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FRANCE'S STRONG MAN

GEORGES CLEMENCEAU A PERSONAL GLIMPSE Georges Clemenceau is aj?ain at the lielm in Prance—a political event which may properly be described as tho most important which ha-s occurred in the Republic since the beginning of tho war (writes Maivrico Leon in tlio 'American "Review of Reviews"). The change of Ministry this time does not imply merely that a group of men "selected from among the membership of tho Fronch Parliament, having lost the support of a legislative majority, make way for a new group of parliamentarians having such a majority' behind them and who take their places as political heads of the Departments of the Government; for often such changes aro meaningless, often they are brought about merely by unimportant differences between the Government and the majority. Under the French system, the continuity of tho work .of each Depart•Ueli. !s , ass " by the fact that it is m the hands of permanent officials who remain despite Ministerial changes which merely supply new political u \ a ." *be Departments when the change, is complete or for some of them when it is not, as is the caso in the present instance: tho -Ministers of Commerce, Munitions, and Transportation remain in the able hands of Messrs. Clementel, Loucheur, and Claveille,' their incumbents since, the days of tho Briand Cabinet of 19151917. What gives the change''this time a superlative interest is that France has called to the post of governmental leadership not merely a new Premier, but that one among her statesmen who is generally and deservedly recognised to be, i.bove all others, her strong man. That he is possessed in a marked degree of each of the qualities which have distinguished his predecessors among the war Premiers, ho proved during his earlier Premiership, 190G-09. Clemenceau's incisive eloquence makes him the peer in debate of Rene viviani, France's first war Premier, who, being also Foreign Minister, received from the hands of the German Ambassador on August 3, 1914, tho tissue of mendacious falsehoods concerning pretended French acsr-issions against German territory by which Germany declared war on" France, falsehoods which having, thus fulfilled their purposes were promptly retired to the crowded museum of German fabrications, in which they have -rested ever since. When Clemenceau became the head of tho Government in 1906, Jaures, the Socialist leader, was the great orator of the Chamber of Deputies. A series oT debates between the two men over the Socialist programme, Kbour disorders, Morocco, increased Clemenceau's oratorical stature and decreased that of Jaures. Viviani was succeeded as Premier by Briand, the persuasive. Bri ind is a diplomat of the Old "World, while Clemenceau achieves his great :esults by resort to what is eenerallv called ; "American diplomacy." Take, for example, the Casablanca incident for which Germany demanded an apology m 1908, backing her <3emawl w!tTi°n threat of war. Froni tho platform of the Chamber of Deputies, Clemen* ceau defied the .German Government. He declared' that France would apologise if and when an arbitration showed her to bo in the wrong, and not before ; that Germany wanted an apology before she would consent to arbitration; that Germanv could not hav*> such apology. Well, Germany did without that apology, and the subsequent arbitration showed convincingly that, far from • being entitled to oiio, she owed one to France. A Youthful Septuagenarian. When Briand relinquished the Premiership to llibot in March, 1917, the direction of the Government was confided to France's grand old man, a Jeader of tried wisdom and sagacity, the senior of French war Premiers. Whoever has seen llibot and Clemenceau finds it hard to believe that they are contemporaries, the latter only a very few years younger than the former. At seventy-sis Clemenceau js still the embodiment of youthful alertness in inind and in bearing. But that ho is a sago has been-proved by hard tests during his previous Prime Ministership, both as regards external and internal matters. . From his medical training he has retained the surgeon's gift. Some call him a destroyer, and he is in the eamo sense as the surgeon who quickly cuts out disease instead of nursing it. He is an outspoken hater of all humbug, and has the faculty of effective impatience in dealing with it, In word he is like lightning, and so he is in act. He typifies as much as any man, and moro than any other public man, France's will to win; ho is the very embodiment of will power in action, as he showed again in tho circumstances of his return to power. When the wax broke out, Franco responded to tho call for a sacred union of all elements and parties before the enemy. To mark that sacrcd union the succeeding Cabinets included representatives of all groups in Parliament from the extreme right to the extreme left. Ultra-Conservatives and ultra-Socialists sat together to devise the means of national defence. L'Aflairo Maivy. Louis Maivy, a prominont member of the so-called lladical group headed by Joseph Caillaux, was Minister of the Interior in August, 1914. Caillaux had forfeited public confidencc, and was looked upon generally as Germany's man in French politics—that is to say, ns a political manipulator whose influence, backed by cosmopolitan financiers (whose operations extend to all free countries where they are assisted by immunity from exposure), had been on tho whole an asset for Germany in peace and in war. The reality of the spirit of the sacred union was proved strikingly by the retention of Louis Maivy a £ Minister of the Interior, despite his relations with' Caillaux. Maivy remained Minister of tho Interior, as such in control of tho Secret Service and of the Press censorship, until scandal after scandal occurred showing that German money was being expended in France for the purposes of pacifist propaganda without any effectual bppoaition by tho proper authorities. Clemenceau's denunciation of Malvj jn this connection forced hint out of the Ribot Ministry, and led to the fall of that Ministry in mid-September last. 'lhe_ public is too familiar* with tho main incidents charged to Maivy, such as the 8010 affair, involving the cspendituro of German funds upward? of a million dollars via New York for the purchase of control of a Paris r.owspaper, Lo Journal," from its proprietor, Senator Charles Humbert; the raso of the "Bonnet Rouge," a pseudorevolutionary sheet published in Paris, and heavily subsidised by whose editor; ono Almereyda, committed suicide in gnol; that of Tunnel, a French deputy, who received large sums of money in Switzerland at about the time when Chancellor von BethmannHollweg announced in tho lleiehstafj that ho had a full account of tho proceedings of secret sessions in the French Chamber of Deputies concern, ing franco's war aims; that of Leymarie, Malvy's own appointee at, the head of the French Secret Service charged with receiving "graft" and ex acting blackmail in connection with hi: faihiro to suppress German props-

