An Appeal to Sanity
IN international relations the world alternates between contrasting phases, resulting from variation of emotion between the phases of low and high tension.
In the low phase, a disturbance in one region due to some specific disorder remains local. It does not arouse emotions elsewhere. In such circumstances international relations take the form of local agreements or of local disputes, sometimes culminating in local wars. Determinate finite questions are in this way settled one by one, without reference to each other.
In the phase of high tension, vivid emotions excite each other, and tend to spread throughout the nations, disturbing every variety of topic.
To-day the world is plunged in this second phase of contagious emotion. Thus, in the survey which constitutes this appeal, no item can be considered separately.
What is the justification of ‘isolation’ on the part of a powerful nation, when evil is turbulent in any part of the world?
The answer is that history discloses habitual disorganization among nations, somewhere or other. War is a throwback from civilization for victors and vanquished, whatever be the initial objects of these crusades. Even presupposing victory, we must weigh carefully the losses against the gains.
Thus the habitual policy should be ‘Isolation — Unless . . .’
Each nation is a trustee for the fostering of certain types of civilization within areas for which it is directly responsible. Its supreme duty is there. Thus a nation should remain isolated, unless (1) the evils of the world threaten this supreme duty, or (2) these evils can be rectified by an effort which will not indirectly defeat the performance of this special duty.
Now as to England. This country is a European island with a world-wide coordinating influence of many types. The continental civilization of Europe, and its political organizations, develop with singularly little reference to England. Throughout the last four hundred years the keynote of the English policy in Europe has been safety, and otherwise isolation (nonintervention) — that is, such isolation as is consistent with safety. The result has been that English policy is mainly directed to the western fringe of Europe. Regarding the interior of Europe the interest of England is indirect, and has been so from the Tudor times onward.
To justify this attitude we must refer to the English ‘world-wide coördinating influence,’ for which the popular designation is the ambiguous term ‘Empire.’
In Burma and India there are almost 400,000,000 people, sensitive, acute, backward in modern techniques, with innumerable diversities. This population is nearly three times that of the United States. It requires, above all, coördination of its ancient civilizations with modern techniques. It requires generations of peace. For England, Central Europe is a remote detail compared to this problem — that is to say, it is a detail if, as Englishmen, we consider our supreme duty. Our Empire isolates us from Europe — safety excepted.
Then there is the Mahometan world, beyond the Empire, but influencing and influenced. It lies around the route to India and within India. It spreads over North Africa, interwoven with English interests in Egypt, the Sudan, and Upper Nigeria. It touches the Atlantic Ocean.
Finally there are the self-governing Dominions, and other districts only partially autonomous. This confederation requires quiet growth. In varying degrees it is sensitive to the disorders of the world.
Thus English policy should be basically non-European. In England excited intellectuals are focused upon Europe. The mass of the population remembers its intimate relationships across the oceans — parents, children, cousins.
To understand English policy and its vacillations one must realize that intellectuals of every social grade are interested in the old European civilization, and that the masses gaze beyond the oceans. In Cornwall you will find in most cottages pictures of mining districts throughout the world; in Cambridgeshire I have presided over a village meeting aroused to a storm of indignation over some army regulation about service abroad. Our best garden boy emigrated to Canada. In Wiltshire there lived near our summer cottage an old man who had been in India, serving in the ranks. Such people have no direct connection with Central Europe. English policy sways between these two foci of interest, and has done so for centuries: Europe and the world.
In the confused sociological topics which constitute international relations, there are no clear issues. Such premises are either before their times or behind their times, and only rarely with their times. Sometimes they have no contact with temporal events. They are useful as suggestions to enlighten the imagination in its dealings with practical affairs.
English foreign interests at the present moment can be vaguely classified under four headings, so far as immediate dangers are concerned — Central Europe, the Mediterranean, the Jews, and the Mahometans.
Central Europe, in its form up to the year 1938, had its origin in the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations. Both these fundamental elements — the Treaty and the League — have suffered incessant violations and repudiations by every group of every opinion. In the negotiations which framed the Treaty, and in the subsequent repudiation of the sanctity of the Treaty, America took the lead — perhaps rightly. Thus even the vague sanctity of international law ceases to apply either to the Treaty or to the League. At the present moment they are historical reminiscences. They impose the minimum of obligation. Obligation, in European foreign policy, arises from the facts of the immediate situation and from duty to the future. Formal law can refer only to situations sufficiently stable.
