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The display of obstinacy which has thus far characterized the present conference of the League indicates that nationalism still continues to bar the progress of international cooperation. The question of enlarging the council has proved a serious stumbling block. By promising Germany a permanent seat in the select little coterie of the inner chamber, the Locarno signatories felt that they were merely restoring their erstwhile foe to her former place among the European powers.
Nevertheless a precedent was set and three other nations, Spain, Poland and Brazil, in return for their faithful service to the League also demanded a place in the council. Each of the three, claiming to represent a certain racial group of states, threatens to withdraw, if its aspirations are disappointed. And as if matters were not sufficiently complicated, political intrigue adds to the difficulty of the problem. In order to counteract German influence. France leans to Spain and Italy to Poland. Meanwhile Germany, chafing at the delay in obtaining the coveted seat, sends word that she will not join the League at all, if nations not concerned in the Locarno treaty, are to be admitted to the council on equal terms with her.
This situation exposes a fatal defect in the constitution of the League. By forming a council of the Entente powers the Versailles diplomats sought to perpetuate in modified form the six-power system, which had preserved the European balance of power during the nineteenth century. This arrangement has never been very satisfactory, but neither is increasing indefinitely the size of the council a feasible plan. Abolishment of the council altogether is a step which has not been contemplated. Yet such a plan, by placing the members upon an equal footing, would free the Assembly from the dominance of a few large nations, and give the League that universal character, which it has lacked under the present status.
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