At Locarno—on Lake Maggiore, in Switzerland, north of the Italian border—recently a memorable work was accomplished. Armistice Day, that memorial of the end of the War, had real foundation in the affairs of the world for the first time this past November. On October 16, 1925, representatives of the principal powers of western and central Europe initialled a series of treaties which were formally signed in London December 1. Doubtless it is too soon now for one to have proper perspective of this action, but perhaps it will take place among the great events in diplomacy and European relations.
Merely in respect of the parties concerned it ranks with such agreements as the Treaty of Vienna (1815) and the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), though there is here no great change of possessions and distribution of territory such as those arrangements brought about. Judged by the magnitude of the issues it proposes to set at rest it may be compared with the Treaty of Berlin (1878), and perhaps it is not unworthy of comparison with the Treaty of Miinster (1648). Probably it will strengthen immensely the scheme of the League of Nations. Merely as a pact to produce amity and accord it would seem to be far more important than such arrangements as the treaty between Austria-Hungary and the German Empire (1879), the agreements that constituted the so-called Triple Alliance (1882), the Franco-Russian Entente (1893), the Entente Cordiale between France and Great Britain (1904), and the agreements that constituted the Triple Entente (1907). Finally, the treaties that effected a settlement after the Great War are for the most part guaranteed and accepted as a result of the treaties made at Locarno.
Seldom, if ever, have larger problems confronted statesmen than those dealt with at Paris in 1919. Politically all the eastern half of Europe was in dissolution, though distance and the course of the Russian Revolution removed many of the things of that part of the world from the scope of the diplomats in Paris. The governments that formerly existed in central Europe had been completely overthrown and destroyed—the German Empire gone, the Dual Monarchy in the pieces from which the Hapsburgs had so long and patiently built it up. Western Europe was exhausted, and to some extent ruined for a generation. The conflict had cost the conquerors some $200,000,000,000. There were colonial and far eastern problems associated with those more nearly concerning the peoples of Europe. There was much horror of war, desire that this conflict—so ruinous to civilization—shonid be the last, and strong feeling that the people responsible ought to be punished. An almost infinite number of schemes, aspirations, and desires were pressed forward for hearing.
There are different opinions about the settlement of the Great War worked out in Paris during 1919, and during that year and the next embodied in several treaties: the Treaty of Versailles with the German Reich (1919), the Treaty of St. Germain with Austria (1919), the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (1919), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (1920), and the Treaty of Sevres with Turkey (1920). The author has always felt that if the circumstances of the time and the difficulties that had to be dealt with are considered, then the settlement of Paris was about as good as any practical statesman could hope for. The war was a very terrible and destructive thing, and it left a fearful accumulation of evils and misery in its wake. There was much that no treaty could alleviate or avoid, much that nothing but passage of time could cure. Some things of very questionable value were, indeed, sanctioned. For the unity or federation over a wide area which the Hapsburgs had formerly maintained were now substituted independence and self-determination for a number of peoples. This did gratify fine aspirations, but it was counter to the unity and the harmony that many thought to be the hope of the future, and it effected a greater “balkanization” of Europe than before. It is fair to say, however, that the diplomats who made the treaties with Austria and Hungary and the several agreements that recognized Czecho-Slovakia, Jugo-Slavia, Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Latvia, and Esthonia did not so much establish those states as recognize establishments which the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had already brought into being.
From the first there were many who said that the treaties worked out in Paris were foolish, vindictive, fruitless, based on ignorance or malice, to be undone as soon as could be. To some extent these strictures came especially from advocates of a new social order, particularly socialists and communists, and from friends of Germany. It has been noticed that what the Bolsheviki did was often viewed with indulgence while similar things done by Britain or France were condemned; that while self-determination for the Poles of West Prussia was gravely offensive, self-determination for Ireland was warmly supported. Nevertheless, many urged revision or prophesied undoing of the treaties.