The main motives generating excitement in Central Europe are (1) nationality, based upon various modes of community — such as language, analogies of physiological character, contiguity; (2) doctrines of social organization — liberal, dictatorial, communistic, capitalistic, religious; (3) economic opportunity. None of these motives is completely evil or completely good. Their moral justification depends on the particular circumstances of each case.
The social system of Central Europe is very unstable from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and throughout the Balkan States. There is no complete solution. We can only hope for something that survives with the minimum suppression of dominant aspirations. The point to notice is that war, even if successful, can only increase the malignant excitement. The remedy is peace, fostering the slow growth of civilized feelings War may be necessary to guard world civilization. But for Central Europe the effective remedy is peace.
In Central Europe, the immediate focus of interest has been Czechoslovakia. This is a composite state created by the Treaty of Versailles. All states are composite in origin. The essential question is the mutual agreement of the various factors. The name ‘Czechoslovakia’ tells only half the tale. The full name should be Czecho-SlovakMagyar-Ruthenian-Polish-Germania.
Having regard to genius, moral heroism, and tormented suffering, the histories of Czechs, Magyars, and Poles present three poignant tragedies which together constitute the tragedy of Central Europe. From century to century, from generation to generation, uncertain boundaries sway to and fro. By choosing your date you can make any claim for any one of them. Each group was surrounded by populations repugnant to itself — for some reason of religion or habit of life. Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, each in its own way tells a tale of the horror of history, and of the genius of mankind. In other words, tragedy.
The Great War immensely strengthened feelings of national unity and desires for national independence. The historical reasons for these feelings in different national groups are not to the point. The essential fact is their existence to-day. As peace approached, President Wilson proclaimed the satisfaction of these aspirations after national consolidation as one of the aims of the war. This objective was unanimously accepted by all concerned.
This clarity was deceptive. The Czech State could be made adequately selfsufficient only by including alien groups, for economic reasons and for purposes of defense. Also within it, as in other states, populations were intermixed. Thus, swayed by a legitimate admiration of the Czechs and by hopes for acquiescence in unification, the treaty makers provided the Czech State with an amplitude of extension over a fringe of diverse groups. There was nothing necessarily wrong in this policy. It might have succeeded, in another century, or in the absence of German, Magyar, and Polish states across the border. The plain essential fact remains that the experiment has not succeeded now. Also the revolt can appeal to the great principle of nationality, proclaimed by President Wilson, and in 1918 accepted by the whole world.
Is a world war to be waged in support of the thesis that this great doctrine does not apply to Germans, or to Poles, or to Hungarians? At the time of the Versailles settlement some members of the Labor Party in England protested against the inclusion of alien populations in the Bohemian State. After twenty years some of their successors are prepared to fight for its maintenance. Up to a few months ago, the very mention of military armament provoked horrified resistance from the same party. To-day they clamor for a crusade in Central Europe, depending for success on the intervention of the Heavenly Powers. It is one lesson of history that these lastmentioned powers are usually on the side of common sense. Of course, miracles do happen; but it is unwise to expect them.
Since the World War the recovery of Germany has mainly taken the form of consolidating the Germans of Europe into a unified German State. This process has been in accordance with the dominant feelings of the populations concerned. Also these feelings are grounded in a long historical tradition. Between Waterloo and the AustroPrussian war of 1866 there existed a loose confederation with Austria and Prussia as its leading members. From the time of Charlemagne to that of the French Revolution, a period of almost a thousand years, each century produced some form of Germanic unity, more or less. This wavering exhibition of unity is termed, in history, the Holy Roman Empire. Thus the present unification of Germans into Germany is grounded on traditions of feelings which survive the oscillations of history. It is a sensible policy to respect it. To have a world war in opposition to this Pan-German movement would be madness. The United States would be the first power to adopt an unfriendly neutrality, when the mass of its population had been aroused to survey the situation. Its widespread attitude of criticism of its allies in the last war teaches a lesson which is not ignored by European statesmen.
