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Tre Vazers Sacra ci their power to oppress the non-Magyar
u tasd der id of value to Germany as instruments csc ce te Hapsburgs, would find their true level as a C a z al people on the Central Hungarian plain, cestised parags to link up with surrounding States in some icra of Darcbian Confederation. Whether, in these condiEins, the Masyars would remain faithful to the Hapsburgs is a very open question. Save through the Magyar oligarchy, wbose power the liberation of the non-Magyar peoples of Hungary wod!d destroy, the Hapsburgs have little real hold upon the Magyar people. The survival of effective loyalty to the Hapsbargs among the Czechs, Slovaks, Southern Slavs and Rumanes, whom the Hapsburgs have deliberately sacrificed to the Germans and the Magyars, is even more doubtful. What, then, is the value of the Hapsburg factor in any Central European resettlement such as the Allies must desire ?
At best it is problematic; at worst it is a snare for uninformed Allied statesmen. There is only one safe principle for the Allies to pursue in regard to the Hapsburgs and their realms. It is to remember that, quite apart from ideal considerations, peoples tend constantly to become stronger than dynasties, and that to base plans upon the power of dynasties may be to build on sand. The test of the political victory or defeat of the Allies in this war will be the extent to which they are able to create in Central and South-eastern Europe a chain of independent or federated national States whose vital interest it would be to resist German political and economic hegemony. The Hapsburgs, who are a German dynasty with German traditions, and whose habit of mind is not constructive, could not be trusted to create this non-Germanic Confederation, even were their interests and those of the families' who surround them bound up with the total defeat of the Hohenzollerns. In point of fact, Hapsburg interests require a moderate defeat of the Hohenzollerns so that Hapsburg prestige may be relatively enhanced; while Hohenzollern interests require the maintenance of the Hapsburgs as nominal rulers over lands and peoples in which the effective control will be in German hands. The outward form of this control matters little to Germany. From the moment when the plan for the complete Germanisa.
of Austria had to be shelved or abandoned, and the
influence of the Russian Revolution made it necessary to cease drastic persecution of the Austrian Slavs, a new German plan was put forward to secure the important German interest of preserving Austria. The plan was to 'federalise' her by instituting wider provincial autonomies and separating, if necessary, Galicia and the Italian regions from the monarchy. The plan was a pis aller, designed to check the centrifugal movement of Hapsburg peoples and to dupe the Allies by preserving Austria in some form as a Germanic bridge to the East until Germany herself should have recovered her strength and be able to make good her immediate rule along the Middle Danube. The Austrian Slavs, and especially the Czechs, will do their utmost to defeat this federalising scheme, since they know it to be far more difficult to federalise Austria in a Slav sense than to liberate the Slavs by resolving the Empire into its constituent elements.
The cardinal fact to be borne in mind by all Allied statesmen is that however much they might prefer, in theory, to retain some Hapsburg polity in a federalist transformation, and however sincere may be the Emperor Charles in desiring such a transformation, neither he nor his subjects have the power to effect it, in any but a pro-German direction, until Germany has been thoroughly defeated. Diplomatists naturally tend to hope for the continued existence of a State organisation which, to their minds, represents a comparatively known quantity. They fear to see it replaced by a series of new or resuscitated national States, each of which would be a minor unknown quantity, and which, taken together, would form an incalculable complex of action and reaction. The course of the Russian Revolution has increased rather than decreased Conservative predilections for the maintenance, wherever possible, of some remnant of the old order of things. We cannot yet know whether Russia will emerge from her ordeal as an organised united State, or, if she emerge, whether her recovery will be swift enough to make of her a mainstay of order and equilibrium in Eastern Europe. But it is, in any case, clear that the Western Allies will be deeply interested in procuring such a European settlement as shall neutralise the danger of German preponderance. To this end, the formation of a strong united Poland, an independent and united Bohemia, or, rather, Czecho-Slovakia, a united and independent Southern Slav kingdom of Serbia-Croatia-Slavonia. and a united Rumania, are primary requisites. None of the Allies can afford to pursue, à outrance, their own special airas or fancies without regard to the general object of establishing the equilibrium of Europe upon sure foundations.
