"The Athenians had sea-power with all its dangers and its blessings--'how
great a thing is sea-power' (Thucydides). But, as a sea-power, they were vulnerable, as England is today." ( F. A. Voigt, "Unto Ceasar", Putnam, 1938)
" Role of Buffer States in International Relations" by
Mary Barnes Gear,
teacher of fifth and sixth grades in the Ideal Elementary School, La Grange, Illinois, now graduate student at University of Chicago, in the issue of March, 1941,
is one of a series on world problems that have appeared in the Journal of Geography. If Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Hull, or Mr. Welles could have studied geography
under Miss Gear, our foreign policy would have been different. As an adviser of
the State Department, Miss Gear on our present basis of expenditure for 'defense' should be worth several billions a year. "Contrary to the reciprocal plan of
Nature, Man, with his greed and feeling of self-importance, has worked relentlessly for centuries to hack the surface of the earth into small bits, politically.
Where the aggressive state has acquired all it dares to take . . . a boundary is
needed, especially if the acquired territory extends close to the ecumene of a
nearby state. Marches in the Middle Ages in Britain and what is now Germany
were formed of newly conquered borderlands under marcher lords." Later buffer
states were set up, natural like Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan to protect India. Belgium, a state created after Napoleon's time, and the Netherlands, political
buffer states, control the mouths of the Rhine and keep Germany off. "The British Empire seems to be the world's greatest buffer builder. Great Britain and France have guaranteed the independence of the lowland passage countries. The
security of a buffer state depends upon the security it affords its neighbors by its
existence between them" and most "pursue a precarious policy of neutrality".
"What is to be the future of the buffer states?"
THE ROAD WE FOLLOW
Defense is a euphemism today necessary with a democratic peaceful
people preparing for offense.(1) Arming has but one purpose, to create
a striking force, with modern weapons to develop superior fire power.
The stimulus to kill a greater number quicker is fear. The English take
a realistic view. Churchill wants to "smash Germany", Halifax to
"destroy every vestige" (cf p 563). The President's purpose, which
has now become the nation's, is simple, and reveals an animus against a
personal devil,(2)--"I want to help England lick Hitler".(3)
Total war today involves psychological as well as technological preparation. Economic factors however come first, the necessity for providing material and food,--tungsten as well as vitamin B. On the economic
side, in wealth of natural resources, we are supreme. Technologically,
we will in time prevail. But the psychological side of warfare, surprise