Other nations, whose attitude is relevant to success, would be even more unfriendly. In fighting to maintain frontiers of the Czech State, we should be thwarting the keenest aspirations of the Poles and Hungarians. Thus we should have against us three great examples in Europe of thwarted aspiration after national unity. And what would be our justification? The sanctity of the Treaty of Versailles, and the fact that the Czechs would be more prosperous if their preexisting frontiers were retained. Expansion for the sake of prosperity can be justified only by the reciprocal acquiescence and prosperity of the populations thus included. War on behalf of the frontiers of Czechoslovakia as determined by the Treaty of Versailles would have the weakest moral justification, and would involve active or passive opposition from states whose support is essential for success.
Is Germany to be allowed to extend her direct power over the whole of Central and Western Europe? The answer is that Germany (or any state) should be forcibly prevented when three conditions are fulfilled: —
(1)When she is violently interfering with the development of other states, without the justification of establishing any principle of social coördination, acknowledged as of prime importance;
(2) When the consequences of an attempt at forcible prevention will not be worse than the consequences of acquiescence ;
(3) When such an attempt can secure its direct object.
In all human affairs abstract notions apply vaguely — more or less; we must be content with approximation. Also reasons merge into each other. For example, these three conditions overlap, and have no sharp distinction. But they do represent large approximations, which sometimes are adequate justifications for action, either separately or jointly.
It has been argued that, condition No. 1 is not satisfied in respect to the Czechoslovakian question. But this conclusion bears upon the status of condition No. 2. For, owing to the fact that Poland and Hungary feel the same grievance, — namely, that their minorities were included in the Czech State, — it follows that a war waged by Britain and France on behalf of the Czechs would have involved Poland and Hungary in unfriendly neutrality, if not in active opposition. The two great Western democracies could not have chosen a worse test case.
Further, neither France nor Great Britain can directly reach the Czech State, to secure its immediate defense. Also, their war preparations still suffer from reliance on a League of Nations with mythical omnipotence. Thus victory could be achieved only by a longdrawn-out war of attrition. The populations of Europe would suffer years of acute misery. Millions of human beings would be killed. The young, active, and enterprising part of the population would supply most of the casualties. Europe would emerge exhausted, with its emotions barbarized, its ideals brutalized. Also, Czechoslovakia would have vanished.
In the preceding argument two factors have been omitted: (1) an estimate of Hitler’s action in the face of threats; and (2) Russia in the background. Would Hitler have given way if England and France had threatened war? Hitler bears no analogy to the kings, presidents, and prime ministers who achieve their positions by the normal working of established constitutions. Such people can retreat or resign. They retain a great position and high respect. Such men can estimate the consequences of the future with emotions guided by reason as it surveys situations settled as to their general structure.
For rulers such as Hitler and Mussolini the emotional situation is entirely altered. Their own safety and that of their cause depend upon an atmosphere of inflamed emotion. In this way their power arose; in this way it maintains itself. The alternative for them is a dungeon and a firing squad. Hitler is an enraged mystic; that is to say, he belongs to one species of prophet. He is not primarily thinking of personal safety. He is enjoying the hysteria which is the very lifeblood of his cause. What is the sense of saying that such a man in such circumstances, knowing the strength of his opportunity with Poland and Hungary wavering, with his armies and air force ready, with his knowledge of the temporary weakness of England owing to the block to armament persistently maintained by idealists out of touch with reality — what is the sense of believing that Hitler, with these emotions and with this opportunity, would allow himself to be bluffed into inaction? It might have happened so, because miracles are always possible.
But, ought this miracle to happen? We have already seen that, for the settlement of Central Europe, the release of the alien populations of Bohemia from inclusion in its state was the very solution advocated by these idealists at the time of the Versailles Treaty. It is the readjustment most likely to appease Europe. If our policy is the appeasement of inflamed emotions by the removal of causes of irritation, this should be our first step. It is unfortunate that the present crisis was required to bring it about. Such is history in all ages.
How is the preceding argument affected by the existence of Russia?
Russia is more than the eastern fringe of Central Europe and the northwestern fringe of China, with armed forces capable of producing predetermined results beyond these borders. We have omitted the one of most decisive importance for the future of the world — namely, the southeastern boundary, which touches the whole length of the central portion of the Mahometan world.
