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The Inside Story of the Peace Conference By Emile Joseph Dillon Characters: 150958

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Before the Anglo-Saxon statesmen thus set themselves to rearrange the complex of interests, forces, policies, nationalities, rights, and claims which constituted the politico-social world of 1919, they were expected to deal with all the Allied and Associated nations, without favor or prejudice, as members of one family. This expectation was not fulfilled. It may not have been warranted. From the various discussions and decisions of which we have knowledge, a number of delegates drew the inference that France was destined for obvious reasons to occupy the leading position in continental Europe, under the protection of Anglo-Saxondom; and that a privileged status was to be conferred on the Jews in eastern Europe and in Palestine, while the other states were to be in the leading-strings of the Four. This view was not lightly expressed, however inadequately it may prove to have been then supported by facts. As to the desirability of forming this rude hierarchy of states, the principal plenipotentiaries were said to have been in general agreement, although responding to different motives. There was but one discordant voice-that of France-who was opposed to the various limitations set to Poland's aggrandizement, and also to the clause placing the Jews under the direct protection of the League of Nations, and investing them with privileges in which the races among whom they reside are not allowed to participate. Bulgaria had a position unique in her class, for she was luckier than most of her peers in having enlisted on her side the American delegation and Mr. Wilson as leading counsel and special pleader for her claim to an outlet to the ?gean Sea.

At the Conference each state was dealt with according to its class. Entirely above the new law, as we saw, stood its creators, the Anglo-Saxons. To all the others, including the French, the Wilsonian doctrine was applied as fully as was compatible with its author's main object, the elaboration of an instrument which he could take back with him to the United States as the great world settlement. Within these limits the President was evidently most anxious to apply his Fourteen Points, but he kept well within these. Thus he would, perhaps, have been quite ready to insist on the abandonment by Britain of her supremacy on the seas, on a radical change in the international status of Egypt and Ireland, and much else, had these innovations been compatible with his own special object. But they were not. He was apparently minded to test the matter by announcing his resolve to moot the problem of the freedom of the seas, but when admonished by the British government that it would not even brook its mention, he at once gave it up and, presumably drawing the obvious inference from this downright refusal, applied it to the Irish, Egyptian, and other issues, which were forthwith eliminated from the category of open or international problems. But France's insistent demand, on the other hand, for the Rhine frontier met with an emphatic refusal.[127]

The social reformer is disheartened by the one-sided and inexorable way in which maxims proclaimed to be of universal application were restricted to the second-class nations.

Russia's case abounds in illustrations of this arbitrary, unjust, and impolitic pressure. The Russians had been our allies. They had fought heroically at the time when the people of the United States were, according to their President, "too proud to fight." They were essential factors in the Allies' victory, and consequently entitled to the advantages and immunities enjoyed by the Western Powers. In no case ought they to have been placed on the same level as our enemies, and in lieu of recompense condemned to punishment. And yet this latter conception of their deserts was not wholly new. Soon after their defection, and when the Allies were plunged in the depths of despondency, a current of opinion made itself felt among certain sections of the Allied peoples tending to the conclusion of peace on the basis of compensations to Germany, to be supplied by the cession of Russian territory. This expedient was advocated by more than one statesman, and was making headway when fresh factors arose which bade fair to render it needless.

At the Paris Conference the spirit of this conception may still have survived and prompted much that was done and much that was left unattempted. Russia was under a cloud. If she was not classed as an enemy she was denied the consideration reserved for the Allies and the neutrals. Her integrity was a matter of indifference to her former friends; almost every people and nationality in the Russian state which asked for independence found a ready hearing at the Supreme Council. And some of them before they had lodged any such claim were encouraged to lose no time in asking for separation. In one case a large sum of money and a mission were sent to "create the independent state of the Ukraine," so impatient were peoples in the West to obtain a substitute for the Russian ally whom they had lost in the East, and great was their consternation when their protégés misspent the funds and made common cause with the Teutons.

Disorganized Russia was in some ways a godsend to the world's administrators in Paris. To the advocate of alliances, territorial equilibrium, and the old order of things it offered a facile means of acquiring new helpmates in the East by emancipating its various peoples in the name of right and justice. It held out to the capitalists who deplored the loss of their milliards a potential source whence part of that loss might be made good.[128] To the zealots of the League of Nations it offered an unresisting body on which all the requisite operations from amputation to trepanning might be performed without the use of anesthetics.

The various border states of Russia were thus quietly lopped off without even the foreknowledge, much less the assent, of the patient, and without any pretense at plebiscites. Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Georgia were severed from the chaotic Slav state offhandedly, and the warrant was the doctrine propounded by President Wilson-that every people shall be free to choose its own mode of living and working. Every people? Surely not, remarked unbiased onlookers. The Egyptians, the Irish, the Austrians, the Persians, to name but four among many, are disqualified for the exercise of these indefeasible rights. Perhaps with good reason? Then modify the doctrine. Why this difference of treatment? they queried. Is it not because the supreme judge knows full well that Great Britain would not brook the discussion of the Egyptian or the Irish problem, and that France, in order to feel quite secure, must hinder the Austrian-Germans from coalescing with their brethren of the Reich? But if Britain and France have the right to veto every self-denying measure that smacks of disruption or may involve a sacrifice, why is Russia bereft of it? If the principle involved be of any value at all, its application must be universal. To an equal all-round distribution of sacrifice the only alternative is the supremacy of force in the service of arbitrary rule. And to this force, accordingly, the Supreme Council had recourse. The only cases in which it seriously vindicated the rights of oppressed or dissatisfied peoples to self-determination against the will of the ruling race or nation were those in which that race or nation was powerless to resist. Whenever Britain or France's interests were deemed to be imperiled by the putting in force of any of the Fourteen Points, Mr. Wilson desisted from its application. Thus it came about that Russia was put on the same plane with Germany and received similar, in some respects, indeed, sterner, treatment. The Germans were at least permitted to file objections to the conditions imposed and to point out flaws in the arrangements drafted, and their representations sometimes achieved their end. It was otherwise with the Russians. They were never consulted. And when their representatives in Paris respectfully suggested that all such changes as might be decided upon by the Great Powers during their country's political disablement should be taken to be provisional and be referred for definite settlement to the future constituent assembly, the request was ignored.

Of psychological rather than political interest was Mr. Wilson's conscientious hesitation as to whether the nationalities which he was preparing to liberate were sufficiently advanced to be intrusted with self-government. As stated elsewhere, his first impulse would seem to have been to appoint mandatories to administer the territories severed from Russia. The mandatory arrangement under the ubiquitous League is said to have been his own. Presumably he afterward acquired the belief that the system might be wisely dispensed with in the case of some of Russia's border states, for they soon afterward received promises of independence and implicitly of protection against future encroachments by a resuscitated Russia.

In this connection a scene is worth reproducing which was enacted at the Peace Table before the system of administering certain territories by proxy was fully elaborated. At one of the sittings the delegates set themselves to determine what countries should be thus governed,[129] and it was understood that the mandatory system was to be reserved for the German colonies and certain provinces of the Turkish Empire. But in the course of the conversation Mr. Wilson casually made use of the expression, "The German colonies, the territories of the Turkish Empire and other territories." One of the delegates promptly put the question, "What other territories?" to which the President replied, unhesitatingly, "Those of the late Russian Empire." Then he added by way of explanation: "We are constantly receiving petitions from peoples who lived hitherto under the scepter of the Tsars-Caucasians, Central Asiatic peoples, and others-who refuse to be ruled any longer by the Russians and yet are incapable of organizing viable independent states of their own. It is meet that the desires of these nations should be considered." At this the Czech delegate, Doctor Kramarcz, flared up and exclaimed: "Russia? Cut up Russia? But what about her integrity? Is that to be sacrificed?" But his words died away without evoking a response. "Was there no one," a Russian afterward asked, "to remind those representatives of the Great Powers of their righteous wrath with Germany when the Brest-Litovsk treaty was promulgated?"

Toward Italy, who, unlike Russia, was not treated as an enemy, but as relegated to the category of lesser states, the attitude of President Wilson was exceptionally firm and uncompromising. On the subject of Fiume and Dalmatia he refused to yield an inch. In vain the Italian delegation argued, appealed, and lowered its claims. Mr. Wilson was adamant. It is fair to admit that in no other way could he have contrived to get even a simulacrum of a League. Unless the weak states were awed into submitting to sacrifices for the great aim which he had made his own, he must return to Washington as the champion of a manifestly lost cause. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that his thesis was not destitute of arguments to support it. Accordingly the deadlock went on for months, until the Italian Cabinet fell and people wearied of the Adriatic problems.

Poland was another of the communities which had to bend before Anglo-Saxon will, represented in her case mainly by Mr. Lloyd George, not, however, without the somewhat tardy backing of his colleague from Washington. It is important for the historian and the political student to observe that as the British Premier was not credited with any profound or original ideas about the severing or soldering of east European territories, the authorship of the powerful and successful opposition to the allotting of Dantzig to Poland was rightly or wrongly ascribed not to him, but to what is euphemistically termed "international finance" lurking in the background, whose interest in Poland was obviously keen, and whose influence on the Supreme Council, although less obvious, was believed to be far-reaching. The same explanation was currently suggested for the fixed resolve of Mr. Lloyd George not to assign Upper Silesia to Poland without a plebiscite. His own account of the matter was that although the inhabitants were Polish-they are as two to one compared with the Germans-it was conceivable that they entertained leanings toward the Germans, and might therefore desire to throw in their lot with these. When one compares this scrupulous respect for the likes and dislikes of the inhabitants of that province with the curt refusal of the same men at first to give ear to the ardent desire of the Austrians to unite with the Germans, or to abide by a plebiscite of the inhabitants of Fiume or Teschen, one is bewildered. The British Premier's wish was opposed by the official body of experts appointed to report on the matter. Its members had no misgivings. The territory, they said, belonged of right to Poland, the great majority of its population was unquestionably Polish, and the practical conclusion was that it should be handed over to the Polish government as soon as feasible. Thereupon the staff of the commission was changed and new members were substituted for the old.[130] But that was not enough. The British Premier still encountered such opposition among his foreign colleagues that it was only by dint of wordy warfare and stubbornness that he finally won his point.

The stipulation for which the first British delegate toiled thus laboriously was that within a fortnight after the ratification of the Treaty the German and Polish forces should evacuate the districts in which the plebiscite was to be held, that the Workmen's Councils there should be dissolved, and that the League of Nations should take over the government of the district so as to allow the population to give full expression to its will. But the League of Nations did not exist and could not be constituted for a considerable time. It was therefore decided[131] that some temporary substitute for the League should be formed at once, and the Supreme Council decided that Inter-Allied troops should occupy the districts. That was the first instalment of the price to be paid for the British Premier's tenderness for plebiscites, which the expert commissions deprecated as unnecessary, and which, as events proved in this case, were harmful.

In the meanwhile Bolshevist-some said German-agents were stirring up the population by suasion and by terrorism until it finally began to ferment. Thousands of working-men responded to the goad, "turned down" their tools and ceased work. Thereupon the coal-fields of Upper Silesia, the production of which had already dropped by 50 per cent, since the preceding November, ceased to produce anything. This consummation grieved the Supreme Council, which turned for help to the Inter-Allied armies. For the Silesian coal-fields represented about one-third of Germany's production, and both France and Italy were looking to Germany for part of their fuel-supply. The French press pertinently asked whether it would not have been cheaper, safer, and more efficacious to have forgone the plebiscite and relied on the Polish troops from the outset.[132] For, however ideal the intentions of Mr. Lloyd George may have been, the net result of his insistence on a plebiscite was to enable an ex-newspaper vender named Hoersing, who had undertaken to prevent the detachment of Upper Silesia from Germany, to set his machinery for agitation in motion and cause general unrest in the Silesian and Dombrova coal-mining districts. When the strike was declared the workmen, who are Poles to a man, rejected all suggestions that they should refer their grievances to arbitration courts. For these tribunals were conducted by Germans. The consequence of Mr. Lloyd George's spirited intervention was, in the words of an unbiased observer, to "raise the specters of starvation, freezing and Bolshevism in eastern Europe" during the ensuing winter-a heavy price to pay for pedantic adherence to the letter of an irrelevant ordinance, at a moment when the spirit of basic principles was being allowed to evaporate.

Rumania was chastened and qualified in severer fashion for admission to the sodality of nations until her delegates quitted the Conference in disgust, struck out their own policy, and courteously ignored the Great Powers. Then the Supreme Council changed its note for the moment and abandoned the position which it had taken up respecting the armistice with Hungary, to revert to it shortly afterward.[133] The joy with which the upshot of this revolt was hailed by all the lesser states was an evil omen. For their antipathy toward the Supreme Council had long before hardened into a sentiment much more intense, and any stick seemed good enough to break the rod of the self-constituted governors of the planet.

The concrete result of this tinkering and cobbling could only be a ramshackle structure, built without any reference to the canons of political architecture. It was shaped neither by the Fourteen Points nor by the canons of the balance of power and territory. It was hardly more than an abortive attempt to make a synthesis of the two. Created by force, it could be perpetuated only by force; but if symptoms are to be trusted, it is more likely to be broken up by force. As an American press organ remarked in August: "The Council of Five complains that no one now condescends to recognize the League of Nations. Even the small nations are buying war material, quite oblivious of the fact that there are to be no more wars, now that the League is there to prevent them. Sweden is buying large supplies from Germany, and Spain is sending a commission to Paris to negotiate for some of France's war equipment."[134]

Belgium, too, was treated with scant consideration. The praise lavished on her courageous people during the war was apparently deemed an adequate recompense for the sacrifices she had made and the losses she endured. For the revision of the treaties of 1839, indispensable to the economic development of the country, no diplomatic preparation was made down to May, and among the Treaty clauses then drafted Belgium's share of justice was so slight and insufficient that the unbiased press published sharp strictures on the forgetfulness or egotism of the Supreme Council. "The little that has leaked out of the decisions taken regarding the conditions which affect Belgium," wrote one journal, "has caused not only bitter disappointment in Belgium, but also indignation everywhere.... The Allies having decided not to accord moral satisfaction to Belgium (they chose Geneva as the capital of the League of Nations), it was perhaps to be expected that they would not accord her material satisfaction. And such expectations are being fulfilled. The Limburg province, annexed to Holland in 1839, the province which gave the retreating enemy unlawful refuge in 1918, a rank violation of Dutch neutrality, is apparently not to be restored to Belgium. Even the right, vital to the safety and welfare of Belgium, the right of unimpeded navigation of the Scheldt between Antwerp and the sea, has not yet been conceded. And the raw material that is indispensable if Belgian industry is to be revived is withheld; the Allies, however, are quite willing to flood the country with manufactured articles."[135]

And yet Belgium's demands were extremely modest.[136] They were formulated, not as the guerdon for her heroic defense of civilization, but as a plain corollary flowing direct from each and every principle officially recognized by the heads of the Conference-right, nationality, legitimate guarantees, and economic requirements. Tested by any or all of these accepted touchstones, everything asked for was reasonable and fair in itself, and seemingly indispensable to the durability of the new world-structure which the statesmen were endeavoring to raise on the ruins of the old. Belgium's forlorn political and territorial plight embodied all the worst vices of the old balance of power stigmatized by President Wilson: the mutilation of the country; the forcible separation of sections of its population from each other; the distribution of these lopped, ethnic fragments among alien states and dynasties; the control of her waterways handed over to commercial rivals; the transformation of cities and districts that were obviously destined to figure among her sources of national well-being and centers of culture into dead towns that paralyze her effort and hinder her progress. In a word, Belgium had had no political existence for her own behoof. She was not an organic unit in the sodality of nations, but a mere cog in the mechanism of European equilibrium.

