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Thoma, Harry (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 37, Number II (Nov. 1935)

Kirk, Grayson L.
Italy, the League, and peace,   pp. 36-37


Page 36


                                 ta y, the L eague, and Peace
                    -_     l                   ee ~6 ioie Crii- Cee   f 
 rj   =-Jlertia     lclu  .
                                           Jilefl/d u ott i'Ieed ~a b n4lAed
Ac_7idica,
                                                       4V Grayson L. Kirk
                                                       Professor of Political
Science
                                 Prof. Kirk            like a minority of
individuals within every national
                                                        society, are so unimpressed
by the "good neighbor"
                                                        doctrine that they
are willing to resort to violent
                                                        means to gain ends
which seem desirable to them.
   (Editor's Note:  This is the first of a series of    The world must adopt
a system of concerted action
articles written by members of the University faculty   whereby such states
must be forced to refrain from
on subjects of current interest.  Other articles will   violence, or, failing
that, it must prepare for the
appear in this magazine each month.   We welcome        worst.
your suggestions and criticisms of the series.)           It is precisely
on this point that the present crisis
                                                   s    may be of lasting
value. Ever since the failure of the
OBSERVERS everywhere have been so concerned            Geneva Proctocol of
1924 it has been assumed at
0    with the immediate problems of the Italo-         Geneva that effective
League action to repress an ag-
     Ethiopian controversy that they have had a        gressor by the collective
infliction of sanctions would
tendency to overlook the fact that it may quite pos-    be impossible because
of the unwillingness of the
sibly mark a turning point of much significance in      powers to shoulder
the burden.     No small power
the history of the modern world.    Issues, long re-    could take the leadership
in this matter. Some of the
garded as academic, have suddenly become vital prob-    greatest powers were
not members of the League.
lems of national and international policy.  A situ-     And of those great
powers who were members, all
ation, which for nearly two decades has been con-       were unwilling to
lead the way. This situation of
fused and uncertain, has now become far more clear-     paralysis was amply
demonstrated by the Manchuri-
cut and definite, so much so that, for the first time   an crisis. But the
present situation has changed this
the hitherto bewildered electorate in this and in other  picture. By a coincidence
which was fortunate for the
democratic states may shortly be in a position to de-   future of world peace,
the imperial interests of Great
cide what sort of a world it wishes to create and       Britain supported
the preservation of the League
maintain.                                               Covenant, and that
power has taken a vigorous ini-
  For these surprising developments, the Italian Dic-    tiative in opposing
the Italian stand. Everyone-will
tator is largely responsible. Indeed, fantastic though  admit that British
interests are threatened by the
such an idea now seems, it is by no means improbable    Italian policy, but
that is quite incidental to the fact
that Benito Mussolini may have actually contributed     that the British
government has publicly proclaimed
more to the cause of world peace than all his con-      its intention, now
and in the future, to cooperate in
temporaries who have so loudly reiterated their de-     the effective application
of a system of collective se-
votion to that ideal.   By his act of unprovoked        curity. And this
stand has commanded the support
aggression against one of the weakest member states     of virtually all
shades of British opinion. The paci-
of the League of Nations, he has forced the world to    fists and liberals
applaud it because it is a defense of
face a number of decisions which, no matter how they    the League, the Tory
supporters approve because it
are made, cannot fail to be of vital import for the     protects the empire.
Backed with such overwhelming
future.                                                 popular support,
this British policy has set a prece-
  Specifically, these decisions all center around the  dent from which subsequent
governments can scarcely
problem  of collective security.  Although the rela-    with dignity retreat.
tions of the various states to that problem differ to     The net effect
of the present crisis upon the French
some extent, they all have much in common. Each         relation to the collective
system is also likely to be
state must, for example, reach a decision as to whether  fortunate for the
future. In the post-war years the
it is willing to abandon all pretense of maintaining    French fought steadily
at Geneva for the strengthen-
peace through concerted action, or whether it is pre-   ing of the principle
of collective security, but always
pared to pay in its way the price which is de-      A      with the thought
that they stood to gain by thus
monstrably necessary in order to make that                      protecting
the Versailles treaty systemand,
action effective.Such a decision must be                          above all,
by thus assuring support if and
made because it is now scarecly possible                      -S     when
they might again be attacked by
for statesmen to continue to dodge the               _               Germany.
   The present dilemma in
question by voicing platitudes about                                 which
the French find themselves, i.e.,
"1peace through good will,"' or by pin-                       
      that of being forced to contribute to the
ning their faith to regional pacts or to                             collective
systemwhen used against a
other agreements which by a sort of                                  power
with which the French desire to
mystical incantation  seek to  abolish                               keep
on friendly terms, cannot fail to
war as an instrument of national pol-                               drive
home the lesson that a genuinely
icy." The action of Italy has provided a                          collective
system, from which France may
clear demonstration of the fact that there still              ultimately
hope to benefit, must be built up-
are states within the international society which,        on a willingness
to assume the obligations inherent
                                                    36


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