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The responsibilites of the League online

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mind, and she may discover in Korfanty and
the members of the former German Polish
Party parliamentary talents which may do much
to strengthen her political life. Nevertheless,
the present government has as yet no deep
roots in the country ; the foundations of the
new republic are not yet dug in the masses of
the people ; and none of the new states suffers
more acutely from the devastation of the war
and from the lack of capital, raw material, and
economic guidance. Such as she is, however,
Poland lends the only touch of stability to the
ill-defined and troubled borderland between
Russia and Central Europe. In the extreme
north Finland does, indeed, show signs of
political coherence, but, with this exception, a
belt of debatable populations, with some
national consciousness but lacking almost com-
pletely the elements of independent life, runs
from the Baltic to the Black Sea, through
Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, White Russia,
Galicia, and Bessarabia. The future of these
territories has been left open pending the


re- establishment of settled government in Russia,
and till then they remain a trouble to their
neighbours, a bait to German, Polish, and
Rumanian ambition, a disturbing factor in the
new order. Beyond them lies the Russian prob-
lem, but before touching on this we may well
pause to ask ourselves whether, as matters at pre-
sent stand, the Allies or the Germans are the more
likely to bring order and coherence to the Europe
thus rudely sketched by the Peace Conference.

For what has hitherto been the achievement
of the Allies during the long months between
November and July, when they were solely
responsible for carrying over a still unsettled
Europe from war to peace ? Have they dealt
strongly, steadily, or sympathetically with the
thousand problems which offered themselves for
solution during these months ? The Conference
has shown much detailed knowledge and much
expert ability, if little statesmanlike imagina-
tion, in the laborious drawing of frontiers and
in the other technical departments of the actual
Treaty, but how far has it applied these talents
to the current work of diplomacy and inter-
national administration forced upon it by the
cessation of hostilities and the rudimentary
beginnings of the new states ? Much has
certainly been accomplished ; there has been
much busy investigation and multifarious activ-
ity, many military and quasi-political missions
have been sent to various quarters, and a
variety of peremptory instructions have been
issued to Poles, Rumanians, Jugo-Slavs, and
Czechs. But the hard fact is that the Conference,


with limitless opportunities for focussing at
Paris all the needs, interests, and aspirations
of the family of nations, began by delaying its
own meeting for two months, and then, during
its earlier sittings, forgot the present needs and
dangers of the new States, the accrued result of
this delay, in a protracted and somewhat ele-
mentary discussion of their territorial claims.
The plenipotentiaries of the principal Allies had
hardly settled down to systematic work when
the two main issues dividing the Great Powers
themselves the question of the Franco-German
frontier and the Italian claims in the Adriatic
forced their way into the foreground of the
Conference. In these circumstances their deci-
sions on current developments Prinkipo, the
Teschen modus vivendi, the armistice between
Poles and Ukrainians, the various ultimata
to Bela Kun, the Greek landing at Smyrna
were thrown off hurriedly in the midst of other
business. If in all this Mr. Lloyd George and
President Wilson had shown any special marks
of hesitation or carelessness, such errors might
be easily retrieved in the future, but this is not
the fact. Throughout, they were in a very real
sense the faithful representatives of their peoples.
The failures of the Conference were not due to
personal weakness ; they were inherent in the
past life and system of the Western democracies ;
and only a change in national outlook will
prevent their continual repetition in the future
in the Council of the League of Nations.

It is impossible within the limits of this essay
to give detailed facts in support of this summary