One part of the settlement of 1919-20 was quickly destroyed. During 1919 the Turkish question had been determined and in August, 1920, forced upon the unwilling Turks. By the Treaty of Sevres the Turks were expelled from Europe, except that Constantinople and a narrow adjoining territory were left to the sultan in sovereignty, though occupied by an international force of allied troops. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmora, the Bosporus, with the island approaches, were internationalized, under the so-called Straits Commission, appointed by the League of Nations. Of the 720,000 square miles which she possessed in 1914, Turkey was to retain some 100,000 square miles—almost all of it in Asia Minor, where the Turkish power had long before arisen. All the outlying dominions—Armenia, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Syria, the Smyrna district, Cyprus, the Dodecanese, Hedjaz, Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia, parts of Morocco—were acknowledged to be independent or in the possession of powers who had recently or previously seized them.
Various political and religious factors had made it hard to draw up this treaty; it was soon found impossible to maintain it. A revival of Turkish nationalism, begun about 1908, was now bearing fruit, and the Turks recovered strength in surprising manner. The great powers—Britain, France, Italy—who had made the treaty, were soon too divided by jealousies to act in concert, and France and Great Britain had such difficulty in enforcing the treaty with Germany that they were unable or unwilling to undertake much against the Turks. So, enforcement of the Treaty of Sevres was left mainly to the Greeks, to whom Thrace, Smyrna, and other Ottoman possessions had been given. In 1922, in Asia Minor, the Greeks were completely defeated. The Turks in their triumph presently reached the Straits, and though the British sent an expedition to hold Tchanak, south of the Dardanelles, the Turks soon crossed into Europe. Later the settlement of Sevres was largely undone by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923): Turkey to have all Asia Minor, to have Constantinople and the Straits in full sovereignty, to have part of Thrace, and to be free of the capitulations. Resettling the Turkish question had been possible because France, not being sufficiently supported by Great Britain against Germany, would have nothing to do with Britain against Turkey. The situation seemed of good augury to those who wished for revision of the Treaty of Versailles. The Germans had been resisting, and their friends everywhere had encouraged them to resist. The destruction of the treaty in no long time was now prophesied very freely.
The difficulties that attended the making of the Treaty of Versailles are well known. The final decisions represented a series of compromises between those who thought Germany should be dismembered, rendered impotent, and held for the uttermost cost of the war, and those who thought she should be dealt with leniently and wisely, as they put it. The treaty assumed that Germany was guilty of causing the war, in the sense that she was the aggressor, the beginner, and the principal factor that immediately made the conflict inevitable; that she must be disarmed and for the longest possible time made incapable of beginning another such war; and that some of the territories once taken by the Germans should be restored to previous possessors, thus weakening Germany and rendering her still further incapable of mischief. In addition, President Wilson and his supporters insisted that into this the most important treaty should be incorporated first provisions to bring about “international cooperation, peace, and security,” and avoidance of all wars in the future.
The Treaty of Versailles, which was presented to the German representatives May 7, 1919, and signed by them after resistance and protest June 28, was ratified by the various powers, except the United States, during the following months, and an additional protocol having been accepted by the German Reich, ratifications were exchanged at Versailles January 10, 1920. It consisted, as is well known, of an introductory agreement or covenant of a league of nations. It forced Germany to admit and accept responsibility for the Great War. It compelled her to make various cessions of territory. In the west: Alsace and Lorraine to France; the coal mines of the Saar Basin to France in perpetuity, the district itself to be administered by the League of Nations for fifteen years, after which the people should determine by plebiscite whether they would join France, revert to Germany, or remain under the rule of the League; to Belgium, Eupen and Malmédy. In the north: the people of the country taken from Denmark in 1864 to decide their own future allegiance. In the east: most of West Prussia, most of Posen, a part of Silesia to Poland; Danzig to be a free city; Memel to be given to Lithuania later. Altogether Germany lost about a seventh of her former area, some 28,000 square miles, with some 7,000,000 people, and along with these districts a great part of the coal and the iron ore which she had possessed. She was to renounce various rights and advantages in China, Liberia, Siam, Morocco, abrogate the treaties of Brest-Litovsk—with Russia and Bucharest—with Rumania, recognize the British protectorate over Egypt, recognize the independence of Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, and other new states, and open the Kiel Canal and certain German rivers to free navigation. She was largely disarmed : she was to abolish conscription, have a standing army of not more than 100,000 men, no military airplanes, a small navy, no submarines. The Germans were to pay an indemnity in accordance with their ability to pay, the amount to be determined later on. It was stipulated, however, that twenty billion gold marks should be paid by 1921 and forty billions by 1926.
