For six months after the Treaty has come into force Germany may not impose duties on imports from the Allied and Associated States higher than the most favorable duties prevalent before the war and for a further two years and a half (making three years in all) this prohibition continues to apply to certain commodities, notably to some of those as to which special agreements existed before the war, and also to wine, to vegetable oils, to artificial silk, and to washed or scoured wool. This is a ridiculous and injurious provision, by which Germany is prevented from taking those steps necessary to conserve her limited resources for the purchase of necessaries and the discharge of Reparation. As a result of the existing distribution of wealth in Germany, and of financial wantonness amongst individuals, the offspring of uncertainty, Germany is threatened with a deluge of luxuries and semi-luxuries from abroad, of which she has been starved for years, which would exhaust or diminish her small supplies of foreign exchange. These provisions strike at the authority of the German Government to ensure economy in such consumption, or to raise taxation during a critical period. What an example of senseless greed overreaching itself, to introduce, after taking from Germany what liquid wealth she has and demanding impossible payments for the future, a special and particularized injunction that she must allow as readily as in the days of her prosperity the import of champagne and of silk!
One other Article affects the Customs Regime of Germany which, if it was applied, would be serious and extensive in its consequences. The Allies have reserved the right to apply a special customs regime to the occupied area on the bank of the Rhine, “in the event of such a measure being necessary in their opinion in order to safeguard the economic interests of the population of these territories." This provision was probably introduced as a possibly useful adjunct to the French policy of somehow detaching the left bank provinces from Germany during the years of their occupation. The project of establishing an independent Republic under French clerical auspices, which would act as a buffer state and realize the French ambition of driving Germany proper beyond the Rhine, has not yet been abandoned. Some believe that much may be accomplished by a regime of threats, bribes, and cajolery extended over a period of fifteen years or longer. If this Article is acted upon, and the economic system of the left bank of the Rhine is effectively severed from the rest of Germany, the effect would be far-reaching. But the dreams of designing diplomats do not always prosper, and we must trust the future.