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representative in the Council of the League
would exercise one-eighth of the sovereign
power which that corporation will possess,
and he would exercise it without the author-
ity or the restraint of the Constitution of the
United States.

In 1803, President Jefferson doubted the
constitutional authorization of the American
Government to acquire by treaty and to gov-
ern the Louisiana Purchase. That point has
long since been settled. But one does not
find a ready answer to the question, How
can the United States, in the person of a rep-
resentative appointed by the President, even
if confirmed by the Senate, participate in
issuing "Acts and Charters" for the govern-
ment of territory not owned by the United
States, and not subject either to the Consti-


tution of the United States or to the laws of

The disgraceful triple protectorate of the
Samoan Islands by the United States, Great
Britain, and Germany has been referred to
as furnishing a precedent for the scheme of
mandatory government. The reference is
unfortunate, both with respect to its results,
which were shameful, and its nature, which
was a threefold promise to protect the neu-
trality and autonomy of the native govern-
ment under a puppet king. It was not a con-
tract to govern the islands jointly, but an ar-
rangement to prevent either of the three
Powers from governing at all.

Aside from the difficulties which the
United States would have either in accepting
the responsibility of a mandatary or in con-
trolling mandatory Powers, it is important
to comprehend the conception which lies back
of this new corporate imperialism.

This is most clearly obtained from the
original plan for a League of Nations de-
signed by General Smuts on which the sys-
tem of mandataries is founded.


"So far as the peoples and territories
formerly belonging to Russia, Austria-Hun-
gary and Turkey are concerned," he says,
"the League of Nations should be considered
as the reversionary in the most general sense
and as clothed with the right of ultimate dis-
posal.'' How, one may ask, did the United
States ever become a participant in this al-
leged reversionary right in the remains of
these extinct empires?

"Any authority, control, or administration
which may be necessary in respect of these
territories and peoples, other than their own
self-determined autonomy, shall be the ex-
clusive function of and shall be vested in the
League of Nations and exercised by or on
behalf of it." Where has the United States
acquired a share in this exclusive function?

"The degree of authority, control, or ad-
ministration exercised by the mandatory
State shall 'in each case be laid down by the
League in a special Act or Charter, which
shall reserve to it complete power of ultimate
control and supervision.' " Whence then pro-
ceeds the right to accord this "complete


power of ultimate control" which the United
States would share in issuing such mandates ?
Plainly, whatever pretences of democracy
and self-determination may be put forward
in defense of this scheme, it is nothing less
than the creation of an imperial syndicate
to rule a large portion of Asia and Africa.
Two further statements in the Smuts pro-
gram establish this beyond contradiction.
One is that the League is "modeled on the
British Empire, including its crown colonies
and protectorates." "The two systems,"
Smuts expressly declares, "would closely re-
semble each other" ; and he adds, "Where the
British Empire has been so eminently suc-
cessful as a political system, the League,
working on somewhat similar lines, could not
fail to achieve a reasonable measure of suc-
cess." The other statement is and this is
Smuts' exact expression "The League will
have a very real role to play as the successor
to the empires." To this is added that "no
new State arising from the old empires shall
be recognized or admitted into the League,
except as it shall conform to the requirements


of the League"; that is, that it shall never,
except by permission of the League, become
a recognized Sovereign State!

It is for the people of the United States to
consider whether such an enterprise as this is
one of the purposes for which they entered
into the war; and it is certainly a proper
question to be answered by the constitu-
tionally authorized treaty-making power,
whether or not it is an enterprise to which
the United States has the constitutional
right to pledge the efforts, the resources, and
the lives of future generations of its citizens.



THE decision of the President of the
United States to abandon the long-estab-
lished traditions of the Republic by absent-
ing himself from the country and, without
consultation with the Senate, personally con-
ducting negotiations in a foreign capital,
aroused in many American citizens of all
political parties a mingled sentiment of
astonishment and opposition. The appre-
hension was inevitable that some very un-
usual project was in the President's mind;
and his silence, even to his official advisers,
seemed to confirm this conclusion.

