Herbert David Croly.

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1 1

A Hand 'hook to the
IVashington Conference


The Meaning of the Conference Herbert Croly
^public Opinion in Japan . . . yohn Dewey
frhe British View .... George Glasgow
What France Wants . . . Sis ley Huddleston
A Japanese Rebuttal .... Bruce B liven
Private Enterprise and Pubb'c War M. 0, Hudson
A Baedeker to the Conference Frank y, Taylor
Sea Power in the Pacific . . . Stark Young


New Republic Pamphlet No. 2

Published by the

421 West Twenty-first Street

New York City


JTtC / ^ -7 c^


Copyright 192 1
Republic Publishing Co. Inc.

Roads to Peace

A Hand-book to the Washington Conference

What the Conference Means

hy Herbert Croly


THE most fundamental business with which the Washington Con-
ference will deal is the sickness of Europe and the route to recov- /^^
ery. The President and J\lr. Hughes for reasons to which I will ~-
refer later shy away from this matter, but they cannot prevent its consid-
eration and they have not dared to try. Indeed, by including land disarma-
ment in the agenda, they invited the European delegates to propose for
discussion both the poUtical dissensions and the economic disabilities of
Europe. The European governments know perfectly well that their
expenditures on armaments are one of the chief barriers to. economic
recovery, but these expenditures are only the doctor's bills which their
political maladies force them to pay. They will propose, consequently,
to discuss the limitation of land armaments in relation to the national
conflicts of which these armies are the instruments, and as this proposal
will only repeat the proposal of the United States in relation to the
discussion of naval armaments, the American delegation cannot refuse.
Yet the inability to refuse will place the American government in an
awkward position. For the British and French delegations will, in for-
mulating their attitude towards European armament and its economic
effect, focus the discussion upon an embarrassing aspect of the subject.
They will insist upon the impossibility of recovery without positive as-
sistance from abroad, which the United States is alone in a position to
supply; and they will ask the United States to toe the mark. This the
American government is extremely reluctant to do. No matter how
courteously it refuses, the refusal will look churlish and selfish. What
is the justification for the refusal? And what will be its effect upon
the outcome of the Conference?

The French argument and policy is ingeniously and persuasively
stated by Mr. Sisley Huddleston elsewhere in this pamphlet. It is



in substance a' feiwsai to • dx\3Ctrm until France can count upon the pay-
ment of her bill for reparations and upon absolute future security. She
will ask substantially as a price of disarmament that the American gov-
ernment guarantee the payment of the reparations account and enter
into a defensive alliance with her against Germany. She does not ask
for the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles, but she does ask for the
ratification of the Anglo-French-American agreement to protect the
French frontier against another German attack. She cannot consider
any reduction of military expenses and land armaments unless an Ameri-
can army remains actually or potentially upon the Rhine.

An American government controlled by the Republican party cannot
acquiesce in this argument without repudiating its declared policy with
respect to European entanglements. It rejected the Covenant of the
League chiefly because of Article X and the consequent implication of
the American nation in European territorial disputes. The proposed
Anglo-French-American convention would, far more than the Covenant,
constitute a guarantee by this country of the territorial disposition's of
the Treaty of Versailles. For France will construe any attempt by
Germany to escape from the Treaty as an attack, and as Germany re-
covers, if she is allowed to recover, she will become increasingly re-
bellious against tbe legislation of Versailles. In that event the Ameri-
can nation would have assumed an onerous military responsibility — one
which it could not perm.anently redeem unless it added svibstantially to the
number of its trained soldiers and to its whole military equipment.

The disinclination by the Republicans to ratify the Aliglo-French-
American convention is dictated chiefly by a desire to keep the Almerican
nation out of war, but in spite of its screen of self-'preoccupation it
makes for a result which is as much to the advantage of Europe as to the
advantage of this country. An American guarantee to France against
attack by Germany would not bring appeasement to Europe and it would
not result, except perhaps for a moment, in the reduction of European
military expenses and land armament. It would perpetuate the European
civil war by giving renewed vitality to its major causes. Reassured by
the American guarantee, France would not feel the need of accommodat-
ing her policy to the susce'ptibilities and the interests of Germany and
Russia. Her convention with America would mean to her the confirma-
tion of military victory, obtained as the result of American intervention,
and a relief from the necessity, which she is now increasingly feeling,
of seeking security b'y means of an agreement with Germany.

