24 APRIL 1920, Page 5


T F only a fraction of the rumours which proceed directly 1 and indirectly from San Remo are true, it is evident that things are not going easily in the Supreme Council. If the tension be not anything like so great as some people would have us believe, it is at all events a fact that there is a broad division of feeling, and that Great Britain and Italy are ranged on one side as against France, who is backed by Belgium, on the other. The first business of the Council has been to put the final touches upon the Turkish Treaty, which involves the future of all the out- lying Moslem countries that used to acknowledge the rule of the Ottoman Turk. But behind this primary busine.ss, and permeating it all, is the vastly more important question of what the future attitude of the Allies is to be towards Germany. Is it proposed to modify the Treaty of Versailles ? Our alarmists at home, who seem to mistake extreme French opinion for the genuine voice of France, tell us that the question which is being decided is whether the Treaty of Versailles shall be abandoned or observed. In our judgment, that is not the question at all. It is not a question whether the Treaty shall be observed, but how it shall be observed. No one, we think, will accuse the Spectator of having allowed itself to be hoodwinked by Germany. For many years before the war we persistently warned our countrymen of what we believed Germany was planning, and we urged them to make up their minds to take the necessary military measures which might have averted the war, and if they had not averted it would in any case have made the war shorter. We are confident, therefore, that we shall not be thought guilty of saying that the Treaty of Versailles may lightly be violated by Germany, and that Fraace need not be supported against her ancient enemy. The Treaty must certainly be kept, for if it be not kept the world will be plunged into a deeper chaos. Though the Treaty is not an ideal one, we under- take to say that all the conflicting forces which were in play while it was being made would not produce a better result if the work of peace-making were to begin all over again.

To pretend, as some newspapers here arc pretending, that to reduce the money payments due from Germany to a fixed sum, and to substitute a commercial boycott for military intervention if the German Reichswehr troops, and the Putsch schemers, and the Balticum should have to be dispersed, are in themselves acts tantamount to tearing up the Treaty of Versailles, is pure distortion. One might think, to read some leading articles, that a boycott or blockade was a kind of novel subterfuge specially invented in order to be kind to Germany, and to let her break the Treaty while everybody said : " Hush, nothing is happen- ing ! " A boycott is one of the accepted things in the political currency, and it has long been so. Throughout the discussion about the League of Nations it was always understood that a boycott should be the first instrument to be used by the League of Nations when it was necessary to apply compulsion, and that military force should be used only as a last resort. Whether it be true that in addition to a preference for a boycott Mr. Lloyd George wishes to evacuate part of the neutral territory and to hold other parts of that territory longer than was stipu- lated for ip the Treaty as a set-off, we have no means of knowing. But in any case we, for our part, are prepared to support any British policy which keeps itself free from the deadly mistake of sowing dragons' teeth. In the first week of the war we said that when the war was won we must have a settlement in which there would .be no such grievances as the French laboured under for more than forty years. If the Allies should send troops into Germany on a special enterprise, the danger would be that our experience in Russia would be repeated. The intention of course would be to support the sound and the moderate against the reactionaries and the subversives ; but in the end we should probably find that most Germans had rallied to the cry that their sacred soil was being violated by the foreigner, and that Germany had in fact become united against us. Of course physical force may be necessary in the end, but it should not be our first choice.

No man can say with certainty whether Herr MUller's shaky Government at Berlin are more or less content to co-operate with the German militarists, or whether Herr Muller appears to co-operate because he dares not do otherwise. The special correspondent of the Tunes draws an alarming picture of the building up of a new German Army already almost a million strong, the troops being enrolled under various aliases and disguises, just as Prussia secretly reconstituted her Army after Jena. Mr. Churchill, of course, has also given us the surprising news that Germany still has more than 15,000 aeroplanes, though according to the terms of the Treaty she ought to have none, and as many as 17,800 guns. But what better proof could there be that dissensions among the Allies are the opportunity of Germany than the presentation of the new demands she is making ? She asks that she should be allowed to have a permanent Army of 200,000 men instead of 100,000 as provided for in the Peace Treaty. It is reported that she also desires to re-establish her German Staff and to maintain a considerable force with eleven batteries of artillery in the neutral zone. It is not to be wondered at that all French eyes are fixed upon the ambiguous German Army beyond the Rhine.. If we may adapt Pope-

" Imagination plies her furious art And pours it all upon the peccant part."

We understand and thoroughly sympathize. France must have the coal which she has not yet got. She must have all the reparation she can get. She must- above all have security. But these results will depend on three. condi- tions—first, that the Allies stand together and never have even the appearance of a broken front; secondly, that there should., be no dragons' teeth ; and thirdly, that Germany shall- be helped to, such a degree of. recovery as will enable her to pay.