But Russia is more than its boundaries, just as America is more than its Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. The Encyclopœdia states, ‘ [Russia] is thus the largest unbroken political unit in the world and occupies more than one seventh of the land surface of the globe.’ What is happening within this great territory? At times we learn of the execution of a batch of generals, or of a batch of political officers, or of a batch of industrial technicians. But we hardly know the reasons. We know little of the mental and physical health of the men in command. We know nothing of the emotions seething throughout the vast stretch of its population. Has the ideal of national coördination superseded the initial ideal of international revolution? We do not know. We gain little from the reports of men, however able and disinterested, who have lived for a few years in Moscow. There are three thousand miles from the Ural Mountains to Vladivostok, and a thousand miles from the Polish border to the Ural Mountains. It is difficult to fathom the emotional reactions of a hundred and fifty million people scattered over this vast region.
The country has just passed through the greatest sudden revolution in history. A moronic dynasty and an upper class, brilliant in all respects with the single exception of its complete political failure, have been exterminated. The revolution was horrible, but probably beneficial.
One fact seems as well established as any other, in the doubtful maze of Russian policy: namely, Russian statesmen of all parties have a contempt for the liberal democratic type of state, illustrated by America, France, England, Scandinavia, Holland. They have no use for that mode of organization. Suppose that war had been declared, and that the Russian armies had successfully established themselves in Central Europe, with Bohemia as their base. Russian statesmanship would have been allpowerful in that region. Neither England nor France could send a soldier there. Is it sensible to assume that Russian statesmanship would be satisfied to have secured the nice little Czech State on the liberal lines approved by America? Surely we can wipe that dream out of the picture. Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia would have been in a turmoil, the ultimate issue completely uncertain. Tens of millions would have died. The Russian state organization may be better than the present German state system, but the issue of a Central European war, with Russia involved, may produce any mode of social settlement devised in Heaven or in Hell, or by the usual collaboration of both. The only certainty would be a ghastly slaughter leading to an unknown future. The whole drama would be very exciting for idealists watching from the safety of distance. The great probability is that initially the Russian war machine would be very ineffective. There would be a long war.
Yet again essential factors in this crisis of world history have been omitted — the Mahometan world, Italy, the Jews.
If war by ill chance should break out now, there seems little doubt that Italy will join Germany. The effect of this alliance immensely strengthens the preceding arguments. France will be hampered on another frontier. The French fleet and part of the English fleet will be tied in the Mediterranean. Our pressure on Germany in the North Sea and the Baltic will be to that extent diminished. The war will be longer and more destructive. Eighty-five million people in Great Britain and France will be facing a hundred and twenty million in Germany and Italy. It will be a long pull. The issue of wars does not wholly depend on the count of populations. Also there is the good hope that Russia would intervene and redress this balance.
But at what a cost! Years of war in Central Europe, and the whole Mediterranean world a turmoil of disorder.
We must now consider the Mahometan world. Recent discussions on international relations seem to have been conducted by one-eyed men. There is a renaissance in progress stretching throughout the great region of the ancient and mediæval civilizations from Persia to Mesopotamia, throughout Asia Minor, Syria, and Arabia, and reaching to Egypt. In these regions civilization was born, and in various transformations it flourished till it was overwhelmed in mediæval times by hordes from Central Asia. The old populations remain, and to-day there is recovery. Persian, Turkish, and the various Arabian nations have able and sensible rulers. Egypt is well governed. But the populations are as yet naïve politically, liable to spasmodic outbreaks.
In case of war, with Italy, Russia, France, and England involved, there can be little doubt that the whole of this central region of the Mahometan faith will be reduced to turmoil. Peace is required. There are two hundred million Mahometans in the world. Are their interests to be neglected in comparison with the importance of retaining four million Germans, Poles, and Hungarians, against their will, as subjects of the Bohemian State?