view of allied policy, but it is important to trace
the course of events in one great region of dis-
turbance the basin of the Danube. Politically,
the break-up of the A ustro-Hungarian Empire
made this region ihe supreme test of allied
statesmanship. Economically, the Danube was
the key to the relief work of the Supreme
Economic Council in the whole south-eastern
area. Trouble began with the conclusion of the
armistices and the demarcation of the limits of
military occupation. This task seems to have
been undertaken, not like the armistice with
Germany, by the Supreme War Council, but
by the Italian High Command in the west and
by General Franchet d'Esperey in the east, as
commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in the
Balkans. The Supreme War Council doubtless
formally ratified these decisions, but in the case
of the armistice arrangements between Czechs
and Magyars it seems uncertain whether even this
formality was complied with. The lines fixed
in Transylvania, in the Pressburg region and in
Carinthia, were faulty and ill-defined. It is
difficult to say who, if anyone, was from the
first responsible for the enforcement of the
armistice terms. The Italian High Commission
at Vienna interfered spasmodically in the in-
ternal affairs of Austria ; in Bohemia Italian
officers were in command of the Czecho-Slovak
army ; in Hungary there was an Italian mission
at Budapest, while General Franchet d'Esperey
commanded Serbian and French troops in the
Banat, and exercised some ill-defined authority
over the Rumanian army of occupation in


Transylvania. Hungary had no government.
The old aristocratic clique was discredited ;
Count Karolyi was a makeshift without influence
or ability ; food shortage was preparing the way
for revolution, while, beneath the ruins of the
oligarchy, Magyar nationalism was still alive,
still ready for one last gamble for ascendancy.
Hind-sight is easy, and it is perhaps frivolous at
this distance of time to say that the Allies
should have recognised Hungary as the key to
the Danubian settlement. Yet there is little
doubt that the Hungarian revolution might
easily have been averted. British troops would
have been welcomed in Budapest in February,
but there were none to send. Demobilisation
had disarmed the one Great Power whom Magyar
and Czech would alike have trusted. The situa-
tion was allowed to develop unheeded ; Czechs
and Rumanians were subjected to no restraint,
no remedial measures were taken in Hungary,
the blockade was not raised till too late. When
the explosion came, the Conference began by a
miscalculation in General Smuts' mission, and
then allowed the whole of May to pass without
making any further move. It was not till
June, seven months after the armistice, that
the Allies began to devote real attention to the
problem. The action they then took has been
criticised, and it certainly bore many marks of
haste and defective knowledge, but on the whole
it was not ill-judged. Critics too often miss the
point when they accuse the Council of Four
of snubbing their friends and letting their
enemies down easily. Britain's prestige in


Europe is based on her reputation for im-
partiality. The new states, who put their trust
in Britain more than in any other Great Power,
do not look to her for active support against
their neighbours nor expect from her a policy
based on accurate knowledge, dovetailing with
nicety into their needs. They ask only for a
steady manifestation of her interest in their
affairs, and it is only by carelessness and inertia,
not by the stumbling honesty of her interven-
tion when she is at last aroused, that she will
forfeit their respect and confidence. The real
sin of the Council of Four is not that they have
issued ill-judged commands which have been
disobeyed, but that their fiats have been spas-
modic, interspersed with long periods of inaction.
Their negligence in Hungary was duplicated in
Austria. While, encouraged by the hope of
German resistance, Magyar nationalism and
Jewish Bolshevism combined to threaten the
whole Danubian settlement, the Allies did little
to strengthen Austria against the advances of
Germany or the subversive efforts of Bela Kun.
Italy's traditional sympathies were with Hungary
against Austria, and she seems to have been not
too scrupulous in her manner of showing them.
Austria sank from depth to depth of perplexity
and despair. Renner, seeking some alternative
to Kun's Sovietism on the one hand and Bauer's
union with Germany on the other, looked in
vain for any sign of help from the Allies. The
terms of peace originally handed to him at St.
Germain seemed to be drawn on stereotyped
lines, with little reference to the special issues


involved. At first, the bankruptcy of Austria,
her complete dependence on outside assistance
for the very rudiments of her economic life, the
consequent impossibility of preventing her union
with Germany by mere paper prohibitions, and
even her just claim to the western counties of
Hungary, seemed alike to be ignored. In
Carinthia and at Vienna the policy of the
Italian Government seemed for weeks to be con-
ducted independently of the Conference at Paris.
If Bela Kun and Boehm were deliberately aim-
ing at a junction with Germany through Slovakia
and Austria, the inaction of the Allies seemed
excellently calculated to further their designs.
In the final issue, it was Germany's decision to
sign, rather than the Allies' ultimatum to the
Magyar government, that saved Bohemia and
Austria from extinction. But here also it is
important to recognise that when the Conference
awoke to the situation, it did show itself anxious
to retrieve its mistakes. Fighting in Carinthia
was stopped ; frontier rectifications in Austria's
favour were granted at Gmund and Presburg,
and Austria's claims in western Hungary were

