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The Inside Story of the Peace Conference By Emile Joseph Dillon Characters: 90099

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

From the opening of the Conference fundamental differences sprang up which split the delegates into two main parties, of which one was solicitous mainly about the resettlement of the world and its future mainstay, the League of Nations, and the other about the furtherance of national interests, which, it maintained, was equally indispensable to an enduring peace. The latter were ready to welcome the League on condition that it was utilized in the service of their national purposes, but not if it countered them. To bridge the chasm between the two was the task to which President Wilson courageously set his hand. Unluckily, by way of qualifying for the experiment, he receded from his own strong position, and having cut his moorings from one shove, failed to reach the other. His pristine idea was worthy of a world-leader; had, in fact, been entertained and advocated by some of the foremost spirits of modern times. He purposed bringing about conditions under which the pacific progress of the world might be safeguarded in a very large measure and for an indefinite time. But being very imperfectly acquainted with the concrete conditions of European and Asiatic peoples-he had never before felt the pulsation of international life-his ideas about the ways and means were hazy, and his calculations bore no real reference to the elements of the problem. Consequently, with what seemed a wide horizon and a generous ambition, his grasp was neither firm nor comprehensive enough for such a revolutionary undertaking. In no case could he make headway without the voluntary co-operation of the nations themselves, who in their own best interests might have submitted to heavy sacrifices, to which their leaders, whom he treated as true exponents of their will, refused their consent. But he scouted the notion of a world-parliament. Whenever, therefore, contemplating a particular issue, not as an independent question in itself, but as an integral part of a larger problem, he made a suggestion seemingly tending toward the ultimate goal, his motion encountered resolute opposition in the face of which he frequently retreated.

At the outset, on which so much depended, the peoples as distinguished from the governments appeared to be in general sympathy with his principal aim, and it seemed at the time that if appealed to on a clear issue they would have given him their whole-hearted support, provided always that, true to his own principles, he pressed these to the fullest extent and admitted no such invidious distinctions as privileged and unprivileged nations. This belief was confirmed by what I heard from men of mark, leaders of the labor people, and three Prime Ministers. They assured me that such an appeal would have evoked an enthusiastic response in their respective countries. Convinced that the principles laid down by the President during the last phases of the war would go far to meet the exigencies of the conjuncture, I ventured to write on one of the occasions, when neither party would yield to the other: "The very least that Mr. Wilson might now do, if the deadlock continues, is to publish to the world the desirable objects which the United States are disinterestedly, if not always wisely, striving for, and leave the judgment to the peoples concerned."[288]

But he recoiled from the venture. Perhaps it was already too late. In the judgment of many, his assent to the suppression of the problem of the freedom of the seas, however unavoidable as a tactical expedient, knelled the political world back to the unregenerate days of strategical frontiers, secret alliances, military preparations, financial burdens, and the balance of power. On that day, his grasp on the banner relaxing, it fell, to be raised, it may be, at some future time by the peoples whom he had aspired to lead. The contests which he waged after that first defeat had little prospect of success, and soon the pith and marrow of the issue completely disappeared. The utmost he could still hope for was a paper covenant-- which is a different thing from a genuine accord-to take home with him to Washington. And this his colleagues did not grudge him. They were operating with a different cast of mind upon a wholly different set of ideas. Their aims, which they pursued with no less energy and with greater perseverance than Mr. Wilson displayed, were national. Some of them implicitly took the ground that Germany, having plunged the world in war, would persist indefinitely in her nefarious machinations, and must, therefore, in the interests of general peace, be crippled militarily, financially, economically, and politically, for as long a time as possible, while her potential enemies must for the same reason be strengthened to the utmost at her expense, and that this condition of things must be upheld through the beneficent instrumentality of the League of Nations.

On these conflicting issues ceaseless contention went on from the start, yet for lack of a strong personality of sound, over-ruling judgment the contest dragged on without result. For months the demon of procrastination seemed to have possessed the souls of the principal delegates, and frustrated their professed intentions to get through the work expeditiously. Even unforeseen incidents led to dangerous delay. Every passing episode became a ground for postponing the vital issue, although each day lost increased the difficulties of achieving the principal object, which was the conclusion of peace. For example, the committee dealing with the question of reparations would reach a decision, say, that Germany must pay a certain sum, which would entail a century of strenuous effort, accompanied with stringent thrift and self-denial; while the Economic Committee decided that her supply of raw material should be restricted within such narrow limits as to put such payment wholly out of her power. And this difference of view necessitated a postponement of the whole issue. Mr. Hughes, the Premier of Australia, commenting on this shilly-shallying, said with truth:[289] "The minds of the people are grievously perturbed. The long delay, coupled with fears lest that the Peace Treaty, when it does come, should prove to be a peace unworthy, unsatisfactory, unenduring, has made the hearts of the people sick. We were told that the Peace Treaty would be ready in the coming week, but we look round and see half a world engaged in war, or preparation for war. Bolshevism is spreading with the rapidity of a prairie fire. The Allies have been forced to retreat from some of the most fertile parts of southern Russia, and Allied troops, mostly British, at Murmansk and Archangel are in grave danger of destruction. Yet we were told that peace was at hand, and that the world was safe for liberty and democracy. It is not fine phrases about peace, liberty, and making the world safe for democracy that the world wants, but deeds. The peoples of the Allied countries justifiably desire to be reassured by plain, comprehensible statements, instead of long-drawn-out negotiations and the thick veil of secrecy in which these were shrouded."

It requires an effort to believe that procrastination was raised to the level of a theory by men whose experience of political affairs was regarded as a guarantee of the soundness of their judgment. Yet it is an incontrovertible fact that dilatory tactics were seriously suggested as a policy at the Conference. It was maintained that, far from running risks by postponing a settlement, the Entente nations were, on the contrary, certain to find the ground better prepared the longer the day of reckoning was put off. Germany, they contended, had recovered temporarily from the Bolshevik fever, but the improvement was fleeting. The process of decomposition was becoming intenser day by day, although the symptoms were not always manifest. Lack of industrial production, of foreign trade and sound finances, was gnawing at the vitals of the Teuton Republic. The army of unemployed and discontented was swelling. Soon the sinister consequences of this stagnation would take the form of rebellions and revolts, followed by disintegration. And this conjunction would be the opportunity of the Entente Powers, who could then step in, present their bills, impose their restrictions, and knead the Teuton dough into any shape they relished. Then it would be feasible to prohibit the Austrian-Germans from ever entering the Republic as a federated state. In a word, the Allied governments need only command, and the Teutons would hasten to obey. It is hardly credible that men of experience in foreign politics should build upon such insecure foundations as these. It is but fair to say the Conference rejected this singular program in theory while unintentionally carrying it out.

Although everybody admitted that the liquidation of the world conflict followed by a return to normal conditions was the one thing that pressed for settlement, so intent were the plenipotentiaries on preventing wars among unborn generations that they continued to overlook the pressing needs of their contemporaries. It is at the beginning and end of an enterprise that the danger of failure is greatest, and it was the opening moves of the Allies that proved baleful to their subsequent undertakings. Germany, one would think, might have been deprived summarily of everything which was to be ultimately and justly taken from her, irrespective of its final destination. The first and most important operation being the severance of the provinces allotted to other peoples, their redistribution might safely have been left until afterward. And hardly less important was the despatch of an army to eastern Europe. Then Germany, broken in spirit, with Allied troops on both her fronts, between the two jaws of a vise, could not have said nay to the conditions. But this method presupposed a plan which unluckily did not exist. It assumed that the peace terms had been carefully considered in advance, whereas the Allies prepared for war during hostilities, and for peace during the negotiations. And they went about this in a leisurely, lackadaisical way, whereas expedition was the key to success.

As for a durable peace, involving general disarmament, it should have been outlined in a comprehensive program, which the delegates had not drawn up, and it would have become feasible only if the will to pursue it proceeded from principle, not from circumstances. In no case could it be accomplished without the knowledge and co-operation of the peoples themselves, nor within the time-limits fixed for the work of the Conference. For the abolition of war and the creation of a new ordering, like human progress, is a long process. It admits of a variety of beginnings, but one can never be sure of the end, seeing that it presupposes a radical change in the temper of the peoples, one might almost say a remodeling of human nature. It can only be the effect of a variety of causes, mainly moral, operating over a long period of time. Peace with Germany was a matter for the governments concerned; the elimination of war could only be accomplished by the peoples. The one was in the main a political problem, the other social, economical, and ethical.