This treaty was resisted and attacked by the Germans much more than the Treaty of Frankfort had been by the French; and presently some in America, in Great Britain, and in Italy asserted that an unjust and unwise arrangement had been made, that would surely breed other wars in the future. It was said that a Carthaginian peace had been imposed; that contrary to the Fourteen Points of President Wilson, which the Germans had accepted as basis for negotiations, Germany having been disarmed, was plundered of territory indispensably necessary to her, broken into parts by the Danzig Corridor, and saddled with an immense and indefinite indemnity which no people ever could pay. On the other hand, some were dissatisfied because Germany had been let off too lightly. She had been disarmed temporarily, they said, but she could quickly re-arm when the vigilance of her conquerors relaxed. Much had been left to her that should have been taken. A great part of the expense she had caused would never be paid by her. France could not feel secure for the future without all German territory east to the Rhine. France had been persuaded not to insist on this, with the promise that Great Britain and the United States would come to her assistance whenever Germany attacked her. But the United States had been unwilling to accept such arrangement, and without America it was uncertain whether Great Britain would bind herself to give aid. From the start the Germans had repudiated as much as they could one of the premises on which the treaty was founded. At Versailles Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau declared it a lie to assert that Germany was responsible for the war. Increasingly her friends maintained that the war arose from certain general conditions of evil, such as imperialism and capitalism; and presently partisans maintained that Russia and France, not Germany, had plotted the war and begun it.
The execution of the treaty proved to be an exceedingly difficult task, from the magnitude of what was to be done, because differing interests gradually put the principal allies apart, and because humanitarianism would not tolerate coercion such as might have had effect. The territory demanded was given up, though many Germans looked forward to a future war when what had been lost would be taken. The navy and most of the war materials were surrendered, and conscription abolished. Germany seemed disarmed, but many believed that by various devices much war material was hidden and the organization for a large army kept. It was about the indemnity, however, that the principal trouble arose.
To the allies the direct cost of the war had been at least $120,000,000,000. In 1919 it was said that they thought of $55,000,000,000 as the indemnity to be demanded. At Versailles one of the German envoys offered $25,000,000,000. There was actually no experience with respect to such huge amounts, and so it seemed wise not to decide on the total until Germany’s capacity had been carefully studied. The Germans began with some payment of money, and considerable delivery of ships, coal, rolling stock, and materials; and this was continued until the total value of the indemnity paid was estimated at from six to ten billion dollars. The payments were made with increasing difficulty and recalcitrance, however, and by 1922 they had virtually ceased. Before this time it was evident that Germany would pay very little more unless she was compelled. To some extent such contingency was provided for by a part of the Treaty of Versailles; to wit, that the allies should remain in the occupied Rhine zone for fifteen years, and longer in case the treaty had not been fulfilled. But it was soon evident that Italy was discontented as well as exhausted, and would do little or nothing to coerce the Germans; and it became apparent that Great Britain was increasingly less willing to use force. England depended upon rapid economic restoration of Europe for support of her surplus population. Morever, she was loath to see the balance of power in Europe utterly destroyed, and so desired Germany to recover somewhat to counterbalance France. Furthermore, Britain was thoroughly exhausted for the time, and an immense reaction made many of her people hate the idea of any further violence or fighting. Accordingly, if the treaty was to be enforced, enforcement must be by France.
Europe was dominated by France and Great Britain. For some time they tried to reconcile their views. The British favored caution and delay, persuasion rather than force, and even relaxing the terms of the treaty. France favored coercion to maintain the treaty entire. At first she deferred to a great extent to Britain’s wishes. A succession of conferences about the matter was held: San Remo, Hythe, Boulogne, Brussels, Spa (1920), Paris, London (1921), Cannes, Boulogne (1922), and finally a general European conference at Genoa, to which even Russia was admitted (1922). For the most part the questions at issue were security, the maintenance of the treaty, and payment of the indemnity. In 1921 France proposed a total indemnity of $80,000,000,000. Shortly after, the Germans made a conditional offer of $12,500,000,000. At the Conference of London (1921) it was agreed that the sum should be $33,-000,000,000—the present value about $15,000,000,000. The Germans accepted this decision only when the French made ready to seize the Ruhr area, Germany’s principal remaining coal district and the very heart of her industrial system. At the Genoa Conference (1922) Mr. George, representing England, failed to settle European affairs by any substantial compromise or revision of the treaty. France insisted, as a preliminary, that Germany should acknowledge all her obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. Actually the Germans now concluded a treaty with Russia, seeming thus to foreshadow a return to the policy of Bismarck.
