Herbert Adams Gibbons.

The reconstruction of Poland and the Near East ; problems of peace online

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since Greece and Serbia began the
struggle to shake off the Ottoman yoke,
European statesmen have been "prac-
tical." They have viewed Balkan condi-
tions not as men with a conscience knew
they ought to be, but as men playing a
game thought they were. They are doing


the same to-day. If they deny the pos-
sibihtj^ of an altruistic attitude in dealing
with Balkan affairs, are not the Entente
statesmen, who are said to have arrived at
a secret agreement on the future of the
Balkans (an agi'cement whose terms are
unkno\Mi alike to their o^\^l people and
the people of the Balkans), playing Ger-
many's game? The formula of putting
might before right is popularly supposed
to be German. And — in the Balkans at
least — the might is on Germany's side. It
is perfectly plain, then, that the Entente
Powers must put right before might in
the Balkan diplomacy, and must saj^ to
the Balkan nations, we are fighting to
protect you from Teutonic overlords for
your own sakes, and not in order that we
may be your overlords. No other argu-
ment will convince the Balkan races that
it is to their interest to risk now — and in


the futui*e also — opposing the Drang
nach Osten by cooperating with the
enemies of Germany. Having revealed
in the Balkans their inferiority in military
strength to Germany, the alternative to
defeat for the Entente Powers is renuncia-
tion of ambitions and methods similar to
those of Germany.

The Balkan peninsula has been called
contemptuously by European political
writers a cockpit. But cocks do not fight
unless they are trained, provided with
spurs, and set at one another. Banish the
Great Powers, and the cockpit would be-
come a barn-yard, with only an occasional
spat. If the natural expansion of each
Balkan State along ethnographic and
economic lines were allowed to develop
freely, causes for antagonisms and conflict
could be removed, and there would be a
possibility of peaceful national develop-


ment and of federation in treating foreign

Throughout the period of nearly a hun-
dred years during which the Osmanhs
were gTadually losing the Balkan penin-
sula there has never been a time that Eu-
ropean diplomacy has not been active
in repressing the natural expansion of
the emancipated races. Every rebellion
against the Ottoman yoke, up to and in-
cluding (as we have seen above) the 1912
war of liberation, has been viewed with
alarm by the European Powers. In the
guise of aiding and protecting the Balkan
nations, the Powers have interfered to
frustrate every effort to win independence
and national unity. One cannot insist too
strongly on the point that the antagonisms
between the Balkan States are not prima-
rily due to conflicting aspirations inherited
from ante-Ottoman days. In reviving


fourteenth-century conflicts and historic
counterclaims and traditions, Greece and
Serbia and Bulgaria and Rumania are
victims of thwarted natural expansion.
European diplomacy, imposing a veto
upon natural expansion, caused history to
be denatured by translating ancient
dynastic rivalries into modern national

The Balkan States, in their natural de-
velopment, need not have turned against
one another. There was no necessity for
the JVIacedonian question. If Greece had
been allowed to expand into Epirus and
to follow her maritime bent by forming an
island empire out of Greek islands, Greece
would hardly have come into conflict with
Bulgaria in Macedonia. If Serbia had
been allowed to expand to the Adriatic
through Bosnia and Herzegovina and
Dalmatia, historic Serbian lands inhabited


by Serbian-speaking races, she would not
have been induced alternately by Austria
and Russia to make a propaganda against
Greeks and Bulgarians in Macedonia.
If the treaty of Berlin had not given
Rumanian Bessarabia to Russia and
"compensated" Rumania south of the
Danube with Bulgarian Dobrudja, there
need not have been an Alsace-Lorraine
question between Rumania and Bulgaria.
These hypotheses are not fanciful, or to
be rejected without careful examination,
for they represent the intimate conviction
of eminent Balkan patriots who have de-
voted their lives to a struggle against the
limitations imposed upon them by the
rivalry and jealousy of the Great Powers.
Aspirations as noble, as just, as sacred as
those of Belgium and France liave been
disregarded and sacrificed, and are being
still disregarded and sacrificed, by Euro-


pean diplomacy in the Balkans. And the
blame and shame of European diplomacy
is all the greater when we have many in-
dubitable proofs, in studying the negotia-
tions between the Powers and Subhme
Porte, that considerations wholly outside
of anything affecting the Balkan penin-
sula and its inhabitants most often in-
spired the efforts of the Powers to keep
the Balkans in slavery to the Turks.