Ruined by the war, Belgium was sorely tried by the Peace Conference. She complained of two open wounds which poisoned her existence, stunted her economic growth, and rendered her self-defense an impossibility: the vast gap of Limburg on the east and the blocking of the Scheldt on the west. The great national réduit, Antwerp, cut off from the sea, inaccessible to succor in case of war, on the one side, and Limburg opening to Germany's armies the road through central Belgium, on the other-these were the two standing dangers which it was hoped would be removed. How dangerous they are events had demonstrated. In October, 1914, Antwerp fell because Holland had closed the Scheldt and forbidden the entrance to warships and transports, and in November, 1918, a German army of over seventy thousand men eluded pursuit by the Allies by passing through Dutch Limburg, carrying with them vast war materials and booty. Militarily Belgium is exposed to mortal perils so long as the treaties which ordained this preposterous division of territories are maintained in vigor.

Economically, too, the consequences, especially of the status of the Scheldt, are admittedly baleful. To Holland the river is practically useless-indeed, the only advantage it could confer would be the power of impeding the growth and prosperity of Antwerp for the benefit of its rival, Rotterdam. All that the Belgians desired there was the complete control of their national river, with the right of carrying out the works necessary to keep it navigable. A like demand was put forward for the canal of Terneuzen, which links the city of Ghent with the Scheldt; and the suppression of the checks and hindrances to Belgium's free communications with her hinterland-i.e., the basins of the Meuse and the Rhine. Prom every point of view, including that of international law, the claims made were at once modest and grounded. But the Supreme Council had no time to devote to such subsidiary matters, and, like more momentous issues, they were adjourned.

The Belgian delegation did not ask that Holland's territory should be curtailed. On the contrary, they would have welcomed its increase by the addition of territory inhabited by people of her own idiom, under German sway.[137] But the Dutch demurred, as Denmark had done in the matter of the third Schleswig zone, for fear of offending Germany. And the Supreme Council acquiesced in the refusal. Again, when issues were under discussion that turned upon the Rhine country and affected Belgian interests, her delegates were never consulted. They were systematically ignored by the Conference. When the capital of the League of Nations was to be chosen, their hopes that Brussels would be deemed worthy of the honor were blasted by President Wilson himself. One of the American delegates informed a foreign colleague "that the capital of the League must be situate in a tranquil country, must have a steady, settled population and a really good climate." "A good climate?" asked a continental statesman. "Then why not choose Monte Carlo?"

But the decision in favor of Geneva was sent by courier from Switzerland ready made to President Wilson. The chief grounds which lent color to the belief that religious bias played a larger part in the Conference's decisions than was apparent were the following: It was from Geneva that the spirit of religious and political liberty first went forth to be incarnated among the various nations of the world. It is to John Calvin, rather than to Martin Luther, that the birth of the Scotch Covenanters and of English Puritanism is traceable. Hence Geneva is the parent of New England. So, too, it was Rousseau-a true child of Calvin-who was the author of America's Declaration of Independence. Again, one of the first pacifists and advocates of international arbitration was born in Geneva. John Knox sat for two years at the feet of Calvin. Consequently the Puritan Revolution, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution all had their springs in Geneva.

These were the considerations which weighed with President Wilson when he refused to fix his choice on Brussels. In vain the Belgians argued and pleaded, urging that if the Conference were to vote for London, Washington, or Paris, they would receive the announcement with respectful acquiescence, but that among the lesser states they conceived that their country's claims were the best grounded. To the Americans who objected that Switzerland's mountains and lakes, being free from hateful war memories, offer more fitting surroundings for the capital of the League of Peace than Brussels, where vestiges of the odious struggle will long survive, they answered that they could only regret that Belgium's resistance to the lawless invaders should be taken to disqualify her for the honor.

It is worth while pursuing this matter a step farther. The Federal Council in Berne having soon afterward officially recommended[138] the nation to enter the League which guarantees it neutrality,[139] an illuminating discussion ensued. And it was elicited that as there is an obligation imposed on all member-states to execute the decrees of the League for the coercion of rebellious fellow-members, it follows that in such cases Switzerland, too, would be obliged to take an active part in the struggle between the League and the recalcitrant country. From military operations, however, Switzerland is dispensed, but it would certainly be bound to adopt economic measures of pressure, and to this extent abandon its neutrality. Now not only would that attitude be construed by the disobedient nation as unfriendly, and the usual consequences drawn from it, but as Switzerland is freed from military co-operation, it follows that the League could not fix the headquarters of its military command in its own capital, Geneva, as that would constitute a violation of Swiss neutrality. And, if it did, Switzerland would in self-defense be bound to oppose the decision!

The Belgians were discouraged by the disdainful demeanor and grudging disposition of the Supreme Council, and irritated by the arbitrariness of its decrees and the indefensible way in which it applied principles that were propounded as sacred. Before restoring the diminutive cantons of Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium, for example, Mr. Wilson insisted on ascertaining the will of the population by plebiscite. In itself the measure was reasonable, but the position of these little districts was substantially on all-fours with Alsace-Lorraine, which was restored to France without any such test. In Fiume, also, the will of the inhabitants went for nothing, Mr. Wilson refusing to consult them. Further, Austria, whose people were known to favor union with Germany, was systematically jockeyed into ruinous isolation. "Now what, in the light of these conflicting judgments," asked the Belgians, "is the true meaning of the principle of self-determination?" The only reply they received was that Mr. Wilson was right when he told his fellow-countrymen that his principles stood in need of interpretation, and that, as he was the sole authorized interpreter, his presence was required in Europe.

In money matters, too, the chief plenipotentiaries can hardly be acquitted of something akin to niggardliness toward the country which had saved theirs from a catastrophe. Down to the month of May, 1921, two and a half milliard francs was the maximum sum allotted to Belgium by the Supreme Council. And for the work of restoring the devastated country, which the Great Powers had spontaneously promised to accomplish, it was alleged by experts to be wholly inadequate. Other financial grievances were ignored-for a time. Further, it was decided that Germany should surrender her African colonies to the Great Powers; yet Belgium, who contributed materially to their conquest, was not to be associated with them.

Irritated by this illiberality, the Belgian delegation, having consulted with M. Renkin, to whose judgment in these matters special weight attached, resolved to make a firm stand, and refused to sign the Treaty unless at least certain modest financial, economic, and colonial claims, which ought to have been settled spontaneously, were accorded under pressure. And the Supreme Council, rather than be arraigned before the world on the charge of behaving unjustly as well as ungenerously toward Belgium, ultimately gave way, leaving, however, an impression behind which seemed as indelible as it was profound....

The domination which is now being exercised by the principal Powers over the remaining states of the world is fraught with consequences which were not foreseen, and have not yet been realized by those who established it. Among the least momentous, but none the less real, is one to which Belgium is exposed. Hitherto there was a language problem in that heroic country which, being an internal controversy, could be settled without noteworthy perturbations by the good-will of the Walloons and the Flemings. The danger, which one fervently hopes will be warded off, consists in the possible transformation of that dispute into an international question, in consequence of possible accords of a military or economic nature. The subject is too delicate to be handled by a foreigner, and the Belgian people are too practical and law-loving not to avoid unwary steps that might turn a linguistic problem into a racial issue.

The Supreme Council soon came to be looked upon as the prototype of the future League, and in that light its action was sharply scrutinized by all whom the League concerned. Foremost among these were the representatives of the lesser states, or, as they were termed, "states with limited interests." This band of patriots had pilgrimaged to Paris full of hope for their respective countries, having drunk in avidly the unstinted praise and promises which had served as pabulum for their attachment to the Allied cause during the war. But their illusions were short-lived. At one of their first meetings with the delegates of the Great Powers a storm burst which scattered their expectations to the winds. When the sky cleared it was discovered that from indispensable fellow-workers they had shrunk to dwarfish protégées, mere units of an inferior category, who were to be told what to do and would be constrained to do it thoroughly if not unmurmuringly.

At the historic sitting of January 26th, the delegates of the lesser states protested energetically against the purely decorative part assigned to them at a Conference in the decisions of which their peoples were so intensely interested. The Canadian Minister, having spoken of the "proposal" of the Great Powers, was immediately corrected by M. Clemenceau, who brusquely said that it was not a proposal, but a decision, which was therefore definitive and final. Thereupon the Belgian delegate, M. Hymans, delivered a masterly speech, pleading for genuine discussion in order to elucidate matters that so closely concerned them all, and he requested the Conference to allow the smaller belligerent Allies more than two delegates. Their demand was curtly rejected by the French Premier, who informed his hearers that the Conference was the creation of the Great Powers, who intended to keep the direction of its labors in their own hands. He added significantly that the smaller nations' representatives would probably not have been invited at all if the special problem of the League of Nations had not been mooted. Nor should it be forgotten, he added, that the five Great Powers represented no less than twelve million fighting-men.... In conclusion, he told them that they had better get on with their work in lieu of wasting precious time in speechmaking. These words produced a profound and lasting effect, which, however, was hardly the kind intended by the French statesman.

"Conferential Tsarism" was the term applied to this magisterial method by one of the offended delegates. He said to me on the morrow: "My reply to M. Clemenceau was ready, but fear of impairing the prestige of the Conference prevented me from uttering it. I could have emphasized the need for unanimity in the presence of vigilant enemies, ready to introduce a wedge into every fissure of the edifice we are constructing. I could have pointed out that, this being an assembly of nations which had waged war conjointly, there is no sound reason why its membership should be diluted with states which never drew the sword at all. I might have asked what has become of the doctrine preached when victory was still undecided, that a league of nations must repose upon a free consent of all sovereign states. And above all things else I could have inquired how it came to pass that the architect-in-chief of the society of nations which is to bestow a stable peace on mankind should invoke the argument of force, of militarism, against the pacific peoples who voluntarily made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of humanity and now only ask for a hearing. Twelve million fighting-men is an argument to be employed against the Teutons, not against the peace-loving, law-abiding peoples of Europe.

"Premier Clemenceau seemed to lay the blame for the waste of time on our shoulders, but the truth is that we were never admitted to the deliberations until yesterday; although two and one-half months have elapsed since the armistice was concluded, and although the progress made by these leading statesmen is manifestly limited, he grudged us forty-five minutes to give vent to our views and wishes.

"The French Tiger was admirable when crushing the enemies of civilization with his twelve million fighting-men; but gestures and actions which were appropriate to the battlefield become sources of jarring and discord when imported into a concert of peoples."

Much bitterness was generated by those high-handed tactics, whereupon certain slight concessions were made in order to placate the offended delegates; but, being doled out with a bad grace, they failed of the effect intended. Belgium received three delegates instead of two, and Jugoslavia three; but Rumania, whose population was estimated at fourteen millions, was allowed but two. This inexplicable decision caused a fresh wound, which was kept continuously open by friction, although it might readily have been avoided. Its consequences may be traced in Rumania's singular relations to the Supreme Council before and after the fall of Kuhn in Hungary.

But even those drastic methods might be deemed warranted if the policy enforced were, in truth, conducive to the welfare of the nations on whom it was imposed. But hastily improvised by one or two men, who had no claim to superior or even average knowledge of the problems involved, and who were constantly falling into egregious and costly errors, it was inevitable that their intervention should be resented as arbitrary and mischievous by the leaders of the interested nations whose acquaintanceship with those questions and with the interdependent issues was extensive and precise. This resentment, however, might have been not, indeed, neutralized, but somewhat mitigated, if the temper and spirit in which the Duumvirate discharged its self-set functions had been free from hauteur and softened by modesty. But the magisterial wording in which its decisions were couched, the abruptness with which they were notified, and the threats that accompanied their imposition would have been repellent even were the authors endowed with infallibility.

One of the delegates who unbosomed himself to me on the subject soon after the Germans had signed the Treaty remarked: "The Big Three are superlatively unsympathetic to most of the envoys from the lesser belligerent states. And it would be a wonder if it were otherwise, for they make no effort to hide their disdain for us. In fact, it is downright contempt. They never consult us. When we approach them they shove us aside as importunate intruders. They come to decisions unknown to us, and carry them out in secrecy, as though we were enemies or spies. If we protest or remonstrate, we are imperialists and ungrateful.

"Often we learn only from the newspapers the burdens or the restrictions that have been imposed on us."

A couple of days previously M. Clemenceau, in an unofficial reply to a question put by the Rumanian delegation, directed them to consult the financial terms of the Treaty with Austria, forgetting that the delegates of the lesser states had not been allowed to receive or read those terms. Although communicated to the Austrians, they were carefully concealed from the Rumanians, whom they also concerned. At the same time, the Rumanian government was called upon to take and announce a decision which presupposed acquaintanceship with those conditions, whereupon the Rumanian Premier telegraphed from Bucharest to Paris to have them sent. But his locum tenens did not possess a copy and had no right to demand one.[140] Incongruities of this character were frequent.

