Iron-master Stalin yesterday showed a two-sided complexity that would do credit to a Talleyrand. In his recent interview with Roy Howard of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, he categorically states, in direct confirmation of the views of Chamberlin and Duranty, that non-interference, no Communist Party subsidizing, and peace with America stand primly and companionably among a row of other ideals.
This, indeed, is perhaps not suggestive news, merely icing for a cake that is already in American possession. His reasons for this extraordinary interview are two. He has his hands full domestically and the time is soon approaching when Russia will need a few friends and neutrals.
But the eastward side of his countenance bears a less benevolent aspect, a grim eye watches Japan, and he asserts, "If Japan ventures to attack the Mongolian Republic . . . . we have to be able to help that republic." And so it goes. The Russians bluster and the Japanese cat fire, in a vein ridiculously similar to boastful statements from pugilistic training camps.
But both are fearful, neither wants an out and out trial of strength. The cause of the Mongolian difficulties cannot be dismissed with a pat all-explanatory word. Stalin's mechanical-toy enunciation of "capitalism" as the fundamental basis is, to put it mildly, nothing but arrant nonsense. The causes are fundamentally economic; the Soviet has goods to sell and exploitation schemes to promote, and so has Japan. Imperialism can not longer be associated, Marxist fashion, with so-called capitalist countries alone.
After the recent Japanese assassinations, the military cinched their saddle more firmly on the Japanese war-horse and left the world shivering with a premonitory war chill. Now the shaven Russian growls deeply in his throat, and the chill becomes a shudder. Like angry school-boys one nation pushes the other, and the shove is returned with somewhat more fervour, until the battle, which in the end will leave them both prostrate, becomes wholly inevitable.
Meanwhile the proposed referee, the League of Nations, far away and concerned with other matters, woudn't think of stepping in until the fight is well begun. A future Gibbon may reckon up the causes of the fall of two great empires to a nicety, without, however, finding either nation supposedly barbarous. But contemporary Americans can do little more than keep their coat-tails clear, and ignore, impartially, the lulling sing-song of Japanese apologists and the siren, two-toned voice of Russia.