The faults of the Conference can be easily
explained and as easily remedied in its successor,
the Council of the League. Lack of organisation
at the centre, an imperfect and incoherent intel-
ligence service in the troubled areas, and the
rapid demobilisation of military and economic
power these were the sources of inefficiency.
The old problem of unity of command is still im-
perfectly solved, and Germany thus retains an



immense advantage if the revolution has left
her the power to use it. Political unity was
nominally achieved in the Council of Four, but,
except in the case of Poland and the Baltic
provinces, no subordinate inter- allied com-
missions were established at Paris to co-ordinate
information as to current events and to evolve
recommendations. The armistice regime placed
responsibility for the whole Berlin-Bagdad region
in military hands, but, except in the case of the
armistice commission at Spa, there was little co-
ordination between the Allied military repre-
sentatives appointed for this purpose. The
Italian High Commissioner at Vienna, General
Franchet d'Esperey in the Balkans, Admiral
Calthorpe at Constantinople, General Milne and
General Allenby in Asia Minor and the Levant,
each acted according to his own lights, con-
trolled only by the instructions of his own
government. On the purely military side, the
Allied Military Committee at Versailles had
never succeeded in creating a real joint General
Staff. Marshal Foch remained in his own
person the only symbol of military unity.
Economic unity, lost from November to Febru-
ary, was never completely recaptured by the
Supreme Economic Council, and its activities
were imperfectly co-ordinated with political
policy. The same criticism applies to the
system of economic, political and military
intelligence. Each department had its own
representatives, each studying the situation
from different angles and all conscious of a lack
of central direction and guidance. The first


Eroblem that faces the League is one of pure
umdrum organisation, if it is not to become a
mere official garment for the policy of the most
powerful state, the most commanding states-
man, in the new Europe. It is surely not too
bold a forecast to say that unless the League
comes to represent a real, and not a merely
nominal, unity of deliberation and policy,
it will become the cloak and mouthpiece of

This danger is enhanced by what must be
pronounced the greatest failure of the Conference.
We have already touched on the weakness of
allied economic policy since the armistice from
the point of view mainly of relief work and
ravitaillement. But to these sins of omission has
been added a sin of commission in the reparation
provisions of the German and Austrian treaties.
The problem whch now faces the Reparation
Commission, as well as the Supreme Economic
Council and the League of Nations itself, is that
Germany finds herself not only the geographic,
but also the economic, centre of a Europe bound
together by the common calamity of a depre-
ciated currency and a dilapidated credit. The
condition of the dollar and, to a less but very
real degree, the sterling exchanges is forcing
Europe into an economic bloc, a group of
impoverished nations whose only alternative
to bankruptcy is the limitation of their com-
mercial dealings to transactions among them-
selves, to the exclusion of their more fortunate
neighbours. In such a bloc, Germany, with all
her disadvantages, cannot fail to secure an


almost unchallenged leadership, and, as always,
political power will follow economic.

There are, however, two problems of the new
Europe which it is beyond the power of any
single great nation to control, and at these we
must glance before we close this survey of half-
established order and half-won peace. For the
reasons just stated, Russia may well fall under
the economic spell of Germany, but our alarmists
are at a loss when they prophesy German
control of the future Russian state. There
is an amorphous unity in that vast body and
a growing power of national imagination, the
germ of national ambition, which bids fair to
defy mere economic penetration. Bolshevism
has not destroyed these qualities ; it has
strengthened them. Even before the war
German bureaucrats and German commercial
travellers were swallowed up in Russia like
Napoleon's armies. British and American mine-
owners and capitalists rode precariously on the
surface of Russian life. If Bolshevism fails to
work an international revolution, it must either
pass before the armies of Kolchak and Denikin
or preserve itself by alliance with Russian
nationalism. It is probably already far ad-
vanced along this road not by any purely
opportunist confederacy with reaction such as
linked the Soviet at Budapest with the old
Magyar army, but by a slower and more funda-
mental process of assimilation, by offering to
Russian national consciousness, in place of the
glamour of the Empire of Constantinople, the
prouder ambition to be the standard-bearer of


