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With Germany's policy of "passive resistance" to France daily becoming more active, the world has increasing cause to fear lost the economic war in the Ruhr break into something more desperate. Until recently, the spectators have pursued a strict "hands off" policy. But rumors have begun to reach Paris that Great Britain and the United States are preparing for more active measures to bring about a settlement. Promptly and unmistakably, in reply to these whispers, an unofficial communication from Paris outlines France's position. "The French Government hopes sincerely that neither London nor Washington will attempt intervention of Paris . . . The report goes on to say that "if London or Washington sees fit to advise Berlin to meet the French and Belgium terms, Paris should but that is the only sort of intervention the Poincare Government wishes".
Whether France's seizure of the Ruhr was wise or not, it would hardly seem fair not to give her free rein in the course she has decided upon. Bonar Law left behind him in Paris, after the collapse of the conference of premiers, the distinct understanding that England should not assume any responsibility for what might follow and that France would be left to shift for herself. It was on this understanding that France and Belgium proceeded.
True, the forcible method of collecting reparations, so far, has had little success. Already economists are inclined to declare that the policy cannot succeed. Figures on the January coal deliveries are strong evidence. Still, this is a question impossible of solution except by time; and efforts at a premature judgment are futile.
But to France the situation is not purely economical. It is political as well. Suspicious of Germany, and insecure without guarantees, she had every right to place herself in a position where she could make demands instead of entreaties. Then, with Germany's growing defiance, the French were forced to apply greater pressure, military and economic. Cutting off the Ruhr coal supply from Germany proved insufficient. The embargo on all manufactured goods from the valley, especially iron and steel, is a more severe blow to the industrial and political life of Germany. As France continues to strengthen the barrier between Germany's productive district and the rest of, the states, the people will begin to feel the pinch and the Reich will awaken to the fact that the French are in a commanding position. Though Poincare may fail to collect the reparations, he will at least have established French authority. And so, instead of precipitating another war, the policy may actually have prevented one, by nipping the German defiance in the bud.
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