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The Nation(London), 24 (9 Nov 1918) 158, 160

SIR,–As an American of some years’ residence in this country, I feel impelled to call attention to the conflict actually taking place between President Wilson and his domestic opponents. The information obtainable through English newspapers is meagre and the importance of the issue may easily be overlooked. It bears not only on the coming peace conference, but on future Anglo-American relations.

The Republican party, now the opposition, has for some time past applied itself to the publication of its grievances against the party in power. Many of these grievances, including charges of administrative incompetence, concern the American people alone. Many are quite likely to be well founded; with the exception of a small number of men close to the President, the Democratic Party is probably inferior to the Republican in the quality of its leaders. More recently, however, the Republicans have not confined themselves to criticism of internal policy of internal blunders; some of their spokesmen have attacked Mr. Wilson’s foreign policy, or maintained tenets wholly opposed to that policy.

The effect of this campaign will soon be patent, if it is not already visible, in this country. So long as it was supposed that Mr. Wilson was unanimously supported by his own countrymen, his policy was acclaimed with universal approval by the English Press; now that domestic dissension has asserted itself, we may expect to discover who are and who are not Mr. Wilson’s sincere supporters in England.

You have stated in The Nationthat “The old guard of the Republican party, with Senator Lodge at its head, is undoubtedly opposing, as openly as it dare, the whole League of Nations idea.” 2

An examination of some of Mr. Lodge’s speeches confirms the accuracy of this allegation. The attitude of Senator Lodge and his friends will not find favor with those elements in this country which have favored President Wilson’s peace programme. My question is, whether it should commend itself to any English opinion whatever.

Henry Cabot Lodge has been senator from Massachusetts for some years, and he has the best connexions in Boston society. He belongs to a section of the American public which has loyally supported Great Britain from the beginning of the war. And his peace programme certainly appears to offer as much historical advantage to England as England could ask. He would seem, in short, to be at least as good a friend to England as President Wilson is. But his policy is potentially even more nationalistic than it is at present pro-British. The “Old Guard” of his party is traditionally associated with a high protective tariff, and Senator Lodge is traditionally associated with the Old Guard. The history and composition of the Republican party and the present emergencies of its mere conservative elements do not encourage one to believe that it would sacrifice business interest to international amity.

It would mean universal disaster if the participation of America in the war does not lead to closer friendships and understanding, to freer intercourse of ideas, between America and England. No understanding based on economic interest alone could survive; even the legitimate interests of the two countries may cause delicate situations; the economic interests of America and England are compatible, but not identical; there are difficulties to be solved, and suspicions to be dispelled. Should affairs be simultaneously directed by Extremist factions in both countries, it is hardly to be expected that the extremes would meet.

Nothing but ideas can bind the two countries together. Since the entry of America into the War, the Republican party has not yet succeeded in producing a single idea of importance. The question whether America should not have entered the war earlier is now a dead issue. The policy of President Wilson is the only one which offers any security for the continuance and development of Anglo-American harmony.–Yours, etc,

t. s. eliot

Published By:   Johns Hopkins University Press