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DIPLOMATIC NOTES From February 20 To March 20 Prepared By

Allan Westcott, Associate Professor, U. S. Naval Academy


Inclusion Of League Covenant In Peace Preliminaries.—At the time of President Wilson's return to Paris on March 14, the Special Commissions on Responsibility for the War, Reparation, Waterways, Boundaries, etc., had progressed with their investigations to a point where many of their conclusions could be presented for final action. M. Pichon, French Foreign Minister, on March 16 stated that German delegates would not be called to Versailles until a complete understanding had been readied among the allied and associated powers. Then the German delegates must either accept the terms and sign, or a state of war would continue.

M. Pichon regarded it as very doubtful if the complete covenant of the League of Nations could be included in the preliminaries of peace, which should be signed at the earliest possible moment. He pointed out that considerable time would be required to hear the views of neutrals, which had been invited, and to dispose of amendments. The issue, he suggested, might be met by a declaration in the treaty of the principles underlying the League, leaving the details in abeyance. American delegates, however, were proceeding on the assumption that the full covenant would be included in the preliminary treaty, and on March 17 it was announced that the Supreme Council had so decided, the covenant to be attached probably as an appendix.

The invitations to neutrals to express their views on the League of Nations was sent out March 14, setting March 20 as the date for the conference on the subject.

Work Of The Boundaries Commission.—On March 12 it was agreed by the Supreme Council that the decisions regarding the Turkish, West German, and Adriatic boundaries (between Albania and Jugoslavia) should be made by the Supreme Council rather than the Special Boundaries Commission. The report of the Commission on Polish Boundaries, presented March 17, accords to Poland a "corridor" to the Baltic, including the port of Danzig, with the privilege to Germany of free communication across this strip to Fast Prussia.

Waterways Commission Decisions.—On March 15 the Commission on the International Regime of Ports, Waterways, and Railways continued its consideration of clauses to be inserted in the peace treaty in regard to the navigation of the Rhine. It was the recommendation of the commission that the Rhine should be opened to all nations without discrimination, under control of a commission similar to that established for the Danube.

The status of the Kiel Canal, according to a report of March 12, was settled by the commission on the basis of freedom of use for all nations for merchant vessels and warships in time of peace, the canal to continue under German ownership and operation. The question of the fortification of the canal was left to military and naval experts. The commission declared the Panama and Suez Canals outside their sphere of action, on the ground that these were not international waterways, each being within one country. The commission in general confined its work to European problems.

Germany Granted Food Supplies.—On March 14 an agreement was signed at Brussels by which Germany was assured immediate delivery of 270,000 tons of food stuffs and the right to purchase 370,000 tons of food per month from enemy and neutral countries until the next harvest, in return for which German shipping as agreed upon would be turned over to the Allies for transport of troops to America and food to Europe.

Negotiations on this subject at Spa in the first weeks of March had failed, owing to the unwillingness of the Allies to make definite promises of food for more than a limited period and the objections of France to any method of payment which might reduce Germany's ability to meet her war obligations.

The first shipment of food under the present arrangement is to be paid for by a deposit of i\ 1,000,000 in gold at Brussels. Future supplies are to be paid for by the export of certain products, such as potash, needed by the Allies.

German ships in Chili, including 36 steamers and 52 sailing vessels, aggregating 241,186 net tons, have been allocated to the United States to use until the peace treaty is signed, when title to them will be determined. About 300,000 tons of German shipping now in German ports have also been turned over to the United States.

Italy Releases Supplies To Slavs.—It was announced from Paris on March 7 that at the request of the Supreme Council, Italy had consented to reopen transportation across the Italian-Austrian frontier, closed by Italy since the middle of February. The blockade prevented the movement of food, some 80,000 tons of which had been accumulated by Mr. Hoover at Fiume and Trieste, to supply the Southern Slavs and Czechoslovaks. According to a Washington statement of March 6, the American Government had previously warned Italy that in the event of further delays in the movement of relief supplies to the Slav states, steps would be taken to cut off the flow of American foodstuffs to Italy.

