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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Peaceless Europe, by Francesco Saverio Nitti This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Peaceless Europe Author: Francesco Saverio Nitti Release Date: November 15, 2003 [EBook #10090] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PEACELESS EUROPE *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Josephine Paolucci and PG Distributed Proofreaders PEACELESS EUROPE By FRANCESCO S. NITTI 1922 PREFACE In this book are embodied the ideas which, as a parliamentarian, as head of the Italian Government, and as a writer, I have upheld with firm conviction during the last few years. I believe that Europe is threatened with decadence more owing to the Peace Treaties than as a result of the War. She is in a state of daily increasing decline, and the causes of dissatisfaction are growing apace. Europe is still waiting for that peace which has not yet been definitely concluded, and it is necessary that the public should be made aware that the courses now being followed by the policy of the great victorious States are perilous to the achievement of serious, lasting and useful results. I believe that it is to the interest of France herself if I speak the language of truth, as a sincere friend of France and a confirmed enemy of German Imperialism. Not only did that Imperialism plunge Germany into a sea of misery and suffering, covering her with the opprobrium of having provoked the terrible War, or at least of having been mainly responsible for it, but it has ruined for many years the productive effort of the most cultured and industrious country in Europe. Some time ago the ex-President of the French Republic, R. Poincaré, after the San Remo Conference, à propos of certain differences of opinion which had arisen between Lloyd George and myself on the one hand and Millerand on the other, wrote as follows: "Italy and England know what they owe to France, just as France knows what she owes to them. They do not wish to part company with us, nor do we with them. They recognize that they need us, as we have need of them. Lloyd George and Nitti are statesmen too shrewd and experienced not to understand that their greatest strength will always lie in this fundamental axiom. On leaving San Remo for Rome or London let them ask the opinion of the 'man in the street.' His reply will be: 'Avant tout, restez unis avec la France.'" I believe that Lloyd George and I share the same cordial sentiments toward France. We have gone through so much suffering and anxiety together that it would be impossible to tear asunder links firmly welded by common danger and pain. France will always remember with a sympathetic glow that Italy was the first country which proclaimed her neutrality, on August 2, 1914; without that proclamation the destinies of the War might have taken a very different turn. But the work of reconstruction in Europe is in the interest of France herself. She has hated too deeply to render a sudden cessation of her hate-storm possible, and the treaties have been begotten in rancour and applied with violence. Even as the life of men, the life of peoples has days of joy and days of grief: sunshine follows the storm. The whole history of European peoples is one of alternate victories and defeats. It is the business of civilization to create such conditions as will render victory less brutal and defeat more bearable. The recent treaties which regulate, or are supposed to regulate, the relations among peoples are, as a matter of fact, nothing but a terrible regress, the denial of all those principles which had been regarded as an unalienable conquest of public right. President Wilson, by his League of Nations, has been the most responsible factor in setting up barriers between nations. Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe hoping to land in India, whereas he discovered America. President Wilson sailed from America thinking that he was going to bring peace to Europe, but only succeeded in bringing confusion and war. However, we should judge him with the greatest indulgence, for his intentions were undoubtedly sincere and honest. France has more to gain than any other country in Europe by reverting to those sound principles of democracy which formed her erstwhile glory. We do not forget what we owe her, nor the noble spirit which pervades some of her historic deeds. But noblesse oblige, and all the more binding is her duty to respect tradition. When France shall have witnessed the gradual unfolding of approaching events, she will be convinced that he who has spoken to her the language of truth and has sought out a formula permitting the peoples of Europe to rediscover their path in life, towards life, is not only a friend, but a friend who has opportunely brought back to France's mind and heart the deeds of her great ancestors at the time when fresh deeds of greatness and glory await accomplishment. The task which we must undertake with our inmost feeling, with all the ardour of our faith, is to find once more the road to peace, to utter the word of brotherly love toward oppressed peoples, and to reconstruct Europe, which is gradually sinking to the condition of Quattrocento Italy, without its effulgence of art and beauty: thirty States mutually diffident of each other, in a sea of programmes and Balkan ideas. Towards the achievement of this work of civilization the great democracies must march shoulder to shoulder. At the present moment I hear nothing but hostile voices; but the time is not far distant when my friends of France will be marching with us along the same road. They already admit in private many things which they will presently be obliged to recognize openly. Many truths are the fruit of persuasion; others, again, are the result of former delusions. I place my greatest trust in the action of American democracy. By refusing to sanction the Treaty of Versailles and all the other peace treaties, the American Senate has given proof of the soundest political wisdom: the United States of America has negotiated its own separate treaties, and resumes its pre-war relations with victors and vanquished alike. It follows that all that has been done hitherto in the way of treaties is rendered worthless, as the most important participant has withdrawn. This is a further motive for reflecting that it is impossible to continue living much longer in a Europe divided by two contending fields and by a medley of rancour and hatred which tends to widen the chasm. It is of the greatest interest to America that Europe should once more be the wealthy, prosperous, civilized Europe which, before 1914, ruled over the destinies of the world. Only by so great an effort
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