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mitted the necessity of departing from the traditional policy of the United States to enter into no alliances with foreign nations, because a league is an alliance, and, as a league contains obligations, it must entangle the United States to the extent at least of the performance of those obligations.
We cannot avoid being affected by international quarrels in Europe. It is economical for us to unite with the other countries to maintain peace instead of waiting until we are driven into war and then making a superhuman effort to defend ourselves against a war that has meantime grown into enormous proportions because of our failure, and that of the other nations, of the world to suppress it in its inception.
The Executive Council has no power to fix the obligation. It does not determine conclusively for any member of the League any fact upon which the obligation of that member becomes immediate. Its duties are executive in the sense that it acquires all the necessary information, follows closely matters with which the League has to do and takes action in the sense of making a recommendation to the various Powers as to how the difficulties shall be met. It furnishes a means by which the Powers confer together in order that they may agree upon joint action; but in no sense is any power delegated to it to declare war, to wage war, to declare a boycott, to limit armament or to force arbitration.
The only two things which it does, things that can be said in any way to be binding on nations, are, first, not to increase the limit of armament to which a nation has agreed to confine itself after full consideration, and, second (where
jurisdiction is not taken from it by reference to the Body of Delegates) if it can act unanimously, to make a report of settlement of a difficulty such that if the defendant nation complies with it, the plaintiff nation may not begin war to get more. It may propose measures to the members of the League by which they can carry out its recommendations of settlement, but it does not decide upon those measures and it is left to the members of the League to agree whether they desire to use force to carry out recommendations or not. In every other respect its action is advisory and of a recommending character.
Still less can there be said to be sovereign authority delegated to the Body of Delegates. The Body of Delegates selects the four countries whose representatives are to enter the Executive Council. It elects, by two-thirds vote, new members to the League after they have shown themselves able to fulfill the covenants of the League. It may be substituted as a mediating body and a body to recommend settlement in place of the Executive Council. It may also advise the reconsideration by members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable to international conditions and which may endanger the peace of the world. This is all.
It is impossible, therefore, for one looking through the Covenant, without a determined purpose to formulate objections to it, to find any transfer of sovereignty to the Executive Council or the Body of Delegates. The whole theory of the Covenant is that the nations are to act together under obligations of the Covenant, that they are to come to an agreement, through these two bodies, but that the action to be taken is to be determined by each nation on its conscience under its agreement, and that when the
action is to be taken it is to be taken by that nation in accord with its constitution.
LEAGUE OF NATIONS HAS NOT DELAYED
THE PEACE 1
The project of the League of Nations has, in the minds of its opponents, to bear the blame for many things. According to their view, if it had not been for the League of Nations, peace would now have been declared and everything would be smooth and easy in the sphere of the late war. It is their view that only the absurd insistence of idealists has postponed the settlement needed to produce normal times. The fact is entirely otherwise. The League of Nations was made the first subject of consideration by the conference because it could be more promptly and easily disposed of than other issues rearing their ugly heads among the Allies. These latter needed earnest and painful consideration in confidential interviews between the representatives of the leading powers. The full facts were not known to the conference and the issues were not ready for open discussion.
The delay in fixing the terms of the League would not have happened but for the need of settling the other questions. One of the most troublesome of these is the amount of the indemnities which France and Belgium and Italy and England and Serbia should exact from the Central Powers. It is complicated with the question how much the Central Powers can pay.
Each premier has found himself em1 Article in Public Ledger Mar. 29, 1919.
barrassed by promises to his people as to what the treaty must contain. In this regard, each one has found that his claims, based only on the viewpoint of himself and his countrymen, must be moderated.
Another burning question is that of the boundary of Italy on the Adriatic. Italy insists on having Fiume because the port has probably a majority of Italians in it. But it has always been the port of the Slav dependency of Hungary and it is surrounded by a country with which it has the closest business connection, a country which is overwhelmingly Slav.
It is the normal and appropriate seaport of the projected Jugo-Slav State. Sonnino, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, is reported to be uncompromising in his demand. Fiume has become a political issue in Italy. Orlando, a man of more judicial and conciliatory mind, is said to be embarrassed by Sonnino. Both are affected by the fact that the Italian elections are near at hand.
Then, as a background to the whole settlement, there is the question of the defense of France against another and sudden attack by Germany. Marshal Foch and the French military strategists see no complete protection unless France, in some way, controls the crossing of the Rhine. A proposal which has received great support in the French papers and which has been urged by France has been the creation of a buffer state called Rhineland. The objection to this is that Rhineland is really German. Its separation from Germany is, not within the basis of the armistice. It has never within centuries been French. Its sympathies would all be with Germany. It would create a new Alsace-Lorraine, with the boot on the other leg. It would be a constant source of irritation in Germany and a persistent in
vitation to a new war by her when opportunity offered.
Lloyd George is seeking to make such a frontier unnecessary by a required limitation on conscription in Germany and an agreed limitation of armament among the Allie! Powers. This, of course, would become a part of the machinery of the League of Nations for securing peace.
The question of Hungary, which is now being made prominent by the threat of Bolshevism or its actual appearance at Budapest and in the surrounding country, is also a difficult one. Unscrupulous leaders of Hungarian politics seem to have invited Bolshevism in order to fight a settlement which would limit Hungary to the Magyar country and the Danubian plains. The Magyars are a masterful race, a race of aristocrats, who have arbitrarily oppressed the Slovaks in mountainous northern Hungary, the Rumanians in Transylvania and indeed the Germans where they have settled within the Hungarian kingdom. As they see their power passing, they have become desperate and war threatens again.
The specter of Bolshevism will not down. To charge this to delay due to seeking an agreement upon the League of Nations is ridiculously opposed to the facts. The outbreak in Hungary only demonstrates the necessity for a strong, firm league. The signing of a treaty which formally restores peace with Germany and Austria-Hungary will not give us peace unless there is guaranty in the power of the united Allies to compel peace. That power will be dissolved unless a league of allies, the nucleus of the League of Nations, shall be established, not only to suppress immediate disorder, but also to settle differences (a great number of which will at once arise between the new gov