Courtesy Reuters

Anthony Eden and the Cacophony of Nations

Nations are inclined to be self-centered, quarrelsome and turbulent. Not all, but many; not always, but much of the time. They are easily carried away by fears, frustrations, presumed necessities or real or fancied offenses. While the resultant antagonisms could formerly be localized in scope and consequence, it has become harder to confine the area of conflict.

In no chronicle of our times are these baneful tendencies more apparent than in the one by Anthony Eden, now Lord Avon. The three volumes of his Memoirs are of impressive interest.[i] For they are not only an informative account of his own exertions but also a portrayal of the tippling course of diplomacy into war. Though animated by the natural wish to explain and justify his own actions, the narrative-which is carefully candid-transcends such a personal purpose. The incisive interpretations and conclusions are a stimulus to thought about the crucial problems of diplomacy today, since these are essentially the same as those which confronted Eden during his long career. How can nations be brought to conduct themselves so that they may live at peace? How can the unruly be constrained?

As youths, Eden's generation was flung into the First World War. Ever afterwards they lived in the gale of its dismal consequences. Too many of the most gifted young men were killed or disabled. The British and French people were worn down by the prolonged ordeal; their economic and financial resources were diminished and their empires were upset. The Germans blamed everyone but themselves. Resenting the terms imposed upon them, they soon began secretly to rebuild their armed strength and to plan to reverse their fortunes. Decadent Tsarist Russia collapsed and gave way to Bolshevism, through which surged an excited intent to bring about world-wide revolution.

The difficulties of peace-making surprised the American people. They were scared off by a chilling blast of recognition of how hard and dangerous it would be to act as one of the guardians of order and

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