To-day the most universal problem is the relation of the Jews to the various countries in which they dwell. Our modern progressive civilization owes its origin mainly to the Greeks and the Jews. The progressiveness is the point to be emphasized. China and India long ago attained to types of life with more delicate æsthetic and philosophic appreciations, in some respects, than our Western type. But they reached a level and stayed there. The Greeks and the Jews, in the few centuries before and after the beginning of the Christian Era, intensified an element of progressive activity which was diffused throughout the many peoples in the broad belt from Mesopotamia to Spain. Political stability is not the point. We are considering ideals shaping emotions and thus issuing into conduct. This progressive character must be kept in mind. So far as Greeks and Jews were active, progress was not in a rut, degenerating into conservation.
The Roman Empire was a great creation. But no Roman ever disclosed a new idea in religion, in science, in philosophy, in art, in literature, or even in the law which is called Roman. The sustained habit of progressive activity was the discovery of Greeks and Semites in the marvelous thousand years which precede and include the foundation of Christianity.
The Greeks have vanished. The Jews remain.
The Jews are unpopular in many lands. In this fact there is nothing to arouse surprise. In England, with its tendency to relapse into a rut of tradition, the Scotch people were unpopular throughout the eighteenth century, after their union with England in the year 1707. They were performing for England services analogous to those of the Jews for all the races west of India and Central Asia. English literature in the eighteenth century, so far as thought is concerned, would be in a poor way if Scotch and Irish contributions were withdrawn. What brilliance was contributed to English politics throughout the nineteenth century by Gladstone the Scot, and Disraeli the Jew! They transgressed the average limitations. Apart from ability, differences are quite enough to create prejudices.
Thus, in approaching the Jewish problem as it exists to-day, we are considering one of the factors operative to sustain the many values of life. The question at issue is not the happiness of a finite group. It is the fate of our civilization.
To-day civilization is in danger by reason of a perversion of doctrine concerning the social character of humanity. The worth of any social system depends on the value experience it promotes among individual human beings. There is no one American value experience other than the many experiences of individual Americans or of other individuals affected by American life. A community life is a mode of eliciting value for the people concerned.
It is true that there is a mystic sense of the coördination and eternity of realized value. But we here approach the basic doctrine of religion. To attach that coordination of value to a finite social group is a lapse into barbaric polytheism.
Further, each human being is a more complex structure than any social system to which he belongs. Any particular community life touches only part of the nature of each civilized man. If the man be wholly subordinated to the common life, he is dwarfed. His complete nature lies idle, and withers. Communities lack the intricacies of human nature. The beauty of a family is derivative from its members. The family life provides the opportunity; the realization lies in the individuals.
Thus social life is the provision of opportunity. If that opportunity be conceived as complete subordination to the limitations of one community, human nature is dwarfed. Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s. But beyond Cæsar there stretches the array of aspirations whose coördinating principle is termed God. It is not to be found in any one simple community life, either economic or knit by aim at domination. Even a religious community is inadequate. There always remains solus cum solo. We have developed a moral individuality; and in that respect we face the universe — alone.
This is the justification of that liberalism, that zeal for freedom, which underlies the American Constitution and other various forms of democratic government.
It is the reason why the ‘totalitarian’ doctrine is hateful. Governments are clumsy things, inadequate to their duties. A wise government makes provision for the interweaving of alternative forms of community life. The most valuable part of legal doctrine is concerned with the relation of the state to this indefinite group of communities within, and around, it. In this way an international element becomes an essential factor in human life.
To-day, by the introduction of modern techniques, the interrelations of human beings throughout this planet have reached an intimate importance far beyond anything dreamt of in past ages, even in the early lifetime of older people now living. Science is international and requires international relations among its societies. Art, literature, religion, and commerce are international.
In the simple age of mediæval Europe, the clergy and the Jews served the main purposes of interweaving the varieties of life into a unity of progress. And the clergy were the representatives of the interaction of Greek and Jewish mentalities in previous centuries.
For two and a half thousand years, Semites have continuously provided suggestion, novelty, and achievement, whereby the life of Europe never lost the subconscious ideal of progress.
Of course the Jews are not the only factor producing progress in Western life. But their services have been immense. Also, in the long run, no written document or artistic structure can perform this service. For example, it is possible, and almost usual, to construe the Bible, Greek literature, and the American Constitution with all the limitations of their periods of origin. And then these heritages from the past are transformed into barriers to progress instead of its foundation. In asserting this danger, I am merely repeating the Catholic doctrine that a living Church is required to interpret lifeless documents. Many living agencies are required to transform our experience of the world that has been into our ideal of the world that shall be.
