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Conference at Washington; but, if this is so, it is largely because Mr Balfour knew the mind of the British Cabinet and of the British people, and was not afraid to take upon himself the full responsibility for momentous decisions. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say that the success of the Conference, so far as naval disarmament went, was secured on the opening day when Mr Balfour rose to express his concurrence with the bold and comprehensive project of Mr Hughes which he had then heard for the first time. A statesman of less authority and experience could hardly have taken such a step; but in diplomacy, as in ordinary life, Bis dat qui cito dat. The promptitude with which the principal British delegate accepted the American proposal laid the basis of that cordial and fruitful co-operation between the two delegations which has conferred an inestimable boon on the war-wearied peoples of the world.

These occasional Conferences, valuable as they may be as a means of adjusting the relations between nations in times of special difficulty, do not satisfy all the requirements of well-regulated international intercourse. • Some sort of permanently organised joint action by peace-loving peoples,' to use Lord Bryce's phrase, 'whatever form it may take,' is also needed, and is in fact provided under the covenant of the League of Nations. The utility attaching to this institution, as a means of arresting a dangerous conflagration, has recently been illustrated upon a small but instructive scale in the case of Albania. Here was a tiny, rudimentary, ill-organised State, which, having been admitted to membership of the League, was entitled to all the protection which the Confederation could afford. News reached London that Serb troops had crossed the Albanian frontier, that Albanian villages had been fired, and it was clear that only by the promptest action could the whole of Northern Albania be saved from hostile occupation. Mr Lloyd George telegraphed for a Council of the League. The Serbian exchange instantly fell, and when, a few days later, the Council met in Paris a happy settlement was promptly reached. The invaders undertook to withdraw their troops within twenty days, a neutral zone was traced between the rivals, and Northern Albania was restored to tranquillity. There could be no more illuminating commentary upon the utility of some form of standing International Conference for the adjustment of differences and the prevention of war. This was one of those numerous cases in which the only effective action is prompt action. When we consider the immense difficulties of getting together a special international congress, the despatches, the delays, the obstructions, the elaborate preparations, it is clear that without some such machinery as the League was able to provide Europe would have been confronted with an Albanian parallel to Fiume. Fortunately the scandal was averted, and this with so little fuss and advertisement that ninety-nine people out of a hundred have never heard of the incident, or of the way in which it was handled.

The essential value of the League does not, however, reside in the fact that it provides the machinery for a standing conference upon international affairs, but in a circumstance quite independent of its current activities in time of peace. The evil which the framers of the Covenant hoped to vanquish was not war, but the precipitate declaration of war before all means of averting it had been studiously explored. It is the rapid mobilisation required by the present state of the art of war which is so injurious to the prospects of a pacific issue, when once a political controversy has been allowed to reach a certain stage. This was the problem for which the statesmen who made the Treaty had to find a solution. They had to procure the acceptance of a dilatory procedure before the sword was drawn. Now let it be supposed that the negotiators had succeeded in inducing two important States to enter into an engagement that they would not go to war with one another, until the quarrel had been submitted to arbitration, and even then not without the interposition of several months' delay, the achievement would have been regarded as a triumph for the pacific principle. But the Covenant of the League, which prescribes arbitration and delay before a resort to the arbitrament of arms, has been signed not by two, but by fifty-one States, and, even if there were no Council or Assembly or Secretariat, this wide acceptance of the dilatory principle would constitute the most important step which has yet been taken


towards a rational ordering of the great question of Peace and War throughout the world.

What, however, it may be added, has this new instrument contributed towards the cause of disarmament? Every one knows that huge armaments lead straight to war, that Europe can no longer afford the luxury of big military or naval establishments, and that, seeing that in the present impoverished condition of the world, a great war is impossible for many years to come, a rare opportunity for comprehensive disarmament is now presented. There is also a great body of opinion which suspects that the private manufacture of armaments, if unregulated as at present, is, or may be, conducive to that inflamed and disordered state of the public temper out of which wars arise. And few right-thinking people doubt that it is a duty incumbent on the civilised States of the world to prevent the export of arms to barbarous countries. What, however, has the League of Nations done in these grave matters? The Washington Conference has limited the naval armaments of the Greater Powers, and averted the unspeakable catastrophe of a new naval competition; but the land armaments of Europe, which are so pressing a burden upon industry and commerce, have, save for the limitations—and they are necessarily of immense importance-placed upon the armies of Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria by the Treaties of Peace, received no general limitation whatever. Few political themes require more delicate treatment than the handling of the armament question, for every Government maintains to its own public as well as to the world at large, that its military and naval establishments do not exceed the necessities of its domestic needs and international obligations. It might

