The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
ON OCTOBER 7 and 10 last, at meetings of the Council and Assembly of the League of Nations, fifty members of the League, acting according to their individual judgment upon the facts of the case, registered their decisions that a fellow-member, Italy, had violated Article XII of the Covenant by resorting to war against Ethiopia. As a result, Article XVI of the Covenant, which declares that a League member resorting to war in violation of Article XII "shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other Members of the League," was brought into force; and a special diplomatic conference known as the "Coördination Committee" was set on foot in order to watch over the execution of the measures undertaken by League members in virtue of that Article.
To the diplomatic world which frequents Geneva and to the officials of the League the events of those few days seemed little less than a miracle. Had they not become inured to the notion that Article XVI was a dead letter? Had not the whole question of implementing it been pigeon-holed since the Assembly of 1921, which had itself adopted a set of resolutions involving a considerable watering-down of the original text? And had not the League's handling of the Sino-Japanese and the Chaco disputes induced amongst Geneva habitués a mood of defeatism -- not to say cynicism -- which reached its height during the steady transport of Italian troops to Eritrea and Italian Somaliland in the course of the past summer? True, the problem of sanctions had been disinterred in April and referred to a committee; but this action had been taken in pursuance of the policy of the "Stresa Front" and seemed therefore to have little relevance to the African policy of the nation acting as host at the Stresa meeting. Moreover, the committee in question, or rather its legal subcommittee (on which Italy was of course represented), had soon become embogged in juridical subtleties which augured ill for any practical results.
But for the man in the street, whether in Great Britain, the Northern countries, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia or any other democratic country, the adoption of sanctions or punitive measures against Mussolini's government after its flagrant attack upon a fellow-member of the League seemed the natural and obvious course to be pursued. The prevailing sentiment on receipt of the news was not one of astonishment that the Geneva machine was really functioning, but rather of impatience because a week had been allowed to elapse between the outbreak of hostilities and the registering of the aggression in the Assembly. If a German army had invaded Alsace, men asked, or a Hungarian army had marched into Transylvania, would not the days have been shortened to hours?
The divergence between these two mentalities -- that of the diplomatic world and that of the general public which believes in the League -- is a measure of the extent of the task on which the League thus found itself engaged. It constitutes also one of the principal reasons why its success, after four months of common action in the Coördination Committee, is still relative rather than absolute.
The object of the following pages is to examine, in the light of this experience, the nature of the problem confronting the League and to analyze the degree and quality of its achievement to date.
First let us ask two preliminary questions of a hypothetical character. What would have happened in regard to Ethiopia if there had been no League of Nations? And, alternatively, what would have happened if the League, whilst continuing to function, had failed to intervene to restrain Italy in her designs?
It is impossible to give a direct answer to the first question. The "might-have-beens" of history, on which Mr. Winston Churchill and others so much enjoy indulging their speculations, cannot be submitted to scientific analysis. But we can at least recall the fact that when in 1898 an attempt was made by France to extend her power eastwards from her existing African possessions to the basin of the Upper Nile, it met with the determined resistance of the British Government of the day. Lord Salisbury, indeed, as the records reveal, was always particularly concerned to safeguard British interests in that region. And he was equally concerned to keep the Concert of the European Great Powers from what he would have considered an undue interference in a matter which concerned Great Britain and France alone. If the League of Nations had not come into existence, we are perhaps justified in assuming that the pre-war British policy in that region would have been maintained. It would have been more difficult for British statesmanship to steer clear of outside interference; and there would have been less chance than there is today of arriving at a settlement taking genuine Italian needs and aspirations into account. That is perhaps all that can be said on this very hypothetical subject.
