From November 3 to December 3
Japan to End Washington Treaty.— With Japan’s definite announcement of her intention to terminate the Washington naval treaty, interest in the naval negotiations in London naturally declined, or at least shifted to the new situation thus created. The conversations still continued in December, however, and despite the Japanese insistence on parity, both the British and the American delegations explored every avenue that offered possibilities of agreement. One proposal was that Japan should be granted parity in Principle, with some increases in relative tonnage, but with a “gentleman’s agreement” that she would not build up to actual Parity. This was transmitted to Tokyo, but was quickly rejected. Though favoring a “ceiling limit” for all navies, and ready to place this relatively low, Japan was also opposed to any limitation of types, preferring freedom to experiment at will within any total tonnage limit.
One fact clarified by the London discussions is that Japan is seeking a naval strength in the Pacific and Orient which neither England nor the United States can single-handed oppose. And from this the inference is plain that sacrifices in armaments, far from serving the cause of peace, may serve rather as a license to nations bent on aggression. When those nations who sincerely desire peace have both the will and the power to maintain it, we shall have better prospects of an orderly world.
With the London discussions there has come also a changed feeling in America regarding naval strength and national security—a feeling that a strong Navy is needed, not only for defense of our sea frontiers and our trade in peace and war, but primarily at this time for support of our policies abroad. Surrender of these policies now, it is felt, may have consequences of unforeseen gravity in years to come.
Anglo-American Common Interest. —In England, with its longer background of sea history, the new situation developing in the Pacific has been more clearly envisaged, and also the need of a closer coordination of British and American policies in dealing with Pacific problems. Writing in the London Observer in November, the Marquis of Lothian declared that the only way to prevent Japan from controlling the Western Pacific and Eastern Asia was for Britain and the United States to assume joint liability for maintenance of the status quo. He added:
Unless the public in both countries is willing to take the risks of defending the 9-power system, Britain and America might just as well let the Japanese militarists have their way immediately.
The British naval expert, Mr. G. L. Garvin, writing also in the Observer, pointed out that full naval parity with Great Britain and the United States not only would make Japan supreme in Far Eastern waters, including Chinese waters, but might also give her naval supremacy over the whole Pacific and Indian Oceans.
If the two English-speaking powers could be successfully divided, Japan might well look to dominate by sure degrees a full half of mankind and to become for a long epoch the real arbiter of the globe. . . .
. . . The British Empire and the United States would have their hands tied and their defense perhaps jeopardized not only for Asiatic purposes but for contingencies in the Atlantic and elsewhere. The system proposed to Britain and America in the name of parity would confine them both in practice to a working inferiority which it is impossible for either of them ever to accept.
American Plan for Arms Control.— Out of the wreck of the disarmament conference three projects remained which offered possibilities of international agreement—regulation of the manufacture and sale of munitions, publicity of arms budgets, and the establishment of a permanent arms commission to take charge of the execution of any agreements reached. A comprehensive draft treaty covering the first and the third of these projects was presented by the United States delegates at a meeting of the Arms Bureau (or steering committee of the disarmament conference) held at Geneva in November. This draft was sent to the various nations for consideration, and three committees were appointed to meet in January and work on the three projects indicated above, with the further aim of incorporating publicity of arms expenditures in the American draft treaty.
In brief, Chapter I of the American treaty plan divides arms and munitions into five categories (category II including all kinds of naval ships and weapons). Chapter II makes provision for the strict state control of arms manufacture. Chapter III regulates the international traffic in arms, and Chapter IV provides for the composition, functions, and operation of a permanent disarmament commission, with power to carry out inspections and investigations in any state. The formulation of such a convention is, of course, far removed from its general adoption. It will be recalled that a convention for the control of international arms traffic was negotiated at Geneva in 1925. It was not until last spring that the U. S. Senate approved this convention, with a reservation as to its application in the territory around the Persian Gulf and another making its final adoption contingent upon ratification by the other chief arms producing nations. Perhaps because of the reservations, the State Department has not yet taken steps to complete ratification.
Flandin Ministry in France.—Following the revolt of the Socialists against his demand for temporary budget appropriations and immediate enactment of constitutional reforms, Premier Doumergue and his cabinet resigned, with less accompanying disturbance than was anticipated and a new ministry was organized in early November under Pierre-Etienne Flandin. The new government retained several of the Doumergue ministers, including M. Laval in the post of foreign affairs, but in view of the retirement of the Right leader Andre Tardieu and General Petain, it was considered as having shifted somewhat to the left. In his address to the Chamber, Premier Flandin emphasized measures to revive trade and improve the nation’s economic status. On December 1 the government received a favorable vote of 457 to 120 during consideration of the 1935 budget, which as finally passed amounted to about $3,100,000,000, including $790,000,000 for military purposes.