. It might have been thought that since the war these objections had been reduced to a minimum, partly by the disarmament of the Central Powers and partly by the force of economic circumstances. That this has not proved to be the case is due to a malady which has only just been brought within the region of international hygiene. From all the works of the League of Nations the Soviet Republic has so far stood aside in armed and suspicious isolation. The Communist rulers of Russia affect to regard the Bourgeois Governments of the West as their natural enemies, and

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the League of Nations as the subservient machine of French and Polish policies. And so long as this attitude is maintained, so long as Red Armies of indefinite dimensions menace the security of the weak and illcompacted States which line the western border of the Soviet Republic, so long will there be no true peace in

Europe. The Conference at Genoa had for its main · object the termination of this uneasy state of affairs ;

and should the truce which has now been happily arranged lead to the establishment of stable relations of peace and security between Russia and her neighbours, the first effectual step will have been taken, since the abolition of conscription in Germany, to carry out the disarmament of Europe.

Meanwhile, the League investigates the question. It is to be hoped that before the next Assembly meets in Geneva, some plan or other will have been elaborated by the recently strengthened Committee (known as the Temporary Mixed Commission), which has been appointed to report to the Council; and that this, if not in itself acceptable in all its details, will establish the main lines upon which a policy of reduction should proceed. The Committee may also turn its attention to supplementing the work of the Conference of Washington by considering plans for the reduction of the minor naval armaments, for the regulation of the laws of war and of the manufacture of armaments. In the two last questions the concurrent action of the United States must be secured, before practical results can ensue.

In the handling of this great matter the League is necessarily embarrassed by the wholly natural, but necessarily perturbing, state of public opinion in France. The French are a logical as well as a high-spirited nation. They argue that, with all the odds in their favour, they very narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of an enemy, more powerful and more populous than themselves, with a higher birth rate, and always formidable by reason of its natural diligence and high organisation of scientific resources. They contend that this enemy will not forgive or forget its defeat; that some day it will seek its revenge; and that on that day the tragedy will be divided into two acts, a prologue in Poland and an epilogue in Paris. For this reason those

Vol. 238.-No. 472,


among them who are fatalists, believing that the overflow of the Teutonic hordes occurs with the regularity of a recurrent decimal, refuse to take risks. They argue that the peace of the New Europe depends on strong armies in France, in Poland, and in the new States carved out of the body of old Austria. To disarm now is to surrender Europe to chaos. Impenitent Germany, angry, impenitent Hungary, vast, dangerous, chaotic Russia, are waiting to spring. The Peace has left the French soldier the gendarme of Europe.

It is, however, a mistake to paint the Frenchman as an Imperialist. In every country the small people, peasants and working folk, are for peace and plenty, and not least in those countries which know the burden of conscript service. France would be willing enough to reduce her armaments, if she felt secure. She does not, however, feel secure. Her nervousness for the future matches her resentment for the past. The sentiment may be irrational, but it is very real. It is for this reason that the prospect of a pact with Great Britain is eagerly welcomed by the pacifist and liberal elements of French political opinion as calculated to soothe anxiety, and is correspondingly distrusted by the Chauvinists as likely to lead to a relaxation of military precautions. Taken in combination, an Anglo-French pact and a limitation of the Red armies of the Soviet Republic would at last produce a complexion of affairs favourable to a general plan for the reduction of land armies through Europe; and since Europe is the principal centre of hostile tensions in the world, a long step forward would be taken towards the establishment of a universal peace.

Meanwhile little can be expected from the League save mémoires pour servir. Statistics can be collected, a type of disarmament treaty can be discussed and prepared, or the draft code for the regulation of the manufacture of arınaments might be put upon the anvil with the view to its acceptance in a specially summoned Convention. All this is useful, indeed necessary work. We must not disparage it, but in this sphere of operations the effectiveness of the League is for the moment seriously impaired by the fact that America, Germany, the Soviet Republic, are not included in its membership.

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