" the Revolution/ 1 In this direction may lie
even compromise and reconciliation with the
forces on which Kolchak and Denikin rely for
their success. But whatever may be the future
of Russia, even when, under some future settled
constitution, she is admitted to membership of
the League of Nations, she will long remain out-
side it in spirit and in aims. It is chimerical
to imagine that her future government will be
directed by the Sazonows, the Miliukoffs, and
the Lvoffs. The dye of revolution has eaten
too deeply into her political life. Lenin may be
alien to her but he has set in motion forces
which forbid a mere relapse into Western
liberalism. No Orleanist Thiers will return to
direct the destinies of the new republic. She
will overshadow the new Europe, but her roots
are outside it. Thoughtless readers of history
are in the habit of deriding the bugbears that
have successively scared Europe since the Refor-
mation the Spain that Bacon classed with the
empires of Rome and Charlemagne, the France
that maddened Chatham, the Russia that
disturbed the sleep of Granville and Salis-
bury. Recently it has been pointed out with
great justice that the Russian bugbear blinded
British statesmanship to the German menace,
almost until too late. Yet the mistake of our
forefathers was not that they feared these
forces but that they underestimated them. The
Armada, the persecutions in the Low Countries,
were but the by-products of Spain's destiny ;
she passed like a dream, but not before she had
poisoned for all future centuries the life of half


the New World. France did her appointed
work by no petty conquests on the Rhine, in the
Netherlands or in Canada ; she settled down
within her own frontiers, but not before her
revolution had changed the face of Europe.
It may yet be the same with Russia. Persia,
the Indian frontier, China and Poland may now
be preserved from her old ambitions of expan-
sion, but her revolution has been no passing
freak of Jewish fury and the belt of Slav nations
which, with independence gained, stretches to
the gates of Bavaria, to the Adriatic and to
Adrianople, is no mere figment of ethnology.
Absurd as the enthusiasms of our Western
sovietmongers may be, Russia is to-day a field
of political invention and a source of inspiration
to millions outside her frontiers, and the future
may well depend on the extent to which the
imagination of the Western democracies can
keep pace with hers.

The other great problem of the future is the
Jewish. America, Britain, France and Italy
stand pledged to an experiment which, judged
by ordinary political standards, is little short
of visionary. In Palestine, a country peopled
for the most part by an Arab race, whose inde-
pendence they are equally pledged to recog-
nise and guarantee, a " national home " is to be
created for a people whose only connection
with that country for 1800 years was one
of historic sentiment and religious tradition.
This pledge violates all the current ideas of self-
determination. It stands isolated and unique
among the various phases of the settlement. A


superficial explanation of it is easy and has
often been given. The Gentile world has failed
utterly to assimilate Jewry. Up to the end of
the eighteenth century it had indeed made no
attempt to do so. Until the French Revolution
gave the final touch of inexorable logic to the
idea of the national state, sovereign, supreme
and united, based on complete uniformity of
life and laws and tolerating no separatism
within its borders, the bulk of European Jewry
lived its own life, made its own laws, taught its
own culture, built up indeed and consolidated
within the body of Europe its own federal
empire with its centre in Poland, undisturbed
by the ebb and flow of the European struggle
round it. With the French Revolution came,
however, the most curious development re-
corded in all modern history. Liberalism and
nationalism, with a flourish of trumpets, threw
open the doors of the ghetto and offered equal
citizenship to the Jew. The Jew passed out
into the Western world, saw the power and the
glory of it, used it and enjoyed it, laid his hand
indeed on the nerve centres of its civilisation,
guided, directed and exploited it, and then
refused the offer. Every country has benefited
by his economic talents, his philosophy, his
artistic genius nay, by his political allegiance
and his patriotic devotion. But, broadly speak-
ing and all generalisations are only approxi-
mately true he has refused assimilation. More-
over and this is the remarkable thing the
Europe of nationalism and liberalism, of scien-
tific government and democratic equality, is