Let us now take the other hypothesis and assume that the League, constituted as it was in the summer of last year, had on one pretext or another failed to take action on behalf of Ethiopia. This, so far as a non-Italian observer can judge, is the hypothesis on which Signor Mussolini proceeded when he planned his invasion. He seems to have depended on Geneva not merely not to obstruct his "Colonial War," but even to facilitate it. For him, Geneva did not stand for the Covenant, with its rules and safeguards "for great and small alike," as President Wilson conceived it: it was simply a diplomatic metropolis and market-place where the three Great Powers in the League -- Great Britain, France and Italy -- dominated the scene and imposed their will, by appropriate forms of pressure, upon the smaller fry[i]. In other words, in case it proved necessary to keep Great Britain in check, he relied on his understanding with M. Laval, dating from their meeting at Rome in January 1935, together with the complicated Geneva machinery with its inexhaustible opportunities for intrigue and delay. One can imagine Lord Salisbury turning in his grave as Signor Mussolini employed one Genevan artifice after another in order to promote an aggressive national policy of his own, whilst the much-vaunted Covenant, "the sheet-anchor of British policy," not only itself failed to protect the integrity and independence of Ethiopia, but also effectually prevented Britain from taking individual action to safeguard her own legitimate interests. If the Italian calculation had proved correct, the Italo-Ethiopian war would not simply have been acquiesced in by the League: the very existence of the League would have made the war "practical politics" for Italy. The League would thus have performed, in its own peculiar way, the part played by pre-war power diplomacy when it cleared the way for Italian occupation of Tripoli and, in an earlier generation, for the French occupation of Tunis.
Such a League would clearly have been very useful to Italy. On a short view, it would also have been very useful to France; for it would have meant that Africa, always a region of secondary importance in French eyes, would have been withdrawn from the political orbit of the League and that the whole of the attention and effective authority of the League would have been concentrated upon the Continent of Europe.
In this way, the Ethiopian crisis would have carried to a logical conclusion a movement which had been in progress during the preceding four years -- if not since the Pan-European campaign of M. Briand in 1929 and 1930. For Geneva had been witnessing a steady process of what can be called "dis-annexation." The Far East was politically dis-annexed from the League through the events of 1931 and 1932, in Manchuria and Shanghai, when the French Government of the day was -- to say the least -- no more anxious than Lord Reading and Sir John Simon to set the machinery of sanctions in motion. Later on, Latin America was at least morally dis-annexed through the war of attrition which was allowed to be waged in the Chaco -- a disgraceful episode which must awaken equally disagreeable memories at Geneva and Washington, if not at Buenos Aires. Here again the French Government, if one may judge from the attitude of its representative in the Advisory Committee, was not amongst the foremost in seeking to apply the procedure of Article XVI to the Covenant-breaking state: it left the championship of strict League principles to the watchful care of Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia. With Africa equally withdrawn from the League's orbit, and in the continued absence of the United States, all that would have been left to the supervision of Geneva would have been Europe and the Near East. The League would thus have become, for political purposes, what many Americans have regarded it as being from the first, a predominantly European body. Indeed, the area over which its effective authority would have been exercised or projected would have corresponded almost exactly with that which enjoyed the intermittent attention of the Concert of the European Great Powers under the pre-war system.
What figure would such a League have presented in British eyes? Merely to put this question is sufficient to bring out the shortsightedness of the French conception, if indeed it was entertained in the responsible quarters in Paris. A League of Nations limited to the European Continent would not have been for Great Britain -- still less for the British Dominions -- a League of Nations at all. It would have been idle for French or other European partisans of the League to attempt to interest the British people in the application of the Covenant to European problems alone. Britain is indeed unalterably tied to the European mainland. But Sir Samuel Hoare was rightly interpreting the sentiment of his countrymen when he declared, at the conclusion of his famous speech on September 11, that the failure of the League in the crucial Ethiopian test would break down the "main bridge" between Great Britain and the Continent. Thenceforward, British statesmanship would have pursued national interests according to what seemed the most opportune methods, as it did throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The League would no doubt have continued to exist, as the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Professor Koht, speaking after Sir Samuel Hoare in the afternoon of the same day, significantly pleaded that it should be allowed to do in such an eventuality. But it would have degenerated into little more than a clearing-house for information and a coördinating center for non-political activities -- a sort of glorified Postal Union. The Wilsonian League would have passed into history.
Let us now turn to the actual record of the League in the Italo-Ethiopian affair.
