« ZurückWeiter »
their recognition of the fact that there is no power sufficient to coerce them. In this event, certain of the victors will reckon themselves ruined.
Therefore, the first unpleasant fact to be faced is that the victors are still armed and the vanquished almost entirely disarmed; and that, though this is an intolerable state of affairs, offers no permanence, and heals no wounds, an alternative is not within sight for many years without risk of the renewal of the war, which alternative is, of all things, the one that nobody can contemplate with equanimity. 'Peace disarmed' would be not only 'without reputation,' but a signal danger.
A conference aiming at disarmament will observe that, England apart, and America having side-tracked herself in this business, the victors retain compulsory service, while the vanquished, or at least their governments, all pine for such service and are not allowed to have it. Similarly, the vast war-material of the victors remains in existence, rotting or rusting in part, perhaps, and gradually growing out of date, but still more or less fit for use; while the huge war-material of the vanquished, greater by far than anyone imagined at the Armistice of 1918, has been swept into the net of the victors and has either been taken or destroyed. Disarmament? Yes, it has been carried out by force, but only in the case of the conquered
Another cause for disquiet is the fact that practically the whole of the ablebodied population of Europe were trained soldiers in 1918, or trained organizers or providers of the needs of war, in one form or another. Therefore, if some strong compelling sentiment should make a people rise, it would only need arms for numerically strong forces to reappear as by magic, and all the long training of the war period could be dispensed with. This situation will not
VOL. 128 NO. 5
end for another fifteen or twenty years, when all the veterans of the war-time will be too old, or too stout, or too much immersed in their new occupations, whatever these may be, to desire, or to be able, to march and fight. The victors have seen very clearly that these veterans cannot be destroyed, but that war-material can be; and the various Inter-Allied military commissions have therefore concentrated upon material, and have shown relentless severity in insisting upon a thorough surrender of arms-not only of guns and rifles, aeroplanes and machine-guns, but of the whole machinery of military equipment, including carts and limbers, harness, and all the thousands of articles that go to make up a properly found army. It is held that this action will make the vanquished states incapable of creating modern armies, except after a long delay, which the victors will naturally exploit.
The vanquished, on their side, have naturally sought, by every available means, to escape the control of the military commissions, and, in effectives as in armament, to conceal what they are doing by more or less clever camouflage. It has not succeeded, on the whole, but there are still military organizations in excess of treaty stipulations; there are all sorts of pseudo-civilian societies, associations of old soldiers, compulsorylabor laws, and so forth, which are not indeed very formidable, but which show that the disposition endures to resuscitate military power at the first opportunity. Similarly, there is a certain amount of war-material still concealed and undelivered, especially rifles and machine-guns; but to me the wonder is that so much has been given up, and I feel confident that it would not have been had the vanquished been certain allied and associated powers that one could name.
However, there it is, and that is the
present situation. But not quite all has been said; for it is the decided and wellweighed opinion of the best men in control of the military commissions that, after they withdraw from the territories of the vanquished states, it will not take more than two years for the war-material to be replaced, at all events in the case of Germany; and that in five years the whole of the vast war-material may be renewed, quite apart from contracts that may be made with neutrals, perhaps through foreigners. Therefore, the question arises whether these commissions should not be retained until all the veterans are past the fighting age; for though, by the Treaty of Versailles, it is the League of Nations that has the duty of checking future designs of an aggressive sort, the League will have difficulty in carrying out this task; and, in fact, no one believes that it can do it.
Another real difficulty is that, when we disarm a state, we practically become, in a moral sense, trustees for her internal order and external security. A country whose forces are compulsorily reduced to the vanishing-point may not be able to suppress Spartacists, Bolsheviki, or what not; may not be able to prevent bandits from crossing from their territory into another, or to keep out other peoples' bandits; while there is the still more serious danger that the government itself may become so weak that it may lack authority, and be at the mercy of a coup d'état. This lack of authority is one of the most constant complaints of the vanquished states. It is certain also that a long-service, voluntarily enlisted army, gendarmerie, or police, offers an easier prey to intriguers than a conscripted army based on short service; for the latter constantly refreshes itself from the whole people, whence it springs, while a volunteer force has to be taken from less choice elements, and in unsettled times and
territories easily becomes a sort of Prætorian Guard, or corps of Janissaries at the call of the highest bidder. In countries of peasant proprietors, it is even difficult to recruit a voluntary army at all.
These are among the problems that Washington will have to confront on the side of the recently vanquished states; but perhaps they will be surpassed in complexity when the armies of the Allies are passed in review.