It is for this reason that the Jews have been a priceless factor in the advance of European civilization. They belong to each nation, and yet they import a tinge of internationalism. They are eager in respect to concepts relevant to progress, just where we have forgotten them. They have a slight — ever so slight — difference of reaction to those commandments which disclose ideals of perfection. They constitute one of those factors from which each period of history derives its originality.
To-day we are witnessing a relapse into barbarism. The tendency touches every country. But it is centred in Europe. And in Europe Germany is the main seat of the vicious explosion. The general character is overemphasis on the notion of nationality, producing the ideal of the totalitarian state. The activity, derivative from this debased notion, is the determination to exterminate international factors which exhibit human nature as greater than any state-system. The Jews are the first example of this refusal to worship the state. But religions, arts, and sciences will come next, until mankind are reduced to mean little creatures subservient to the god-state, embodied in some god-man. The worth of life is at stake.
Two problems of pressing importance are made urgent by the anti-Jewish explosion in Germany. How can the Jews in Germany be saved? How can the Jews from Germany and elsewhere be redistributed throughout the world?
It should be realized at once that war is no solution for either of these perplexing duties. An immediate war would probably lead to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews, together with the slaughter of other millions throughout various nations. Europe may be forced into war by the wild lusts of dictatorial states to achieve domination. It is necessary for the democracies to be armed and watchful. But war cannot solve the Jewish question. However successful the crusade, it will leave eighty million Germans with emotions yet more remote from civilized standards.
It is obvious, therefore, that our first task is to undertake the expense of receiving the Jews, and of enabling them to settle elsewhere after such training as is necessary for their new life.
The final problem is the permanent settlement. There is not one solution. There must be many settlements in diverse regions. In considering such districts we must be careful to judge them in reference to the techniques of the present and the future, and to free our imaginations of pictures derived from a vanished past. This caution especially applies to the large stretch down the East Coast of Africa. Hitherto it has been out of the way and remote. But to-morrow, when airplane traffic has developed, the whole coast line will be intimately connected with Egypt, Palestine, and India. The world is on the eve of a development as important and as revolutionary as that produced by the introduction of railways. Disastrous oversights will be committed by people whose imaginations are fettered to past history.
And yet, in other ways, the converse error of neglecting the lesson of history shows ominous signs of hindering the process of settlement.
The later centuries of Turkish domination in the Mahometan world have been a period of decay in civilization, even before the military power began to ebb. It is doubtful whether the capture of Constantinople was not a greater disaster to Mahometans than to Christians. Probably not, because the Muslim world for three centuries merely shared the common fate of Asia when it came into contact with the progressive techniques of Europe.
To-day the tide has turned. Throughout Asia there is a revival. The lesson is being learned. Eastern Asia — namely, China and Japan — is not relevant to this immediate discussion. Consider Southern Asia from Burma and the Malay Peninsula, across India, upward to Persia, across Asia Minor, Syria, and Arabia, across Egypt, across North Africa, and ending at Gibraltar and Nigeria on the shores of the Atlantic. Consider the populations and their cultural influences and the vast stretch of the surface of the world.
Throughout this region, England, France, and Italy exercise various types of influence. English influence is the most extensive, especially in the numerical count of population. So far as indigenous military force is concerned, the Mahometan world is easily the most widespread and important. Also the Mahometan nations are producing vigorous and able rulers, and the Turks have had one recent genius in Kemal Ataturk.
How is this British imperial influence to be characterized? It varies from district to district, and from continent to continent. It touches the two extremes, from direct military rule in a few fortresses to mere diplomatic friendliness, especially with Mahometan nations. The chief feature is the general absence of direct military compulsion, except so far as it is supplied by the active assistance and the passive support of the populations directly concerned. Throughout the whole of this vast region, with its thousands of miles of territories and its hundreds of millions of inhabitants, the number of British soldiers can hardly exceed one hundred thousand men. Also in Great Britain there is no large reserve of soldiers, only a few tens of thousands. These sparse reserves can be quickly transferred to a few spots by transport across the seas. The British Empire in Asia and parts of North Africa is now a coördinating agency, actively supported or passively accepted by the populations concerned. It is performing a service, sometimes well, sometimes in mediocre fashion, sometimes very poorly.