The first fact which confronts us is that a war is actually in progress between two members of the League. The League did not succeed in preventing war from breaking out. That is -- and whatever may happen later, will always remain -- an unhappy page in its history. Moreover, the war broke out under circumstances particularly humiliating to the League. The Assembly had only just been in session, with its members deeply interested in the dispute. The Council was actually in process of dealing with it. The eyes of the whole world were on Geneva when the Italian dictator, at the opening of the campaigning season in East Africa, rudely interrupted the business of the diplomatic talking-shop and resorted to arms in violation of four treaties. That this could occur at all is a severe reflection upon the authority of the League and indeed of the whole system of international right. It ought no more to have been able to occur than a violation by some organized group in the United States of a decision of the United States Supreme Court. If a member of the League can thus take the law into his own hands, what is there left of the law? The Covenant of the League of Nations, the Kellogg Pact[ii], the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928, the Tripartite Treaty of 1906 (still valid, within the terms of Article XX of the Covenant) become merely so many pieces of waste paper. Why not put an end to the whole machinery of treaty-making if that is all that its results are worth? Such must have been the reflections of many on hearing the news that the Italian army had crossed the Ethiopian border whilst the Committee of Five was engaged on drawing up its report for the Council.
Why was the League unable to prevent the war from breaking out?
It was not, as in the case of the organization of sanctions, for want of previous discussion and preparation on the subject. During the fifteen years of the League's life an immense amount of time and trouble had been devoted to precisely that problem. It had been prominent in the debates on the Geneva Protocol and in the Preparatory Committee for the Disarmament Conference as well as in the Council and the Assembly. In 1930, on the impulsion of the British Labor Government, the Assembly actually gave its approval to a "Model Treaty for Strengthening the Means to Prevent War" which, if it had been signed and observed by League members, would have enabled the Council to intervene on the spot at an early stage of the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. Under the "Model Treaty" the members of the League who had agreed to be bound by it were pledged to accept certain actions taken by the Council for the prevention of war. But even without this pledged acquiescence by the parties, the Council was authorized, as the result of a report dating from 1927, to adopt any of a number of specified measures in the event of an "imminent threat of war." Amongst the measures thus enumerated by what is known as the Cecil-de Brouckère-Titulesco Report, we find the mention of "naval demonstrations" such as "have been employed for such a purpose in the past." Would not a joint naval demonstration on the part of the Mediterranean Powers in the Red Sea and the adjacent Indian Ocean have given pause to the Italian Government in its transportation of troops to the borders of Ethiopia?
Why were no such measures adopted? Why, indeed, was there no suggestion throughout the eight months during which the dispute was before the League of action by the Council on the lines of the Report of 1927? Here we come back to the point from which we started. It was because Italy is a Great Power. To set in motion measures of this kind against a Great Power involved, for the diplomatic world, a revolution in international politics. To begin with, it would have been argued, it was not practicable: and, even if it were, it would not be desirable, for it would fail in its object. So far from preventing war, it would precipitate war.
Let us probe into this reasoning a little more deeply, for it brings us to the heart of our subject. Why was it not "practicable" for the Council or Assembly of the League to organize a joint naval demonstration in the Red Sea?
There was, of course, one immediate and insuperable difficulty -- the attitude of France under the Laval Government. But to regard this as the sole objection is to evade the real problem. Even if French opinion had been less favorable to Italy and more favorable to the League than it actually was, the adoption of preventive measures against Italy would have been considered last summer to be outside the range of practical politics.
Why should this be so? For two reasons. First, because of the risks to which the individual Powers taking part in these measures would have exposed themselves at the hands of an aggrieved Great Power. It requires a very high degree of courage and public spirit in the statesmen and peoples of smaller states for them to be willing, above and beyond their obligations under the Covenant, to incur the displeasure of a Great Power. Nemo me impune lacessit embodies a Latin sentiment which is not yet extinct in Rome; and its natural counterpart in the foreign offices of smaller states is "Leave it to George" -- in other words, leave it to Geneva or to the other Great Powers. Why must we be brought in?
