Page:Frontiers.djvu/34

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32
Frontiers

political influence is acknowledged to belong to one of the two and not to the other. Korea, which has passed under the unchallenged influence of Japan, is such a buffer State between Japan and China. Afghanistan is in the same position between Great Britain and Russia. Here we have a close analogy to the Mark system of the Frankish Emperors and to the practice of the Roman Empire, which sought to protect its Frontiers by a fringe of dependent kingdoms, or client-states.

In all these cases the buffer State is an expedient more or less artificial, according to the degree of stability which its government and institutions may enjoy, constructed in order to keep apart the Frontiers of converging Powers. That such an experiment must necessarily fail is certainly not the teaching of European history, where it is the marchlands of Empire, Castile, France, Prussia, that have often fought their way to greatness and fame. A quite abnormal type of a buffer State existed in Europe, with slight breaks, for over 1,100 years, in the shape of the Papal Dominions. Its boundaries were perpetually shifting, and they made no pretense to represent natural or geographical lines of division. But they approximately severed the continental and peninsular portions of Italy, those parts which have always looked to the West, and those parts which have constantly been exposed to Hellenic or Eastern influences.

In Europe, however, buffer States have not as a general rule been situated between the territories of Powers possessing superior force and a higher civilization. In Asia, where the experiment is now more commonly tried, and where the conditions are less favourable, the degree of vitality to be expected is less. There the buffer con-