Return to Balance of Power.—If so fundamental and inevitable a principle as the balance of power in European and world politics can ever be said to have been abandoned, a return to it may be seen in the drawing together of Russia and France within the past year. The entry of Russia into the League of Nations facilitated such a rapprochement, for an understanding can now be reached under the auspices of the League and in concert with smaller nations, with less appearance of a direct bilateral agreement. The result, however, would be much the same. Such apparently is the aim of the so-called Eastern Locarno, -which France and Russia still aim to bring to completion. As suggested by Foreign Minister Laval, Germany is to be given one more opportunity to join a pact of mutual guarantees. Then, in case of her refusal, France and Russia will go ahead independently, with such support as they can draw from Poland and the Little Entente. The Soviet Republic, according to the plan, will join the guarantors of France under the old Locarno treaty, and France in turn will guarantee support for Russia and other states in case of any attempt to upset the present frontiers in Eastern Europe. The activities of Soviet representatives at the League Council and Assembly meetings in November demonstrated Russia’s renewed Prominence in European politics.
Yugoslav Appeal to League.—Pressure of hot popular resentment at home was considered largely responsible for the action of Yugoslavia on November 13 presenting formally to the League a bill of complaints against Hungary for harboring and even encouraging terrorist activities directed against neighbor states. The memorandum gave a lengthy account of these activities at the Janka Puszta camp and elsewhere, which, according to the memorandum, began in 1932 and have since steadily increased. No mention was made of similar Croatian refugee plottings in Italy.
In this connection, it may be noted that
Italy, while refusing their extradition, held the Croatian leader, Dr. Ante Pavelich, and his lieutenant at Turin for examination in connection with the Marseilles assassinations; and Hungary consented to an investigation within her territory by the French police. While carrying on this investigation, the aim of French policy has been to soften so far as possible the Yugoslav feeling against both Hungary and Italy, lest it upset negotiations going on to put her own and Yugoslavia’s relations with Italy on a more friendly basis.
Nazis Drop Church Control.—There is every evidence that at present Fuhrer Hitler and his followers would be only too glad to drop their plan of regimentation for the Christian faiths in Germany. “We will take our finger out of this struggle” declared Propaganda Minister Goebbels in November, and there was some expectation that the government would meet the widespread popular demand by forcing the resignation of Reich Bishop Muller. The Bishop, however, was still in office at the close of November, and had taken steps to put his ecclesiastical administration again on a legal basis, which it had lost with the removal of Civil Administrator Jager. A new ecclesiastical ministry was set up after a fashion on November 29 at a meeting of the heads of the various provincial churches, but the heads of six influential churches, including Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden, and Hanover, refused to attend, and it must be remembered that the independent church has already established an administration of its own. Even German history might have taught that a finger inserted in religious affairs may come out burned.
Moves to Strengthen Austria.—The visit of Chancellor Schuschnigg of Austria to Rome on November 16-20 was, as indicated by the communiques, primarily to carry forward the Italian-Austro-Hungarian understandings entered into last March. According to Italian announcements, these understandings are not intended as exclusive; the participation of other nations in the trade agreements will be welcomed, but always on the condition that they accept the principle of Austrian and Hungarian independence. As regards the independence of Austria, Italy feels that it should be supported by stronger guarantees than the mere statement in its favor made by France, England, and Italy last September. Either Germany should voice in unmistakable terms her intention to leave Austria alone, or she should be required to sign with other European nations a guarantee making Austria a second Switzerland. Naturally also, Italy would like to see an understanding reached in this matter before Germany has completed her taking over of the Saar.
Saar Plebiscite Problems.—Among the problems occupying the diplomats at the League Council and Assembly sessions in November, not the least troublesome were those connected with the plebiscite of the Saarlanders in January to determine whether they are to join France, unite with Germany, or remain under League supervision. If, as expected, the vote favors reunion with Germany, means must be found to facilitate a quick and peaceful transfer and acceptable terms for payment to France for her investment in the Saar mines. Delay in transfer might mean a Nazi invasion, even though the Nazi authorities should strive to prevent it, and a fatal clash with French troops held in readiness for such a contingency.
