FRANCE, GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES
FRANCE and Great Britain were the two pillars of victory. But for the French Army and the British Fleet, Germany would have won the war. That is the dominant fact of the age in which we live. If our two countries ever came to forget it they would be pulling down with their own hands the structure cemented by their blood.
This friendship, so strong and true, is at times difficult of practice. The past accounts for that. History has now and then recorded Franco-British agreements. But as a rule they have had no morrow. In 1861 the people of London cheered Bonaparte's envoy, Colonel de Lauriston, come to ratify peace, but a few months later, war broke out again and lasted until Waterloo. In 1838 the city enthusiastically welcomed Maréchal Soult, the Ambassador of Louis-Philippe at Queen Victoria's coronation; but, less than two years later came the crisis of 1840. Under Napoleon III English and French troops together won the Crimean war, but this alliance did not last and, in 1860, Queen Victoria advised "a regular crusade against France." One of our historians, Albert Sorel, wrote thirty years ago: "There may be---there have been---understandings between France and England to preserve the existing order; but England never has been and never can be an ally of France so long as France does not renounce expansion." Lord Chatham, a century earlier had expressed the same idea in another form when he said: "The only thing England has to fear here below is to see France become a commercial and colonial maritime power." For a century and a half, from 1688 to 1815, sixty-one years of war---the war of the Augsburg League (1688-1697), the war of the Spanish Succession (1701-1711), the war of the Austrian Succession (1742-1748), the Seven Years War (1756-1763), the American War (1778-1783), the wars of the Revolution and of the Empire, (1793-1815)---pitted France and England against each other. Wars separated by periods of precarious peace, and in peace deep and mutual distrust. Such was the law of the past.
Circumstances on the one hand, the will of a man of genius on the other, modified this situation which seemed destined by historical fates to last forever. After a century in which Algeria, Tunis, Western and Central Africa the Niger, the Congo, Madagascar, Oceania, Indo-China, Egypt, Morocco, had in swift succession brought the two countries into conflict, less than ten years sufficed to establish, consolidate and seal their entente on the field of battle. For after 1870, Great Britain understood that Germany, not France, threatened the British Empire; for Queen Victoria, ever respectful of insular traditions, had been succeeded in the person of Edward VII, by a sovereign who had direct experience, and personal information of modern political developments. Bismarck after his victory had tried to bolster up Anglo-German friendship, the necessary complement of the Treaty of Frankfort. He had succeeded. "I am English in Egypt," he said one day. And a few months later, he added: "England is worth more to us than Zanzibar and the whole East Coast of Africa."
William II and Prince von Bülow were less prudent. Europe was too small for their ambitions and not content with territorial gains and political supremacy there, they were determined that Germany's future should be upon the sea. In a few years under their impulse cousin "landrat" began to navigate, to trade, to conquer. Germany's foreign commerce rose from 7,000 millions in 1892 to 15,000 millions in 1906; her naval fleet from 9 battle-ships in 1898 to 70 battle-ships and cruisers in 1913. Thus, as her Chancellor said, Germany prepared to "go forth into the world, sword in one hand, spade and trowel in the other." Thus, she asserted her intention to create a "Greater Germany." In all respects and with extraordinary rapidity she became a world power, justifying Treitschke's proud prophecy: "When the German flag protects a vast Empire, to whom will the scepter of the universe belong? Will it not be Germany's mission to assure the peace of the world?" England, which in 1870 had had no premonition of this peril, now saw it arising at her doors. German expansion changed the fundamental conditions of world politics. A new era was opened by it.
This new era called for a new policy, and to this policy England came but with hesitation and in a roundabout manner. It was in 1885 that her merchants, then little heeded, for the first time called attention to the economic menace of Germany. It was only fifteen years later that seeing this menace invade the whole world, besiege the markets, cut the sea-lanes and add political pretensions to commercial ambition, Great Britain or more accurately her king, felt the necessity of reversing her alliance.
"We cannot," said Edward VII, "remain indefinitely at the mercy of the German hold-up."
This phrase is the birth-certificate of what has come to be known as the Entente Cordiale. For, once it was decided to oppose German plans for supremacy, an understanding with France was obligatory. Paradoxical from the point of view of past habits, this rapprochement was unassailable from that of practical politics. The Republic, it is true, had given our country an immense colonial empire. But, in 1904 any alarm felt over this expansion in England was a thing of the past and France's peaceful intentions had too often been proved by her acts, to permit London to have a misgiving as to the future. Economically, Anglo-French relations had always been active and cordial. They were susceptible of still further development on the basis of complementary exchanges. Politically the object was the same---the peaceful organization of a well-balanced Europe, freed from German hegemony. Despite numerous objections, Edward VII had the courage to play his cards. In May, 1903, he came to Paris---an imprudent visit, some thought. He was welcomed and in the following August the conversations began. It was not attempted at this first meeting to formulate any general policy but merely to settle outstanding controversies. In April, 1904, this settlement was accomplished; Morocco, Egypt and Newfoundland supplied its main features.
For France this agreement, no matter how limited in general effectiveness, came at the right time. It was on the eve of the Russian defeat in Manchuria. English friendship thus asserted itself at a time of semi-isolation. There was of course no question of political alliance, still less of military undertakings. All that was done was to show the world that we could converse and eliminate local points of friction. But this in itself changed the essential factors of the European problem. Bismarck's hope some day to see a collision between the "English and French engines," was dashed. The principal instrument of German domination was broken. By the Anglo-French rapprochement Europe eager for peace could turn in peace towards equality and equilibrium. If Germany had been willing to cooperate, a long stability would have ensued. But Germany was not willing to cooperate. First in 1905, in Morocco, then in the Orient she began her threats and her bluster which by pressure and counter-pressure led to the war of 1914. I have given at the beginning of this book the logical sequence of events and will not go over this ground again here. I will confine myself to the evolution and strengthening of the Anglo-French relations under this German influence. Another link was formed in 1908 after the Casablanca incident. Another in 1909 after the Bosnian affair. Still a third in 1911 after Agadir. Then occurred the first conferences between the two General Staffs, which as I have already shown still avoided any positive engagement. The two countries, fully conscious of the necessity of an agreement but keeping free from all promises, continued thus to feel their way down to 1914. On the evening of the very day when the first Germans crossed the French frontier, Great Britain still reserved her decision. The next day she merely promised to bar the Channel to any attack by the German fleet against the French coast. The day following, however, the violation of Belgium brought the British Empire to the rescue of the scrap of paper and for fifty-two months was forged between the two countries that complete unity whose triumph was crowned by the Treaty of Versailles.