The American nation cannot guarantee security to a France whose
insecurity is rooted deep in European dis'sensions. It cannot pledge
its military power to safeguard France against the consequences of a


foreign policy over which it exercises no control. The European nations,
if they wish for security and recuperation, must first deal remedially
with the causes of their own dissensions and move in the direction of
a political reconciliation with one another. French opinion, faced with
the impossibihty of collecting reparations from Germany and the necessity
of choosing hetween a policy of accepting this fact or using it to destroy
Germany, is hesitating. If France decides to carry on the destructiSVi
of Germany, she will almost certainly isolate herself and bring wh/t
remains of Germany nearer to Great Britain, America and Russi^/^ It
is a very dangerous course which she may well shrink from adopting.
But what is the alternative? If she does not wish or dare to destroy
Germany and yet is not protected against ultimate German resentment,
i's she not bound in the long run to seek an accommodation? Will not
the logical and realistic French mind understand the force of this alter-
native and act on the understanding? Would not a defensive alHance
with this country cloud the issues and tempt her to pursue a temporizing
policy of preventing the recuperation of Germany regardless of its effect
upon Europe and the world?

When the American friends of France and Europe urge an immediate
political intervention in Europe by the American government, they are
performing a poor service for the object of their solicitude. What they
are really proposing is an assuimption by the United States of a re-
sponsibility for European welfare and a leadership in European affairs,
which, if it were successful, would be tantamount not only to the ab-
dication of Europe as the king of continents, but to its supersession by
the chief American nation. No doubt if the American people divined
the opportunity of dominating the civilized world for a few generations
which now lies within their grasp and if they were ready to subordinate
the use of their economic and military resources to that end, they might
by a colossal tour de force impose a temporary equilibrium on Europe
and pose as its paternal rescuer. But the American people are not
capable of such an effort of the imagination and the will, and if they
were, they would commit themselves to an adventure ultimately dis-
astrous to themselves and to Europe. Before it can accept American
aid with safety or profit, Europe must mitigate its domestic animosities
and dissensions. European recovery is primarily a European problem.
It will take a European conference, in which Gprjnany and R ussia
represented as equals, to engineer the work. The only way in which the
European peoples can regain anything like their former power and
prestige is to forget about France d'abord and Deutschland iiber Alles
and become first of all good Europeans. When they have become better
Europeans, they can ask Americans to become better citizens of the world.


Two years ago the advice to the European nations to earn assistance
by becoming first of all good Europeans would heve seemed like a fan-
tastic impossibility. It does not look very practicable today, but it is
not as fantastic as it formerly was. P'ellowship in adversity has
diminished some of the animosities, egotisms and conflicts which Europe
inherited from the war; and adversity will, I am afraid, continue until
the Europeans renew and increase their conviction of common interests
and destinies. The American nation can and will alleviate the resultant
suffering, as it did last year in Central Europe and as it is now doing
in Russia. But it cannot take over responsibility for the condition 'or for
the cure. If France will not reduce armaments without the presence,
actual or potential, of American troops on her eastern frontier, then
France will have to remain armed and both France and Europe will have
to pay the bill. The French are not the only people in the world who are
entitled to security. They will never get it for themselves until they are
willing to share it with others.

As long as the Treaty of Versailles is the foundation of European
public law and the French attitude remains what it is. there is little or
no chance of land disarmament. Neither can the American government
take the lead in bringing it about. The American army is already re-
duced to the volume of a police force ; and the French proposal, what-
ever its temporary effects on European military expenditures, would
increase the military responsibility of this country. The European
nations have no sufficient excuse for passing the problem of diminishing
land armaments on to the American people, x^merica may eventually
help in reducing them to manageable limits, but only in case the Euro-
pean nations will themselves move towards the conversion of Europe
from a bigger Balkans into a greater Switzerland.

In so far as the United States can help the European peoples in re-
ducing their land armajnents to manageable limits, it should use for that
purpose an economic rather than a political leverage. The case for
American economic assistance to Europe is much stronger than the case
pTor political and military assistance. An enormous proportion of the
1 iin^iiediately available financial and economic power of the world is
c/ncentrated in the United States. The proportion is so large that
European recovery will be unnecessarily and deplorabl}'- delayed uuless
it can obtain American cooperation. Indeed it is no exaggeration to
^♦eay that without active American aid it will be impossible for the Euro-
pean nations to balance their budgets, stabilize their currencies and re-
store their credits. Of course the United States cannot by any display of
generosity bestow solvency upon economically bankrupt governments
any more than it can bestow security upon nations whose political lia'bili-


ties far exceed their political assets. But it can, should, and in the end
nmst help Europe to write off financial liabilities which, if written off,
would enormously alleviate the existing political exasperation, and in the
end the military expenditures. France and Great Britain would willingly
scale down the German reparation account whose size is a source of
so much of that existing political instability, provided the American gov-
ernment would not insist on collecting the debts due to this country.