Balkan antagonisms can be healed.
Conflicting Balkan aspirations can be rec-
onciled. A just and permanent balance
of power can be established in the Balkans.
What is needed is not a victorious group
of Powers imposing their will upon the
Balkan nations, but the sincere applica-
tion of Mr. Balfour's three conditions for
a durable peace. The entry of the United
States into the war is extremely important
and beneficial in regard to the Balkan set-


tlement. For at the Peace Conference,
we shall have no ax to grind, and can make
our voice heard insistently to assure an
equitable settlement. American public
opinion, then, must acquaint itself with
the Balkan problem, and have a solution
to offer. Our idealism will have no weight
unless it is logical, intelligent, and con-
structive. One can suggest the outstand-
ing lines of a settlement that is based upon
the interests of the nations concerned and
does not have to consider the ambitions of
outside Powers.

1. Rumania. Whatever inspired and
interested "authorities" may wi'ite, there
can be no doubt that the terre irrcdente of
Rumania, Transylvania, and Bukowina,
if a plebiscite were taken, would vote to
remain with the Austro-Hungarian Em-
pire: so Rumania should renounce sol-
emnly her aspirations in connection with


these provinces in return for evacuation
of her territory by the Central Powers.
Russia should restore a portion at least of
Bessarabia to Rumania, and Rumania
should cede back to Bulgaria the part of
the Dobioidja she stole from Bulgaria in
1913. The Danube states, Germany,
Austria-Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria
should be guaranteed unobstructed pas-
sage on the Danube through Rumanian
waters even in time of war.

2. Serbia. Evacuation and restoration
of independence upon the following basis :
The Central Powers to agree to recon-
stitute the kingdom as it existed before the
treaty of Bukharest, with the exception of
the Pirot district, which should be retained
by Bulgaria; to give Serbia northern
Macedonia up to the minimum line estab-
lished in the Serbo-Bulgarian treaty of
1912; to cede to Serbia, Bosnia, Herze-


govina, and Dalmatia from the Narente
River to the Bay of Cattaro; not to op-
pose any future pohtical union between
Serbia and Montenegro; not to oppose a
possible future division of Albania be-
tween Serbia and Greece. Serbia to
agree to restore the Pirot district to Bul-
garia; to waive all claims to Macedonia
south of the line established as the mini-
mum of her pretensions in the Serbo-Bul-
garian treaty of 1912; to bind herself not
to make a propaganda officially, nor to
permit the Narodna Ohrana or any other
irredentist organization to make a propa-
ganda among the south Slavs of Croatia
and other portions of the Austro-Hun-
garian Empire; not to fortify the Bay of
Cattaro; not to make an offensive and de-
fensive alliance with Italy or with Aus-

3. Montenegro. The Central Powers


to restore to Montenegro its territories as
they were at the outbreak of the present
war, and Austria to cede the lower end of
Dalmatia from the Bay of Cattaro to the
present Montenegran frontier. In re-
turn, Montenegro to assume the same
obligations as Serbia concerning the for-
tifications of the Bay of Cattaro and
the formation of offensive and defensive
alliances with the two great Adriatic
Powers; and to promise to submit to a
plebiscite the question of pohtical fusion
with Serbia.

4. Bulgaria. Evacuation of Rumania
against the cession of the Dobrudja dis-
trict which Bulgaria lost in the treaty of
Bukharest, and evacuation of Serbia
against cession of the Pirot district and ail
of Macedonia below the minimum Serbia
line of the Serbo-Bulgarian treaty of
1912. Evacuation of Greek Macedonia


against the cession by Greece of Mace-
donia east of a line drawn from the Mesta
River, where it crosses the present Greco-
Bulgarian frontier, south between Serres
and Drama to the Gulf of Rendina, thus
giving Kavala to Bulgaria; the recogni-
tion by Greece of Bulgaria's rights to
JNIacedonia west of the Vardar from the
present Greek frontier to the minimum
Serbian line of the Serbo-Bulgarian treaty
of 1912; and the cession by Greece of
Thasos and Samothrace to Bulgaria.

