FROM the inside of the British foreign office, for fourteen years, Sir Arthur Willert watched the workings of what he calls ‘the diplomatic engine-room.’ He was an able journalist who served his country as the interpreter of British policy to the press of the world. Wherever vital conferences were held, he was present to see the inside manœuvrings of statesmen. And from this experience came wonderment whether the present machinery ‘can cope with the demands which modernity makes upon it.’ He had particular doubts of the wisdom of British policy, or lack of policy.
So he ended his ’bondage and toured through western and central Europe to survey the situation ‘from the outside, from different angles and from greater distances.’ He talked to many observers and to other persons of all sorts. Then lie set down the best of his experiences in What Next in Europe?
He found that while militarists were feverishly preparing for war, while the Have-nots were determined to challenge the Haves, while there were great economic and financial strains, the mass of the people everywhere wanted no war. They wished to go on with their usual
Hatred was hard to find, even in Germany and Italy. But everywhere there was a great fear of the ambitions of neighbors; and this fear was driving Europe back to the old system of the balance of power and to the eventual anarchy of a great war.
To still these fears, he concluded, it would be necessary to have a ’sheriff s posse,’ like the old posses of the frontier towns, to deal with the ’gangs’ that might start disorder. Almost everyone with whom he talked agreed with his conclusion and agreed also that the League of Nations was the only instrumentality which could furnish such a posse.
In his treatment of the League and attendant problems, Sir Arthur throws much light on the change in point of view that has come recently to some of those who have been thinking out British policy.
He puts forth these ideas: that Britain ‘ should pull her weight in the Collective System,’abandoning the narrow formula under which she has been willing to commit herself only to security in the west of Europe; that, working with Geneva, she should help to stop all wars on the Continent; that the League should no longer be regarded as an instrument of world authority, since America and Japan are outside, but should be the guardian of Europe’s peace.
As for world policies, he admits there is no longer any hope in Britain, or Europe generally, that America will join the League, so other arrangments must be made. He records a dominant British feeling that his country ‘should make the closest and most fruitful coöperation with the United States the basis of her policy outside Europe.’ He reënforces the idea with the observation that ‘the average Englishman has it fairly firmly in his mind that, together with the consolidation of peace in Europe, as good a working arrangement as possible with the United States should be the principal plank in the platform of British policy abroad.’
Coming from a source so close to those who are shaping the new British policy, and coupled with the recent evidence that London and Washington are working more closely together both in Europe and in the East, these conclusions are highly significant. Britain, turning definitely to Europe, is becoming dependent on America in the rest of the world.
Aside from its important political implications, Sir Arthur’s book is highly interesting. It is simple, informative, and, allowing for the fact that the author is a Briton still, even while he makes objective inquiry, it is surprisingly frank and realistic.
EUGENE J. YOUNG