"Nous ne pouvons acquérir de connaissance que par la voie de la comparaison" -- Buffon.

THOUGH much yet remains to be done, gradually the pattern of peacemaking is emerging from the cloud of conferences. To appreciate the value of the processes being pursued and the results obtained is not easy. Some sense of proportion may be achieved, however, by a comparison with the past, especially with what happened in the other two periods of comprehensive peacemaking, 1814-15 and 1918-1921. Our estimate of the Congress of Vienna was drastically revised by the experience of the Paris Conference of 1919. The verdict on the peace treaties that ended the First World War is already in process of being changed by our recent experiences. Let us hope that the present settlement will never have to be reviewed in the light of another series of peace treaties.


Each of these three settlements was the result of a world-wide war. The whole of Europe was involved in the Napoleonic wars, nearly the whole of it in the other two. The Middle East and Africa were an arena of conflict in all three wars, the area much increasing with each succeeding war. India and the Dutch East Indies were included in the Napoleonic wars but not the rest of the Far East and the Pacific, which at that time had only occasional contacts with the rest of the world. The war of 1914-1918 affected the Far East deeply, even though it hardly touched China, Malaya and India. In the last war, the Far East was one of the main centers of contest. The outcome of the war in each case depended more than anything else on the defeat of the most powerful enemy in Europe. It is significant, however, that the last war really began outside of Europe and that the course of military events in Europe was much more influenced by what happened in other continents than had ever been the case before.

These facts have been reflected in the procedures of peacemaking. In 1814-15 there was no world conference. The conference was purely European; no state from another continent was represented. The structure of the world outside Europe was established by Britain alone, in separate treaties with the other European colonial Powers from which the rest of Europe was excluded. Britain also refused to allow her allies to have anything to do with her struggle with the United States, though the latter gladly accepted Russia's proffered mediation. Even so, there was some link between the separate peaces. Britain had at least to declare her colonial terms when negotiations took place between France and the Great Alliance; she made the restitution of the Dutch East Indies depend upon the creation of a viable Netherlands.

In 1919 the balance had already shifted. The war had been won only after the intervention of the United States, which at the close of hostilities had nearly 2,000,000 soldiers in Europe. The peace treaties were made in Europe; but they concerned the whole world, and states from the whole world were members of the Conference. The influence of the United States secured places for Latin American countries which either had played only a very nominal part in the struggle or had not even declared war on Germany. Japan had confined its action almost entirely to its own immediate neighborhood and showed only a limited interest in the European peace; and the same was true of China, whose entry into the war had been delayed by Japanese opposition. But 21 of the 32 governments (reckoning the Dominions separately, as ought to be done) which signed the Treaty of Versailles were extra-European. Nevertheless, the peace was made in Europe. Moreover, the withdrawal of the United States from Europe after the treaty with Germany had been signed resulted in the later treaties being made mainly by Europeans. The separate treaty which the United States made with Germany; its repudiation of the League of Nations; and its summoning of the Washington Conference were part of an effort, necessarily vain, to divide again a world which the war had shown had become one as never before.

Today this fact is universally recognized except in a few backwaters. Peacemaking now is a world-wide process. True, the Far Eastern and the European settlements are almost completely separated. China has been unable to assume the rôle which Japan played in 1919, and her hopes that her special interests might be treated pari passu with those at stake in Europe have failed. The peacemaking nevertheless began with general questions affecting the whole world; and for the most part these were negotiated in the United States.

The European Alliance of 1815 and the Covenant of the League of 1919 were made in Europe. Though the latter was universal in its scope, its center was in Europe, and it contained hardly anything corresponding to the world-wide economic and social organizations which are being set up today. That the center of these universal organizations is in the United States is the result of American leadership, power and foresight. Yet we must remember that the center might not have been shifted so decisively had not the eastern half of Europe assumed its present aspect. Europe was not only weakened by the war, it was divided by an iron curtain. Many of its constituent parts therefore have had no real say in the peace settlement. Before a final equilibrium is attained the center may yet have to be somewhat adjusted.