It is true that England will not have much difficulty in securing a clean bill of health, because we have scrapped compulsion and all our military acts of the war period. Except for the possession of better material and equipment, and for the acquired precedent of creating a national army based, at need, on compulsion, we are in a worse state of military destitution than we were in 1914, which is saying a good deal,whereas we have much greater commitments all over the world, and a whole series of new difficulties for which, in ultimate analysis, force may be the only remedy.
But when I think of our allies, they will, I imagine, be asked to explain their position; and they may possibly be asked why, if the disarmament of their late enemies has been in such large measure accomplished, they do not themselves disarm. The retention, practically all over Europe except in the vanquished states, of compulsory military service, and of the potentially huge armies which derive from it, will not, I imagine, escape comment. The case of our allies I will, therefore, briefly state.
tion, and capable, as I verily believe, of conquering Continental Europe. If a Bonaparte came into view, he would have a perfect instrument ready to his hand, with this reservation, that - at first, at all events - Frenchmen would not march except in a good cause, and with the object and scope of an operation clearly pointed out to them. But such eventualities are, I hope, far from us. French generals do not dabble in politics, and the whole army despises them. No political generals in France survived the war-storm. No civilian could, or would wish to, repeat the Napoleonic épopée, of which he would probably be the first victim. But even more important is the fact that France's population is small, and that her strength to-day, admittedly great though it be, is merely a fortuitous and perhaps temporary superiority of an army, and not one of a people firmly based on foundations of numbers, wealth, and science. France might march on Berlin, even on Moscow, and reach both with ease; but she is quite incapable of confronting the subsequent hostility of the, world, or even of Europe, which every aggressor must expect who attempts to emulate the projects of Napoleon or Wilhelm II. We must keep our heads cool when we observe the brilliant power of France.
The maintenance of the French army at its present standard of numbers and efficiency is due to want of confidence in the future; and if France pleads this want of confidence, one must be just to her and lay the blame where it is mainly due, namely, upon the lapse of the Anglo-American guaranty. France reluctantly consented to abandon her defensive plans on the Rhine because America, and England if America ratified the agreement, were to give France a guaranty against German aggression in the future. Two years have passed, and America has not ratified that undertaking. Consequent
ly our adhesion falls to the ground, although our Parliament accepted the liability under the conditions named. Very likely we on this side of the water were very great fools, and curiously illinformed of the real state of public opinion in America, when we signed that conditional guaranty. That remark applies to our Government, if the cap fits them. It depends upon whether our former Ambassador at Washington warned the Government that the American Senate might not second the guaranty of President Wilson. I do not know whether our Ambassador gave a warning or not. But the public in England and France certainly never had the glimmer of a suspicion that a guaranty signed by a President of the United States and countersigned by a Secretary of State, in a vital matter affecting the safety of France and the future peace of Europe, would not be honored in America.
It is impossible not to attribute a very large share of France's want of confidence in the future to the above cause, and a very large share of Europe's unrest to France's want of confidence. Over and over again I have been told by French statesmen and generals that France would never have taken the unrelenting course that she has taken toward Germany had the Anglo-American guaranty stood. Over and over again I have been assured by representatives of all the allied and associated powers that Germany would never have dared to confront that combination, and that, secured by the guaranty, France would, and could safely, have disarmed. The fact that none of these things happened is the main cause of the sanctions, the Upper Silesian, trouble, the reparation wrangles, and most of the resulting unrest that has followed throughout Europe, which seems to take its cue from the barometer of Franco-German relations.
I am not blaming America in the least. Our own long-established practice, to keep out of continental entangle ments when we can, is as deeply rooted in principle as that of the United States, to steer clear of European commitments. The difference between us is merely the difference between the breadth of the Channel and the breadth of the Atlantic. By that much our policy differs from yours; but it is a difference of degree, and not of kind. But for all that, when one observes, as every traveler through Europe must observe daily, the truly appalling results that have followed from this failure, misconception, desertion, or whatever one should term it, one stands aghast at the consequences, and laments the little wisdom with which the world is governed.
