FROM AUGUST 7 TO SEPTEMBER 7
FRANCO-GERMAN SECURITY NEGOTIATIONS
Preliminary Conference Decided Upon.—Following an exchange of notes at the close of August, Germany agreed to take part in a conference of legal experts in London on August 31 to draw up treaty projects that might serve as a basis of future discussion. It was expected that Foreign Minister Stresemann would meet the Allied foreign ministers at Lausanne about September 15 and arrange for a security conference to be held probably in Brussels during October.
The French note to Germany was made public on August 26. It was friendly in tone and constituted practically a proposal that Germany open direct negotiations. The note took up three main points. First, as regarded possible modification of existing treaties, it was reiterated that “the security pact could not affect the provisions of the Versailles Treaty relating to the occupation of the Rhineland.” Second, Germany must enter the League of Nations without special conditions. Third, the arbitration treaties to be negotiated between Germany and the states on her frontiers should provide for arbitration of political as well as strictly juridical questions. The state refusing to arbitrate would automatically become the aggressor. The part of the note relating to Germany’s entry into the League was of especial interest in view of the opening of the League Assembly at Geneva on September 7.
The German reply was brief and expressed merely Germany’s preference for oral discussions and agreement to send representatives to London.
Peace Offers to Riff Withdrawn.—On August 20 France and Spain decided to withdraw their peace offers to the Riffian chief Abd-el-Krim, and so informed their delegates who had been for a month awaiting Riff emissaries at Melilla. Spanish reinforcements having arrived in Morocco and the French forces increased to about 120,000, it was believed that offensive operations in the autumn would bring the Riff leader to terms.
The aims of Abd-el-Krim, as stated in various sources, appeared to be to force France and Spain to recognize an autonomous Riff state. His peace conditions, published in the Paris Quotidien on July 23, were substantially these:
That the Riffs’ independence be recognized and guaranteed by the League of Nations, with a status similar to that of Afghanistan; that the governor of the Riff shall have the title of Ameer and be nominally subject to the Sultan of Morocco; that certain boundaries approximating those held by the Riffian troops at present shall be recognized Riffian frontier; that Spain may retain Ceuta and Melilla with sufficient surrounding territory for their defense; that the Riffian Government shall be permitted to maintain a standing army, the size of which shall be fixed by experts; that Pan-Islamic propaganda in the French Protectorate shall cease; that no reparations shall be exacted on either side; that the League of Nations shall grant the Riffian Republic a moderate credit to enable it to carry on temporarily until a fiscal system can be established. Certain minor conditions are attached.
Belgium Signs Debt Funding Terms.—On August 18 the Belgian and United States commissions negotiating a settlement of the Belgian debt to the United States reached complete agreement. According to the terms of settlement signed on that date, the total amount to be paid is $727,830,000, of which $246,000,000 is post-Armistice debt, $171,780,000 is pre-Armistice debt, and the remaining $310,050,500 is interest on the post-Armistice debt at 3.5 per cent. Owing to the “weighty moral obligation” recognized by the United States negotiators in view of President Wilson’s promises to Belgium at Versailles, all interest charges on the pre-Armistice debt were canceled. Treasury officials, however, made clear that this moral obligation would not obtain in the case of other nations.
According to the agreement, payments are spread over a period of sixty-two years, being smaller during the first ten years, and amounting to about $12,700,000 annually thereafter.
Tentative Franco-British Agreement.—On August 26 it was announced from London that the British and French Commissions, headed respectively by Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill and Finance Minister Caillaux, had reached conditional agreement on terms for payment of the debt of France to Great Britain. The terms of this agreement provide for sixty-two annual payments of £12,500,000, or a total of £775,000,000. Great Britain’s acceptance of these terms, in which the interest rate is only 2 per cent, is made conditional, however, upon acceptance of similar terms for payment of the French debt to the United States. In other words, to secure these terms from England, France must persuade the American Debt Commission to accept a 2 per cent interest rate on the French debt to the United States, whereas the rate secured from Belgium was 3.5 per cent. Thus the question whether or not the debt of France to her allies is to be treated on a purely business basis is “put up” to the American Commission.
Other conditions of the agreement are that payments shall be purely from French resources without drawing upon French receipts from Germany through the Dawes plan, and that a moratorium shall be granted till 1930.