Mr. Balfour asserted optimistically[290] that the work of concluding peace with Germany was a very simple matter. None the less it took the Conference over five months to arrange it. So desperately slow was the progress of the Supreme Council that on the 213th day of the Peace Conference,[291] two months after the Germans had signed the conditions, not one additional treaty had been concluded, nay, none was even ready for signature. The Italian plenipotentiary, Signor Tittoni, thereupon addressed his colleagues frankly on the subject and asked them whether they were not neglecting their primary duty, which was to conclude treaties with the various enemies who had ceased to fight in November of the previous year and were already waiting for over nine months to resume normal life, and whether the delegates were justified in seeking to discharge the functions of a supreme board for the government of all Europe. He pointed out that nobody could hope to profit by the state of disorder and paralysis for which this procrastination was answerable, the economic effects making themselves felt sooner or later in every country. He added that the cost of the war had been calculated for every month, every week, every day, and that the total impressed every one profoundly; but that nobody had thought it worth his while to count up the atrocious cost of this incredibly slow peace and of the waste of wealth caused every week and month that it dragged on. Italy, he lamented, felt this loss more keenly than her partners because her peace had not yet been concluded. He felt moved, therefore, he said, to tell them that the business of governing Europe to which the Conference had been attending all those months was not precisely the work for which it was convoked.[292]

This sharp and timely admonition was the preamble of a motion. The Conference was just then about to separate for a "well-earned holiday," during which its members might renew their spent energies and return in October to resume their labors, the peoples in the meanwhile bearing the cost in blood and substance. The Italian delegate objected to any such break and adjured them to remain at their posts. Why, he asked, should ill-starred Italy, which had already sustained so many and such painful losses, be condemned to sacrifice further enormous sums in order that the delegates who had been frittering away their time tackling irrelevant issues, and endeavoring to rule all Europe, might have a rest? Why should they interrupt the sessions before making peace with Austria, with Hungary, with Bulgaria, with Turkey, and enabling Italy to return to normal life? Why should time and opportunity be given to the Turks and Kurds for the massacre of Armenian men, women, and children? This candid reminder is said to have had a sobering effect on the versatile delegates yearning for a holiday. The situation that evoked it will arouse the passing wonder of level-headed men.

It is worth recording that such was the atmosphere of suspicion among the delegates that the motives for this holiday were believed by some to be less the need of repose than an unavowable desire to give time to the Hapsburgs to recover the Crown of St. Stephen as the first step toward seizing that of Austria.[293] The Austrians desired exemption from the obligation to make reparations and pay crushing taxes, and one of the delegates, with a leaning for that country, was not averse to the idea. As the states that arose on the ruins of the Hapsburg monarchy were not considered enemies by the Conference, it was suggested that Austria herself should enjoy the same distinction. But the Italian plenipotentiaries objected and Signor Tittoni asked, "Will it perhaps be asserted that there was no enemy against whom we Italians fought for three years and a half, losing half a million slain and incurring a debt of eighty thousand millions?"

A French journal, touching on this Austrian problem, wrote:[294] "Austria-Hungary has been killed and now France is striving to raise it to life again. But Italy is furiously opposed to everything that might lead to an understanding among the new states formed out of the old possessions of the Hapsburgs. That, in fact, is why our transalpine allies were so favorable to the union of Austria with Germany. France on her side, whose one overruling thought is to reduce her vanquished enemy to the most complete impotence, France who is afraid of being afraid, will not tolerate an Austria joined to the German Federation." Here the principle of self-determination went for nothing.

Before the Conference had sat for a month it was angrily assailed by the peoples who had hoped so much from its love of justice-Egyptians, Koreans, Irishmen from Ireland and from America, Albanians, Frenchmen from Mauritius and Syria, Moslems from Aderbeidjan, Persians, Tartars, Kirghizes, and a host of others, who have been aptly likened to the halt and maimed among the nations waiting round the diplomatic Pool of Siloam for the miracle of the moving of the waters that never came.[295]

These peoples had heard that a great and potent world-reformer had arisen whose mission it was to redress secular grievances and confer liberty upon oppressed nations, tribes, and tongues, and they sent their envoys to plead before him. And these wandered about the streets of Paris seeking the intercession of delegates, Ministers, and journalists who might obtain for them admission to the presence of the new Messiah or his apostles. But all doors were closed to them. One of the petitioners whose language was vernacular English, as he was about to shake the dust of Paris from his boots, quoting Sydney Smith, remarked: "They, too, are Pharisees. They would do the Good Samaritan, but without the oil and twopence. How has it come to pass that the Jews without an official delegate commanded the support-the militant support-of the Supreme Council, which did not hesitate to tyrannize eastern Europe for their sake?"

Involuntarily the student of politics called to mind the report written to Baron Hager[296] by one of his secret agents during the Congress of Vienna: "Public opinion continues to be unfavorable to the Congress. On all sides one hears it said that there is no harmony, that they are no longer solicitous about the re-establishment of order and justice, but are bent only on forcing one another's hands, each one grabbing as much as he can.... It is said that the Congress will end because it must, but that it will leave things more entangled than it found them.... The peoples, who in consequence of the success, the sincerity, and the noble-mindedness of this superb coalition had conceived such esteem for their leaders and such attachment to them, and now perceive how they have forgotten what they solemnly promised-justice, order, peace founded on the equilibrium and legitimacy of their possessions-will end by losing their affection and withdrawing their confidence in their principles and their promises."

Those words, written a hundred and five years ago, might have been penned any day since the month of February, 1919.

The leading motive of the policy pursued by the Supreme Council and embodied in the Treaty was aptly described at the time as the systematic protection of France against Germany. Hence the creation of the powerful barrier states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, Greater Rumania, and Greater Greece. French nationalists pleaded for further precautions more comprehensive still. Their contention was that France's economic, strategic, financial, and territorial welfare being the cornerstone of the future European edifice, every measure proposed at the Conference, whether national or general, should be considered and shaped in accordance with that, and consequently that no possibility should be accorded to Germany of rising again to a commanding position because, if she once recovered her ascendancy in any domain whatsoever, Europe would inevitably be thrust anew into the horrors of war. Territorially, therefore, the dismemberment of Germany was obligatory; the annexation of the Saar Valley, together with its six hundred thousand Teuton inhabitants, was necessary to France, and either the annexation of the left bank of the Rhine or its transformation into a detached state to be occupied and administered by the French until Germany pays the last farthing of the indemnity. Further, Austria must be deprived of the right of determining her own mode of existence and constrained to abandon the idea of becoming one of the federated states of the German Republic, and, if possible, northern Germany should be kept entirely separate from southern. The Allies should divide the Teutons in order to sway them. All Germany's other frontiers should be delimitated in a like spirit. And at the same time the work of knitting together the peoples and nations of Europe and forming them into a friendly sodality was to go forward without interruption.

"How to promote our interests in the Rhineland," wrote M. Maurice Barrès,[297] "is a life-and-death question for us. We are going to carry to the Rhine our military and, I hope, our economic frontier. The rest will follow in its own good time. The future will not fail to secure for us the acquiescence of the population of the Rhineland, who will live freely under the protection of our arms, their faces turned toward Paris."

Financially it was proposed that the Teutons should be forced to indemnify France, Belgium, and the other countries for all the damage they had inflicted upon them; to pay the entire cost of the war, as well as the pensions to widows, orphans, and the mutilated. And the military occupation of their country should be maintained until this huge debt is wholly wiped out.

A Nationalist organ,[298] in a leading article, stated with brevity and clearness the prevailing view of Germany's obligations. Here is a characteristic passage: "She is rich, has reserves derived from many years of former prosperity; she can work to produce and repair all the evil she has done, rebuild all the ruins she has accumulated, and restore all the fortunes she has destroyed, however irksome the burden." After analyzing Doctor Helfferich's report published six years ago, the article concluded, "Germany must pay; she disposes of the means because she is rich; if she refuses we must compel her without hesitation and without ruth."