Subsequent developments, particularly
the President's speechmaking tour in Eng-
land and on the Continent, soon made it evi-
dent that it was his purpose to carry into
effect the establishment of a "general asso-
ciation of nations" suggested in the four-


teenth rubric of his peace terms of January,
1918; and that he was relying upon popular
confidence in his personal leadership to cause
the European governments to conform to his

Although many Americans thought that
the first necessity was the prompt conclusion
of a peace of victory with Germany, and
were fearful that the discussion of theoretical
questions would postpone it, they awaited
in silence the disclosure of the President's in-

When, on February fifteenth, they were
able to form at least a preliminary judgment
regarding the "Constitution of the League
of Nations" which was then published, it was
by no means unanimous. The document in
question was variously understood and was
in evident need of authoritative interpreta-
tion. 1

It was with surprise and regret, therefore,
that the country received the announcement,
on the occasion of the President's brief visit

1 See the Covenant as originally agreed upon at Paris at
the end of this volume.



to the United States, in his speech at Boston,
that he resented any dissent from his deci-
sions and any criticism of the document pre-
pared at Paris. As very little criticism had
at that time been expressed, since the coun-
try was awaiting further enlightenment, the
public was amazed at the President's ex-
pressed desire for a "challenge," which he
declared he would consider as an "indul-
gence," accompanied with a reference to his
"fighting blood" and a wish for an oppor-
tunity to "let it have scope."

In view of the fact that the people were ex-
pecting from the President a clear and dis-
passionate exposition of the purport of the
project of a League of Nations and its re-
lation to the interests of the United States,
and were waiting to receive from him with
respectful attention a message which would
aid them in forming a judgment of its merits,
they were unable to understand the belliger-
ent mood with which the duty of immediate
and unqualified acceptance of the project
was urged; and this unexpected display of
personal resentment of any independent


judgment on the part of the public desiring
enlightenment on a subject of such great
consequence, and even on the part of the
Senate of the United States, was regarded
as a rather grotesque method of approaching
the discussion of universal peace.

That some new international undertaking
should result from the experience of the
Great War was evident to all thoughtful
men, but the problem of the nature and ex-
tent of new and perpetual obligations to be
assumed by the United States regarding
other countries, is too serious to be treated in
a light manner, and the solution of it too
heavily charged with consequences to be ac-
cepted without careful consideration by all
whom the consequences will affect.

The circumstances in which this country
has been placed by the President's decision
to carry into execution a policy in contra-
diction to all the traditions of the Republic
find no parallel in the history of any free
people in the enjoyment of constitutional
liberty. They recall the occasion when the
former German Emperor, without consult-


ing the constitutionally authorized officers
of the German Empire, undertook, in his
private capacity, to carry on negotiations
with a foreign power by procuring an alli-
ance with the Czar of Russia; and the other
occasion when the same sovereign attempted
to influence the sentiments of the British
people by an expression of his personal
news in a published interview, and was called
to account by the Reichstag. In these in-
stances of purely personal diplomacy, which
have been severely criticized both in Ger-
many and elsewhere, the sovereign merely
assumed that he had a perfect right to pro-
pose and carry into effect what he believed
would be for the good of his country. The
ground of objection to his conduct was not
that as sovereign he did not have charge of
the foreign relations of the Empire, a duty
which the Imperial Constitution imposed
upon him, but that he had exceeded the
constitutional limits in his method of pro-
cedure; in brief, that his authority was not
personal but official, and that officially he
could speak and act only in conjunction with


other officers also speaking and acting in
their joint capacity.

It is, of course, not disputed that the
President of the United States is charged by
the Constitution with the duty, "by and with
the advice and consent of the Senate," of
negotiating treaties with foreign govern-
ments. It has, however, been customary, and
it is the evident intent of the Constitution of
the United States, that in the process of
treaty-making, even in the most ordinary
matters, much more in the case of the set-
tlement of the most important issue regard-
ing the peace and safety of the world that
has arisen in the present generation, or is*
likely to arise, the President should not
proceed alone. As Hamilton wrote in the
"Federalist," when urging the adoption of
the Constitution, "The history of human con-
duct does not warrant that exalted opinion
of human virtue which would make it wise
in a nation to commit interests of so deli-
cate and momentous a kind, as those which
concern its intercourse with the rest of the
world, to the sole disposal of a magistrate


'Created and circumstanced as would be the
President of the United States."

If this caution was deemed necessary re-
garding decisions affecting merely those
matters relating in a general way to "inter-
course with the rest of the world," what is
to be said of a scheme to revolutionize the
whole plan of international relationship, in-
volving permanent and unalterable bonds
of obligation between many nations as yet
unnamed in the Covenant, and thus far non-
existent as established and generally rec-
ognized States?

