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A New Year's resolution shouted from the housetops and repeated again and again in the days following. may ring hollow, but at least it is emphatic enough to make people listen. Similarly three-column headlines on the same theme appearing for seven days in the newspapers of New Year's week, indicate that the world is making up its mind to do something important some-where.
These same recurring headlines have been shouting away for the week past on the new American attitude towards Europe and the resolution to enter actively into world affairs. Secretary Hughes's speech of December 29 th announced that as far as the Administration is concerned, the policy of isolation is put away and America, sleeves rolled up, is ready to help clear the European mess:-"We, cannot escape these problems by calling them European. . . . . they are world problems." Mr. Hughes suggested a general parley on reparations to be held, not by politicians, but by leading financiers and business men appointed by the various governments.
It takes no conference to determine the world wide agreement on the general principle that Germany should be made to pay as much as possible without financial collapse. The difficulty comes in determining how much that much is Germany on her part has made no New Year resolves and has vested control in throwing up a cloud of paper money behind which to mask the true state of her finances.
The solution of the problem is still out of sight. France has returned from a Christmas recess to enter a renewed "Conference of the Premiers" with the firm proposal to occupy the Ruber and the Rhineland. France has grown thin on German promises. She wants something more substantial, and it will take all the diplomacy which England and America can bring to bear to make her wait much longer for definite action on the reparations settlement.
There have been plenty of scoffers to hint at ulterior motives behind the Secretary of State's resolution. The old insinuations again crop out; after holding off during the difficult years of reconstruction, while civilization was in agony, America now steps in comfortably to write the sign of the dollar across an exploited Europe.
As long as national misunderstandings continue. these doubts are to be expected. All the more reason to see hope in anything that makes for international "team-work". Only by such clear 'sighted, unprejudiced conference as Secretary Hughes has suggested, can the problem permanently be solved.
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