Courtesy Reuters

Germany and the Crisis in Disarmament

THE abrupt withdrawal of Germany from the Disarmament Conference on October 14 of this year has focussed attention on the dangers underlying the present European situation. France today is essentially pacific and is content if she can maintain her existing political and territorial status. Germany is profoundly discontented; and, fed by this discontent, a militant spirit is gaining momentum. This militant spirit is only restrained because for the moment, at least, Germany is in no position to gain her objectives by military action. The present crisis has made a disarmament settlement more vitally essential than ever. At the same time, it has emphasized the fact that a technical settlement of disarmament is not enough. It will be necessary to probe the underlying causes of unrest in continental Europe.

When the Disarmament Conference adjourned last July it was obvious to all familiar with its work that it could not be kept much longer in session unless concrete results could be achieved promptly. The Conference had already dragged on for a year and a half, with numerous recesses which were becoming more prolonged as political difficulties accumulated. The theory that war in Europe can be prevented by keeping the Powers forever conferring at Geneva may have some slight merit, but is difficult to put into practical application. As long as technical questions were being debated, the proceedings could be continued without risking a serious clash of interests; but when the debate turned to concrete questions such as the number of guns, aeroplanes and tanks each country should have, and of what types, the proceedings ran quickly into an impasse. As an example, several weeks were spent in endeavoring to decide how to rate aircraft, whether by weight alone or by weight, horse-power and wing area combined. Differences of opinion were manifest, but political issues were avoided and useful technical information was compiled. Far less progress was made toward determining the number of aeroplanes which the various countries should have. It is true that Prime

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