Such are the remote origins of our present relations. They shed light to some extent on the difficulties which beset both in war and in peace this indispensable friendship. "England is an island," said Michelet, "and that explains her whole history." England is an island and that island for centuries has accustomed itself to fear everything from the isthmus to the shores of which are held by France. Royal jealousies, Napoleonic wars, colonial conflicts have since the Middle Ages poisoned the atmosphere in which, for the salvation of the world, trust and friendship were henceforth to flourish. There was friction. There were collisions. But yet together and for five and a half years France and Great Britain bore the brunt of the hardest of wars and the most exacting of peaces. Together they defended the land and held the seas. Together they beat Germany. That makes it worth while to continue, and when incidents arise to search our souls together, for that alone will make continuance possible. It is as necessary to-day in peace as it was yesterday in time of war. What would this peace amount to in the present state of Europe if France and Great Britain, forgetting the work they had accomplished in common, were no longer to stand, shoulder to shoulder, to assure its maintenance and enforcement?
Great Britain's rôle in the war was enormous. Without speaking of the courage of her soldiers who from month to month made magnificent strides both in quantity and quality, her fleet which bottled up the German Navy in its ports, enabled the Allies to live, to arm, to gather strength and to win. This inestimable service Great Britain crowned by transporting in her vessels, during the last eight months of the war, seventy per cent. of the American Army. Throughout the war France and Great Britain adhered loyally to the declaration of September, 1914, and were always united as to the end to be attained. But as to means to be employed what disagreements arose! I took part in most of those discussions and I remember especially those at Versailles and in London in the summer of 1918. If I recall them here, it is to throw light upon more recent discussion; to show public opinion in both countries that these discussions were in no way unprecedented or unexpected; drive home into English and French brain alike this fundamental idea that relations will never be easy between the two peoples because we neither think nor feel in the same way and also because the difficulty in reaching agreements lies much less in the nature of the problems to be solved than in the diversity of national temperaments. The history of the war proved this. And how much more the history of peace?
The preceding chapters have hidden nothing of the heat of our discussions. What caused this heat? Opposition of principles? No. But over the application of every principle arose difficulties due to differences of mental process and to divergent traditions. Do you want an extreme, coarse and even distorted expression of these divergences? Then read Mr. Keynes' book. But when you read it, do not forget that the contradictions he exaggerates to such an absurd extent really existed, though in much less degree. The Englishman in his island behind his walls of water is incapable, whatever he does, of grasping the point of view of the French with the open frontier twice violated in fifty years; and there you have---in its essential causes---the long discussion over the left bank of the Rhine. The Englishman who has not like France had to defend himself for fifteen centuries against German attacks, treats war as a sport and is inclined to say when it is over, "Let's shake hands and make it up." Hence the serious misunderstanding over the conditions necessary to the admission of Germany into the League of Nations. The Englishman who has suffered little in the course of his history from the troubles brought upon Europe by German ambitions, hates the Slavs who have been his rivals both in the Balkans and in Asia: the Englishman understands nothing of the instinctive policy of France which, from Louis XV to M. de Freycinet, has sought in Eastern Europe a counter-weight to German power: and there we have the great quarrel over Dantzig. and Upper Silesia which Mr. Lloyd George, deaf to the arguments of M. Clemenceau and of Mr. Wilson, grudges to Poland.. The Englishman despite the heavy taxes he imposed upon himself during the war, despite the election promises of 1913---" 'Germany will pay to the last farthing"---did not attach the same supreme importance to reparations as did devastated France. British shipping sunk has been replaced by new construction and paid for, in large part, by Allied or neutral cargoes. Not a foot of English soil served as a battlefield. So to settle a monotonous controversy England is ready for lump sum solutions and debt reductions which represent a tolerable burden for her but mean bankruptcy for France; and here we have the whole gist of the financial discussion which I have outlined above and which, beginning before the Treaty was signed, has continued to grow once it came into force. I might give other instances but the result would always be the same.
These problems so lengthily discussed in 1919 were settled in almost every instance as France suggested. I have told in detail of the two great Franco-British crises at the Conference---the first in March before the Treaty was handed to the Germans, the second in June after that event. I have quoted in full the French Note of April 2, in which M. Clemenceau said to Mr. Lloyd George: "If you find the peace too harsh, let us give Germany back her colonies and her fleet, and let us not impose upon the continental nations alone---France, Belgium, Bohemia and Poland---the territorial concessions required to appease the beaten aggressor." I have shown that a fortnight later France received full satisfaction on all these points. Why? Because instead of entering into endless bargainings, she had appealed on the principle itself to the inner conscience and honour of the British delegates. To preserve towards Germany the authority of the Allies by continuity of their common policy; to enforce a Treaty which appeals to all the Allies and not to Germany only as a just peace; to remember that the Treaty being a compromise no one of its clauses can be modified without jeopardizing the whole structure---such were yesterday the essential conditions of the re-establishment of order in the world; to-morrow they will be just as essential.
It was thus and thus only that maintaining Franco-British friendship and even scaling it by an agreement unparalleled in British history M. Clemenceau made our French contentions prevail. He did this by moral influence to which Mr. Lloyd George never remained insensible. The British Minister, so impulsive and at times so quick to take offense, was often swayed by his French colleague to whom he bore real affection and respect. In the most trying days of the Peace Conference it was never in vain that M. Clemenceau reminded him of the trying days of the war. M. Clemenceau's appeals were made not in official discussion rendered formal by the necessary presence of an interpreter, but man to man, in personal talks where plain truths forcefully stated mingled with appeals that swayed the heart, where the fire of the old Celt melted the stubborn Welshman out of his British prejudices and, if I may use the expression, "disinsularized" him. Besides a French atmosphere pervaded the discussion, the atmosphere of the near-by battlefields which Mr. Lloyd George frequently visited. Our contact with our Allies was direct and permanent. The familiarity of long effort in common permitted us to approach them at all hours, to prepare at dawn the work of the day and in the evening to consolidate the results.
Laborious and difficult, this peace was made and, despite so many disagreements, Great Britain and France both placed their signatures to the Treaty in a neutral spirit of abiding and warm friendship. Since the coming into force of the Treaty what has become of this cordial unity? The history of 1920 must answer that question!
This history is all contained in two facts. France, though armed with the Treaty, accepted in 1920 the English contentions she had rejected in 1919; and in spite of these concessions, repugnant to her interest and to her right, she has not retained the cordial intimacy which M. Clemenceau had succeeded in giving to Franco-British relations in 1919 while firmly refusing the things his successors have consented to. Surrender of war criminals; economic memorandum; occupation of Frankfort; reparations; conferences at San Remo, Hythe, Boulogne, and Spa; nearly always France gives way but every time confidence dwindles, French delegates returning from these meetings bitterly exclaiming: "We were undone! Yet we had to give way in order to save the Entente." And the Entente itself for which so much had been sacrificed seemed less cordial and less certain after each meeting!
The development of such a state of mind is a dangerous thing! Let me say with all the emphasis at my command that it is unfair to France, unfair to Great Britain and harmful to both. It is unfair to France. The splendour of her war effort; the moderation of her peace demands; the magnitude of her sacrifices entitled France to make her voice heard especially when she is in the right. It is unfair to Great Britain. Obdurate as she may be in business matters, selfish as she often is, Great Britain for five long and tragic years was deaf neither to the appeals of sentiment nor of reason. But for Great Britain to hear she must be spoken to in a way she understands. If we speak to her face to face-as friend to friend-we can speak strongly, we can speak "after the manner of the English, in straight flung words and few." If we speak rightly and at the right time we are certain to make our point and to overcome prejudice and egotism. But speak we must. Four and a half years of war and fifteen months of peace negotiations warrant this assertion. Those who, like myself, have lived through those six eventful years refuse to admit that in a few short weeks the respective situations of either of the two great nations or of their Governments can have undergone the complete change which the events of 1920 would seem to indicate.