The second general reason why preventive measures against Italy were not practical politics was that Italy, being a Great Power, would have been exasperated rather than restrained by their adoption. She would have considered them a blow to her prestige. Great Powers may be negotiated with; they may be privately warned; they may even be subjected to pressures of various kinds behind the scenes; but they must not be coerced or intimidated in public. Let the reader, whether he be American or British, transpose the situation and apply it to his own country. He will realize that the problem thus revealed is not a problem affecting only the Italian people, still less the present ruler of Italy. Prestige, or "face" as it is called in the East, is an element which cannot be ignored in dealing with any Great Power. It is the counterpart or inseparable shadow of something that is of supreme importance and value in international politics -- something without which the political system of the world would disintegrate into atoms -- the sense of responsibility for world affairs. To accept the position of a Great Power is to accept certain obligations -- not definite contractual obligations such as are embodied in the Covenant and the Kellogg Pact, but obligations of a more intangible but no less binding character. They are perhaps best summed up in the old French watchword noblesse oblige. But if a Great Power has obligations arising out of the greatness of its station, it is part of the same order of ideas that it cannot be coerced or publicly rebuked by others of a lower or lesser station. Noblesse ne se laisse pas intimider. That is the psychological reason, with its roots deep in European history, why it was not considered either at Geneva or in the Chancelleries as "practical politics" to adopt preventive measures against the Italian war preparations in the spring and summer of last year. That is why, in spite of the elaborate armory of such measures provided in the 1927 Report, the Council set prevention on one side and devoted all its energies to "conciliation."
It is worth adding, however, that the League's effort at conciliation, which did not begin in earnest until the first week in September, was accompanied by a naval demonstration carried out on its own responsibility by a single Power -- Great Britain. This measure was in part a response to the concentration of Italian troops near the Egyptian border in Libya and to the persistent anti-British propaganda carried on by the Italian Government in the Near East and through Italian wireless stations. But it was no doubt also hoped that it would sober the mind of the Italian Government and so act as a preventive against the outbreak of war in Ethiopia.
In so far as this was its object, it proved unsuccessful. The Italian transports made their way past the British warships in the Eastern Mediterranean, threaded the Canal, emerged to meet more British craft in the Red Sea, and discharged their human cargoes at Massaua, Assab or Mogadishu. Just so, a few weeks later, the vessels conveying arms and other forms of assistance to the Ethiopians braved the Italian warships, which might have held them up for carrying contraband of war, and landed their consignments safely at Jibuti.
If the record of the League has been a failure so far as the prevention of war is concerned, what are we to say of its record in restraining the aggressor whom it had failed to deter?
There are two answers to this question, one in the practical realm, the other in the psychological.
The practical answer is that the members of the League, other than Italy and a few dissentients and absentees, set machinery on foot against Italy within ten days of the breach of the Covenant and had by October 19 adopted four measures, the combined scope of which is very considerable: (1) the prohibition of the export of arms, ammunition and implements of war; (2) the prohibition of loans, credits, issues of or subscriptions to "shares or other capital flotations for any public authority, person or corporation in Italian territory;" (3) the prohibition of the importation of Italian goods; (4) an embargo on certain exports to Italy, including transport animals, rubber, bauxite, aluminium, iron ore, chromium, manganese, nickel, tungsten and certain other key-minerals, together with tin and tin-ore.
These measures had, of course, to be referred to the various governments. Most if not all of these, in the absence of a study of Article XVI at Geneva, had made no previous arrangements for carrying out their obligations in the economic and financial sphere under that Article. When the replies received by the governments were classified on December 11 for the Committee of Eighteen, which is a kind of Executive Committee for the larger Conference, the result was as follows:
Four states, Albania, Austria, Hungary and Paraguay, were taking no action under Article XVI. Of these, Paraguay had given notice of resignation from the League in the previous February: the other three were -- if one may so put it -- not wholly their own masters. It is, however, worth while pointing out that none of the three, in their speeches in the Assembly in October, contested the facts on which the Council Committee based its conclusion that Italy had "resorted to war in disregard of its covenants under Article XII of the Covenant of the League of Nations." In other words, they admitted by implication that they had decided, or felt themselves compelled, to go back upon their obligations under the Covenant. Of the other members, Guatemala, whilst accepting the proposals "in principle," had taken no definite action on any of them, while Salvador had only taken action on the third.
For the rest, the record stood as follows:
Fifty states had adopted measures putting in force Proposal I, forty-seven states had acted on Proposal II, forty-three states on Proposal III, and forty-five states on Proposal IV. The four lists include all the more important members of the League, the absentees being chiefly among the Latin-American states. The chief practical difficulty amongst League members has occurred in connection with the application by Switzerland of the third proposal. The Swiss Government has not prohibited the import of goods from Italy, owing to the existence of an open alternative route through Austria; but it has arranged to prevent any transfer from Switzerland of funds derived from Italian exports and also to keep down to the 1934 level the total value of imports from and exports to Italy.