ganda plots. On one such transaction a charge is pending against him jointly with Senator Humbert and 0110 Ladoux, a subordinate in tho French Secret Service. These instanoen are illustrative of tho limits witk : n which Germany was forced to conduct in France that war of corruption which she wages everywhere alongside her war of devastation. Franco's resolute resistance against both should prove an inspiration to Russia, to Italy, and to us who have shoivn such indulgenco towards Germany's friends in our midst. Trial by Court-jnartial. M. Clemenceau has had the courage and good senso to decide that courtsmartial would deal with all crimes against the public security in time of war. Tho success of this move, which may be discounted, should provide a salutary example to be followed elsewhere, particularly in Russia, Italy, and tho United States.

These scandals wero handled with seeming half-heartedness by Paul Painlevo, who succeeded Alexandre Ribofc. Paiulove, in fact, seemed anxious to extricate his colleague, Malvy, from the embarrassments in which the latter had involved himself through his own acts and omissions. It was this weakness on Painleve's part which led to tho downfall of his Ministry. Paitileve had just returned from Italy, bringing back a new watchword for the Allied cause: "A single front, a single army, a single nation." Tho Chamber bf Deputies formally approved his work in Italy 011 tho evening of the day when he spoke theso words in tho acquiescing presence of Lloyd George ana a member of the Italian Government —words which have since been approved in effect by President Wilson's. messago to Colonel House, our chief representative in the Allied War .Council sitting in Paris, in which tho participation of the United States has been expressly declared to contemplate unity of action. But when Painlevo asked the Chamber to go further and express like approval of his conduct .of the internal problem, the Chamber baulked and he* fell, making way for Clemenceau, who s\icceeds l'.im as Premier and War Minister.

Just before his fall Paiulevo succeeded in committing to the capable hands of General Foch, who stopped and hurled back the Germans at FereChampenoise, where the decisive phase of the Battle of the Marne was fought, the task of co-operating toward a similar result in Italy.

By a happy coincidence, Foch is the man whoso indomitable spirit and infinite resourcefulness appealed so forcibly to Clemenceau during his previous Premiership that ho appointed him at the head of France's war college, for which post Foch was not a candidate. Much of the brilliant work done by the French Army 'in this war is directly traceable to the spirit lyhioh Foch instilled into it, through his work in the war college and later- in the field at the Marne, at Ypres, and elsewhere. If the United States and its Allies are able to carry unity of action to its right conclusion by agreeing on a comman-der-in-chief of all the Allied forces, Foch is the man.

It is ti-ue •(hat Clemenceau has a host of enemies. All the time-servers and compromisers, all those who are inclined to put selfish or sordid considerations aoove patriotism, the many whose weaknesses and incapacities ho has denounced 111 the'course of a long career, aro against him. But the country is with him.

When President Poincare summoned him to the Elysee to entrust the organisation of a new Government to liirn he did so at the behest of the nation, and as he did so even the timeservers and compromisers -were hushed, so general was the feeling that the hour of France's stroug man had struck. A Characteristic Incident. The writer has in mind a scene lis witnessed in tlio French Chamber of Deputies in the summer of 1009, Jaures was speaking, lie was scolding the Government for what he called its provocative attitude towards Germanv in Morocco. Premier Clemenceau sat at the bench of the Ministers listening with obvious impatience to the resonant sentences of tho Socialist tribune. Next to him sat Stephen Pichon, the Foreign Minister, who has just returned to power as such -under his old .chief. As Jaures elaborated the fancied, manufactured grievances of Germany, the German Ambassador of that day, Princo Eadolin, sat in the front row of the diplomatic gallery. .Finally, Pichon could contain himself 110 longer; ho rose and queried of Jaures: "Has Germany asked you to tell us these things?" pandemonium broke loose on tho Extreme Left, among the ultra-Socialists. Obviously tho thrust had knocked some of tho wind out of Jauras. Ho went on, however. Meanwhile, Prince Eadolin' s face was a study—so was Clemcnceau's. As Jaures regained his seat Clemenceau rose, and, looking quietly at his antagonist, said simply this:

"M. Jaures, you may criticise our policy, but you cannot explain yours." The words fell with the sharpness of tho knife of a guillotine. Nothing remained of the effect of tho oratory of Jaures after that.

Franco is fortunate in having bceu able to call upon her strong man to take the helm just as the Allied War ( Council gathered in Paris, at which , time these lines are being • written.! That Clemenceau will hivo proved to bo the donrnating figure of that council the writer confidently predicts. Added • to the endowments which have already j been described are his sympathetic understanding of Great Britain and the United States. We in this cpuntry have special reason for satisfaction .in tho fact that the new French Premier knows us from tho inside,- having spout three years in our midst in days gone by. His knowledge of our language, of our ideas and ideals, his friendships among British statesmen, and. his strength as a human dynamo, his indomitablo courage constitute a quick asset of incalculable value on which his country and her Allies are about to realise. His success will make it difficult for any country to keep her strong man on tho shelf at this time. There is only one such country left in th-i group of free nations.

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Bibliographic details

Dominion, Dominion, Volume 11, Issue 98, 18 January 1918

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2,148

FRANCE'S STRONG MAN Dominion, Volume 11, Issue 98, 18 January 1918

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