Difficulties and disagreements between France and England? There have been many; there are some to-day and there always will be some. But there was a time when these differences were composed by reason, far from the enemy's sight and without any sacrifice of prestige by either of the principals. When in 1917 England contemplated the evacuation of Salonica; when, in 1918, she advocated the shortsighted policy of reducing the number of her divisions in France from sixty to forty; when, at the beginning of 1919, Mr. Lloyd George said: "To make Germany sign, let us humour her," and M. Clemenceau replied: "It is not for us in the presence of a defeated aggressor to ask pardon for our victory;" when England would agree neither to the occupation of the Rhine nor to the wresting of Upper Silesia and Dantzig from Germany; when after having declared "Germany shall pay for everything," she suggested in the following month of June the fixing of a certain lump sum which would have crippled the claim for reparations; or when she proposed meeting Lenine's delegates in Paris, was it at such times---I ask---another England? Was it another Lloyd George? No, they were the same. France managed to make her view prevail, because France was in the right.
If this situation has been changed, I do not hesitate to place the initial blame upon England. Mr. Lloyd George worked very hard for our common victory. No Frenchman has the right to forget that, nor to doubt the sincerity of his admiration and affection for France. And no Frenchman can take exception to the fact that his first thought is always of England. But his policy in 1920 was marked by many errors. To placate British labour, he countenanced too many concessions both to the Soviets and to Germany. To placate British trade, he mated business greed with political idealism. Many Frenchmen believe that in 1920 ---quite unconsciously, perhaps---he adopted the very policy he had repudiated in 1919,---the policy of Mr. Keynes. Commercial interests have everywhere been put first. The hankering after immediate advantage has blurred the prospect of the future. Too many Englishmen have forgotten that---however great and decisive the part played by England in the war---her territory was neither invaded nor devastated. Too many Englishmen have failed to recognize that France, bleeding and plundered, is entitled to something better than daily advice to renounce her rights.
The vast majority of English people have not changed, nor have their truly fraternal feelings for the French people varied. But they have been told so often that France, and France alone, has retarded the coming of real peace by insisting on the literal execution of a Treaty devised to bind the victors together as it binds the vanquished to them, that moral misunderstanding has ensued. So little has been done to explain to the English people our absolute need for full reparation---to make them see that if France is not to be bowed down for half a century under the crushing weight of an unjust burden, she must have full reparation---that a political cleavage has arisen which irritates men's nerves without enlightening their minds. But reduced to its basic elements the problem is a simple one. If the responsible leaders of Great Britain, if those who control British policy have already come to the conclusion that the financial clauses of the Treaty of Peace---which they solemnly signed in 1919---cannot be executed, it is their duty at least to offer France a guarantee for the minimum they would have her accept when urging her to abate her just demands. This they have not done. It is a serious mistake, fraught with danger to both countries alike. Thus the campaign for the revision of the Treaty has risen from lower levels to the highest Government spheres. The surprise and sorrow of Frenchmen are as great as the esteem and friendship which, after our common victory, they entertain for our Great Ally across the Channel.
This is the truth, but it is not the whole truth. British efforts against the Treaty of Versailles have had a disastrous effect and yet, by an unheard-of paradox, these efforts have found supporters in France. What supporters? The very men who, when the Treaty was signed, complained that it was not drastic enough. Complex as their motives have been, their efforts have been convergent. Some have striven to show that the Republic is incapable of negotiating a sound Treaty; others that the bourgeoisie is incapable of establishing a lasting peace; others again that a peace negotiated by M. Clemenceau must necessarily be detestable. All, however, have worked hand in hand to assail a Treaty already subjected to many foreign attacks; all have worked to weaken a contract which they had previously proclaimed inadequate. These critics, whether they intended it or not, have shaken public confidence and weakened the Treaty of Peace. Their action has been exerted in successive waves. It began in the spring of 1919. It continued throughout the summer and its manifestations have grown increasingly frequent. Look at the American papers and you will see how unjust and unbridled attacks in the French Parliament furnished ready weapons to those opposed to the ratification of the Treaty. Read the English papers of more recent date and you will see how these same continental criticisms have been used to support the growing demand for the revision of the Treaty. Examine the German papers and you will see how Germany---interpreting so many and such violent attacks as an indication of adverse public opinion in France, has conceived hopes of defeating the document in which its downfall is recorded. When undermining the Treaty, in the interest of parties and of individuals in our internal politics, French critics have not stopped to consider that they were also undermining it in the interest and to the advantage of Germany as well. Their game of vying with one another to find fault has been Germany's game. They have not seen the encouragement they were giving to Pan-Germanism and this blindness, I regret to say, has been met with even in the highest Government circles.
Simultaneously M. Clemenceau's defeat in the presidential election altered the arrangements which had been made, in December, 1919, for the future of the Conference and, reversing these arrangements, caused the inter-allied headquarters for the execution of the peace to be transferred from Paris to London. It was no longer the French Prime Minister but the British Prime Minister who presided over and directed them. Mr. Lloyd George had to confer with M. Millerand through an interpreter; and intimate understanding was impossible in brief meetings. The "diplomatic channel" with its Notes and Counter-Notes, its delay and quibbling, again became paramount. Never in 1920 did Mr. Lloyd George have that direct view, that physical sensation of France and of Europe, which M. Clemenceau gave him in a few words at decisive moments. Those few Frenchmen whose long collaboration enabled them to discuss things freely with the British Prime Minister likewise disappeared, following M. Clemenceau into retirement. No one was left who could speak with that directness---may I say that sharpness---which was so often necessary; none who could reduce to right proportions the personal attacks of certain political writers who unintentionally have done France so much harm during the past few months.
At the same time France employed the worst possible method of negotiation---weakness in discussion followed by resounding reactions after agreement had been reached---that is, the thing most repugnant to British and American minds. Tell them beforehand what you are going to do, even if it is most disagreeable to them, they will acknowledge your right to do as you please. Do it without telling them and the displeasure they would feel in any event will be deepened by annoyance at being treated without candour, and this feeling will endure.(55) I remember one day during the war having warned an American Minister, who in perfect good faith absolutely refused to entertain a request made by the French Government, that I intended in a public speech to appeal to the people to decide between us. Because I myself told him what I was going to do, he regarded as correct and "fair" a step which would have exasperated him if he had first heard of it through the papers, and when he saw three weeks later that the public was on our side he gave way with the best grace in the world. In dealing with Anglo-Saxons, direct hits are the ones that count. Indirect methods are dangerous and more dangerous still when before surprising these same Anglo-Saxons by a brusk initiative you have allowed them to think for months that you do not dare to withstand them. Insular isolation has been thus re-established---commercial insularity, electoral insularity, political insularity---and the movement for the revision of the Treaty has grown. And if it be objected that in saying this, I attach too great importance to the personal equation in politics, I would answer that politics imply actions and actions imply individuals.
