Page images

one neutral conciliator on each side selected by the disputant states, with a chairman selected from the Permanent Council of Conciliation, which council shall, if possible, propose a settlement. No action is provided in case a settlement is not reached by mediation, beyond having copies of the report sent to each party in dispute and to the Permanent Council of Conciliation; but Dr. Oppenheim himself explains that his proposal with reference to mediation within the League of Nations is "sketchy and would need working out in detail if one were thinking of preparing a full plan for its realization."

Dr. Oppenheim emphasizes the necessity for keeping intact the independence and equality of the several states, in order to have a successful organization of a League of Nations. He, therefore, dismisses as impossible of realization, all plans for a League of Nations which, in addition to providing for an international court and council of conciliation, also provide for a federal state organization with an international executive, parliament, and army and navy, or police force. His reasons for rejecting the ideal of a federal world state organization furnish one of the most interesting discussions in the book. Among the reasons stated for this rejection are the following:

We need democracy and constitutional Government in every single State, and this can only be realised by party Government and elections of Parliament at short intervals. The waves of party strife rise high within the several States; no sooner is one party in than the other party looks out for an opening into which a wedge can be pushed to turn the Government out. In normal times this works on the whole quite well within the borders of the several States, because the interests concerned are not so widely opposed to one another that the several parties cannot alternatively govern. But when it comes to applying the same system of Government to a Federal World State, the interests at stake are too divergent. The East and the West, the South and the North, the interests of maritime States and land-locked States, the ideals and interests of industrial and agricultural States, and many other contrasts, are too great for it to be possible to govern a Federal World State by the same institutions as a State of ordinary size and composition.

This International Army and Navy would be the most powerful instrument of force which the world has ever seen, because every attempt to resist it would be futile. And the Commander of the International Army and the Commander of the International Navy would be men holding in their hands the greatest power that can be imagined.

The old question, therefore, arises: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? which I should like here to translate freely by: Who will keep in order those who are to keep the world in order? A League of Nations which can only be kept together

by a powerful International Army and Navy is a contradiction in itself; for the independence and equality of the member States of the League would soon disappear.

Dr. Oppenheim particularly warns against attempting, in the creation of a League of Nations, the realization of proposals which are "so daring and so entirely out of keeping with the historical development of International Law and the growth of the Society of Nations, that there would be great danger of the whole scheme collapsing and the whole movement coming to naught."

It is to be regretted that Dr. Oppenheim did not include in his book a draft convention for a League of Nations based upon the principles set forth in his lectures.





I REALIZE that any subject which has to do with the Peace Conference possesses at this time a peculiar interest not only to members of the legal profession but in fact to men of every avocation and every nationality. At the same time to treat of these subjects dispassionately and without inviting the charge of undue prejudice is by no means an easy task. We are still so near the Great War and its dreadful consequences, so near the complex questions which were considered and decided by the Paris Conference, that it is practically impossible to form a true perspective of the proceedings of the Conference or to give even a relative value to the things that it accomplished.

A man, however learned he may be or however high a reputation he may have gained as a statesman or political thinker, can not speak with certainty of the future. Emphatic or intemperate utterances in favor of or against the settlements reached by the nations represented at Paris ought not to be made; and, if made, they will assuredly not receive the unqualified approval of men of broad vision and judicial mind. It is unfortunate that the difficulties and obstacles which had to be overcome or avoided by the negotiators can not be fully explained at this time. If they could be, I believe that many of the objections to the treaty would vanish or at least not be urged by those who have been vehement in their denunciation of some of its provisions. I am sure that it is ignorance or at least incomplete knowledge which has induced much of the criticism of those who are otherwise familiar with our foreign affairs. I prefer to believe this to be the cause, rather than to charge them with intellectual dishonesty or with being governed by their emotions or by motives unworthy of anyone who seeks to be just in forming an opinion.

1 Address by Hon. Robert Lansing, Secretary of State of the United States, before the American Bar Association, Boston, Mass., September 5, 1919.

« PreviousContinue »