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ined that will break down any constitution, even that of the United States, or any plan of the kind I have described; but this plan has a real bite in it, a real mutual obligation for union of the lawful economic and military forces of the world to police the world and prevent the recurrence of such another awful war as that from which we have just emerged. I have said “ from which we have just emerged." That is a wrong term to use. I should use the expression “which we are now trying to end in such a way as to achieve its purpose and make the peace a stable and permanent one."
You have heard Mr. Morgenthau describe, with trenchant accuracy, the conditions that now prevail in the sphere of war in Europe, and the danger there is from the spread of Bolshevism and from a reaction to autocracy as a desperate antidote for Bolshevism. Some who oppose the covenant most are blind to the critical conditions now existing in Europe, are blind to the absolute necessity for a league such as this covenant creates.
.. From time immemorial a most frequent subject matter of treaties is an agreement to submit differences to arbitration. The earliest treaties made by the United States with England and the Barbary States, and with other countries, contained a clause providing for such arbitration.
Since that time we have had numbers of treaties of arbitration, among them general treaties of arbitration. These latter excepted some classes of questions, it is true, but they were general treaties, notwithstanding, in that the character of the differences could not be anticipated. Not by the wildest stretch of the imagination can such an agreement be construed to be a delegation of governmental powers or a parting with sovereignty. It is no more a curtailment of sovereignty than is the obligation of a man to abide the judg
ment of an impartial court, or the award of an agreed arbitration, an infringement on his liberty secured by the constitution.
This covenant does not create a super-sovereigntyit is only a loose obligation among the nations of the world by which they agree to unite together in a policy of submitting their differences to arbitration and mediation, to withhold war until those efforts have proved unsuccessful and to boycott any nation which violates the covenant to comply with this obligation. It provides a method for reaching an agreement as to a limit of armament and an obligation to keep within that limit of armament until conditions shall require a change by a new agreement. The agreement on the part of one balances the agreement on the part of others in securing a general reduction of armament. It does not impair our just sovereignty in the slightest — it is only an arrangement for the maintenance of our sovereignty within its proper limits: to wit, a sovereignty regulated by international law and international morality and international justice, with a somewhat rude machinery created by the agreement of nations to prevent one sovereignty from being used to impose its unjust will on other sovereignties. Certainly we, with our national ideals, can have no desire to secure any greater sovereignty than this.
The argument that to enter this covenant is a departure from the time-honored policy of avoiding entangling alliances with Europe is an argument that is blind to the changed circumstances in our present situation. The war itself ended that policy. Res ipsa loquitur. We attempted to carry it out. We stayed out of the war three years when we ought to have been in it, as we now see.
We were driven into it because, with the dependence of all
the world upon our resources of food, raw material and manufacture, with our closeness, under modern conditions of transportation and communication, to Europe, it was impossible for us to maintain the theory of an isolation that did not in fact exist. It will be equally impossible for us to keep out of another general European war. We are, therefore, just as much interested in stopping such a war as if we were in Europe. This war was our war. The settlement of the war is our settlement. The maintenance of the terms of that settlement is our business, as it is the business of the other nations. To say that we should avoid it is to say that we should be recreant to our duty to ourselves and to the world and blind to the progress of events. To say that it mixes us up with kings is amusing when we consider the dominance of democracy in Europe.
The superlative expressions contained in the denunciations of Mr. Fess and Mr. Reed and Mr. Borah and Mr. Poindexter as to the dangerous working of this covenant find no basis in a clear understanding of its provisions. The contention that we are to be bound by the decision of the Executive Council on a critical issue of war or peace, of arbitration or no arbitration, of limit of armament or no armament, finds no justification in the covenant itself.
The Executive Council is an executive body only to recommend measures to be adopted by the nations in the matter of the reduction of armament and in the matter of the furnishing of military forces and in other lines of action. The obligation is upon the governments through their usual constitutional agencies (which, in our case, is Congress) to perform the obligations they have assumed. Our obligations are: first, to submit differences to arbitration or mediation; second, not to make war until three months
after an award or a report of a proper settlement and not then if the losing nation complies; third, to lay an embargo or boycott against a covenant-breaking nation; fourth, to keep within an armament Congress agrees to. These are the “bite" of the League.
The fundamental weakness of the attitude of Senator Poindexter and Senator Reed and Senator Borah is that they confine their arguments to pointing out the dangers of this Covenant to the United States, which, as I think I have shown, are comparatively slight, while they utterly fail to tender any constructive suggestions to the conference for a method by which peace can be maintained and the just results of the war can be secured. They are merely destructive critics and are not in search of a solution of the difficulty that we, in common with the other nations at the Paris conference, have to meet and solve. Such criticisms are not helpful. They are apparently prompted by a desire to find fault rather than by the duty of suggesting a remedy.
General Smuts, who recommended the system of mandatories, thought that the League itself could not get up an organization sufficiently effective to conduct these governments, that therefore it ought to employ competent governments as agencies to carry on the governments of these dependencies for the benefits of the people in them and that they should make a report of their trusteeship at the end of each year. In his opinion the principles should be laid down in the treaty or be contained in a charter granted by the Executive Council, so as to make a rule of conduct for the agencies acting as mandatories.
Now, there is nothing in the League that requires any government to accept the position of a mandatory. The South Sea colonies and the Pacific colonies of Germany will doubt
less come under England or under Australia.
There are some Northern islands, perhaps, that may come under Japan as a mandatory. Then Palestine and Armenia and Constantinople may come under some other government. They would be glad to have the United States take that, but you will remember that the representatives of the United States said in the Council, that this was impossible, that they could not agree to it.
Now, if they took that attitude in the Council, how unreasonable it is to contend that they would have consented to a league which obliged a member to accept a mandate of this character. You will find nothing compulsory in this provision of the League.
THE PARIS COVENANT FOR A LEAGUE
OF NATIONS 1
We are here to-night in sight of a league of peace, of what I have ever regarded as the “promised land.” Such a war as the last is a hideous blot on our Christian civilization. The inconsistency is as foul as was slavery under the Declaration of Independence. If Christian nations cannot now be brought into a united effort to suppress a recurrence of such a contest it will be a shame to modern society.
During my administration I attempted to secure treaties of universal arbitration between this country and France and England, by which all issues depending for their set
1 Address delivered at the Metropolitan Opera House on March 4, 1919.