As a bid to the Saarlanders to remain under the League, at least till some change for the better takes place in the Reich, Foreign Minister Laval stated in the French Chamber that should they vote to stay with the League now, France would offer no opposition to their joining Germany later on.
Indian Home Rule Report.—According to present plans, the time of the British Parliament during the next half year will be largely occupied with consideration of a new constitution for India. The report of the joint committee on India, presented in three bulky volumes at the opening of Parliament, departs somewhat in its recommendations from the plan of government proposed in the White Paper of 1933. If the suggestions in the report are adopted, the new Indian governmental organization will have a central congress of limited powers with members partly named by native princes and partly elected by provincial legislatures. Of these latter there will be one for each of the eleven provinces, elected in turn by a total voting population of about 35,000,000, including 6,000,000 women. The provinces will also have ministries of the British model and British governors with extensive powers. The British government through the governor general will retain control of foreign affairs, the army, protection of minorities, and other matters in which British interests require safeguards. Though not providing full dominion status, it is hoped that the new constitution will prove acceptable to Indian nationalists, especially in view of the possibility of further changes in ten years’ time.
UNITED STATES AND LATIN AMERICA
Decisive Victory in Chaco.—After developing an effective strategic diversion in the northern portion of the Chaco war zone, which enabled Bolivia to announce successes in that sector, the Paraguayan army struck heavily in mid-November in the region of Fort Bollivian, capturing this fort and other Bolivian defenses, along with from 7,000 to 10,000 prisoners, and driving the enemy backward toward the Pilcomayo River. Shortly after this defeat on the battle front, President Daniel
Salamanca of Bolivia was ousted from his office, as the result of a break with his military leaders, and a new government was established under former Vice-President Tejada Sorzano. The apparent demoralization of the Bolivian military forces, along with the change of government, seemingly opened the possibility of a final settlement for the war which has now been going on for nearly three years. Paraguay at present holds most of the district in dispute, and should this be ceded to her as the price of peace, a problem will be created for the sister American republics who have frequently proclaimed the policy of not recognizing gains achieved by war.
League Peace Moves.—After results favorable and unfavorable in the Manchurian and Leticia conflicts, the League of Nations in November made another move toward settling the warfare in the Chaco between Paraguay and Bolivia, first referred to it more than a year ago. According to the plan reported by the Chaco committee and adopted at a special session of the League Assembly on November 24, both belligerents were called upon to declare a truce, withdraw their forces, and then, after one more effort at settlement by direct negotiations, submit their dispute if necessary to decision by the World Court. At the same time a commission was created, to which the United States and Brazil were asked to name representatives, for the purpose of consulting 'with the belligerents and supervising the peace moves at all stages. Both belligerents were required to accept or reject the plan before December 20. Unless faced by very definite penalties, there appeared little likelihood that Paraguay would make a favorable reply.
New President of Mexico.—The inauguration of Mexico’s forty-fifth constitutional President, General Lazaro Cardenas, took place on November 23. Only 39 years of age, President Cardenas is described as a man of unquestioned probity of character who has the full support of the leaders of the National Revolutionary party. Financially the Mexican government is in relatively strong position. An agreement has been made with the United States for the settlement of all special and general American claims by payment of 7,500,000 pesos, and in the past three months the government has been able to apply 12,000,000 pesos toward the payment of its foreign debt. The chief difficulties will be met in carrying on the party policy of secularization of education and restrictions upon the church, against which catholic leaders in the United States have recently made vigorous protest.
Further Open Door Protests.—Both the United States and Great Britain renewed in late November their protests to Japan against the new Manchurian oil law and the threatened monopoly of oil sales the Japanese-controlled Manchurian Oil Company. Both the Western Powers contended that the proposed monopoly violates the treaty rights of the open door, and again insisted that Japan should be held responsible for the actions of Man- chukuo. The Japanese, on the other hand, deny such responsibility and declare the matter as one in which diplomacy should not be concerned and in which commercial representatives of foreign companies should deal directly with Manchukuo officials. As a matter of fact the new oil law is so broad in its provisions as to leave it within the power of the administrators either to allow foreign companies to retain a share in the market, or to altogether exclude them from the retail field. Its fundamental purpose, however, is to make possible the development of Manchurian oil fields on a profitable basis, for which the consumers will pay by increased prices, and to put the oil business in the hands of a Japanese-controlled administration.