In 1922 Germany ceased payments on the indemnity, and practically dared her opponents to do what they could. Great Britain was still not ready to begin coercion, but in January, 1923, France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr. Opinions about this have differed. At once it may be said that nothing was accomplished directly to the benefit of France. After the occupation no indemnity was paid. Moreover, the Germans offered passive resistance, while their hatred of France and their fervent nationalism increased. On the other hand their economic life was almost brought to a standstill. If occupation continued they would be utterly ruined. A melancholy situation had developed. After the high hopes of a few years before, Europe was being ruled largely by force. France was frankly relying on her powerful army and the system of alliances which she had contracted—with Belgium (1920) and with Poland (1921), later supplemented by a treaty with Czecho-Slovakia (1924). She seemed to believe now that her safety for the future lay principally in holding down Germany helpless. Meanwhile there was economic chaos or stagnation over large parts of Europe. Yet, whatever may be thought of the wisdom of this French coercion, without it the Germans probably would not have been willing to make the agreements that followed.
Britain thoroughly disapproved of the seizure of the Ruhr and would have nothing to do with it, leaving it to France and Belgium alone. Many Englishmen urged that their troops be withdrawn from the occupied zone in the Rhine-land. Some agreed with the Germans that the seizure had violated the Treaty of Versailles, which was thus rendered invalid by the French themselves. But on the whole the attitude of Britain and especially of the British government was one of patience and of desire to embarrass the French government as little as might be.
During 1923 the French, despite passive resistance and defiance in Germany, and in spite of strong disapproval elsewhere, held grimly to their task, and proceeded from one measure to another of strictness and harsher compulsion.
They failed to obtain reparations; they were unable to make the Ruhr population work under their direction; they failed entirely in one of the things that M. Poincaré and his followers had seemed most to desire at the beginning of the year—to set up a west German state under French protection separate from the rest of the Reich. On the other hand, German industry was presently ruined and German finance thrown into stark confusion. From 7000 to the dollar in January, 1923, the mark declined to 4,000,000,000 to the dollar in November. Cost of living rose terribly: not only had prices enhanced, but prices in Germany were from 30% to 100% above the prices outside. In December there were 1,450,000 unemployed and 1,800,000 on part time. Birth rate fell and death rate largely increased. The government was rent by dissensions; the people were defiant but despairing. In the end it was impossible to continue resistance, and Germany yielded.
In October the United States government had proposed that new committees of inquiry should investigate the German situation. England approved; France opposed on the ground that a competent body already existed, the Reparations Commission. In November that Commission heard German delegates give account of financial and economic conditions in their country. A few days later it was resolved to appoint two international committees of experts: one for study of Germany’s efforts to balance her budget and stabilize her currency, another on the export of German capital and the possibility of capturing it again. In December, on the collapse of German resistance, the new Marx Ministry renewed diplomatic relations with France and with Belgium. In January, 1924, the first of the committees, generally known as the Dawes Committee, began to hold sessions. In April its report was made. The German government at once signified its intention to accept the conditions which the report laid down.
The Dawes Plan represented another effort to settle the reparations problem, and along with it the future of European relations. An international loan of 800,000,000 gold marks was to be made to Germany for the purpose of assisting her to re-establish her economic life. This loan was to enable her to set up a bank of issue—which should be the agent for paying reparations, stabilize her currency, and make it possible for her to meet the first year’s payments. Reparations were to be 1,000,000,000 marks the first year, 1,200,000,000 the second and the third, 1,750,000,000 the fourth, 2,500,000,000 the fifth. Thereafter more or less, according to various contingencies arising. In general, Germany’s payments were not to exceed her earnings abroad. Funds for account of reparations were to be deposited in care of the agent general of reparations. Certain specified revenues—from customs, tobacco, alcohol, beer, sugar—were made “controlled revenues” and put under supervision of the creditor powers. The total amount of the indemnity was not specified in the regulations.