The Great Powers first came into existence in their modern form at the end of the Napoleonic wars. Their relations with the smaller Powers presented a problem of extreme difficulty in all three settlements. The strange fact is that as the military and economic predominance of the Great Powers increased, the smaller Powers claimed, and to a certain extent obtained, more influence in the settlement of great international questions.

At the Congress of Vienna no plenary meeting of all the members was ever held. It was partly because Talleyrand championed the rights of the smaller Powers that the Great Powers refused to call them together. These rights, once France was admitted to the Great Powers hierarchy, Talleyrand no longer defended. Thus, at Vienna, the territorial settlement was worked out in a Committee of Five Great Powers, after the four victorious Powers had failed to come to an agreement without France. Spain, Portugal and Sweden, which had signed separate peace treaties with France on the model of those drawn up by the Great Powers, joined the Five to compose a Committee of Eight which considered some general questions such as the navigation of international rivers, the status of diplomats and the abolition of the slave trade. Some of the smaller German states were represented on the body that decided the form of the new German Confederation. But on the territorial problems the small Powers could exercise their influence only indirectly. They never received a formal place in any conference organ. They merely acceded to the Treaty drawn up by the Five and signed by the Eight. And when the European Alliance was reconstituted by the Treaty of November 20, 1815, the smaller states found no place in it.

In Paris in 1919 the reality was very similar even though legally there was a difference. Actually the treaties were negotiated in committees of the Great Powers -- the Council of Ten, the Council of Five or the Council of Four (really Three for most purposes). The difference from Vienna was chiefly that the smaller states were summoned together in a Plenary Conference six times before the Treaty with Germany was signed. There was only a tenuous legal connection between the two sets of meetings. The plenary meetings were in nearly all cases quite formal and exercised no real influence on the substance of the treaties. The smaller states did receive the German Treaty before it was given to the Germans -- but only the day before! And they signed it at the same time the Great Powers did, instead of acceding afterwards, as had happened in 1815. Also, they had representation on the commissions set up by the Plenary Conference to deal with Reparations, Responsibility for War, Transport and, of course, the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization. But the first two of these commissions had little result and the problems supposedly assigned them were settled by the Big Four. The influence of the smaller states on the treaties in their final form was exercised mainly through their communications with the committees of the Great Powers where they pleaded their own special interests. Only on the creation of the League and the ILO did the smaller states really influence the negotiations in a formal committee. But even here care was taken to see that their representation was less than the total representation of the Great Powers. Further, nothing was decided by the committees by vote, though occasionally opinion was tested by a vote.

The one important victory obtained by the smaller states at the Paris Conference was that they secured representation on the Council of the League. This gave those of them elected to the Council a veto on its decisions to just as great a degree as the Great Powers who sat on it permanently, since, parties to a dispute aside, the Council decisions had to be unanimous. The foresight of Sir Robert Borden ensured that the Dominions should be able to sit on the Council of the League in their own right. But it should be noted that in the Peace Conference itself the status of the Dominions was not yet fully established and that, except in the plenary meetings, their representatives nearly always acted as spokesmen of the British Empire and not as small-state representatives. It was some time, of course, before the Council of the League became important.

In the system followed after the Second World War the smaller states have in some respects obtained more power than they had in 1919, in others less. In the conferences dealing with functional agencies, including that at San Francisco which set up the United Nations, they were placed on a footing of legal equality with the Great Powers. Moreover, decision by majority voting now prevails. It is hard to say exactly how this came about. Partly it seems to be due to the system of majority voting used in the Committees of the League of Nations (but not, except on procedural matters, in the Council or Assembly). Partly it reflects a desire on the part of the Great Powers to be "democratic," though from one point of view nothing could be less democratic than that Luxembourg and Canada should each have one vote. Partly it arises from the fact that the unanimity provisions of the League Covenant were held by many to be unsuitable to the world of today; some better method of obtaining a decision was felt to be necessary. In the earlier meetings, voting was by a simple majority. But the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals specified a two-thirds vote for decisions of the General Assembly on important questions, and as a result a two-thirds vote was applied at the San Francisco Conference and later in the voting on the Peace Treaties at Paris.

The smaller states have made another gain through the increase of publicity. At Vienna there was no publicity except for social events. In 1919 only the Plenary Conferences were held in public. The same rule was adopted for the San Francisco Conference; but in fact almost everything that was done in the Technical Commissions was at once known to the press, for a crowd of non-official observers were allowed entry. In the Peace Conference at Paris last fall all the meetings of committees and even of subcommittees were thrown open to the press. The smaller states have thus had a world audience, so far as the world cared to listen. Moreover, the Great Powers could not simply indicate an interest important merely to themselves; they have had to use arguments which appealed to world public opinion.

Of the spate of words poured forth during the last 18 months a considerable proportion has been contributed by the representatives of the smaller states, often on subjects in which their responsibility was not in fact great. The representatives of the Great Powers have had to listen for hours at a time to the representatives of states, which in some cases had contributed little or nothing to the overthrow of Germany or Japan, setting forth their views on the maintenance of international peace and security. It might almost be said that at San Francisco the contribution to oratory varied in inverse proportion to the past or prospective contribution of states to the maintenance of international peace and security. (An exception must be made for Australia and New Zealand; they excelled in both capacities.) In the discussion of the Peace Treaties with Italy and the Axis satellite states the situation was of course different. In this case nearly all the European states had important interests to defend, interests for which they had fought; and the overseas representatives were from states that had contributed directly to the final victory.

But the reality behind this "democratic" procedure has not been so very different from that of 1919. The bases of the functional organizations were drawn up in formal or informal conference by the Great Powers, and the smaller states had to accept them in the main, though their representatives were listened to with rather more attention since a vote might be taken. The Aviation Conference was a special case, since Britain and the United States there were openly divided and the smaller states had rights of landing and transit which could not be taken away from them without their consent. At San Francisco the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals had been drawn up by three Great Powers and accepted by the other two. A conference of the "Sponsoring Powers" and France, less formal but just as real as that which existed at Paris in 1919, ensured the adoption of a common front on nearly all questions. Thus few alterations were made in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals and the Yalta voting formula, except such as the Great Powers put forward after agreement with one another. The real influence of the smaller states lay in their connection with one or other of the Great Powers, just as had been the case at Paris in 1919. There really were no decisions by free vote except on minor points. In spite of all the oratory to the contrary, all states recognized in the end that such a vote not only would not have been "democratic" in any real sense, but would have wrecked all prospect of establishing an international organization.

The final effect of the contribution of the smaller states to the writing of the Peace Treaties at Paris last fall does not in substance seem to have been very different. Indeed, their subordinate position was almost brutally recognized; their votes were only recommendations to a Great Power organ, with which the final decision lay and which met without them after the Conference was over. Nevertheless, the fact that the Great Powers have had to defend their position, in a gathering including smaller states, in full view of world opinion, is an important new fact.


The responsibility of world-wide peacemaking is the most serious that any statesman can undertake except that of worldwide war. In 1814-15 the three monarchs of the Great Powers of eastern Europe assumed it personally, and brought with them their principal statesmen. The constitutional monarchs of France and Britain could not do likewise; nor did their heads of government attend the Vienna Conference. In fact, however, Castlereagh and Talleyrand had such commanding positions in the foreign affairs of their respective states that for this purpose they almost ranked as heads of government.

In 1919 the heads of government came together for a long period, and not only the whole of the treaty with Germany but a good part of the treaties with the lesser enemies was worked out while they were present to make final decisions. After the negotiation of the German treaty they never all came together again. But the heads of the European Governments concerned conferred together from time to time. In this second phase, the character of the United States representation degenerated to minor officialdom. Nevertheless the coming together of the heads of governments in the first half of 1919 had enabled the German treaty to be made in six months and had set the others well on their way. If they had left the problems of the peace entirely to their Foreign Ministers, instead of using the latter to discuss important but secondary questions while they themselves fought out the main battle, negotiation of the treaties would almost certainly have taken much longer. This is one justification of President Wilson's visit to Paris. Whether in autocratic, presidential or cabinet government, it is only the head of the government that possesses sufficient power to make the great decisions quickly or to take responsibility for those compromises which sometimes remove more than one gigantic obstacle in the way to peace.

In the peacemaking of today the heads of government have not been able to come together in the same way as they did in 1814-15 and 1918-19. They did, of course, meet during the war in the series of conferences that terminated at Potsdam, and came to certain agreements about the future and laid down some important directives. But these, all question of the difficulty of interpreting them aside, covered only a small portion of the field. And as time went on some of them became out of date and needed reconsideration. In 1919 all the questions where deadlocks had occurred were surveyed together in the month of April, and agreement was reached, by a process of give and take, on a number of disputed points. Of all the big questions on which opinions -- and interests -- had differed, only the Italian-Jugoslav frontier was postponed to a future date. No such meeting has yet taken place during the present peace discussions. How valuable it could be was shown at Yalta; for it does not seem likely that the obstacles to the meeting of the United Nations Conference at San Francisco could have been removed in any other way than by direct conversations among Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. The long duration of the present discussions must be in part attributed to the fact that the heads of government of the Great Powers have not been able to meet together in one place for a long enough period of time.


Perhaps the greatest difference in method between the three periods we are discussing lies in the treatment of the major enemy -- in 1814-15 France, in 1919-20 Germany, in 1945-46 Germany and Japan. All these enemies had been successful and brutal conquerors. In the Napoleonic wars French troops entered every capital in continental Europe outside the Balkan Peninsula, at that time not really considered part of Europe. In the First World War the Germans were less successful, but they occupied at one time or another three-quarters of Europe. In the last war Nazi dominion extended over the whole of Europe, except Switzerland and the neutral states on the fringes, which were excepted only because the conqueror did not think them worth his effort; and Germany treated her allies only a little less severely than her enemies. In all three cases the occupying authorities lived to a large extent on their conquered foes, draining their lands of resources and taking back loot of all kinds, including art treasures, to adorn the conqueror's triumph.

In the Napoleonic Wars the French gave back much in return to the conquered peoples -- new methods of administration, new codes of law. They altered the shape of Europe permanently as they swept away much medieval lumber. In the war of 1914-1918 Germany could never make up her mind how to organize her conquests. She was hampered by the dying Austro-Hungarian state which she could not fully control, even though, as the war progressed, it fell more and more under her domination. Her organization of the conquered territories of eastern Europe was crude in the extreme, and only provisional. In the last war Hitler had an opportunity to give to Europe an economic and administrative unity such as it had never before possessed; and for a fleeting moment it looked as if he had a design to do so. But soon it was seen that he preferred to divide Europe, inflame its latent hatreds, and in the process reduce all Europeans to the position of helots of the Master Race. The massacres and agonies he inflicted upon them, with the apparently willing acquiescence of nearly all elements in the German state, are without parallel since the age of the barbarians. Japan followed, or even initiated, the same methods in her Far Eastern war. She preached liberation and instituted slavery.

The problem of the victors after these wars was in each case difficult: how to treat a ruthless and efficient mass of power in such a manner that it should cease to be dangerous in the future and could safely be taken back into the world community of nations. In each case they attempted to make the defeated enemy adopt institutions which in themselves would be a guarantee against aggression. In addition, they took away territory, including colonial territory, inflicted reparations, and for a period occupied territory.

In 1814-15 the process was done with the least amount of passion and indignation and was the most successful. In spite of the Hundred Days, which caused a renewal of the struggle after the first Peace of Paris had been made, France was treated with moderation, even with magnanimity, all the circumstances being taken into account. The fact that she had renounced revolution and dictatorship and become a constitutional monarchy was allowed to influence her fate. This clemency was largely due to the action of Britain and Russia -- in the former case for unsentimental reasons of state, in the latter owing to the personal magnanimity of the sovereign. Thus occupation, reparations, loss of territory were all moderate. France was even allowed, at the Congress of Vienna, to take part in the reconstruction of Europe almost on an equal footing with her enemies.

In 1919 no such magnanimity prevailed. Though Germany was forced by President Wilson to overthrow her rulers before peace was made, this fact counted for but little in the subsequent negotiations. Taking account of what Germany had done, the Treaty of Versailles was not unjust in many respects; but if strictly applied it was impossible to carry out and it was not in fact carried out. The huge sums of reparations first fixed were gradually whittled down and eventually were paid for largely out of loans from Britain and the United States. The loss of territory was fully justified by the principles enunciated in the Fourteen Points, though almost every point was pressed to the utmost. Germany waited longer to be received into the League than France had waited to become a member of the European Alliance. The mixture of harshness in the terms with weakness in their application proved the worst of all methods. While France was never again dangerous to European and world liberty, Germany was allowed to become the hideous menace which we have just overcome. The democracries of 1919 showed themselves far less able than the aristocracies and autocrats of 1815 to estimate forces and to devise the means suited to the attainment of their ends.

Today the situation is so different that the precedents are almost useless as a guide to action. The conduct of Germany has been such that the difference in degree amounts to a difference in kind. Germany never really accepted democracy in 1919. Can there be any hope that she will do so today except after a painful process of regeneration, the means for which are not yet discernible? The suggested curtailment of her territory will reduce her power; but her population and great parts of her material resources remain. To find out how they may be devoted to peaceful purposes without recreating the danger from which we have twice barely escaped presents a problem for which no one has yet suggested a complete solution. Britain and the United States are spending large sums to help the Germans become self-supporting, while she is being ruthlessly penalized in other directions. Little seems to have been learnt from previous experience.

The situation in Japan is less difficult because her power, skill and natural resources were always less than those of Germany, and these should be more easily subject to future control from outside.


In all cases the application of the new institutions was complicated to some extent by ideological differences among the conquerors.

In 1815, the difference between Britain and the autocratic Powers prevented a guarantee of the Bourbon monarchy. This was fortunate, since later on it became clear that the monarchy had no real hold in France and the guarantee might have provoked war. The right of self-determination was upheld. France was allowed to change her government, even to bring back the Napoleonic family which had been excluded by a European treaty. But that was only a surface development; in essence France accepted the same values as the rest of Europe. She became and remained a member of the European family, and, if she fought wars, they were as much for European as for French interests, if we except the one which Bismarck forced upon her.

In 1919 the continental members of the victorious Entente did not believe in the democratization of Germany. It was the Anglo-Saxon Powers, and especially the United States, which made democracy a test of regeneration. They paid too little attention to the fact that Germany's aggressive elements were neither absorbed in nor controlled by the new democracy. Britain attempted to organize democracy in Germany after the United States had withdrawn from Europe, but failing French support and trust the process could not succeed. It may be doubted whether it could have been successful in any event; but the differences in method favored by the two western democracies ensured failure.

Today the conflict in ideology among the victorious Powers goes much deeper. It has become a rivalry working in the heart of Germany itself. Democracy means something quite different in Moscow from what it means in London or Washington, or indeed in Paris and Rome. Experience shows, however, that national interest usually prevails in the long run over ideological considerations. Only for a short period during the nineteenth century did these determine the alignment of the Great Powers -- in the 1830's, when Britain became the associate of France in an ideological conflict between east and west. But this situation did not last long; national interests soon again became predominant. Now we may for a long time expect to see the "class struggle" remain an important factor in the maintenance of national interests; but in the end the old process will probably prevail.


The treatment of the lesser enemies was also a good deal harsher in 1919 than in 1814. At the end of the Napoleonic wars most of them succeeded in changing sides when the man on whom they had fawned was beaten. Only Saxony and Denmark suffered much loss of territory, and that mainly because it had already been promised to others as the price of assistance. Most of the others actually gained. The Allies, who all save Britain had made their own deal with Napoleon, showed no resentment against them.

In 1919 the crash came too suddenly for the jackals. The application of the principle of nationality and self-determination destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and liberated its subject peoples. Austria and Hungary in vain tried to escape the responsibility of having once been Austria-Hungary. Each had more territory taken away than was just; but each before long, instead of paying the absurd reparations demanded at first, was helped to recover by loans guaranteed by its conquerors. The ruthless Bulgarians deserved what they got; and the Turks, who lost an empire cheerfully, maintained themselves in their homelands by an act of new vigor after the war had been lost.

In the current settlement there has been the same mixture of leniency and retribution. All of Hitler's lesser allies repented, and even fought to some extent on the winning side. Their fate seems to have depended as much on other considerations as on their war guilt. Their chief punishment has been in the form of contributions to the occupying armies, mainly Russian. Italy, which had vainly tried to attain the rank of a major enemy and obtain a Mediterranean empire by a stab in the back, has rightly lost many of her unjustifiable gains of the last peace. She seems likely also to lose much of what she previously possessed overseas. But she retains her independence. Considering the provocation, the satellite enemies on the whole have been mercifully treated.

In 1814 there were no neutrals in Europe. In 1919 the states who remained neutral were allowed to join the League of Nations immediately and even to adopt a "holier than thou" attitude. In this war most of Europe was involved, and the qualifications for membership in the San Francisco Conference were so drawn that the Latin American states which had not been belligerents in 1914-18 were included. The neutrals were kept at arm's length for a time; but all save one have had their advocates. Spain, a cobelligerent of the Axis, is in a different position from the rest. But Sweden and Switzerland have established their position even with the Soviet Union, and the others can look forward to being treated on a footing of complete equality in the near future.


In all three cases special international machinery was set up to make permanent the peace so dearly bought. The European Alliance created in 1815 came to an end in less than ten years. It depended too much on the personal relations of those who had made it, and it collapsed as soon as it was subjected, to the strain of ideological differences. Though the beaten enemy was made a member of the Alliance within three years, the diversion of its function from an instrument of Great Power coöperation to an agency to repress revolution caused Britain, whose foreign minister had devised it, to withdraw; and once she had gone the national rivalries of the continental states soon put an end to it. No place had ever been found in it for the smaller states.

In 1919 the United States, the principal agency in bringing the Covenant into existence, repudiated it at once; and the League never entirely recovered from this blow. For a considerable period, nevertheless, it did seem to have a chance of success, as the fact that both Germany and the Soviet Union assumed membership indicates. Even the United States was drawn into active coöperation with it. The League embodied a Great Power Alliance in a universal organization with a moral purpose, and as such had the possibility of growing into something more organic and powerful than a mere coöperative machine. For the first time the smaller states were allowed to exercise real influence in important political decisions. Its failure, as both Mr. Churchill and Mr. Attlee have testified, was due to the weakness of the western Powers rather than to any defect in its constitution, though defects there were. Had the United States been a member from the start, and had the Soviet Union become one sooner, the Japanese and Italian aggressions might both have been prevented or indeed might never have been attempted. As it was, the morale of the members was fatally undermined by those two failures and the way was prepared for Hitler's aggression.

This time the new organization has included all the major Powers from the start. The Charter embodies even more specifically than did the Covenant a Great Power alliance in a universal organization. Its future will depend on whether it possesses or acquires such moral and physical strength that not even a Great Power can defy it or even afford to do without its approval. It may be that the release of nuclear energy will provide one of the means by which that preëminent position can be established.


In each peace the position assumed by Russia has astounded and terrified the world. In 1814 as in 1945 her armies had occupied a large area of Europe. In 1919 she had been defeated and had lost large portions of her territory; but this defeat ushered in the most colossal revolution of modern times. Today as in 1814 her gain of territory has been sensational, and today as then it has alarmed the western victors. A victorious Russia which remains largely mobilized when central Europe is prostrate naturally creates alarm. Before the Congress of Vienna, Castlereagh was drawing the attention of the other Powers to the menace of the Russian armies of occupation. He was able to reconstitute central Europe under Austrian leadership, and with the assistance of the beaten enemy set limits to the Russian advance. Once that had been done, no one preached more strongly than he the advantages of friendship with Russia. The Tsar, who alone counted in a country where the people had no desire for foreign adventure, responded well. Though relations between Russia and the west were often difficult in the nineteenth century, the one war that was fought was due to diplomatic blunders on both sides and should have been avoided.

In 1919 President Wilson said that the treatment of Russia would be the "acid test" of the victorious Powers. They failed to pass that test; but in their defense it must be said that the Bolshevik Government did little to help them make wise decisions. In any case, the Allies had been drawn into intervention in Russia to make a front against Germany and the situation was not easy to liquidate. Hardly anyone foresaw how much energy the revolution would give to the Russian people; and Poland, Rumania and Finland, however foolish their own conduct meanwhile, have now suffered for the mistakes the great Allies made 25 years ago.

Today peace depends on finding the method by which the Soviet Union, with these bitter memories and with a different scale of values from that of her western Allies, can be induced to accept coöperation rather than conflict. If the experience of 1814-15 is of any value, it goes to show that only a continuation of resistance to undue Russian demands combined with an acceptance of the special claims which history has taught Russia justly to consider fundamental is likely to yield satisfactory results.


Is it possible, then, to discern any unifying principle in each of the three peaces? The alternative is simply to describe them by the bitter phrase which Gentz used of the Congress of Vienna -- "the partition of the spoils amongst the conquerors." It certainly seems possible to find an underlying principle in the first two. At the Congress of Vienna, the principle of the "balance of power" was applied consciously to all Europe by Castlereagh; and it ensured the peace for 40 years. On the ideological side, the doctrine of legitimacy, preached by Talleyrand as an antidote to revolution and dictatorship, was never completely accepted nor completely applied.

In 1919 the basis of the settlement was self-determination and nationality (almost everywhere synonymous). Though distorted by occasional lapses, it was worked out in a more scientific fashion than at any previous settlement. "Probably no major peace settlement," recently wrote the most influential of all the experts at Paris, "came nearer the mark of principle than the European settlements of 1919. The boundary network established at that time fitted the complicated patterns of speech, folk groupings and sense of nationality more closely than ever had been the case before in modern history."[i] On the ideological side, owing to the insistence of the United States, democracy was adopted as a slogan. For a time its trappings remained almost everywhere in evidence. But in many cases it never was really accepted, or at any rate did not possess the inherent strength to meet the challenge of other social systems.

Today both the principles of 1814-15 and of 1919 are clearly in the minds of the victors, even though with a difference as to their interpretation. But to them is added an awareness of economic and social problems such as has never before existed. A deep difference of opinion exists as to how these are to be solved. The western Powers insist that it can be done only if there is an acceptance of majority decisions and a recognition of the liberty of the individual. In the east, where conditions are vastly different, the theory of dictatorship by the proletariat, which means in practice dictatorship by a small minority, and the crushing of all rights of individual protest, are held to be the only efficient method of government. Since neither side is strong enough to impose its will on the other, it should in time be possible to find a modus vivendi. Experience will then show where the moral and physical advantage lies. Meanwhile, each system will influence the other, since not even an iron curtain is impenetrable.

[i] Isaiah Bowman, "The Strategy of Territorial Decisions," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, January 1946.

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  • SIR CHARLES K. WEBSTER, Professor at the London School of Economics; member of British delegations at the Paris Peace Conference, 1918-19, the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, 1944, and the San Francisco Conference, 1945; visiting Professor at Harvard University, 1928-32; author of many historical works
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