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Britain's present position in Egypt as untenable, balanced the risks of disorder in dominion self-government against the certain increase of disaffection under an increasingly military control, and has decided upon a sort of dominion selfgovernment as the more desirable of two undesirable policies.
Some observers affect to see significance in the fact that on the same day the "unofficial" statement went out from London that Great Britain was ready to recognize the independence of Egypt, Lloyd George, in an interview given at Lucerne, said that in the matter of imperial responsibilities Great Britain must adopt a policy of retrenchment. "We are too deeply engaged everywhere," he said. "British statesmen must in future strive to reduce the responsibility of the country." In other words, "the white man's burden" has grown too heavy. Can this mean that Great Britain's far-flung empire is passing from the asset to the liability column? Most casual observers of world politics would ask to "see the figures" before believing that. Can this mean that Great Britain's imperial commitments are over-taxing the little island's administrative capacity? It has always seemed that Great Britain's chief article of export was administrative ability. Was this a politician's phrase thrown out for its effect upon the Franco-British debate on matters in the Near and Middle East? It is here recorded, for whatever it may be worth, as food for the reader's reflection.
If the ultimate settlement of the Egyptian problem follows the lines of the rumor here recorded, the settlement will inevitably react upon Great Britain's problems in Ireland and in India. Anglo-Egyptian relations promise to be an interesting point in world politics to watch.
"MOSULISME" AND "IDEALISME"
AST month, in these columns, comment was made upon the fact that the problem of political leadership is pretty much the same the world over, despite our tendency to regard our troubles as unique and to look with envious eye at the more
masterful strategy of European statesmen and electorates. This attitude was discussed in the light of the striking similarity between the American criticism of Mr. Wilson and the British criticism of Lloyd George as traitors to constitutional procedure in their anomalous assumption of dictatorship in democracies. It was pointed out that such criticism was being launched against Lloyd George, while critics of Mr. Wilson were saying that the English, with their system of responsible cabinet government, would never stand for such arbitrary dominance by the executive. It may be interesting to push this idea a bit further this month by making a Franco-American comparison.
Just as Mr. Wilson's "irresponsibility" has been contrasted with the British premier's "responsibility," so has Mr. Wilson's pliant "idealism" been contrasted with the French premier's "realism." It is said that Mr. Wilson, with his head among the stars, weakly surrendered American rights at the peace conference, while M. Clemenceau, with his feet on the earth, firmly consolidated French rights. It is said that against M. Clemenceau's Realpolitik, Mr. Wilson played, if such a word may be coined, a dreamer's Unrealpolitik. A certain part of American opinion rather envied France her statesmanship in its thrifty regard for national rights and advantages, deploring the fact that the Scotch strain in Mr. Wilson had not shown itself in its traditionally canny regard for profits-diplomatic profits.
It comes as something of a surprise, therefore, to find several French newspapers filled with attacks upon M. Clemenceau for his easy surrender of French national rights and advantages. As the verbal partner to our charge of idéalisme against Mr. Wilson, the French have launched the charge of Mosulisme against the doughty statesman whom Mr. Keynes has stigmatized as the one man most responsible for a Carthaginian peace at Versailles.
The word Mosulisme, which promises to stick in the political vocabulary of France long after the immediate basis of its coinage has disappeared, is being used to express criticism of what certain Frenchmen regard as M. Clemenceau's
meek surrender of French rights to Mosul, with its rich oil deposits, to the voracious appetite of British economic imperialism. Meekness is surely a new rôle for "The Tiger," whose ruthless regard for national rights has been a favorite target for "liberal" critics of the treaty of Versailles! Mosul is to the French critics of M. Clemenceau what Article X is to the American critics of Mr. Wilson, evidence of a weak surrender of national rights. M. Louis Barthou, former and perhaps future premier, in a stinging indictment of French foreign policy as a policy of Mosulisme, defines the word as follows:
Mosulisme is the term to be applied to that kind of foreign policy which gives more than it receives, which renounces real rights to avoid imaginary dangers, and which, without giving us in Europe the necessary guarantees, has sacrificed in the Orient our traditional interests.
Substitute for the word Mosulisme the word "idealism" or "internationalism," and how familiar this criticism sounds! As we go more into M. Barthou's criticism of M. Clemenceau, the more familiar the charges sound. He charges that the wine of victory went to the aged statesman's head, and that, in imperial fashion, he supported the sense of his own glory by surrounding himself with flatterers only; that he tried to do everything himself; that he despised diplomats and the ways of diplomats; that he made himself the czar of French foreign policy, disregarding and discrediting the Quai d'Orsay. It is interesting to note also that, just as criticism of Mr. Wilson became epidemic, so damnation has followed hard upon the heels of deification in the case of Clemenceau. The French vocabulary, as the American vocabulary, has gone bankrupt of good words for the war-time leader. He is assailed from all sides. Like Wilson, Clemenceau is made the national scapegoat for all sins of policy and action.
Again, in France, as in the United States, post-war criticism has made strange bed-fellows. As in the United States there are radical internationalists and conservative nationalists, so in France there are those who would have France retire from Asia Minor and wash her hands of further responsibility in that region, and an equally determined party that will not countenance retirement. Normally such divergent group opinions would differ in attitude toward Wilson's league policy and toward Clemenceau's handling of French interests in Asia Minor. But just as radical internationalists and conservative nationalists unite in their condemnation of Wilson, so in France those who think, as the Socialists and senators of the D'Estournelles de Constant type, that France has already lost too much in a bootless adventure in Cilicia and Syria and should get out of Asia Minor while a dignified exit is still possible, join with those who bitterly oppose such retirement in condemning Clemenceau for his surrender of strategic and profitable Mosul to the British.
Another point of similarity is seen in the way the anti-Wilson and the antiClemenceau orgies of criticism are being capitalized in both countries by antiBritish elements. Running as a motive through all the French criticism of Clemenceau is a petulant complaint that in the whole business of war settlement the British have profited at the expense of the French. In our own country we have seen the Hearsts, in their private vendettas with England, capitalize and basely misuse the legitimate criticism that sincere and clear-minded students have made of the peace treaty.
May not these similarities suggest that much of our epidemic of fault-finding is mere post-war fashion? May not such adventures in comparative political psychology help us to bring a certain tolerant good humor to these tangled times?
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