Certainly, it could never have been con-
templated by the founders of this Republic
that one man, however great, and wise, and
noble, should be empowered to pool the in-
terests of this nation with those of other
nations unless "by and with the advice and
consent" of at least one branch of the rep-
resentatives of the people, and thus to com-
mit both of the legislative branches of the
government and the property and persons
of the people to undertakings incapable of
previous precise definition and in terms so


broad that they might easily give rise to con-
troversy and even to ultimate dissent and re-

Could it have been imagined that any per-
son honored with the prerogatives and re-
sponsibilities of the presidency of the United
States would even presume, in defiance of
public opinion, to disregard the precedents
of more than a century, and insist upon leav-
ing this country repeatedly, and for long
periods, in the midst of important public
business, and appoint himself, accompanied
by a retinue of persons chosen only by him-
self and wholly subservient to his dictates,
as the personal negotiator, not of an imme-
diate peace, which alone might justify an
unusual procedure, in order that the victors
in a frightful war might promptly guard
themselves against future aggression in the
manner desired by those most exposed to
danger, but to impose upon other nations,
as the price of future American aid and
friendship, a plan of world reconstruction
evolved from his own inner consciousness,
which had not only never been publicly dis-


cussed by his fellow-citizens, but had never
been disclosed even to the coordinate branch
of the Government in the exercise of the
treaty -making power?

Such a course could certainly never be
taken "by and with the advice and consent of
the Senate." And it should not be over-
looked that in the making of treaties it is
"advice," as well as consent, which is author-
ized as essential to the proper performance
of that duty.

Who of our American Presidents has ever
placed such confidence in himself, or so pre-
sumed upon the confidence of others, as to
demand the privilege of acting without such
advice, or would exercise it without diffidence
and every fortification of wise counsel, even
if urged by his fellow-citizens to assume this

In Europe, where the head of a State has
great authority, no sovereign would under-
take so large an enterprise. Once, by acci-
dent, the late King of England, Edward
VII, whose discretion was unusual, met and
held conversation with another sovereign,


without the presence of a minister. There
were no negotiations, and probably there was
no utterance on either side beyond what the
courtesies of casual intercourse demanded;
but immediately there was public criticism
in the London newspapers of this disregard
of the British Constitution, and it was de-
manded as a matter of public right that the
sovereign should not hold such conversation
without the presence of a minister. There
was probably only one sovereign in Europe
who would resent such criticism, and he is no
longer a sovereign.

An American president, it may be thought,
is himself his own prime minister. This is
an error. He is a definitely delegated rep-
resentative of a sovereign people, possessing
no powers which are not included in the
constitutional designation of his functions,
by which also they are strictly limited. By
etiquette he ranks with royalty in a foreign
country because he is the head of a State;
but in point of influence he is for that rea-
son more potent than any minister. An
American president is never embarrassed by


the presence of his ministers. A prime min-
ister is the creature of a Parliament, and
subject to its will. He can be overthrown
at any moment, and a successor takes his
place. A president can be impeached a
difficult process but he is as secure in the
exercise of power, within constitutional
limits, during his term of office, as a treas-
ure is secure in a steel safe-deposit vault be-
hind the trusty bolts that will be withdrawn
only when the time-lock releases them.

From a European point of view, the
President must be taken at his own self-
valuation. It is naturally assumed that
what he promises he can perform. When,
therefore, he states what the United States
will do no one questions his powers of ex-
ecution. He carries the destiny of the coun-
try in his closed hand more effectively than
any king or emperor under a parliamentary
regime could do.

While an American president has this ad-
vantage over any minister or even any sov-
ereign in Europe, the President of the
United States well understands the embar-


rassment of the heads of other governments
at a moment when combined strength is
needed to facilitate an issue from a condition
of emergency. Without America the bal-
ance of power that has won the war would
be lost and the victory forfeited.

In such circumstances the President does
not hesitate to speak disparagingly of Euro-
pean governments. Unless they adopt a
"League of Nations/' he declares openly,
they are likely to be brushed aside. The
"people," he affirms, are the ultimate author-
ity, and it is to the people that he appeals.
It is upon this popular pressure that he de-
pends to influence the governments, of whose
spontaneous inclination he expresses doubts.
"The nations of the world," he said in his
speech on landing at Boston, "have set their*
heads to do a great thing, and they are not
going to slacken their purpose." But he
hastens to explain that he does not mean the
governments. Having received the plaudits
of the multitude as a distinguished foreigner
and apostle of liberty, when he made his tour
of Europe before the Peace Congress as-


sembled, he has made evident to his own
mind something which the governments seem
not to have been aware of before, but with
which he affirms they are duly impressed
now. "When I speak of the nations of the
world," he says, "I do not speak of the gov-
ernments of the world. I speak of the
peoples who constitute the nations of the
world. They are in the saddle and they are
going to see to it that if their present gov-
ernments do not do their will some other
governments shall. And the secret is out
and the present governments know it."

What is the nature of this "secret" ? With
whom has our President been conferring?
The governments now also are said to par-
ticipate in this disclosure, but apparently it
did not come originally from them. It is
something that has been forced upon them
through popular pressure, and it is upon this
that the President counts as the basis of the
"League of Nations" which the governments
will be compelled to accept or give way to
others. His confidence is not founded upon
those with whom he has been negotiating, but


upon those who will have "other govern-
ments" decide the question if their will is
not obeyed.

