PEACE OR PARLEY?
The Allied Nations must hang together. That is the watchword of the leading men of every country. Once dissatisfaction and ill-feeling appear to any extent, there will be trouble, and the recent war will have been fought in vain. Even now the dispute between Italy and Jugo-Slavia over the eastern seacoast of the Adriatic is reaching a climax. Many such disputes would lead to a disaster.
Since this need of cordial international co-operation is so essential, why are the peace terms not forged now while the iron is hot? The longer they are delayed, the more chance is there for the German propagandists to sow discord among the Allies and to draw attention away from the indemnity. There is no doubt that this is being attempted. The old imperial governmental mechanism has been taken over in whole by the Ebert government. The same men are in charge. The reported "panning" of the French and British by the American soldiers can be attributed only to one cause, German propaganda. By no other means would the wonderful unity of thought and feeling existent during the war be likely to be even so slightly broken. Undoubtedly the League of Nations is a subject worthy of the most careful consideration. In theory, it would appear to be an admirable means to keep the peace in the future, and it may well be as practicable as it is perfect in theory. The very best motives lay behind it. Discussion of this now, however, is not making peace with Germany and that, above all, is what every nation wants.
To get something started, to establish the many new boundaries according to the will of the peoples in question, to put the German people to work to pay off some of the debts they owe, those are the vital interests of the moment. Bankruptcy is facing England, France, and Italy. The delay of the peace terms means the prolonged mobilization of their military and naval forces, and that means just so much additional expense. Under such conditions, it is natural to blame the other fellow with the result that the spirit of friendly co-operation may be lost.
The argument that the postponement of the discussion on the League of Nations will lead to its being shelved permanently is not sound. If the League of Nations is such that enthusiasm over its adoption can be cooled within a year, it cannot have the whole-hearted support of the majority. Peace first, and then a league to enforce that peace; that is the world's need, not something to enforce what is yet to be obtained.