These things must be recalled if it is to be understood why every decision arrived at in 1920 lent itself to bitter controversy; why certain solutions repugnant to the Treaty put forward and rejected during the original negotiations, so frequently prevailed; why in the absence of the United States, held aloof by the failure of the U. S. Senate to ratify the Treaty, France and Great Britain have so often assumed antagonistic attitudes and jeopardized their mutual good understanding by useless haggling. An unhealthy atmosphere created by malevolent criticism of the only law that should be respected by all alike; a faulty method of negotiation---due on the British side to a serious error of psychology, and on the French side to a sudden change of administration---such is the story of 1920. A British Government which forgetful of our past sufferings urges us to pay for the success of questionable combinations by the sacrifice of our rights; a French Government which in Parliament for purposes of internal politics ridicules the very document on which a few days later it had to rely in diplomatic conferences.(56) On the one hand unreasonable demands harshly formulated; on the other concessions granted only to be followed by vain recrimination. Mutual misunderstanding aggravated by the difference of language, by the impossibility of direct contact; a series of reciprocal lackings of consideration producing ever-increasing exasperation---such are the characteristic features of the story.
Thus a great deal of harm has been done and unless both parties change their tactics, this harm will increase. I say what I think and I hope I shall be believed. Those who helped M. Clemenceau to conduct the affairs of France during the last fifteen months of the war and the twelve months of peace negotiations cannot be suspected of under-estimating either the material power or the moral value of Great Britain. They never lost sight and they never will lose sight of the immense services rendered by England during the war, of the fact that Franco-British friendship is essential to the safety of both countries and to the peace of the world. So they have the right to recall that when conflicting interests brought the police of these two nations into opposition they succeeded in settling their differences by equitable agreements which did not place the burden of all the sacrifices upon the shoulders of only one nation and that in this manner they safeguarded the intimacy of the two countries. France, it is only too evident, cannot break with Great Britain. But neither can Great Britain break with France.
This difficulty must be overcome. But how? First by disregarding resolutely the methods followed on both sides in 1920, and returning to the franker, broader and clearer methods which enabled the two countries to win the war and make peace in common. This is the first but not the only thing. During the war France and England viewed their relations plainly and practically. France knew that, if England had lost control of the Seas, the Allies would have had no more supplies or munitions. England knew that, if the French had given way on the Marne or at Verdun, the English coast would have been uncovered. Is it possible in peace---more complex, it is true, than war---to apply to Anglo-French relations a similar formula and thus set up above contingent considerations a permanent goal for the minds and wills of the two nations? I should like to try to answer this question.
France knows very well what she expects of England. What she expects of England is first of all political---that is to say---moral support. We are face to face with a beaten neighbor who prefers hatred to repentance and whose population is twenty millions greater than ours. Notwithstanding the folly of certain Frenchmen intoxicated with the idea of solitude, we need friends. What form should this friendship take? I know but one basis for friendship for nations as for individuals---loyalty and unity. Loyalty, that is to say scrupulous respect for all engagements entered into after free discussion. Unity, that is to say the desire to understand and to share each other's aspirations. In the present state of Europe and of the world a criterion: if France is not to doubt England, she must feel that England does not attach less importance to the enforcement of the peace than she herself. Will it be said that this enforcement is less directly indispensable to Great Britain than to France? It is for this reason that Great Britain, precisely because she values France's friendship, must be as vigilant as France herself with regard to it. Even if she believes that France is making a mistake in exacting all that she has a right to, she is bound as a friend to support her.
A single example. When England publicly disavowed in March, 1920, the occupation of Frankfort by French and Belgian troops, she violated this fundamental principle of friendship. And I quite agree that there might well be a difference of opinion as to this step which I myself looked upon as both justified and utterly useless. But on no account should the enemy of yesterday have been permitted to see that there was a division; above all, an attempt should have been made to reach an understanding. Suppose that on the pretext of policing German fishermen what is left of the German fleet had cruised about the mouth of the Thames and fired its guns. Do you believe that the British Admiralty would not immediately and on its own responsibility have taken measures of reprisal? This is precisely what France did at Frankfort when on pretext of strikes the Reichwehr invaded the neutral zone which the Treaty of Versailles had forbidden it to enter. France on this occasion would have liked Great Britain to feel as she felt, as Great Britain indeed would have felt in her place. France would have liked also in other matters, reparations, Poland, etc., to have Great Britain make an effort to agree to policies which have always been in strict accordance with the solemn undertakings entered into on June 28, 1919. That is what I call moral support.
France also needs the material support of Great Britain. She needs coal---coal at reasonable prices and with priority of delivery at least to the amount which France lost defending, over her destroyed mines, the coast of England. It is not fair that France should pay more for that coal than the English pay for it and that France should pay for it at the same prices as the neutrals of yesterday. Lord Northcliffe asserted this in an interview in November, 1920---I in turn say the same thing. It is unfair also that in order to maintain her export prices, England should force us, as she did at Spa, to pay more for German coal than the price fixed by the Treaty of Versailles. France needs shipping and here I am not one of those who underrate the immense sacrifices made by Great Britain for victory, but I ask her to take France's sacrifices also into account. I know full well that submarine warfare destroyed seventeen million tons, nine millions of which were British; that the German and Austrian fleets together amounted to only five and a half million tons and that Great Britain replaced only thirty per cent. of her losses by enemy ships. But Great Britain should remember that our arsenals and shipyards were busy making war material for all the Allies and that France did not build a ship for five years. Great Britain should remember that France during the war, because of lack of tonnage, paid British, American and neutral carriers 12,000 million francs in freight charges. Great Britain should remember France's lack of passenger ships and that she is not even able to run the regular pre-war services to her own colonies.
I say that here, as in all other things, mere commercial fair play is not enough, that what is needed is whole-hearted support, the kind of support France gave in the tragic days of 1918 when Pétain's twenty-four divisions were rushed in a few hours to replace Gough's Army. Last but not least France needs financial support and here again I am far from underrating the enormous financial sacrifices made by Great Britain in the war and the thousands of millions she lent us. But I ask her not to forget Lord Derby's words already quoted that "her Lancashire has not been destroyed." In France, this destruction was complete and gave to the Armies of Liberty their common field of battle on which Allied victory saved English soil from the horrors of invasion. What can be done for France? Financial unity, the difficulties of which I have already explained? A French loan in England---promised to M. Clemenceau, but never floated? This is not the place to discuss ways and means. It is sufficient to raise the questions and to add that, no matter what happens, France must be able to count on Great Britain for full support when she demands of Germany the reparations written in the Treaty which England signed. During the war we bought much wheat, steel, coal, explosives, freights; in return we freely gave the best of French soil, and 1,400,000 French lives. That is an argument which tells on the English heart.
