Авторы: 159 А Б В Г Д Е З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я

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THE MISTAKE OF VERSAILLES

These are the two aspects I wanted to bring before you. If we are to get down to the root of the matter; if we

are to uproot the old jungle theory of international relations, we must recognise that the chief danger and

difficulty before us is what may be described as excessive nationalism. We have to recognise in this and other

countries that a mere belief in narrow national interests will never really take you anywhere. You must

recognise that humanity can only exist and prosper as a whole, and that you cannot separate the nation in

which you live, and say you will work for its prosperity and welfare alone, without considering that its

prosperity and welfare depend on that of others. And the differences on that point go right through a great deal

of the political thought of the day.

Take the question of reparations. I am not going to discuss in detail what ought to be done in that difficult and

vexed question, but I want to call your attention to the mistake which was originally made, and which we have

never yet been able to retrieve. The fundamental error of Versailles was the failure to recognise that even in

dealing with a conquered enemy you can only successfully proceed by co−operation. That was the

mistake−−the idea that the victorious Powers could impose their will without regard to the feelings and

desires and national sentiment of their enemy, even though he was beaten. For the first time in the history of

peace conferences, the vanquished Power was not allowed to take part in any real discussion of the terms of

the treaty. The attitude adopted was, "These are our terms, take or leave them, but you will get nothing else."

No attempt was made to appreciate, or even investigate the view put forward by the Germans on that

occasion. And last, but not least, they were most unfortunately excluded from membership of the League at

that time. I felt profoundly indignant with the Germans and their conduct of the war. I still believe it was due

almost exclusively to the German policy and the policy of their rulers that the war took place, and that it was

reasonable and right to feel profound indignation, and to desire that international misdeeds of that character should be adequately punished. But what was wrong was to think that you could as a matter of practice or of

international ethics try to impose by main force a series of provisions without regard to the consent or dissent

of the country on which you were trying to impose them. That is part of the heresy that force counts for

everything. I wish some learned person in Oxford or elsewhere would write an essay to show how little force

has been able to achieve in the world. And the curious and the really remarkable thing is that it was this heresy

which brought Germany herself to grief. It is because of the false and immoral belief in the all−powerfulness

of force that Germany has fallen, and yet those opposed to Germany, though they conquered her, adopted only

too much of her moral code.

It was because the Allies really adopted the doctrine of the mailed fist that we are now suffering from the

terrible economic difficulties and dangers which surround us. I venture to insist on that now, because there are

a large number of people who have not abandoned that view. There are still a number of people who think the

real failure that has been committed is not that we went wrong, as I think, in our negotiations at Versailles, but

that we have not exerted enough force, and that the remedy for the present situation is more threats of force. I

am sure it won't answer. I want to say that that doctrine is just as pernicious when applied to France as when

applied to Germany. You have made an agreement. You have signed and ratified a treaty; you are

internationally bound by that treaty. It is no use turning round and with a new incarnation of the policy of the

mailed fist threatening one of your co−signatories that they are bound to abandon the rights which you

wrongly and foolishly gave to them under that treaty.

I am against a policy based on force as applied to Germany. I am equally opposed to a policy based on force

as applied to France. If we really understand the creed for which we stand, we must aim at co−operation all

round. If we have made a mistake we must pay for it. If we are really anxious to bring peace to the world, and

particularly to Europe, we must be prepared for sacrifices. We have got to establish economic peace, and if we

don't establish it in a very short time we shall be faced with economic ruin. In the strictest, most nationalistic

interests of this country, we have to see that economic war comes to an end. We have got to make whatever

concessions are necessary in order to bring that peace into being.