The Paris Peace Conference, Part II

Norman Bentwich analyses the diplomatic battle between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers that gradually came into the open in Paris in 1946, and foreshadowed the Cold War.

The fundamental problem of the peacemaking at the Paris Conference was not the relation of the Allies as a whole to the: enemy states, but the struggle, and often the strife, between the Slav Allies and the others, particularly about the future of Trieste. It was commonly referred to at the Conference as the conflict of East and West. It was that in a political rather than a geographical sense.

The Slav states, Poland and Czechoslovakia, belong as much to the West as to the East geographically; and Greece in the south-eastern corner of Europe was at Paris the very centre of Western interest and of Slav hostility. Yet Kipling’s over-worked refrain: ‘For East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,’ seemed perversely applicable to the proceedings of the Conference.

Whatever the British, or the American, or the British Dominion delegates proposed was suspect of the Slavs; and whatever the Soviet Union delegates or the Yugoslavs proposed was suspect of the others. What was the cause of this pervasive distrust?

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