The Hoare-Laval Plan was a great triumph for Mussolini. First of all it upset the time-table of sanctions.1 Moreover, he was given the right to annex half of Ethiopia. As the Italian Fascist organ in France, La Nuova Italia, wrote ( 12. xii), the offer proved that "the two great Powers knew that Italy was not the aggressor". "We have never heard that conciliatory proposals are made to aggressor nations". If Mussolini had accepted the plan, the English electorate and the House of Commons would have been confronted with a fait accompli. Peace would have ensued, and peace—even if it is a bad peace-is always preferable to war, especially if others pay the price.
Feiling states that Baldwin and his colleagues agreed to the Hoare- Laval terms "with much dissatisfaction". And from Neville Chamberlain's diary one gathers that he had no idea that Hoare would consider "detailed peace proposals":
"I believed, and as far as I know, my colleagues believed also, that in Paris only some plan would be worked out, which could prevent the League from prejudicing the chances of a favourable issue by thrusting in a particularly provocative extra sanction at that moment."2
Neville Chamberlain, engrossed as he was in the business of his department, was, most likely, not kept informed on all the details of the Paris-London negotiations. But the Hoare-Laval plan did not spring up like a mushroom overnight. Feiling himself states (p. 273) that since October, British officials had been in Paris working out a peace plan. Sir Samuel's course of action in Paris was the outcome of everything that had been done with Baldwin's full consent during the whole of the preceding year. As the Manchester Guardian ( 12. xii) explained, the problem Baldwin had to solve was whether "the League should become a society for the compensation of unsuccessful aggressors or collective security should be made the principle for collective robbery". Baldwin had solved this problem long before he sat down to breakfast on the morning of December 9 and read Peterson's report.
During the night of December 8-9, Augur cabled from London to the New York Times an exact summary of the plan; the Paris correspondent did the same; and on the morning of the 9th, the Petit Parisien, Echo de Parish, and L'Œuvre gave the same digest in Paris. According to Feis, "the current and probably correct surmise is that____________________