Слике страница

garded cynically as a great Allied internment camp. Within the Central Powers there were undoubted signs of popular revolt, which called forth a certain feeble response from the Emperor Charles and Count Czernin.

By Christmas the yearning for peace had risen high in all countries, and the opening of the parleys at Brest-Litovsk stirred men deeply. Beneath the surface the efforts at peace were continual: General Smuts had gone to meet Count Mensdorff in Switzerland; Mr. Lloyd George and Lord Milner were inclined to abandon Russia, and Lord Lansdowne had definitely announced that if “civilization”-i.e. the old European order, was to be maintained, an immediate peace was necessary. All the while Ludendorff was moving divisions to the western front. The ten weeks from December first to midFebruary were the time of supreme decision. They saw the final attempt to save the old system and avert European revolution.

Three figures dominated: Ludendorff, Clemenceau and Wilson. The choice lay between a peace which yielded to Germany the organization of the East and a frightful military gamble on the

western front, the issue of which no man could foresee. Clemenceau forced the issue, and because he succeeded he will belong to the assembly of great men. Wilson's position was more complicated. He never for an instant yielded to the suggestion of an unclean peace at the expense of Russia, but he had been affected by the reports of feeling in England, by the spectacle of the early days at Brest-Litovsk, he had by December acquired interest in the Reichstag Resolution of July; and he had a certain lingering hope in Czernin. He did not intend to yield to Prussia, but he did undoubtedly see that unless the Allied cause were morally unified by diplomacy, the combined peace and military offensives from Berlin and Vienna might disintegrate the Allied peoples. More than that, he too was willing to gamble. Ludendorff and Clemenceau were set for a death struggle in which all might be lost. He determined to try the diplomatic adventure of offering a separate peace to Austria.

It was for this setting that the Congressional Addresses of December fourth and January eighth were prepared. The invitation to Czernin was plain:


"We owe it, however, to ourselves to say that we do not wish in any way to impair or to rearrange the 'Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is no affair of ours what they do with their own life, either industrially or politically.

Early in January Mr. Lloyd George spoke in the same vein, thus abandoning for the moment the clear purpose of the Allied reply to the President a year previous. Mr. Wilson followed with the address of January eighth in which he offered , to negotiate with representatives of the Reichstag majority on the basis of the Fourteen Points. It was as events showed a summons to the dead, for the majority had disappeared by that time, and the abortive strikes of early January had made Ludendorff military dictator of Germany.

It is a very significant fact that the project of a League of Nations is merely the Fourteenth of the articles, and is treated as a kind of seal upon the peace when made. Clearly Mr. Wilson had not yet arrived at the conclusion that the League is a means of making peace as well as a guarantee when peace has been made. The reason is that the Fourteen Points were conceived as a just settlement in a world not radically different

in structure from that out of which the war had arisen. This was the only kind of peace possible in January, 1918. At bottom it would have been an Agreement of the Powers, and nothing more. But the peace which has actually to be initiated in Paris to-day is the result of the 1918 campaign. The Fourteen Points were written before that campaign was fought, and that campaign in its military, diplomatic, and social phases was the most penetrating conflict in modern history. Its conclusion was radical, and out of it nothing less could result than the necessity of creating a new framework for international society. The decision to fight that campaign meant that the world had burned its bridges.

They were not burned in the Fourteen Points. The sharpest proof of this is to be found in Article II, which reads:

Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants."

This article opens with an attempt to safeguard the rights of neutrals. That much of it supposes a world not controlled by a League of Nations. But the portion beginning “except as the seas may be closed " foreshadows Article XVI of the constitution drafted at Paris where the boycott is provided as a sanction. As the proposition stood on January eighth it seems to imply united and occasional action by the League. Above all it recognized war as a normal institution. In the document from Paris the League's action is virtually complete.

I venture this criticism simply because it illustrates a truth of special importance to us at this moment: that the war became revolutionary (in the exact sense of the word) only as a result of the 1918 campaign; that previously statesmen saw the League of Nations as a useful annex to the structure of peace; that after 1918 it became the central framework of the structure.

Early last winter the best that leading statesmen planned was a balance of claims, an adjustment of a few outstanding grievances, and the acceptance of a number of general principles resting upon nothing more than common agreement. That is why the territorial sections of Mr. Wilson's program are in so far as they affect

« ПретходнаНастави »