The proposal made by the United States for a mixed commission to investigate Germany's financial status disappeared under a cloud when France refused to accept in full its working conditions. Now it has reappeared under a new aspect. After a great juggling of diplomatic pawns and castles, the layout of the board appears to be as follows: the English government under the pressure of its public's desire for action has joined with France practically on the latter's terms; the United States, having been at first so downright, feels unable to do this but President Coolidge, to back his gestures of help toward Europe, will "view with favor" the acceptance by Americans--as private citizens--of the invitation to join in the investigation. The government would seem to have little to say about whether private citizens, if they so desire, shall serve or not. But perhaps some moral advantage may accrue from this phantom manner of having one's cake and eating it too.
It is uncertain who has won the diplomatic chess game. That matters little, however, in the present case. The question is, what good will the committee, this wing-clipped dove of peace, be able to do in the knot in which all Europe is tied?
There appear to be two committees proposed. The less important one is to take up the question of capital removed from Germany. What this means is little if anything. The committee will have no power to recall that which has already left Germany. It can only suggest ways of bottling in what movable capital still remains within the country. The work of the other committee is to consider the means of balancing Germany's budget and of stabilizing her currency. Unfortunately this fact touches the outskirts of the problem. The German nation, to all intents and purposes, is in a state of bankruptcy. The proposed plan of receivership can accomplish little as long as the Ruhr, the great factory center of the whole nation, is sewed up in the hands of the French, and every bit of capital which the weak German government can tax out of its people must be handed over to France for reparations. The crux of the whole matter is the impossible size of the reparations bill. France has refused to allow this vital matter to be touched because thirty-three billions of dollars means to her security, her only security. Little of real value can be done until this bill is radically scaled down and Germany given a moratorium for recuperation.
Yet even though the proposed committees only scratch the ground, something has been accomplished. France, Great Britain, and to some extent and with great trepidation the United States have conjoined once more. The issue has not demanded much sacrifice of policy on the part of any; but if better understanding can possibly result between those nations and throughout the peoples of those nations, mountains of trouble may eventually be moved.