One statesman in Paris, who enjoys a world-wide reputation, dissented from those who sided with the lesser states. He looked at their protests and tactics from an angle of vision which the unbiased historian, however emphatically he may dissent from it, cannot ignore. He said: "All the smaller communities are greedy and insatiable. If the chiefs of the World Powers had understood their temper and ascertained their aspirations in 1914, much that has passed into history since then would never have taken place. During the war these miniature countries were courted, flattered, and promised the sun and the moon, earth and heaven, and all the glories therein. And now that these promises cannot be redeemed, they are wroth, and peevishly threaten the great states with disobedience and revolt. This, it is true, they could not do if the latter had not forfeited their authority and prestige by allowing their internal differences, hesitations, contradictions, and repentances to become manifest to all. To-day it is common knowledge that the Great Powers are amenable to very primitive incentives and deterrents. If in the beginning they had been united and said to their minor brethren: 'These are your frontiers. These your obligations,' the minor brethren would have bowed and acquiesced gratefully. In this way the boundary problems might have been settled to the satisfaction of all, for each new or enlarged state would have been treated as the recipient of a free gift from the World Powers. But the plenipotentiaries went about their task in a different and unpractical fashion. They began by recognizing the new communities, and then they gave them representatives at the Conference. This they did on the ground that the League of Nations must first be founded, and that all well-behaved belligerents on the Allied side have a right to be consulted upon that. And, finally, instead of keeping to their program and liquidating the war, they mingled the issues of peace with the clauses of the League and debated them simultaneously. In these debates they revealed their own internal differences, their hesitancy, and the weakness of their will. And the lesser states have taken advantage of that. The general results have been the postponement of peace, the physical exhaustion of the Central Empires, and the spread of Bolshevism."

It should not be forgotten that this mixture of the general and the particular of the old order and the new was objected to on other grounds. The Italians, for example, urged that it changed the status of a large number of their adversaries into that of highly privileged Allies. During the war they were enemies, before the peace discussions opened they had obtained forgiveness, after which they entered the Conference as cherished friends. The Italians had waged their war heroically against the Austrians, who inflicted heavy losses on them. Who were these Austrians? They were composed of the various nationalities which made up the Hapsburg monarchy, and in especial of men of Slav speech. These soldiers, with notable exceptions, discharged their duty to the Austrian Emperor and state conscientiously, according to the terms of their oath. Their disposition toward the Italians was not a whit less hostile than was that of the common German man against the French and the English. Why, then, argued the Italians, accord them privileges over the ally who bore the brunt of the fight against them? Why even treat the two as equals? It may be replied that the bulk of the people were indifferent and merely carried out orders. Well, the same holds good of the average German, yet he is not being spoiled by the victorious World Powers. But the Croats and others suddenly became the favorite children of the Conference, while the Germans and Teuton-Austrians, who in the meanwhile had accepted and fulfilled President Wilson's conditions for entry into the fellowship of nations, were not only punished heavily-which was perfectly just-but also disqualified for admission into the League, which was inconsistent.

The root of all the incoherences complained of lay in the circumstance that the chiefs of the Great Powers had no program, no method; Mr. Wilson's pristine scheme would have enabled him to treat the gallant Serbs and their Croatian brethren as he desired. But he had failed to maintain it against opposition. On the other hand, the traditional method of the balance of power would have given Italy all that she could reasonably ask for, but Mr. Wilson had partially destroyed it. Nothing remained then but to have recourse to a tertium quid which profoundly dissatisfied both parties and imperiled the peace of the world in days to come. And even this makeshift the eminent plenipotentiaries were unable to contrive single-handed. Their notion of getting the work done was to transfer it to missions, commissions, and sub-commissions, and then to take action which, as often as not, ran counter to the recommendations of these selected agents. Oddly enough, none of these bodies received adequate directions. To take a concrete example: a central commission was appointed to deal with the Polish frontier problems, a second commission under M. Jules Cambon had to study the report on the Polish Delimitation question, but although often consulted, it was seldom listened to. Then there was a third commission, which also did excellent work to very little purpose. Now all the questions which formed the subjects of their inquiries might be approached from various sides. There were historical frontiers, ethnographical frontiers, political and strategical and linguistic frontiers. And this does not exhaust the list. Among all these, then, the commissioners had to choose their field of investigation as the spirit moved them, without any guidance from the Supreme Council, which presumably did not know what it wanted.

As an example of the Council's unmethodical procedure, and of its slipshod way of tackling important work, the following brief sketch of a discussion which was intended to be decisive and final, but ended in mere waste of time, may be worth recording. The topic mooted was disarmament. The Anglo-Saxon plenipotentiaries, feeling that they owed it to their doctrines and their peoples to ease the military burdens of the latter and lessen temptations to acts of violence, favored a measure by which armaments should be reduced forthwith. The Italian delegates had put forward the thesis, which was finally accepted, that if Austria, for instance, was to be forbidden to keep more than a certain number of troops under arms, the prohibition should be extended to all the states of which Austria had been composed, and that in all these cases the ratio between the population and the army should be identical. Accordingly, the spokesmen of the various countries interested were summoned to take cognizance of the decision and intimate their readiness to conform to it.

M. Paderewski listened respectfully to the decree, and then remarked: "According to the accounts received from the French military authorities, Germany still has three hundred and fifty thousand soldiers in Silesia." "No," corrected M. Clemenceau, "only three hundred thousand." "I accept the correction," replied the Polish Premier. "The difference, however, is of no importance to my contention, which is that according to the symptoms reported we Poles may have to fight the Germans and to wage the conflict single-handed. As you know, we have other military work on hand. I need only mention our strife with the Bolsheviki. If we are deprived of effective means of self-defense, on the one hand, and told to expect no help from the Allies, on the other hand, the consequence will be what every intelligent observer foresees. Now three hundred thousand Germans is no trifle to cope with. If we confront them with an inadequate force and are beaten, what then?" "Undoubtedly," exclaimed M. Clemenceau, "if the Germans were victorious in the east of Europe the Allies would have lost the war. And that is a perspective not to be faced."

M. Bratiano spoke next. "We too," he said, "have to fight the Bolsheviki on more than one front. This struggle is one of life and death to us. But it concerns, if only in a lesser degree, all Europe, and we are rendering services to the Great Powers by the sacrifices we thus offer up. Is it desirable, is it politic, to limit our forces without reference to these redoubtable tasks which await them? Is it not incumbent on the Powers to allow these states to grow to the dimensions required for the discharge of their functions?" "What you advance is true enough for the moment," objected M. Clemenceau; "but you forget that our limitations are not to be applied at once. We fix a term after the expiry of which the strength of the armies will be reduced. We have taken all the circumstances into account." "Are you prepared to affirm," queried the Rumanian Minister, "that you can estimate the time with sufficient precision to warrant our risking the existence of our country on your forecast?" "The danger will have completely disappeared," insisted the French Premier, "by January, 1921." "I am truly glad to have this assurance," answered M. Bratiano, "for I doubt not that you are quite certain of what you advance, else you would not stake the fate of your eastern allies on its correctness. But as we who have not been told the grounds on which you base this calculation are asked to manifest our faith in it by incurring the heaviest conceivable risks, would it be too much to suggest that the Great Powers should show their confidence in their own forecast by guaranteeing that if by the insurgence of unexpected events they proved to be mistaken and Rumania were attacked, they would give us prompt and adequate military assistance?" To this appeal there was no affirmative response; whereupon M. Bratiano concluded: "The limitation of armaments is highly desirable. No people is more eager for it than ours. But it has one limitation which must, I venture to think, be respected. So long as you have a restive or dubious neighbor, whose military forces are subjected neither to limitation nor control, you cannot divest yourself of your own means of self-defense. That is our view of the matter."

Months later the same difficulty cropped up anew, this time in a concrete form, and was dealt with by the Supreme Council in its characteristic manner. Toward the end of August Rumania's doings in Hungary and her alleged designs on the Banat alarmed and angered the delegates, whose authority was being flouted with impunity; and by way of summarily terminating the scandal and preventing unpleasant surprises M. Clemenceau proposed that all further consignments of arms to Rumania should cease. Thereupon Italy's chief representative, Signor Tittoni, offered an amendment. He deprecated, he said, any measure leveled specially against Rumania, all the more that there existed already an enactment of the old Council of Four limiting the armaments of all the lesser states. The Military Council of Versailles, having been charged with the study of this matter, had reached the conclusion that the Great Powers should not supply any of the governments with war material. Signor Tittoni was of the opinion, therefore, that those conclusions should now be enforced.

The Council thereupon agreed with the Italian delegate, and passed a resolution to supply none of the lesser countries with war material. And a few minutes later it passed another resolution authorizing Germany to cede part of her munitions and war material to Czechoslovakia and some more to General Yudenitch![141]

When the commissions to which all the complex problems had to be referred were being first created,[142] the lesser states were allowed only five representatives on the Financial and Economic commissions, and were bidden to elect them. The nineteen delegates of these States protested on the ground that this arrangement would not give them sufficient weight in the councils by which their interests would be discussed. These malcontents were headed by Senhor Epistacio Pessoa, the President-elect of the United States of Brazil. The Polish delegate, M. Dmowski, addressing the meeting, suggested that they should not proceed to an election, the results of which might stand in no relation to the interests which the states represented had in matters of European finance, but that they should ask the Great Powers to appoint the delegates. To this the President-elect of Brazil demurred, taking the ground that it would be undignified for the lesser states to submit to have their spokesman nominated by the greater. Thereupon they elected five delegates, all of them from South American countries, to deal with European finance, leaving the Europeans to choose five from among themselves. This would have given ten in all to the communities whose interests were described as limited, and was an affront to the Great Powers.

This comedy was severely judged and its authors reprimanded by the heads of the Conference, who, while quashing the elections, relented to the extent of promising that extra delegates might be appointed for the lesser nations later on. As a matter of fact, the number of commissions was of no real consequence, because on all momentous issues their findings, unless they harmonized with the decisions of the chief plenipotentiaries, were simply ignored.

The curious attitude of the Supreme Council toward Rumania may be contemplated from various angles of vision. But the safest coign of vantage from which to look at it is that formed by the facts.

Rumania's grievances were many, and they began at the opening of the Conference, when she was refused more than two delegates as against the five attributed to each of the Great Powers and three each for Serbia and Belgium, whose populations are numerically inferior to hers. Then her treaty with Great Britain, France, and Russia, on the strength of which she entered the war, was upset by its more powerful signatories as soon as the frontier question was mooted at the Conference. Further, the existence of the Rumanian delegation was generally ignored by the Supreme Council. Thus, when the treaty with Germany was presented to Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau, a mere journalist[143] at the Conference possessed a complete copy, whereas the Rumanian delegation, headed by the Prime Minister Bratiano, had cognizance only of an incomplete summary. When the fragmentary treaty was drafted for Austria, the Rumanian delegation saw the text only on the evening before the presentation, and, noticing inacceptable clauses, formulated reservations. These reservations were apparently acquiesced in by the members of the Supreme Council. That, at any rate, was the impression of MM. Bratiano and Misu. But on the following day, catching a glimpse of the draft, they discovered that the obnoxious provisions had been left intact. Then they lodged their reserves in writing, but to no purpose. One of the obligations imposed on Rumania by the Powers was a promise to accept in advance any and every measure that the Supreme Council might frame for the protection of minorities in the country, and for further restricting the sovereignty of the state in matters connected with the transit of Allied goods. And, lastly, the Rumanians complained that the action of the Supreme Council was creating a dangerous ferment in the Dobrudja, and even in Transylvania, where the Saxon minority, which had willingly accepted Rumanian sway, was beginning to agitate against it. In Bessarabia the non-Rumanian elements of the population were fiercely opposing the Rumanians and invoking the support of the Peace Conference. The cardinal fact which, in the judgment of the Rumanians, dominated the situation was the quasi ultimatum presented to them in the spring, when they were summoned unofficially and privately to grant industrial concessions to a pushing body of financiers, or else to abide by the consequences, one of which, they were told, would be the loss of America's active assistance. They had elected to incur the threatened penalty after having carefully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of laying the matter before President Wilson himself, and inquiring officially whether the action in question was-as they felt sure it must be-in contradiction with the President's east European policy. For it would be sad to think that abundant petroleum might have washed away many of the tribulations which the Rumanians had afterward to endure, and that loans accepted on onerous conditions would, as was hinted, have softened the hearts of those who had it in their power to render the existence of the nation sour or sweet.[144] "Look out," exclaimed a Rumanian to me. "You will see that we shall be spurned as Laodiceans, or worse, before the Conference is over." Rumania's external situation was even more perilous than her domestic plight. Situated between Russia and Hungary, she came more and more to resemble the iron between the hammer and the anvil. A well-combined move of the two anarchist states might have pulverized her. Alive to the danger, her spokesmen in Paris were anxious to guard against it, but the only hope they had at the moment was centered in the Great Powers, whose delegates at the Conference were discharging the functions which the League of Nations would be called on to fulfil whenever it became a real institution. And their past experience of the Great Powers' mode of action was not calculated to command their confidence. It was the Great Powers which, for their own behoof and without the slightest consideration for the interests of Rumania, had constrained that country to declare war against the Central Empires[145] and had made promises of effective support in the shape of Russian troops, war material of every kind, officers, and heavy artillery. But neither the promises of help nor the assurances that Germany's army of invasion would be immobilized were redeemed, and so far as one can now judge they ought never to have been made. For what actually came to pass-the invasion of the country by first-class German armies under Mackensen-might easily have been foreseen, and was actually foretold.[146] The entire country was put to sack, and everything of value that could be removed was carried off to Hungary, Germany, or Austria. The Allies lavished their verbal sympathies on the immolated nation, but did little else to succor it, and want and misery and disease played havoc with the people.

After the armistice things became worse instead of better. The Hungarians were permitted to violate the conditions and keep a powerful army out of all proportion to the area which they were destined to retain, and as the Allies disposed of no countering force in eastern Europe, their commands were scoffed at by the Budapest Cabinet. In the spring of 1919 the Bolshevists of Hungary waxed militant and threatened the peace of Rumania, whose statesmen respectfully sued for permission to occupy certain commanding positions which would have enabled their armies to protect the land from invasion. But the Duumviri in Paris negatived the request. They fancied that they understood the situation better than the people on the spot. Thereupon the Bolshevists, ever ready for an opportunity, seized upon the opening afforded them by the Supreme Council, attacked the Rumanians, and invaded their territory. Nothing abashed, the two Anglo-Saxon statesmen comforted M. Bratiano and his colleagues with the expression of their regret and the promise that tranquillity would not again be disturbed. The Supreme Council would see to that. But this promise, like those that preceded it, was broken.

