THE crisis in Europe may be compromised temporarily. War may not be so imminent as the day-by-day headlines indicate. But with two "unofficial wars" in progress in the world, with men under arms in many of the great European countries, with chancelleries perplexed and anxious, with virulent press campaigns going on between several nations, Americans cannot shut their eyes to the risks of these days or imagine that if the worst comes they will remain unaffected. That they are not unmindful of the risks is evidenced by the effort made in Congress during the past few years to assure peace by legislative means.
As the World War drew into perspective, it left only one clear determination in most American minds: "Never again!" At first the hope which these words implied seemed reasonable enough. No direct danger threatened our shores. If the government were careful to steer clear of entangling alliances, it could avoid becoming involved, the average American thought, in any future troubles that might arise abroad. In 1919-1920, then, we rejected the task of participating in the postwar political reconstruction of Europe and refused to take responsibility for the execution of the peace settlement. We assumed that in some manner the war-wearied European nations would manage to organize themselves for peace, and we hoped that the League of Nations would become effective even without our participation. Secretary Hughes laid what seemed at the time a secure basis for maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Successive Administrations tried to help indirectly by working with the League for disarmament; and our government joined in a solemn declaration renouncing war as an instrument of national policy. Simultaneously, we let our military machine deteriorate as a part of the general world relaxation and our desire to economize and pay off the costs of the war.
Then came successive blows. The disarmament efforts proved a dismal failure. Instead of all-round disarmament we saw the opposite. The armed dictatorships which arose, and the democracies which tried
Loading, please wait...