The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 1, 1933)
Many “Gestures”—But No Deeds Yet—Has America Cut Her Moorings?—Guarantee and Debts—Japan a Silent Worker.
A Vocal Trio.
At the moment, in world affairs, there has been a bewildering succession of “gestures,” all of which (even Germany's latest) look good, but they have not yet been translated into definite results. On three successive days the Prime Minister of Britain, the President of the United States, and the Chancellor of Germany have all given out specially worded world messages, demanding peace. But pertinent questions, such as whether the United States will co-operate in any guarantee of European peace, remain at the moment unanswered. Paris remarks on the omission from President Roosevelt's speech of any such guarantee. But the British Prime Minister, Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald, seeks to interpret as hopefully as possible what the President said, and deduces that “henceforth America will be indifferent to nothing concerning the world's peace.” America, he says, has “boldly cut her moorings.” Now, has she?
French Eyes on Roosevelt.
This question is vital, for the guarantee has dogged world history from Versailles downwards. France believed that Versailles arrangements included the guaranteeing of her frontiers by Britain and France and the United States. But this triple guarantee—France, Britain, United States—was subject to ratification, and the U.S. Congress that revolted from Woodrow Wilson never ratified it; and because the guarantee was not finalised in the United State it was not enforced by Britain. France considered herself sold. Ever since Versailles she has linked disarmament and guarantee of her integrity. Why (she asks) should she abandon armed supremacy in Europe unless the Anglo-American guarantee of her frontiers against aggression, promised by Woodrow Wilson and Lloyd George, but never given, is made good? That “fourth step” in the latest Roosevelt speech has been carefully read, but so far Paris cannot read “guarantee” into it, nor even trade boycott of a European aggressor.
What About Congress?
At such a moment one looks for a sign from Congress, but it has not appeared as these lines are written. In all internal matters of depression-fighting, this new Congress has appeared to be most docile. Seldom or never has a Congress loaded a President with extraordinary economic powers so quickly and willingly. But external policy, debts, guarantee, etc., is unknown ground. What does Congress say in its heart when it reads Mr. MacDonald's statement that America has “boldly cut her moorings?” She has cut various economic moorings, but has she really cut away from Monroeism? Is Mr. Roosevelt prepared to pledge the United States to any measure of military or economic pressure on a European aggressor? Will Congress support him in such a measure of support for France as will make France a genuine co-operator in disarmament
Papen and Hitler.
Just prior to the Roosevelt, MacDonald and Hitler speeches there was a “sabre-rattling” speech by Von Papen, who for the moment forgot his recent sedate diplomacy. Was the Von Papen speech a deliberate test of how much the British, the Americans, and the French would stand? Certainly it drew fire—as did the anti-Semitism violence—and Herr Hitler's latest speech is adjudged to be, by comparison, conciliatory. But another pertinent question, whether Germany will agree in the Disarmament Conference to the British short service plan of standardising effectives and getting away from the professional army, is not answered by anything that Herr Hitler has yet said. His statement that Germany has no thought of invading any country does not solve the Conference deadlock. Can it be said that recent German speeches, with their lack of consistency, tell the outside world anything at all? Is it the purpose of language to conceal thought?
Retreat From Versailles.
And Mussolini? He and the Four Power Pact are not just now in the foreground. Whether the Pact is to yet become a force is not clear. The Italian correspondent of “The Manchester Guardian” specifies German-Italian territorial gains which, he says, are motives behind the Pact, but were concealed from Mr. MacDonald when in Rome. Pressure, he says, would be exerted by the Four Powers to make Poland compensate Germany on the eastern frontier, and to make Czecho-Slovakia and Rumania compensate Hungary. A compensated Germany would then abandon an Austrian programme embarrassing to Italy. These allegations are not presented as having authority, but they are an example of fairly wide-spread suspicions that the Pact would mean dangerous frontier adjustments leading to war. Poland and Czecho-Slovakia are not infants. Yet judges like Mr. page 59 J.L. Garvin declare that readjustments must come. Can there be peace on the Versailles basis? Can any change of that basis avoid war? Herein lies the dilemma.
Feeding the Jap Bulldog.
Apparently the Russian Soviet does not want a war on two fronts. Its European front is more important than its foothold on the distant and not always ice-free Pacific. So its Foreign Minister suggests a sale of railway interests to Manchukuo or Japan. The sale terms may be rejected, but the overture seems to prove that the Soviet values not the old Tsaristic expansion eastward. Perhaps the idea is that when Japan's appetite is glutted with Chinese and Russian Far Eastern territory, the Soviet's rear will be safe. A rapidly changing Europe has perils enough for Russia, without a Japanese conflict. Not only Poland, but the German sphinx, must cause Moscow a lot of thought, and it must be hard for Russians to swallow whole the reported statement of the Nazi journal “Angriff” that the alleged German Russian friendship will never be affected by “Germany's war on Communism.” But they see a star in the West. The Roosevelt semi-recognition of the Soviet is one of the significant events of recent days.
With photographs underlined “The Camera Cannot Lie,” the “Jewish Chronicle” (7th April) charges against the Germans many indignities enforced on Jews by violence. One Jewish lawyer, it is alleged, was shot. German boy-cotters of the Jews published the following as being in “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”: “As soon as a non-Jewish State dares to resist us, we must be in a position to bring its neighbours into war against it.” If this were a valid quotation from a Jewish document of authority, it would at once be made to fit the execration with which Germany's neighbours have greeted the German anti-Semitism. But the “Jewish Chronicle” says that these “Protocols” are mythical.