Courtesy Reuters

Civilization on Trial

THE game of international politics impresses a lot of common men like myself as being based on false premises. In the issue of FOREIGN AFFAIRS for April, I read an article which talks about "France" and the objectives of "Japan," and the purposes of "Russia," and what "Germany" intends to do. I have never been able to get over a certain skepticism about these matters. I can't succeed in translating nationalities into personalities. I can't make myself think of Japan as an individual who is plotting against Russia and who is preparing to form an alliance with Germany which would threaten Anglo-Saxon interests.

That sort of thing seems to me a romantic simplification of what is really happening in human affairs, and I think it leads to disastrous results. These might be avoided if we were more liberal and honest, if when we say, "Japan is going to do so-and-so," we said further, "What exactly is this Japan that is going to do so-and-so?" Japan is a vast country. The Japanese people have got certain foreign relationships, which they carry on through something which they call the Japanese Foreign Office. How long will it and its policies last? How far can we really believe that there is some simple thing called Japan which is malignant and patriotic and about to make an alliance with Germany?

And what is Germany, really? A mass of troubled persons who speak the German language and who are, I should think, in perhaps the most tragic position of any mass of intelligent people in the world. They have either got to repudiate their country or they have got to endure a grotesque sort of caricature of government by misrepresentation. Our foreign offices are going to deal with Germany as though it were an individual entity. But as a civilized man I continually try to see whether there is not a way of dealing with the civilized man in Germany and getting past that extraordinarily ugly Nazi

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