As France, whose cities and towns and very soil were ruined, could not be asked to restore these places at her own expense and tax herself drastically like her allies, the Americans and British, the prior and privileged right to receive payment on her share of the indemnity should manifestly appertain to her. Her allies and associates should, it was argued, accordingly waive their money claims until hers were satisfied in full. Moreover, as France's future expenditure on her army of occupation, on the administration of her colonies and of the annexed territories, must necessarily absorb huge sums for years to come, which her citizens feel they ought not to be asked to contribute, and as her internal debt was already overwhelming, it is only meet and just that her wealthier partners should pool their war debts with hers and share their financial resources with her and all their other allies. This, it was argued, was an obvious corollary of the war alliance. Economically, too, the Germans, while permitted to resume their industrial occupations on a sufficiently large scale to enable them to earn the wherewithal to live and discharge their financial obligations, should be denied free scope to outstrip France, whose material prosperity is admittedly essential to the maintenance of general peace and the permanence of the new ordering. In this condition, it is further contended, our chivalrous ally was entitled to special consideration because of her low birth-rate, which is one of the mainsprings of her difficulties. This may permanently keep her population from rising above the level of forty million, whereas Germany, by the middle of the century, will have reached the formidable total of eighty million, so that competition between them would not be on a footing of equality. Hence the chances should be evenly balanced by the action of the Conference, to be continued by the League. Discriminating treatment was therefore a necessity. And it should be so introduced that France should be free to maintain a protective tariff, of which she had sore need for her foreign trade, without causing umbrage to her allies. For they could not gainsay that her position deserved special treatment.

Some of the Anglo-Saxon delegates took other ground, feeling unable to countenance the postulate underlying those demands, namely, that the Teuton race was to be forever anathema. They looked far enough ahead to make due allowance for a future when conditions in Europe will be very different from what they are to-day. The German race, they felt, being numerous and virile, will not die out and cannot be suppressed. And as it is also enterprising and resourceful it would be a mistake to render it permanently hostile by the Allies overstepping the bounds of justice, because in this case neither national nor general interests would be furthered. You may hinder Germany, they argued, from acquiring the hegemony of the world, but not from becoming the principal factor in European evolution. If thirty years hence the German population totals eighty million or more, will not their attitude and their sentiment toward their neighbors constitute an all-important element of European tranquillity and will not the trend of these be to a large extent the outcome of the Allies' policy of to-day? The present, therefore, is the time for the delegates to deprive that sentiment of its venomous, anti-Allied sting, not by renouncing any of their countries' rights, but by respecting those of others.

That was the reasoning of those who believed that national striving should be subordinated to the general good, and that the present time and its aspirations should be considered in strict relation to the future of the whole community of nations. They further contended that while Germany deserved to suffer condignly for the heinous crimes of unchaining the war and waging it ruthlessly, as many of her own people confessed, she should not be wholly crippled or enthralled in the hope that she would be rendered thereby impotent forever. Such hope was vain. With her waxing strength her desire of vengeance would grow, and together with it the means of wreaking it. She might yet knead Russia into such a shape as would make that Slav people a serviceable instrument of revenge, and her endeavors might conceivably extend farther than Russia. The one-sided resettlement of Europe charged with explosives of such incalculable force would frustrate the most elaborate attempts to create not only a real league of nations, but even such a rough approximation toward one as might in time and under favorable circumstances develop into a trustworthy war preventive. They concluded that a league of nations would be worse than useless if transformed into a weapon to be wielded by one group of nations against another, or as an artificial makeshift for dispensing peoples from the observance of natural laws.

At the same time all the governments of the Allies were sincere and unanimous in their desire to do everything possible to show their appreciation of France's heroism, to recognize the vastness of her sacrifices, and to pay their debt of gratitude for her services to humanity. All were actuated by a resolve to contribute in the measure of the possible to compensate her for such losses as were still reparable and to safeguard her against the recurrence of the ordeal from which she had escaped terribly scathed. The only limits they admitted to this work of reparation were furnished by the aim itself and by the means of attaining it. Thus Messrs. Wilson and Lloyd George held that to incorporate in renovated France millions or even hundreds of thousands of Germans would be to introduce into the political organism the germs of fell disease, and on this ground they firmly refused to sanction the Rhine frontier, which the French were thus obliged to relinquish. The French delegates themselves admitted that if granted it could not be held without a powerful body of international troops ever at the beck and call of the Republic, vigilantly keeping watch and ward on the banks of the Rhine and with no reasonable prospect of a term to this servitude. For the real ground of this dependence upon foreign forces is the disproportion between the populations of Germany and France and between the resources of the two nations. The ratio of the former is at present about six to four and it is growing perceptibly toward seven to four. The organizing capacity in commerce and industry is said to be even greater. If, therefore, France cannot stand alone to-day, still less could she stand alone in ten or fifteen years, and the necessity of protecting her against aggression, assuming that the German people does not become reconciled to its status of forced inferiority, would be more urgent and less practicable with the lapse of time. For, as we saw, it is largely a question of the birth-rate. And as neither the British nor the American people, deeply though they are attached to their gallant comrades in arms, would consent to this arrangement, which to them would be a burden and to the Germans a standing provocation, their representatives were forced to the conclusion that it would be the height of folly to do aught that would give the Teutons a convenient handle for a war of revenge. Let there be no annexation of territory, they said, no incorporation of unwilling German citizens. The Americans further argued that an indefinite occupation of German territory by a large body of international troops would be a direct encouragement to militarism.

The indemnities for which the French yearned, and on which their responsible financiers counted, were large. The figures employed were astronomical. Hundreds of milliards of francs were operated with by eminent publicists in an offhand manner that astonished the survivor of the expiring budgetary epoch and rejoiced the hearts of the Western taxpayers. For it was not only journalists who wrote as though a stream of wealth were to be turned into these countries to fertilize industry and commerce there and enable them to keep well ahead of their pushing competitors. Responsible Ministers likewise hall-marked these forecasts with their approval. Before the fortune of war had decided for the Allies, the finances of France had sorely embarrassed the Minister, M. Klotz, of whom his chief, M. Clemenceau, is reported to have said: "He is the only Israelite I have ever known who is out of his element when dealing with money matters." Before the armistice, M. Klotz, when talking of the complex problem and sketching the outlook, exclaimed: "If we win the war, I undertake to make both ends meet, far though they now seem apart. For I will make the Germans pay the entire cost of the war." After the armistice he repeated his promise and undertook not to levy fresh taxation.

Thus, despite fitful gleams of idealism, the atmosphere of the Paris Conclave grew heavy with interests, passions, and ambitions. Only people in blinkers could miss the fact that the elastic formulas launched and interpreted by President Wilson were being stretched to the snapping-point so as to cover two mutually incompatible policies. The chasm between his original prospects and those of his foreign associates they both conscientiously endeavored to ignore, and after a time they hit upon a tertium quid between territorial equilibrium and a sterilized league tempered by the Monroe Doctrine and a military compact. This composite resultant carried with it the concentrated evils of one of these systems and was deprived of its redeeming features by the other. At a conjuncture in the world's affairs which postulated internationalism of the loftiest kind, the delegates increased and multiplied nations and states which they deprived of sovereignty and yoked to the first-class races. National ambitions took precedence of larger interests; racial hatred was raised to its highest power. In a word, the world's state system was so oddly pieced together that only economic exhaustion followed by a speedy return to militarism could insure for it a moderate duration.

Territorial self-sufficiency, military strength, and advantageous alliances were accordingly looked to as the mainstays of the new ordering, even by those who paid lip tribute to the Wilsonian ideal. The ideal itself underwent a disfiguring change in the process of incarnation. The Italians asked how the Monroe Doctrine could be reconciled with the charter of the League of Nations, seeing that the League would be authorized to intervene in the domestic affairs of other member-states, and if necessary to despatch troops to keep Germany, Italy, and Poland in order; whereas if the United States were guilty of tyrannical aggression against Brazil, the Argentine Republic, or Mexico, the League, paralyzed by that Doctrine, must look on inactive. The Germans, alleging capital defects in the Wilsonian Covenant, which was adjusted primarily to the Allies' designs, went to Paris prepared with a substitute which, it must in fairness be admitted, was considerably superior to that of their adversaries, and incidentally fraught with greater promise to themselves.

It is superfluous to add that the continental view prevailed, but Mr. Wilson imagined that, while abandoning his principles in favor of Britain, France, and Bulgaria, he could readjust the balance by applying them with rigor to Italy and exaggerating them when dealing with Greece. He afterward communicated his reasons for this belief in a message published in Washington.[299] The alliance-he was understood to have been opposed to all partial alliances on principle-which guarantees military succor to France, he had signed, he said, in gratitude to that country, for he seriously doubted whether the American Republic could have won its freedom against Britain's opposition without the gallant and friendly aid of France. "We recently had the privilege of assisting in driving enemies, who also were enemies of the world, from her soil, but that does not pay our debt to her. Nothing can pay such a debt." His critics retorted that that is a sentimental reason which might with equal force have been urged by France and Britain in justification of their promises to Italy and Rumania, yet was rejected as irrelevant by Mr. Wilson in the name of a higher principle.

