Preface || 1: From a Front-line Cellar to the Hotel Crillon
THE CAUSES of war vary in detail, although in most instances they have their source in
the expansionist policies of a nation of people on the make, or in the determination of a
fading power to hold what it acquired when it was young and strong and relatively
Nations in the first category which have made war have usually been egged on to it by a
chorus of ancestral voices both jingo and traditional of whom Wagner and Hegel are good
examples and this cultural voodoo has usually evoked an uncultured but more effective
demagogic leader of whom Hitler will serve as well as any in history as the illustration.
Nations in the second category need no such mental preparation for war their principal
requirement is a seneschal with a good loud horn to rouse them unwillingly from their
slumbers with the news that the rustlers are among their fat sheep and cattle.
But the occasions of war nearly always have been the outgrowth of the conflicting
policies of such nations as these in the territory of small or weak peoples, strategically
located for this purpose by the curse of geography or natural riches. Because the peoples
at the point of conflict are small or weak this enables the new aggressor or the hold-fast
overlord to play appealingly on the strings of the instruments of virtue, assuring one or
all of these several results:
The masses in the strong nations are presented with a handmade set of idealistic
objectives, which many require for spiritual consolation and the rest for a dignified
The military and civil leaders of the nations which engage in the war can publicly
summon God to their standards with every mark of belief that He could not possibly make
another choice, and this comforts the upright whom they summon to the colors.
The victims who furnish the occasions of war and most of the battle areas are thus
held in the supply system of the victors, who always stand in need of abnormal supply
quotas after they have won their wars.
If the small or weak peoples who furnish most of the occasions and areas for large
conflict could ever have their grievances reasonably redressed, if the promises of the
great were ever fully kept to them, and if those forced onto the losing side were not
stripped of the opportunities for a fair existence, it would be much more difficult for
the great nations to justify this hypocritical use of them in the rhetoric which always
precedes and accompanies it. And the difficulty would be greater in this period of the
world s history for these reasons:
A Second World War, twenty-five years after the First (and with the Twentieth
Century in which they were fought not yet half over) has produced a real determination in
every nation to try to space these conflicts more widely.
Those who feel this determination, currently expressed m the United Nations
Organization, are more attracted than ever before by the thesis that in a successful
league to keep the peace all nations must be heard and heeded, and some of the sovereignty
of the great must go into a world pool with that of the small.
War has demonstrated twice, emphatically, and in the sight of millions of living
men and women, that it is the eternal vanguard of the Four Horsemen, however pious and
idealistic the assertions of any who participated may be.
Because of these things, Colonel BonsaI's book is more timely, and could have more
lasting benefit, than at any period of the past in which it might have appeared. The
story, documented by the records of the author in his official capacity at Paris in 1919,
is that of the efforts of the small nations to remove themselves thereafter as the
occasions of war. And it is the story of their failure to get from the victors the
assistance essential to that objective.
The direct consequence, as these pages make plain, was another and larger and more
terrible war. Nor is the atmosphere of the anterooms of the next peace conference, in
which the "suitors and suppliants" are again forgathering for the same purpose,
very favorable to a wiser and fairer arbitrament of their claims than that, related by
Colonel Bonsal, in which was spawned the Axis and the hideous war that followed.
But man somehow and at times progresses and learns from the lessons of the past when
they are written down plain and the span of human experience is as brief as that from 1919
to 1946. The plain writing is here and the lesson is obvious. Also, the author speaks by
facts within his own sight and knowledge.
This is no "analysis," no assumption "on reliable witness." It is
the group photograph of the small nations at Paris and Versailles, illuminated but not
posed by the ablest and best-informed foreign correspondent in the history of the American
press, and a diplomat and statesman when called upon to be.
Once when he felt obliged to relate what he thought to be too tall a tale of history,
Gibbon countered with this footnote: "Abu Rafe says he will be witness for this fact,
but who will be witness for Abu Rafe?" That question does not arise in the contents
of the following pages. The facts themselves, expertly assembled by Colonel Bonsal, and
with foreboding, are sufficient witness.
[Arthur B. Krock (November 16, 1886 Glasgow, KY - April 12, 1974, Washington, DC)
was the principal political writer and analyst of the New York Times for a generation
(1932 - 66). Twice a recipient of the Pulitzer prize, he was famous for his calm analysis
of American political life.]