The Rumanians went so far as to believe that the Supreme Council either had Bolshevist leanings or underwent secret influences-perhaps unwittingly-the nature of which it was not easy to ascertain. In support of these theories they urged that when the Rumanians were on the very point of annihilating the Red troops of Kuhn, it was the Supreme Council which interposed its authority to save them, and did save them effectually, when nothing else could have done it. That Kuhn was on the point of collapsing was a matter of common knowledge. A radio-telegram flashed from Budapest by one of his lieutenants contained this significant avowal: "He [Kuhn] has announced that the Hungarian forces are in flight. The troops which occupied a good position at the bridgehead of Gomi have abandoned it, carrying with them the men who were doing their duty. In Budapest preparations are going forward for equipping fifteen workmen's battalions." In other words, the downfall of Bolshevism had begun. The Rumanians were on the point of achieving it. Their troops on the bank of the river Tisza[147] were preparing to march on Budapest. And it was at that critical moment that the world-arbiters at the Conference who had anathematized the Bolshevists as the curse of civilization interposed their authority and called a halt. If they had solid grounds for intervening they were not avowed. M. Clemenceau sent for M. Bratiano and vetoed the march in peremptory terms which did scant justice to the services rendered and the sacrifices made by the Rumanian state. Secret arrangements, it was whispered, had been come to between agents of the Powers and Kuhn. At the time nobody quite understood the motive of the sudden change of disposition evinced by the Allies toward the Magyar Bolshevists. For it was assumed that they still regarded the Bolshevist leaders as outlaws. One explanation was that they objected to allow the Rumanian army alone to occupy the Hungarian capital. But that would not account for their neglect to despatch an Inter-Allied contingent to restore order in the city and country. For they remained absolutely inactive while Kuhn's supporters were rallying and consolidating their scattered and demoralized forces, and they kept the Rumanians from balking the Bolshevist work of preparing another attack. As one of their French critics[148] remarked, they dealt exclusively in negatives-some of them pernicious enough, whereas a positive policy was imperatively called for. To reconstruct a nation, not to say a ruined world, a series of contradictory vetoes is hardly sufficient. But another explanation of their attitude was offered which gained widespread acceptance. It will be unfolded presently.

The dispersed Bolshevist army, thus shielded, soon recovered its nerve, and, feeling secure on the Rumanian front, where the Allies held the invading troops immobilized, attacked the Slovaks and overran their country. For Bolshevism is by nature proselytizing. The Prague Cabinet was dismayed. The new-born Czechoslovak state was shaken. A catastrophe might, as it seemed, ensue at any moment. Rumania's troops were on the watch for the signal to resume their march, but it came not. The Czechoslovaks were soliciting it prayerfully. But the weak-kneed plenipotentiaries in Paris were minded to fight, if at all, with weapons taken from a different arsenal. In lieu of ordering the Rumanian troops to march on Budapest, they addressed themselves to the Bolshevist leader, Kuhn, summoned him to evacuate the Slovak country, and volunteered the promise that they would compel the Rumanians to withdraw. This amazing line of action was decided on by the secret Council of Three without the assent or foreknowledge of the nation to whose interests it ran counter and the head of whose government was rubbing shoulders with the plenipotentiaries every day. But M. Bratiano's existence and that of his fellow-delegate was systematically ignored. It is not easy to fathom the motives that inspired this supercilious treatment of the spokesman of a nation which was sacrificing its sons in the service of the Allies as well as its own. Personal antipathy, however real, cannot be assumed without convincing grounds to have been the mainspring.

But there was worse than the contemptuous treatment of a colleague who was also the chief Minister of a friendly state. If an order was to be given to the Rumanian government to recall its forces from the front which they occupied, elementary courtesy and political tact as well as plain common sense would have suggested its being communicated, in the first instance, to the chief of that government-who was then resident in Paris-as head of his country's delegation to the Conference. But that was not the course taken. The statesmen of the Secret Council had recourse to the radio, and, without consulting M. Bratiano, despatched a message "to the government in Bucharest" enjoining on it the withdrawal of the Rumanian army. For they were minded scrupulously to redeem their promise to the Bolshevists. One need not be a diplomatist to realize the amazement of "the Rumanian government" on receiving this abrupt behest. The feelings of the Premier, when informed of these underhand doings, can readily be imagined. And it is no secret that the temper of a large section of the Rumanian people was attuned by these petty freaks to sentiments which boded no good to the cause for which the Allies professed to be working. In September M. Bratiano was reported as having stigmatized the policy adopted by the Conference toward Rumania as being of a "malicious and dangerous character."[149]

The frontier to which the troops were ordered to withdraw had, as we saw, just been assigned to Rumania[150] without the assent of her government, and with a degree of secrecy and arbitrariness that gave deep offense, not only to her official representatives, but also to those parliamentarians and politicians who from genuine attachment or for peace' sake were willing to go hand in hand with the Entente. "If one may classify the tree by its fruits," exclaimed a Rumanian statesman in my hearing, "the great Three are unconscious Bolshevists. They are undermining respect for authority, tradition, plain, straightforward dealing, and, in the case of Rumania, are behaving as though their staple aim were to detach our nation from France and the Entente. And this aim is not unattainable. The Rumanian people were heart and soul with the French, but the bonds which were strong a short while ago are being weakened among an influential section of the people, to the regret of all Rumanian patriots."

The answer given by the "Rumanian government in Bucharest" to the peremptory order of the Secret Council was a reasoned refusal to comply. Rumania, taught by terrible experience, declined to be led once more into deadly peril against her own better judgment. Her statesmen, more intimately acquainted with the Hungarians than were Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Wilson, and M. Clemenceau, required guaranties which could be supplied only by armed forces-Rumanian or Allied. Unless and until Hungary received a government chosen by the free will of the people and capable of offering guaranties of good conduct, the troops must remain where they were. For the line which they occupied at the moment could be defended with four divisions, whereas the new one could not be held by less than seven or eight. The Council was therefore about to commit another fateful mistake, the consequences of which it was certain to shift to the shoulders of the pliant people. It was then that Rumania's leaders kicked against the pricks.

To return to the dispute between Bucharest and Paris: the Rumanian government would have been willing to conform to the desire of the Supreme Council and withdraw its troops if the Supreme Council would only make good its assurance and guarantee Rumania effectually from future attacks by the Hungarians. The proviso was reasonable, and as a measure of self-defense imperative. The safeguard asked for was a contingent of Allied force. But the two supreme councilors in Paris dealt only in counters. All they had to offer to M. Bratiano were verbal exhortations before the combat and lip-sympathy after defeat, and these the Premier rejected. But here, as in the case of the Poles, the representatives of the "Allied and Associated" Powers insisted. They were profuse of promises, exhortations, and entreaties before passing to threats-of guaranties they said nothing-but the Rumanian Premier, turning a deaf ear to cajolery and intimidation, remained inflexible. For he was convinced that their advice was often vitiated by gross ignorance and not always inspired by disinterestedness, while the orders they issued were hardly more than the velleities of well-meaning gropers in the dark who lacked the means of executing them.

The eminent plenipotentiaries, thus set at naught by a little state, ruminated on the embarrassing situation. In all such cases their practice had been to resign themselves to circumstances if they proved unable to bend circumstances to their schemes. It was thus that President Wilson had behaved when British statesmen declined even to hear him on the subject of the freedom of the seas, when M. Clemenceau refused to accept a peace that denied the Saar Valley and a pledge of military assistance to France, and when Japan insisted on the retrocession of Shantung. Toward Italy an attitude of firmness had been assumed, because owing to her economic dependence on Britain and the United States she could not indulge in the luxury of nonconformity. Hence the plenipotentiaries, and in particular Mr. Wilson, asserted their will inexorably and were painfully surprised that one of the lesser states had the audacity to defy it.

The circumstance that after their triumph over Italy the world's trustees were thus publicly flouted by a little state of eastern Europe was gall and wormwood to them. It was also a menace to the cause with which they were identified. None the less, they accepted the inevitable for the moment, pitched their voices in a lower key, and decided to approve the Rumanian thesis that Neo-Bolshevism in Hungary must be no longer bolstered up,[151] but be squashed vicariously. They accordingly invited the representatives of the three little countries on which the honor of waging these humanitarian wars in the anarchist east of Europe was to be conferred, and sounded them as to their willingness to put their soldiers in the field, and how many as to the numbers available. M. Bratiano offered eight divisions. The Czechoslovaks did not relish the project, but after some delay and fencing around agreed to furnish a contingent, whereas the Jugoslavs met the demand with a plain negative, which was afterward changed to acquiescence when the Council promised to keep the Italians from attacking them. As things turned out, none but the Rumanians actually fought the Hungarian Reds. Meanwhile the members of the American, British, and Italian missions in Hungary endeavored to reach a friendly agreement with the criminal gang in Budapest.

The plan of campaign decided on had Marshal Foch for its author. It was, therefore, business-like. He demanded a quarter of a million men,[152] to which it was decided that Rumania should contribute 120,000, Jugoslavia 50,000, and Czechoslovakia as many as she could conveniently afford. But the day before the preparations were to have begun,[153] Bela Kuhn flung his troops[154] against the Rumanians with initial success, drove them across the Tisza with considerable loss, took up commanding positions, and struck dismay into the members of the Supreme Council. The Semitic Dictator, with grim humor, explained to the crestfallen lawgivers, who were once more at fault, that a wanton breach of the peace was alien to his thoughts; that, on the contrary, his motive for action deserved high praise-it was to compel the rebellious Rumanians to obey the behest of the Conference and withdraw to their frontiers. The plenipotentiaries bore this gibe with dignity, and decided to have recourse once more to their favorite, and, indeed, only method-the despatch of exhortative telegrams. Of more efficacious means they were destitute. This time their message, which lacked a definite address, was presumably intended for the anti-Bolshevist population of Hungary, whom it indirectly urged to overthrow the Kuhn Cabinet and receive the promised reward-namely, the privilege of entering into formal relations with the Entente and signing the death-warrant of the Magyar state. It is not easy to see how this solution alone could have enabled the Supreme Council to establish normal conditions and tranquillity in the land. But the Duumvirate seemed utterly incapable of devising a coherent policy for central or eastern Europe. Even when Hungary had a government friendly to the Entente they never obtained any advantage from it. They had had no use for Count Karolyi. They had allowed things to slip and slide, and permitted-nay, helped-Bolshevism to thrive, although they had brand-marked it as a virulent epidemic to be drastically stamped out. Temper, education, and training disqualified them for seizing opportunity and pressing the levers that stood ready to their hand.

In consequence of the vacillation of the two chiefs, who seldom stood firm in the face of difficulties, the members of the predatory gang which concealed its alien origin under Magyar nationality and its criminal propensities[155] under a political mask had been enabled to go on playing an odious comedy, to the disgust of sensible people and the detriment of the new and enlarged states of Europe. For the cost of the Supreme Council's weakness had to be paid in blood and substance, little though the two delegates appeared to realize this. The extent to which the ruinous process was carried out would be incredible were it not established by historic facts and documents.

The permanent agents of the Powers in Hungary,[156] preferring conciliation to force, now exhorted the Hungarians to rid themselves of Kuhn and promised in return to expel the Rumanians from Hungarian territory once more and to have the blockade raised. At the close of July some Magyars from Austria met Kuhn at a frontier station[157] and strove to persuade him to withdraw quietly into obscurity, but he, confiding in the policy of the Allies and his star, scouted the suggestion. It was at this juncture that the Rumanians, pushing on to Budapest, resolved, come what might, to put an end to the intolerable situation and to make a clean job of it once for all. And they succeeded.

For Rumania's initial military reverse[158] was the result of a surprise attack by some eighty thousand men. But her troops rapidly regained their warlike spirit, recrossed the river Tisza, shattered the Neo-Bolshevist regime, and reached the environs of Budapest.

By the 1st of August the lawless band that was ruining the country relinquished the reins of power, which were taken over at first by a Socialist Cabinet of which an influential French press organ wrote: "The names of the new ... commissaries of the people tell us nothing, because their bearers are unknown. But the endings of their names tell us that most of them are, like those of the preceding government, of Jewish origin. Never since the inauguration of official communism did Budapest better deserve the appellation of Judapest, which was assigned to it by the late M. Lueger, chief of the Christian Socialists of Vienna. That is an additional trait in common with the Russian Soviets."[159]

The Rumanians presented a stiff ultimatum to the new Hungarian Cabinet. They were determined to safeguard their country and its neighbors from a repetition of the danger and of the sacrifices it entailed; in other words, to dictate the terms of a new armistice. The Powers demurred and ordered them to content themselves with the old one concluded by the Serbian Voyevod Mishitch and General Henrys in November of the preceding year and violated subsequently by the Magyars. But the objections to this course were many and unanswerable. In fact they were largely identical with the objections which the Supreme Council itself had offered to the Polish-Ukrainian armistice. And besides these there were others. For example, the Rumanians had had no hand or part in drafting the old armistice. Moreover it was clearly inapplicable to the fresh campaign which was waged and terminated nine months after it had been drawn up. Experience had shown that it was inadequate to guarantee public tranquillity, for it had not hindered Magyar attacks on the Rumanians and Czechoslovaks. The Rumanians, therefore, now that they had worsted their adversaries, were resolved to disarm them and secure a real peace. They decided to leave fifteen thousand troops for the maintenance of internal order.[160] Rumania's insistence on the delivery of live-stock, corn, agricultural machinery, and rolling-stock for railways was, it was argued, necessitated by want and justified by equity. For it was no more than partial reparation for the immense losses wantonly inflicted on the nation by the Magyars and their allies. Until then no other amends had been made or even offered. The Austrians, Hungarians, and Germans, during their two years' occupation of Rumania, had seized and carried off from the latter country two million five hundred thousand tons of wheat and hundreds of thousands of head of cattle, besides vast quantities of clothing, woo

l, skins, and raw material, while thousands of Rumanian homes were gutted and their contents taken away and sold in the Central Empires. Factories were stripped of their machinery and the railways of their engines and wagons. When Mackensen left there remained in Rumania only fifty locomotives out of the twelve hundred which she possessed before the war. The material, therefore, that Rumania removed from Hungary during the first weeks of the occupation represented but a small part of the quantities of which she had been despoiled during the war.