The President of the United States, it was further urged, is a historian, and history tells him that the help given to his country against England neither came from the French people nor was actuated by sympathy for the American cause. It was the vindictive act of one of those kings whose functions Mr. Wilson is endeavoring to abolish. The monarch who helped the Americans was merely utilizing a favorable opportunity for depriving with a minimum of effort his adversary of lucrative possessions. Moreover, the debt which nothing can pay was already due when in the years 1914-16 France was in imminent danger of being crushed by a ruthless enemy. But at that time Mr. Wilson owed his re-election largely to his refusal to extricate her from that peril. Instead of calling to mind the debt that can never be repaid he merely announced that he could not understand what the belligerents were fighting for and that in any case France's grateful debtor was too proud to fight. The motive which finally brought the United States into the World War may be the noblest that ever yet actuated any state, but no student of history will allow that Mr. Wilson has correctly described it.

The fact is that the French delegates and their supporters were consistent and, except in their demand for the Rhine frontier, unbending. They drew up a program and saw that it was substantially carried out. They declared themselves quite ready to accept Mr. Wilson's project, but only on condition that their own was also realized, heedless of the incompatibility of the two. And Mr. Wilson felt constrained to make their position his own, otherwise he could not have obtained the Covenant he yearned for. And yet he must have known that acquiescence in the demands put forward by M. Clemenceau would lower the practical value of his Covenant to that of a sheet of paper.

A blunt American journal, commenting on the handiwork of the Conference, gave utterance to views which while making no pretense to courtly phraseology are symptomatic of the way in which the average man thought and spoke of the Covenant which emanated from the Supreme Council. "We are convinced," it said, "that the elder statesmen of Europe, typified by Clemenceau, consider it a hoax. Clemenceau never before was so extremely bored by anything in his life as he was by the necessity of making a pious pretense in the Covenant when what he wanted was the assurance of the Triple Alliance. He got that assurance, which, along with the French watch on the Rhine, the French in the Saar Valley and in Africa, with German money going into French coffers, makes him tolerably indulgent of the altruistic rhetoricians.

"The English, the intelligent English, we know have their tongues in their cheeks. The Italians are petulant imperialists, and Japan doesn't care what happens to the League so long as Japan says what shall happen in Asia."[300]

Peace was at last signed, not on the basis of the Fourteen Points nor yet entirely on the lines of territorial equilibrium, but on those of a compromise which, missing the advantages of each, combined many of the evils of both and of others which were generated by their conjunction, and laid the foundations of the new state fabric on quick-sands. That was at bottom the view to which Italy, Rumania, and Greece gave utterance when complaining that their claims were being dealt with on the principle of self-denial, whereas those of France had been settled on the traditional basis of territorial guaranties and military alliances. Further, the Treaty failed to lay an ax to the roots of war, did, in fact, increase their number while purporting to destroy them. Far from that: germs of future conflicts not only between the late belligerents, but also between the recent Allies, were plentifully scattered and may sprout up in the fullness of time.

The Paris press expressed its satisfaction with France's share of the fruits of victory. For the provisions of the Treaty went as far as any merely political arrangement could go to check the natural inequality, numerical, economical, industrial, and financial, between the Teuton and French peoples. To many this problem seemed wholly insoluble, because its solution involved a suspension or a corrective of a law of nature. Take the birth-rate in France, for example. Before the war it had long been declining at a rate which alarmed thoughtful French patriots. And, according to official statistics, it is falling off still more rapidly to-day, whereas the increase in other countries is greater than ever before.[301] Thus, whereas in the year 1911 there were 73,599 births in the Seine Department, there were only 47,480 in 1918. Wet nurses, too, are disappearing. Of these, in the year 1911, in the same territory there were 1,363, but in 1918 only 65. The mortality among foundlings rose from 5 per cent. before the war to 40 per cent. in the year 1918.[302] M. Bertillon calculates that for France to increase merely at the same rate as other nations-not to recover the place among them which she has already lost, but only to keep her present one-she needs five hundred thousand more births than are registered at present. A statistical table which he drew up of the birth-rate of four European nations during five decades, beginning with the year 1861, is unpleasant reading[303] for the friends of that heroic and artistic people. France, containing in round numbers 40,000,000 inhabitants, ought to increase annually by 500,000. Before the war the total number of births in Germany was computed at one million nine hundred and fifty thousand, but hardly more than one million of the children born were viable.[304] The general conclusion to be drawn from these figures and from the circumstances that the falling off in the French population still goes on unchecked, is disquieting for those who desire to see the French race continue to play the leading part in continental Europe. One of the shrewdest observers in contemporary Germany-himself a distinguished Semite-commented on this decisive fact as follows:[305] "Within ten years Germany will contain seventy million inhabitants, and in the torrent of her fecundity will drown anemic and exhausted France.... The French nation is dying of exhaustion. There is no reason, however, for the world to get alarmed ... for before the French will have vanished from the earth, other races, virile and healthy, will have come to their country to take their place." That is what is actually happening, and it is impressively borne in upon the visitor to various French cities by the vast number of exotic names over houses of business and in other ways.

With this formidable obstacle, then, the three members of the Supreme Council strenuously coped by exercising to the fullest extent the power conferred on the victors over the vanquished. And the result of their combinations challenged and received the unstinted approval of all those numerous enemies of Teutondom who believe the Germans to be incapable of contributing materially to human progress, unless they are kept in leading-strings by one of the superior races. The Treaty represents the potential realization of France's dream, achieved semi-miraculously by the very statesmen on whom the Teutons were relying to dispel it. Defeated, disarmed, incapable of military resistance, and devoid of friends, Germany thought she could discern her sheet-anchor of salvation in the Wilsonian gospel, and it was the preacher of this gospel himself who implicitly characterized her salvation as more difficult than the passage of a camel through the eye of a needle. The crimes perpetrated by the Teutons were unquestionably heinous beyond words, and no punishment permitted by the human conscience is too drastic to atone for them. How long this punishment should endure, whether it should be inflicted on the entire people as well as on their leaders, and what form should be given to it, were among the questions confronting the Secret Council, and they implicitly answered them in the way we have seen.

People who consider the answer adequate and justified give as their reason that it presupposes and attains a single object-the efficacious protection of France as the sentinel of civilization against an incorrigible arch-enemy. And in this they may be right. But if you enlarge the problem till it covers the moral fellowship of nations, and if you postulate that as a safeguard of future peace and neighborliness in the world, then the outcome of the Treaty takes on a different coloring. Between France and Germany it creates a sea of bitterness which no rapturous exultation over the new ethical ordering can sweeten. The latter nation is assumed to be smitten with a fell moral disease, to which, however, the physicians of the Conference have applied no moral remedy, but only measures of coercion, mostly powerful irritants. The reformed state of Europe is consequently a state of latent war between two groups of nations, of which one is temporarily prostrate and both are na?vely exhorted to join hands and play a helpful part in an idyllic society of nations. This expectation is the delight of cynics and the despair of those serious reformers who are not interested politicians. Heretofore the most inveterate optimists in politics were the revolutionaries. But they have since been outdone by the Paris world-reformers, who tempt Providence by calling on it to accomplish by a miracle an object which they have striven hard and successfully to render impossible by the ordinary operation of cause and effect. Thus the Covenant mars the Treaty, and the Treaty the Covenant.

In Weimar and Berlin the Treaty was termed the death-sentence of Germany, not only as an empire, but as an independent political community. Henceforward her economic efforts, beyond a certain limit, will be struck with barrenness, her industry will be hindered from outstripping or overtaking that of the neighboring countries, and her population will be indirectly kept within definite bounds. For, instead of exporting manufactures, she will be obliged to export human beings, whose intellect and skill will be utilized by such rivals of her own race as vouchsafe to admit them. Already before the Conference was over they began to emigrate eastward. And those who remain at home will not be masters in their own house, for the doors will be open to various foreign commissions.

