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studying details under the official authority of their respective governments. May we not hope that in this way there will be offered to the President by Great Britain and France the constitution of a league which will have vigor and clinching efficacy and which, after full consideration and needed qualification, he will accept? A mere reliance on moral force and good intentions to maintain peace among the new and old nations of Central and Eastern Europe and to resist and suppress the pacifistic ideals of the Bolsheviki, and the massacres and destruction wrought by them, will make the congress a dangerous and discouraging farce. It will be retreat and not advance.
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS IS HERE" 1
The expression at the Peace Conference of President Poincaré and Premier Clémenceau in reference to the League of Nations and the published rules of the Congress are reassuring to those who look to the growth of an effective and real league out of the situation. The French leaders see clearly, and say with emphasis, that we have a league of nations now, and that it must be maintained in order to achieve the purpose of the war. The circumstances of the struggle forced the Allies into an interallied council and then into a common command of the armies under Foch. But for that the war might not have been won.
The rules of the Congress recognize that the five great nations, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the United States, are the ones which have an interest in all the
1 Article in Public Ledger, Jan. 23, 1919.
questions coming before the Congress as guardians of the welfare of the world, made so by the logic of their winning the war. They are thus established as the initiating nucleus of a world union, as the charter members of a league of nations.
It is to be noted that the League of Nations is the first subject to be considered by the Congress. This seems to be at variance with the views of James M. Beck and Senators Lodge and Knox. Mr. Beck argues that, as our fathers waited five years after winning independence before making a constitution, the nations ought to be equally deliberate in discussing and framing a constitution for the world. Most people agree, after reading the description by Hamilton and Madison of conditions existing in the interval between our independence and the convention of 1787, that it would have been much better if the convention could have been called earlier. Of course it may be said that the bad state of affairs during the interval was necessary to bring the people to see the necessity for a stronger government. But surely Mr. Beck would not wish a recurrence of the quarrels of nations and another war to convince the peoples of the world of the necessity and advantage of world unity to suppress war and maintain peace. It is now, just after this horrible war when its agonies, its sufferings, its lessons, its inhuman character, all are fresh in the minds of men, that they will be willing to go farther in making the needed and proper concessions involved in a useful and real league of nations. Delay will dull their eagerness to adopt the machinery essential to organized protection against war.
But another fact which Mr. Beck and Mr. Knox seem to ignore is that a treaty of peace cannot be made at Paris, by which the peace of Europe can be secured and maintained
without a league of nations. These gentlemen may well be challenged to tell us what arrangements they would suggest to the five nations engaged in forming this treaty for peace and in making it work, unless it be a continuing league of those five nations to maintain it.
How can the objects and purposes of the fourteen points, especially those directed to rearranging the map of Eastern and Central Europe and Asia Minor, be achieved and carried to peaceful realization except through a league of nations embracing the five great powers? No one opposed to the league of nations idea has essayed to answer this very practical question. The Paris conference is confronted with it and must answer it suggestively by making the League of Nations the first subject for discussion. Premier Clémenceau said:
“ The League of Nations is here. It is for you to make it live.” Senator Lodge in his speech fully recognized the existence of the League of great nations in the war and the necessity for its continuance. Indeed it is probable that if Senator Knox and Mr. Beck were cross-examined, their admissions would show them to be not very far removed from the view that something substantially equivalent to a league of great nations must be definitely formed by this Congress with agreed-upon means of enforcing the stipulated peace.
The Associated Press informs us that a league of nations is in the forming, but that the super-sovereignty of an international police force is to be rejected as part of it. This negation is not very helpful. Except in Tennyson's poetic vision and in the plans of impracticables, no such suggestion as super-sovereignty has been advanced.
Most opponents of the League idea have assumed that the
so-called international police is to be a permanent body under an international commander and subject to orders without invoking consent of the nations contributing to the force. This is a misconception. A potential international police force will be erected by an agreement of the Great Nations to furnish forces when necessary to accomplish a legitimate purpose of the League. In most instances, no actual force will need to be raised. The existence of an agreement and confidence that the nations will comply with it is all that will be needed. Nations who have judgments against them in a court of the nations will generally perform them. It will only be where defiances of such judgments will lead to a dangerous war that the League force need be raised.
Of course, during the interval after the conclusion of peace, the possibility of differences and the danger of Bolshevism may require a retention of some of the war army strength of the Allies to see the treaty through to its effective execution. But after the return of normal times the strength of the League to secure compliance with the treaty obligations and justice will not be in its serried columns, but in its potential power under the joint agreement.
In the convenient division of the world into zones, in which the respective Great Powers shall undertake the responsibility of seeing to it that members of the League conform to the rules laid down by the treaty, it will be unnecessary for any nation to send forces to a distant quarter. The United States can properly take care of the Western Hemisphere and need not maintain in normal times a military establishment more extensive than she ought to maintain for domestic use and the proper maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine without such a league. They may be well supplied, not by a professional army, but by a system
of universal training on democratic principles like that in Switzerland or New Zealand. If this be conscription, its opponents may make the most of it. It will help our boys in discipline of character and in a most useful educational way. It will provide for the prompt display of democratic power to achieve justice. The picture painted by Senator Borah of the army of the United States needed for the purposes of the League is the result of a lively imagination, but does not find support in the real need of the League.
After the League of the Great Powers has been established for the purpose of executing the plans of the new treaty, it will be time enough to take in all other responsible Powers. The lesser League will grow naturally into a larger League. Experience will test the practical character of the lesser League and in this wise and in due course the world League will come into being. But meanwhile as a necessary condition precedent to the success of the treaty of peace,
it must provide for a League of the Great Nations.
THE LEAGUE'S "BITE"1
Those who are looking for something real in a league of Nations to preserve peace, in creating sanctions for international law, justice and equity, may well feel concerned over the developments in Paris. Such persons have based their hopes on the psychological effect of the horrors of the war upon all nations, which should make them willing to concede much to achieve the main object of the war. They have counted on securing a covenant between the members
1 Article in Public Ledger, Jan. 29, 1919.