In particular this is true of Italy. Notwithstanding the welcome change recently noticeable in leading Italian organs towards the question of Southern Slav unity, and their advocacy of a close Adriatic agreement between Italy, Serbia and the Southern Slavs, there is still room for doubt whether ube degree in which Italy is interested in a satisfactory European settlement has yet been adequately appreciated by the Italian people or even by the Italian Government. Constant references are made to the necessity that the Allies should scrupulously observe the terms of the Convention signed by England, France, and Russia with Italy on the 27th of April 1915. The implication is that theintegral execution of that Convention would firmly establish Italian security in the Adriatic and in Europe. Though its exact text has not been published in this country, the main features of the Convention, as divulged in the Italian press, suggest serious doubt whether it is not far too narrow a basis for that security to which Italy is more than ever entitled after the superb conduct of her armies in this war. It is known, for instance, that the Convention assigns to Italy the principal and most valuable part of Dalmatia which is overwhelmingly Southern Slav by race and in political sympathy. But it does not assign to Italy, nor do the most extreme Italian Nationalists claim, the whole of the Eastern Adriatic coast. Yet without the possession not only of the whole coast but of its Hinterländer, the Italian tenure of Dalmatia would at best be precarious, and the Italian position in the Adriatic far from safe. Italy would constantly have to reckon with the enmity of the Southern Slavs, whom she would have deprived of a considerable portion of their ethnological territory, and with the support which they would inevitably receive from all quarters interested in disputing the Italian title to supremacy in the Adriatic.
On a basis of Machtpolitik or a 'policy of power' alone, Italy cannot hope to close the Adriatic against Germanism and German intrigue. She can establish her security only by a policy of large-hearted sympathy and alliance with the
Slavs of the Adriatic and with their natural supporters in Bohemia and Poland. For her, the dismemberment of Austria is an essential aim ; but it is an aim not to be achieved solely by negative methods. In the Pact concluded at Corfu on the 2oth of July 1917 between the Serbian Government and the representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Southern Slavs, the door was left open for a just agreement with Italy. Article 9 of the Pact declares that 'the territory of the kingdom of the * Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes will include all the territory 'inhabited compactly and in territorial continuity by our nation.' It would be difficult to say more pointedly that in regard to all territories not inhabited by compact masses of their race, the Southern Slavs are ready for compromise ; and those territories include precisely the districts of greatest importance to Italy. No feature of the necessary European settlement is weightier than a sincere and just agreement between the Italian and the Southern Slav peoples, for none is more intimately connected with the question of the survival of Austria. While the Southern Slavs will need foresight, moderation, and prudence in the precise definition of their national claims, Italy should have a care lest, in placing too narrow an interpretation upon the requirements of her security, she estrange the foes and encourage the partisans of the Hapsburgs only to find even the integral execution of her bond unavailing to assure her a tranquil future.
HENRY WICKHAM STEED.
VOL. 226. NO. 462.
THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR BAGHDAD
THE Report of the Commission Appointed by Act of
1 Parliament to Enquire into the Operations of War ‘in Mesopotamia ' aroused so much passionate anger in Great Britain that it has not received the calm and impartial consideration it deserves. By speech and by pen, its findings have been alternately distorted and obscured Its publication produced bitter controversies and personal attacks. It brought about the resignation of Mr. Austen Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for India, who was personally the most blameless of all the prominent people involved. It imperilled for a week the stability of the Second Coalition Ministry. It was the subject of violent misrepresentation and of many unfair accusations. The Cabinet made the storm worse by its provocative indecision regarding the Report, and in the end it took the only course possible by practically dropping the subject altogether. The sequel was astonishing, even in a period so crowded with stirring events. Within a week the Mesopotamia Report seemed to have passed from the public mind, which soon afterwards turned with somewhat vain expectancy to the new British offensive on the Ypres front. Yet, if the Report has temporarily receded from view, it is most assuredly not destined to lie for ever unregarded on dusty shelves. It raises issues of the gravest moment, both for Great Britain and for India. It requires the most careful study and reflection. Parliament was entirely right in ordering the Mesopotamian inquiry, and the Government were equally right in directing that the Report should be published. The country is entitled to know the truth about these momentous matters. Even though the publication caused heated quarrels and much perversion of the true aims of the investigation, the principle involved is not affected. No one can tell how long the war will last, and the Administration have no right to resort incessantly to the facile process of postponing every awkward issue until the war is over. If the Report and the subsequent public discussions shattered some reputations and