The assumption upon which the Treaty-framers proceeded is that the abominations committed by the German military and civil authorities were constructively the work of the entire nation, for whose reformation within a measurable period hope is vain. This view predominated among the ruling classes of the Entente peoples with few exceptions. If it be correct, it seems superfluous to constrain the enemy to enter the league of law-abiding nations, which is to be cemen

ted only by voluntary adherence and by genuine attachment to liberty, right, and justice. Hence the Covenant, by being inserted in the Peace Treaty, necessarily lost its value as an eirenicon, and became subsequent to that instrument, and seems likely to be used as an anti-German safeguard. But even then its efficacy is doubtful, and manifestly so; otherwise the reformers, who at the start set out to abolish alliances as recognized causes of war, would not have ended by setting up a new Triple Alliance, which involves military, naval, and aerial establishments, and the corresponding financial burdens inseparable from these. An alliance of this character, whatever one may think of its economic and financial aspects, runs counter to the spirit of the Covenant, but was an obvious corollary of the Allies' attitude as mirrored in the Treaty. And the spirit of the Treaty destroys the letter of the Covenant. For the world is there implicitly divided into two camps-the friends and the enemies of liberty, right, and justice; and the main functions of the League as narrowed by the Treaty will be to hinder or defeat the machinations of the enemies. Moreover, the deliberate concessions made by the Conference to such agencies of the old ordering as the grouping of two or three Powers into defensive alliances bids fair to be extended in time. For the stress of circumstance is stronger than the will of man. At this rate the last state may be worse than the first.

The world situation, thus formally modified, remained essentially unchanged, and will so endure until other forces are released. The League of Nations forfeited its ideal character under the pressure of national interests, and became a coalition of victors against the vanquished. By the insertion of the Covenant in the Treaty the former became a means for the execution of the latter. For even Mr. Wilson, faced with realities and called to practical counsel, affectionately dismissed the high-souled speculative projects in which he delighted during his hours of contemplation. Although the German delegates signed the Treaty, no one can honestly say that he expects them to observe it longer than constraint presses, however solemn the obligations imposed.

In the press organ of the most numerous and powerful political party in Germany one might read in an article on the Germans in Bohemia annexed by Czechoslovakia: "Assuredly their destiny will not be determined for all time by the Versailles peace of violence. It behooves the German nation to cherish its affection for its oppressed brethren, even though it be powerless to succor them immediately. What then can it do? Italy has given it a marvelous lesson in the policy of irredentism, which she pursued in respect of the Trentino and Trieste."[306]

With the Treaty as it stands, nationalist France of this generation has reason to be satisfied. One of its framers, himself a shrewd business man and politician, publicly set forth the grounds for this satisfaction.[307] Alsace and Lorraine reunited to the metropolis, he explained, will assist France materially with an industrious population and enormous resources in the shape of mineral wealth and a fruitful soil. Germany's former colonies, Kamerun and Togoland, are become French, and will doubtless offer a vast and attractive field for the expansion and prosperity of the French population. Morocco, freed from German enterprise, can henceforth be developed by the French population alone and without let or hindrance, for the benefit of the natives and in the true sense of Mr. Wilson's humanitarian ordinances. The potash deposits, to which German agriculture largely owed its prosperity, will henceforward be utilized in the service of French agriculture. "In iron ore the wealth of France is doubled, and her productive capacity as regards pig-iron and steel immensely increased. Her production of textiles is greater than before the war by about a third."[308] In a word, a vast area of the planet inhabited by various peoples will look to the French people for everything that makes their collective life worth living.

The sole arrangement which for a time caused heart-burnings in France was that respecting the sums of money which Germany should have been made to pay to her victorious enemies. For the opinions on that subject held by the average man, and connived at or approved by the authorities, were wholly fantastic, just as were some of the expectations of other Allied states. The French people differ from their neighbors in many respects-and in a marked way in money matters. They will sacrifice their lives rather than their substance. They will leave a national debt for their children and their children's children, instead of making a resolute effort to wipe it out or lessen it by amortization. In this respect the British, the Americans, and also the Germans differ from them. These peoples tax themselves freely, create sinking funds, and make heavy sacrifices to pay off their money obligations. This habit is ingrained. The contrary system is become second nature to the French, and one cannot change a nation's habits overnight. The education of the people might, however, have been undertaken during the war with considerable chances of satisfactory results. The government might have preached the necessity of relinquishing a percentage of the war gains to the state. It was done in Britain and Germany. The amount of money earned by individuals during the hostilities was enormous. A considerable percentage of it should have been requisitioned by the state, in view of the peace requirements and of the huge indebtedness which victory or defeat must inevitably bring in its train. But no Minister had the courage necessary to brave the multitude and risk his share of popularity or tolerance. And so things were allowed to slide. The people were assured that victory would recompense their efforts, not only by positive territorial gains, but by relieving them of their new financial obligations.

That was a sinister mistake. The truth is that the French nation, if defeated, would have paid any sum demanded. That was almost an axiom. It would and could have expected no ruth. But, victorious, it looked to the enemy for the means of refunding the cost of the war. The Finance Minister-M. Klotz-often declared to private individuals that if the Allies were victorious he would have all the new national debt wiped out by the enemy, and he assured the nation that milliards enough would be extracted from Germany to balance the credit and debit accounts of the Republic. And the people naturally believed its professional expert. Thus it became a dogma that the Teuton state was to provide all the cost of the war. In that illusion the nation lived and worked and spent money freely, nay, wasted it woefully.

And yet M. Klotz should have known better. For he was supplied with definite data to go upon. In October, 1918, the French government, in doubt about the full significance of that one of Mr. Wilson's Fourteen Points which dealt with reparations, asked officially for explanations, and received from Mr. Lansing the answer by telegraph that it involved the making good by the enemy of all losses inflicted directly and lawlessly upon civilians, but none other. That surely was a plain answer and a just principle. But, in accordance with the practice of secrecy in vogue among Allied European governments, the nation was not informed of these restrictive conditions, but was allowed to hug dangerous delusions.

But the Ministers knew them, and M. Klotz was a Minister. Not only, however, did he not reveal what he knew, but he behaved as though his information was of a directly contrary tenor, and he also stated that Germany must also refund the war indemnities of 1870, capitalized down to November, 1918, and he set down the sum at fifty milliards of francs. This procedure was not what reasonably might have been expected from the leader of a heroic nation stout-hearted enough to face unpleasant facts. Some of the leading spirits in the country, despite the intensity of their feelings toward Germany, disapproved this kind of bookkeeping, but M. Klotz did not relinquish his method of keeping accounts. He drew up a bill against the Teutons for one thousand and eighty-six milliards of francs.

The Germans at the Conference maintained that if the wealth of their nation were realized and liquid, it would amount at most to four hundred milliards, but that to realize it would involve the stripping of the population of everything-of its forests, its mines, its railways, its factories, its cattle, its houses, its furniture, and its ready money. They further pleaded that the territorial clauses of the Treaty deprived them of important resources, which would reduce their solvency to a greater degree than the Allies realized. These clauses dispossessed the nation of 21 per cent. of the total crops of cereals and potatoes. A further falling off in the quantities of food produced would result from the restrictions on the importation of raw materials for the manufacture of fertilizers. Of her coal, Germany was forfeiting about one-third; three-fourths of her iron ore was also being taken away from her; her total zinc production would be cut down by over three-fifths. Add to this the enormous shortage of tonnage, machinery, and man-power, the total loss of her colonies, the shrinkage of available raw stuffs, and the depreciation of the mark.

At the Conference the Americans maintained their ground. Invoking the principle laid down by Mr. Wilson and clearly formulated by Mr. Lansing, they insisted that reparations should be claimed only for damage done to civilians directly and lawlessly. After a good deal of fencing, rendered necessary by the pledges given by European statesmen to their electors, it was decided that the criteria provided by that principle should be applied. But even with that limitation the sums claimed were huge. It was alleged by the Germans that some of the demands were for amounts that exceeded the total national wealth of the country filing the claim. And as no formula could be devised that would satisfy all the claimants, it was resolved in principle that, although Germany should be obliged to make good only certain classes of losses, the Conference would set no limits to the sums for which she would thus be liable.

At this juncture M. Loucheur suggested that a minimum sum should be demanded of the enemy, leaving the details to be settled by a commission. And this was the solution which was finally adopted.[309] It was received with protests and lamentations, which, however, soon made place for self-congratulations, official and private.

