Aloof Attitude of U. S. Explained

Chicago Newspaper Admits U.S. Withdrew From Europe “After Failure”—But, Would Participation Now Meet With Success?


Aloof Attitude of U. S. Explained

Chicago Newspaper Admits U.S. Withdrew From Europe “After Failure”—But, Would Participation Now Meet With Success?


Aloof Attitude of U. S. Explained

Chicago Newspaper Admits U.S. Withdrew From Europe “After Failure”—But, Would Participation Now Meet With Success?


“WE FIND that Europe observes us

as if we had been aloof ever since the trouble began in 1914. The truth is that we withdrew after failure. We are now asked to do what we have tried to do. But it is not shown to us why we should now succeed where we once failed. America failed because America was forced to fail. It could not persuade and it could not compel Europe to do what America thought would produce peace. We do not see where a new effort of any kind on the part of this country could succeed now.”

Thus the Chicago Daily Tribune, in an editorial of remarkable frankness, explains why United States hesitates about taking any leading part in straightening up the chaotic state of the world on the other side of the Atlantic. United States, says the Tribune, had a vision of what the peace should have been to be lasting. That vision was generally scorned by United States’ comrades in arms. Something else was tried, and that something else failed. Now United States is asked why it doesn’t take a part in straightening out the mess that has been made of the peace. If one is to take the Tribune editorial as expressing the mind of our neighbor nation and may be permitted to “read between the lines” of that editorial, then the States will continue to hold aloof until absolutely assured that its counsel as well as its men and money will be acceptable in enforcing and protecting the peace. There is something “more in sorrow than in anger” in the Tribune editorial, and it gives Canadians a new sidelight on the American attitude:-—

If France is wrong, and will not listen to Great Britain when Mr. Baldwin argues, can the United States do anything? Are we again to build our ícantonments, reenact the selective draft, call the transports into the harbors, and begin again the flow of half trained troops into Europe? Are we even of one opinion here as to what ails Europe and whose faults cause misery? Some Americans would say an army ought to go against France and some would send it against Germany and some would love it if it went against Great Britain.

We cannot be an armed policeman in Europe. We have been discarded as an adviser in Europe. We have been ignored as an example. We cannot be a foolish banker for Europe. We might embroil and impoverish ourselves with no consequences except to our own hurt. We might lose the peace of this continent without gaining it for any other.

America has kept its peace by keeping out of European controversies as much as possible. Where people were starving America has tried to feed them. It has tried to f^ed Belgium, Russia, Austria, Asia Minor, China, India, etc. ItjShas

made great loans of money freely. It has promoted the only successful disarmament achievement since the war and led the way by saying how many warships it would scrap.

It rejected a treaty of peace which it thought unjust, or at any rate destructive of peace, as it is now generally agreed to be. It negotiated a fair peace treaty with Germany and that treaty does not contribute to food riots in German cities.

Our weight in the scales of peace is a virtually unfortified land, an army which is merely a constabulary, a fleet which is withdrawn from competition with others, treaties which are fair to the nations which have accepted them, peace with our enemies which has not prostrated them, amiable words to our former allies with whom we may disagree, wise advice to people who say they are seeking peace and who, we think, are making causes of war, no occupations of territory, no requirement of indemnities, and a desire that the world shall not be an armed camp.

These are the greatest evidences of peace which have been given by any nation. We were accepted in the camp but rejected in the council chamber and we cannot make another war to fail in another peace. If we had greater wisdom than we have it would not produce greater effect. No one has succeeded in persuading the angry men of Europe. Their salvation is in themselves, or at least we seè no other. * * We are requested to “cast our great might into the scales of peace,” in Europe, to restore tranquility, good faith, and prosperity. We have tried that.