In addition, the Committee of Eighteen at its meeting on November 6 submitted to the governments a proposal which, in view of the controversy which it aroused, should be cited textually:
It is expedient that the measures of embargo provided for in Proposal IV should be extended to the following articles as soon as the conditions necessary to render this extension effective have been realized:
Petroleum and its derivatives, by-products and residues;
Pig-iron; iron and steel (including alloy steels), cast, forged, drawn, stamped or pressed;
Coal (including anthracite or lignite), coke and their agglomerates, as well as fuels derived therefrom.
December 12 was set as the date for discussing this proposal in the light of the replies from the governments and "the conditions necessary to render" it "effective." That date found the League in the midst of the political crisis provoked by the Hoare-Laval proposals, and no action was therefore taken. On January 22, however, the Committee of Eighteen recurred to the subject and, concentrating on the subject of oil, decided "to create a committee of experts to conduct a technical examination of the conditions governing the trade in and transport of petroleum and its derivatives, by-products and residues, with a view to submitting an early report to the Committee of Eighteen on the effectiveness of the extension of measures of embargo to the above-mentioned commodities." At the moment of writing, this expert Committee is in session at Geneva.
How effective the measures in operation are proving to be, what result they would have if reinforced by an oil embargo, it is impossible for any one outside Italian government circles to estimate. A thick curtain hangs between Italy and the outer world. It would be asking too much of political human nature to expect the statements or official statistics of the Italian government to be taken at their face value. But that the "siege" of the peninsula is causing grave material and moral discomfort is certain. How could it be otherwise? For it is not so much the actual pressure of the League action at the present time which has to be taken into account and must be weighing upon the minds of all thoughtful and responsible Italians. It is the vista of the future.
The Geneva machine is no doubt a ponderous and rusty apparatus which proceeds on its path with a great deal of creaking and spluttering. But if it is difficult to roll it forward, it is equally difficult -- perhaps even more difficult -- to roll it backwards. The four measures now in force may fall far short of the total suspension of intercourse contemplated by the framers of Article XVI. They may be entailing for Italy, not an intense and urgent crisis in her economic life, but something resembling rather a severe and wasting form of pernicious anæmia. And what hope is there of relief -- to say nothing of cure? It was difficult enough to bring to an end the Great War after the principal allies had bound themselves not to make a separate peace. How much more difficult will it be, Italians must be asking themselves, especially after the Hoare-Laval fiasco, to bring to an end sanctions voted by fifty states united by a bond of common principle, as also by the very considerable sacrifices involved for each in the diminution of its trade?
Perhaps we may leave this part of our subject with a single further reflection. There are four sanctions at present in force against Italy. Two of them are economic -- the action taken by the League of Nations and the sanction -- for it is a sanction -- involved for the Italian people by the cost of the war itself. A third is the climate and the other physical conditions in the war-zone. A fourth is the military resistance of the Ethiopians. It is impossible for anyone not in the secrets of the Italian Government to assess the relative intensity of these four forms of pressure. But who can doubt that their cumulative effect is very considerable or that the imponderables represented by the action taken at Geneva form a very substantial accretion to the total burden?
Let us now turn to the psychological aspect of the question -- to the effect upon public opinion throughout the world, and especially amongst the peoples included in the League, of the application of sanctions and of the common effort and enterprise which it represents.
Here we come upon what is undoubtedly the principal event not merely in the unhappy Italo-Ethiopian conflict, but (it is no exaggeration to say) in the history of the League up to the present time. For the last few months have witnessed the emergence of a new political force -- a force the existence of which was proclaimed in past years by some and suspected by others, but which had never yet revealed itself as an element with which the democratic governments were bound to reckon and which it would be perilous, indeed suicidal, for them to ignore. The prompt, complete and determined rejection of the Hoare-Laval proposals by the people of Great Britain and other countries, leading to the departure from office of the two statesmen responsible for framing them, marks a turning point in the history of the democratic control of foreign affairs -- one might go further and say of democracy itself. It showed that, of the two forces or agencies or bodies of opinion contrasted at the outset of this article, that embodying the opinion of the plain citizen could prove itself irresistible on a clear issue of principle. It showed also that the plain citizen did not intend that the issue of principle on which he had definite views (and on which in Great Britain at any rate he had recently expressed his opinion at the polls) should be obscured either by diplomatic verbiage or by power-politics bargaining of the pre-war type or, what is still more important, by threats of violence. What happened in December, so far as the British voter is considered, is simple. The British Government, or at least the Foreign Secretary -- it is difficult to speak as definitely on this point of the former as of the latter -- did not feel justified in continuing a policy which involved a risk, uncertain in degree, of involving Great Britain in war with Italy. The people of Great Britain showed unmistakably that they were prepared to take that risk in preference to the alternative course which would have involved the end of the League system as they conceived it.
