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Business is picking up along the Danube--to-day's trip of Foreign Minister Delbos to France's Allies in Central Europe and the projected conference Sunday between Yugoslavia and Italy are signs of new activity in the Market for International Promises and Threats and in the Treaties Trust. The statesmen of every country are trying to freeze the present unstable state of international relations into some sort of solid foundation, after which step they can turn their attention to economic and social problems.
Essentially the current diplomatic activity is the effort to provide a cushion and a shock-absorber for the German expansion. Always since its unification in 1870 Germany has been the most dynamic power on the Continent, pushing on every side to get outlets for the energy and ability of her people. This outward push was checked for a while by the Great War, but Hitler has picked up the old torch and put the question squarely to the statesmen of Europe, can Germany expand without another war? This problem overshadows every other one, and with China and Spain for the minute shelved, to this problem European diplomacy will devote itself during the winter.
Today in his briefcase Foreign Minister Delbos carries the word to Warsaw, Bucharest, Belgrade, and to Prague that the outlet for Germany will be found principally in redistribution of colonies. This welcome news is the result of a conference Monday and Tuesday in London which would up in a happy statement that England would stand by France in her alliance with the Little Entente. Simultaneously "trial balloons" ascended and hints were let slip that in the near future a general conference of Colonial Powers would be held for some sort of a reshuffle of Germany's old possessions.
The attractiveness of this line of solution to the crisis caused by German expansion hides the great difficulties of the scheme. The first obstacle to the plan is the natural unwillingness of the Colonial Powers in individuo to give up land to Germany. Japan, Australia, Belgium, and the British Admiralty have already expressed sharp opinions on this point. A more fundamental obstacle is the doubt whether Germany's ambitions, which are predominantly for Teutonic unity and supremacy in Eastern Europe, can be permanently satisfied by stretches of jungle. In Mein Kampf Hitler puts his colonial aims as a poor second to the hopes of a Pan-Germanic Central Europe. During the negotiations Mussolini also will be working strenuously against Germany's selling her birthright for a mess of fever-ridden desert, for his desires for an Italianate Central Europe rest on the with-drawal of France and England behind the Alps. Redivision of the colonies between the "have" nations and the "havenots" thus seems not to be the touchstone of peace; ultimately Germany and France must come to a compromise on Eastern Europe.
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