The blockade was due to friction between the Italian forces of occupation and the Slavs, especially at the railroad center of Laibach, out of which an Italian mission was forced on February 19. Food supplies from the United States to Italy are said to amount to $60,000,000 monthly, while the relief of the Czechs, Jugoslavs, and Serbians costs almost $20,000,000 monthly.


At the session of the War Council on March 10 Marshal Foch was generally triumphant in having his conditions accepted. Some important changes were made, however, one of which imposes severer conditions than even Foch proposed.

'It was premier Lloyd George who offered this. He asked that the German Army strength should be fixed at 140,000 men. As a result of discussion, it was agreed to fix the army strength at 100,000, or less than half the original maximum recommended under the terms laid down by the Allies.

Germany must raise this force by voluntary enlistment. In order to prevent an army of this size being trained every year, it was provided that the enlistments should be for a period of twelve years. The number of German officers is fixed at 4000, instead of the 6000 as originally contemplated.

All artillery and other equipment in excess of the requirements of the reduced army must be surrendered, and the Imperial General Staff must be abolished.

Other military provisions require the destruction of the Rhine forts and the reduction of the munitions output to the needs of the reduced army.

The naval terms, among other provisions, require the personnel of the German Navy to be restricted to 15,000 men.—N. Y. Times, 11/3.

, Arguments Against Sinking German Battleships.—Prior to President Wilson's return to France, a letter said to have been written by him was published in which he expressed tentative disapproval of the proposal to sink the surrendered German battleships. After his return to Paris, however, he again took up the question. The arguments in favor of sinking the ships are summarized as follows by C. H. Grasty (N. Y. Times), March 17:

1. In the face of the covenant committal to decreased armament, distribution makes an immediate increase of 30 per cent in allied armaments.

2. As matters stand the American ability to put through a building program creates the possibility of inducing Great Britain to join her in the alternative of scaling down to the lowest point the number of ships consistent with self-protection and maintaining the League, whereas distribution will make new standards to be built up to.

3. Distribution will vastly and unnecesarily increase the burden of taxation.

4. World interests would be subserved by no one power controlling the seas against all comers.

5. The morale of the world requires a dramatic heralding of better days. Distribution is a step in the opposite direction.

6. Destruction preserves entire our moral position with respect to Germany.

7. American interests compel the acceptance of a joint naval burden with Great Britain. Distribution will make that burden too great for America to carry.

8. Finally if the German fleet is thrown among the Allies to be contended for as a prize, it will prove a veritable apple of discord that may make its surrender profit to Germany more than if she had risked her ships in a final battle. The division of naval spoils would be a negation of the principle of co-operation which is the foundation stone of the League.

Cable Claims Disputed—Early in the war the British cut the two German cables from Emden to America by way of the Azores and also the cable between Monrovia, the Liberian capital, and Brazil. They took one end of the German-American cables to Halifax, thereby securing another transatlantic line for themselves. The other cable they gave to the French Government, which so far has made no attempt to utilize it, probably because of the scarcity of submarine cable material and of cable-laying ships.

The British now contend that these cables are prizes of war. They do not intend to allow their return to Germany or to regard them as subject to disposition by the Peace Conference. The American delegates, however, contend that the cables were unlawfully cut and unlawfully reconnected, because the United States was not at war when this was done and had an interest in them as being one of the termini. Nor, they contend, was there proper warrant for the cutting of the cable between Liberia and Brazil, as both these countries were neutral at the time it was done.

There never has been any decision regarding the title to cables outside of territorial waters in time of war, and the Americans are now extremely anxious that no precedent shall be established that might place American business at the mercy of foreigners or prevent free communication between the United States and Central Europe after the conclusion of peace.

