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It is difficult to see the reason for this re-
proach, and it is little short of exasperating
to those who saw America's duty and urged
the performance of it long before the Presi-
dent's vision had swept beyond the nearest
horizon, when he was urging neutrality in the
midst of international outrage, not only on
the part of the Government, but in the
thoughts as well as the deeds of citizens;
when he was still asking what the war was
about, and declaring that we had nothing to
do with its causes or its results; when he was
advising a peace without victory; when he
was elected to the presidency because he had
kept us out of war ; when he was still regard-
ing strict accountability as implying nothing
more than liability to pay a money indemnity
for American lives, destroyed ruthlessly in
violation of International Law and every
instinct of humanity, and yet did not see that
preparation for war alone could rescue the
nation from contempt. It is, therefore, im-
possible not to resent the attempt by mere
rhetoric and insinuation to silence the free
speech of men who are entitled to be heard


on international and constitutional questions
affecting the destiny of the nation and its
unveiled future by a public reference to them
as "minds that have no sweep beyond the
nearest horizon" ; even when this is spoken by
the President of the United States.

It is not the path of peace that is being
pursued, but a course that is obstructive of
peace. The Entente that has saved Europe
has been strained by the introduction of new
and irrelevant issues, many months have been
consumed in deliberations and journeys not
related to the ending of the war, and the
American people are in danger of being seri-
ously divided over a question that can be
rightly settled only on the basis of an exist-
ing peace, when they may act with freedom
and not under compulsion. If the world is
to be made safe for free nations, it will be
by an Entente of Free Nations. While that
lasts there is hope ; but if that ceases to exist,
hope will have departed. The moment bonds
are felt they will destroy the power that has
won the war. By whatever name it is called,
there is no third condition between super-


government and the independence of free
peoples. Discussion over speculations about
such a possibility are but a waste of time,
for the free nations do not desire a super-
government. There remains, therefore,
no possibility but an Entente of Free Na-
tions, however it may be named, and our
one solicitude should be that it be not de-

To the word * 'League" there is in itself no
objection, except to the bondage which the
word implies. For the improvement and
enforcement of International Law, for the
pacific settlement of disputes, for aid to free
nations exposed to danger, for the suppres-
sion of Bolshevism, and for international
bodies to deal with these subjects, there is
great need. But these ends cannot be ac-
complished by mere paper machinery, which
presents only a new cause of disagreement,
a new occasion for difference of opinion
and of strife. If the ideals of civilization are
not safe in the hands of the free nations, act-
ing freely, they will remain in danger. What


happens in the future will depend upon what
the free nations will to do ; and the essential
element in their unity, their security, and
their effective cooperation is precisely their



ALTHOUGH during four months of secret
negotiation American public opinion on the
League of Nations remained unsolicited,
America has at last spoken. Whatever the
outward form of words may be, her voice is
clearly against super-national government
and for an Entente of Free Nations. The
unpledged press and the great hierophants of
party opposition have condemned the Con-
stitution of a League of Nations as it was in-
cubated at Paris, and have demanded radical
changes as a condition of American support.
Every interpretation by its advocates and
every amendment proposed by its critics has
tended to abolish the "League" and restore
the "Entente." 1

1 See the amendments proposed at the end of this volume
and compare the original draft with the final draft of the


When it was first published it seemed that
the "Constitution" was intended not to so-
licit the cooperation of the nations to be
included under it, but by their agreement to
command their future action. Assailed as a
super-government, it was pleaded by its de-
fenders that it was not a government at all,
but a kind of international social club, whose
Executive Council possessed no real author-
ity, and whose sole function was to make
"recommendations," which might be ac-
cepted or rejected. This defense reduced it
to something less than an Entente, because
it threw doubt upon its sincerity of purpose.

Instead of treating the "Constitution" as
meaningless for a real community of action,
the critics sought to endow it with real ob-
ligations, by pruning its pretences and mak-
ing it effective for some at least of its alleged
purposes. It remains for the world to judge
who were the sincere friends of peace; and
especially of a peace to end the war in such
a way that the treaty of peace, when secured,
would unquestionably be enforced.

Had some open process of this kind been


adopted in the beginning, it would without
doubt have saved much precious time. If it
were in the order of the day to continue it
deliberately after an actual peace had been
declared upon conditions that would render
discussion wholly free and entirely amicable,
the result would be better still. Neverthe-
less, the chances for the Entente of Free
Nations are to some degree improved even
by the tardy and reluctant concession that
the document alleged to have been "agreed
upon" and to be "unalterable" was not too
perfect to be publicly discussed.

It may not perhaps be too late, now that
public debate is not openly proscribed as a
manifestation of hostility to peace, to con-
sider, at least in an academic manner, some
of the provisions which it would still be de-
sirable to eliminate from this document and
some of the methods which it would be
profitable to abandon.