Who are those "other governments"? Are
they governments foreign to these people
ours for example who are to force obedience
to the popular will, or are they revolutionary
governments yet to be created? Would the
President of the United States be pleased to
have any foreign potentate, or even an am-
bassador, tour the United States, making
popular speeches in our cities, and then make
such observations regarding the American
Government with which the stranger had
come to negotiate?

Judging by the President's estimate of the
European nations and he is speaking not of
governments but of nations now, by which
he says he means "peoples" Europe is
sadly in need of a guardian, but would prove
an unruly ward.

Here is his graphic picture of the nations
with which, in the future, he desires us to be
closely associated, and by whose collective


judgment he wishes our future policy to be
determined :

"You understand that the nations of
Europe have again and again clashed with
one another in competitive interest. It is
impossible for men to forget these sharp is-
sues that were drawn between them in times
past. It is impossible for men to believe that
all ambitions have all of a sudden been fore-
gone. They remember territory that was
coveted ; they remember rights that it was at-
tempted to extort; they remember political
ambitions which it was attempted to realize
and, while they believe that men have come
into a different temper, they cannot forget
these things, and so they do not resort to
one another for a dispassionate view of the
matters in controversy."

If this is a just estimate of the European
nations, it would appear to be the part of
wisdom for a distant people to keep as far
as possible from intervention in any of their
quarrels. The picture, however, is drawn
with no discrimination, and is as erroneous
in substance as it is unjust in its implications.


It is monstrous to include innocent Belgium,
which did resort to the good faith of others
for a dispassionate view; or France, which
has been made the victim of every crime; or
Great Britain, which has played a noble part
in the endeavor to avoid strife and to save
the world from the ruin of civilization, in
the picture of a discordant and distrustful
Europe which the President has drawn in
the paragraph just quoted. These countries
have stood together, and fought together,
amidst great sacrifices, to put down aggres-
sion; and this is the first time that any one
has revived the unhappy memories of a past
that has been buried, to question the solidar-
ity and mutual confidence that existed in the
Entente before the President went to
Europe. It is injurious and unpardonable
to try to make it appear that America, and
America alone, can harmonize a discordant
Europe, and lead the music in a new concert
of world power. The nations of the Entente
and the governments of the Entente are as
capable of pursuing high ideals and creating
the conditions of peace as America herself,


and are as much disposed to do so. It is both
sophistical and reprehensible to appeal to
American pride, and to exalt American con-
ceit, by detraction from the capacities of
Powers with problems far more serious to
solve than any which confront this nation.

The truth is that America very tardily,
but with abundant and long disregarded
warning of what awaited her, finally came
into the war in time to prevent the defeat of
the Entente by adding a fresh force to tip
the scale of the balance of power, and it was
the new equilibrium that won the war.

It will require the maintenance of that
superior counterpoise to conclude and en-
force a victorious peace. That is the imme-
diate problem, and the only immediate prob-
lem. The imposing of just, but necessarily
punitive, terms of peace on Germany and
her allies would secure the peace of the world
for a long time to come. Ulterior questions
of international reorganization could then
be discussed calmly and effectively in the
light of the conditions which would prevail
when peace had been concluded and the


power to enforce it has been demonstrated.
Until that power can be proved to exist by
actual achievement, the speculations about
permanent and universal peace are mere ex-
cursions in dreamland.

Instead of promoting peace, the efforts of
the President of the United States to impose
his own views and to array the populations
of other countries behind them by bringing
pressure if that has actually been the case
upon other governments have seriously im-
peded and obstructed the only peace in which
the world is really interested at this time,
and for the need of which whole nations are
dying with hunger and are kept in an ab-
normal and dangerous state of mind as a
climax to their physical distress. In the
meantime the Entente is weakening through
discouragement and the enemy is reorganiz-
ing, if not for resistance at least to display a
refractory attitude toward conditions of
peace that could at one time have been
easily imposed.

There is no division of opinion in the
United States regarding the duty of this


country to stand firmly with our allies in this
war in the complete suppression of a com-
mon enemy and the maintenance of a peace
thus imposed. Yet the President raises the
sophistical question, "If America were at this
juncture to fail the world, what would be-
come of it? I do not mean any disrespect
to any other great people when I say that
America is the hope of the world, and if she
does not justify that hope the results are
unthinkable. Men will be thrown back upon
the bitterness of disappointment not only,
but the bitterness of despair. All nations
will be set up as hostile camps again; the men

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Online LibraryDavid Jayne HillPresent problems in foreign policy → online text (page 9 of 17)