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Recent political trends in Europe are went to give rise to an optimism that an appreciation of the realities of the situation will not justify. It should be borne in mind, that despite the success of the League in at least contributing towards a moderately peaceful Saar plebiscite, and in the peaceful settlement of the threatened war between Jugoslavia and Hungary--despite these encouraging signs, it would be unwise to forget that the thorniest problems remain unsolved.
In the first place, the economic situation in the Great Powers bodes ill for the future. French unemployment figures have for the first time in history passed the four hundred thousand mark. It is common knowledge that Mussolini is wrestling manfully, though none too successfully, with internal difficulties, of which rising unemployment is but one instance, and that the lira rests on none too firm a foundation. Germany's condition would cause less stoical a man than Hitler to weep. Her trade balance would be justly complimented by being called unfavorable, and her political stability is almost wholly dependent on the extent to which Germans are willing to tighten their belts without resort to revolt. The Saar plebiscite is not yet over, nor is the question of how Germany will be able to meet her payments to France for the Saar coal mines. But the most serious problem of all, which has recently been disturbingly quiescent, is that of Austrian independence. To ensure this, Foreign Minister Laval has just left for Rome to confer with Mussolini, though neither is over-confident of results. Once the Saar is forgotten, there is no telling what Hitler will do in Central Europe. There is nothing permanent in the existing Austrian set-up.
The next few months are of immense significance to Europe's peace of mind. Will France remain on the gold standard? Will she avoid the perils of Fascism? Will Germans be satisfied with "Ersatz" food and clothing? Will Hitler, in the event of popular endorsement in the Saar, consent to Austria's independence? These questions are but the most pressing at the moment. In their settlement lies the future of modern Europe.
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