France has no definite guaranty now that any state but Belgium, and perhaps Poland, will support her when Germany feels strong enough to act; and in the sheer desperation of self-defense, has thought it necessary to inflict upon her neighbor one humiliation after another, in order to make her, and keep her, weak. The policy of broad and genial tolerance, which would have so well become a country with France's generous traditions, she could not follow, for with her forty millions there were over against her seventy million Germans, with a far higher natality; and France saw no salvation except in the rigid exaction of all her treaty rights, so that Germany, for a great number of years hence, might be inhibited from even dreaming of revenge. But when one thinks of the dry-powder régime under which France has been living for so long, and of all the terrible injuries inflicted on her by Germany in the past, one can understand, and tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner. If France declares at Washington that nothing tangible except her army stands between the world and the renewal of
the war by Germany, I do not know how she can be gainsaid. In the circumstances, it is the truth. I even think that we English and Americans, having left to France the largest share of the war, must feel a tinge of shame at leaving also to her the main burden of enforcing the peace, with all the obloquy that follows.
Italy will plead that she has greatly reduced her army and diminished the service periods. She can say with justice that her policy has been conciliatory, and that she has shunned adventures. But she can also show that the Anschluss movement in Austria has underlined the danger of Austria joining Germany, and she can point out that such an act would bring Germany down to her borders. Yugoslavia can urge that both Hungary and Bulgaria are uneasy neighbors; Czechoslovakia, that she is liable to be stifled by the Germans round her, and has Austria and Hungary to fear. Rumania can point to dangers from three neighbors, and, above all, from the Soviet armies upon the Dniester, and from the bulk of the Bolshevist reserves not far away. Belgium has too complete a case to bring up from 1914, for anyone to find fault with her for abandoning her neutrality and reorganizing her army on more modern lines; while Poland can say that she has recently saved Europe from the Reds by her military exertions. Lastly, there is Greece, who can show that she went to Asia Minor at the request of the Allies, who have since let her down and given her no assistance, because she chose, in the full plentitude of popular right, to recall her King.
Two states of unequal importance and discordant character will stand almost wholly beyond the influence of the Washington Conference. These are Russia and Turkey. The picture that we make of both is not a pleasant one; but in reference to armaments they
cannot be excluded, because the existence of their armed forces is primarily the cause of countervailing armies in the countries round them. If Poland, Rumania, and Greece are more immediately affected for the moment, it must not be forgotten how far Russia extends, or how insidiously the Turks are able to work upon Mohammedan sentiment in Asia and Africa. Nothing final in the nature of reduction in armaments can be settled until these two contumacious peoples rejoin the comity of nations. No one can say when they will. Neither seems to possess the capacity, either for evolution or for repentance.
There are also alliances, supplemented by military agreements, between certain states of Europe, which may tell against the conclusion of agreements to disarm. France has a treaty and a military agreement with Belgium, and, perhaps, understandings, at least, with other states. In the east of Europe the Little Entente unites Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Poland in a series of alliances which Greece may possibly join; and all these states may plead, not only these understandings, but their fear of warlike neighbors, as reasons for maintaining their military strength.
For all these reasons we cannot be sure that disarmament, or reduction of armaments, so far as they relate to land forces, will have more than a succès d'estime at Washington. It is not a favorable moment to discuss this question, and it is even open to argument whether a direct attack on armaments is the best way of securing either their liminution or their abolition. I happened to take an unimportant part in the first Peace Conference at The Hague in the year 1899, when all the states of the world were not separated by the terrible antagonisms aroused by the late war. We were very well intentioned, very friendly, and set out to
discover a formula for the reduction of armaments, in response to the late Tsar's humanitarian appeal. We could not find one, though we sought high and low for it, and a very good American delegation helped us in our search. Time has passed, and the urgency of the question may lead to the discovery of the formula for which we sought in vain; but I am not confident that it will.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting again that very competent Belgian lawyer, M. Rolin Jacquemyns, who also was at the Peace Conference of 1899, and is now the Belgian representative on the Rhineland High Commission. We compared notes and were both convinced that the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which was the chef-d'œuvre of our Conference, was of more value than the League of Nations is ever likely to be. The Court still exists and has done much useful work. To it should have been submitted the Upper Silesia case. The Hague Court represents the main idea that seemed to me to be in President Harding's mind at the time of the late presidential election in the United States; and I hoped that we were on the right track once more and were getting back to practical politics after our Geneva day-dreams. I shall retain that hope till the end.
An International Court of Arbitration, rather than a spurious form of world-government like the League, is the real remedy for most of the present troubles of the world. But I would like to see its importance magnified a hundred times by the acceptance of the principle of obligatory arbitration by all the states of the world. That condition we could not secure in 1899, because several states insisted on withdrawing from the purview of the Court all questions in which 'honor and vital interests' were involved. That reserva tion practically made the Court useless