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J. ELLIS BARKER
AUTHOR OF MODERN GERMANY,' 'GREAT AND GREATER BRITAIN'
JAN 16 1919
THE World War has created a number of most important problems which statesmanship will have to solve during the coming Peace Congress and afterwards. These may conveniently be divided into three classes: Problems of foreign policy, such as the delimitation of the national frontiers and the creation of an international organisation devised to ensure a durable peace; economic problems, such as the re-creation of national prosperity among the war-stricken nations, the management and the repayment of the gigantic war debt, the improvement of the relations between capital and labour, &c. ; problems of internal organisation, such as the reform of democratic government which, during the War, in many instances has proved disappointing because of its amateurishness, dilatoriness, improvidence, and inefficiency. All these problems will be considered in the following pages.
Nothing is permanent in this world except change. The great problems of statesmanship can be given only a temporary solution. States and nations rise, grow, stand still, decline, decay, and ultimately disappear. The civilisation and even the languages of the world empires of antiquity have vanished. Cæsar, when conquering the savage inhabitants of Britain who were dressed in skins and who ornamented themselves by painting their bodies with woad, would have laughed had a native Druid told him that the Roman Empire would fall, and that the British savages would not only conquer but civilise the larger part of the world, and create an Empire far greater than the Roman,
for he looked upon the native Briton as we do upon African negroes. The process of national agglomeration and dissolution will continue to the end of time. If we look into history we find that it takes centuries to settle permanently the territorial conflicts which are apt to arise among neighbour States. It took centuries to determine definitively the differences between Britain and France, to solve the question whether Britain should or should not possess territory on the south shore of the English Channel. For centuries France and Germany have fought for the possession of the borderland, for Alsace-Lorraine, for the control of Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, and for all we know they may continue for centuries to fight for these objects. For centuries Russia and Germany have fought and intrigued for the possession or the control of Poland, the Balkan Peninsula, and Constantinople, and their struggle also may be renewed. Between certain nations there exists litigation in perpetuity in respect of certain objects which are valued by either. The Peace Congress cannot bring about a permanent settlement of these great questions, for they will continue to trouble mankind. It can at best bring about a lasting one. It can give to the world a long period, perhaps a century, of peace.
The roots of nations lie deep in the past. We can understand the interests and the policy of States and gauge the character, attitude, and probable conduct of nations only by studying their history and development, their experiences, and their traditions. We can neither fully understand, nor hope successfully to solve, the great international questions, the great international quarrels, unless we are acquainted with their historical genesis and with the views and actions of the claimants in the past. Hence, in considering the great problems of diplomacy, due weight should be given not only to their present aspect and future possibilities, but also to their historic development. This has been done in the following pages. I have given in them a vast number of secret treaties, despatches, and other