20 MARCH 1942, Page 10


It had, in fact, brought into the open that division of principle which rotted the whole Beace Conference, and which the states- men tried to conceal from each other, and, indeed, from them- selves, by those processes of " jesuitical exegesis " which Mr. Keynes so brilliantly described. Marshal Foch believed that peace could only be durable if founded upon physical guarantees against any further German aggression ; President Wilson be- lieved that peace could be founded upon the reason and virtue sets of the ordinary man. In seeking to compromise between these two opposites, the Conference fell between the two stools of realism and idealism, and produced a Treaty which, while sufficiently onerous to provoke and prolong resentment, was nest sufficiently powerful to prevent Germany from rendering that resentment effective. We should be grateful to Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt for having, in the Atlantic Charter, recognised that the first element of peace is security, and that security is a matter, not of idealism but of power. The Treaty of Versailles, in its ultimate effect, created both the desire and the hope of revenge. The Atlantic Charter aims at removing both. The main lesson, therefore, to be drawn from the experi- ence of the last Conference is that it is essential that the main Powers should be clear from the start exactly where realism ends and idealism begins. There are two other lessons. NO treaty, however admirable in appearance, can remain effective unless the parties to it are determined to secure, and above all capable of securing, that it is observed. The Treaty of Versailles failed, not because it was a bad treaty, but because its most vital portion, namely, the Covenant of the League of Nations, was not carried out. And the third lesson is that it is not humanly possible to make a satisfactory peace-settlement im- mediately after a gigantic war. There should first be a Pre liminary treaty providing for the cessation of hostilities, the dis tribution of food and raw materials, and the main essentials reconstruction. And the final treaty which should form foundation of the future world-order should be negotiated 00. after sufficient time has elapsed for passions- to subside, and wisdom to resume her serene governance.