Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/163

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The Federal Austria which some of our diplomatists dream of, in which Slav Bohemia, and Slav Croatia, Bosnia and Dalmatia, would be autonomous units of the same importance as German Austria and Magyar Hungary, would be intolerable to the Magyars and it is idle for us to dream that they would ever allow it.

Even, however, if we could be content to accept the status quo, under which the twenty-four millions of Slavs and four millions of Rumanians and Italians of Austria-Hungary are enslaved to the twelve millions of Germans and ten millions of Magyars, there still remains the question as to whether the Dual Monarchy can extricate herself from the war, with the best will in the world, without the connivance of Germany.

Rumor has it that when, a few months ago, the question came before the French General Staff, they replied to the “Separate-Pacifists” who approached them by showing them a secret memorandum of the dispositions of the German and Austrian armies. On the Italian front, the extreme claims of Italian Nationalists have unhappily made it possible that Slav regiments which have deserted en masse against their Russian kinsmen can be trusted without being stiffened and watched by German units. Elsewhere, however, as the French Staff showed, there is not a single Austro-Hungarian unit that is not linked up inextricably with German regiments. It would be a miracle if the Austro-Hungarian army could succeed in cutting itself out.

Should the coming of such a miracle be prayed for? Can the Entente, in loyalty to all its members, work for it? It is difficult to see how it can. We are pledged to secure for Italy not only the Trentino, but Trieste and Pola and the strategic control of the Adriatic. We brought Rumania into the war and involved her in untold misery at the price of Transylvania. Neither Austria nor Hungary would make such concessions except at the point of the sword. Yet we could not in honor forego these demands.

On a slightly different level are the questions of Jugo-Slavia and Bohemia. Though the sympathies of the Austrian Slavs have been from the first on the side of the Entente, the military system has had so firm a grip on them that the politicians who have escaped, and the soldiers who have deserted, have left their sons and brothers in the enemies’ ranks. We are not, therefore bound in honor to them in the same way as we are to Italy and Rumania. Even in regard to Serbia, our only actual pledge is to restore her territory and compensate her for her sufferings.

The union of the Serbs of Serbia with the Serbs and Croats of Austria-Hungary, in a new Southern-Slav or Jugo-Slav State, is not a matter of our plighted word, except so far as we have included it in the peace terms that we laid down in our Note to America.

We thus reach our last consideration. Granting that Austria-Hungary could make a peace in defiance of Germany (which requires miracle No. 1), and that she would consent to sacrifice Transylvania and the control of the Adriatic (which implies miracle No. 2), should we by accepting these terms secure a just and stable reconstruction of Europe?

Certain English politicians have started the cry that if Home Rule is good enough for Ireland it is good enough for Bohemia and the Southern Slavs. Such analogy shows complete ignorance of the cynical and corrupt traditions of the Austro-Hungarian Government. Whatever Constitution were given to the Slavs on paper, the authorities would in practice see to it that it was made of no effect, by the familiar devices of intimidating the electors, falsifying the election returns, or overriding the laws by special royal decree.

If the Slavs are united with the Germans and Magyars in one State, the dynasty, with the immense power it exercises through the army and the bureaucracy will see to it that the Germans and Magyars are in the future, as they have been in the past, the two ruling races.

Even if we were to abandon our championship of small nationalities, and look at the matter from the point of view of mere self-interest, we should have to face the fact that a separate peace with Austria-Hungary would mean the permanent consolidation of German-Magyar power. Germany itself might well be content to suffer a temporary blow to her prestige if in fact her scheme of Central Europe were established and her corridor to the East kept open. The Austro-Hungarian scheme is a will-o’-the-wisp and a snare.

Our advice to the “Separate-Pacifist” is—“Begin at Turkey, and work West.”