The agreement was hailed by all who believed the primary problem was restoring the economic well-being of Europe, of which the prerequisite—so they said—was not only satisfying France but having Germany recover. But there were many who doubted whether Germany would continue to make onerous payments, and obviously much less was going to be obtained than had once been expected. The French had constantly counted on a large indemnity from their foe. Without it their government finances were in confusion. The franc was falling; higher taxes were needed and dreaded. Yet France feared a Germany able to pay, and hence strong, almost as much as she dreaded not receiving reparations.
In May, 1924, M. Poincaré, who had so inflexibly directed coercion of the Germans, fell from power, and a radical government under M. Herriot succeeded—as in January a labor government had come into power in Great Britain under Mr. Macdonald. Herriot and Macdonald soon began to concert their own measures for the restoration and conciliation of Europe.
For four years two technical commissions of the League “had been trying to work out a practical policy for fulfilling article VIII of the Covenant, by which the members were to reduce their armed forces. In the third assembly, in 1922, resolutions had been adopted that disarmament must be accompanied by guarantees for security. In 1923 a temporary mixed commission prepared the so-called Draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance. During 1924 France let it be known that she would consider this treaty satisfactory, but the treaty was not found acceptable to Great Britain. Actually France has been reluctant to allow any measures for economic rehabilitation of Germany until assured that Germany restored would not attack her. In July, at London, assurance was given that French security would be considered at the League Assembly. Accordingly, Herriot felt himself able to promise a liberal policy towards Germany. It was announced that occupation of the Ruhr would be made “invisible.” By November evacuation of the district was largely -completed. In September, M. Herriot went to the assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva, and the League took up the matter of security along with disarmament, and along with the question of arbitration. In October it embodied its work in what was known as the Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.
This protocol provided for compulsory and pacific settlement of all international disputes: justiciable differences to the Permanent Court of International Justice; non-justiciable disputes to the council of the League; compulsory arbitration to be begun on application of one of the parties concerned. The right of war was abolished, the signatories to apply against any aggressor the measures designated in article XVI of the Covenant. A conference on disarmament was to meet in June, 1925. By the end of 1924 seventeen governments had adhered to the Protocol, though Great Britain hesitated to accept the agreement unamended. All of this involved immense enhancement of the prestige of the League of Nations; but many critics felt that France had won no material security under this scheme, while others believed that the League could never be sure of large success with the United States and Russia not members, and that with respect to any matter concerning Germany it never could really succeed uniess Germany joined it.
During all this time, in spite of the settlement brought about through the Dawes Plan, differences between the allies and Germany continued in respect of the disarming of Germany. It was said that she had not carried out the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles; and as late as June, 1925, a collective note of the allied governments complained of numerous defaults. On this ground the evacuation of Cologne was postponed beyond the time originally stated.
During this time, however, an all-important step was taken by the German government, which if made in good faith marks the beginning of a new epoch in European relations. In January, 1925, the British government was approached by the German ambassador on the subject of European security. The ambassador communicated a proposal for the discussion of a pact to guarantee France’s western frontier and for settlement of other questions as well. The British government replied that its allies must be consulted. In February, German diplomatic representatives in London, Paris, Brussels, and Rome simultaneously presented proposals for discussion. The several statements differed slightly but agreed in substance: Germany recognized the paramount importance to France, Great Britain, and Belgium of the status quo along her own western frontier, and was willing to guarantee the frontier now existing. When this offer was known it aroused great expectation, though at first there was doubt about what was meant by the German proposal. Furthermore, to some extent in Great Britain and much more in France the good faith of Germany was suspected, and grave objections appeared. Frenchmen pointed out that a fundamental part of the settlement made by the Treaty of Versailles was not covered by the German suggestion. Germany might accept—perhaps only for the time being—the status quo in the west, but her offer gave no promise to accept the frontiers of Poland, with whose safety France now conceived her own security bound up. Hence, the German proposals were not sufficient for France.