That is what France expects of England and I have no reason to hold any of it back. But England also needs France and I want to say how, with equal frankness. England first of all needs France for her safety. The last war convinced the most incredulous of this fact. If some day either a renewal of German aggression or the obscure development of Russian forces were to threaten France and Belgium in the East, then and for the same reasons Great Britain would be threatened too. Without Belgium and without France, Great Britain has no battlefield on the Continent to deploy her forces and protect her coast. When the road to Paris is open to invasion neither Calais nor Dover is safe. Every thinking Briton knows that and is not likely to forget it. But Great Britain not only needs France to be safe, in order to feel safe herself, she also needs France to be prosperous. It is to England's own interest that France should rise from her ruins because the twenty million bushels of wheat which cannot longer be grown in our devastated regions force us to compete with British buyers in the grain markets of the world; because the ruin of our mines, no matter how high the price of English coal, must weigh in the long run upon the reduced production of English mines; because throughout the whole world our colonial Empires in contact are affected by each other's crisis.
And I go further still. Great Britain needs France as an element of stability and restraint in world politics, especially---and I say it plainly---in Anglo-American relations. The war revolutionized these relations. It created ties which I trust may never be broken. Yet how can we overlook that often the past weighing upon the present makes difficult the most essential collaborations? How can we overlook that friction which may arise between Dominions and the United States? How can we overlook that in the modern world material and moral effects of economic struggles cannot be foreseen? And an economic struggle is even now engaged in between the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race. British and American shipyards are racing to see which can build most. In the markets of South America and of the Far East, British and American firms are struggling for supremacy. For this healthy competition to remain a healthy stimulus and not become a danger, Great Britain and America both need France as connecting-link and compensator. And how can I avoid the Irish question? I remember a day in the very midst of the war when my colleague, the British High Commissioner in the United States, asked me to place at his disposal to speak at Catholic meetings one of the military priests attached to my service. America will need to be informed to-morrow ---as yesterday. America will need to be told---to-morrow as yesterday---and to be told by others than the British themselves without reference to possible solutions of the Irish problem---that during the war the Sinn-Feiners harboured and supplied German submarines and took German gold to pay for Casement's treason. Here too Great Britain needs France---needs France on whose soil was sealed in blood the Anglo-American brotherhood of arms, France best qualified and most authorized to recall the higher interests of democratic unity which demand of the three nations ever greater faith and ever greater harmony.
For this to be, a loyal effort of mutual understanding is essential. I have the consciousness of having always worked with whatsoever ability is mine to inform my countrymen of the permanent factors of British politics. Official Great Britain must also learn to know France better. The Foreign Office is a great stronghold of traditions. Of these traditions there is one whose possible danger I would point out. It is that which has always led Great Britain to look with favour upon the second-rate European Powers and with distrust upon the first-rate Powers. The tradition fifteen years ago led to the Entente Cordiale against a Germany of domination and so this tradition is sacred to us. Let us fear, however, that ill-interpreted it may now be turned against the very achievement which is its greatest honour. France is to-day the principal Power of Continental Europe. That is enough for some to accuse her of Imperialism. I should like at certain moments to feel sure that it is not enough to induce similar reflexes in the splendid old institution which in Downing Street clings to the ways of bygone days. Such reflexes if they were possible would constitute an injustice and an error. For France is not Germany and her victory---I think I have shown it---is a victory à la Française which does not deserve to be insulted by comparison with Bismarckian conquests. "Germany," said M. Clemenceau, "enslaved herself to enslave others. France frees herself to set others free." A great lesson in political psychology is contained in those few words. May the Foreign Office and all its representatives, in all parts of the world, take it loyally to heart and understand that Great Britain will always have more to fear from Germany even defeated than from France victorious!
The subject is vast. I do not flatter myself that I have exhausted it., I have tried---with a freedom of language to which twenty years of political activity in the cause of Franco-British friendship entitled me---to show the danger spots and to point out lines of action. Between British and French let us avoid haggling, Let us speak with the heart and appeal to plain honest principles. I have seen M. Clemenceau succeed by this method, other methods have since been tried out with unhappy results. I am deeply convinced that by returning to it the two peoples will make their union more enduring to their own good and to the good of mankind.
The problem of Franco-American relations is no less important than that of Franco-British relations with which I have just dealt with great frankness. I want to be equally frank about Franco-American relations because democracies ought to be told the truth; and also because having myself been one with the American nation in thought, in heart and in action I venture to believe they will look upon my frankness as a proof of affection and of respect.
The basis of Franco-American friendship is indestructible; for it rests on the memory of service rendered and received without thought of self. This friendship has lasted for one hundred and fifty years. The statues of LaFayette, and Rochambeau standing before the White House; their. portraits hanging in the Capitol at the right and left of the Speaker, are the symbols of a living force. But before the war, each country was blissfully ignorant of the other. The two countries loved each other without knowing why. They knew little of each other. What America, to speak but of the United States, admired in us was our charm rather, than our energy, our accomplishments rather than our virtues. It was neither our political genius, nor our practical capacity, nor our faculty for expansion that she admired; but our elegance, our taste, our fashions, our literature, our art. And this admiration was directed more to the past than to the present. We were in a way to become like unto a work of art in a Museum. We suffered, in the eyes of America as of the rest of the world, from the dread fact that in Europe we were the last of the vanquished. Sedan dominated our modern history, as Jena had long dominated that of Prussia. We ourselves were in a way responsible for this situation. When Frenchmen went to America to talk of France, they seldom spoke of modern France, her ideas, her resources, or her industries. When Americans, like Barrett Wendell, spoke of France as a country capable of action and by no wise stricken with national anemia, their words were received with a certain skepticism.
We were looked upon as an old nation resigned to secondary rank. The clear-sighted continuity of our foreign policy and the breadth of our colonial policy were alike unknown. Our religious conflicts angered the Catholics and astonished the rest of America incapable of conceiving normal relations between Church and State other than those of cordial separation. Our charm was felt, but we had little prestige or authority.
The war came. In the United States as elsewhere everyone at first believed in German victory. The overwhelming majority of the United States favoured neutrality. In July, 1914, Democrats and Republicans, Roosevelt and Wilson, were agreed about that. A few understood from the very start the enormous importance of this fight which was just beginning and came to join our ranks,---these men were exceptions. The great mass did not know, did not move. As late as 1917, I met educated people in New York who were smilingly skeptic about German atrocities. Inquiry into the responsibility for the war was avoided, and it was not only in his own party that the President won that expression of prudent gratitude: "He kept us out of war." The Marne came as a shock to this apathy and shattered the belief that Germany was invincible. Then as the war went on and fighting settled down in earnest, another belief received its death-blow: the belief in French lightness, capable of sudden effort but not of patient endurance. Months went by. America was making much money by selling raw materials to the Allies. But war profits all went into a few hands and everyone was feeling the rising cost of living. In 1916, people began to wonder if it would not be wise to stop the European war by cutting off supplies. As the presidential election drew near the question of entering the war became an issue between opposing parties. The great majority of the people, however, still favoured neutrality and a "peace without victory."
