Despite the alarmist tone evident in news despatches from Europe, no immediate crisis is likely. No matter how many men Hitler may press into the German army, no matter how large an air force he may have created, even so mad a fanatic as he cannot seriously contemplate taking on France, Italy, Russia and Britain at the same time. It is thus of paramount importance that these four nations make known their stand at once; otherwise, as Karl Radek recently pointed out in "Izvestia," Hitler may well take Europe's fate into his own hands and initiate another phase in the age-old "Drang nach Osten."
Most historians are now agreed that one of the negative causes of the last War was Britain's reluctance to come out squarely on the subject of her relations with France, to state in as many words that if France were attacked, and Belgian neutrality violated, England would join forces against the aggressor. Today, if the Russians are right, an identical situation has arisen, and again Britain holds the key to European peace. A positive statement of her policy would almost surely postpone another large-scale War until a new system of alliances has formed. There will be strife in the near future only if France persuades her allies to cooperate in a preventive war, in the hope of sparing Europe certain disaster in the distant future.
To the student in a sheltered American university, it is scarcely conceivable that in the ten years since the signing of the Locarno Pacts such a change can have come over Europe. But the fact of chief significance for those graduating this year, and in the two or three years succeeding, is that from now on the war-clouds will dominate the conduct of international relations, whether commercial or diplomatic. That economic life will suffer goes without saying. The tension under which Europe is now laboring cannot last. It may lessen for as much as a year or two. But economic and social progress is impossible in a world torn with fear, distrust, and staggering under an increasing burden of armaments.