The Economic Policy of Austria-Hungary during the War in Its External Relations

The Economic Policy of Austria-Hungary during the War in Its External Relations

The Economic Policy of Austria-Hungary during the War in Its External Relations

The Economic Policy of Austria-Hungary during the War in Its External Relations

Excerpt

There may nowadays be a legitimate difference of opinion as to the truth of the adage si vis pacem para bellum; there can be none as to the need for those who ensue peace to know the root causes of war. The following pages are full of instruction in this respect; they are also full of instruction, both by way of warning and example, in the art of making peace. In a work dealing with economic policy it is naturally the economic aspects of the World War, as a portentous phase in the general struggle for existence, that are brought into prominence. In these long and complicated negotiations -- between Austria-Hungary and Germany, between Austria and Hungary, between the Central Powers and the Bolsheviks, between the Central Powers and Rumania -- what we are apt to regard as the loftier international ideals find little place. The talk, as between friends, is of tariffs: as between enemies, it is of rectifications of frontier and concessions, as well as of tariffs. The record of dignified representatives of the old diplomacy solemnly discussing the quota of pigs to be admitted from one country into another is in itself illuminating.

The nations, in short, appear in these pages stripped of their romantic trappings; they appear as what essentially they are, that is to say, large groups of people bound together by a keen sense of their separate interests, and protecting themselves, to the best of their ability, against the competition of other, similar groups. The problem of peace, as is now well understood, is that of strengthening among the nations the sense of the interests they have in common. It is not a problem easy to solve, as the negotiations here recorded abundantly prove. The creation of an economic "Central Europe," to which these negotiations were largely directed, might possibly have solved it so far as the relations of certain nations to each other were concerned; but, essentially, it would have meant no more than the formation of a new, larger, and more powerful group, organized for defense against similar groups elsewhere. The area of free trade on the continent of Europe would have been widened; but universal free trade, which is the real sine qua non of lasting peace, would have been as far off as ever.

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