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and temporary than a settlement which would crystallize evils so rigidly that violence alone could break them.
It is some such provisional arrangement of Far-Eastern affairs that the Washington conference seems to have had in mind from the beginning; and, as already stated, this is a matter for hope rather than of disappointment. The exact nature of the arrangement is conditioned not merely by Japan and the United States, but equally by the attitude of the British Empire. I take care to use the term "British Empire" rather than "England," because the past year has witnessed a momentous development-the raising of British foreign policy from a quasinational to a truly imperial plane. Hitherto the destinies of the empire have been determined in London, and though the dominions have long been increasingly consulted, it has been "Downing Street," the British Foreign Office, which has had the decisive say. To-day this is no longer true in the traditional sense. At the imperial conference held last summer it was definitely settled that the self-governing dominions-Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africashould henceforth have a large share in formulating the empire's foreign policy. An "imperial cabinet" has been established, and the appearance of dominion leaders of high caliber, like General Smuts of South Africa and Premier Hughes of Australia, is the best proof that the empire's foreign policy will be truly imperial in character.
This momentous development will react nowhere more strongly than in the Pacific. For the last twenty years British policy in the Far East has been based upon the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, first contracted in 1902, and re
newed, in altered form, in 1911. If British policy was, as formerly, exclusively decided by Downing Street, it would have been virtually certain from the beginning that the AngloJapanese Alliance would have been renewed substantially unaltered. The dominions, however, lukewarm or hostile to the alliance, doubtless were a strong factor in swinging British support to the broader agreement which has been offered as a successor.
Furthermore, regarding Anglo-American relations in their broader sense, the increased influence of the dominions is of the highest importance. In virtually all important matters of foreign policy the interests of the dominions coincide closely with our own. In the Pacific and the Far East, especially, we and the dominions see virtually eye to eye. The dominions have a dread of Oriental immigration keener even than ours, and they have already erected exclusionist barriers higher than any we have yet raised. Australia and New Zealand fear Japanese imperialism as their supreme peril, and look to us fully as much as to Great Britain for protection. To the dominions, therefore, Anglo-American friendship appears absolutely vital, even the tranquillity of India seeming relatively unimportant. In fact, the argument has been brought forward that a close understanding between America and the British Empire would be an automatic guaranty of peace in the Pacific, since even the boldest Japanese militarist would hesitate to challenge the whole Anglo-Saxon world.
European problems as such were kept off the program of the Washington conference. Nevertheless, though
excluded directly, European questions indirectly came up in more ways than one.
This was notably true of FrancoBritish relations. In many ways the most important development of postwar European politics has been the growing coolness between Great Britain and France, complicated by a parallel drawing apart of France and Italy. The close of the Great War found Europe dominated by a close combination of these three powers. At the time this combination was widely hailed as the political basis of post-war Europe. A better reading of the situation, however, would have shown the error of such prophecies. History teaches emphatically that alliances have never lasted long after the reasons for their making have passed.
Now, this was precisely what had happened with the Anglo-FrancoItalian bloc. These three powers had been welded together by the menace of a common enemy, the Central Empires, or Germany and AustriaHungary. But the war shattered Austria-Hungary to fragments, and left Germany disarmed and entirely at the victors' mercy. The common enemy had thus disappeared, and the bloc, deprived of its cement, promptly began to disintegrate. The whole mental attitude was changed. Instead of looking at the things which united them, the allies now looked at their points of difference.
And there were many such points. Germany, for instance, appeared extraordinarily dissimilar when seen through British, French, or Italian eyes. To England, post-war Germany, deprived of her navy, her merchant marine, and her colonies, was no longer
a peril, but rather a potential market, to be restored to stability and built into the fabric of a pacified and prosperous Europe as rapidly as possible. To France, on the other hand, Germany was still the dreaded archenemy. Agonizing over her human losses and her devastated north, remembering past wars, and fearful of a future Teutonic revanche, France desired material security by making, and keeping, Germany so weak that aggression against France would be forever impossible. Even though Europe's economic recovery might be endangered by a chronically sick Germany, most Frenchmen appeared to think this the lesser of two evils. Finally, Italy looked at matters from still another angle. Germany had never been the real enemy to Italy. Italy's hereditary foe was the Hapsburg empire of Austria-Hungary, and now that this foe had disappeared, Italy saw in Germany not merely a good commercial market, but also a useful factor in a new balance of power against French ascendancy in Europe, which Italy was beginning to fear.
