"Don't start that hare! God knows where it might lead us!" Cited by Y. M. GOBLET, The Twilight of Treaties ( 1936).
WITH these words a European delegate at the International Geography Congress at Paris in 1931 reacted to the proposal that a section dealing with political geography should be created to function at subsequent meetings. Doubtless his fear of the possible corruption of academic geography by such an innovation is easily explicable in terms of the circumstances of the time. The first world war had undermined the European states system and, in its effects, recast the political map. Old empires had dissolved; new national states had emerged. As Count Keyserling decribed it, Europe had become "an astoundingly manifold, astoundingly riven structure; the Balkans constitute its truest prototype."
The small area of Europe, equivalent to one-twelfth of the earth's land surface, had come to contain uneasily within its bounds three-fifths of the independent states of the world, and these were enclosed within no less than 17,000 miles of boundary (the comparable figure in 1914 was 13,000), or one- sixth of the world total. Moreover, it was then a fresh recollection in the minds of geographers who had taken part at, or watched the activities of, the Paris Peace Conference that not only had geography played there a sober and scientific part in the examination of boundary problems but had been misused by those whose prime concern was the advancement of particular territorial aspirations. The maps produced at the Paris Conference, though for the most part the result of careful expert study, included others the authenticity of which was at the least suspect.