16 AUGUST 1930, Page 4

A True Policy of Peace

" IUD Fits voulu, Georges Bandit' ! " it did not -I- need the blundering outburst by Herr Treviranus, the German Minister of Occupied Territory, for the world to be node conscious that revision of the Peace Treaties would be a live issue at the coming Assembly of the League of Nations. Whatever may have been in the mind of M. Briand himself, the project of " a United States of Europe " was presented by the Quai d'Orsay in such a way as to upset the whole apple-cart of the French " security " system. " Pertinax " himself has pointed out that the Memorandum was tantamount to a question being put to the conquered nations ; will they or will they not consent to confirm the state of things established by the peace treaties ? The German reply was a foregone conclusion.

Now there arc many friends of peace in this country who, while recognizing the mistakes made at Versailles, contend that stability-- the maintenance of" law and order" as prescribed in certain juridical instruments-4 neces- sary by " public war," i.e., mutual aid against an " aggressor," is the first and only consideration to which all other schemes for peace and disarmament should be subordinate. Mr. Norman Angell, for instance, in the Manchester Guardian not long ago, went so far as to say " there is no other possible basis for the erection of a system of peace." No wonder that his remarks were quoted with approval in the Echo de Paris and the Temps ! The legalists are quite prepared for the exten- sion of the Loearno system to the whole of Europe- i.e., the ill-fated Geneva Protocol, oblivious of the basic fact that, whereas the Franco-German frontier was freely accepted by Germany—as a sacrifice in the cause of peace—Germany's Eastern frontiers have never been thus voluntarily accepted. The German pledge is simply that she will not go to war in order to change those frontiers. Yet change of sonic sort is inevitable, it is the law of international life, more potent than any juridical contrivance.

No " system " reared on the Versailles structure will ever stand up against those collective movements of public opinion which arc the underlying cause of war. Peace is dynamic, and the only security is in co-operation. These lessons have still to be learnt in quarters where a policy of peace is professed.

Hitherto, it is true, French official policy has dominated the proceedings of the Preparatory Commission iission for Disarmament at Geneva, and there is no reason to suppose that M. Tardieu's Government contemplates relinquishing its slogan " No disarmament without security " (security in the French sense, of course, which is not security against all war, but the old idea of the security of a nation against successful attack). Probably the oppor- tunity now presented to Germany of raising the whole question of the status quo in Europe, however, has upset this polite form of diplomatic blackmail And one begins to understand why M. Jacques Keyser and the young French Radicals are joining with M. Leon Blum in calling in question the obsolete thought-processes on which French policy is based. We recorded last week this new development in France—the plea for bilateral demilitarization of frontier zones and general disarmament on the German model under international control—which, if we are not mistaken, is going to transform the whole situation.

What is to be the attitude of this country ? In the presence of a Germany bidding for leadership of the League—not this year, perhaps, since the German elec- tions will not he over until after the Assembly has begun, but sooner or later ; in the face of a Franco- Italian deadlock, for which, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, the only solution is that put forward by Signor Grandi, namely, the reduction of armaments on the basis of the Kellogg Pact and a working arrange- ment of parity, similar to that achieved by Great Britain and the United States—will Great Britain allow herself' to be forced into supporting France's lost cause or will Great Britain improve her opportunity of world leader- ship, as she did at last year's Assembly ? Will she assume the responsibility of bringing the League back to the idea of its original founders, which means, in practice, divorcing the problem of peace from the question of guaranteeing the frontiers established in the heat of war passions ten years ago ?

We make no apology for bringing up once again the question of " sanctions," and reiterating our view that " genuine disarmament will follow only from a change of attitude towards the use of force in the settlement of international disputes." These are the actual words of the American " observer," Mr. Hugh Gibson, at the last Session of the Preparatory Commission for Disarmament in March, 1929, and subsequent events have confirmed the soundness of the " psychological " approach to the problem of peace. Such a change of attitude is bound to be a slow process, but it cannot be at all, so long as each national Government is relying upon other nations' armaments to supply the quantity which it agrees to reduce. And as Dr. C. Delisle Burns has recently reminded us :- " The maintenance of a situation by threats of force [which is the French policy of ' sanctions '] rather than by compromiso to gain the acquiescence of its victims is in practice a powerful argument in favour of the belief that only force counts. Germany, in despair of a League which spends more time on Article 16 than on Article 19, may swing to the Right... ."

Moreover, as the same writer has shown, the advocacy of " sanctions " among supporters of the League of Nations in this country " rests upon an entirely abstract theory of the relations of States and a blindness to the existing facts." If there were no national armaments and all the Great Powers were co-oPerating without any arriire-pensees - in the League, one could conceive of a world in which some Lord High Executioner at Geneva might call upon the united forces of all law-abiding States (in defence of the international order the distinction between industrial and war material to-day is very line, and force is latent whether scheduled under Army, Navy or Air Estimates or not). But the actual world in which we arc living consists of States unequally disarmed, of States maintaining special alliances and secret military conventions ; it is a world in which the League has so far entirely failed to prevent preparations for war— with more efficient armaments, costing at least no less than before 1914.

We are convinced, then, that no amount of cerebration as to what the signatories of the Covenant—or the United States of America—arc going to do if and when war breaks out can compensate for the urgent need now of establishing through the League a positive-rather than a negative conception of peace. Not aggression but drift causes war, and particularly the assumption— common, alas ! on the Continent—of its inevitability.:

What then can be done by the British Government'? First of all, we hope that the scheme drafted by the committee appointed to bring the Covenant into harmony with the Peace Pact will go through—subject to two conditions. These conditions are well set out in a document published by the League of Nations Union giving the view of the Executive Committee. It is clearly only right—in view of the declared Anglo- American policy on this whole question of peace—that no alteration in the existing provisions of the Covenant should be made until a treaty for the reduction and limitation of armaments in pursuance of Article 8 has entered into force ; and, secondly, that there should be a resolution by the Assembly stipulating that the Council must have full discretion in taking " any measures that may be wise and effectual for safeguarding the peace of nations." The Council can, under the Covenant, as a last resort, institute a collective boycott and blockade against an " aggressor," but we must assume the members of the Council to be reasonable men who, before recom- mending such drastic measures, would take steps to find out the views and intentions of the United States of America. Let us not forget that, in practice, the Council has, in twenty-three disputes that have come before it, proceeded on the basis of Article 11 without ever considering the application of " sanctions." Experience has revealed the unsuspected effective- ness of co-operative measures—conciliation, conference, publicity.

Great Britain is committed, certainly, to such con- certed measures of war-prevention, as are laid down in Article 16 of the Covenant, and those British politicians or publicists who slur over this essential principle of collective responsibility do a great disservice to this country—they justify to a great extent the scepticism on the Continent as to the fulfilment by Great Britain of her solemn obligations. Nevertheless, not the pro- servation of the Peace, but the making of a true peace, is the only policy which public opinion in this country will support. And this will only be possible by separating the idea of an international commonily adjusting its relations by compromise and conciliation, alternatively by arbitration, through the permanent Conference of the nations at Geneva from the ideas of guilt and punish- ment bound up with the Treaty of Versailles.

There is in process, as General Smuts affirmed last year, in his Rhodes Lecture at Oxford on World Peace, a vast change in the human attitude to war, a moral revolution which may be rated as the most important historical event for centuries. It is the part of statesmen in all countries to recognize that the tide of pacific aspiration is now at the flood, and to harness that tide in order to drive the pacific machinery of the League of Nations.