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Nations have a peculiarly touchy psychology, a disposition to snap at slender affronts to dignity. With truculence, commonly considered a component of prestige, diplomats indulge in politely phrased wars of words. Were it not for the glint of steel in each polished sentence, these verbal disputes would have an element of petulant humor.
And the League of Nations has done something to remove the more immediate threats of strained diplomatic relations. Yet the gamble of prestige still prevails as the favorite international game. Spurred by the law of Malthus the law of dictators, or the sensitive perversity characteristic of all national groups, the internal polities of the League is a frequent battleground for conflicting interests.
The rumbles of the conflict which started in March over the admission of Germany, to a permanent seat on the council are even now disturbing the Geneva organization. Spain and Brazil remain firm in their threat to resign if they are not awarded permanent seats.
According to the conception of sovereign ethics prevalent before the war, this holdup is no doubt justifiable, simply because it is possible. But the new spirit of internationalism which attempts to prevent costly disturbances can not afford to tolerate the more obvious forms of obstruction.
The case against enlarging the council to admit secondary states appears to be well-founded on the twin arguments of unwieldiness and the prerogatives of large nations. And since neither England, Italy, or Germany desire such expansion, the question is practically answered in the negative.
It remains merely to convince the two Protestants that their demands are unreasonable. This delicate task requires considerable finesse if it is possible at all. Well-balanced tact is necessary to avoid offending a dictator or a sensitive South American government. Even if diplomatic sedatives fail, the League will suffer no irreparable injury by the resignation of two states which prefer their own advancement to international security.
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