The French Minister of Finances, for example, drew a bright picture in the Chamber of the financial side of the Treaty, so far as it affected his country: "Within two years," he announced, "independently of the railway rolling stock, of agricultural materials and restitutions, we receive a part, still to be fixed, of the payment of twenty milliards of marks in gold; another share, also to be determined, of an emission of bonds amounting to forty milliard gold marks, bearing interest at the rate of 2 per cent.; a third part, to be fixed, of German shipping and dyes; seven million tons of coal annually for a period of ten years, followed by diminishing quantities during the following years; the repayment of the expenses of occupation; the right of taking over a part of Germany's interests in Russia, in particular that of obtaining the payment of pre-war debts at the pre-war rate of exchange, likewise the maintenance of such contracts as we may desire to maintain in force and the return of Alsace-Lorraine free from all incumbrances. Nor is that all. In Morocco we have the right to liquidate German property, to transfer the shares that represent Germany's interests in the Bank of Morocco, and finally the allotment under a French mandate of a portion of the German colonies free from incumbrances of any kind.... We shall receive four hundred and sixty-three milliard francs, payable in thirty-six years, without counting the restitutions which will have been effected. Nor should it be forgotten that already we have received eight milliards' worth of securities stolen from French bearers. So do not consider the Treaty as a misfortune for France."[310]

Soon after the outburst of joy with which the ingathering of the fruits of France's victory was celebrated, clouds unexpectedly drifted athwart the cerulean blue of the political horizon, and dark shadows were flung across the Allied countries. The second-and third-class nations fell out with the first-class Powers. Italy, for example, whose population is almost equal to that of her French sister, demanded compensation for the vast additions that were being made to France's extensive possessions. The grounds alleged were many. Compensation had been promised by the secret treaty. The need for it was reinforced by the rejection of Italy's claims in the Adriatic. The Italian people required, desired, and deserved a fair and fitting field for legitimate expansion. They are as numerous as the French, and have a large annual surplus population, which has to hew wood and draw water for foreign peoples. They are enterprising, industrious, thrifty, and hard workers. Their country lacks some of the necessaries of material prosperity, such as coal, iron, and cotton. Why should it not receive a territory rich in some of these products? Why should a large contingent of Italy's population have to go to the colonies of Spain, France, and Britain or to South American republics for a livelihood? The Italian press asked whether the Supreme Council was bent on fulfilling the Gospel dictum, "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given...."

One of the first demands made by Italy was for the port and town of Djibouti, which is under French sway. It was rejected, curtly and emphatically. Other requests elicited plausible explanations why they could not be complied with. In a word, Italy was treated as a poor and importunate relation, and was asked to console herself with the reflection that she was working in the vineyard of idealism. In vain eminent publicists in Rome, Turin, and Milan pleaded their country's cause. Adopting the principle which Mr. Wilson had applied to France and Britain, they affirmed that even before the war France, with a larger population and fewer possessions, had shown that she was incapable of discharging the functions which she had voluntarily taken upon herself. Tunis, they alleged, owed its growth and thriving condition to Italian emigrants. With all the fresh additions to her territories, the population of the Republic would be utterly inadequate to the task. To the Supreme Council this line of reasoning was distinctly unpalatable. Nor did the Italians further their cause when, by way of giving emphatic point to their reasoning, their press quoted that eminent Frenchman, M. d'Estournelles de Constant, who wrote at that very moment: "France has too many colonies already-far more in Asia, in Africa, in America, in Oceania than she can fructify. In this way she is immobilizing territories, continents, peoples, which nominally she takes over. And it is childish and imprudent to take barren possession of them, when other states allege their power to utilize them in the general interest. By acting in this manner, France, do what she may, is placing herself in opposition to the world's interests, and to those of the League of Nations. In the long run it is a serious business. Spain, Portugal, and Holland know this to their cost. Do what she would, France was not able before the war to utilize all her immense colonial domain ... for lack of population. She will be still less able after the war...."[311]

The discussion grew dangerously animated. Epigrams were coined and sent floating in the heavily charged air. A tactless comparison was made between the French nation and a bon vivant of sixty-five who flatters himself that he can enjoy life's pleasures on the same scale as when he was only thirty. Little arrows thus barbed with biting acid often make more enduring mischief than sledge-hammer blows. Soon the estrangement between the two sister nations unhappily became wider and led to marked divergences in their respective policies, which seem fraught with grave consequences in the future.

The Italy of to-day is not the Italy of May, 1915. She now knows exactly where she stands. When she unsheathed her sword to fight against the allies of the state that declared a treaty to be but a scrap of paper, she was heartened by a solemn promise given in writing by her comrades in arms. But when she had accomplished her part of the contract, that document turned out to be little more than another scrap of paper. Thus it was one of the piquant ironies of Fate, Italian publicists said, that the people who had mostly clamored against that doctrine were indirectly helping it to triumph. Mr. Wilson, unwittingly sapping public faith in written treaties, was held up as one of the many pictures in which the Conference abounded of the delegates refuting their words by acts. The unbiased historian will readily admit that the secret treaties were profoundly immoral from the Wilsonian angle of vision, but that the only way of canceling them was by a general principle rigidly upheld and impartially applied. And this the Supreme Council would not entertain.

With her British ally, too, France had an unpleasant falling out about Eastern affairs, and in especial about Syria and Persia. There was also a demand for the retrocession by Britain of the island of Mauritius, but it was not made officially, nor is it a subject for two such nations to quarrel over. The first rift in the lute was caused by the deposition of Emir Faisal respecting the desires of the Arab population. This picturesque chief, the French press complained, had been too readily admitted to the Conference and too respectfully listened to there, whereas the Persian delegation tramped for months over the Paris streets without once obtaining a hearing. The Hedjaz, which had been independent from time immemorial, was formally recognized as a separate kingdom during the war, and the Grand Sheriff of Mecca was suddenly raised to the throne in the European sense by France and Britain. Since then he was formally recognized by the five Powers. His representatives in Paris demanded the annexation of all the countries of Arabic speech which were under Turkish domination. These included not only Mesopotamia, but also Syria, on which France had long looked with loving eyes and respecting which there existed an accord between her and Britain. The project community would represent a Pan-Arab federation of about eleven million souls, over which France would have no guardianship. And yet the written accord had never been annulled. Palestine was excluded from this Pan-Arabian federation, and Syria was to be consulted, and instead of being handed over to France, as M. Clemenceau demanded, was to be allowed to declare its own wishes without any injunctions from the Conference. Mesopotamia would be autonomous under the League of Nations, but a single mandatory was asked for by the king of the Hedjaz for the entire eleven million inhabitants.

The comments of the French press on Britain's attitude, despite their studied reserve and conventional phraseology, bordered on recrimination and hinted at a possible cooling of friendship between the two nations, and in the course of the controversy the evil-omened word "Fashoda" was pronounced. The French Temps's arguments were briefly these: The populations claimed occupy such a vast stretch of territory that the sovereignty of the Hedjaz could hardly be more than nominal and symbolical. In fact, they cover an area of one-half of the Ottoman Empire. These different provinces would, in reality, be under the domination of the Great Power which was the real creator of this new kingdom, and the monarch of the Hedjaz would be a mere stalking-horse of Britain. This, it was urged, would not be independence, but a masked protectorate, and in the name of the higher principles must be prevented. Syria must be handed over to France without consulting the population. The financial resources of the Hedjaz are utterly inadequate for the administration of such a vast state as was being compacted. Who, then, it was asked, would supply the indispensable funds? Obviously Britain, who had been providing the Emir Faisal with funds ever since his father donned the crown. If this political entity came into existence, it would generate continuous friction between France and Britain, separate comrades in arms, delight a vigilant enemy, and violate a written compact which should be sacred. For these reasons it should be rejected and Syria placed under the guardianship of France.

The Americans took the position that congruously with the high ethical principles which had guided the labors of the Conference throughout, it was incumbent on its members, instead of bartering civilized peoples like chattels, to consult them as to their own aspirations. If it were true that the Syrians were yearning to become the wards of France, there could be no reasonable objection on the part of the French delegates to agree to a plebiscite. But the French delegates declined to entertain the suggestion on the ground that Syria's longing for French guidance was a notorious fact.

After much discussion and vehement opposition on the part of the French delegates an Inter-Allied commission under Mr. Charles Crane was sent to visit the countries in dispute and to report on the leanings of their populations. After having visited forty cities and towns and more than three hundred villages, and received over fifteen hundred delegations of natives, the commission reported that the majority of the people "prefer to maintain their independence," but do not object to live under the mandatory system for fifty years provided the United States accepts the mandate. "Syria desires to become a sovereign kingdom, and most of the population supports the Emir Faisal as king.[312] The commission further ascertained that the Syrians, "who are singularly enlightened as to the policies of the United States," invoked and relied upon a Franco-British statement of policy[313] which had been distributed broadcast throughout their country, "promising complete liberation from the Turks and the establishment of free governments among the native population and recognition of these governments by France and Britain."[314]

The result of the investigation by the Inter-Allied commission reminds one of the story of the two anglers who were discussing the merits of two different sauces for the trout which one of them had caught. As they were unable to agree they decided to refer the matter to the trout, who answered: "Gentlemen, I do not wish to be eaten with any sauce. I desire to live and be free in my own element." "Ah, now you are wandering from the question," exclaimed the two, who thereupon struck up a compromise on the subject of the sauce.