Much discussion and negotiation, the substance of which is not known yet, followed between Great Britain and France, and also with the others. In August, 1925, M. Briand, French foreign minister, came to London to discuss with Mr. Austen Chamberlain, the British foreign secretary, a French reply to the German note and the French draft of a proposed security pact. France desired assurance of the status quo in the east as well as of that in the west. Gradually in further negotiation the opposing ideas were balanced, Great Britain striving to reconcile the views of Germany with those of France. By autumn the preliminary work was successfully finished.
In October representatives of seven powers met at Locarno: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Czecho-Slovakia. Russia had been making great efforts to arouse mistrust in either Germany or Poland, so that one or the other would not participate in an agreement. For ten days, however, the representatives continued their discussions in harmony. October 16, they adopted and initialled a series of agreements which constitute the Settlement of Locarno. The expectations of the world at large were equalled by the emotions of the diplomats present. The seemingly austere Mr. Chamberlain is said to have quoted Milton. M. Briand kissed Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain on both cheeks, at which the astonished Chamberlain dropped the single eye-glass which has long been an inseparable companion. Signor Mussolini had come in the last days to give his approval. Herr Stresemann, who represented Germany, had acted with great moderation and skill, and M. Briand had constantly shown to the German envoys a cordial and generous spirit.
The general Settlement of Locarno is made up of various treaties and agreements: the Treaty of Locarno proper—a protocol, a security pact guaranteeing the integrity of Germany’s present western frontiers, an arbitration convention between France and Germany, an arbitration convention between Belgium and Germany; in addition, a treaty of arbitration between Germany and Poland, a treaty of arbitration between Germany and Czecho-Slovakia, a treaty of mutual assistance between France and Poland, a treaty of mutual guarantee between France and Czecho-Slovakia,
The Treaty of Locarno supplements and confirms the Treaty of Versailles, invalidating no rights under the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Locarno distinctly recognizes the League of Nations, and is designed to add to the authority and effective power of the League. It is conditioned on Germany’s entry into the League. To satisfy German objections with respect to possible liability under article XVI of the Covenant—which would obligate her, largely disarmed, to assist in coercion if a case arose—there is annexed a letter to the German government designed to remove German objections.
All the contracting parties guarantee that they will maintain inviolate the present frontiers between Germany and France and between Germany and Belgium. Germany is not to make war upon France and Belgium nor France and Belgium upon Germany except under very carefully defined conditions. Justiciable disputes between the two parties must go before a qualified arbitration tribunal whose decision is binding. Non-justiciable disputes shall be submitted to a conciliation commission, whose recommendations are not binding. But if either party rejects the commission’s recommendations the decision about what action shall be taken rests with the council of the League of Nations under article XV of the Covenant. If one party attacks the other in contravention of the treaty, Great Britain and Italy undertake to assist the party attacked. The guarantors decide for themselves when attack has been made; the case must nevertheless be reported to the council of the League, and the guarantors, whether or not they have commenced action, are to comply with the council’s findings. The Treaty of Locarno is to continue in force until such time as the representatives of the powers meeting in the council of the League have decided that the League of Nations is strong enough to ensure the protection of all the parties without this additional treaty.
Supplementary are the arbitration treaties between Germany and Poland and between Germany and Czecho-Slovakia. They are in the same terms as the western arbitration treaties. They are guaranteed only by France, which is done in two separate conventions. Each provides that if Germany fails to observe the provisions and if Germany attacks either of the parties concerned, the parties will reciprocally come to each other’s aid against the Reich. Against Poland and against Czecho-Slovakia Germany receives no corresponding guarantee. Thus two great concessions were made by Germany. First, she had voluntarily proposed an agreement by which the settlement of her western frontiers would be acquiesced in, something that France had never been willing to do after losing Alsace and Lorraine. Secondly, while Germany professed herself gravely discontented with the settlement on her eastern borders, and refused to promise not to try for revision there, yet in these negotiations she so far yielded to France’s desire, as to promise not to try to recover her eastern provinces by force, and to do no more than seek revision under the League of Nations, while France was permitted to make separate treaties with Czecho-Slovakia and Poland guaranteeing assistance against German aggression.