Germany it was that, under pressure of circumstances and with her usual lack of psychology, forced war upon America. At an early stage she had worked towards this end by attacks on American shipping; but that did not satisfy her. By a series of provocations which grew worse month by month, by obstinate persistence in unheard-of absurdities, by blind contempt for the clearest warnings, the Imperial German Government dug its grave with its own hands. Tirpitz got the upper hand of Bernstorff, and Bernstorff being beaten proceeded like a true German to go Tirpitz one better. While the logical development of diplomatic correspondence was daily making it more and more inevitable for the United States to pick up the gauntlet, the German Embassy in Washington was organizing a vast conspiracy on the very soil of America. The Americans, who are naturally confiding, unraveled the threads of this intrigue with stupefaction. The general sympathy which German immigrants had enjoyed gave way to alarm and suspicion. The United States had borne the first torpedo attacks without severing relations. But the last, combined with this interior plot which was felt at work everywhere, awoke the war spirit which for thirty mouths had slumbered. It was recognized that the danger against which Western Europe was fighting might also reach the New World. The protection of the ocean began to appear doubtful. On April 6, 1917, the United States, directly threatened, declared war on Germany.
This war which it entered for purely American reasons was fought by the United States in a splendid spirit of union with Europe. They put into it all their power, all their will, all their heart. The United States lent its Allies ---when in April, 1917, they could get no more money in New York---the sum of 15,000 million dollars. They raised five million men, nearly half of whom were in France on the day of the Armistice. By voluntary and self-imposed restrictions they were able to feed Europe. They subordinated all individual interests to the general interest by adopting a policy of production and distribution which set a standard. Their soldiers fought bravely, and France holds their memory sacred. The part played by the United States in the war, though short, was tremendous. Without France which saved the world at the battle of the Marne, the United States could not have fought. But without the United States the Allies could not have conquered. It was the presence of American troops that enabled them to establish their numerical supremacy. And it was the presence of American troops that enabled Marshal Foch to plan and carry out the final offensive of victory. America came into the war late. But she came in time. France knows what her aid was worth and will be forever grateful.
The hour of defeat sounds for the Germans at the end of 1918. Peace sued for at the same time as the Armistice finds the Allies in accord on general principles. I have told above the story of the frank exchange of views which efforts have at times been made to misrepresent, but about which neither then or now, the slightest shadow of ambiguity exists.(57) The Conference began. After so many distorted versions this book tells the truth about the peace. At the Conference the United States proved its disinterestedness by asking nothing for herself but the right to pay for and keep the 700,000 tons of German shipping interned in her own ports. Like all the Allies she defended her contentions vigorously but not in the overbearing manner sometimes ascribed to her representatives. Some of these contentions France did not accept. To reach agreement the United States, like other nations, had to accept amendments. It was the law of the four-nation peace, as it had been the law of a four-nation war. But it is equally unjust to assert either that the United States "put it over" on the Allies, or that the Allies "put it over" on the United States. The Conference was laborious; at times painful. I have explained why. But from first to last all discussions were marked by a sincerity and restraint which do them honour. The irreconcilables of the two extremist parties, the Germanists and the Imperialists, must bear the responsibility for fables with which they slandered the makers of the Treaty in order to discredit the Treaty itself. When signed the peace appeared to its makers an imperfect but honest compromise---an unprecedented attempt to regulate the future relations of peoples on a basis of security and justice.
The Treaty thus drafted was not ratified by the United States Senate. The Treaty of Guarantee with France although favourably reported by the Commission was not even discussed. I shall not refer to the details of the ten months' battle that ended thus. The vote of the Senate pained France. Painful in itself, for like all the Allies we had made sacrifices for the sake of agreement and the final abstention of America robbed these sacrifices of their counter-benefits. Painful too in its consequences, for beyond a doubt it encouraged Germany in her policy of non-execution of the Peace Treaty. I say frankly that France did not consider the Treaty clauses as justifying the angry struggle to which they gave rise. Senator Lodge's reservations seemed to France neither indispensable nor inacceptable. She felt that no Treaty could possibly affect parliamentary prerogatives which are the very basis of democratic institutions and that there was no need of so many glosses to reserve what in practise and in theory are inalienable rights, for war cannot be waged without money, and money is in the hands of legislatures and war cannot be waged without the support of public opinion and public opinion is free. The French remembered that, no matter how formal the Franco-Russian Alliance, a vote of the French Parliament on August 3, 1914, would have sufficed to make it inoperative; and they concluded that no matter what the wording of the Covenant---a wording easily amended---the Congress of the United States would have retained all its rights.
My country has maintained a fitting reserve in dealing with these events. It could not, however, refrain from noting their consequences. In the spring of 1920, M. Alexander Redlich, editor of the Gazette de Voss, said to me:
"Germany is not complying with the Treaty; that is true. But if she does not comply with it, the chief cause is the vote by which the United States Senate refused to ratify it"
Germany readily believes what she wishes to be true, and she has never wished for anything more than for division among the Allies. She flattered herself that she could bring it about during the war by the Czernir offer and the Lancken proposals. She thought she had achieved it in 1919 and Count Brockdorff on his arrival at Versailles made no attempt to hide the fact. How could the secession of the United States have failed to encourage her hopes and illusions---have failed to strengthen her determination ---not to give up the war criminals, not to disarm, and not to pay? And I know full well that none of the men who rejected the Treaty sought such a result, nor desired to precipitate it. But at times results outstrip intentions, and this was here the case. The legal controversies to which the Treaty of Versailles led in the Capitol, the party struggles it revived, engendered are expressed and the personal antagonisms it in Europe by greater difficulty in enforcing the Treaty. We must in the mutual interests of France and of the United States face the facts of this situation and seek to remedy it.
It calls for serious effort, not for displays of temper. Our mutual affection is not endangered. The hearts of the two peoples still beat together. The American Government has not so far called upon France to pay back the thousands of millions it lent her, nor even the interest thereon. Everyone feels that the situation is difficult and calls for careful handling. Everyone has the same aim: peace and friendship.
We cannot, however, blind ourselves to the fact that, if it is to endure and develop, Franco-American friendship must be given more care than in the past. During the last century we loved each other at a distance, without much knowledge of each other, and absence of contact made friction impossible. Our relations were pleasant but of life in common we knew naught. War has changed all this. More than two million American soldiers came to France. They lived there in times of great stress. Nearly eighty thousand of them now sleep their last sleep in her soil. Those who returned learned to know something of French courage. But many of them did not know or did not understand how awful was France's plight after four years of war. Some complained of living conditions and of profiteering, forgetting that the French soldiers had the same troubles and that profiteering was not unknown in America. Others were over-impressed by the comforts and flattery they found in occupied Germany, forgetful that the miserable condition of our poor villages and the weariness of our people were but an added reason for their sympathy. All were at times taken in by absurd tales, such for instance as that France made America pay rent for the trenches! In vain we denied this again and again. In vain we showed that the so-called renting was merely the taking over of the material of the trenches which was done in every sector of the front whenever a new relief arrived, not only between one Allied Army and another, but also between the various units of the same Army. I should not be surprised if many a doughboy went home with the idea firmly tucked away in the back of his head that he paid for the privilege of fighting. Finally, the warmth of appreciation rightly shown by the grateful French made many an American forget that, even if it did save the Allies, the United States entered the war to defend the rights and liberties of America.