How in past times that Empire arose is not to the point. To-day it is introducing throughout its vast populations those sociological habits and those various coördinations which will enable them to resume their ancient functions in the advance of civilization.
This Empire is of enormous advantage to Great Britain, chiefly in two ways. In the first place, it promotes British trade in those regions; in fact, the Empire arose from that activity. In the second place, it provides civilian employment for a large proportion of the educated classes. Almost every such family has members spread throughout this area. The very army officers turn into governmental agents, governmental advisers, governmental administrators.
The final ideal is a large friendly coöperation of the populations concerned, each self-governing. This ideal is already realized by the confederation of British Dominions. It is an ideal of gradual growth; only within this century has it dominated British policy.
Finally, the Hebrew National Settlement in Palestine remains for examination. Religion has been and is now the major source of those ideals which add to life a sense of purpose that is worthwhile. Apart from religion, expressed in ways generally intelligible, populations sink into the apathetic task of daily survival, with minor alleviations. Throughout the whole continental region under consideration, Palestine is the ideal centre to which various religious faiths converge.
It was the genius of the Jews, their vividness of grasp of the religious problem, which bestowed on Palestine this commanding position. The three Western faiths, Judaism, Christianity, Mahometanism, point thither. The final dispersal of the Jews took place in A.D. 70, when Romans captured Jerusalem. Thus the Jews as a dominating element in the population have been absent for as long a time as they ever occupied the country. It was the Jewish genius that bestowed its radiance upon Palestine. Eighteen hundred years ago!
Thus many claims converge on Palestine— the Jewish claim in virtue of bygone occupation and of living genius, the Mahometan claim in virtue of age-long occupation and vivid association, and the Christian claim. It must also be remembered that at the end of the Great War the British would not have been in command of Palestine except for the Arab revolt against Turkey, with Lawrence of Arabia coördinating the Arab princes. Concurrently with this revolt, there is the Balfour Declaration, promising British assistance in the establishment of a National Jewish Home in Palestine, in a manner consistent with the rights of the existing Arab population. The carrying out of the policy presents a complex problem; but the policy in itself expresses the complexity of the keen interests which converge upon Palestine, claiming recognition. The whole question was referred to the Arab chieftains, and at the Peace Conference obtained their passive acquiescence. It must also be noted that the Arab princes of the surrounding states, and the Egyptian and Turkish governments, have been conspicuously careful in refraining from intrusion.
The records of the Middle Ages, during the brilliant period of Mahometan ascendancy, afford evidence of joint association of Mahometan and Jewish activity in the promotion of civilization. The culmination of the Middle Ages even in Christian lands was largely dependent upon this association. Thomas Aquinas received Aristotle from it; Roger Bacon received the foundations of modern science from it. The commercial system of the Italian seaports was a copy of the activities throughout the preceding Dark Ages, carried on by Syrians and Jews.
The association of Jews with the Mahometan world is one of the great facts of history from which modern civilization is derived. The Jewish settlement in Palestine has been established with success, in respect to its immediate aims. It has been supported with ability and self-sacrifice. The result has made it evident that the country is capable of supporting yet larger numbers.
There is one exception to this satisfactory issue of the experiment. The Arabs in Palestine are dissatisfied — not all the Arabs, but large sections who are in open revolt. This serious state of things is probably in part due to lack of statesmanlike initiative on the part of British officials. Some genius was required and failed to appear; perhaps there was positive inefficiency. The situation has not been rescued by them, nor has it been improved by two committees of inquiry dispatched from England.
There is, however, another side to this question, which may produce disaster. Any fusion of Jewish and Arab interests must be produced by the Jews and Arabs themselves. This primary objective of statesmanship seems to have been largely overlooked by the Jewish controlling agencies. It would not be fair to the mass of emigrants from Central Europe to expect from them any insight into the complications of Syrian life; but the controlling agencies in England and the United States might have been asked to show some grasp of the essential objectives.
Unfortunately in public utterances, whatever may have been done behind the scenes, there has predominated the demand that Great Britain should force upon Palestine an unrestricted Jewish domination. In one instance there was even a suggestion that the Jewish agencies should refuse to attend any conference to which dissentient Arabs were to be admitted.