5. Greece. Extension northwest to in-
clude Epirus south of a line drawn from
the southern end of Lake Ochrida to
Khimara (north of Santi Quaranta) on
the Ionian Sea. Cession to Bulgaria of
the eastern end of Macedonia, as outlined
above. All the Greek islands in the
iEgean Sea (except Thasos and Samoth-
race, which are essential for the protection


of the Bulgarian coast, and Tenedos and
Imbros, which control the Dardanelles)
to be handed over to Greece. This means
that Italy evacuate Dodecanese and Great
Britain Cyprus. Greece must undertake
not to fortify Mudros or any other part of
the island of Lemnos.

6. Albania. Albania will have to re-
main temporarily as at present consti-
tuted, with the exception of the southern
Epirote portion, which ought to be al-
lotted immediately to Greece. Albania
presents the most perplexing problem of
Balkan readjustment, and will have to be
kept, under international or Pan-Balkan
control as an autonomous region for a
period of trial years. If Albanians are
able to fuse into a nation, disinterested
international control, from which both
Austria-Hungary and Italy must be rig-
orously excluded, will establish the con-


tentions of Albanian nationalists. If the
experiment does not succeed, Albania
should eventually be divided between Ser-
bia and Greece.

7. Constatitinojjle and the Straits,
The reasons against Russian occupation
have already been set forth in an earlier
chapter. If the Turks are driven out of
Europe, this region and the islands of
Tenedos and Imbros ought to be interna-
tionahzed, with the Enos-Midia line as
the Bulgarian frontier. But as interna-
tionalization presents insurmountable dif-
ficulties unless the peace conference es-
tablishes a similar regime for the other
great international waterways, the Balkan
balance of power, as well as the general
world equihbrium, is best secured by leav-
ing Constantinople and the straits to the
Ottoman Empire, with the stipulation
that all fortifications be destroyed, free


passage be assured to merchant vessels of
all nations and to war vessels of the coun-
tries bordering on the Black Sea.

I realize fully that these suggestions are
open to objection on many points, but
in their ensemble they represent the ap-
plication of the principle that nations have
a right to decide their own destinies, no
nation being subjected to another nation
by force. I submit that they are practical
suggestions, too, for those who are oj)-
posed to German political expansion in the
near East. For if the conscience of the
world is not alive to the necessity and the
justice of leaving the Balkan peninsula
to the Balkan races, Germany will keep
the hegemony in the Balkans that she has
already won.



No peace can last or ought to last which
does not recognize and accept the principle that
governments derive all their just powers from
the consent of the governed, and that no right
anywhere exists to hand peoples about from
potentate to potentate as if they were prop-
erty. . . . Henceforth inviolable security of
life, of worship and of industrial and social de-
velopment should be guaranteed to all peoples
who have lived hitherto under the power of gov-
ernments devoted to a faith and purpose hostile
to their own. ... I am proposing that the na-
tions should with one accord adopt the doctrine
of President Monroe as the doctrine of the
world: that no nation should seek to extend
polity over any other nation or people, but that
every people should be left free to determine its
own policy, its own way of development, un-
hindered, unthreatened, unafraid, the little
along with the great and powerful. ... I am
proposing government by the consent of the


governed. . . These are American principles,
American policies. We could stand for no oth-
ers. . . . They are the principles of mankind,
and must prevail. — President Wilson to tlie
American Senate, January ^£, 1917.

EXCEPT in socialist and extreme
liberal and radical circles, whose
official newspapers reflect the opinion of
minority parties, the message of President
Wilson to the American Senate was re-
ceived with coldness and reserve in all the
belligerent countries. There was little
difference in the editorial comment of
London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome,
Petrograd, and Constantinople. Un-
fortunately, the diplomacy of the Euro-
pean powers has refused during the pres-
ent war to cut loose from the traditional
foreign policy of the nineteenth century.
It is impossible for any of the belligerent
powers to agree offhand to follow the
path of peace and justice unequivocally

set forth by the President of the United
States. Adherence to the principles that
President Wilson quite rightly calls
American policies would mean the end of
European imperialism and the abandon-
ment of the doctrine of European "emi-
nent domain."