These differing points of view regarding Germany already showed up clearly at Versailles. Throughout the peace negotiations England and France were often openly or covertly at odds, with Italy tending to take Great Britain's side. For the moment, to be sure, a certain degree of harmony was maintained, but after Versailles the Anglo-French rift widened apace. Almost everywhere the aims of the two nations seemed to clash. In Poland, in Russia, and especially in the Near East, Great Britain and France were at odds.
Such was the background of estrangement with which the British,
French, and Italian delegations came to Washington. Anglo-French relations had, in fact, just received a fresh shock from a separate treaty which France had negotiated with the Turkish Nationalist Government of Mustapha Kemal Pasha. The latent differences between the three powers soon came out in the conference itself over the question of armaments. When Mr. Hughes opened the ball with his program emphasizing a reduction of capital ships, Mr. Balfour, the head of the British delegation, proposed an even sharper reduction in submarines. Thus far the discussion had centered about the navies of America, Great Britain, and Japan. At this point, however, France broadened the issue by claiming ample naval security, and though the French claims were not openly specified, it was tentatively suggested that France's navy should equal Japan's in capital ships and Great Britain's in submarines. On top of this, Italy now attempted still further to broaden the issue by bringing up the question of land armaments, which was politely side-tracked by the French.
These developments promptly set all three countries by the ears. For England the French naval claims were intensely distasteful. Even H. G. Wells, internationalist extraordinary, turned British for the moment and frankly asserted that France had in mind a future war against England. France already possessed the most powerful army in the world. If, in addition, France were to have a navy anywhere approaching Great Britain's in strength, England would be faced with a strategic situation in some
respects potentially more dangerous than that which she had faced from Germany in the years before the Great War. Across the perilously narrow "silver streak" of the channel would lie a whole string of French submarine bases and naval arsenals, and behind these, again, the greatest army and the most daring aircraft service in existence. Now, Great Britain, like France, wanted security; but how could Great Britain feel more secure than in 1914?
These tilts between the western European powers over the armament question illustrate both the disturbed state of Europe and its inevitable reaction upon all world problems. In subsequent months I shall discuss European affairs with the care which they deserve. Suffice it here to say that the condition of both Europe and the Near East is highly critical. Some gleams of light, to be sure, appear. The provisional settlement in Ireland and the three years of grace on reparation payments vouchsafed semi-bankrupt Germany are events of great importance and of hopeful augury. Nevertheless, from whatever angle we gaze, war-torn Europe appears still barely convalescent, and threatened with complications which may have truly terrible consequences not merely to Europe, but to the entire world.
Here is, in truth, the lesson that we must learn: the basic unity of world affairs and the necessity of noting and thinking about the course of events in even the most distant regions. No matter how unrelated they may appear, closer scrutiny may reveal them intimately connected with our own future welfare.
An American Looks at His World
Comment on the Times
By GLENN FRANK
POLITICS AND THE COCK of Dawn
of may seen auous
influence across the centuries long after their politician-contemporaries are forgotten, but the politician breaks his way into editorial columns ten times to the poet's one. Tempted always to give their space to the parliamentary gesture that is for the moment occupying the public mind, editors are likely to reserve for their own after-dinner enjoyment the significant achievement of poet, essayist, or dramatist that may be jostling the latest news item in their minds.
For this month, however, I am yielding to personal inclination and setting journalistic considerations aside. I have just finished the reading of Henderson Daingerfield Norman's translation of the plays of Edmond Rostand. I am still under the spell of the lyric loveliness of Rostand's lines and still feeling the mental glow induced by the richness of his ideas, as one comes flushed from a brisk walk in the autumn air.