What will be the outcome cannot, of course, be certainly foreseen. Like all other treaties and agreements, the validity of this settlement depends in last analysis upon the faith of the parties engaged. In August, 1914, the German Empire struck a deadly blow at the sanctity of treaties when suddenly for her own advantage she threw over her solemn obligation and violated the neutrality of Belgium. For some time faith in all treaties is weakened, and especially faith in a treaty with Germany not guaranteed by superior force against her. For such reasons, among others, there has been so much scepticism about the worth of the Covenant of the League of Nations: can it after all be more than sentimental expression of what the best people wish, and can it have effectual strength beyond the military power of the states that wish to uphold it? Is it, then, more than a new military alliance in place of old ones?
Such contentions continue to be true, but probably after the Treaty of Locarno to a much less extent than before. If Germany is sincere, then she has done much to atone for breaking the treaty about Belgium. Judged by old standards, it is a great concession for her to volunteer formally to renounce Alsace and Lorraine; but it is a greater concession when she engages not to seek to recover her territories in the east by force. Doubtless in the east changes will in the long run be made, and some fear that the next great war will arise from an eastern question indirectly involving western powers in spite of themselves. Meanwhile, however, the area from the Rhine to the Meuse and the Scheldt, so much fought for during ages of European history, is probably neutralized; and it may be that no war will now arise between France and Germany because of this country. Remembering the past, one cannot overestimate the importance of that much being attained. Perhaps in course of time they may be as zealous to prevent war about eastern Europe also.
With Germany in the League of Nations and with so many questions apparently settled, the League would at once become very much stronger. Some- of this was seen during November, 1925, in the decisive action by the League about Greece and Bulgaria, and the prompt arranging of a matter that might formerly have brought on another Balkan war; some of it was seen also in the following spring when such determined efforts to obtain permanent seats in the council of the League were made by Poland, Spain, and Brazil, followed by the withdrawal of Brazil from the League a little later. The League may now become so strong and important that the absence of the United States will be no absorbing concern. In the future Americans may even think it well to ask for admission.
Against all this must be set some doubts and some misgiving for the future. A cartoon in the periodical Jugend represented the German Michael, surrounded by cannon directed at him, and constrained to sign the agreement. It was widely said in the Reich that Germans were giving much and receiving little. Furthermore, when in March, 1926, Germany came forward for admission to the League, in which it had been arranged that she was to have a permanent council seat, such efforts were made by other members to obtain permanent council seats also, that it was found necessary to postpone the whole matter until the next autumn. Whereupon Germany made another secret treaty with Russia, and while some declared that this arrangement in no wise contravened the Settlement of Locarno, others declared it to resemble the Reinsurance Treaty which the German Empire had made in 1887. On the other hand, while most Englishmen approved the agreement, some thought of it as a fatal thing fraught with disaster that would later be apparent. According to one who wrote in the London “Outlook” under the caption “Exit the Empire,” the Locarno agreement had put an end to the diplomatic unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which previously every British and every dominion government recognized as a vital need. As late as 1921, he said, Great Britain and the rest of the empire were primarily interested in matters outside of Europe. It had been understood that with respect to such matters all parts of the empire should cooperate, and that close understanding should be sought with the United States. At the Washington Conference (1921) the dominions took part, and helped to shape the policy of the empire. Now the British government had turned away from overseas interests and undertaken large commitments in Europe, commitments in which it was not certain that the outlying portions of the empire would care to take part. By the ninth article of the Treaty of Locarno it is stated that no obligation is imposed upon India or any of the dominions unless, in each case, the government signifies acceptance of the treaty—something that they seem not inclined to undertake. Previously it had been understood that, in case Great Britain went to war, the normal obligation of each of the other parts of the empire would be passive belligerency at least. In the future, with Great Britain at war, the dominions would become automatically neutral. In the event that some of the king’s possessions were at war and the remainder neutral it would be obvious, he said, that the British Empire had ceased to exist, that the special relationship of its member states had been transformed into the ordinary relations which foreign states had.