Europe has made no effort to combat
the logic of President Wilson's conditions
of a durable peace. I have searched in
vain for an editorial or an article or a
speech taking up in detail the points of
the Presidential message to the Senate,
contesting the facts or the line of argu-
ment, and endeavoring to show where and
how Mr. Wilson is wrong. The criticisms
of the message have either evaded the
issues altogether and discussed irrelevant
matters, or have been born of blind pas-
sion and sentimental hysteria. Nowhere
in Europe does one find a disposition to


consider any other peace than that im-
posed by force for the benefit of the victor-
ious group of belhgerents. In every bel-
ligerent country, including even Turkey,
I know personally men of the highest
standing and authority who think exactly
as President Wilson thinks; but with the
single exception of Signor Giolitti, former
premier of Italy, not a statesman who
played a part in the diplomacy of the
decade preceding the present war has the
moral courage to approve President Wil-
son's conditions for a durable peace.

The American President and the Amer-
ican people have not had a good press in
Europe since August, 1914. American
neutrality has been persistently misunder-
stood and bitterly resented. There has
been a tendency to consider the people
of the United States oblivious to moral
issues, bent on money-making, and divided


into unassimilated groups according to
their European origin. JMuch of the mis-
understanding of America can be traced
to Americans resident abroad, who have
not hesitated to speak ex cathedra about
matters of American social and pohtical
hfe, of which they had hmited and im-
perfect, if any, knowledge. During the
last two years I have talked with Ameri-
cans in London, Berlin, ]\Iunich, Vienna,
and Paris who told me that they were
ashamed of their native country for ex-
actly opposite reasons. According to the
place in which they lived, these Americans
thought that President Wilson had dis-
honored the American flag and denied
the traditions of American history by not
declaring war against Great Britain or
Germany. Few of them knew anything
about either the underlying causes of the
European War or the history and social


and political development of the American

President Wilson's message of January
22, 1917, is the embodiment of American
idealism. This idealism is not to be
sneered at and ridiculed. When Presi-
dent Wilson sets forth the fundamental
conditions of a durable peace, declaring
that "these are American principles,
American policies," and warns the world
that the United States "could stand for
no others," his meaning is perfectly plain.
The weight and influence of America in
the peace conference will be thrown into
the balance on every question that is
brought up to secure "government by the
consent of the governed." The entry of
the United States into the w^ar should not
mean that American principles and Ameri-
can policies are in any way modified.
Long before deliberate provocation made

necessary a break with Germany Ameri-
cans had passed judgment upon Ger-
many's methods of submarine warfare.
Belligerency cannot destroy the persistent
idealism of the American vision of world
peace. It enhances, on the other hand,
the significance of that idealism by testing
its sincerity. Active participation in the
war should not entail the blindness of
Old- Wo rid traditional prejudices and
Old- World racial passions. We are not
entangled in the meshes of Old- World
diplomacy. We are not bound by secret
agreements, entered into without the
knowledge of the nation. We have no
world empire to retain and increase.

The United States is European civiliza-
tion transplanted and developed by Euro-
peans. The process has been different
from that of any other American state.
Canada remained in the political system


of a European power. Immigrants to
Canada either retained their Old-World
allegiance or were compelled to transfer
their allegiance from one Old-World gov-
ernment to another.^ In Central and
South America the stock for three hun-
dred years was mingled with native blood
or remained so distinctively Latin that the
later European inmiigration has not been
assimilated. The United States is the
only country in the world in which all the
European races have succeeded in fusing
into a new nation.