We answered a similar appeal in 1917. The weight of “our great might” then temporarily balanced the scales of peace by bringing about the armistice in 1918. What happened? Lloyd George for England and Clemenceau for France, in the Versailles treaty conference, dictated terms of peace which, as we see it, ignored the idealism of Wilson’s fourteen points— an idealism in the name of which we are now exhorted to return—and then induced Wilson to underwrite these terms with his league of nations.

All of Germany’s colonies were taken away and divided, chiefly between England and France. Alsace and Lorraine were taken from Germany and given to France with 58 per cent, of Germany’s ore resources and 5,000,000 of Germany’s population. The Saar valley, with its coal, was turned over to France, and a part of Silesia to her ally, Poland, with arrangements for plebiscites which were intended to take away 5,000,000 more of Germany’s population. Germany was forced to make Danzig a free port, and was forced to agree to a vast amount of reparations in gold and in kind. The German army was demobilized and the country disarmed.

The German navy was reduced to a

total tonnage of 15,000. In effect it was removed from any influence upon the sea. Every merchant ship of more than 1,600 tons gross belonging to Germany was ceded, and about half the smaller vessels were taken. In addition, Germany was forced to agree to build up to 200,000 tons of merchant shipping annually until the entire merchant marine forces of her enemies destroyed in the war should be replaced.

That was what France and England got out of their former appeal to the United States to cast “its great might into the scales of peace.” France was assured of safety in so far as it was humanly possible to assure it, by land, and England was assured of trade by sea, without any German competition and without any German naval threat. Germany was beaten down on the one hand and strangled on the other. Whether or not that was justified as moral punishment is not now the question. It has not laid the foundations of that peace for which America made her sacrifice.

It has developed a situation which is again threatening war and destruction throughout Europe. It is into that situation that we are requested to come again with our force, our money, and our moral and political influence.

Having done that once, with the results revealed, we may well feel justified in hesitating to do it again. * * The first thing which a nation can do to show its real desire fqr peace is to keep it and to avoid acts which would lead to war. The peaceable condition of this continent is proof that the United States is doing so. America has cast its great weight into the scales of peace. It is peaceable in act and counsel. We do not know of anything which America has done since the war or in it to increase the prejudices, passions, or pains of the world. We do not know of any profit which the United States has sought at the expense of other people to leave them struggling for relief or angry in remembrance.

That in itself was a casting of weight into the scales of peace. It was probably the greatest thing a nation could do for the security of the world. The United States controlled itself. Furthermore, we believe that if the advice of the United States had been taken, if its plans had been followed, and if its promises had been kept, Europe now would be peaceful.

Europe did not follow the example of the United States. It did not keep as victor to vanquished the promises the United States, through its President, made to people who acknowledged themselves defeated. It did not follow the plan which the United States had for the reconstruction of Europe. America failed in every peaceful attempt except in the effort itself to keep from adding to misery, disorganization, and causes of future wars.

The American people said, and we think they believed it, that their war was with a German military monarchy. Their president made a pointed distinction between the German people and their military government, and the German people were told that when they relieved themselves of this government with which the rest of the world could not live, they would be welcomed again into the family of nations.

The United States did not believe then that when the German people had overthrown the Hohenzollerns and had organized themselves into a republic they would be subjected to invasions of their territory and to depredations upon their means of livelihood. No one has been more outspoken in criticism of this than Mr. Lloyd George has been. He has protested. Bonar Law, Curzon, and Baldwin have protested. Great Britain has tried to prevent it and has failed.

America tried to prevent it and failed. The withdrawal of the American troops from the Rhine was an act of protest, a very marked one. The American government has made suggestions and has given advice. All this has been rejected.

It seems to us that there remains only one thing left for America to do and that is to use military force. Is that even thinkable, if it were possible? The British did almost everything except go to war with France. Would France, if she is wrong, listen to us? Would Great Britain, if France were right, listen to us?

We have been in one war which we thought was for the cause of peace. We have been in a peace conference which we thought was to draw the Magna Charta of peace. We helped in winning a war and wholly failed in winning a peace.