The tone of this long-drawn-out controversy, especially in the press, was distinctly acrimonious. It became dangerously bitter when the French political world was apprised one day of the conclusion of a treaty between Britain and Persia as the outcome of secret negotiations between London and Teheran. And excitement grew intenser when shortly afterward the authentic text of this agreement was disclosed. In France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and the United States the press unanimously declared that Persia's international status as determined by the new diplomatic instrument could best be described by the evil-sounding words "protectorate" and the violation of the mandatory system adopted by the Conference.

This startling development shed a strong light upon the new ordering of the world and its relation to the Wilsonian gospel, complicated with secret negotiations, protectorates without mandates, and the one-sided abrogation of compacts.

Persia is one of the original members of the League of Nations,[315] and as such was entitled, the French argued, to a hearing at the Conference. She had grievances that called for redress: her neutrality had been violated, many of her subjects had been put to death, and her titles to reparation were undeniable. President Wilson, the comforter of small states and oppressed nationalities, having proclaimed that the weakest communities would command the same friendly treatment as the greatest, the Persian delegates repaired to Paris in the belief that this treatment would be accorded them. But there they were disillusioned. For them there was no admission. Whether, if they had been heard and helped by the Supreme Council, they would have contrived to exist as an independent state is a question which cannot be discussed here. The point made by the French was that on its own showing the Conference was morally bound to receive the Persian delegation. The utmost it obtained was that the Persian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Monalek, who was head of the delegation, had a private talk with President Wilson, Colonel House, and Mr. Lansing. These statesmen unhesitatingly promised to help Persia to secure full sovereign rights, or at any rate to enable her delegates to unfold their country's case and file their protests before the Conference. The delegates were comforted and felt sure of the success of their mission. They told the American plenipotentiaries that the United States would be Persia's creditor for this help and that she would invite American financiers to put her money matters in order, American engineers to develop her mining industries, and the American oil firms to examine and exploit her petrol deposits.[316] In a word, Persia would be Americanized. This na?ve announcement of the r?le reserved for American benefactors in the land of the Shah might have impressed certain commercial and financial interests in the United States, but was wholly alien to the only order of motives that could properly move the American plenipotentiaries to interpose in favor of their would-be wards.

The promises made by Messrs. Wilson, House, and Lansing came to nothing. For months the Persian envoys lived in hope which was strengthened by the assurances of various members of the Conference that the intervention of Mr. Wilson would infallibly prove successful. But events belied this forecast, whereupon the head of the Persian delegation, after several months of hopes deferred, quitted France for Constantinople, and his country's position among the nations was settled in detail by the new agreement.

That position does undoubtedly resemble very closely Egypt's status before the outbreak of the World War. And Egypt's status could hardly be termed independence. Henceforward Great Britain has a strong hold on the Persian customs, the control of the waterways and carriage routes, the rights of railway construction, the oil-fields-these were ours before-the right to organize the army and direct the foreign policy of the kingdom. And it may fairly be argued that this arrangement may prove a greater blessing to the Persians than the realization of their own ambitions. That, at any rate, is my own personal belief, which for many years I have held and expressed. None the less it runs diametrically counter to the letter and the spirit of Wilsonianism, which is now seen to be a wall high enough to keep out the dwarf states, but which the giants can easily clear at a bound.

Against this violation of the new humanitarian doctrine French publicists flared up. The glaring character of the transgression revolted them, the plight of the Persians touched them, and the right of self-determination strongly appealed to them. Was it not largely for the assertion of that right that all the Allied peoples had for five years been making unheard-of sacrifices? What would become of the League of Nations if such secret and selfish doings were connived at? In a word, French sympathy for the victims of British hegemony waxed as strong as the British fellow-feeling for the Syrians, who objected to be drawn into the orbit of the French. Those sharp protests and earnest appeals, it may be noted, were the principal, perhaps the only, symptoms of tenderness for unprotected peoples which were evoked by the great ethical movement headed by the Conference.

The French further pointed out that the system of Mandates had been specially created for countries as backward and helpless as Persia was assumed to be, and that the only agency qualified to apply it was either the Supreme Council or the League of Nations. The British press answered that no such humiliating assumption about the Shah's people was being made, that the Foreign Office had distinctly disclaimed the intention of establishing a protectorate over Persia, who is, and will remain, a sovereign and independent state. But these explanations failed to convince our indignant Allies. They argued, from experience, that no trust was to be placed in those official assurances and euphemistic phrases which are generally belied by subsequent acts.[317] They further lamented that the long and secret negotiations which were going forward in Teheran while the Persian delegation was wearily and vainly waiting in Paris to be allowed to plead its country's cause before the great world-dictators was not a good example of loyalty to the new cosmic legislation. Had not Mr. Wilson proclaimed that peoples were no longer to be bartered and swapped as chattels? Here the Italians and Rumanians chimed in, reminding their kinsmen that it was the same American statesmen who in the peace conditions first presented to Count Brockdorff-Rantzau made over the German population of the Saar Valley to France at the end of fifteen years as the fair equivalent of a sum of money payable in gold, and that France at any rate had raised no objection to the barter nor to the principle at the root of it. They reasoned that if the principle might be applied to one case it should be deemed equally applicable to the other, and that the only persons or states that could with propriety demur to the Anglo-Persian arrangements were those who themselves were not benefiting by similar transactions.

At last the Paris press, laying due weight on the alliance with Britain, struck a new note. "It seems that these last Persian bargainings offer a theme for conversations between our government and that of the Allies," one influential journal wrote.[318] At once the amicable suggestion was taken up by the British press. The idea was to join the Syrian with the Persian transactions and make French concessions on the other. This compromise would compose an ugly quarrel and settle everything for the best. For France's intentions toward the people of Syria were, it was credibly asserted, to the full as disinterested and generous as those of Britain toward Persia, and if the Syrians desired an English-speaking nation rather than the French to be their mentor, it was equally true that the Persians wanted Americans rather than British to superintend and accelerate their progress in civilization. But instead of harkening to the wishes of only one it would be better to ignore those of both. By this prudent compromise all the demands of right and justice, for which both governments were earnest sticklers, would thus be amply satisfied.

Our American associates were less easily appeased. In sooth there was nothing left wherewith to appease them. Their press condemned the "protectorate" as a breach of the Covenant. Secretary Lansing let it be known[319] that the United States delegation had striven to obtain a hearing for the Persians at the Conference, but had "lost its fight." A Persian, when apprized of this utterance, said: "When the United States delegation strove to hinder Italy from annexing Fiume and obtaining the territories promised her by a secret treaty, they accomplished their aim because they refused to give way. Then they took care not to lose their fight. When they accepted a brief for the Jews and imposed a Jewish semi-state on Rumania and Poland, they were firm as the granite rock, and no amount of opposition, no future deterrents, made any impression on their will. Accordingly, they had their way. But in the cause of Persia they lost the fight, although logic, humanity, justice, and the ordinances solemnly accepted by the Great Powers were all on their side." ... One American press organ termed the Anglo-Persian accord "a coup which is a greater violation of the Wilsonian Fourteen Points than the Shantung award to Japan, as it makes the whole of Persia a mere protectorate for Britain."[320]

Generally speaking, illustrations of the meaning of non-intervention in the home affairs of other nations were numerous and somewhat perplexing. Were it not that Mr. Wilson had come to Europe for the express purpose of interpreting as well as enforcing his own doctrine, one would have been warranted in assuming that the Supreme Council was frequently travestying it. But as the President was himself one of the leading members of that Council, whose decisions were unanimous, the utmost that one can take for granted is that he strove to impose his tenets on his intractable colleagues and "lost the fight."