The American government is as little prepared just at present to cancel
any considerable part of its loans to Europe as it is to guarantee the
Rhine frontier, but we trust that in this second respeot the Conference
will have an educational effect both upon Congress and the administra-
tion. The delegates from the major European countries will have excel-
lent reasons and^ opportunities to call the attention of the American
delegation and American public opinion to the partial dependence of their
political and military upon their economic liabilities, and the demonstra-
tion, if submitted with tact will little by little dissolve the existing ob-
stacles to the acceptance of the truth and will soak in.

Will the assumption by the American government of the attitude to-
wards European problems which I have indicated wreck the Conference?
Will the refusal to guarantee Europe against the consequences of its
dissensions result in a refusal by the European governments to consider
on their merits the American proposals to limit naval armaments and to
remove the causes of disorder in the Pacific? It may have this result.
There is a disposition among European diplomats to consider national
politics as necessarily the trading of exclusive advantages, and if this
disposition prevails in Washington, and if the Aanerican government will
not consider the European claim for economic assistance, the Conference
may increase instead of diminishing international disorder. But there
is a good chance that it will not. The American government may prove
to be open to conviction about its share in the economic disabilities of
Europe. For its own part it is not asking Europe to accept and approve
an egotistic national American policy in the Pacific, but to help in
defending and eradicating the existing causes of disorder and the excuses
for naval armaments. The European governments can lend a hand with-
out assuming American or Asiatic liabilities or imperilling any assets
which belong properly to themselves. If they are candidly and wisely
approached, they will, considering the predicament of the world and the
pressure by public opinion for concrete results, be likely to consent.


The United States cannot at present take the initiative in bringing
about tb.e reduction of armies, the cost of which is ruining Europe. Its


inability to deal with the causes of the disorder and dissension in Europe,
the expression of which is the Treaty of Versailles, prevents it from
deahng with their effects in insecurity and armaments. But it occupies
an entirely different position with respect to the reduction of navies. It
is qualified in all probability to bring about a limitation of naval arma-
ment and to give permanence to a holiday in the building of battleships
by removing the reasons which have prompted its own and other govern-
ments to compete for the control of the seas. Naval armament is a
matter in which America is unavoidably and overwihelmingly interested.

We have emerged from the war with a navy which will soon be on
paper either a little inferior or a little superior to that of Great Britain.
The United States is one of the three great naval powers in the world,
and if it decided to become the first, it could afford to outbuild both
Japan and Great Britain. It is one of the ironies of history that the
actual outcome of the competition in naval armaments between Germany
and Great Britain is the construction of a fleet by the United States
which forms a more 'serious threat to British naval supremacy than the
German or any other fleet has been since Napoleonic wars; but in this
as in many other respects the war only precipitated a result which was
likely some time to take place. The American nation is the creature of
maritime exploration and traffic. During the pioneer period when we
were conquering the continent, our eyes were fastened on the land, but
sea power, its distribution and deportment, must always remain one of
our chief objects of national and international solicitude. We have al-
ready fought a war with Great Britain over what we took to be her bad
maritime manners. We entered the late war as the result of a quarrel
with Germany about a violation of the rules of the sea. We are not
as yet dependent on the sea for subsistence, as are the British Isles, but
it is only a question of time. A hundred million people with thousands
of miles of coast line on both the Atlantic and the Pacific and with the
welfare of its people increasingly derived from foreign commerce is,
in a disorderly world, bound to need and demand a navy big enough to
challenge the control of the seas.

The American fleet was not built for the purpose of disputing the
control of the seas with the British fleet. It was built as the result of
a vague but intense feeling that the world was becoming an increasingly
dangerous place, in which nations must arm for their own defence. Was
there any justification for this apprehension? Not so far as Great Britain
is concerned. American public opinion is not in my opinion any more
apprehensive of danger from the British Empire than Canada is of an
attack from the United States. If the American and British fleets were
the only powerful navies now in existence, the two governments could


negotiate to reduce their size without raising any outstanding or serious
difference of poHtical policy. But there is another powerful fleet in
existence — that of Japan; and about the Japanese fleet Aimerican public
opinion takes a different attitude. If the world is a dangerous place
in the eyes of an American, it is chiefly because of the Japanese navy
and army. He would not hesitate to approve any expenditure which his
government might consider necessary to provide for naval protection
against Japan. In his mind the American fleet has of recent years come
to exist chiefly for that purpose.