It was further urged that at the beginning the Rumanian delegates would have contented themselves with reparation for losses wantonly inflicted and for the restitution of the property wrongfully taken from them by their enemies, on the lines on which France had obtained this offset. They had asked for this, but were informed that their request could not be complied with. They were not even permitted to send a representative to Germany to point out to the Inter-Allied authorities the objects of which their nation had been robbed, as though the plunderers would voluntarily give up their ill-gotten stores! It was partly because of these restrictions that the Rumanian authorities resolved to take what belonged to them without more ado. And they could not, they said, afford to wait, because they were expecting an attack by the Russian Bolsheviki and it behooved them to have done with one foe before taking on another. These explanations irritated in lieu of calming the Supreme Council.

"Possibly," wrote the well-informed Temps, "Rumania would have been better treated if she had closed with certain proposals of loans on crushing terms or complied with certain demands for oil concessions."[161] Possibly. But surely problems of justice, equity, and right ought never to have been mixed up with commercial and industrial interests, whether with the connivance or by the carelessness of the holders of a vast trust who needed and should have merited unlimited confidence. It is neither easy nor edifying to calculate the harm which transactions of this nature, whether completed or merely inchoate, are capable of inflicting on the great community for whose moral as well as material welfare the Supreme Council was laboring in darkness against so many obstacles of its own creation. Is it surprising that the states which suffered most from these weaknesses of the potent delegates should have resented their misdirection and endeavored to help themselves as best they could? It may be blameworthy and anti-social, but it is unhappily natural and almost unavoidable. It is sincerely to be regretted that the art of stimulating the nations-about which the delegates were so solicitous-to enthusiastic readiness to accept the Council as the "moral guide of the world" should have been exercised in such bungling fashion.

The Supreme Council then feeling impelled to assert its dignity against the wilfulness of a small nation decided on ignoring alike the service and the disservice rendered by Rumania's action. Accordingly, it proceeded without reference to any of the recent events except the disappearance of the Bolshevist gang. Four generals were accordingly told off to take the conduct of Hungarian affairs into their hands despite their ignorance of the actual conditions of the problem.[162] They were ordered to disarm the Magyars, to deliver up Hungary's war material to the Allies, of whom only the Rumanians and the Czechoslovaks had taken the field against the enemy since the conclusion of the armistice the year before, and they were also to exercise their authority over the Rumanian victors and the Serbs, both of whom occupied Hungarian territory. The Temps significantly remarked that the Supreme Council, while not wishing to deal with any Hungarian government but one qualified to represent the country, "seems particularly eager to see resumed the importation of foreign wares into Hungary. Certain persons appear to fear that Rumania, by retaking from the Magyars wagons and engines, might check the resumption of this traffic."[163]

What it all came to was that the Great Powers, who had left Rumania to her fate when she was attacked by the Magyars, intervened the moment the assailed nation, helping itself, got the better of its enemy, and then they resolved to balk it of the fruits of victory and of the safeguards it would fain have created for the future. It was to rely upon the Supreme Council once more, to take the broken reed for a solid staff. That the Powers had something to urge in support of their interposition will not be denied. They rightly set forth that Rumania was not Hungary's only creditor. Her neighbors also possessed claims that must be satisfied as far as feasible, and equity prompted the pooling of all available assets. This plea could not be refuted. But the credit which the pleaders ought to have enjoyed in the eyes of the Rumanian nation was so completely sapped by their antecedents that no heed was paid to their reasoning, suasion, or promises.

Rumania, therefore, in requisitioning Hungarian property was formally in the wrong. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that she, like other nations, was exasperated by the high-handed action of the Great Powers, who proceeded as though her good-will and loyalty were of no consequence to the pacification of eastern Europe.

After due deliberation the Supreme Council agreed upon the wording of a conciliatory message, not to the Rumanians, but to the Magyars, to be despatched to Lieutenant-Colonel Romanelli. The gist of it was the old refrain, "to carry out the terms of the armistice[164] and respect the frontiers traced by the Supreme Council[165] and we will protect you from the Rumanians, who have no authority from us. We are sending forthwith an Inter-Allied military commission[166] to superintend the disarmament and see that the Rumanian troops withdraw."

It cannot be denied that the Rumanian conditions were drastic. But it should be remembered that the provocation amounted almost to justification. And as for the crime of disobedience, it will not be gainsaid that a large part of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the lawgivers in Paris, whose decrees, coming oracularly from Olympian heights without reference to local or other concrete circumstances, inflicted heavy losses in blood and substance on the ill-starred people of Rumania. And to make matters worse, Rumania's official representatives at the Conference had been not merely ignored, but reprimanded like naughty school-children by a harsh dominie and occasionally humiliated by men whose only excuse was nervous tenseness in consequence of overwork combined with morbid impatience at being contradicted in matters which they did not understand. Other states had contemplated open rebellion against the big ferrule of the "bosses," and more than once the resolution was taken to go on strike unless certain concessions were accorded them. Alone the Rumanians executed their resolve.

Naturally the destiny-weavers of peoples and nations in Paris were dismayed at the prospect and apprehensive lest the Rumanians should end the war in their own way. They despatched three notes in quick succession to the Bucharest government, one of which reads like a peevish indictment hastily drafted before the evidence had been sifted or even carefully read. It raked up many of the old accusations that had been leveled against the Rumanians, tacked them on to the crime of insubordination, and without waiting for an answer-assuming, in fact, that there could be no satisfactory answer-summoned them to prove publicly by their acts that they accepted and were ready to execute in good faith the policy decided upon by the Conference.[167]

That note seemed unnecessarily offensive and acted on the Rumanians as a powerful irritant,[168] besides exposing the active members of the Supreme Council to scathing criticism. The Rumanians asked their Entente friends in private to outline the policy which they were accused of countering, and were told in reply that it was beyond the power of the most ingenious hair-splitting casuist to define or describe. "As for us," wrote one of the stanchest supporters of the Entente in French journalism, "who have followed with attention the labors and the utterances, written and oral, of the Four, the Five, the Ten, of the Supreme and Superior Councils, we have not yet succeeded in discovering what was the 'policy decided by the Conference.' We have indeed heard or read countless discourses pronounced by the choir-masters. They abound in noble thought, in eloquent expositions, in protests, and in promises. But of aught that could be termed a policy we have not found a trace."[169] This verdict will be indorsed by the historian.

The Rumanians seemed in no hurry to reply to the Council's three notes. They were said to be too busy dealing out what they considered rough and ready justice to their enemies, and were impatient of the intervention of their "friends." They seized rolling-stock, cattle, agricultural implements, and other property of the kind that had been stolen from their own people and sent the booty home without much ado. Work of this kind was certain to be accompanied by excesses and the Conference received numerous protests from the aggrieved inhabitants. But on the whole Rumania, at any rate during the first few weeks of the occupation, had the substantial sympathy of the largest and most influential section of the world's press. People declared that they were glad to see the haze of self-righteousness and cant at last dispelled by a whiff of wholesome egotism. From the outspoken comments of the most widely circulating journals in France and Britain the dictators in Paris, who were indignant that the counsels of the strong should carry so little weight in eastern Europe, could acquaint themselves with the impression which their efforts at cosmic legislation were producing among the saner elements of mankind.

In almost every language one could read words of encouragement to the recalcitrant Rumanians for having boldly burst the irksome bonds in which the peoples of the world were being pinioned. "It is our view," wrote one firm adherent of the Entente, "that having proved incapable of protecting the Rumanians in their hour of danger, our alliance cannot to-day challenge the safeguards which they have won for themselves."[170]

"If liberty had her old influence," one read in another popular journal,[171] "the Great Powers would not be bringing pressure to bear on Rumania with the object of saving Hungary from richly deserved punishment." "Instead of nagging the Rumanians," wrote an eminent French publicist, "they would do much better to keep the Turks in hand. If the Turks in despair, in order to win American sympathies, proclaim themselves socialists, syndicalists, or laborists, will President Wilson permit them to renovate Armenia and other places after the manner of Jinghiz Khan?"[172]

But what may have weighed with the Supreme Council far more than the disapproval of publicists were its own impotence, the undignified figure it was cutting, and the injury that was being done to the future League of Nations by the impunity with which one of the lesser states could thus set at naught the decisions of its creators and treat them with almost the same disrespect which they themselves had displayed toward the Rumanian delegates in Paris. They saw that once their energetic representations were ignored by the Bucharest government they were at the end of their means of influencing it. To compel obedience by force was for the time being out of the question. In these circumstances the only issue left them was to make a virtue of necessity and veer round to the Rumanian point of view as unobtrusively as might be, so as to tide over the transient crisis. And that was the course which they finally struck out.

Matters soon came to the culminating point. The members of the Allied Military Mission had received full powers to force the commanders of the troops of occupation to obey the decisions of the Conference, and when they were confronted with M. Diamandi, the ex-Minister to Petrograd, they issued their orders in the name of the Supreme Council. "We take orders here only from our own government, which is in Bucharest," was the answer they received. The Rumanians have a proverb which runs: "Even a donkey will not fall twice into the same quicksand," and they may have quoted it to General Gorton when refusing to follow the Allies after their previous painful experience. Then the mission telegraphed to Paris for further instructions.[173] In the meanwhile the Rumanian government had sent its answer to the three notes of the Council. And its tenor was firm and unyielding. Undeterred by menaces, M. Bratiano maintained that he had done the right thing in sending troops to Budapest, imposing terms on Hungary and re-establishing order. As a matter of fact he had rendered a sterling service to all Europe, including France and Britain. For if Kuhn and his confederates had contrived to overrun Rumania, the Great Powers would have been morally bound to hasten to the assistance of their defeated ally. The press was permitted to announce that the Council of Five was preparing to accept the Rumanian position. The members of the Allied Military Mission were informed that they were not empowered to give orders to the Rumanians, but only to consult and negotiate with them, whereby all their tact and consideration were earnestly solicited.

But the palliatives devised by the delegates were unavailing to heal the breach. After a while the Council, having had no answer to its urgent notes, decided to send an ultimatum to Rumania, calling on her to restore the rolling-stock which she had seized and to evacuate the Hungarian capital. The terms of this document were described as harsh.[174] Happily, before it was despatched the Council learned that the Rumanian government had never received the communications nor seventy others forwarded by wireless during the same period. Once more it had taken a decision without acquainting itself of the facts. Thereupon a special messenger[175] was sent to Bucharest with a note "couched in stern terms," which, however, was "milder in tone" than the ultimatum.

To go back for a moment to the elusive question of motive, which was not without influence on Rumania's conduct. Were the action and inaction of the plenipotentiaries merely the result of a lack of cohesion among their ideas? Or was it that they were thinking mainly of the fleeting interests of the moment and unwilling to precipitate their conceptions of the future in the form of a constructive policy? The historian will do well to leave their motives to another tribunal and confine himself to facts, which even when carefully sifted are numerous and significant enough.

During the progress of the events just sketched there were launched certain interesting accounts of what was going on below the surface, which had such impartial and well-informed vouchers that the chronicler of the Conference cannot pass them over in silence. If true, as they appear to be, they warrant the belief that two distinct elements lay at the root of the Secret Council's dealings with Rumania. One of them was their repugnance to her whole system of government, with its survivals of feudalism, anti-Semitism, and conservatism. Associated with this was, people alleged, a wish to provoke a radical and, as they thought, beneficent change in the entire régime by getting rid of its chiefs. This plan had been successfully tried against MM. Orlando and Sonnino in Italy. Their solicitude for this latter aim may have been whetted by a personal lack of sympathy for the Rumanian delegates, with whom the Anglo-Saxon chiefs hardly ever conversed. It was no secret that the Rumanian Premier found it exceedingly difficult to obtain an audience of his colleague President Wilson, from whom he finally parted almost as much a stranger as when he first arrived in Paris.

It may not be amiss to record an instance of the methods of the Supreme Council, for by putting himself in the place of the Rumanian Premier the reader may the more clearly understand his frame of mind toward that body. In June the troops of Moritz (or Bela) Kuhn had inflicted a severe defeat on the Czechoslavs. Thereupon the Secret Council of Four or Five, whose shortsighted action was answerable for the reverse, decided to remonstrate with him. Accordingly they requested him to desist from the offensive. Only then did it occur to them that if he was to withdraw his armies behind the frontiers, he must be informed where these frontiers were. They had already been determined in secret by the three great statesmen, who carefully concealed them not merely from an inquisitive public, but also from the states concerned. The Rumanian, Jugoslav and Czechoslovak delegates were, therefore, as much in the dark on the subject as were rank outsiders and enemies. But as soon as circumstances forced the hand of all the plenipotentiaries the secret had to be confided to them all.[176] The Hungarian Dictator pleaded that if his troops had gone out of bounds it was because the frontiers were unknown to him. The Czechoslovaks respectfully demurred to one of the boundaries along the river Ipol which it was difficult to justify and easy to rectify. But the Rumanian delegation, confronted with the map, met the decision with a frank protest. For it amounted to the abandonment of one of their three vital irreducible claims which they were not empowered to renounce. Consequently they felt unable to acquiesce in it. But the Supreme Council insisted. The second delegate, M. Misu, was in consequence obliged to start at once for Bucharest to consult with the King and the Cabinet and consider what action the circumstances called for. In the meantime, the entire question, and together with it some of the practical consequences involved by the tentative solution, remained in suspense.

When certain clauses of the Peace Treaty, which, although they materially affected Rumania, had been drafted without the knowledge of her plenipotentiaries, were quite ready, the Rumanian Premier was summoned to take cognizance of them. Their tenor surprised and irritated him. As he felt unable to assent to them, and as the document was to be presented to the enemy in a day or two, he deemed it his duty to mention his objections at once. But hardly had he begun when M. Clemenceau arose and exclaimed, "M. Bratiano, you are here to listen, not to comment." Stringent measures may have been considered useful and dictatorial methods indispensable in default of reasoning or suasion, but it was surely incumbent on those who employed them to choose a form which would deprive them of their sting or make them less personally painful.