The Peace Conference at Paris has suf-
fered from too much theory and too little
regard to practical results. In the mean-
time, while the delegates have been preoccu-


pied with devising defenses against the con-
sequences of a remote future, events have oc-
curred of which they have seemed uncon-
scious, and the irrepressible stream of human
activities still flows irresistibly onward. Oc-
currences have at last reached a point where
action must take the place of meditation, or
victory will be transformed into defeat.

The theory underlying the Conference has
been that all possible future wars must be
prevented now; and that, unless this could
be done immediately, the present war could
not be ended. In other words, the League of
Nations, it was held, must of necessity be a
part of any treaty of peace.

This theory dates from the attempt to
prepare a compromise peace by creating a
future situation with which all the belliger-
ents would be satisfied. It rests upon the
assumption that while governments are often
bad, peoples are always perfectly good ; and
that, if the governments could be overthrown
and the peoples could have their way, there
would never be any more war in the world.

As a proposition in political philosophy


this doctrine has never yet been proved to be
true. In the belief of many it is not only
incapable of such proof but is erroneous. If
it were true, we should be able in a very short
time to secure universal peace by a general
plebiscite. The truth is that all nations want
peace, but they want it in their own way;
and, as their own ways differ, they are not
likely to consent to perpetual peace until
there is created a common interest so great
that, to secure it, they are willing to forego
all less urgent aspirations. The realization
of such a community of interest as this is
undoubtedly an ideal to be aimed at ; and, in
time, it may be possible to attain it. It is,
however, an obvious error to insist that such
a community of interest must be made uni-
versal before an existing common interest in
a narrower field can be utilized as a basis for a
peace of victory, in which aggression against
public right has been overborne and the ag-
gressor is rendered powerless. For unless
actual aggression is defeated, is made con-
scious of its defeat, and is caused to suffer
the consequences of it, peace becomes a mock-


ery. A distinction must be made between a
compromise peace, in which the aggressor is
treated as an equal, and a peace of victory,
in which he must pay the penalty of his of-
fense ; or war would become a recognized in-
nocent diversion and peace the mere play-
thing of participants in a rude and danger-
ous game of chance. To state the matter
concretely, unless the Central Powers and
their allies are so weakened and punished for
their crimes against the peace of the world
that they will not repeat the performance at
a more favorable time, the war has been lost
to the Entente, and the treaty of peace, no
matter what it contains, will prove inef-

The community of interest on which the
present peace should be made is the defeat of
a common enemy. When that peace is made
there will be a long period of comparative
repose during which the larger problem of
universal and permanent peace might be con-
sidered. If, however, the Entente Allies
cannot impose a just peace in the concrete,


what hope is there that they can forever
maintain it in the abstract?

The truth is that proposing peace in gen-
eral has taken the place of imposing peace
in the actual particular situation because it
was easier to imagine the theoretical potency
of a League of Nations than it was to deal
with realities. As a result, the common in-
terest which the Entente had when the
armistice was signed in rendering Germany
powerless for harm in the future, has been
held in the background by the discussion of
a theory, while the separate interests of the
victors in the war have seemed to most of
them the only realities with which the Con-
ference would deal or which its conclusions
would affect. Thus Great Britain has
thought of her maritime supremacy and her
colonial conquests, France of her future ter-
ritorial security, Italy of the control of the
Adriatic, Japan of her Eastern interests,
Belgium of her rehabilitation, and the new
nationalities of their racial integration and
safety from their neighbors old and new.
The representatives of the United States,


on the other hand, having nothing to ask for
except the adoption of their theory of uni-
versal peace, have held a position of influence
which enabled them to say, "The League of
Nations first, and peace with Germany

The inevitable consequence of such a mise
en scene of the Conference was delay, the
exaggeration of separate interests, and an
effort to make the League serve, as far as
possible, these particular national aims,
while the original community of interest in
the suppression of German aggressiveness
was gradually dissipated. In brief, atten-
tion to Germany, the new nationalities, the
rise and spread of Bolshevism, the growing
menace of Russia even in a military sense,
was withdrawn, to be fixed on getting into
the theory of the League something besides
abstractions. This has been in part accom-
plished. Dogma has answered to dogma, in-
terest to interest, and instead of a pacifically
disposed general society of nations agreeing
to accept, respect, and maintain Inter-
national Law as its rule of conduct, we have


an organized balance of power only, domi-
nated by five Great Powers, whose interests
have been in some manner incorporated in
a Constitution for a League of Nations;
all except those of the United States, which
seeks nothing but the realization of ideals!
If we adopt the theory that a League is a
necessary preliminary to a peace with Ger-
many, say the Entente Allies, America must
agree to defend us always and everywhere.
That is Europe's answer to the President's
insistence on a League as a preliminary con-
dition of peace.