This attitude, if maintained, is signing the death warrant of the Jewish Home in Palestine — perhaps not to-day, but in the near future. In the region of large political affairs, the test of success is twofold — namely, survival power and compromise.
The literary interest of historians is captured by transitory brilliance. Survival power is the basic factor for political success.
For Palestine any immediate solution which depends on the persistent military might of Great Britain is bound to fail. Within the next century there is every prospect that in times of crisis England will be unable to transport sufficient troops. She cannot be depended on to exercise continuous military domination along the Syrian coast. She may return; but continuity is unlikely.
Any convulsion within the vast area of British influence may occupy her reserves of military strength, which merely amount to an adequate police force. When this happens, a convulsion in Palestine must go its own way. Also, in that neighborhood, convulsions do happen. Within this century, Armenians have been massacred, and the Greeks have been driven from Asia Minor, which was their homeland for nigh three thousand years.
Most British statesmen are keenly aware that they are primarily a coördinating agency, exercising police control, and seeking political structures with intrinsic survival power. Some English statesmen of vigorous decisiveness forget this rÔle; they try to decide and impose. They are the failures in modern English history, much beloved by vivid intellectuals. Cromwell in Ireland is an outstanding example in the past, and Carlyle was an admiring intellectual.
The second element in political success is ‘compromise.’ The essence of freedom requires political compromise. A clash of interests arises when the social system concerned involves a divergence of aim; compromise means an endeavor to adjust these differences so that the social life shall offer the largest spread of satisfactions. Political solutions devoid of compromise are failures from the ideal of statesmanship.
The tradition of Jewish life does not include any large experience in the political management of the societies throughout which it is spread. Jewish thought naturally concentrates on specific ideals, conceived in the abstract, devoid of compromise and of the requisites for survival.
This characteristic, combined with the ability of the race, is the reason for the incalculable services of the Jews to civilization. They supplied ideals beyond conventional habits. At the same time it explains the failure of the race throughout its long history to maintain stable political structures. Jewish history, beyond all histories, is composed of tragedies.
Christianity was founded in Jerusalem, proclaiming ideals beyond the customary habits of the world. The Christian Church, which gave Europe its modern civilization, was seated in Rome, where the long habit of imperial rule adjusted ideals to immediate necessities. Christianity gained its genius from Judæa, and its survival power from the Roman Empire. In the result, Christianity was a Jewish creation interfused with Roman stability.
To-day another tragedy is crucifying the Jewish race. The work of rescue is again vivified by a prophetic hope — the ideal of a Jewish National Home in the central region of its history.
There is always a condition attached to the success of any ideal seeking embodiment in historic reality. The condition in this case is the coöperation of the Mahometan world. There is good reason to anticipate success; Jewish coöperation was a factor in the great period of Mahometan brilliance. In the present remodeling of the Mahometan world, Jewish skills give the exact assistance that the populations require: Jewish learning can mould Mahometan learning to assimilate modern knowledge; Palestine is placed exactly at the sensitive point where the Western world touches Mahometan life.
The University of Jerusalem, technological schools, modes of agriculture and of manufacture, should extend their influence throughout the Near East. Also care should be taken to avoid the indiscriminate extension of European legal ideas into a social life to which they are alien. Crude notions of personal ownership, or of state dominance, fail to apply to the subtleties of tribal life. A sensitive response to the real facts of the life around is required. The simplicities of abstract thought must be shunned.
These warnings are commonplace. Unfortunately they are required.
In the adjustment of Jews and Arabs, one-sided bargains are to be dreaded. They spell disaster in the future. The hope of statesmen should be to elicit notions of mutual service and of the interweaving of habits so that the diversity of populations should issue in the fulfillment of the varied subconscious claims on life.
There is a new world waiting to be born, stretched along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and the western shores of the Indian Ocean. The condition for its life is the fusion of Mahometan and Jewish populations, each with their own skills and their own memories, and their own ideals.
War can protect; it cannot create. Indeed, war adds to the brutality that frustrates creation. The protection of war should be the last resort in the slow progress of mankind towards its far-off ideals.