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Freedom of the Seas


Now that Hitler has withdrawn formally from the League, the four power peace pact signed by Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy must be the subject of anxious peculation. Mussolini wants to organize a meeting of the signatories at Stresa, but Mr. Henderson has not been slow to see what a tremendous blow at the diplomatic standing of the League this would entail. By blocking action at Stresa, he hopes to force Hitler back into the Geneva parley, but it is highly questionable that this can be done. For Hitler's dominance, like the dominance of any dictator, depends upon the concrete results he can show, and German sentiment is that not much save elocution can come from Geneva.

In spite of this, Mr. Hitler was willing to accept from the League any concession, however small, which would have made his position tenable to the anti-League agitators in Berlin. Fortifications on the Russian border, and rehabilitation of a few dismantled fortresses, would have admittedly have satisfied him; but Sir John Simon, seemingly unimaginative, withheld his cooperation, and withdrawal was the Nazi alternative. Perhaps Sir John, and Mr. Henderson, were justified in their refusal, but it is difficult to condone their flat opposition to Mussolini's compromise.

Clearly the League is set up on the democratic hypothesis, and the rejection of that hypothesis by two of Europe's greatest nations must call its utility as an instrument into serious question. The dictator can have small truck with parliamentary diplomacy Mussolini has been cold to the League and the Nazis have been adamant France and Great Britain must not relinquish their stand against secret diplomacy, which is the most heady of all stimulants to war. But European economics make war at the present time a virtual impossibility and between the prestige of Geneva and the need for Hitler's reentry to international grace there is small choice. Stress the instrument to make that reenter possible; if France and Great Britain reject it, they must do so at a risk which, in the long run, would be unwise to take. POLLUX.

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