More Peace Feelers.

Economic Strain in Germany.

MINISTERS of course know more than the general public, but ordinary Members of Parliament are perhaps a little “wiser” than the majority of us.

It is, nevertheless, worth putting on record – and the information comes from an unimpeachable source – that the general impression at Westminster is that the war cannot last over another year.

There is the somewhat disquieting correlation that if hostilities cease in the late summer or autumn of 1917 the Allies will have no spectacular military triumph to boast about – such as, for example, the triumphant entry, after a series of smashing victories on German soil, of Allied troops into Berlin.

But all the same Germany’s submission must be preceded by Germany’s military defeat, whatever part the economical factor may play in bringing about surrender.

They may be beaten on this side of the Rhine or on the other, but they will be beaten and thoroughly, and it is recognition of the fate in store for them which has induced them for months past to put out all kinds of feelers in the direction of peace.

As hopes of a separate peace with one or other of the belligerents vanished more general proposals took shape, and there can be little doubt that, through the medium of neutral countries these proposals have been at least made known to the Entente Powers.

Efforts have also been made by Germany to induce non-fighting nations to discuss and recommend a cessation of hostilities.

We learn in a telegram to hand this morning, that the “New York Times” came out yesterday “definitely in favour of the theory that the time is nearly ripe... for the war to be closed by international agreement, wherein the United States shall participate.”

Strong hopes (we learn from another source) are entertained at Potsdam and by supporters of the Imperial Chancellor generally that President Wilson may be induced to celebrate Christmas by issuing an appeal to the belligerent Powers to arrange an armistice so as to pave the way for an immediate negotiation.

The latest formula of what may be termed “the Chancellor party” – which does not include the bulk of materialist opinion – is that such negotiation could begin on the basis of the territorial status quo ante bellum, European and Colonial alike, coupled with an economic arrangement giving Germany command in the internal affairs of Belgium and a free right over the port of Antwerp.

In addition there would be an international loan for the purposes of reconstructing destroyed houses and farms, and such a rectification of frontiers as would secure the Central Powers from sudden attack by any of their present enemies.

It is only necessary to state that these terms make it plain that it would be unwise on the part of any neutral to attempt to induce the Entente Powers to agree to take them as a basis for negotiation.

Taking them as they stand, they would be regarded in every part of the British Empire as impossible.

That Germany as a whole wants peace – though naturally on its own terms – seems at this moment undeniable, and on commercial as well as political grounds.