When one considers how the American

1 Canadians are not allowed to forget the British
North American Act. After writing the above lines, I
read that the Supreme Court had just declared imcon-
stitutional the direct legislation law passed by the Mani-
toba Legislature. The five judges were unanimous in
holding that direct legislation was unconstitutional, since
it was contrary to the British North American Act. One
of the judges remarked in his written opinion: "The
public are not sovereign in this country. In the United
States the people are sovereign, but we get our sovereign
power from England."



nation has been formed, and is still being
formed, he realizes the absurdity of
criticisms in connection with our attitude
toward the European War, hastily made
by publicists who know nothing of Ameri-
can history and American life, and taken
up and glibly repeated by the unthinking.
The outstanding criticisms are : the United
States is not a nation, but a collection of
unassimilated European groups; Ameri-
cans cannot understand the issues at stake
in Europe.

Alannists talk of unassimilated immi-
grant groups in the United States who are
not "genuine Americans" and who can-
not feel like "genuine Americans." They
believe that large immigration to America
other than Anglo-Saxon is a phenomenon
of the last generation or two. But this
is not borne out by the facts. In propor-
tion to the total number of inhabitants of


the United States, the immigration from
continental Europe has always heen large.
It was large even in colonial days. At no
time in our national history has this con-
tinental immigration proved difficult or
slow of assimilations. Nor has it ever suc-
ceeded in forming colonies with political
attachment to a European motherland. I
have not ceased since the beginning of the
war to protest against the unfounded and
cruelly unjust German- American scare.
From the Revolutionary War down to the
present time the United States has never
had any reason to question the loyalty of
the German- American element. Ameri-
cans of German stock are just as good
Americans as those of any other stock.
We may not be able to make Americans
of the first generation of our immigrants
unless they come to us in childhood, but
we never fail to cast the second generation


in the American mold. Our schools and
early environment are irresistible influ-
ences of assimilation. Even in some of
our large cities, where first generation im-
migrants have tried to transplant the Old
World, the second generation proves re-
fractory to what it instinctively feels are
exotic institutions.

By the last American census, thirteen
million Americans were of foreign birth
and nineteen other millions were born of
foreign parents. An additional five mil-
lions have gone from Europe to America
since the census of 1910, and the foreign
born already in the United States have
been more prolific than the native born.
Is it to be presumed that this large por-
tion of our population has not brought to
America a keen, intimate, personal knowl-
edge of the ills from which Europe is
suffering? Do not our American Poles,


Irish, Germans, Bohemians, and Jews
know what pohtical and religious perse-
cution means? Do not our immigrants
hold in detestation racial antagonisms and
the crushing taxation due to the main-
tenance and increase of armies and navies ?
Is it forgotten that the foreign elements
of the American electorate, inspired by
their own bitter experience in Europe,
were solidly opposed to the wave of im-
perialism that threatened to carry the
United States into the maelstrom of in-
ternational colonial rivalry after the war
with Spain? The marvelous growth of
America during the last two generations
is largely due to the desire of Europeans
to get away from compulsory military
service, and from the financial, economic,
and political handicaps of a continent
continually disturbed by international
rivalries.^ Our immigrants were not

1 The criticism that the American attitude is because


driven to America because of inability to
hold their own in Europe, and because
they felt that transplantation would bring
a change of luck. Since 1848, just as in
the two preceding centuries, the Euro-
peans who emigrated to America have
been the enterprising elements, clear-
headed and full of sj^irit, w^ho dared to cut
loose from the past and venture every-
thing in order to win religious and political
freedom and better economic conditions.

of ignorance through distance has as sponsor Premier
Lloyd-George, who in a recent Abraham Lincoln's birth-
day-message to the "New York Times" said: "It has
been difficult for a nation separated from Europe by an
ocean and without political relations with the European
peoples to grasp the true significance of this war," etc.
Mr. Lloyd-George is one of the most insular of English-
men, who knows as little about the United States as he
knows about the nations of continental Europe. Not
more than ten per cent, of the population of the British
Isles has any connection with Europe, and the connec-
tion of that ten per cent, is extremely slight. Forty per
cent, of the people in the United States have an intimate
connection with Europe from the Ural Mountains to the
North Sea.



The nineteenth-century immigrants met
their colonial predecessors, then, on com-

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Online LibraryHerbert Adams GibbonsThe reconstruction of Poland and the Near East ; problems of peace → online text (page 8 of 9)