The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations

The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations

The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations

The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations

Excerpt

The demand for a second edition of The Twenty Years' Crisis faced the author with a difficult decision. A work on international politics completed in the summer of 1939, however rigorously it eschewed prophecy, necessarily bore marks of its time in substance, in phraseology, in its use of tenses and, above all, in such phrases as "the War", "post-War" and so forth, which can no longer be related without a strong effort on the part of the reader to the war of 1914-18. When, however, I approached the task of revision, it soon became clear that if I sought to re-write every passage which had been in some way affected by the subsequent march of events, I should be producing not a second edition of an old book but essentially a new one; and this would have been a clumsy and unprofitable attempt to force new wine into old bottles. The Twenty Years' Crisis remains a study of the period between the two wars written as that period was coming to an end and must be treated on its merits as such. What I have done, therefore, is to recast phrases which would be misleading or difficult to readers now far remote in time from the original context, to modify a few sentences which have invited misunderstanding, and to remove two or three passages relating to current controversies which have been eclipsed or put in a different perspective by the lapse of time.

On the other hand, I have changed nothing of substance, and have not sought to modify expressions of opinion merely on the ground that I should not unreservedly endorse them to-day. Perhaps, therefore, I may be permitted to indicate here the two main respects in which I am conscious of having since departed to some degree from the outlook reflected in these pages.

In the first place, The Twenty Years' Crisis was written with the deliberate aim of counteracting the glaring and dangerous defect of nearly all thinking, both academic and popular, about international politics in English-speaking countries from 1919 to 1939 -- the almost total neglect of the factor of power. To-day this defect, though it sometimes recurs when items of a future settlement are under discussion, has been to a con-

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