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"The guiding rule of France's foreign policy is to provide as many alies as possible in the advent of a much-feared German invasion," stated William L. Langer '15, associate professor of History, at Dunster House last night, commenting on France's assent to the British request for military co-operation in the Mediterranean under a condition of reciprocity.
"Last January," he said, "France began to 'pussyfoot' in her relations with Italy, trying to smooth over former antagonism. Friendly advances were made, and semi-official approval was given to Italy's actions in Ethiopia. The underlying principle in this move was in keeping with her entire foreign policy: i.e. that an ally against Germany is worth the entire African continent.
"However, recent events have proven that a friend of Italy's could be no friend of England's. The realization of this fact, coupled with the belief that England could give more aid against Germany than her southern neighbor, resulted in France's statement, issued yesterday, that she was ready to back British policy."
However, it is Professor Langer's belief that France is more opposed to war than perhaps any of the other nations involved, seeing that such an outbreak would mean the definito loss of at least one ally, whereas in peace she might be able to maintain both.
Professor Langer also emphasized the importance of the Nile water resources as a determining factor in British policy, although the one least mentioned in newspaper accounts. "Ever since the middle ages, a story has been current that the water supply of the Nile could be diverted," he said. "For long periods at a time, Egyptian Pharaohs used to pay bribes to keep the Ethiopians from tampering with the headwaters of the Nile.
"But ever since summer crops have been cultivated in the Nile valley, it has been found necessary to conserve the water during the flood season. The source of the Blue Nile, or Lake Tana, is generally agreed to be the place best suited for a dam site. With just such a dam in mind, England has made a recent treaty with Ethiopia stating that neither government could alter the water supply without the consent of the other. As no treaty exists between England and Italy, it is evident that the fate of the Nile valley would rest entirely with the Italians should they subdue the Ethiopian government."
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