Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Russia's historic desire for the acquisition of Constantinople was principally due to the fact that she found it intolerable that the bulk of her trade should be at the mercy of the Turks. At the beginning of the War an overwhelming majority of the Duma demanded for these reasons the acquisition of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The Russian people may earlier or later change their mind with regard to Constantinople. That should be remembered by statesmen and publicists before and during the Congress. Besides, it is difficult to find a satisfactory alternative solution of the problem of Constantinople. As the Narrows are of great strategical value, they cannot safely be entrusted to a small Power, for various Great Powers would endeavour to obtain influence over it. The old intrigues for the possession of Constantinople would recommence. There remains the possibility of neutralising that precious site, of entrusting the guardianship to some international body. Neutrals, unless they are powerful, may suddenly be attacked by their warlike neighbours, and international guarantees do not always act as a deterrent. That has been shown in the case of Belgium. International control, on the other hand, is apt to lead to international intrigue, as was seen in the case of Egypt and of Macedonia, and international occupation is apt to lead to war, as is proved by the example of Schleswig-Holstein. As Russia has on strategical and economic grounds the strongest claims to Constantinople, she will probably, on consideration, alter her mind, and the Powers will be wise not to take as permanent Russia's recent declarations, which some day she may regret. It would be a calamity and a danger to the peace of the world if some years hence the Russian people should say that the nations took an unfair advantage of Russia's momentary mood and deprived them of Constantinople, for which they have fought and bled for centuries, at a time when they could have had it for the asking.

The Constantinople position connects the Black Sea and

[ocr errors]

the Mediterranean on the one hand and Europe and Asia on the other. It is strategically very important, but it is far less important than Asia Minor. Asia Minor connects, separates, and dominates the three oldest and most populated Continents. It lies across the most direct route from Central Europe to Calcutta, Bombay, Canton, and Peking. Asia Minor, being surrounded by gigantic mountain ranges, vast deserts, and the sea, is a natural fortress of the greatest strength, whence Egypt, North Africa, the Caucasus, the Russian Black Sea Provinces, the Mediterranean countries, and Persia and India may easily be attacked. Asia Minor is at present sparsely populated, but is able to nourish a vast number of people. Its wealth in minerals of all kinds may be utilised for military purposes. Its central position, its impregnable natural frontiers, and its vast agricultural and mineral potentialities might become dangerous to the peace of the world. A strong military Power occupying the country might convert it into a gigantic fortress and arsenal, and provide it with numerous railways leading towards Egypt, the Caucasus, and Persia. A strong military Power controlling Asia Minor might strive for the domination of the three old continents, and its power for mischief would be enhanced by the fact that it would dominate the two issues of the Red Sea, and that it could threaten from its central position not only the Suez Canal route, but also the trade of the Mediterranean and the sea-route to India by way of the Cape. I have very fully considered the problem of Asia Minor from every point of view and have made proposals for its solution.

Austria-Hungary has about 55,000,000 inhabitants. The Austro-Germans and the Magyars number together only about 20,000,000, and they bitterly hate each other. By freeing the 35,000,000 Slavs, Roumanians, and Italians from Austrian misrule the State of the Habsburgs would be reduced to 20,000,000 people. Germany has controlled the policy of Vienna in the past by making use of the differences between the Austrians and Magyars. She has ruled Austria with the assistance of Budapest. The loss of her Slavs and Latins would increase Austria's dependence upon the goodwill of Berlin and of Budapest. Austria and Hungary might be forced to attach themselves to the German Empire. As a consequence of the War, Germany might be far stronger than she has been hitherto. The Allies have pledged themselves to set free the subject nationalities of the Dual Monarchy. The Habsburgs, who at one time were supreme in Germany, and who gave to the Hohenzollerns the Brandenburg Electorate and raised them to royal rank, have suffered grievously at the hands of their former vassals. Brandenburg-Prussia has grown great at Austria’s cost. Silesia was conquered by Prussia in 1740, and the South German States were detached from Austria in 1866. Austria has been Germany's tool in bringing about the Great War. The senile Francis Joseph scarcely knew what he was doing. The Princes of the proud house of Habsburg would no doubt like to recover their independence. They have no love for Prussia and the Hohenzollerns. It seems not inconceivable that as a result of the War, Austria should recover her independence, that the Habsburg Monarchy should obtain a new lease of life. If Austria should conclude a separate peace, she would be entitled to compensation for the inevitable loss of her Slavonic and Latin citizens, and she might be given Silesia and South Germany. By receiving these, Vienna would once more rule over 30,000,000 Germans, and the 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 Magyars would no longer prove unmanageable. A balance

power would be created within Germany. Vienna might once more dominate Berlin, and if Austria should follow a liberal

