Obrázky stránek

of the League to unite, whenever necessity may arise, with the powerful members of the League to compel compliance with judgments of the League and to suppress recalcitrant members faithless to the principles of the League and to their obligations. They can hardly be blamed for so doing, in view of President Wilson's words, as follows:

"I pray God that if this contest have no other result, it will at least have the result of creating an international tribunal and producing some sort of joint guaranty of peace on the part of the great nations of the world." . . . "Now, let us suppose that we have formed a family of nations and that family of nations says: The world is not going to have any more wars of this sort without at least first going through certain processes to show whether there is anything in the case or not.' If you say, 'We shall not have any war,' you have got to have the force to make the shall' bite. And the rest of the world, if America takes part in this thing, will have the right to expect from her that she can contribute her element of force to the general understanding. Surely that is not a militaristic idea. That is a very practical ideal."


The indorsement of these views by Mr. Lloyd George was as follows:

"The best security for peace will be that nations will band themselves together to punish the peace-breaker."

Mr. Asquith's comment on the President's views was as follows:

"The President held out to his hearers the prospect of an era when the civilization of mankind, banded together for the purpose, will make it their joint and several duty to repress by their united authority and, if need be, by their combined naval and military forces, any wanton or aggressive invasion

of the peace of the world. It is a fine ideal, which must arouse all our sympathies."

From these statements of this ideal it is a descending climax now to hear that no member of the League is to bind itself to unite its forces with any other in enforcing the judgments of the league court or in punishing the peacebreaker. We are now to depend on moral force or the exercise of an economic boycott, it may be, and on the general public opinion of the world. If a nation which is interested in a judgment in its behalf desires, it is to be given the right to go to war to enforce it. We have still the wonderful and eloquent preaching of the ideal of a League of Nations while we see its strength and "bite," to use Mr. Wilson's expression, fading into merely moral aspirations and moral sanctions.

This is doubtless in part due to the difficulties that the nations now sitting around the council board in Paris are having in maintaining their armies. After four years of war the pressure of the men engaged in it to be released from their military duty is so strong that the nations cannot resist it. That is probably the explanation of the very weak policy adopted in respect to the Bolsheviki. The Congress certainly would not have run the risk of exposing its members to just criticism had they not felt deeply the difficulty confronting them in sending an adequate force to Russia to stamp out the contagion, to rescue the Czecho-Slavs and to give Russia a chance. The error that our administration made during the war was in resisting the urgent appeal of our Allies to send a large force into Russia, through Vladivostok and Archangel, to create an eastern front. Such a force would have largely obviated the Bolsheviki complication. The Czecho-Slovaks, whom we have

promised to help, are in a perilous situation, while our own little handful of men are fighting an aimless fight against great odds near Archangel.

Should they who have expected real "bite," to repeat Mr. Wilson's expression, in the League of Nations, be discouraged? Institutions like the League of Nations, which represent an advance in civilization, are created by the necessity of the situation.

It is, of course, difficult to comment on plans for the League as they are outlined in the cabled reports of correspondents. They seem to be anxious to convince everybody that, while the League of Nations is a beautiful idea and inspires emotion when urged as President Wilson urged it in the congress at Saturday's session, nevertheless, its covenants are not going to involve any trouble or obligation or burden for the United States, but will permit complete freedom of action or withholding of action when war shall come again.

Lord Robert Cecil is reported to have suggested a court to which all justiciable questions are to be submitted, while nonjusticiable questions leading to trouble are to go to a council of conciliation. This is accompanied, however, by the notable proviso that every nation may determine for itself whether the question threatening war is justiciable or not. This is equivalent to saying that every nation may keep out of the court of the League if it chooses, no matter what the issue. The court is thus to be constituted to decide questions which both quarreling nations are willing to submit to it. It is thus as effective as the present voluntary arbitration of the Hague tribunal and no more. If, now, every proposal with anything of a "bite" in it is to be

weakened to ineffectiveness, the common peoples of France, England, Italy and the United States, who have been looking upon the League as a real machine, with the "bite" in it to prevent future wars, may well feel that there has been much thundering in the index about the League of Nations without tangible result. If the League is only to be an agreement to confer over any breach of peace by the nations, and will not even bind nations to submit legal differences to a court, the man in the street will not put much faith in fine words in the future.


It was to be expected that selfish desire to take advantage of the victory over Germany would appear in the congress at Paris; but it should not be gratified. The strength of the Allies was in the justice of their cause. German lies and propaganda concealed the facts and at first misled many. As the war progressed, Germany's sole responsibility for the war and the grinning skeleton of her vicious purposes were revealed. They were confirmed by her atrocious conduct of the war. The claim of the Allies that theirs was only a defensive struggle to save the world from the German monster of militarism, in which they were prompted by no spirit of conquest or self-aggrandizement, gained credence among all nations. Declarations of war against Germany as the enemy of mankind followed from every quarter of the globe. Her isolation from all the world save from her allies, who were under her iron heel, became a greater and greater factor in lowering the morale of her people. The material influence

1 Article in Public Ledger Feb. 3, 1919.

of the moral righteousness of the cause of the Allies is one of the inspiring circumstances in the history of the Great War.

This feature of the victory should not be allowed to lose its beneficent force by a yielding to selfish claims of participants in the peace pact. The restoration of Alsace-Lorraine to France or even of the coal mines of the neighboring Saar district is only justice. The German outrageous destruction of the mines at Lens and elsewhere makes the transfer of the Saar district only an equitable indemnity. The same view justifies the delivery to Italy of Italia Irridenta. But no such principle applies in respect to the German colonies.

All will applaud and support the conclusion that Germany has forfeited ownership of her colonies. She has grossly mistreated the backward peoples living in them, and in whose interest they should be administered. How are they to be governed? It is agreed that their peoples are now incapable of self-government; that to attempt to extend it to them would be only less hurtful to them than German domination. Who then shall govern them? As a member of the conference, Australia asks the transfer of the South Pacific colonies to it or to Great Britain, while British South Africa presses for British control over the former German dependencies in her neighborhood.

These pretensions are advanced on two grounds. First, that in the past the proximity of German possessions has been a continual threat to them, and, second, that their sacrifices in the war entitle them to take these territories over as an indemnity. As to the first, the exclusion of German control should remove any danger. As to the second, it is contrary to principles upon which, under the armistice terms, the treaty was to be framed. It involves in its essence the

« PředchozíPokračovat »