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ing to see, and will be glad to see, a reservation introduced into the Covenant which shall be more explicit and more satisfying to those whose fears are roused.
From the plan of the Covenant, from the language of Lord Robert Cecil, one of its chief draftsmen, and from the general rules of construction of international agreements, I think that the action of the executive council, unless otherwise expressly provided, must be unanimous. This would necessitate the concurrence of a representative of the United States in such recommendations and other actions as it may, in the course of its duties in the League, have to take. The same is true of the Body of Delegates. But I would be entirely willing to have the rule of unanimity stated expressly; it would clarify a matter which troubles many.
Doubt has been expressed as to the time during which this Covenant is to run. There is now no express limitation. I would be glad to have a definite time limitation, say of ten years, for the League as a whole, and perhaps of five years for the obligation to restrict armament within a limit agreed to by the Congress of the United States. This would relieve many who reasonably fear perpetual obligations. My own view is that, unless this be done, the nations composing the League will construe this to be a covenant from which any one of them may withdraw after reasonable notice. I think it is wiser to give it a definite term than to have it a covenant from which any member may withdraw at will.
I do not mean to say there may not be other changes of a similar character that would aid in relieving unfounded objections. But I am distinctly opposed to a revision of the form of the League so as to change its nature. This is the League which, as amended in the conference, must be
adopted unless we are to have an indefinite postponement
The suggestions of the impossible and radically different leagues which have been put forward as a better solution than the present one will not be particularly relevant or helpful. To provide for amendments and reservations, that do not change the structure of the League and its essence and do satisfy doubting, conscientious Americans in respect to the safety of the United States in the obligations assumed, is a high and important duty of the representatives of the United States in this conference. If they perform it, they will help materially to secure the ratification of the treaty.
Of course the securing of amendments after fourteen nations have fought their way by earnest discussion to an agreement in committee is not free from difficulty. European nations, anxious to have us join the League, will consent to reservations and limitations as to strictly American questions and policies; but it is not the easiest task to draw these in such form as to prevent their having wider effect. The solution of this problem will be facilitated by a consideration and study of the criticisms which are constructively directed to rendering this league unobjectionable. I regret to say that many of the speeches are so far afield and so entirely unwarranted by the present language of the Covenant that they are not helpful.
TO MAKE PEACE SECURE 1
I favor the obligation on the part of all the nations to use their military force to maintain the covenants of the League. That was a feature of the plan of the League to Enforce Peace. I do not think it is clearly set forth in the present Covenant. The nearer it comes to that the more satisfactory it is to me, and the more effective that League will become. The burden of carrying on war, which has been held up as a reason for not entering the League, is one entirely removed by the certainty of coöperation of the nations. The usefulness of such a league is far greater in its warning and restraining effect upon reckless nations willing to begin war than even in its actual suppression of war. It is vastly more economical on our part to agree that, should occasion arise, we will contribute economic and military pressure to suppress war than it is to refuse such an agreement and then be drawn into a war like the one we have just passed through, leaving an indebtedness of twenty-five billions, a war that would have been avoided by the knowledge on the part of Germany and Austria that aggression would array the whole world against them. The arguments that Senator Borah advances in this regard are arguments that are the figments of his imagination. The very object of the League is to prevent war, not to fight little wars, and the clearer the obligation to exert economic pressure and military force against the aggressor, the greater the improbability that wars will come. Instead of being a source of increased expense, the League will greatly reduce expenses to the government of the United Stats, first, in re
1 From an Address at the Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia, March 23, 1919.
ducing armaments, and second, in reducing the number of the wars into which it is likely to be drawn.
If the provisions I have mentioned were limited to the members of the League they would lack comprehensiveness in preserving world peace, because it may be some time before two-thirds of the Body of Delegates shall conclude that it is wise to admit to permanent membership in the League countries like Germany, Austria, Turkey or Bulgaria, or countries with no sense of responsibility and so weak in police power and self-restraint as not to be able to perform the covenants of the League. To correct what otherwise would be a defect in the constitution of the League, there is a declaration that the League is interested in war between any countries whether members of the League or not, and will take such action as the peace of the world may require in order to prevent injury from such a war.
The four great steps to secure peace are, first, reduction of armament; second, union against conquest by arms; third, peaceful settlements of differences and a covenant not to begin war until every effort has been made to secure such peaceful settlement, together with a world boycott of the outlaw nation and the exercise of military compulsion, if necessary; and finally, fourth, the inhibition of all secret treaties and an enforcement of open diplomacy. Nothing like it has heretofore been attempted in the history of the world. The problem of German peace has forced it.
We have fourteen nations, seven of them being the nations who won the war with Germany, agreeing through their representatives at Paris upon these steps. The question now is whether the Senate of the United States is to destroy the possibility of this advance in the civilization of
the world by its vote against the action of the President and against what I verily believe to be the opinion of the majority of the people of the United States. I would unhesitatingly vote for the Covenant just as it was unanimously reported by the committee of representatives of the fourteen countries engaged in drafting the treaty. I am hopeful, however, that the fears of some, who conscientiously favor the treaty, as to certain possibilities of danger may be removed by more express limitation. The treaty is in process of amendment now and any clarifying amendments should be welcomed in order, if possible, to secure ratification. I believe the President and the Commission have a sense of duty in this regard and that we may look for amendments of this character.
What are the objections to the League? They are, first, that the United States has gotten along so well since the beginning without being drawn into the politics of the outside world that it ought to keep out of them and ought not to involve itself in a league of nations. This opinion, I think we may say, is confined to a small body of persons represented by Senators Borah, Reed and Poindexter. If there are others who take this position in the Senate, their names do not occur to me. All the other members of the Senate who have objected to this covenant have averred that they are in favor of a league of nations to secure peace. If they are, they are in favor of something that binds the United States to some kind of an obligation to help in the preservation of peace. A league of nations means something that binds one nation to another in respect to certain obligations. That is the etymological derivation of the word and that is its actual meaning. If they are therefore in favor of a league of nations, they have, by that fact, ad