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For several years Russia has been a law unto itself among all the councils of nations into which it could pry its way. It has blustered to its nearest neighbors. It has blustered to the Lausanne conferees. Yet for all its noise, it has terrorized nobody and made but one commercial acquaintance--England. And now England has sent an ultimatum to call its bluff.
The canny Britisher, with an eye to the vast trade possibilities in Russia, has sat patiently under repeated injuries, only sending occasional notes of dignified rebuke. A British civil engineer was executed in 1920, British fishermen have been molested and injured in the Baltic, British prestige has been undermined abroad by propaganda. But the straw which has broken the camel's back is the insolence with which British protests over the Church trials and executions have been received, an insolence "unexampled in the case of Governments affecting to be on friendly terms."
It is idle to speculate on the possible motives for Russia's actions. It would be no more fruitful than trying to discover why the wind should blow east instead of west. Certainly Russia is cutting off her own nose, whether to spite her face or not. When she had at last been successful in wooing England into a trade agreement and since then has done everything possible to nullify its articles and to put England into a bad humor, she may expect to travel far before finding another commercial friend.
The choice which she must make within ten days, either of backing down unconditionally from her blustering stand or of losing her trade agreement will cause Russia a good deal of mental agony. To loss her English trade will hurt badly, but to humiliate herself will probably hurt worse. As for England she has thoroughly vindicated herself-respect, and in spite of the resentment of this action by Labor M. P.'s, those who like to see a blow-hard put in his place will admire England's stand.
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