The agreement was preceded by a reduction of the British demands from £20,000,000 a year to £16,000,000, and a French counter-proposal of £10,000,000 a year.
UNITED STATES AND LATIN AMERICA
American Foreign Investments.—According to a summary in the Literary Digest of August 8, the total investments of American capital in foreign government and industrial securities amounted to $9,522,000,000, which was more than three times the amount at the beginning of the World War. Thus, said the Wall Street Journal, “whether we like it or not, commerce and finance have forever disposed of the doctrine of isolation. With such a stake in other countries, we cannot remain aloof.”
Figures of the Department of Commerce show foreign investments of United States capital (classified geographically, and excluding inter-government war debts) as follows:
England and Mexico Resume Relations.—It was announced on August 28 that the British Government had decided to renew diplomatic relations with Mexico, and that the British Consul General in Mexico City would be appointed Chargé d’ Affaires pending the appointment of a Minister. There has been no British Minister in Mexico since 1914, and the British Charge was withdrawn last year after difficulties with the Mexican Government.
Chinese Customs Conference.—In the middle of August the Chinese Government extended invitations to a customs conference to assemble at Peking on October 26, in accordance with the terms of the Nine Power Treaty adopted at Washington in 1922 and recently ratified. The nations participating will include the nations signatory to the treaty (United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, and China), and other nations which have announced adherence, including Spain, Denmark, Norway, and Peru. The original purpose of the conference was to grant China a 2½ per cent increase in customs duties, but it is expected that China will ask for a 5 per cent further increase and for complete customs autonomy.
On August 25 it was announced that the treaty powers were in agreement respecting their reply to the Chinese notes of last June asking for a general revision of the so-called “unequal treaties,” and that a reply would soon be delivered, the exact phraseology to be determined by the diplomatic corps at Peking. The reply will not take up the question of the Shanghai riots, which will be treated in another note, but will cover the question of the scope of the coming customs conference and the views of the powers on the convening of a commission to investigate the question of extra-territoriality.
China Turning to Russia.—In an address at Williamstown on August 14, Dr. Charles K. Edmunds, Provost of Johns Hopkins University and former resident for twenty years in China, made the following points regarding the relations between China and the western powers:
China is coming strongly under the influence of Russia, although not primarily through Bolshevik propaganda.
The reported present stand of the British Government toward China is illogical, unjust and dangerous. That stand is said to be that no international action can be taken on China’s complaints against extra-territoriality until a reliable central government is established and conditions at treaty ports become normal.
The powers, in exceeding their treaty rights, are assisting the growth of friendship between China and non-treaty nations—Germany, Austria, and Russia.
France’s failure to ratify the treaty formed at the Washington Conference to give China relief from foreign tariff manipulations has exposed the good faith of the powers to serious question in Chinese minds.
The task of foreign powers in China for the next five years will be to convince China of the sincerity of their willingness to give up special privileges, and also of the wisdom of relinquishing them only as China shows herself capable of carrying the increased responsibility.
The influence of Russia in China today is due primarily not to Bolshevik propaganda but to the generous way in which Moscow has voluntarily abandoned the special privileges formerly enjoyed by the Russian empire in common with other imperialistic powers.
She has given up the claim to immunity from the Chinese law, still enjoyed by British, Americans, Japanese and others. She has relinquished her territorial concessions, with the exception of the railway across Manchuria, which, being a link in the trans-Siberian line to Vladivostok, is more justifiable than any of the other railway concessions in China.
She has remitted all claim to the Boxer indemnity and other debts due to the Czar’s Government. She no longer shares in the control of China’s finances, as the other powers do. Soviet doctrine has gained a hearing because of Russia’s conduct toward the Chinese nation. We should be fair enough to admit that except for the content of their message the methods of the Soviets do not differ essentially from those of the Christian missions.
With China thoroughly worked up, it is putting the cart before the horse to say, as Britain is reported, that no consideration will be given complaints until law and order are restored. Until China is given adequate authority over territory nominally Chinese, no central government can accomplish what the powers seem to demand. To establish a workable permanent understanding between China and foreigners, there is need for the powers to scrutinize their own acts, to adopt a most scrupulous regard for the rights of the Chinese people as distinct from the claims of the successive temporary central governments, and thus definitely to allay the Chinese belief that China is being used only to produce wealth for outsiders.
