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representative selected by the President to represent the United States in this function, in respect to a matter of great importance under the control of Congress?
That the United States should recognize the wisdom of a reduction of armament, under a world plan for it, seems manifest. The history of competitive armaments, with its dreadful sequel, is too fresh in the minds of the peoples of the world for them not to recognize the wisdom of an agreed reduction. If we are to have an agreed reduction, then there must be some limit to which the governments agree to submit. If the nations of Europe, with so many dangerous neighbors, are content to bind themselves to a limitation, why should we hesitate to help this world movement? There is not the slightest probability that we will wish to exceed the limit proposed. Our national failing has been not to maintain enough armament.
Senator Knox objects to the provision that no treaties made by members of the League shall have effect until after they have been registered in the office of the League. He says this is contrary to the Constitution, because treaties are to take effect when ratified by the Senate and proclaimed by the President.
This objection is not very formidable. All this requires is that the United States shall provide, in every one of its future treaties, that the treaty shall not take effect until it is registered in the Secretariat of the League. Certainly an agreement on the part of the United States and the nation with whom it is making a treaty as to conditions upon which it shall take effect is not in violation of the constitutional requirements to which Senator Knox refers.
Senator Knox criticizes the League because it recognizes the possibility of war and proposes to use war to end war. Certainly there is no means of suppressing lawless violence but by lawful force, and any League which makes no provision for that method, and fails to recognize its validity, would be futile. He points out that the plan of the League is not war-proof, and that war may come in spite of it. Then he describes the kind of league which he would frame, a league which will involve the United States in quite as many wars and in just as great a transfer of its sovereignty as he charges this Covenant with doing.
He proposes to have compulsory arbitration, before an international court, of international differences, including questions of policy. His court would not settle all differences likely to lead to war, for questions of policy are just as likely to produce war as questions which are justiciable. Then he would declare war a crime and punish any nation engaged in it, other than in self-defense, as an international criminal. Would not punishing a nation as a criminal be likely to involve war? The court would have the right to call on powers constituting the league to enforce its decrees and awards by force and economic pressure. It would be difficult to conceive a league more completely transferring sovereignty to an outside body and giving it power to involve us in war than the plan of Senator Knox. It is far more drastic and ambitious, and derogates much more from national control than anything in this league. In contrast with it, the present league is modest.
The supporters of the present covenant do not claim it to be a perfect instrument. It does not profess to abolish
It only adopts a somewhat crude machinery for making war improbable, and it furnishes a basis for the union
of nations by which, if they are so minded, they can protect themselves against the recurrence of the disaster of such a war as that with which Europe has been devastated during the last four years. Experience under the League will doubtless suggest many improvements. But it is the first step that counts. Let us take it now when the whole world is yearning for it.
PARIS COVENANT HAS TEETH 1
Many misconceptions of the effect of the Covenant of Paris have been set afloat by broadside denunciations of the League based on loose constructions of it entirely unwarranted by the text. The attitude of those who favor the Covenant has been misconstrued, increasing the confusion in the mind of the public in respect to the inestimable value of the instrument as it is. Were the alternatives presented to me of adopting the Covenant exactly as it is, or of postponing the coming of peace and continuing the state of war until the conference could reconvene and make other provisions for peace, I should, without the slightest fear as to the complete safety of my country under its provisions, vote for it as the greatest step in recorded history in the betterment of international relations for the benefit of the people of the world and for the benefit of my country.
I was president of the League to Enforce Peace and continue to be. Our plan was somewhat more ambitious in the method of settling differences peaceably, in that fewer might escape a binding peaceful settlement. The proposed
1 Article in Public Ledger Mar. 16, 1919.
covenant, however, makes provision for peaceful settlement of most differences Both plans include a definite obligation on the part of all members of the League to use economic power to suppress an outlaw nation by withering world ostracism. Ours also provided for definite contributions of force to an army to be called upon if the boycott failed to effect its purpose. The present covenant does not, in my judgment, impose such a definite obligation on the members of the League, but its theory, doubtless sound, is that their voluntary action in their own interest will lead to the raising of sufficient force without a covenant. The proposed league has real teeth and a bite to it. It furnishes real machinery to organize the power of the peaceful nations of the world and translate it into economic and military action. This, by its very existence and certainty, will keep nations from war, will force them to the acceptance of a peaceable settlement, and will dispense with the necessity for the exercise of economic pressure or force.
Why, then, it is asked, if this is my view, have I animadverted upon the language of the League Covenant and suggested changes? I have done this not because I wished to change the structure of the League, its plan of action or its real character. I have done it for the purpose of removing objections to it created in the minds of conscientious Americans. There are many such anxious for a league of nations, anxious to make this peace permanent, whose fears have been roused by suggested constructions of the Covenant which its language does not justify. These fears can, without any considerable change of language or additions, be removed.
The language of the Covenant is in diplomatic phrases, is verbose and not direct. When, however, we examine the
important treaties of history, including those negotiated by our own country, we find that this is characteristic of most of them. They are not drawn with the concise, direct words of a business contract, nor in the clear style of a domestic statute. When reduced to such a style, the Covenant becomes quite clear and presents to me no danger whatever of involving the United States in any obligation or burden which its people would not be, and ought not to be, glad to bear for the preservation of the peace of the world and their own.
Take, for instance, the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine in spirit and effect is a policy of the United States which forbids any non-American nation, by external aggression, by purchase or by intrigue, to acquire the territory in whole or in part, or the governmental power in whole or in part, of any country or nation in this Western Hemisphere. So far as external aggression is concerned, the policy is fully covered by Article X of the Covenant, which would enable the United States to use the whole power of the League, in addition to its own, to preserve the doctrine. So far as the acquisition of such territory or power by purchase or intrigue is concerned, the United States could at once bring the matter before the Body of Delegates, which will include representatives of all the nations of North, South and Central America. Unless the whole Body of Delegates, so constituted, unanimously rejects the Monroe Doctrine, the United States is completely at liberty to proceed to enforce it. Can it be supposed, by the wildest flight of imagination, that such a unanimous report could be obtained from a body including representatives of seventeen or eighteen countries of this Western Hemisphere? Though I have this view, I am entirely will