The translator begins the foreword to these volumes by saying that "For twenty-five years, till in December, 1918, he himself entered into light perpetual, Edmond Rostand was the poet of light, from the April starlight of Romantics to the full summer sunshine of Chanticleer." Now, a poet of light,
a poet of the tenuous and the intangible, may seem an irrelevant visitor to bring into the confusion and cynicism of contemporary politics, but Rostand, particularly in his "Chanticleer," has something highly pertinent to say to this age that may, by the timidity or bankruptcy of statesmanship, be the beginning of another Dark Ages.
But, without attempting to do more than suggest the relation of Rostand's ideas to the muddled politics of our time, let's refresh our minds about Rostand and his work. Rostand made his bow to the literary world as a mere lad of twenty-two, in 1890, if I remember rightly. The then dominant literary schools in France were cautiously cool in their welcome to the newcomer, but ultimately the originality, the delicacy, and the bewildering qualities of Rostand's fancy won them over. No end of discussion beat about his head in those early days. He was called by a hundred contradictory names: poet, pedant, cynical boulevardier, faker, esthete, genius, egomaniac, poseur. On second thought, perhaps these were not so much contraditory names as isolated recognitions of the several elements that went to make an engaging mind and personality.
At first the French critics reckoned Rostand's theatrical skill as his greatest ability and attainment. The German critics, on the contrary, emphasized his ideas. I am inclined to think that the German critics hit nearer the truth. Rostand's ultimate reputation will rest not upon his theatrical success, but upon the literature and philosophy of his plays. I do not mean to suggest that Rostand was, like Shaw, a publicist-philosopher who, from sheer utilitarian motive, chose the dramatic form as the best available means for "putting over" his ideas. Rostand was from first to last a dramatist, a poet, and a man of letters, but he said. many important things about the deeper issues of life, and he said them beautifully. And it is for these "important things" and for the beautiful way in which he said them that he will be longest remembered.
Rostand was one of the dramatists who contributed to the swing from realism to a neo-romantic symbolism. He lured the French mind from its infatuation with Zola. The one golden thread that binds his plays together is idealism, the one theme upon which he continually rings the changes. One is impressed, while reading the Rostand plays, by the fact that most of his idealists are semi-failures or apparent failures. This might seem to indicate that Rostand was morbid, cynical, and pessimistic. I do not think this charge can be sustained. Rostand's failures of idealism do not grow from the morbid soil that produces the idealist-failures of Russian fiction.
Rostand's idealists fall short of triumph, I think, not because Rostand was pessimistic, but simply because Rostand was a dramatist. Great drama is invariably tragic, even more
tragic than life, and Rostand, being a dramatist first and a philosopher by the way, is content to create a dramatic figure and leave it unexplained. There are always enough critics who cannot themselves write plays to do the necessary explaining.
The recognition of Rostand really began with the production of his "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1897. The three high points in the history of the French stage, so many Frenchmen say, are the opening nights of Corneille's "Cid" in 1636, of Victor Hugo's "Hernani” in 1830, and of Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac" in 1897.
Rostand had the unhappy faculty of courting all sorts of bitter criticism. A glance at three persistent charges offers a chance to bring out certain of Rostand's real values. Again and again he was charged with a mania for self-exploitation, with bigotry, and with insularity.
The charge that Rostand stooped to cheap means of self-exploitation arose during the long time between the first announcement and the ultimate production of "Chanticleer." As I remember the facts, the date for the production of this play was changed twenty times after announcement. The play was rewritten and the actors were changed again and again. Public expectation was raised and disappointed, raised and disappointed, again and again until everybody grew sick of hearing of "Chanticleer." Rostand was the target for many sarcastic flings about a dramatist who would parade a hysterical temperament in order to exploit his work.
We have since discovered the injustice of this charge and the real reasons for what one critic called "the eight years of disgusting history of the