The President went to Europe with an
ideal. Europe welcomed him and confronted
him with the result of its experience. To this
experience his ideal has had to adjust itself.
The result is not the realization of his expec-
tations. He sought to reconstruct the world.
He has been obliged to engage his country in
a permanent defensive alliance of a kind that
a very short time ago he expressly repudi-
ated, not merely because it is contrary to the
traditions of the United States, but as he


emphatically declared because it is incom-
patible with our national purpose.

Only four years ago he voiced his convic-
tion by saying: "Every man who stands in
this presence should examine himself and
see whether he has the full conception of
what it means that America should live her
own life." And, referring to our relations
to the rest of the world, he added:

"It was not merely because of passing and
transient circumstances that Washington
said we must keep free from entangling al-
liances. It was because he saw that no
country had yet set its face in the same direc-
tion in which America had set her face. We
cannot form alliances with those who are not
going our way; and in our might and
majesty and in the confidence and definite-
ness of our own purpose we need not and we
should not form alliances with any nation
in the world."

At that time the President spoke in words

which his countrymen understood. During

the Great War he gradually saw that the

United States could not remain isolated in



a world of which it forms a part. We entered
the war, as our honor compelled us to do.
We became associated with Great Powers in
Europe. We had a common cause, and we
fought valiantly with them against a com-
mon enemy. We won a victory, and what
was demanded was a peace of victory. But
the President had set his mind on a peace of
reconstruction. America's life was no
longer to him the highest purpose. He
wanted to be the creator of a new world.

From that moment the President no
longer represented America. He was the
victim of his obsession, the reconstructed
world. He did not even care for America's
consent. He did not seek it. He did not
desire it. His mind was closed to it. He
had a doctrine which he apparently felt he
could not teach. He made no attempt to
teach it. He was resolved to enforce it.
Then it would be believed, because it would
be no longer merely an idea, it would be a

Such a determination, with all America
apparently behind it although America had


not been asked to speak could not fail to
produce some result; but it was not the re-
sult intended. In the contest between the
dogma that only a reconstructed world
could make peace at all and the pressing
necessity that peace should be promptly
made, diplomacy wrung from idealism three
concessions :

(1) Peace is to be guaranteed to the
peacemakers by stereotyping the map of the
world as they will make it;

(2) Imperialism may pass for democracy
by becoming international; and

(3) Democratic leadership does not re-
quire democratic methods of procedure.

The President accepted these results and
they were embodied in the "Constitution"
sent from Paris and pronounced unalterable.
But American public opinion was yet to be
learned; and American public opinion, even
that most favorable to a League, was not sat-
isfied with the form or the substance of this

A new map of Europe is undoubtedly
necessary in order to secure the safety of the


countries inclined toward peace from a new
outbreak of aggression; but the Constitution
of a League of Nations is not satisfied with
this, it demands that the boundaries of the
States which are members of the League, to-
gether with all their widely scattered colo-
nial possessions, shall for all time be pro-
tected by all the associated Powers. This is
the first and most conspicuous victory of
diplomacy over idealism.

To the uninitiated this Constitution is the
outgrowth of new and original conceptions,
arising out of the peculiar circumstances of
recent international experience. It has been
heralded as the application of the Christian
religion to the problems of international re-
lationship, and glorified as its consummate
flower and perfect fruit.

How far this proposed League is from be-
ing either new or original will be apparent
to those who will compare its provisions with
those contained in "The Project of Perpet-
ual Peace," written by the Abbe de St.
Pierre, more than two hundred years ago,
during the Congress of Utrecht, in 1713.


The good Abbe's purpose, like the alleged
object of the League of Nations, was to
make a permanent end of war, and his
method w r as substantially that which is now
proposed. His plan was as follows :

1. A contract of perpetual and irrevocable
alliance between the principal sovereigns,
with a diet composed of plenipotentiaries, in
which all differences between the High Con-
tracting Parties are to be settled by arbitra-
tion or judicial decision.

2. The number of Powers sending pleni-
potentiaries to the Congress to be specified,
together with others to be invited to sign the

3. The Confederation thus formed to
guarantee to each of its members the sover-
eignty of the territories it actually possesses.

4. The Congress to define the cases which
would place offending States under the ban
of Europe.

5. The Powers to agree to arm and take
the offensive, in common and at the com-
mon expense, against any State thus banned,



until it shall have submitted to the common

6. The plenipotentiaries in the Congress
shall have power to make such rules as they
shall judge important, with a view to secur-
ing for the European Republic and each of
its members all possible advantages.

