to proper provisions for her safety is not by any means so clear as these cocksure statesmen and correspondents would have their readers believe.

The razing of fortresses on the German front, the enforced limit of German armament, the restriction upon German conscription, the appropriation of the German navy, the taking over of German guns and the united power of the League of Nations to defend France and restrain Germany will in the long run be far better protection to French territory and independence than what France now seeks at the instance of her military strategists.

The hesitation over Danzig is regarded as another damning proof of a weak yielding to German truculence. Danzig is a German city. The people object to Polish sovereignty. It is the only practical port of access to the sea for Poland. Can it be made a free port for full use by Poland without complete sovereignty? This is being argued in the conference. It is not a question which answers itself. One may differ with the statesmen, correspondents and critics and still not be guilty of basely betraying Poland or truckling to Germany. A similar question is presented, as to Fiume, between the Italians and the Jugo-Slavs.

THE ROUND ROBIN 1

The League of Nations is an organization which cannot disclose its advantages in the rapid manner an army or a military expedition can. Its operation is bound to be slow and cumbersome at first. Its influence on its members and on outside nations in avoiding war and promoting justice will grow as the real strength of the uniting and common covenants comes to be clearly perceived. Experience under the League will disclose defects and suggest useful changes to make it more practical and effective.

But the agreement upon a covenant providing for reduction and limitation of armament, for union of nations to prevent conquest, for definite postponement of war till after every opportunity for peaceful settlement has been secured, and for spreading international agreements on the table before the world is a series of steps forward toward permanent peace which only “ready made” military correspondents can belittle.

If the cabled information as to the character of the amendments adopted is reliable, we may now confidently hope that the Senators who signed the Round Robin will be able to vote for the League as it is amended without being embarrassed in any degree by their signatures to that document. It will be remembered that they merely said that the Covenant in its then form was unacceptable to them, which of course does not prevent their consistently supporting the Covenant as at present amended. The further statement in the Round Robin was that they thought the peace treaty ought to be adopted at once and that the League should be postponed for further consideration. Of course

1 From an article in the Public Ledger April 12, 1919.

« PředchozíPokračovat »