Concerning foreign control of Chinese tariff, Dr. Edmunds declared that China never knowingly granted any such control as now prevails and places China in a unique position among the nations. At the time of the Washington Conference (1921-22) China had been bound eighty years by treaty to a nominal tariff on imports of 5 per cent; in practice, 3 5 per cent. Having asked for an increase to 12 per cent, he said, she obtained an effective 5 per cent as of January 1, 1923, with a promise of further increase, to be decided upon by a conference within three months after ratification. Until China should agree to pay her Boxer indemnity in gold instead of paper francs, France refused to sign this treaty.
Discussing the working of the extra-territorial system, Dr. Edmunds declared that it was objectionable to the Chinese because it was a derogation of their territorial sovereignty and a national humiliation. Not only does it interfere with the proper functioning of the Chinese courts, he said, but it has disadvantages for the foreigner. As long as it prevails, he showed, foreign residence, except for missionaries, trade and manufacturing, are limited to the treaty ports. To Russians, Germans and Austrians, and the nationals of all non-treaty nations the entire country is open.
Preparatory to the rendering of effective justice in the event of the abolition of extra-territorial rights, Dr. Edmunds said China has been framing five new codes of laws, some of which have been in provisional force since 1921. A law codification commission composed of able and experienced Chinese justices, has been sitting since 1914, assisted bv French and Japanese experts. The criminal code was published in English in 1919 and in French in 1920. Civil and commercial codes are in preparation.
WILLIAMSTOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS
Fifth Session in August.—The fifth session of the Institute of Politics at Williamstown, Massachusetts, took place during the month of August. Round table discussions and conferences were held on United States Foreign Policy, Inter-American Relations, Economic Recovery of Europe, the Mediterranean Area, Mineral Resources, International Justice, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and other topics of current international interest. Among points raised in the discussions may be noted the following:
Necessity of War.—Senator Count Cippico of Italy declared that war was “a cruel necessity.” “Each nation has to defend its own right to exist, to remedy the defects of its geographical, political, or economic situation in the world, to make good its own individual civilization as opposed to the inferior civilizations of other peoples.” In support of this view and in opposition to the belief that reduction of armaments would bring peace, Rear Admiral W. W. Phelps, U. S. N., said that “Disarmament talk is foolishness while economic conflict remains. War is a continuation of national policy.”
Balkan Situation.—Dr. Bernadotte E. Schmitt of Germany, head of the Round Table on European Problems, pointed out that more or less binding agreements now exist between ten of the fourteen states between the Baltic and the Ægean, and that the next fifteen or fifty years might see the other four (Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Albania) brought into this relationship. Dr. Valyi, editor of the Paris Revue Politique Internationale, contended that the Little Entente of Rumania, Czecho-Slovakia, and Jugo-slavia was maintaining a “spirit of distrust and disequilibrium” in Central Europe, and visualized a “Hungarian peril” that did not really exist.
Immigration.—In opposition to the appeal of Count Cippico of Italy for outlets for Italy’s surplus population, Professor E. M. East, of Harvard, declared that birth control rather than emigration was the only rational solution of Italy’s population problem. In support of the restriction of immigration to the United States he offered the following decalogue of arguments:
- Emigration forced as an economic necessity by population density affords no permanent relief to the homeland, because the ensuing birth release re-establishes the old equilibrium.
- Conditions in this country are today and will continue to be such that newcomers will meet increasingly bitter competition, which must be accepted under unfamiliar conditions and often with a linguistic handicap.
- Immigrants who come with a lower standard of living tend to reduce our own standards.
- Immigrants who are relatively incompetent when compared with the native—and there are many such—are expensive employes because of our tendency to think in terms of a minimum wage.
- Incompetent immigrants are expensive fellow-citizens, because they add to the tax rates; that is to say, they require more than a fair share of the public money to be spent for benevolent institutions.
- Huge numbers of foreign-born lead to a foreign policy based on expediency rather than sound principles. There are numerous groups to placate.
- Large groups of foreign-born prevent us from developing a unified national culture.
- Excessively rapid growth leads to the dissipation of natural resources too quickly.