The learned Abbe's plan sought to estab-
lish perpetual peace by mutual guarantees
of possession. It was rejected as impracti-
cable because it ignored two persistent ten-
dencies of human nature, the ambition of
rulers on the one hand, and national aspira-
tions for freedom and equality on the other.
During the two hundred years that have
elapsed since his project was published, it
has encountered these two obstacles, and not
being able to overcome them, could not be
realized. There has never been a time dur-
ing those centuries when the process of politi-
cal evolution seemed complete. There were
always nations that were not yet satisfied.
There was always a longing among sup-
pressed peoples for liberation, and among
all nations, except the greatest, for an un-


attained equality. Is it possible to believe
that these conditions have changed, or will
change when the peace treaty is signed at
Versailles? Alongside the "satisfied nations"
there will remain the unsatisfied, and the dis-
satisfied, even among those who are benefi-
ciaries of the peace.

It has been well said that, if the map of
Europe could have been thus perpetuated in
the time of the benevolent Marcus Aurelius,
when it might have seemed desirable, Europe
would still be living under the Roman Em-
pire. There would be to-day, if this had hap-
pened in the time of St. Pierre, no French
Republic, and no free governments in
America. The project would have arrested
the entire historic development of Europe.
There have been moments when to many that
would have seemed to be a happy event.
What a perfect world this would be to in-
habit, if the professions of the Holy Alli-
ance could have been permanently carried
into effect, when Their Majesties, the Em-
peror of Austria, the King of Prussia, and
the Emperor of Russia, "having acquired the


intimate conviction of the necessity of set-
tling the steps to be observed by the Powers,
in their reciprocal relations, upon the sub-
lime truths which the Holy Religion of our
Saviour teaches," solemnly declared "their
fixed resolution, both in the administration
of their respective States, and in their politi-
cal relations with every other government,
to take for their sole guide the precepts of
that Holy Religion, namely, the precepts of
Justice, Christian Charity, and Peace, which,
far from being applicable only to private
concerns must have an immediate influence
upon the counsels of Princes, and guide all
their steps, as being the only means of con-
solidating human institutions and remedying
their imperfections."

Could any form of words be more inspir-
ing to the believer, or more appealing to his
confidence? The "only means of consolidat-
ing human institutions !" and it really seemed
to be true. How rude it must have appeared
to Their Majesties and we always have
those who assume that they alone know what
is good for the world when Castlereagh, the


clear-headed realist, the soul of loyalty to
the Grand Alliance against Napoleon, the
apostle of national freedom, voiced the
danger of placing all Europe under the con-
trol of this vague idealism which, it was soon
discovered, served as a mask of the most per-
nicious despotism, and imperiled the national
liberties of all the remainder of the world.

Thanks to the courage of Castlereagh and
his determined opposition to the Holy Al-
liance, that imperial syndicate was broken
up. Had it not been thwarted, and had not
the influence inspired by Washington and
sustained by Monroe and his advisers warned
the King of Spain, supported by this con-
spiracy, not to attempt to reclaim his colo-
nies in America, they would still, no doubt,
be dependencies of the Spanish crown, and
more than half of the Western Hemisphere
would still be monarchical. But if the pro-
ject of St. Pierre had gone into effect before
the American Revolution, there would have
been in 1823 no American Republic to hold
aloft the standard of liberty and self-gov-
ernment. There would perhaps be even now


no democratic Britain; for the American
Revolution was not merely a war for inde-
pendence, it was a struggle in behalf of in-
herent human rights and representative gov-
ernment against reactionary absolutism im-
ported into England, which had nearly un-
done through parliamentary corruption the
whole work of the earlier English Revolu-

It is now proposed to base the League of
Nations on the permanence of the map of
the world as redrawn at Paris, at least so
far as the members of the League are con-
cerned. Its motto is, Beati possidentes. This
is the meaning of Article X, which is the one
substantial element in the proposed Consti-
tution. This article binds the High Con-
tracting Parties "to respect and preserve as
against external aggression the territorial
integrity and the political independence of
all States members of the League," present
and future. It is a solemn and absolutely
binding engagement. Had it been in force
before the Spanish- American War, Cuba
would probably still be a subject colony of


Spain, a scene of continuous revolution,
badly governed, the subject of extortion and
oppression, and a nuisance to its neighbors ;
and there is no provision in the Constitution
of the League of Nations that would have
furnished a remedy. The sinking of the
Maine would not have been held to justify a
war against Spain; for it would have been
disavowed, and the sovereignty of Spain
protected. There are countries that do not
govern well; there are countries that will not
govern well; and there are countries that
cannot govern well; and the only remedy is
revolution. Article X does not, it is true,
require aid to a sovereign State in suppress-
ing an unsuccessful revolution; but if any
portion of it should attain its independence

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Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillPresent problems in foreign policy → online text (page 11 of 17)