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Sovereignty is a matter of definition. The League does not contemplate the slightest interference with the internal government of any country. The League does not propose to interfere, except where the claims of right of one country joint compulsion of all nations, to keep a would-be outlaw nation within the proper existing limitation.
“The League is not a super-sovereign. It is only a partnership. Its power is in only a partnership. Its power is in joint agreement - not in the establishment of government. The Senator's objection is fundamental. If it were analyzed and logically developed it would be seen to be a reactionary doctrine that belongs to the German view of the state and its needs and rights. It is not consonant with any hope of settling international differences other than by the power of the sword. It leads directly to the proposal that ‘might makes right.' It is based on a doctrine of supreme national selfishness. It is the pessimistic and despairing view of any possibility of restricting war. It contemplates with entire complacence the prospect of another war in ten or twenty years like that through which we have passed. It perverts the glorious idea of a national sovereignty and prevents its aiding the family of nations. It perverts our grand federal constitution rendering helpless - so far as aiding the outside world is concerned - a nation which, under the providence of God, has become the world's greatest Power.
" Will the American people acquiesce in such a small view of our responsibilities toward mankind and of our governmental capacity to be helpful? We may be confident they will not.”— Address at Portland, Oregon, Feb. 16, 1919.
“And then sovereignty'— what is sovereignty? Well, I can give you the German view and I can give you the American view. The German view is that sovereignty is the power to over ome the sovereignty of other nations by force. That is all. What is the American idea of sovereignty? It is a sovereignty regulated by international law and international morality and international decency and international neighborly feeling. Do we wish any sovereignty greater than that? Sovereignty is analogous to the liberty of the individual. The latter is liberty regulated by law which protects that liberty; and sovereignty is the same thing applied to nations. We do not change that in this League of Nations. All we do is to furnish the means of determining peaceably and justly what those limitations are, and provide the means of maintaining them. Does that deprive us of any sovereignty? "- Address at San Francisco, Feb. 19, 1919.
clash with the claims of right of another. To submit such claims of right to an impartial tribunal no more interferes with the sovereignty of a nation than the submission of an individual to a hearing and decree of court interferes with his liberty. The League is merely introducing, into the world's sphere, liberty of action regulated by law instead of license uncontrolled except by the greed and passion of the individual nation.
It is said that we are giving up our right to make war or to withhold from making it. We can not take away from our Congress the right to declare war, and no one would wish to do so. But that is no reason why we should not enter into an agreement to defend the impartial judgments of the League and to repress palpable violations of its covenants by those who have entered it. The question must always be for the decision of Congress whether our obligations under the League require us in honor to make war. We have guaranteed the integrity of Cuba, we have guaranteed the integrity of Panama. Does that deprive us of sovereignty? Yet we are under an obligation to make war if another country attacks them.
The fourth of the President's fourteen points contains the provision that adequate guaranties must be given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety. That can not be done immediately. It represents an aim and an aspiration. We are the victors in this war which grew out of the extensive armament and military power of Germany. It will be a legitimate condition of peace exacted by the victors that Germany shall substantially disarm and leave the Allied Powers in a position with armament sufficient to keep Germany within law and right. How far disarmament can
be carried must be determined by experience. Disarmament will be accomplished effectively in great measure by the economic pressure that will be felt intensely by all nations after this war, by such mutual covenants and general supervision of an international council as experience may dictate, and ultimately by a sense of security in the successful operation of this League to Enforce Peace.
For the time being the people who are afraid that the United States will make itself helpless to defend its rights against unjust aggression are unduly exercised. Any practical League of Nations will require the United States to maintain a potential military force sufficient to comply promptly with its obligations to contribute to an international army whenever called upon for League purposes. Such obligation may well be made the basis and reason for universal training of youth, in accord with the Australian or the Swiss system – a system that trains youths for a year physically and mentally and gives them a proper sense of duty and obligation to the state. There may be a difference of opinion as to whether we should have such a system; but there is nothing in the League to Enforce Peace and its principles which prevents its adoption; and either that or some other means of maintaining an adequate force to discharge our obligations under a League must be found. While we should lay broad the foundations for a League looking as far into the future as we may, we must trust to the future to work out the application of those principles, to amend the details of our machinery and to adapt it to the lessons of experience. We know that the real hope of reducing armament and keeping it down is the maintenance of a League which shall insure justice and apply in its aid the major force of the world. As the operation of that League
is more and more acquiesced in, the possibility of the safe reduction of armaments in all countries will become apparent to all and will be realized.
Another question that has agitated a good many people is whether we should admit Germany to the League. That depends upon whether Germany makes herself fit for membership in the League. If she gets rid of the Hohenzollerns, if she establishes a real popular government, if she shows by her national policies that she has acted on the lessons which the war should teach her, in short if she brings forth works meet for repentance, then of course we ought to admit her and encourage her by putting her on an equality with other nations and use her influence and power to make the League more effective. The long-drawn-out payment of indemnities will keep her in a chastened mood and will keep alive in her mind the evils of militarism.
I shall not now discuss the difference in the obligations of the members of such a League as between the Great Powers and the lesser Powers. All should have a voice in the general policy of the League ; but it is well worthy of consideration whether, with the burden of enforcing the obligations of the League by military force which the greater Powers must carry, they should not have the larger voice in executive control. As they are the only ones likely to be able to create the major force of the world, they may reasonably claim a right to more administrative power. The rights of the smaller nations will be protected in the Congress, in which they have a full voice, and by the impartial judgments of the judicial tribunals and the recommendations of the Commission of Conciliation. There is not the slightest likelihood that the mere executive control by the larger Powers would lead to oppression of the smaller Powers be
cause, should selfishness disclose itself in one of the Great Powers, we could be confident of the wish of the other Great Powers to repress it.
One of the difficulties in the maintenance of a League of all nations will be the instability of the governments of its members if the League embraces all nations. On the whole, the Greater Powers are the more stable and the more responsible. It is well therefore that upon them shall fall the chief executive responsibility. While the principles of the League would prevent interference with the internal governments as a general rule, the utter instability of a government might authorize an attempt to stabilize it. That this can be done better by a disinterested League than by a single nation goes without saying.
The possibilities of many-sided world benefit from a League after it is well established and is working smoothly, it is hard to overestimate. For the present, as the result of this Congress of Nations to meet and settle the terms of peace, we may well be content to have a League established on broad lines, with principles firmly and clearly stated, and with constructive provisions for amendment as experience shall indicate their necessity.
I verily believe we are in sight of the Promised Land. I hope we may not be denied its enjoyment.
WORKINGMEN AND THE LEAGUE 1
The pressing imminence of the issue of a League is not as fully understood in this country as it is in Great Britain,
1 Extract from article in Public Ledger Nov. 13, 1918.