President Roosevelt's despatching of Mr Sumner Welles to the European capitals forms part of a determined drive to see if peace can be negotiated this year.
While grave obstacles to peace are recognised, there is a strong body of opinion in neutral countries which believes that an early peace could be negotiated and that its terms would be preferable for the good of Europe and the world to the indefinite prolongation of the war of attrition.
Italy, Spain and the South American republics are the countries where this view is most strongly held.
The first diplomatic consideration of the Holy See at present, it is said, is to prevent the further spread of the war, more particularly in the Balkan area, and it is officially denied by the Apostolic Delegate to London that the Holy See has so far made soundings in London about the Sumner Welles mission.
It is the chances of this peace initiative which President Roosevelt wishes to have studied at first hand by Mr Sumner Welles, who is visiting Rome in the first place. He will then learn of the real feelings towards it of the three belligerent capitals.
Mr Robert Sencourt, CATHOLIC IRRALD Special Diplomatic Correspondent, gives below the arguments behind the peace plan.
Our Diplomatic Correspondent describes the latest feelings at the Vatican and in Rome.
The results for peace of the important Balkan con
ference are analysed by a special correspondent.
Our Russian Correspondent argues that the adequate defence of Finland is as essential to early peace as to ultimate victory.
On page 5, our readers comment on the concrete peace pledge suggested in a Cernmee HERALD leader last week.
Front ROBERT SENCOURT.
CsmoLic IIKRALD Special Diplomatic Correspondent.
It is important to have some idea of the atmosphere within which the peace efforts being made by President Roosevelt— and for that matter, the Pope— will progress. Neutrals do not see the war in the official British way, and in the course of a number of conversations with neutral ambassadors I am able to present a picture which, whether we agree with it or not, must be taken into account.
As the war goes on, it is felt in these circles that it can lead to no definite conclusion. There is no evidence that the Allies look forward to an intensification of the war by launching a devastating attack, and bloody reprisals on a scale that might be equally devastating not only for France and Britain, but also for neutrals, are therefore not likely. The sufferings that have already fallen on Poland are certainly greater than would have followed a negotiation such as Hitler demanded, for her position would then at worst have been the same as Bohemia and Moravia or Slovakia. This also means that none of the territories would have been handed over to Bolshevism. In a friendly atmosphere these countries, while inevitably economically bound to Germany, might retain cultural autonomy.
On the other side there is no expectation of a German attack. This is based on the fact that Hitler has twice urged attacks on Holland and Belgium, and each time the General Staff has warned him against them. In these days of scientific warfare only the specialists can decide whether an attack is feasible, and without the assent of the Staff the German army cannot move.
GERMAN RESOURCES LESS PLENTIFUL
Every military consideration points to the fact that a German attack in the West would lead to great losses and no military objective. As their resources are less plentiful than ours they would be the more weakened from expenditure of their reserves.
They have everything to gain from
sitting tight while we weaken our whole economic and social system by vast preparations which have every probability of being abortive because we also cannot force a decision by attack. Hitler by exhausting our financial strength could take full advantage of the fact that he began the war bankrupt. Nor can the Allies constrain neutrals because we still value our moral obligations. By forcing the pace of armaments Hitler loses almost nothing while we imperil our whole system. Our economic warfare, it is contended, does no more than inconvenience Germany, and neutrals claim that our own Government fears lest time operate on the German side through the organisation of Russian-German trade, while our credit contracts.
PEACE ON REASONABLE TERMS The friendly neutral contention is then that if we can make peace on any reasonable terms — terms that might now be obtained by serious diplomatic action—we shall entirely reverse the operation. We shall conserve our own resources, while Hitler will be forced to acknowledge that his whole system of armaments, which takes all freedom and development from his people, has done nothing except to impoverish the neighbours with whom he traded and to bring Russia nearer.
The German people and the army would then have leisure to survey the practical failure of the whole foreign policy of the Nazi regime.
At the same time history is not where it was seven years ago. In those days the Western Powers had no consideration of the welfare of Germany. and they were beginning to flirt with Bolshevism. They had completely failed to secure any kind of settlement of the Danubian area,
The present struggle has awoken in all Europe a desire to exchange this haphazard nationalism for a definite
sense of inter-relation of well-being; in a word, of peace. Peace in Europe meanb justice both to that and to Germany. If guarantees of that justice were offered, it could be met with guarantees of disarmament and Europe could inaugurate a, system which would in time lead to an era of peace with real meaning, CONCESSIONS THAT LOOK LIKE
Such a system would of course mean from the Western Powers concessions which would at first glance look like sacrifices, but which would be in reality pledges for a mutual well-being which at no great distance of time would enrich them. Europe needs only to lessen tariffs and armaments to inaugurate an era •of commerce and construction which would far, far surpass anything she has yet known.
Such is the argument, and with emphasis on the Italian claims in the Mediterranean area which Mr Sumner Welles will hear in Rome. It is the argument which Mussolini can successfully put before the German people and their leaders. It is par excellence the argument of Catholic Spain. And it undoubtedly provides the framework within which the Holy See hopes that the saving of Europe from the shambles can be effected.
Having studied and absorbed it, Mr Welles will travel to London and Paris. What will he hear there?
GERMANY AND THE VATICAN
From Our Diplomatic Correspondent I am informed from excellent sources in Rome that the present chief diplomatic concern of the Holy See is to keep Russia and Germany out of the Balkans. It is felt that a break-through here would be difficult to stem, and that in course of time Western and Southern Europe would be overrun by the enemies of Christianity.
In this belief the Holy See and Italy are in close agreement.
At the same time open hostility to Germany is not considered the best way to stem this danger. It is impossible as yet to say whether Mussolini has made up his own mind about the wisest attitude for his country to take. Neutrality is bringing prosperity to Italy, and it can continue so long as Germany does not try to extend the area of conflict. After that, it will be a question of deciding whether Italy will get a better deal from making the best of a bad job or from hostility. For this reason her chief concern is to prevent the war from spreading, and, if possible, to bring it to an end.
One notices, too, that criticism of Germany is very rare in official or unofficial Vatican circles. The Holy See has made it clear to Germany that it is not responsible for the broadcasts from Vatican Radto, which are private.
(Continued on Page 5.)