The situation with respect to naval armaments is, consequently, some-
thing like this. There are three formidable fleets in existence — those of
Great Britain, the United States and Japan. In spite of the existence
of some friction between the United States and Great Britain, neither
at present is afraid of the other's navy as a threat to its own safety.
The statement is even more true of the relations between Japan and the
British Empire. They are in fact allies for certain definite purposes.
But the United States is afraid of Japan, and Japan is even more afraid
of the United States. Why cannot the two governments quiet these fears
by reaching a joint agreement to cut down their fleets by a third or a
half or even two-thirds? And why can they not reach such an agreement
without raising any differences of political policy?


They could, were it not for a fact of major importance. Japan is,
of course, exclusively a Pacific power. The United States possesses
long coast Hnes on both the Pacific and the Atlantic. The American
people have had no reason to fear the British fleet, because unlike the
German fleet it was not associated with a dangerously large army and
because Great Britain tacitly approved of the IMonroe Doctrine which
protected the Americans against the aggressive designs of European
powers. But it is different in the Pacific. That part of Asia which is
washed by the waters of the Pacific has endured fifty years of systematic
foreign exploitation in which all the large European powers, except Italy,
participated. Something over twenty years ago the American govern-
ment started to protect China, and since then and particularly since the
victory of Japan over Russia, the European nations abandoned the
political penetration of China and confined themselves to economic
penetration. Thereafter the only power which continued a policy of
poHtical aggression on the Asiatic mainland was Japan. In 1910 the
American government proposed the neutralization of the Manchurian
Railways for the purpose of freeing China from the worst threat to its
independence and giving reality to the policy of equal economic rights


for all nations in China, but Japan would not consider the proposal and
allied herself with Russia in opposition to American interference. Later
she used the occasion of the war to impose the Twenty-one Demands on
China, to seize Shantung and to occupy part of Siberia.

The Japanese navy is, consequently, the instrument of a policy of ag-
gression, which looks in the direction of giving Japan political suzerainty
over eastern Asia. The United States has reason to fear and resist this
policy to an extent to which she has no reason to fear and resist the im-
perialism of the European powers in Africa or in western Asia. She has
historic interests and rights in China which Japanese aggression endan-
gers, but that is not all. If during the next few generations Japan con-
tinues to expand along the lines on which she has expanded during the last
generation, she will become a danger to all free nations with a coast line
on the Pacific. She will become a nation with engineers, capitalists, sailors
and soldiers at its head, who have occupied territories on the mainland
in order to obtain access to raw materials and an abundance of cheap
labor, and who will seek to keep for their own benefit both these natural
resources and the vast undeveloped market of the Chinese people. This
Japanese Empire will need for its security a conscript army and a fleet
strong enough to control the waters of the Pacific — a fleet which in the
end will be commensurate with the size of this huge enterprise in political
and economic imperialism. Such a fleet controlled by the same govern-
ment which commanded the second largest army in the world and de-
signed to safeguard a policy which deprives between three and four
hundred million people of political independence, is a menace to human
liberty which it would he foolhardy to ignore.

Let us suppose the American government agrees with the British and
Jaj^anese governments to reduce their fleets to one-third of the size
which they will have reached in 1924, but ignores the differences of
political and economic policy between Japan and the LTnited States,
what would be the result? Japan would still possess a fleet large
enough to protect her water communications with the mainland and the
transmission of soldiers and commodities which the carrying on of her
continental Asiatic policy demands. She could continue her policy of
economic and political domination in China without any fear of hindrance
and could snap her fingers, as she did in 1910, at the protests of the
United States. Assuming the success of her attempts to industrialize
China, she would accumulate resources in capital, industrial ecpiipment
and technical skill, which would enable her, if necessary and when the
time came, to defend her economic conquests with a fleet much more
powerful than that which she can now afford. A limitation of naval
armament, that is, without any attempt to do away with the economic


and political aggression which renders Japan dangerous immediately to
China and ultimately to the United States, would not do anything per-
manently to diminish the chances of war or the expenses of armament.

The limitation of armaments as a physical fact is important, hut it is
not decisive as an agency of peace. National armament is the creature
of national policy. If a nation cherishes policies which impair the free-
dom and prevent the development of other nations, it is hound to arm
in self-protection against the resentment and the fear of other nations.
It may agree temporarily to limit its armaments provided those who
suffer from its aggression or are opposed to its pretensions agree to a
similar limitation. But in that event disarmament is an advantage to
the aggressor. It frees his hand. The helplessness of China has pro-
vided her aggressors with their opportunity. In the end she will as-
sume the job of protecting herself, but in the meantime those who
understand the disastrous consequence of an indefinite continuation of
the exploitation of the past must try to provide for her protection. If

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Online LibraryHerbert David CrolyRoads to peace : a hand-book to the Washington Conference → online text (page 1 of 8)