- Immigrant competition tends to sterilize the native population.
- Immigration, when forced by economic necessity, tends to lower the biological quality of the race.
Suez Less Vital in British Strategy.—Major General Sir Frederick Maurice, of London, at the open conference on “The British Commonwealth of Nations,” said that the British no longer regarded the Suez Canal as vital from the viewpoint of military strategy.
“Strategy,” he went on, “depends on time and space, which have changed enormously in the last twenty years, wireless and every kind of improvement altering the relation of time to space. In consequence of the changes in locomotion, it is not true today that the Suez Canal is a vital artery. That was proved by a demonstration during the war, because the Mediterranean being a closed sea with any number of inlets and small harbors, became a happy hunting ground for submarines, and so dangerous for the transports and supplies from Australia and New Zealand that we were forced back into using the Cape route.
“The actual distance around the Cape is in round figures 10,000 miles, and by the Suez Canal it is 8,000 miles, and you have got the delay of getting through the canal. The time distance around the Cape, as compared to the canal from a military point of view, is not more than three days longer.
“As regards the route to Australia, the conditions are even more favorable to the Cape route. The actual distance from Southampton by the Cape to Melbourne is 11,000 miles and the route through the Suez canal is 10,300 miles—700 miles difference.
“But the real point is this: It is a matter of supreme importance that this route, the route across the Indian Ocean, should not be flanked by any power coming out of the Mediterranean. Therefore, the points that are vitally strategical are the issues from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and into the Indian Ocean. That is to say, Gibraltar and Aden are really the vital defense of the Indian Ocean, not the Suez Canal.”
Roads to Peace.—Summarizing the conclusions of the Round Table on Disarmament, of which he was chairman, General Sir Frederick Maurice of England said that the failure of the Geneva proctocol and the treaty of mutual guarantee showed that the machinery of the League was incapable of settling the disarmament question by a general treaty. On the other hand, he asserted, the negotiation of separate security compacts which would remove the fear of attack in European countries will remove the obstacle to disarmament. When the European nations feel safe, he declared, they will reduce armaments in order to reduce the tax burden and to remove the danger of militarism.
Dr. Rappard, of Switzerland, declared he did not agree with General Maurice that the machinery of the League had proved unfit to deal with the problem of disarmament, and that he did not think any one security compact would bring about disarmament. Arguing on behalf of a general treaty instead of separate compacts, he pointed out that the British had refused until a month ago to consider anything but a general agreement, and that some of the British Dominions, notably Canada, oppose the security compact on the grounds that the problem should be handled by the League and that a general agreement would put them in less danger of becoming entangled in another European war.
"Prima facie, there is an advantage in dealing with a large number of States rather than a small number when you deal with security,” he said. “There is another advantage if you deal with security with a view to securing disarmament, and that is that the British have always consistently maintained that there can be no disarmament except a general one.”
Captain C. L. Hussey, United States Navy, attacked disarmament by “artificial control” as of “doubtful efficiency,” and urged Americans to consider their national interests ahead of international questions.
“Heretofore,” he said, “limitation of armament has been governed largely by natural forces, national in character. Now it is proposed to introduce artificial control, international in character and of doubtful efficiency. Does your own knowledge of world conditions lead you to believe that any nation not compelled to do so should embark on such an ‘adventure in faith’? What evidence is there of any change in the basic policies of the world powers, however dormant they may be at present by force of economic necessity?
“Economic necessity has forced more and more dependence upon means other than armed force for the support of policy. Let us, for convenience, refer to these other means as the ‘unarmed forces.’ As limitation of armament progresses, the unarmed forces become more and more important.
“Have the warm advocates of limitation given the same careful consideration to the strength, character and organization of the 'unarmed forces’ that they have given to armaments? I beg Americans to do this before they entrust voluntarily their security to an international organization. Can we not retain control of our forces, our resources, and particularly American standards of living, and through the powerful moral influence of which the Williamstown Institute of Politics is such a worthy exponent contribute in a larger measure to international welfare?
“Before reaching conclusions on international questions it will be well for us to reflect upon our homes, our churches, our nation—the ‘promotion of American general welfare and common defense’—to quote from the preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America, which our wise forefathers left as a legacy for our guidance.”