The consequences of this decision by the British people are momentous. For the first time since the League machinery was set up in Geneva in 1920 the League is known and felt to be a power. For the first time, to use the familiar American expression, it has teeth -- not teeth in the sense of elaborate provisions drawn up in treaties, such as the Geneva Protocol, but in the sense that the plain citizen is known to be ready to assist the public authority in the restraint of violence. Once sure of that support, the public authority can grapple with its task in an entirely new spirit. The only real sanction, as President Wilson repeatedly declared, and as many, including not a few defeatists, have declared since, is public opinion, "the organized opinion of mankind." In the present instance this opinion organized itself in less than a week.
With the marching order thus clearly given, the rest ought to be comparatively easy. The problem of security, insoluble so long as the element of public opinion remained in doubt, has been transformed into a matter of practical adjustment. Truly it was a great day's work which was performed at the Quai d'Orsay on Sunday, December 8, 1935. To General Göring and to M. Pierre Laval must be awarded twin prizes as educators of the British people. The former had already purged it of insular habits of thought which had resisted all previous physicians. Now came the latter, and by dint of a treatment as sudden and almost equally violent fixed the new habits firmly in the groove of collective security. It rests now for British statesmen to continue at home, on constructive lines, the rude education thus supplied from abroad.
For the moment the prospect is obscure, not only in the battle-zone and in Italy, but over the whole of Europe. Never since the Armistice has it been so difficult to foresee the turn which events will take, even in the immediate future. But one thing seems clear. The demonstration that the League is not merely a piece of machinery at Geneva but a reality in the hearts and minds of the people in the leading member-states, great and small alike, both in Europe and overseas, is an immense addition of strength to the League and to the governments associated together in upholding the Covenant. How best to make use of this newly revealed force, how to bring together the plain man's sense of responsibility and grasp of principle with the experience and technique of the Chancelleries, how to prevent Geneva from relapsing once more into the paralyzing cynicism of last summer -- all this is on the knees of the gods. But the gods, who in the past have loaded Geneva with so many disappointments, have shown themselves of late not too unkind. No one would say that the sky is clear; but the watchword is "Forward."
[i] This conception of Geneva was expounded with welcome frankness by Signor Grandi in the article published in FOREIGN AFFAIRS in July 1934. Incidentally, this exposition of the Geneva technique, as seen through Italian eyes, brings out forcibly the advantage which an entrenched position at Geneva affords to a government so traditionally skilled in the arts of diplomacy as that of Rome. This may perhaps explain the reluctance of the Italian Government to act upon its oft-repeated threat of withdrawal from the League. It is indeed curious that the threat should ever have been taken seriously or awakened misgivings. The natural rôle for Italy is that taken by Baron Aloisi at the January meetings of the Council -- the defence of the rights and privileges of that body, of which Italy is and is likely to remain a permanent member, and on which her representative is indeed at the present time rapporteur for "legal questions."
[ii] Baron Aloisi has repeatedly attempted to argue that the Italian action involves no violation of the Kellogg Pact because it is covered by the British reservation to that Pact which, being an integral part of that document, is extended to all the other signatories. There is a double fallacy in this argument: 1. There is no British reservation to the Pact, as anyone who will consult the official text can see for himself. The British observations on which the Italian argument was based were made in the course of the negotiation: but the difficulty to which they called attention -- viz. that Great Britain could not renounce war in all circumstances against a Power which, without attacking Great Britain, attacked Egypt or Iraq -- fell to the ground when these and other countries themselves became signatories. 2. Even if Egypt, etc., had not become signatories to the Pact, the purpose of the British observations was not to reserve the right to go to war against them but to assist in their protection against outside attack.