For whatever one may think of the wisdom of the policy adopted by the Supreme Council toward the unprivileged states, it would be difficult to justify the manner in which they imposed it. Patience, tact, and suasion are indispensable requisites in men who assume the functions of leaders and guides, yet know that military force alone is inadequate to shape the future after their conception. The delegates could look only to moral power for the execution of their far-reaching plans, yet they spurned the means of acquiring it. The best construction one can put upon their action will represent it as the wrecking of the substance by the form. By establishing a situation of force throughout Europe the Council created and sanctioned the principle that it must be maintained by force.

But the affronted nations did not stop at this mild criticism. They assailed the policy itself, cast suspicion on the disinterestedness of the motives that inspired it, and contributed thereby to generate an atmosphere of distrust in which the frail organism that was shortly to be called into being could not thrive. Contemplated through this distorting medium, one set of delegates was taunted with aiming at a monopoly of imperialism and the other with rank hypocrisy. It is superfluous to remark that the idealism and lofty aims of the President of the United States were never questioned by the most reckless Thersites. The heaviest charges brought against him were weakness of will, exaggerated self-esteem, impatience of contradiction, and a naive yearning for something concrete to take home with him, in the shape of a covenant of peoples.

The reports circulating in the French capital respecting vast commercial enterprises about to be inaugurated by English-speaking peoples and about proposals that the governments of the countries interested should facilitate them, were destructive of the respect due to statesmen whose attachment to lofty ideals should have absorbed every other motive in their ethico-political activity. Thus it was affirmed by responsible politicians that an official representative of an English-speaking country gave expression to the view, which he also attributed to his government, that henceforth his country should play a much larger part in the economic life of eastern Europe than any other nation. This, he added, was a conscious aim which would be steadily pursued, and to the attainment of which he hoped the politicians and their people would contribute. So far this, it may be contended, was perfectly legitimate.

But it was further affirmed, and not by idle quidnuncs, that one of Rumania's prominent men had been informed that Rumania could count on the good-will and financial assistance of the United States only if her Premier gave an assurance that, besides the special privileges to be conferred on the Jewish minority in his country, he would also grant industrial and commercial concessions to certain Jewish groups and firms who reside and do business in the United States. And by way of taking time by the forelock one or more of these firms had already despatched representatives to Rumania to study and, if possible, earmark the resources which they proposed to exploit.

Now, to expand the trade of one's country is a legitimate ambition, and to hold that Jewish firms are the best qualified to develop the resources of Rumania is a tenable position. But to mix up any commercial scheme with the ethical regeneration of Europe is, to put it mildly, impolitic. However unimpeachable the motives of the promoter of such a project, it is certain to damage both causes which he has at heart. But the report does not leave the matter here. It goes on to state that a very definite proposal, smacking of an ultimatum, was finally presented, which set before the Rumanians two alternatives from which they were to choose-either the concessions asked for, which would earn for them the financial assistance of the United States, or else no concessions and no help.

At a Conference, the object of which was the uplifting of the life of nations from the squalor of sordid ambitions backed by brutal force, to ideal aims and moral relationship, haggling and chaffering such as this seemed wholly out of place. It reminded one of "those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting" in the temple of Jerusalem who were one day driven out with "a scourge of small cords." The Rumanians hoped that the hucksters in the latter-day temple of peace might be got rid of in a similar way; one of them suggested boldly asking President Wilson himself to say what he thought of the policy underlying the disconcerting proposal....

The other alleged element of the Supreme Council's attitude needs no qualification. The mystery that enwrapped the orders from the Conference which suddenly arrested the march of the Rumanian and Allied troops, when they were nearing Budapest for the purpose of overthrowing Bela Kuhn, never perplexed those who claimed to possess trustworthy information about the goings-on between certain enterprising officers belonging some to the Allied Army of Occupation and others to the Hungarian forces. One of these transactions is alleged to have taken place between Kuhn himself, who is naturally a shrewd observer and hard bargain-driver, and a certain financial group which for obvious reasons remained nameless. The object of the compact was the bestowal on the group of concessions in the Banat in return for an undertaking that the Bolshevist Dictator would be left in power and subsequently honored by an invitation to the Conference. The plenipotentiaries' command arresting the march against Kuhn and their conditional promise to summon him to the Conference, dovetail with this contract. These undeniable coincidences are humiliating. The nexus between them was discovered and announced before the stipulations were carried out.

The Banat had been an apple of discord ever since the close of hostilities. The country, inhabited chiefly by Rumanians, but with a considerable admixture of Magyar and Saxon elements, is one of the richest unexploited regions in Europe. Its mines of gold, zinc, lead, coal, and iron offer an irresistible temptation to pushing capitalists and their governments, who feel further attracted by the credible announcement that it also possesses oil in quantities large enough to warrant exploitation. It was partly in order to possess herself of these abundant resources and create an accomplished fact that Serbia, who also founded her claim on higher ground, laid hands on the administration of the Banat. But the experiment was disappointing. The Jugoslavs having failed to maintain themselves there, the bargain just sketched was entered into by officers of the Hungarian and Allied armies. For concession-hunters are not fastidious about the nationality or character of those who can bestow what they happen to be seeking.

This stroke of jobbery had political consequences. That was inevitable. For so long as the Banat remained in Rumania or Serbian hands it could not be alienated in favor of any foreign group. Therefore secession from both those states was a preliminary condition to economic alienation. The task was bravely tackled. An "independent republic" was suddenly added to the states of Europe. This amazing creation, which fitted in with the Balkanizing craze of the moment, was the work of a few wire-pullers in which the easy-going inhabitants had neither hand nor part. Indeed, they were hardly aware that the Republic of the Banat had been proclaimed. The amateur state-builders were obliging officers of the two armies, and behind them were speculators and concession-hunters. It was obvious that the new community, as it contained a very small population for an independent state, would require a protector. Its sponsors, who had foreseen this, provided for it by promising to assign the humanitarian r?le of protectress of the Banat Republic to democratic France. And French agents were on the spot to approve the arrangement. Thus far the story, of which I have given but the merest outline.[177]

In this compromising fashion then Bela Kuhn was left for the time being in undisturbed power, and none of his friends had any fear that he would be driven out by the Allies so long as he contrived to hit it off with the Hungarians. Should these turn away from him, however, the cosmopolitan financiers, whose cardinal virtues are suppleness and adaptability, would readily work with his successor, whoever he might be. The few who knew of this quickening of high ideals with low intrigue were shocked by the light-hearted way in which under the ?gis of the Conference a discreditable pact was made with the "enemy of the human race," a grotesque régime foisted on a simple-minded people without consideration for the principle of self-determination, and the very existence of the Czechoslovak Republic imperiled. Indeed, for a brief while it looked as though the Bolshevist forces of the Ukraine and Russia would effect a junction with the troops of Bela Kuhn and shatter eastern Europe to shreds. To such dangerous extent did the Supreme Council indirectly abet the Bolshevist peace-breakers against the Rumanians and Czechoslovak allies.

It was at this conjuncture that a Rumanian friend remarked to me: "The apprehension which our people expressed to you some months ago when they rejected the demand for concessions has been verified by events. Please remember that when striking the balance of accounts."

The fact could not be blinked that in the camp of the Allies there was a serious schism. The partizans of the Supreme Council accused the Bucharest government of secession, and were accused in turn of having misled their Rumanian partners, of having planned to exploit them economically, of having favored their Bolshevist invaders, and pursued a policy of blackmail. The rights and wrongs of this quarrel had best be left to another tribunal. What can hardly be gainsaid is that in a general way the Rumanians-and not these alone-were implicitly classed as people of a secondary category, who stood to gain by every measure for their good which the culture-bearers in Paris might devise. These inferior nations were all incarnate anachronisms, relics of dark ages which had survived into an epoch of democracy and liberty, and it now behooved them to readjust themselves to that. Their institutions must be modernized, their Old World conceptions abandoned, and their people taught to imitate the progressive nations of the West. What the populations thought and felt on the subject was irrelevant, they being less qualified to judge what was good for them than their self-constituted guides and guardians. To the angry voices which their spokesmen uplifted no heed need be paid, and passive resistance could be overcome by coercion. This modified version of Carlyle's doctrine would seem to be at the root of the Supreme Council's action toward the lesser nations generally and in especial toward Rumania.


This frequent misdirection by the Supreme Council, however one may explain it, created an electric state of the political atmosphere among all nations whose interests were set down or treated as "limited," and more than one of them, as we saw, contemplated striking out a policy of passive resistance. As a matter of fact some of them timidly adopted it more than once, almost always with success and invariably with impunity. It was thus that the Czechoslovaks-the most docile of them all-disregarding the injunctions of the Conference, took possession of contentious territory,[178] and remained in possession of it for several months, and that the Jugoslavs occupied a part of the district of Klagenfurt and for a long time paid not the slightest heed to the order issued by the Supreme Council to evacuate it in favor of the Austrians, and that the Poles applied the same tactics to eastern Galicia. The story of this last revolt is characteristic alike of the ignorance and of the weakness of the Powers which had assumed the functions of world-administrators. During the hostilities between the Ruthenians of Galicia and the Poles the Council, taunted by the press with the numerous wars that were being waged while the world's peace-makers were chatting about cosmic politics in the twilight of the Paris conclave, issued an imperative order that an armistice must be concluded at once. But the Poles appealed to events, which swiftly settled the matter as they anticipated. Neither the Supreme Council nor the agents it employed had a real grasp of the east European situation, or of the r?le deliberately assigned to Poland by its French sponsors-that of superseding Russia as a bulwark against Germany in the East-or of the local conditions. Their action, as was natural in these circumstances, was a sequence of gropings in the dark, of incongruous behests, exhortations, and prohibitions which discredited them in the eyes of those on whose trust and docility the success of their mission depended.

Consciousness of these disadvantages may have had much to do with the rigid secrecy which the delegates maintained before their desultory talks ripened into discussions. In the case of Poland, as of Rumania, the veil was opaque, and was never voluntarily lifted. One day[179] the members of the Polish delegation, eager to get an inkling of what had been arranged by the Council of Four about Dantzig, requested M. Clemenceau to apprize them at least of the upshot if not of the details. The French Premier, who has a quizzing way and a keen sense of humor, replied, "On the 26th inst. you will learn the precise terms." But Poland's representative insisted and pleaded suasively for a hint of what had been settled. The Premier finally consented and said, "Tell the General Secretary of the Conference, M. Dutasta, from me, that he may make the desired communication to you." The delegate accordingly repaired to M. Dutasta, preferred his request, and received this reply: "M. Clemenceau may say what he likes. His words do not bind the Conference. Before I consider myself released from secrecy I must have the consent of all his colleagues as well. If you would kindly bring me their express authorization I will communicate the information you demand." That closed the incident.

When the Council finally agreed to a solution, the delegates were convoked to learn its nature and to make a vow of obedience to its decisions. During the first stage of the Conference the representatives of the lesser states had sometimes been permitted to put questions and present objections. But later on even this privilege was withdrawn. The following description of what went on may serve as an illustration of the Council's mode of procedure. One day the Polish delegation was summoned before the Special Commission to discuss an armistice between the Ruthenians of Galicia and the Polish Republic. The late General Botha, a shrewd observer, whose valuable experience of political affairs, having been confined to a country which had not much in common with eastern Europe, could be of little help to him in solving the complex problems with which he was confronted, was handicapped from the outset. Unacquainted with any languages but English and Dutch, the general had to surmount the additional difficulty of carrying on the conversation through an interpreter. The form it took was somewhat as follows:

"It is the wish of the Supreme Council," the chairman began, "that Poland should conclude an armistice with the Ruthenians, and under new conditions, the old ones having lost their force.[180] Are you prepared to submit your proposals?" "This is a military matter," replied the Polish delegate, "and should be dealt with by experts. One of our most competent military authorities will arrive shortly in Paris with full powers to treat with you on the subject. In the meantime, I agree that the old conditions are obsolete and must be changed. I can also mention three provisos without which no armistice is possible: (1) The Poles must be permitted to get into permanent contact with Rumania. That involves their occupation of eastern Galicia. The principal grounds for this demand are that our frontier includes that territory and that the Rumanians are a law-abiding, pacific people whose interests never clash with ours and whose main enemy-Bolshevism-is also ours. (2) The Allies shall purge the Ukrainian army of the Bolshevists, German and other dangerous elements that now pervade it and render peace impossible. (3) The Poles must have control of the oil-fields were it only because these are now being treated as military resources and the Germans are receiving from Galicia, which contains the only supplies now open to them, all the oil they require and are giving the Ruthenians munitions in return, thus perpetuating a continuous state of warfare. You can realize that we are unwilling to have our oil-fields employed to supply our enemies with war material against ourselves." General Botha asked, "Would you be satisfied if, instead of occupying all eastern Galicia at once in order to get into touch with the Rumanians, the latter were to advance to meet you?" "Quite. That would satisfy us as a provisional measure." "But now suppose that the Supreme Council rejects your three conditions-a probable contingency-- what course do you propose to take?" "In that case our action would be swayed by events, one of which is the hostility of the Ruthenians, which would necessitate measures of self-defense and the use of our army. And that would bring back the whole issue to the point where it stands to-day."[181] To the suggestions made by the Polish delegate that the question of the armistice be referred to Marshal Foch, the answer was returned that the Marshal's views carried no authority with the Supreme Council.

General Botha, thereupon adopting an emotional tone, said: "I have one last appeal to make to you. It behooves Poland to lift the question from its present petty surroundings and set it in the larger frame of world issues. What we are aiming at is the overthrow of militarism and the cessation of bloodshed. As a civilized nation Poland must surely see eye to eye with the Supreme Council how incumbent it is on the Allies to put a stop to the misery that warfare has brought down on the world and is now inflicting on the populations of Poland and eastern Galicia." "Truly," replied the Polish delegate, "and so thoroughly does she realize it that it is repugnant to her to be satisfied with a sham peace, a mere pause during which a bloodier war may be organized. We want a settlement that really connotes peace, and our intimate knowledge of the circumstances enables us to distinguish between that and a mere truce. That is the ground of our insistence."

