CHAPTER XII
ALBANIA

Like the roaring lion in the first epistle of St. Peter, Mussolini walked about seeking whom he might devour. The only country in which he could hope to make headway was Albania.

If European affairs had been in the hands of men of common sense, they would have entrusted the administration of Albania for a period of twenty-five or perhaps even fifty years to the League of Nations, under whose supervision an international commission would have administered the country, maintaining order, building roads and railways, reclaiming the malarial marshlands, establishing a school system, expropriating the Beys, organizing the population into autonomous cantons similar to those of Switzerland, and training the younger generations to live the life of a civilized modern nation. Towards the end of what Nationalists and Fascists call "the stupid nineteenth century" and early in the twentieth there existed a "Concert of Powers" limited to Europe and without the participation of the smaller Powers. Imperfect though it was, this attempt at international co-operation yielded two results which after World War One could have furnished European diplomacy with two excellent precedents in dealing with the Albanian question. After the rebellion of the Island of Crete against Turkish domination ( 1896), the Concert of Powers took the chaos-ridden island under its supervision; the maintenance of order was entrusted to an Italian police force which set up an enviable record for integrity and humanity; and when the opportune moment came, Crete passed without effort or disturbance under Greek sovereignty. In 1904 the Concert of Powers took Macedonia, rent by ferocious internecine strife, under its administration. From 1904 to 1908, that hapless country enjoyed comparative peace and prosperity. The revolt of the young Turks in 1908 put an end to the international administration of Macedonia, and the horrors started again. The League of Nations might easily have become a second and less rudimentary Concert of Powers. It might have done for Albania what had already been done for Crete and Macedonia. The very people who believed the League of Nations inadequate to the solution of great questions, acknowledged its ability to solve menial problem. The Albanian question belonged to this category. It only needed to be taken out of the hands of a few dozen Albanian, Italian, Yugoslav, and Greek gangsters. An Albania civilized after a half-century of international control could have become a valuable factor for peace in the Balkan peninsula.

-103-

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