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Welsh outlook


Vol. 5, No. 9 Sept. 1918

War and peace : (A.) Treaties of peace. (B.) Lessons of the world war.

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IT is probable that we are still distant from the days
when the fiery fight is heard no more," but it is
nevertheless no unprofitable task to consider the basis upon
which Peace shal. be made. It would be an historical
tragedy of the first order if the fruits of victory were to be
cozened from us by a successful German peace offensive.
Knowledge alone can avert such a catastrophe, and such
knowledge it is the function of history and political science
to supply.
It is reasonable to suppose that the new peace will not
differ in most of its essential characteristics from the peaces
of the past. History records treaties that failed to secure
their objects, like the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, or
of Amiens in 1802; but on the other hand most of the
Great Wars have either effectively secured, or definitely
failed to secure the objects for which they were waged.
In either case the effect has been permanent, and the result
decisive. The lessons of these treaties-the failures no
less than the successes-are the most essential groundwork
for any attempt to lay down the lines of a future treaty.
The *two volumes before us are excellently conceived
with that object in view. They are in no sense competitive,
but rather complementary to one another. The Oxford
volume forming one of the History of the Belligerents
series is confined to the European treaties of the nineteenth
century. Its scope is mainly historical. It gives the
texts of all the chief treaties in full-an invaluable aid to
the student who has usually to search for these documents
in bulky and expensive volumes. Each treaty or set of
treaties is prefaced by a plain and straightforward historical
introduction, and an useful series of sketch maps materially
assists the study of the text.
The preliminary chapter on the conclusion of treaties in
its technical aspect is of great value. It contains a fund
of information as to details of diplomatic practice and the
procedure in negotiations that can hardly be found else-
where in a form so concise and accessible. On the other
hand a discussion of the general law applicable to treaties
is not attempted, except in so far as Sir Erie Richards'
introduction deals with the question of the effect of war
upon treaties. For the most part also the documents
reprinted are confined to treaties of peace, and the text
to the exposition of their historical antecedents. The
treaties of a juristic character, such as the Geneva and Hague
conventions, which call for different treatment are advisedly
The essay of Sir Walter (now Lord) Phillimore is more
definitely constructive. He begins with the Peace of
Westphalia in 1648 as marking the period when the system
of international relations in its modern form acquired
stability, and when the principle of the Balance of Power
was recognised as the basis of such stability. No texts are
given, and diplomatic practice is not discussed, but the
treaties are examined with the avowed object of deducing
*(a). Three Centuries of Treaties of Peace and their Teaching,"
by Sir W. G. F. Phillimore, Bart., late Lord Justice of Appeal. London
(John Murray). 7s. 6d. Pp. 227.
(b). The Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth
Century." Edited by Sir Augustus Oakes and R. B. Movat. Oxford
at the Clarendon Press. 7s. 6d. Pp.403.
from them, first, the conditions that are essential for the
conclusion of a satisfactory and lasting peace, and secondly
the way in which these conditions should be applied in
general principle to the conclusion of the peace to which
the world is now looking forward. The book is in fact a
reasoned discussion of war aims based upon the lessons of
the past, in which the principles are clearly laid down, and
the difficulties fearlessly faced.
The learned author begins by formulating nine maxims
which should be considered as the foundations of treaties,
and points out in the course of the work the dangers and
difficulties that have arisen from the neglect of them.
Some of these maxims need only to be stated to command
general assent, at any rate outside the regions where the
dogmas of militarism and Real-politik are treated as
the only foundations of international relations, but historical
examples prove that the necessity for stating them clearly
is none the less pressing on that account. Others are
equally acceptable in theory but extremely difficult to carry
out in practice. The question of a "natural" frontier,
well-marked, strong for defence, and yet not tempting to
aggression is an instance. It would indeed be a happy
condition of affairs if all States composed of peoples
desirous of living as one nation," (the second maxim), were
geographically situated within such boundaries or any-
thing approaching them, but unfortunately for the peace
of the world the actual condition of affairs is far otherwise.
The case of Ulster has made us realise only too well
within the last few years the difficulty of drawing a purely
administrative boundary between antagonistic peoples
apart from any military considerations. In truth a large
proportion of boundaries must be a compromise between
conflicting principles. The technicalities of boundary
making are nevertheless of high importance, because if the
ideal is unattainable it is possible to avoid the worst
a modest aim that to say the least of it has not always been
The final chapter on the general conclusions is of the
highest interest. Lord Phillimore is emphatically of
opinion that the neutralisation of states and the erection of
Buffer States are alike useless. There is a great deal to be
said for this view, but it is possible to hold that these
conceptions have not entirely outlived their period of
usefulness. On the other hand the experiences of a world
war have shown that the whole idea of neutrality can never
be restored to its ancient basis. One can agree absolutely
with the statement that-
Guarantees are idle things. Generally, the security for future
Peace does not lie in promises or stipulations, but in the establish-
nemt of a just and stable order."
Into the details of the territorial resettlement it is im-
possible now to enter; much must depend upon future
circumstances that we cannot yet foresee but it is ex-
ceedingly profitable to study the actual and most compli-
cated questions involved, and at least to formulate a set of
principles to be carried into effect if it is at all possible to
do so. And it is just this process that Lord Phillimore
enables his readers to carry out, whether they can accept
all his conclusions or not. For this all thanks are due to
him. H.J.R.
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