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ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

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suitably, and were sometimes present in considerable numbers and during most of the sessions, and their advice was assimilated by the Four. Informal Inter-Allied Committees were formed, such as that on the Saar Valley régime, which took their instructions direct from the chief Plenipotentiaries, and worked out the details of their plans.

3. Advantages and Disadvantages of this Procedure. Almost all the principal decisions of the Conference, so far as the Treaty with Germany was concerned, were in fact made by the 'Council of Four', which, as was revealed by the subsequent withdrawal of Signor Orlando, was in many respects a Council of Three'. Such a procedure had many obvious advantages. It made possible a frank decision between the Chiefs of the three States which between them controlled an overwhelming preponderance of the military, naval, and economic resources of the world. It enabled compromises to be more easily arranged, and ensured almost complete secrecy in discussing the difficult questions on which the British Empire, France, and the United States were not yet in agreement. It was not impossible for three men to master the main principles of the whole settlement, and in any case they had to be responsible for the decisions. By centralizing all discussions in one small private room, they ensured that they should themselves absolutely control the making of the Treaty. The preliminary work of the Delegations might be said to have been done when the Commissions had reported. If more advice was wanted it could be obtained; meanwhile, it was essential that the three men whom the peoples looked to as responsible for the settlement should themselves make it.

All this was true, but the disadvantages of such a procedure were many. It threw greatly increased power into the hands of those who formed the personal staffs of the chief statesmen. Neither the Chiefs nor their immediate following could be fully informed as to the many questions on which decisions were made, yet advice was sought from subordinate officials and irresponsible sources, which would have been of greater value if checked by the machinery already established in Paris. The recommendations of the Commissions were often altered and adjusted without reference to those who had made them, with the result that confusion necessarily followed. Nor was the intensified secrecy established an unmixed blessing. The press, deprived of its sources of information, became more violent as

it became less omniscient, and public opinion, from which the statesmen might perhaps have learnt much, if it had been wisely consulted, was confused and irritated. The Small Powers were also almost entirely excluded from participation in these decisions, in many of which they. were vitally concerned. The influence of these great defects is seen in every page of the Treaty itself, and still more in the discussions which followed upon its signature.

Yet it must be remembered that the state of Europe was such that speedy decisions were now of paramount importance. The difficulty of working efficiently the great Inter-Allied machine had been clearly demonstrated in the previous period. No means had been found of controlling the work of the Commissions while it was in progress. The principal statesmen not unnaturally shrank from a procedure which might leave them at the mercy of their own officials. The plan which they followed was in fact a natural result of the temperaments of President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George, and M. Clemenceau. Each had been accustomed to work in a loose informal organization, on which their own wills could be clearly stamped. And none can deny that the procedure which they adopted showed them to be endowed with such courage, energy, and power of concentration as few statesmen have possessed.

4. The Drafting Commission. In this procedure one Commission played an important part. A Drafting Commission had already rendered great assistance to the other Commissions by turning the substance of their decisions into legal phraseology. Not only were the decisions thus rendered more clear, but the articles of the Treaty were prepared as the work of the Commissions proceeded. No other Commission surpassed this one in energy and powers of work, and its freedom from legal pedantry can be seen in the simple language in which the Treaties are drawn up. It was now able to render the greatest assistance to the 'Council of Four' by clothing often looselyworded decisions in concise and explicit phrases, which could be inserted directly into the Treaty. In some cases it may said to have gone further in interpretation than was perhaps intended, but it is difficult to see how the Treaties could have

be

1 Its members were: Dr. J. B. Scott (United States of America), Mr. C. J. B. Hurst (British Empire), M. Fromageot (France), Signor Ricci Busatti (Italy), M. H. Nagaoka (Japan).

THE COUNCIL OF FIVE'

267 been drawn up without the assistance of a body at once so assiduous, so expert, and so full of resource and initiative.

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5. The Council of Five'. Meanwhile another machine had been created, which also played an important part. The Foreign Ministers excluded from the Council of Four' were formed into another body called the Council of Five',1 for on this body Japan was represented. This body was able to relieve the 'Council of Four' of some of the minor problems which were pressing for settlement, especially those needing immediate action. It maintained the procedure of the old Council of Ten', and circulated formal minutes. As the Treaty approached completion it was a convenient route for the insertion of clauses which had been overlooked, while it was able to proceed with the discussion of the Austrian Treaty during the time that the principal statesmen were absorbed in the negotiation with Germany. It was, however, completely subordinate to the 'Council of Four', and for that reason lacked authority and initiative. Nevertheless, it was an important piece of machinery, not the least of its results being that it employed the energies of the Foreign Ministers and of a mass of subordinate officials. On one or two occasions it held joint sittings with the 'Council of Four', so that the old 'Council of Ten' was practically reconstructed, but these meetings were not a success.