, tolerant, and generous policy she might once more attract to herself the smaller nations of South-Eastern Europe and overshadow Prusso-Germany. A similar situation might arise if the War should be fought to the bitter end, and if the South German States should revolt against Prussia's rule and attach themselves to Austria.

It remains to be seen whether Austria-Hungary and Ger

of

many will patiently bear with their rulers if the War which they began should lead to disaster and general ruin. Possibly both the German and the Austrian peoples may revolt, but it seems more likely that the Germans will hold their Sovereign to account, for the young Austrian Emperor was not responsible for the War. Germany has a written Constitution according to which the sovereignty of the Empire lies not in the hands of the Emperor, but in those of all the allied States and their rulers. The Emperor is merely the hereditary president of the federation. According to the Constitution, he is not entitled to declare war unless Germany has actually been attacked. For a war of aggression the consent of the Federal Council, which officially represents all the German States, is required. In embarking upon a war of aggression William the Second has violated the Constitution. He is not only morally but also legally responsible if disaster should overtake his country. A German defeat may lead either to the severe limitation of the Emperor's power or to the conversion of Germany into a republic. We may experience in Germany a revolution accompanied by civil war. A special chapter has been devoted to the Emperor's position.

The problem of Poland is particularly important because of the vast change which the resuscitation of that State would effect on the map of Europe. An independent Polish State of 20,000,000 inhabitants might serve as a buffer-State between Russia and Germany. The lands of the Poles possess vast agricultural, industrial, and mineral possibilities. The Polish territories are more densely populated than is France. Within the Polish zone lie the largest coalfields on the Continent of Europe. Lodz is the Russian Manchester. As Brazil is the land of the Amazon and the United States that of the Mississippi, so Poland is the country of the Vistula. On that mighty river lie the two Polish capitals, Warsaw and Cracow, and innumerable important towns. Poland may become politically and economically the Belgium of Eastern Europe, it may become a most

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

important industrial country, but this is possible only if she has a sufficient outlet for her manufactures and can obtain cheaply the necessary imported raw materials, such as cotton. Poland's natural harbour is Danzig, on the mouth of the Vistula. That town may become the Polish Hamburg. If Danzig should once more become Polish, East Prussia would be separated from Brandenburg by a broad belt of Polish territory, as it was in olden times. However, if the question should arise whether Brandenburg should be separated from the province of East Prussia, or whether Poland should be separated from the sea by Danzig remaining in Prussian hands, it is probable that the weaker claim would have to give way to the stronger. Agricultural Eastern Prussia, though separated from Brandenburg, would have access to the sea. If Danzig remained in Germany's hands Poland would remain cut off from the sea, and the State might languish, decline, and decay.

Many Poles desire that their country should obtain complete independence. It seems doubtful whether their wishes are wise. In the course of time Poland has grown into Russia and Russia into Poland. Her vast coalfields make Poland a natural home of the manufacturing industries. A completely independent Poland might find both the Russian and the German frontiers closed against her productions. Hence it may be best for the Poles to aim at a modified form of independence which would guarantee to them Russia's military protection in case of need and which would leave open to the Polish industries the vast and most valuable Russian markets.

The territorial claims of the various nations cannot be permanently settled at the Peace Congress, for history knows no permanent settlements. The settlement made may come up for revision. Unsatisfactory settlements often lead to war. Therefore the representatives of the Powers should avoid not only injustice, but even the appearance of injustice and of unfairness. The settlement made at the Congress of Vienna should serve them as a warning example.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »