What Putin Really Wants in Ukraine
Russia Seeks to Stop NATO’s Expansion, Not to Annex More Territory
OVER the main doorway to the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa are inscribed in stone the uninspiring words:
The wholesome sea is at her gates Her gates both east and west.
The developing tension in the Pacific area, however, causes thoughtful Canadians to wonder whether, so far as their western sea is concerned, the word "wholesome" is not as inaccurate as it is unpoetic.
That this tension is increasing is hardly open to question. It is equally true that it threatens to destroy the delicate system of defensive naval ratios between the three great naval Powers. Such a calamity, so far at least as the United States and Japan are concerned, would probably result in the open and avowed substitution of power for coöperative diplomacy in respect to Pacific and Far Eastern affairs. There would be one inescapable result to this -- a naval race in the Pacific. There seems only one end to that kind of a race -- war.
It may be argued that the picture is overdrawn, that the colors are too lurid. And yet, if the experience of the past is any guide to the possibilities of the future, materials for an Eastern conflagration have been assembling for some years. Japan, not realizing how crude her methods have appeared to others, and therefore not appreciating their reactions to those methods, complains that the rest of the world shows neither sympathy nor understanding regarding the hard necessities of her situation. She is angered and bewildered that the finger of accusation has been pointed at her in the council of the nations at Geneva merely because she has played the game according to traditional rules, which some at least of her accusers have not yet themselves abandoned. She has wrapped herself in the mantle of injured pride, stirred up the militant patriotism of her people, and driven straight forward with her plans for hegemony in the Far East.
The parallel to Germany's action in the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries comes at once to mind -- exuberant expansion, coldly blocked by those already satisfied; resentful defiance, backed by an increasing weight of arms and directed by a calculating and powerful military and naval clique: a defiance all the more dangerous because, while ostensibly based on reckless confidence and greed for power, it had a strong undercurrent of uncertainty and fear.
Is the United States to play the rôle of the Triple Entente in this parallel situation? There is no dogmatic answer. But it is at least safe to say that she seems determined that Eastern Asia shall not become a Japanese preserve. That the policies of the two countries have not clashed more often in the past decade is primarily due to the system of coöperative diplomacy exemplified in the Washington and London Conferences. The activist policy adopted by Japan on the Asiatic mainland, resulting in the formation of the vassal state of Manchukuo and Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations, has, however, very definitely imperilled these arrangements.
Japan feels more and more insecure under the provisions of the naval disarmament treaties and is searching for another basis of security -- equality of naval armaments with the strongest naval Powers. As one observer put it recently, "In Japan it is felt that the objective of national security will never be attained through forced disarmament, never, in fact, until the nations have renounced disarmament as an instrument of national policy." This attitude has, of course, driven home to Americans that if they are to protect their interests in the Far East they may well need all of the naval superiority which they now, by treaty, possess.
The forthcoming Naval Conference, then, is bound to be of the most vital significance for the future of the Pacific. The alternatives are clear, the lines are drawn: a collective system maintaining accepted ratios, or a race for supremacy; reliance on coöperation, or reliance on power. To Canadian observers the auguries do not seem too propitious that the choice will be for coöperation.
The preliminary conversations have broken down, and the difficulties which caused that breakdown seem likely to remain when the Conference convenes. These difficulties center around one word -- a word of ominous portent in post-war history -- "equality." Statesmen should know by now the power of mischief that one small word contains. The unfortunate results when it has been carelessly tossed about at European conferences should have taught them not only the inevitability of making concessions, but also the futility of forced and belated concessions after an aroused people have seized on "equality" as a shibboleth of national honor. At the 1930 Naval Conference there was also a demand for "equality" by the United States in relation to the British Empire. That was conceded; and with it, to Japanese eyes, Anglo-Saxon supremacy was established in the Pacific. In 1935 it is Japan that demands equality and, to Anglo-Saxon eyes, Japanese supremacy in the Pacific. This, it would seem, is to be the crucial issue at the forthcoming Conference.
Behind this Japanese demand lurk fundamental political and economic difficulties. It should by now be axiomatic that no disarmament conference can succeed without a prior adjustment of such difficulties. The Washington Treaties succeeded only because an adjustment was made. The Geneva Naval Conference of 1927 failed because this was not done. The extent to which naval arrangements were successfully adopted in London in 1930 was due to the fact that political negotiation had paved the way. Where such prior political settlement was not possible, it failed. Now recent negotiations have emphasized, rather than removed, political and economic difficulties in the way of the forthcoming Conference. Questions of fundamental import remain unsettled -- Japan's need for markets, the recognition of Manchukuo, the Japanese "Monroe Doctrine." Agree on these questions, and a naval treaty becomes, if not easy, at least possible. Fail to agree on them, and the system built up at Washington and London will collapse.
It is no answer to these fears to point out that it would be folly for the United States to fight Japan, and suicide for Japan to fight the United States. History does not show that the possibility of suicide has prevented war. Furthermore, as Arnold Toynbee has lately reminded us, "committing suicide in certain circumstances is a Japanese national tradition; and if these circumstances arise for the nation as a whole, a national act of hara-kiri is perhaps not beyond the bounds of Japanese possibilities."
There is only one safe way through these dangers. The system of coöperative diplomacy in the Pacific, so carefully built up during the last ten years, must at almost any cost be at least preserved, and perhaps it must be extended.
Has Canada any concern with these matters? If she has, can she play any part in the drama that is unfolding in the East, and which will reach a turning point in the forthcoming Conference? The answer to the first question is an unqualified affirmative. The answer to the second is that in certain circumstances, as a member of the British Commonwealth and a state bordering the Pacific, her influence may be important. Her political and strategic position in the Pacific gives a clue to the policy which she is almost bound to adopt on questions which concern that area.
Canada's most important contacts with the Orient are through Japan. Canadian-Japanese relations, though not of any great and immediate significance to either country, have been characterized by lack of friction, even friendliness. Unlike their cousins in Australia and New Zealand, Canadians have until recently evinced little interest in developments in Asia. This has been due primarily to two causes: first, the major part of our Canadian population is situated east of the Rockies, and economic and sentimental considerations have caused us to face the Atlantic; second, there is a careless but none the less deep-rooted belief in Canada's inviolate security, which we have never considered as threatened by Japanese expansion. With the double-barreled protection of the British Navy and the Monroe Doctrine, and with Canada's relative inaccessibility to the armed forces of any invader, except those of a neighbor with whom the possibility of war is apt to draw smiles of amused incredulity, Canadians go about their national business with a feeling of complete unconcern.
There are, however, two qualifications which should be made in respect to this picture. One Canadian province has always felt concern about the Dominion's relations with Japan; and the others, it would seem, are beginning to.
British Columbia, the province in question, fronts the Pacific. It has a sprinkling of Japanese inhabitants and more than a sprinkling of Japanese trade. These facts have always given its inhabitants an interest, sometimes an uneasy interest, in what goes on across the waters that lap their peaceful shores. Japanese trade is welcome, but Japanese immigration is feared. Immigration questions between Canada and Japan have, however, been handled by the Federal Government with a careful regard for the susceptibilities of a proud, sensitive, and powerful neighbor. Like the United States, Canada has virtually excluded Japanese emigrants. Unlike the United States, she has done so without arousing rankling irritation because of racial discrimination. The Canadian policy, which seems so elementary in its wisdom, is due not to any superior tolerance on the part of British Columbians, but to caution on the part of Ottawa. The Federal Government, representing a comparatively weak country, has merely been careful not to offend a powerful neighbor with whom there is a growing trade.
Two considerations, however, should prevent Canadians preening themselves on their superior handling of this immigration question. Towards China, which at the moment has neither power to harm or trade to help us, the Federal Government has shown neither courtesy nor consideration in immigration matters. The British Columbia Provincial Government, with no responsibility itself for foreign relations, has displayed in its treatment of all Asiatic inhabitants, British or non-British, a determination to discriminate which ought to be offensive enough to satisfy the most reactionary Californian. Hindus domiciled in British Columbia, though subjects of His Britannic Majesty and Canadian nationals, are by the laws of this Province not even permitted the elementary right of a British subject -- the right of franchise. Fortunately, however, the provincial race patriots have not been permitted by the Federal Government to drag this country into a disagreement with Japan; that is a luxury which is permitted only in respect to China and India.
The two questions, trade and immigration, have in the past inspired what little popular interest in the Far East existed in this country -- an interest just sufficient to permit the Canadian Government to maintain a Legation in Tokyo with only mild mumblings about government extravagance. This comparative indifference, however, is disappearing.
Canadians, for instance, watched with considerable concern the policy adopted by their government at Geneva in respect to Japan's Manchurian adventure and the Lytton Report. They noted with some surprise the ambiguous declaration of their representative at the Special Assembly of the League of Nations, called to consider that Report. C. H. Cahan, the Canadian Secretary of State who made this declaration, in attempting to do justice to both sides, seemed to be facing both ways. Opinion in Canada at that time was, on the whole, anxious to face only one way. Ostensibly that way was towards Geneva and the League of Nations. Actually it was towards Washington, which had made its approval of Geneva's action clear enough. This country was not deceived into believing that United States policy at the time was inspired by anything but those national considerations which experience has taught us are the mainsprings of her actions. But instinct also teaches us that, in Far Eastern questions, we must be on the side of, if not the angels, at least the Americans. When, therefore, Canadians expressed satisfaction at the Dominion's forthright acceptance of the League Resolution of February 24, 1933, condemning Japan's actions as a violation of treaty rights, that satisfaction was due, not so much to the fact that Canada had made herself right with the League, as that Canada was no longer in danger of separating herself from American policy in the attempt to deal with the situation in the Far East.
It is not denied that this new interest in Far Eastern affairs is to some extent inspired by the genuine anxiety of a country that has been a faithful supporter of the League lest League methods should break down in their first major test. But even more is it caused by fear that the failure of this test might have two consequences which could not be viewed by any Canadian without concern: 1. Great Britain and the United States might adopt divergent policies. 2. The United States and Japan might drift into a conflict. Canadians, wrapped up in what may be illusory feelings of security, are not particularly sensitive to the changing currents of international politics. But they could hardly fail to appreciate the terrific implications for them of any such consequences of failure at Geneva.
It is almost platitudinous now to state that Canada's position becomes impossible if Great Britain and the United States drift apart on any major issue. Like many other platitudes, however, this one involves a fundamental truth. Canada is a British Dominion. She is also an American state. She cannot permit herself to be put in a position where she has to choose between these two destinies. Either choice would be fatal to her unity, indeed to her very existence as a state. Hence her uneasiness when Sir John Simon and Mr. Stimson appeared to be gazing at the Oriental scene through different glasses -- an uneasiness increased by the fact that no Anglo-American divergence of policy could be more dangerous to this country than one over Japanese questions, especially if in that divergence the United Kingdom seemed to be adopting a pro-Japanese attitude. Hence, also, her profound relief when the preliminary naval discussions with the Japanese in London last autumn showed British and American policies to be substantially in accord.
Already in her short history as a nation Canada has been faced by the possibility that Anglo-Japanese arrangements might endanger British-American relations, and has taken energetic steps to remove it. In 1921 she imposed on a reluctant, even hostile, British Government, the abrogation of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. Canada's rôle in this important development in Anglo-American relations has not yet been fully explained. The records are not available. But this much is clear. The British Government, even though they knew that the renewal of the alliance would receive a hostile reception in the United States, had decided to take that course. Australia and New Zealand applauded the decision. The stage, therefore, was all set when in July 1921 a new actor arrived in London to attend an Imperial Conference, Mr. Arthur Meighen, the Canadian Prime Minister. Not yet having won his spurs in Imperial politics, he caused great surprise -- almost a shock -- to the assembled statesmen of the Empire when he, and he alone, dared to oppose a policy already decided on in Downing Street -- the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. The adroit manœuvring of Lloyd George, the Olympian condescension of Lord Curzon, the pugnacious anger of the Australian, Hughes, or the massive obstinacy of the New Zealander, Massey, could none of them alter the decision of the Canadian Prime Minister. Taking as his text the primal necessity for the British Empire to refrain from adopting any policy that might conceivably cause political difficulty with the United States, and arguing that the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance had within it the seeds of just such difficulty, he imposed on a reluctant Conference the abrogation of that alliance, and made the Washington Conference possible.
In adopting this attitude, and in sticking to it, Mr. Meighen was voicing the judgment of his government and the instincts of the Canadian people that, while the policies of the British Empire need not coincide with those of the United States in all respects, yet, so far as those toward Japan were concerned, they must.
Canada's insistence on this point is due to a clear realization of two things: 1. In any Japanese-American conflict, her position is dangerously vulnerable. 2. If in any such conflict British policy were tied in any way to Japan's, her position would be fatal. Therefore British and American policy in respect to Japanese and Far Eastern questions must, from the Canadian point of view, proceed along parallel lines.
A glance at the map will disclose the reason for Canada's fears for her safety in a Pacific war. The line of attack in the next great war, if the madness of men ever brings it about, is not on the ground but in the air. The danger spot in the world today is the Northern Pacific. Canada is in the aërial line of march between the United States and Japan. That is why Canadians fear for their country in any Pacific war involving Japan and the United States.
Any sustained air attack on Japan from the West could only be via Alaska. The Japanese may be assumed not to have overlooked that fact, or the corollary, that Alaska is not a very efficient American base on account of the fact that British Columbia intervenes between it and the United States proper. It does not require a professional strategist to make the obvious deductions from this set of facts. Furthermore, in case of a conflict between the two great Pacific naval Powers the bays and straits of the British Columbia coast offer an ideal refuge for submarines.
Last summer occurred an event which passed almost unnoticed in the press of this country or the United States but which to some Canadians seemed a portent. A squadron of United States army planes flew across Canada to Alaska, having secured the permission of the Canadian Government (a permission which under existing conventions could hardly be refused) not only to make the flight but to send in advance a party to establish emergency land bases. Almost at the same time, a squadron of American naval planes flew up the Pacific Coast to Alaska. Does it too much tax the imagination to suggest that both the United Kingdom High Commissioner and the Japanese Minister in Ottawa sent back dispatches to their home governments concerning these flights, with appropriate observations regarding respect for Canadian neutrality in the event of a Japanese-United States war?
Strange thoughts these, to perplex a country on whose soil no foreign foe has trod for more than one hundred and thirty years. But they well may determine Canadian policy in respect to Anglo-American-Japanese arrangements. They also prompt certain almost ironic conclusions. In the past, especially in the recent past, Canadian governments have kept a wary eye on Downing Street lest Saskatchewan farmers or Quebec lumbermen find themselves tramping the dusty roads of Asia Minor as soldiers of the King. It may be that Downing Street now is watching with some perturbation the development of policies in the Pacific and Canada's relation thereto, lest British sailors find themselves landing at Prince Rupert to fulfill Imperial obligations in the defense of His Majesty's Canadian neutrality.
It is some comfort to think that a nation which in a crisis might consider shipments of Canadian nickel to the enemy an unneutral act, and desire to act against Canada on those grounds, might be deterred by the thought that she forms part of a mighty Empire. It would, however, be an ironic turn of the Imperial wheel if the United Kingdom declared that, in view of the risks and dangers involved, she must not only be consulted about Canada's policy towards the United States and Japan, but that, as an autonomous state within the British Empire, she must reserve the full rights of the Parliament at Westminster to decide whether, and to what extent, she should be implicated in the results of that policy.
Canadians know, however, that there is a better way of preserving neutrality than to play the part and pay the penalty of "gallant little Belgium." That way is, paradoxically, by abolishing the old concept of neutrality. This involves the reëstablishment, and indeed the extension, of a collective system for the Pacific. Canada may be expected strongly to support this policy in international conferences and in Imperial meetings. She realizes that the larger problem of establishing security in the Pacific, and hence of avoiding war, cannot be solved except on that basis. If that larger problem be solved her own difficulties vanish, for it is improbable that she will get into any serious trouble with an Asiatic country on her own account.
The reëstablishment of a collective system in the Pacific would appeal not only to Canada but also to the other members of the British Commonwealth, all of whom are committed to the collective system based on the League of Nations. It should also find us in agreement with the United States. Unfortunately, though the United States believes in a collective system for the Pacific she refuses to join the organization best adapted to organize and administer such a system.
The trouble is that Americans have been taught to think of the League as an instrument for plunging them into European mixups rather than for getting them out of Asiatic ones. If Canadians feel strongly about this, it is because they have found no difficulty in reconciling America and Geneva. Their desire and their need to coöperate closely with the United States in international policies make them regret American insistence that such reconciliation is impossible. It is no reply to this argument to say that the League has already failed miserably in the Far East and that its utility there is ended. That is all the more reason why we should read the lesson of that failure and try again. Is war the only international occupation where a first failure is merely the signal for another effort?
But, setting aside the possibility of collective arrangements under the aegis of the League, can a solution of the Pacific problem be found in a regional collective system? Canada would, of course, strongly support this as an alternative -- a renewal, extension and possibly an institutionalizing of the Nine Power Treaty. She however would undoubtedly oppose the limitation of any such arrangements to the Great Powers.
If a collective solution on this basis fails also, then old-fashioned diplomacy, bilateral arrangements and balance of power must be left to function as best they can. "Each Nation for itself and God for us all." But there need be no such failure. The problem, though as difficult as any that has faced the post-war world, is not an impossible one. Out of the maze of difficulties two facts stand out. The Anglo-Saxon states must realize Japan's special needs and interests in the Far East; Japan must realize that the collective system is in very truth "the life line of civilization." Is statesmanship so bankrupt that no settlement can be found to harmonize these points of view?
So far as Canada is concerned, one may with assurance say this. She will use whatever influence she may possess, inside and outside the Empire, as a Dominion and as a Pacific state, to force the exploration of every avenue of approach which may lead to a solution of Pacific problems based on collective and internationalist ideals. If such an exploration proves fruitless, then her policy will be to try to ensure that failure will not destroy or even weaken the close understanding and friendly coöperation between the Anglo-Saxon peoples.