An Englishman's View
To the Editor of the CRIMSONS
Dear Sir, It is a hard and unbiblical saying that the Ruhr is always with us. Mr. Alley, in developing his thesis at the Union a few days ago, showed however that it is none the less a true one. The remotest nation cannot escape the issue. May I ask the hospitality of your columns to add to that stimulating address a comment from the viewpoint of an Englishman in Harvard? Those who heard them may perhaps be interested to learn to what extent Mr. Alley's remarks represent the trend of opinion in England. I am happy to believe that English feeling, strongly if vaguely among the workers, and quite markedly in University and other intellectual circles, is rallying to this very attitude.
On the humanitarian side of the question, the world cannot afford to hesitate. Now that the peoples have no longer the excuse of ignorance as to the state of affairs in Germany, is it not up to them to act without delay? The winter is coming and time is of the essence of the problem. The German people are not in danger of starvation. They are starving. They are also in a state of bankruptcy and economic chaos, while under-nourishment and tuberculosis are doing their work upon children and adults alike. American and European relief work has been nobly forwarded, but it is essential to ship food and clothing and raw material upon credit to Hamburg--and this not by private enterprise only, but as an international undertaking of the first order. Otherwise we may look to see the tragedy of a whole nation.
In the face of such a situation (which I believe to be fully authenticated) other considerations are insignificant. Yet they should not be passed over. The case for the economic rehabilitation of Germany is at last disclosing itself with relentless logic to the self interest of the Briton. His country, so dependent on foreign trade, cannot afford to see the ring of commercial nations be deprived of one of its most energetic and contributive members with a consequent loss of markets and a general breakdown of trader's confidence. England has repented of the vindictiveness in which she was caught up after the war. The spectacle of nearly two million unemployed workers on her streets is a powerful call to reshape her foreign policy on lines to put it at the lowest of a truer economic expedience. In a word the Government has realized that it is foolish as well as immoral to rob a bankrupt of his tools. It is mortifying to watch another continue that crippling process too, for the effect of it all is not limited to preventing the payment of the debt--it reacts fatally on all creditors. At the moment, England is hardest hit. But it seems inevitable that the more self-sufficing countries should feel the pinch sooner or later.
For M. Poincare, however, this fear is outweighed by the menace of a restored Germany on the French frontier. With her devastated area ever before her. France dare not relax her strangle hold on Germany until she has reduced her to a second rate power--unless and until the U. S. and Great Britain effectively guarantee her security. While the rest of the powers are slowly recognizing that it does not pay to be vindictive, France has throughout seen clearly that she cannot afford, as matters stand, to be anything else. And if I happened to be a Frenchman, I should doubtless feel the same.
The concern of France is for ultimate security: of England for an immediate recovery of trade: of Germany for the preservation of her threatened existence. All three demands are of the utmost urgency. For meanwhile, pending their reconciliation, German children starve. France is reduced to arming herself on a pre war scale, and England staggers under debt, unemployment, and taxation. Worst of all, the hatreds are being fostered which make for war.
Now it would appear that America alone holds the decisive card in these matters. Her influence and cooperation are the great reconciling factor, the hope to which Europe looks. Her intervention would seem to be in the interest of herself and of every people involved. It would be presumption for me to pass any opinion of American domestic politics, where national isolation from Old World quarrels is still something of an issue. But I am not I think, misrepresenting my countrymen in urging upon your readers how very greatly they appreciate the recent feeler of the President, and how much more his good offices would be welcomed in an impartial American intervention to secure the following points:
(1) An international scheme for the immediate dispatch of food, etc, to Central Europe.
(2) An international rehabilitation of Germany.
(3) Definite and generous guarantees for French security.
(4) The settlement of Reparation debts.
A genuine offer from U. S. and Great Britain as to the third point would go far towards inducing France to modify her attitude
Cannot America and Britain get together? H. R. SALT Sp.L