I do not want to be charged with dotting every "i" and crossing every "t"---yet we must be plain if we are to understand each other. The war brought us into direct contact. This contact must be maintained. Let us neglect nothing that touches the souls of our two peoples---let us never grow tired of explaining ourselves to each other. For three years I have acted on this principle. Though my first duty, as French High Commissioner, was to obtain material results, in the shape of money, steel, wheat, ships, powder, explosives and countless other things, I constantly strove to develop in each country an understanding of and love for the customs and character of the other. Thousands of times with the valuable help of the Committee on public Information, my fellow-workers and I talked to Americans about France. We furnished facts and figures to the efficient Association of American National Lecturers. We created enduring ties between the similar social, religious and professional groups in the two countries. By our efforts, the Catholics, Protestants, Jews, historians, scholars and business men of America and France were brought into close relations which continue despite the non-ratification of the Peace Treaty. Thanks to the cordial cooperation of General Pershing, I succeeded in 1918 in giving seven thousand officers and soldiers of the American Army a six months, course in our Universities and Technical Schools. To every American soldier, when he left, we gave a little booklet which in a few pages expressed the gratitude of France and told her position and the part she played in winning the war. M. Clemenceau sent a memorial souvenir signed by the President of the French Republic to the family of every dead soldier. Trifling incidents perhaps, but not without interest in the moral history of the two nations. Now that the war is won we must continue and as it has proved feasible to pave the way for complete union by bringing together corresponding elements, the same policy should be pursued. It is the best way of killing in America the many untrue stories concocted against France by cunning hands we know only too well: the story that France pays no taxes: the story that France is not reconstructing: the story that she is militarist, that she is rich and discontented.
So much for the general conditions by which we may reach a good understanding based not upon propaganda---I hate the word; the thing---but upon exact information. How can our political and economic relations be adjusted for the greatest good of the two countries? One's first impulse is to speak of material aid which America could furnish to France; but however valuable this aid might be, it is not the most essential thing. Besides, up to now, with the exception of private and philanthropic initiative, it has been non-existent. Immediately after the Armistice a number of American business men came over to offer us their help. At the same time at my request Mr. McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, asked Congress for authority to open us credits which would have enabled us to take advantage of these offers. Nothing came of it. The endeavours to keep French workmen employed and to provide work for our war factories created a protectionist policy of reconstruction which reduced foreign participation to almost nothing. Even if this was a mistake, it was a very natural one. Since then many American banks have established branches in France. Corporations for developing international commerce have been founded. Special short time credits have been negotiated. But the, great current of Franco-American business has not yet begun. Burdened with war loans and income taxes, America has no liquid funds available. Even if her condition were normal, her aid would not suffice to solve the problem France must face to-day.
I have already given figures. We have a debt of 255,000 million francs, at the exchange rate of October, 1920, or 227,000 millions at par. We have to pay pensions representing a capital of 55,000 millions. We have spent 22,000 millions on reconstruction and must spend at least 120,000 millions more. No material aid from America can meet such a need. The only possible way out is for the Treaty of Versailles to be enforced and Germany made to pay what she owes. The only real help therefore that can be of definite assistance to France is that which will enable her to enforce the Peace Treaty and obtain payment of Germany's debt. In other words what France needs is political support. Political support that may entail financial aid later; if Germany pays and issues bonds the United States could buy or discount them, but now the only possible aid they can give is political and moral, by backing France when she makes her just demands. Here we have the problem in all its complexity, for it is not easy for America to demand the enforcement of a contract which she has not even ratified. Again I am dotting my "i" and calling a spade a spade.
I know that in saying this I am contradicting an opinion which great American business men have often expressed. I know for example that in a booklet published by Mr. Otto Kahn in 1920 he maintained that the help America could give Europe and especially France was not political but economic. I think my statistics have proved that at least as far as France is concerned this is a fundamental error. America will not and cannot bear the cost of our reconstruction. The only way she can be of real help to us therefore is to unite with us politically and morally in forcing Germany to pay. The offer of economic support to the exclusion of political support carries with it a clear implication of iniquity, for in the form in which it has been proposed it would profit as much to the vanquished but uninjured aggressor as to the victors, victims not only of aggression but of systematic destruction as well. Worse still, to secure payment from Germany for her purchases, all her liquid assets which should go to reparations would be earmarked for the sellers. In discussing this purely business question people lose sight of the fact that Germany in order to pay must, as Lord Cunliffe pointed out, subject herself for purposes of reparation to a special system of production, restriction and exports. Financiers like Mr. Otto Kahn, who deal with the reconstruction of Europe en bloc, forget that the ruins to be rebuilt are not alike either in origin, or extent, or location. Their location:---all the ruins are in Allied countries---none in Germany. Their extent:---how can Germany's economic crisis be compared with those in France or Belgium which are aggravated by the loss of one-fourth of the national capital? Their origin:---who does not know that Germany alone is responsible for the disaster, from which she also suffers, though less than the others? The plan of Mr. Otto Kahn, whose friendship for France no one appreciates better than 1, unfortunately comes back to the system of Mr. Keynes,---much, I feel certain, against its author's intentions. As a plan it is not only impractical but unjust..
And I return to my conclusion: if America wishes---and I know she does wish---to give France material help, let her begin by helping her politically, for that is the key to everything. How can this political aid be given? That is hardly for a foreigner to say. By a majority of six the United States Senate refused to ratify the Peace Treaty because the Covenant alarmed it. That is the Senate's own affair and I do not question its motives. But I venture to say that when they voted thus, the United States Senate had no intention of repudiating the principles for which America fought. The United States Senate had no intention of repudiating the right of self-determination of peoples, the right that freed Alsace-Lorraine, the Walloon districts, Schleswig, Bohemia, Transylvania, Trente and Trieste, the Croats, the Slovenes, and the Greeks of Thrace and Asia Minor. The United States Senate had no intention of repudiating the right of those attacked to be paid damages for losses inflicted by the aggressor---a right under which the victors who had been unjustly attacked confined themselves to demanding from the vanquished merely actual damages sustained and pensions, but remitted the whole of the 700,000 millions the war had cost them. Certainly the United States Senate and all America recognize the justice of this to-day as they recognized it in the past. If they do, if they really wish to see justice done, I insist that it is their duty to find some way to make Germany understand their wish and their will; for just now Germany with her usual treachery affects to believe that the United States Senate and the American people think otherwise. Germany is using the political controversy, the meaning of which she cunningly distorts, to make it appear that the United States disapproves not only of a part of the Covenant but of the entire Treaty. America owes it to itself to answer this perfidy by an act that will prove to the world that the United States is faithful in peace to the immortal principles which guided her in war.