6. More rapid Progress of the Work produces a Crisis. So rapidly did matters now proceed that on the 14th April an official communiqué was issued, to the effect that the Germans were invited to come to Versailles on the 25th April. At the same time the official decision that the Treaty with Germany would be signed first was made known. These announcements precipitated something like a crisis in the Conference. As the time for the final signature approached, all those who were specially interested in obtaining certain forms of settlement redoubled their efforts. Already on the 8th April 370 members of the British Parliament had sent a telegram demanding Mr. Lloyd George's adhesion to his election pledges. Public opinion indeed necessitated the return of the Prime Minister to England on the 14th April to speak in the House (16th). Though the exact terms of the decisions had on the whole been kept secret, sections of both the French and British press had begun to press for a vindictive peace. The French claim to the Left Bank of the Rhine was

1 Often called amongst the Anglo-Saxon delegates' The Second Eleven '.

voiced in many papers, an attack to which Marshal Foch's interview in the Daily Mail of the 19th April added some weight, and The Times continued its determined onslaught on Mr. Lloyd George.

7. Italy leaves the Conference. More serious was, however, the attitude of Italy. No sooner had the Germans, on the 21st, consented to send delegates on a specific date, than the Adriatic question, which had been discussed among the Four since the 14th April, became acute. On the 23rd President Wilson issued his open statement on Fiume, with the result that Signor Orlando left Paris, and the Italian Delegation withdrew from all participation in the Conference. But the Three continued their discussions, and the work of the Conference went on as before. Indeed, the only apparent effect on the German Treaty was the insertion of a clause that ratification by three of the Principal Allied Powers should be sufficient to bring it into force -a decision which in another connexion was to be of great importance at a later date. There were other threatening questions, but one great work was accomplished at this time. On the 28th April, in the Fifth Plenary Session, the Covenant of the League of Nations was adopted by the Allied Powers, and the text announced to the world. Two days later Count Brockdorff-Rantzau and the main body of the German delegates arrived at Versailles.

8. The German Delegation. When it was first announced to the German Government that discussion of the principles of the Treaty would not be permitted, they had proposed to dispense with the Plenipotentiaries and staff, and merely send secretaries to receive the document and bring it to the German Government. The Allied refusal to consider this procedure, which was accompanied with the announcement of military preparations in the Army of Occupation, induced them to revert to their original plan, and a full and very competent staff appeared at Versailles. Count Brockdorff-Rantzau was himself a trained diplomatist, and he was accompanied by a body of delegates which adequately represented the technical skill of the German people. The presence of numerous officials of the old régime, as well as a number of distinguished academic experts, ensured that the Germans would take full advantage of every opportunity afforded them of expostulation or criticism. The delegates were accompanied, too, by a number of press correspondents,

PRESENTATION OF THE TREATY

269 and it was clear that the Germans hoped that the weapon of publicity could be used by them with advantage. These points had been, however, thoroughly considered by the Allied statesmen. The Germans were treated with the courtesy, but also with the rigour which it is customary to show in transacting business with enemies. They were allowed unrestricted intercourse with their own country, but they were given no opportunity of meeting the Delegations assembled at Paris. Their movements were controlled by military officers, and except for the one or two formal occasions on which they met the Allies, they had no intercourse whatever with their enemies. There was, indeed, much justice in their plea that their work could have been done just as efficiently in their own country as in the carefully guarded hotels at Versailles.

9. The Presentation of the Treaty to the Small Powers. On the 7th May the Peace Treaty was handed over to Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, who met the assembled Allied Plenipotentiaries with a speech, of which the defiant tone caused much surprise. The delay had, however, been utilized to settle many important points. The Japanese succeeded in establishing their claims to Shantung, and thus avoided the necessity of following the Italian example. The Belgians were less successful in their claims, in spite of a personal visit from King Albert, but acquiesced in the decision of the Four. The other Powers had little time to register protest. The full text of the Treaty was not presented to the Plenary Conference until the day before it was presented to the Germans.1 Though no formal vote was taken, their assent was obtained, but much indignation was expressed at the almost total exclusion of the Small Powers, including the British Dominions, from the final decisions. They had, it is true, been represented on the Commissions which had drafted the Economic and Financial Clauses, and those dealing with Reparations. But the reports of these Commissions had been altered at will by the 'Council of Four', and their criticisms on these alterations had not been invited. In the circumstances, however, they had no alternative but to acquiesce, but the Session was notable for a protest by the Chinese, and one by

1 On the same day as the Treaty was handed over to the Germans two important decisions were announced, the distribution of the Mandates of the German Colonies and the important Treaty between France, Great Britain, and the United States, which was intended to give special protection to France.

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