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ABERGAVENNY. -I ,

CHEPSTOW.I

PONTYPOOL.I

IThe Hague Conference. I-

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The Hague Conference. The Peace Conference has made some advances which are both definite and satisfactory, aud with regard to the larger issues it is something to know what are the differences which stand in the way of formally pledging the nations to peace. Not much more than this preliminary clearing of the air was expected from the discussion at the Hague, and with time it is quite possible that the difficulties, which now appear insurmountable, may gradually be found capable of adjustment. The Conference will probably conclude its present labours in the course of a week or two, when an adjournment will be made, in order to allow the several Governments to consider the resolutions passed, and the report of the proceedings. Afterwards it may be found practicable to make further advances in the right direction, before the delegates re-assemble at the Hague for the ratification of the work accomplished. The general expectation was that the Conference would prove more or less of a failure, but the last word has not been said, and it would be altogether premature to judge its results by present appearances. THE LABOURS OF THE CONFERENCE have been principally undertaken by three Commissions. The first of these has dealt with the subject of disarmament, and of weapons of war. On the larger question it has been chiefly concerned with the Russian proposals, which suggested that the Powers should agree for five years not to raise their military strength either by numbers or financial preparations. That is the effective peace footing, and the war budget of each Power would be fixed by a kind of mutual agreement. An exception was to be made with regardjto Colonial troops," and this would seem to be specially designed to meet any British objections. So long as present conditions are maintained, we have no need or desire to increase our home forces, but we could not so easily bind ourselves in India, and other parts of the Empire. It would, however, be impossible to draw a hard and fast distinction between Colonial and other troops, and there would be no guarantee against an underhand increase by a little prevarication. It seems clear that the Conference will make no definite progress with the question of a reduction or limitation of either military or naval armaments. That of course was ITS CHIEF OBJECT, and it remains to be seen whether any after developments are possible. As regards the establishment of a permanent Tribunal of Arbitration, to which the British and American representatives have mainly devoted their efforts, the outlook is more promising. The German Emperor is not kindly disposed to any system of organised arbitration. It is not in accordance with his special character as War Lord, and any limitation of the size of armies, or of Germany's right to appeal to arms, is opposed to his ideas of the divine right of monarchs. Yet in spite of this discouragement we are promised a permanent Bureau, which, at least, will make a start in providing the necessary machinery for the adjustment of international disputes. The remaining sectiou of the Conference, which has dealt with various modifications and extensions of the Geneva and Brussels Conventions, has made several practical recommendations. It has been decided that THE RED CROSS IS TO BE HELD SACRED in naval ns well as in military warfare. Its objection to our soft-nosed Diiin Dum bullet seems a little out of the way, because any such objections would equally apply to all bullets. It has a softened head, which causes the lead to spread ou striking, but it is said to be no more, even if it isas destruct ive,than the missiles most-' ly in the Continental armies. The Conference proposes to prohibit certain horrible forms of destruction, such as the use of explosive bullets, asphyxiating-gases, the dropping of explosives from balloons, and other engines of warfare. Altogether the Conference appears to entertain I a lively dread of the future developments of the higher chemistry and genius now being devoted to the science of destruction. This feeling will not be without its influence in the after considerations of the proceedings of the Conference. It ought at least to emphasise the ¡ necessity for arriving at some international agreement which will practically assure the blessings of peace to the world.

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