And what is this act to be? That is for America herself to decide. It goes without saying that pure and simple re-establishment of peace, according to the resolution of Senator Knox, would have just the opposite effect of that for which France hopes. But between the Knox resolution and ratification there are other ways. America may ratify the Peace Treaty either with Senator Lodge's reservations or after asking the Allies to amend the Covenant. America may declare the changes she desires. There are a thousand means of reaching a satisfactory conclusion. There are a thousand means, but there is only one end. That end is to help re-establish order in Europe by helping to enforce the peace. Without law there can be no order, and the only possible law, is the Treaty which Germany has signed. The United States by the part it played in the war made victory possible. By the part it will play in enforcing the peace, the United States will remain true to her war aims. American support is essential to force Germany to respect the Peace Treaty. Nothing else can make a conquered and rebellious Germany understand the necessity of fulfilling what she has signed. Nothing else can bring about the financial settlements, without which France cannot live. Nothing else can confirm the military guarantee which the United States promised to France, the far-sighted justice of which no one disputes. American support now can as nothing else ever will, ensure that future peaceful cooperation between France and America about which everyone is enthusiastic in principle but for which no one furnishes the means. For this to be possible Germany must pay, she must pay in every sense of the word. She must pay. She can pay. She will pay---as soon as she sees that all her conquerors---without exception---are determined that she shall pay.
Let there be no mistake; such a policy though of primary interest to France is the only one which can be of real and lasting service to Germany. Germany is untouched and will recover quickly---but on one condition. That essential condition is that she does not fall back into the hands of the militarists who would drag her and the rest of the world into a new war. German militarism lives in the spirit. Ludendorff and Hugo Stinnes are the leaders of one and the same party. If this party prevails, Germany instead of working in peace will waste herself preparing for revenge. Germany will know peace and she will give peace to others only if she mends her ways, and she will not mend her ways unless she is forced to by a firm hand. The policy of renunciation bred by the Allies in 1920 was of no benefit to anyone except the German reactionaries. Fehrenbach replaced Muller. Spa marked the arrogant return of Stinnes. The more we yield, the bolder these men will become and the less will be our chances of peace. Germany will not turn towards fresh ideals until she knows that the Allies are determined to prevent her doing to-morrow that which she did yesterday. The first proof of this determination must be enforcement of the peace. For this determination to be effective it must be unanimous. The United States has here a duty to fulfill to save humanity and Germany herself from danger of another war, a war which will be sought by the Pan-Germanists all the more eagerly as they discern indecision and lack of unity in our ranks.
I can understand how after the storm many Americans weary of the intricacies of European affairs, may well ask themselves whether after all it would not be the part of wisdom for the United States to reduce its relations with the Old World to a minimum. That is an instinctive movement. In the spring of 1908, Roosevelt said to me:
"What the United States lacks most is an understanding of the fact that we have interests all over the world. I wish every American felt that American policy is a world policy and that we are and shall be identified in the future with all great questions. Some of us are aware of this. But the American people as a whole must be accustomed to the idea, they must learn to understand the meaning of our world interests."
Two days later Mr. Lodge, to whom I had mentioned this conversation, made a reservation.
"Let us understand each other," he said. "Our policy is a world policy in so far as commerce is concerned. But I hold that we should not intervene in purely political questions outside of America. It is neither our interest nor our tradition. My policy and, I think I may say, the policy of our Senate, is the policy of George Washington." And Senator Lodge added with a smile:
"You see, we support our President. We like him. But we are more constitutionalistic than he and more conservative."
I have recalled these old memories because they shed light on the present. Events stronger than principles or traditions threw the United States into a European war. But the war over, the conservative spirit of the Senate has re-asserted itself and throughout the country some regret has been felt for the old isolation. "Keep off!" Experience itself, that proved how impossible such pleasant ataraxia is at times, could not overcome force of habit. Americanism, in its negative and self-sufficient form, found many converts.
It is to these that my words are addressed. I quite understand their aversion to undertakings binding the United States to intervene in every Balkan or Eastern conflict. The generalized and abstract character of the Covenant explains many of the objections raised on this point. But the events of yesterday proved that there are European situations from which America cannot, whether she wishes it or not, remain aloof. The events of yesterday prove that no doctrine or principle of isolation can keep apart those who are united by common ideals and common interests.
So just as long as the American people hope never to live again through an emergency such as led two million of their soldiers to the Marne and the Meuse, there is only one policy worth while, a policy that will prevent its recurrence. Now, whence comes the danger? Not from France certainly, who has suffered too much from the war not to have an earnest desire for peace. From Germany then? And the name of the danger is German militarism. To defend ourselves against militarism and its consequences we waged war and we made peace. If we want the peace to last---Germany must be made to understand that peace is a sacred thing. If Germany does not understand this, if we do not force her to understand it, sooner or later we shall see the same causes produce the same effects, and once more the "doughboy" will have to cross the ocean. To avert this, the united action of the Allies of yesterday is necessary. To avert this, the United States---now and not later---must take her stand against Germany. Every weakness that encourages German Imperialism stimulates complications. Every division among the Allies sows the seed of future war. And as France and America both want peace, America must help us to enforce it---there is no other way of making the world safe. So long as America remains aloof, her power, whether she wills it or not, will play into the hands of those she fought against in the war.
Was I wrong when I said that the problem is political, and that the economic plans of financiers cannot solve it? To make war impossible we must all join in strengthening the Peace Treaty, which has too long been a " scrap of paper." And if the United States hesitates and seeks her way, let her thoughts turn to the valley of the Argonne, where thirty thousand white crosses bear witness to what America stood for in times of danger. America has not changed. America must make good the things she stood for, and she is free to choose her means. That is the problem of to-day. If it is not solved, peace of any kind will be unsafe. The dead will have died in vain.
The union of the three democracies---France, Great Britain and the United States---is the fundamental guarantee of world peace. That is reason enough for each of them to make all necessary sacrifices to maintain this union. At times England or America find France too uncompromising in her demands for her rights! Let them ask themselves what they would do if they were placed in her position. Then they will understand our state of mind. At times they accuse us of Imperialism. If France obtains the reparations which are her due---and she can obtain them only by the support of her Allies---she will devote herself wholly to work and to progress in peace. It is only if she feels that she is abandoned by those who are pledged to support her that she might in her disappointment become the prey of extremists. Peace has not settled all problems. Peace to be finally established calls for the means which war and victory demanded. France, Great Britain and the United States still have duties to fulfill. These duties cannot be fulfilled unless the union of the three nations endures.
Note:---The events of the first three months of 1921 have not modified this conclusion. The Conference of Paris of January, 1921, agreed on a reduction of Germany's debt to France of sixty-five per cent. The refusal of Germany at the London Conference in the following month of March to sign this agreement fortunately prevented the coming into force of this unjust reduction. In spite of the economic sanctions taken at that time by the Allies, the mutilation inflicted in January upon the clauses of the Versailles Treaty has not been rectified. Miscomprehension continues.
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