"Bear well in mind," insisted the Boer general, "the friendly attitude of the great Allies toward your country at a critical period of its history. They restored it. They meant and mean to help it to preserve its status. It behooves the Poles to show their appreciation of this friendship in a practical way by deferring to their wishes. Everything they ordain is for your good. Realize that and carry out their schemes." "For their help we are and will remain grateful," was the answer, "and we will go as far toward meeting their wishes as is feasible without actually imperiling their contribution to the restoration of our state. But we cannot blink the facts that their views are sometimes mistaken and their power to realize them generally imaginary. They have made numerous and costly mistakes already, which they now frankly avow. If they persisted in their present plan they would be adding another to the list. And as to their power to help us positively, it is nil. Their initial omission to send a formidable military force to Poland was an irreparable blunder, for it left them without an executive in eastern Europe, where they now can help none of their protégées against their respective enemies. Poles, Rumanians, Jugoslavs are all left to themselves. From the Allies they may expect inspiriting telegrams, but little else. In fact, the utmost they can do is to issue decrees that may or may not be obeyed. Examples are many. They obtained for us by the armistice the right of disembarking troops at Dantzig, and we were unspeakably grateful to them. But they failed to make the Germans respect that right and we had to resign ourselves to abandon it. They ordered the Ukrainians to cease their numerous attacks on us and we appreciated their thoughtfulness. But the order was disobeyed; we were assailed and had no one to look to for help but ourselves. Still we are most thankful for all that they could do. But if we concluded the armistice which you are pleading for, this is what would happen: we should have the Ruthenians arrayed against us on one side and the Germans on the other. Now if the Ruthenians have brains, their forces will attack us at the same time as those of the Germans do. That is sound tactics. But if their strength is only on paper, they will give admission to the Bolsheviki. That is the twofold danger which you, in the name of the Great Powers, are unwillingly endeavoring to conjure up against us. If you admit its reality you cannot blame our reluctance to incur it. On the other hand, if you regard the peril as imaginary, you will draw the obvious consequences and pledge the word of the Great Powers that they will give us military assistance against it should it come?"

If clear thinking and straightforward action has counted for anything, the matter would have been settled satisfactorily then and there. But the Great Powers operated less with argument than with more forcible stimuli. Holding the economic and financial resources of the world in their hands, they sometimes merely toyed with reasoning and proceeded to coerce where they were unable to convince or persuade. One day the chief delegate of one of the states "with limited interests" said to me: "The unvarnished truth is that we are being coerced. There is no milder term to signify this procedure. Thus we are told that unless we indorse the decrees of the Powers, whose interests are unlimited like their assurance, they will withhold from us the supplies of food, raw materials, and money without which our national existence is inconceivable. Necessarily we must give way, at any rate for the time being." Those words sum up the relations of the lesser to the greater Powers.

In the case of Poland the conversation ended thus-General Botha, addressing the delegate, said: "If you disregard the injunctions of the Big Four, who cannot always lay before you the grounds of their policy, you run the risk of being left to your own devices. And you know what that means. Think well before you decide!" Just then, as it chanced, only a part of General Haller's soldiers in France had been transported to their own country,[182] and the Poles were in mortal terror lest the work of conveying the remainder should be interrupted. This, then, was an implicit appeal to which they could not turn a wholly deaf ear. "Well, what is it that the Big Four ask of us?" inquired the delegate. "The conclusion of an armistice with the Ruthenians, also that Poland-as one of the newly created states-should allow the free transit of all the Allied goods through her territory." The delegate expressed a wish to be told why this measure should be restricted to the newly made states. The answer was because it was in the nature of an experiment and should, therefore, not be tried over too large an area. "There is also another little undertaking which you are requested to give-namely, that you will accept and act upon the future decisions of the commission whatever they may be." "Without an inkling of their character?" "If you have confidence in us you need have no misgivings as to that." In spite of the deterrents the Polish delegation at that interview met all these demands with a firm non possumus. It upheld the three conditions of the armistice, rejected the free transit proposal, and demurred to the demand for a promise to bow to all future decisions of a fallible commission. "When the Polish dispute with the Czechoslovaks was submitted to a commission we were not asked in advance to abide by its decision. Why should a new rule be introduced now?" argued the Polish delegates. And there the matter rested for a brief while.

But the respite lasted only a few days, at the expiry of which an envoy called on the members of the Polish delegation and reopened the discussion on new lines. He stated that he spoke on behalf of the Big Four, of whose views and intentions he was the authorized exponent. And doubtless he thought he was. But as a matter of fact the French government had no cognizance of his visit or mission or of the conversation to which it led. He presented arguments before having recourse to deterrents. Poland's situation, he said, called for prudence. Her secular enemy was Germany, with whom it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, ever to cultivate such terms as would conciliate her permanently. All the more reason, therefore, to deserve and win the friendship of her other neighbors, in particular of the Ruthenians. The Polish plenipotentiary met the argument in the usual way, where upon the envoy exclaimed: "Well, to make a long story short, I am here to say that the line of action traced out for your country emanates from the inflexible will of the Great Powers. To this you must bend. If it should lead to hostilities on the part of your neighbors you could, of course, rely on the help of your protectors. Will this not satisfy you?" "If the protection were real it certainly would. But where is it? Has it been vouchsafed at any moment since the armistice? Have the Allied governments an executive in eastern Europe? Are they likely to order their troops thither to assist any of their protégées? And if they issued such an order, would it be obeyed? They cannot protect us, as we know to our cost. That is why we are prepared, in our interests-also in theirs-to protect ourselves."

This remarkable conversation was terminated by the announcement of the penalty of disobedience. "If you persist in refusing the proposals I have laid before you, I am to tell you that the Great Powers will withdraw their aid from your country and may even feel it to be their duty to modify the advantageous status which they had decided to confer upon it." To which this answer was returned: "For the assistance we are receiving we are and will ever be truly grateful. But in order to benefit by it the Polish people must be a living organism and your proposals tend to reduce us to a state of suspended vitality. They also place us at the mercy of our numerous enemies, the greatest of whom is Germany."

But lucid intelligence, backed by unflagging will, was of no avail against the threat of famine. The Poles had to give way. M. Paderewski pledged his word to Messrs. Lloyd George and Wilson that he would have an armistice concluded with the Ruthenians of eastern Galicia, and the Duumvirs rightly placed implicit confidence in his word as in his moral rectitude. They also felt grateful to him for having facilitated their arduous task by accepting the inevitable. To my knowledge President Wilson himself addressed a letter to him toward the end of April, thanking him cordially for the broad-minded way in which he had co-operated with the Supreme Council in its efforts to reconstitute his country on a solid basis. Probably no other representative of a state "with limited interests" received such high mark of approval.

M. Paderewski left Paris for Warsaw, there to win over the Cabinet. But in Poland, where the authorities were face to face with the concrete elements of the problem, the Premier found no support. Neither the Cabinet nor the Diet nor the head of the state found it possible to redeem the promise made in their name. Circumstance was stronger than the human will. M. Paderewski resigned. The Ruthenians delivered a timely attack on the Poles, who counter-attacked, captured the towns of Styra, Tarnopol, Stanislau, and occupied the enemy country right up to Rumania, with which they desired to be in permanent contact. Part of the Ruthenian army crossed the Czech frontier and was disarmed, the remainder melted away, and there remained no enemy with whom to conclude an armistice.

For the "Big Four" this turn of events was a humiliation. The Ruthenian army, whose interests they had so taken to heart, had suddenly ceased to exist, and the future danger which it represented to Poland was seen to have been largely imaginary. Their judgment was at fault and their power ineffectual. Against M. Paderewski's impotence they blazed with indignation. He had given way to their decision and promptly gone to Warsaw to see it executed, yet the conditions were such that his words were treated as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. The Polish Premier, it is true, had tendered his resignation in consequence, but it was refused-and even had it been accepted, what was the retirement of a Minister as compared with the indignity put upon the world's lawgivers who represented power and interests which were alike unlimited? Angry telegrams were flashed over the wires from Paris to Warsaw and the Polish Premier was summoned to appear in Paris without delay. He duly returned, but no new move was made. The die was cast.

A noteworthy event in latter-day Polish history ensued upon that military victory over the Ruthenians of eastern Galicia. The Ukrainian[183] Minister at Vienna was despatched to request the Poles to sign a unilateral treaty with them after the model of that which was arranged by the two Anglo-Saxon states in favor of France. The proposal was that the Ukraine government would renounce all claims to eastern Galicia and place their troops under the supreme command of the Polish generalissimus, in return for which the Poles should undertake to protect the Ukrainians against all their enemies. This draft agreement, while under consideration in Warsaw, was negatived by the Polish delegates in Paris, who saw no good reason why their people should bind themselves to fight Russia one day for the independence of the Ukraine. Another inchoate state which made an offer of alliance to Poland was Esthonia, but its advances were declined on similar grounds. It is manifest, however, that in the new state system alliances are more in vogue than in the old, although they were to have been banished from it.

Throughout all the negotiations that turned upon the future status and the territorial frontiers of Poland the British Premier unswervingly stood out against the Polish claims, just as the President of the United States inflexibly countered those of Italy, and both united to negative those of the Rumanians. Whatever one may think of the merits of these controversies-and various opinions have been put forward with obvious sincerity-there can be but one judgment as to the spirit in which they were conducted. It was a dictatorial spirit, which was intolerant not merely of opposition, but of enlightened and constructive criticism. To the representatives of the countries concerned it seemed made up of bitter prejudice and fierce partizanship, imbibed, it was affirmed, from those unseen sources whence powerful and, it was thought, noxious currents flowed continuously toward the Conference. For none of the affronted delegates credited with a knowledge of the subject either Mr. Lloyd George, who had never heard of Teschen, or Mr. Wilson, whose survey of Corsican politics was said to be so defective. And yet to the activity of men engaged like these in settling affairs of unprecedented magnitude it would be unfair to apply the ordinary tests of technical fastidiousness. Their position as trustees of the world's greatest states, even though they lacked political imagination, knowledge, and experience, entitled them to the high consideration which they generally received. But it could not be expected to dazzle to blindness the eyes of superior men-and the delegates of the lesser states, Venizelos, Dmowski, and Benes, were undoubtedly superior in most of the attributes of statesmanship. Yet they were frequently snubbed and each one made to feel that he was the fifth wheel in the chariot of the Conference. No sacred fame, says Goethe, requires us to submit to contempt, and they winced under it. The Big Three lacked the happy way of doing things which goes with diplomatic tact and engaging manners, and the consequence was that not only were their arguments mistrusted, but even their good faith was, as we saw, momentarily subjected to doubt. "Bitter prejudice, furious antipathy" were freely predicated of the two Anglo-Saxon statesmen, who were rashly accused of attempting by circuitous methods to deprive France of her new Slav ally in eastern Europe. Sweeping recriminations of this character deserve notice only as indicating the spirit of discord-not to use a stronger term-prevailing at a Conference which was professedly endeavoring to knit together the peoples of the planet in an organized society of good-fellowship.

The delegates of the lesser states, to whom one should not look for impartial judgments, formulated some queer theories to explain the Allies' unavowed policy and revealed a frame of mind in no wise conducive to the attainment of the ostensible ends of the Conference. One delegate said to me: "I have no longer the faintest doubt that the firm purpose of the 'Big Two' is the establishment of the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon peoples, which in the fullness of time may be transformed into the hegemony of the United States of North America. Even France is in some respects their handmaid. Already she is bound to them indissolubly. She is admittedly unable to hold her own without their protection. She will become more dependent on them as the years pass and Germany, having put her house in order, regains her economic preponderance on the Continent. This decline is due to the operation of a natural law which diplomacy may retard but cannot hinder. Numbers will count in the future, and then France's r?le will be reduced. For this reason it is her interest that her new allies in eastern Europe should be equipped with all the means of growing and keeping strong instead of being held in the leading-strings of the overlords. But perhaps this tutelage is reckoned one of those means?"

Against Britain in especial the Poles, as we saw, were wroth. They complained that whenever they advanced a claim they found her first delegate on their path barring their passage, and if Mr. Wilson chanced to be with them the British Premier set himself to convert him to his way of thinking or voting. Thus it was against Mr. Lloyd George that the eastern Galician problem had had to be fought at every stage. At the outset the British Premier refused Galicia to Poland categorically and purposed making it an entirely separate state under the League of Nations. This design, of which he made no secret, inspired the insistence with which the armistice with the Ruthenians of Galicia was pressed. The Polish delegates, one of them a man of incisive speech, left no stone unturned to thwart that part of the English scheme, and they finally succeeded. But their opponents contrived to drop a spoonful of tar in Poland's pot of honey by ordering a plebiscite to take place in eastern Galicia within ten or fifteen years. Then came the question of the Galician Constitution. The Poles proposed to confer on the Ruthenians a restricted measure of home rule with authority to arrange in their own way educational and religious matters, local communications, and the means of encouraging industry and agriculture, besides giving them a proportionate number of seats in the state legislature in Warsaw. But again the British delegates-experienced in problems of home rule-expressed their dissatisfaction and insisted on a parliament or diet for the Ukraine invested with considerable authority over the affairs of the province. The Poles next announced their intention to have a governor of eastern Galicia appointed by the President of the Polish Republic, with a council to advise him. The British again amended the proposal and asked that the governor should be responsible to the Galician parliament, but to this the Poles demurred emphatically, and finally it was settled that only the members of his council should be responsible to the provincial legislature. The Poles having suggested that military conscription should be applied to eastern Galicia on the same terms as to the rest of Poland, the British once more joined issue with them and demanded that no troops whatever should be levied in the province. The upshot of this dispute was that after much wrangling the British Commission gave way to the Poles, but made it a condition that the troops should not be employed outside the province. To this the Poles made answer that the massing of so many soldiers on the Rumanian frontier might reasonably be objected to by the Rumanians-and so the amoebean word-game went on in the subcommission. In a word, when dealing with the eastern Galician problem, Mr. Lloyd George played the part of an ardent champion of complete home rule.

To sum up, the Conference linked eastern Galicia with Poland, but made the bonds extremely tenuous, so that they might be severed at any moment without involving profound changes in either country, and by this arrangement, which introduced the provisional into the definitive, a broad field of operations was allotted to political agitation and revolt was encouraged to rear its crest.