Here is a striking instance of what would look to the average man very like intervention in the domestic politics of another nation-well-meant and, it may be, beneficent intervention-were it not that we are assured on the highest authority that it is nothing of the sort. It was devised as an expedient for getting outside help for the capture of Petrograd by the anti-Bolshevists. The end, therefore, was good, and the means seemed effectual to those who employed them. The Kolchak-Denikin party could, it was believed, have taken possession of that capital long before, by obtaining the military co-operation of the Esthonians. But the price asked by these was the recognition of their complete independence by the non-Bolshevist government in the name of all Russia. Kolchak, to his credit, refused to pay this price, seeing that he had no powers to do so, and only a dictator would sign away the territory by usurping the requisite authority. Consequently the combined attack on Petrograd was not undertaken. The Admiral's refusal was justified by the circumstances that he was the spokesman only of a large section of the Russian people, and that a thoroughly representative assembly must be consulted on the subject previous to action being taken. The military stagnation that ensued lasted for months. Then one day the press brought the tidings that the difficulty was ingeniously overcome. This is the shape in which the intelligence was communicated to the world: "Colonel Marsh, of the British army, who is representing General Gough, organized a republic in northwest Russia at Reval, August 12th, within forty-five minutes, General Yudenitch being nominally the head of the new government, which is affiliated with the Kolchak government. Northwest Russia opposes the Esthonian government only in principle because it wants guaranties that the Esthonians will not be the stepping-stone for some big Power like Germany to control the Russian outlet through the Baltic. If the Esthonians give such guaranties, the northwestern Russians are perfectly willing to let them become an independent state."[321]

Here then was a "British colonel" who, in addition to his military duties, was, according to this account, willing and able to create an independent republic without any Supreme Council to assist him, whereas professional diplomatists and military men of other nations had been trying for months to found a Rhine republic under Dorten and had failed. Nor did he, if the newspaper report be correct, waste much time at the business. From the moment of its inception until northwestern Russia stood forth an independent state, promulgating and executing grave decisions in the sphere of international politics, only forty-five minutes are said to have elapsed. Forty-five minutes by the clock. It was almost as quick a feat as the drafting of the Covenant of Nations. Further, the resourceful statemaker forged a republic which was qualified to transfer sovereignly Russian territory to unrecognized states without consulting the nation or obtaining authority from any one. More marvelous than any other detail, however, is the circumstance that he did his work so well that it never amounted to intervention.[322]

One cannot affect surprise if the distinction between this amazing exploit of diplomatico-military prestidigitation and intermeddling in the internal affairs of another nation prove too subtle for the mental grasp of the average unpolitical individual.

It is practices like these which ultimately determine the worth of the treaties and the Covenant which Mr. Wilson was content to take back with him to Washington as the final outcome of what was to have been the most superb achievement of historic man. Of the new ethical principles, of the generous renunciation of privileges, of the righting of secular wrongs, of the respect that was to be shown for the weak, which were to have cemented the union of peoples into one pacific if not blissful family, there remained but the memory. No such bitter draught of disappointment was swallowed by the nations since the world first had a political history. Many of the resounding phrases that once foretokened a new era of peace, right, and equity were not merely emptied of their contents, but made to connote their opposites. Freedom of the seas became supremacy of the seas, which may possibly turn out to be a blessed consummation for all concerned, but should not have been smuggled in under a gross misnomer. The abolition of war means, as British and American and French generals and admirals have since told their respective fellow-citizens, thorough preparations for the next war, which are not to be confined, as heretofore, to the so-called military states, but are to extend over all Anglo-Saxondom.[323] "Open covenants openly arrived at" signify secret conclaves and conspirative deliberations carried on in impenetrable secrecy which cannot be dispensed with even after the whole business has passed into history.[324] The self-determination of peoples finds its limit in the rights of every Great Power to hold its subject nationalities in thrall on the ground that their reciprocal relations appertain to the domestic policy of the state. It means, further, the privilege of those who wield superior force to put irresistible pressure upon those who are weak, and the lever which it places in their hands for the purpose is to be known under the attractive name of the protection of minorities. Abstention from interference in the home affairs of a neighboring community is made to cover intermeddling of the most irksome and humiliating character in matters which have no nexus with international law, for if they had, the rule would be applicable to all nations. The lesser peoples must harken to injunctions of the greater states respecting their mode of treating alien immigrants and must submit to the control of foreign bodies which are ignorant of the situation and its requirements. Nor is it enough that those states should accord to the members of the Jewish and other races all the rights which their own citizens enjoy-they must go farther and invest them with special privileges, and for this purpose renounce a portion of their sovereignty. They must likewise allow their more powerful allies to dictate to them their legislation on matters of transit and foreign commerce.[325] For the Great Powers, however, this law of minorities was not written. They are above the law. Their warrant is force. In a word, force is the trump card in the political game of the future as it was in that of the past. And M. Clemenceau's reminder to the petty states at the opening of the Conference that the wielders of twelve million troops are the masters of the situation was appropriate. Thus the war which was provoked by the transformation of a solemn treaty into a scrap of paper was concluded by the presentation of two scraps of paper as a treaty and a covenant for the moral renovation of the world.


[288] The Daily Telegraph, March 28, 1919.

[289] In a speech delivered at a dinner given in Paris on April 19, 1919, by the Commonwealth of Australia to Australian soldiers.

[290] In March, 1919.

[291] August 19, 1919.

[292] Cf. Corriere delta Sera, August 20, 1919.

[293] Ibidem (Corriere della Sera, August 20, 1919).

[294] L'Humanité, May 21, 1919.

[295] The Nation, August 23, 1919.

[296] Chief of the Austrian police at Vienna Congress in the years 1814-15.

[297] In L'Echo de Paris, March 2,1919. Cf. The Daily Telegraph, March 4th.

[298] Le Gaulois, March 8, 1919. Cf. The Daily Telegraph, March 10th.

[299] Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 21, 1919.

[300] Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 23, 1919

[301] Report of Dr. Jacques Bertillon. Cf. L'Information, January 20, 1919.

[302] Cf. Le Matin, August 13, 1919.

[303] Excess of births over deaths (yearly average).-Cf. L'Information, January 20, 1919:

Germany Great Britain Italy France

1861-70 408,333 365,499 183,196 93,515

1871-80 511,034 431,436 191,538 64,063

1881-90 551,308 442,112 307,082 66,982

1891-1900 730,265 430,000 339,409 23,961

1901-10 866,338 484,822 369,959 46,524

[304] Professor L. Marchand. Cf. La Démocratie Nouvelle, April 26, 1919.

[305] Dr. Walter Rathenau, in a book entitled The Death of France. I have not been able to procure a copy of this book. The extracts given above are taken from a statement published by M. Brudenne in the Matin of February 16, 1919.

[306] Germania, August 11, 1919. Cf. Le Temps, September 9, 1919.

[307] M. André Tardieu in a speech delivered on August 17, 1919. Cf. Paris newspapers of following two days, and in particular New York Herald, August 19th.

[308] Cf. speech delivered by M. André Tardieu on August 17, 1919.

[309] On this subject of reparations the Journal de Genève published several interesting articles at various times, as, for example, on May 15, 1919.

[310] Speech of M. Klotz in the Chamber on September 5, 1919. Cf. L'Echo de Paris, September 6, 1919.

[311] D'Estournelles de Constant. Bulletin des Droits de l'Homme, May 15, 1919.

[312] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 24, 1919.

[313] Issued on November 9, 1918.

[314] See The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 30, 1919.

[315] An American Senator uncharitably conjectured that she received this honorable distinction in order to contribute an additional vote to the British.

[316] Cf. interview with a Persian official, published in the Paris edition of The Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1919.

[317] "Unfortunately, Mr. Lloyd George, who has stripped the Foreign Office of real power, has frequently given assurances of this nature, and his acts have always contradicted them. As a proof, his last interview with M. Clemenceau will serve." Cf. L'Echo de Paris, August 15, 1919, article by Pertinax.

[318] Le Journal des Débats, August 15, 1919.

[319] In Washington on August 16, 1919.

[320] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 19, 1919.

[321] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 24, 1919.

[322] After the above was written, a French journal, the Echo de Paris of September 19, 1919, announced that General Marsh declares that his agents acted without his instructions, but none the less it holds him responsible for this Baltic policy.

[323] Marshal Douglas Haig, Lord French, the American pacifist, Sydney Baker, Senator Chamberlain, Representative Kahn, and a host of others have been preaching universal military training. The press, too, with considerable exceptions, favors the movement. "We want a democratized army, which represents all the nation, and it can be found only in universal service.... Universal service is our best guaranty of peace." Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 22, 1919.

[324] President Wilson, when at the close of his conference with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations-at the White House-asked how the United States had voted on the Japanese resolution in favor of race equality, replied: "I am not sure of being free to answer the question, because it affects a large number of points that were discussed in Paris, and in the interest of international harmony I think I had better not reply."-The Daily Mail (Paris edition), August 22, 1919.

[325] In virtue of Article LX of the Treaty with Austria.

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