more intolerable to him than the old oppressions
and persecutions of despotism. This may appear
a paradox to those who see around them in
Western Europe contented Jewish populations
taking full part in the processes of modern
democracy, and who know that the future
colonists of Palestine will be drawn, not from
these populations, but from the oppressed
orphans of the Diaspora in Eastern Europe.
This is true, but it is also true, first, that the per-
secutors of Eastern Europe are the nationalists,
and secondly, that it is in the settled and
contented Jewry of the west that Zionism has
won its signal victory over anti-Zionism during
these last few years. This victory was won
by no mere sympathy for the oppressed Jew
in other lands ; it arose also from a growing
conviction that, in the increasing consolidation
of the Western nations, it is no longer possible
to reckon on complete toleration that there
is a steady tendency to present the alternative
between assimilation and exclusion in a more
and more inexorable form. Startling though
the idea may be, it is in a sense true that the
ghetto has been more a real home to the Jew
than forums and parliaments. During the
darkness of the Middle Ages, during the wars
of the Reformation and of national monarchies,
he made shift to live and work in the midst
of Europe ; now, in the dawn of what we
are proud to call the enlightenment of a new
era, he makes haste to be gone. The horrors of
the war just ended turned his eyes more than
ever to his traditional home ; but it is the


conditions of the peace, the nationalism of the
new Europe, that seem to give the final signal for
his exodus. In a world of completely organised
territorial sovereignties he has only two possible
cities of refuge : he must either pull down the
pillars of the whole national state system or he
must create a territorial sovereignty of his own.
In this perhaps lies the explanation both of
Jewish Bolshevism and of Zionism, for at this
moment Eastern Jewry seems to hover uncer-
tainly between the two. European statesman-
ship, partly conscious at least of these things,
sees in Zionism the only method of giving to
these alien elements in its system the poise,
the contentment and the sense of responsibility
which the Western world believes it has itself
derived from the modern nationalist movement.
Hence the " Balfour declaration " and the
strange burden laid on the shoulders of Britain
by the mandate for Palestine which the final
peace with Turkey will almost certainly confer
upon us.

This explanation covers the facts, but it
does not go very deep. What untameable
qualities have confirmed Jewry in its isolation,
keeping it distinct for all these centuries ?
Is it likely that a people which, while often so
powerfully aiding the development of European
political thought, has resisted all its conclusions,
should now, in the evening of time, be content
simply to borrow a political idea from Western
democracy and devote itself to the creation of a
' national state" after the Gentile model ? At
any rate, is it conceivable that such a people,


characterised hitherto by a faculty of clear
thought and relentless logic, should accept a
mere instalment of such an idea and linger con-
tentedly, not at the goal of the national state,
but in the half-way house of the " national
home" ? In Eastern Europe Bolshevism and
Zionism often seem to grow side by side, just as
Jewish influence moulded republican and socialist
thought throughout the nineteenth century,
down to the Young Turk revolution in Constanti-
nople hardly more than a decade ago not
because the Jew cares for the positive side of
radical philosophy, not because he desires to be
a partaker in Gentile nationalism or Gentile
democracy, but because no existing Gentile
system of government is ever anything but
distasteful to him. Will such a spirit of revolt
be extinguished, such recurring alliances with
the rebels be dissolved, by some comfortable
Palestinian compromise, by a University of
Jerusalem, by the focusing of Jewish culture
and the Hebrew language in a few hundred
square miles of Levant coastline ? We might
almost dismiss the " national home " as irrele-
vant were it not for the tremendous forces
which the Balfour declaration has already
set in motion the stirring of all Jewry in

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Online LibraryEustace Percy Percy of NewcastleThe responsibilites of the League → online text (page 9 of 20)