The province of Upper Silesia was asked for on grounds which the Poles, at any rate, thought convincing. But Mr. Lloyd George, it was said, declared them insufficient. The subject was thrashed out one day in June when the Polish delegates were summoned before their all-powerful colleagues to be told of certain alterations that had been recently introduced into the Treaty which concerned them to know. They appeared before the Council of Five.[184] President Wilson, addressing the two delegates, spoke approximately as follows: "You claim Silesia on the ground that its inhabitants are Poles and we have given your demand careful consideration. But the Germans tell us that the inhabitants, although Polish by race, wish to remain under German rule as heretofore. That is a strong objection if founded on fact. At present we are unable to answer it. In fact, nobody can answer it with finality but the inhabitants themselves. Therefore we must order a plebiscite among them." One of the Polish delegates remarked: "If you had put the question to the inhabitants fifty years ago they would have expressed their wish to remain with the Germans because at that time they were profoundly ignorant and their national sentiment was dormant. Now it is otherwise. For since then many of them have been educated, and the majority are alive to the issue and will therefore declare for Poland. And if any section of the territory should still prefer German sway to Polish and their district in consequence of your plebiscite becomes German, the process of enlightenment which has already made such headway will none the less go on, and their children, conscious of their loss, will anathematize their fathers for having inflicted it. And then there will be trouble."

Mr. Wilson retorted: "You are assuming more than is meet. The frontiers which we are tracing are provisional, not final. That is a consideration which ought to weigh with you. Besides, the League of Nations will intervene to improve what is imperfect." "O League of Nations, what blunders are committed in thy name!" the delegate may have muttered to himself as he listened to the words meant to comfort him and his countrymen.

Much might have been urged against this proffered solace if the delegates had been in a captious mood. The League of Nations had as yet no existence. If its will, intelligence, and power could indeed be reckoned upon with such confidence, how had it come to pass that its creators, Britain and the United States, deemed them dubious enough to call for a reinforcement in the shape of a formal alliance for the protection of France? If this precautionary measure, which shatters the whole Wilsonian system, was indispensable to one Ally it was at least equally indispensable to another. And in the case of Poland it was more urgent than in the case of France, because if Germany were again to scheme a war of conquest the probability is infinitesimal that she would invade Belgium or move forward on the western front. The line of least resistance, which is Poland, would prove incomparably more attractive. And then? The absence of Allied troops in eastern Europe was one of the principal causes of the wars, tumults, and chaotic confusion that had made nervous people tremble for the fate of civilization in the interval between the conclusion of the armistice and the ratification of the Treaty. In the future the absence of strongly situated Allies there, if Germany were to begin a fresh war, would be more fatal still, and the Polish state might conceivably disappear before military aid from the Allied governments could reach it. Why should the safety of Poland and to some extent the security of Europe be made to depend upon what is at best a gambler's throw?

But no counter-objections were offered. On the contrary, M. Paderewski uttered the soft answer that turneth away wrath. He profoundly regretted the decision of the lawgivers, but, recognizing that it was immutable, bowed to it in the name of his country. He knew, he said, that the delegates were animated by very friendly feelings toward his country and he thanked them for their help. M. Paderewski's colleague, the less malleable M. Dmowski, is reported to have said: "It is my desire to be quite sincere with you, gentlemen. Therefore I venture to submit that while you profess to have settled the matter on principle, you have not carried out that principle thoroughly. Doubtless by inadvertence. Thus there are places inhabited by a large majority of Poles which you have allotted to Germany on the ground that they are inhabited by Germans. That is inconsistent." At this Mr. Lloyd George jumped up from his place and asked: "Can you name any such places?" M. Dmowski gave several names. "Point them out to me on the map," insisted the British Premier. They were pointed out on the map. Twice President Wilson asked the delegate to spell the name Bomst for him.[185] Mr. Lloyd George then said: "Well, those are oversights that can be rectified." "Oh yes," added Mr. Wilson, "we will see to that."[186] M. Dmowski also questioned the President about the plebiscite, and under whose auspices the voting would take place, and was told that there would be an Inter-Allied administration to superintend the arrangements and insure perfect freedom of voting. "Through what agency will that administration work? Is it through the officials?" "Evidently," Mr. Wilson answered. "You are doubtless aware that they are Germans?" "Yes. But the administration will possess the right to dismiss those who prove unworthy of their confidence." "Don't you think," insisted M. Dmowski, "that it would be fairer to withdraw one half of the German bureaucrats and give their places to Poles?" To which the President replied: "The administration will be thoroughly impartial and will adopt all suitable measures to render the voting free." There the matter ended.

The two potentates in council, tackling the future status of Lithuania, settled it in an offhand and singular fashion which at any rate bespoke their good intentions. The principle of self-determination, or what was facetiously termed the Balkanization of Europe, was at first applied to that territory and a semi-independent state created in petto which was to contain eight million inhabitants and be linked with Poland. Certain obstacles were soon afterward encountered which had not been foreseen. One was that all the Lithuanians number only two millions, or say at the most two millions and one hundred thousand. Out of these even the Supreme Council could not make eight millions. In Lithuania there are two and a half million Poles, one and a half million Jews, and the remainder are White Russians.[187] It was recognized that a community consisting of such disparate elements, situated where it now is, could hardly live and strive as an independent state. The Lithuanian Jews, however, were of a different way of thinking, and they opposed the Polish claims with a degree of steadfastness and animation which wounded Poland's national pride and left rankling sores behind.

It is worth noting that the representatives of Russia, who are supposed to clutch convulsively at all the states which once formed part of the Tsardom, displayed a degree of political detachment in respect of Lithuania which came as a pleasant surprise to many. The Russian Ambassador in Paris, M. Maklakoff, in a remarkable address before a learned assembly[188] in the French capital, announced that Russia was henceforward disinterested in the status of Lithuania.

That the Poles were minded to deal very liberally with the Lithuanians became evident during the Conference. General Pilsudski, on his own initiative, visited Vilna and issued a proclamation to the Lithuanians announcing that elections would be held, and asking them to make known their desires, which would be realized by the Warsaw government. One of the many curious documents of the Conference is an official missive signed by the General Secretary, M. Dutasta, and addressed to the first Polish delegate, exhorting him to induce his government to come to terms with the Lithuanian government, as behooves two neighboring states. Unluckily for the soundness of that counsel there was no recognized Lithuanian state or Lithuanian government to come to terms with.

As has been often enough pointed out, the actions and utterances of the two world-menders were so infelicitous as to lend color to the belief-shared by the representatives of a number of humiliated nations-that greed of new markets was at the bottom of what purported to be a policy of pure humanitarianism. Some of the delegates were currently supposed to be the unwitting instruments of elusive capitalistic influences. Possibly they would have been astonished were they told this: Great Britain was suspected of working for complete control of the Baltic and its seaboard in order to oust the Germans from the markets of that territory and to have potent levers for action in Poland, Germany, and Russia. The achievement of that end would mean command of the Baltic, which had theretofore been a German lake.[189] It would also entail, it was said, the separation of Dantzig from Poland, and the attraction of the Finns, Esthonians, Letts, and Lithuanians from Germany's orbit into that of Great Britain. In vain the friends of the delegates declared that economic interests were not the mainspring of their deliberate action and that nothing was further from their intention than to angle for a mandate for those countries. The conviction was deep-rooted in the minds of many that each of the Great Powers was playing for its own hand. That there was some apparent foundation for this assumption cannot, as we saw, be gainsaid. Widely and unfavorably commented was the circumstance that in the heat of those discussions at the Conference a man of confidence of the Allies put this significant and impolitic question to one of the plenipotentiaries: "How would you take it if England were to receive a mandate for Lithuania?"

"The Great Powers," observed the most outspoken of the delegates of the lesser states, "are bandits, but as their operations are on a large scale they are entitled to another and more courteous name. Their gaze is fascinated by markets, concessions, monopolies. They are now making preparations for a great haul. At this politicians cannot affect to be scandalized. For it has never been otherwise since men came together in ordered communities. But what is irritating and repellent is the perfume of altruism and philanthropy which permeates this decomposition. We are told that already they are purchasing the wharves of Dantzig, making ready for 'big deals' in Libau, Riga, and Reval, founding a bank in Klagenfurt and negotiating for oil-wells in Rumania. Although deeply immersed in the ethics of politics, they have not lost sight of the worldly goods to be picked up and appropriated on the wearisome journey toward ideal goals. The atmosphere they have thus renewed is peculiarly favorable to the growth of cant, and tends to accelerate the process of moral and social dissolution. And the effects of this mephitic air may prove more durable than the contribution of its creators to the political reorganization of Europe. If we compare the high functions which they might have fulfilled in relation to the vast needs and the unprecedented tendencies of the new age with those which they have unwittingly and deliberately performed as sophists of sentimental morality and destroyers of the wheat together with the tares, we shall have to deplore one of the rarest opportunities missed beyond retrieve."

In this criticism there is a kernel of truth. The ethico-social currents to which the war gave rise had a profoundly moral aspect, and if rightly canalized might have fertilized many lands and have led to a new and healthy state-system. One indispensable condition, however, was that the peoples of the world should themselves be directly interested in the process, that they should be consulted and listened to, and helped or propelled into new grooves of thought and action. Instead of that the delegates contented themselves with giving new names to old institutions and tendencies which stood condemned, and with teaching lawless disrespect for every check and restraint except such as they chose to acknowledge. They were powerful advocates for right and justice, democracy and publicity, but their definitions of these abstract nouns made plain-speaking people gasp. Self-interest and material power were the idols which they set themselves to pull down, but the deities which they put in their places wore the same familiar looks as the idols, only they were differently colored.


[127] In February, 1919.

[128] The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Pichon, undertook to recognize in principle the independence of Esthonia, provided that Esthonia would take over her part of the Russian debt.

[129] In the first version of the Covenant, Article XIX deals with this subject. In the revised version it is Article XXI.

[130] Cf. L'Echo de Paris, August 19, 1919.

[131] In July, 1919.

[132] L'Echo de Paris, August 19, 1919.

[133] The armistice concluded with Hungary was grossly violated by the Hungarians and had lost its force. The Rumanians, when occupying the country, demanded a new one, and drafted it. The Supreme Council at first demurred, and then desisted from dictation. But its attitude underwent further changes later.

[134] The New York Herald, (Paris ed.), August 20, 1919.

[135] Ibid., May 4, 1919.

[136] I discussed Belgium's demands in a series of special articles published in The London Daily Telegraph and The Philadelphia Public Ledger in the months of January, February, and March, 1919.

[137] In Frisia and Ghelderland.

[138] In August, 1919.

[139] By Article XXI of the Covenant and Article CCCCXXXV of the Treaty.

[140] I was in possession of a complete copy.

[141] Cf. Corriere della Sera, August 24, 1919.

[142] In February.

[143] Cf. Chapter, "Censorship and Secrecy." The writer of these pages was the journalist.

[144] Le Temps, July 8, 1919.

[145] At the close of August, 1916.

[146] I was one of those who at the time maintained that even in the Allies' interests Rumania ought not to enter the war at that conjuncture, and anticipation of that invasion was one of the reasons I adduced.

[147] Also known by the German name of Theiss.

[148] Cf. Le Temps, July 28, 1919.

[149] Cf. The Daily Mail (Paris edition), September 5, 1919.

[150] On June 13, 1919.

[151] On July 11, 1919, some days later, the decision was suspended, owing to the opinion of General Bliss, who disagreed with Foch.

[152] On July 17, 1919.

[153] On July 20th.

[154] Estimated at 85,000.

[155] Moritz Kuhn, who altered his name to Bela Kuhn, was a vulgar criminal. Expelled from school for larceny, he underwent several terms of imprisonment, and is alleged to have pilfered from a fellow-prisoner. Even among some thieves there is no honor.

[156] Italy was represented by Lieutenant-Colonel Romanelli, who resided in Budapest; Britain, by Col. Sir Thomas Cunningham, who was in Vienna, as was also Prince Livio Borghese. Later on the Powers delegated generals to be members of a military mission to the Hungarian capital.

[157] At Bruck.

[158] On July 20th.

[159] Le Journal des Débats, August 4, 1919.

[160] This is a larger proportion than was left to the Germans by the Treaty of Versailles.

[161] Le Temps, July 8, 1919.

[162] It was the habitual practice of the Conference to intrust missions abroad to generals who knew nothing whatever about the countries to which they were sent.

[163] Le Temps, August 8, 1919.

[164] Armistice of November 13, 1918, which had become void.

[165] On June 13, 1919.

[166] Composed of four members, one each for Britain, the United States, France, and Italy.

[167] On July 20th.

[168] Paris journals ascribed it to Mr. Balfour, although it does not bear the hall-mark of a diplomatist.

[169] Le Journal des Débats, August 13, 1919.

[170] Pertinax in L'Echo de Paris, August 10, 1919.

[171] The New York Herald (Paris edition), August 10, 1919.

[172] Le Journal des Débats, August 13, 1919. Article by Auguste Gauvain.

[173] General Gorton is the one who is said to have despatched the telegram.

[174] In the beginning of September, 1919.

[175] The French government having prudently refused to furnish an envoy, the British chose Sir George Clark.

[176] On June 10, 1919.

[177] The actors in this episode were not all officers and civil servants. They included some men in responsible positions.

[178] In Teschen.

[179] On Friday, April 18, 1919.

[180] The Rumanians, on the contrary, had been ordered to keep to the old conditions, although they, too, had lost their force.

[181] That is exactly what happened in the end. But the delegates would not believe it until it became an accomplished fact.

[182] About twenty-five thousand had already left France.

[183] The Ruthenians, Ukrainians, and Little Russians are racially the same people, just as those who speak German in northwestern Germany, Dutch in Holland, and Flemish in Belgium are racially close kindred. The main distinctions between the members of each branch are political.

[184] The Messrs. Wilson, George, Clemenceau, Barons Makino and Sonnino. M. Clemenceau was the nominal chairman, but in reality it was President Wilson who conducted the proceedings.

[185] Bomst is a canton in the former Province (Regierungs-besirk) of Posen, with about sixty thousand inhabitants.

[186] Minutes of this conversation exist.

[187] An interesting Russian tribe, dwelling chiefly in the provinces of Minsk and Grodno (excepting the extreme south), a small part of Suvalki, Vilna (excepting the northwest corner), the entire provinces of Vitebsk and Moghileff, the west part of Smolensk, and a few districts of Tshernigoff.

[188] La Société des études Politiques. The discourse in question was printed and published.

[189] In Germany and Russia the same view was generally taken of the motives that actuated the policy of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The most elaborate attempt to demonstrate its correctness was made by Cr. Bunke, in The Dantziger Neueste Nachrichten, already mentioned in this book.

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