In addition to the transatlantic cables, several German cables in the Pacific also were seized by the British as prizes of war. One of these runs from the island of Yap, one of the Caroline group, to Singapore, connecting with the Dutch and British cables. Another connects this cable with the island of Celebes. Possession of these lines, it is held, insures business control of a fair proportion of Australian Polynesia, which is regarded as properly within the field of American commercial effort

The possibility of these cables passing in some degree under the control of Japan alone in case the latter is made the mandatary of the captured Pacific Islands is also regarded with disfavor by the American representatives unless some plan to prevent any possible discrimination is made.— N. Y. Times, 13/3.

Small States Seek American Control.—The project of making the United States mandatary for one or more of the small states to be established in the Near East has been frequently broached at the Peace Conference. The proposed Armenian state, for which American control has been especially suggested, will probably have a population of about 6,000,000, in a territory bordering the Black Sea for 400 miles and extending southward nearly across Asia Minor. Mr. Oscar Straus, former Minister to Turkey, said in reference to this proposal:

The United States must never take a mandate for any of these new or small states in Europe or Asia Minor. It would involve us in endless trouble.

Premier Clemenceau Wounded By Anarchist.—On February 19, Premier Clemenceau was hit by three of seven shots fired by an assassin. One bullet entered the right shoulder and lodged under the left shoulder missing the spinal cord and lungs; the other two caused little more than abrasions of the skin. The attack occurred at 8.55 a. m. just after the Premier had entered his automobile to drive from his home to the Foreign Office. The assassin, an anarchist, 18 years old, named Emile Cottin, was arrested and on March 14 sentenced to death.

The aged Premier made an astonishingly rapid recovery, taking up his public duties again in scarcely more than a week.


President Wilson's Boston Speech.—Landing in Boston upon his return from France, President Wilson on February 24 spoke vigorously in that city in advocacy of the project for a League of Nations. "In the name of the people of the United States," he declared, " I have uttered as the objects of this great war ideals, and nothing but ideals, and the war has been won by that inspiration." Arguing the necessity of a League of Nations, he said:

If America were at this juncture to fail the world, what would come of it? I do not mean any disrespect to any other great people when I say that America is the hope of the world; and if she does not justify that hope, the results are unthinkable. Men will be thrown back upon the bitterness of disappointment not only, but the bitterness of despair. All nations will be set up as hostile camps again ; the men at the Peace Conference will go home with their heads upon their breasts, knowing that they have failed—for they were bidden not to come home from there until they did something more than sign a treaty of peace.

Suppose we sign the treaty of peace and that it is the most satisfactory treaty of peace that the confusing elements of the modern world will afford, and go home and think about our labors, we will know that we have left written upon the historic table at Versailles, upon which Vergennes and Benjamin Franklin wrote their names, nothing but a modern scrap of paper: no nations united to defend it, no great forces combined to make it good, no assurance given to the downtrodden and fearful people of the world that they shall be safe.

Any man who thinks that America will take part in giving the world any such rebuff and disappointment as that does not know America. I invite him to test the sentiments of the nation. We set this up to make men free, and we did not confine our conception and purpose to America, and now we will make men free. If we did not do that, the fame of America would be gone, and all her powers would be dissipated. She then would have to keep her power for those narrow, selfish, provincial purposes which seem so dear to some minds that have no sweep beyond the nearest horizon.

I should welcome no sweeter challenge than that. I have fighting blood in me, and it is sometimes a delight to let it have scope, but if it is a challenge on this occasion it will be an indulgence. Think of the picture, think of the utter blackness that would fall on the world. America has failed! America made a little essay at generosity, and then withdrew. America said, "We are your friends,'' but it was only for to-day, not for to-morrow. America said, "Here is our power to vindicate right," and then the next day said, " Let right take care of itself, and we will take care of ourselves." America said, "We set up a light to lead men along the paths of liberty, but we have lowered it; it is intended only to light our own path." We set up a great ideal of liberty, and then we said: "Liberty is a thing that you must win for yourself. Do not call upon us."

And think of the world that we would leave. Do you realize how many new nations are going to be set up in the presence of old and powerful nations in Europe, and left there, if left by us, without a disinterested friend?

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