The phrase “Adventure in Faith” is that of Alanson B. Houghton, American Ambassador at London, who is the “spiritual author” of the present security compact, according to Professor Bernadotte Schmitt of the University of Chicago, an institute round table leader. Ambassador Houghton in a recent speech said that peace was an adventure in faith.
General Maurice, who previously had pointed out that President Coolidge had given a “general blessing” to the security compact negotiations, reminded Captain Hussey that Great Britain and the European nations could not refrain from limitation of armaments without breaking treaty obligations to do so.
Rear Admiral Huse, retired, urged the conscription of capital and labor as well as man power in time of war, saying that France was on the eve of adopting this plan. This kind of conscription, he went on, would act as “a brake against war” and would “tend toward a reduction of fixed armaments more than almost anything else.”
“This plan,” he continued, “invites the approval of military men because it makes the nation enormously more powerful and therefore adds to its security. It invites the approval of all lovers of peace—and this includes all the military men I have ever met—because it tends to array both capital and labor against war. Thus, on account of the great power it gives a nation, such a nation is not likely to be attacked, and because of the opposition of capital and labor, such a nation is not likely to provoke war.”
Miss Emily Green Balch, of Boston, economist, cautioned against adoption of this plan, saying she believed it would work in favor of an outbreak of war. It was pointed out here that the plan had been before the public for some time, having been approved by the American Legion, and also that Bernard Baruch of New York recently guaranteed at least $250,000 to the Walter Hines Page School of Johns Hopkins University for a scientific study of the question.
Sir Robert Borden, former Prime Minister of Canada, closed the debate with the statement that while plans for international disarmament and arbitration may be ineffective in preventing war they will be at least helpful and will lead up to “the real great mission of the League—to bring about that moral and spiritual disarmament without which all these other movements are in vain.”
American Foreign Policy.—The attitude of the United States toward the League of Nations, China, and Latin-America was debated at the open conference on “Recent Foreign Policy of the United States.”
Professor George H. Blakeslee of Clark University, the open conference leader, questioned two statements made about American foreign policy at previous meetings. As to charges that the United States showed a reluctance to define its foreign policies, he pointed out that the Monroe Doctrine and the open door principle had both been officially defined during the life of the present Administration. He also challenged the statement that this country had been inconsistent in its foreign policy, citing our unchanging support of the Monroe Doctrine.
Commenting on the trend of events that bring America into European problems, Professor Blakeslee pointed out that the agreement this country signed in Paris last January gave it a “stake” of $600,000,000 in the success of the Dawes plan, and might tempt the United States in the future to use its political and economic influence to see that the plan succeeds.
He defined the general foreign policy of this country as “regional.” It was held, he went on, that the League of Nations is primarily a European political organization, which was called upon, except for the mandates, almost exclusively to deal with local European issues, and that the United States ought not to participate with the League in such matters.
Arbitration, limitation of armament, the holding of special conferences and the dealing with specific controversies as they arise, he went on, was America’s official formula for promoting the peace of the world.
Suggesting that the United States might solve its problem if dealing with world affairs by becoming an “associate” member of the League, Professor Blakeslee said:
“There must be a grouping of nations to serve at least as a forum to discuss international problems before they cause war. Such is the belief of the majority of the world, and the only existing international organization is the League. The United States, because of its policy of political isolation toward Europe, cannot join the League. The opinion is held by some that the United States should become an associate member of the League, avoiding issues local to Europe and dealing only with problems that threaten a world war.”
Professor Blakeslee pointed out that a serious problem arose from the membership of eighteen of the twenty Latin-American republics in the League, while the United States remained outside.
“If Latin America,” he said, “should have its disputes dealt with regularly at Geneva, and its common interests passed upon there, it would largely destroy the leadership of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. It is also possible that irritating international difficulties may develop if the League attempted to enforce Articles X and XVI of the covenant in the case of war between two Carribean American republics.
“Should the League attempt to boycott a Central American republic or to induce European and Asiatic warships and troops to come to the protection of a Latin American republic near the United States, it might not be a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, but it would doubtless be strongly resented by the Government and people of the United States.”
Professor Blakeslee hoped that the League and the Pan-American Union would supplement each other instead of coming into conflict, and suggested that the League give an elastic interpretation to the Monroe Doctrine as a means to this end.