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power” in spite of the recognized evils of that doctrine in its practical application. Beneath the banner of the democracies of the world was the same sinister idea which had found expression in the Congress of Vienna with its purpose of protecting the monarchical institutions of a century ago. It proclaimed in fact that mankind must look to might rather than right, to force rather than law, in the regulation of international affairs for the future.
This defect in the theory, on which the League of Nations was to be organized, was emphasized and given permanency by the adoption of a mutual guaranty of territorial integrity and political independence against external aggression. Since the burden of enforcing the guaranty would unavoidably fall upon the more powerful nations, they could reasonably demand the control over affairs which might develop into a situation requiring a resort to the guaranty. In fact during a plenary session of the Peace Conference held on May 31, 1919, President Wilson stated as a broad principle that responsibility for pro tecting and maintaining a settlement under one of the Peace Treaties carried with it the right to determine what that settlement should be. The application to the case of responsible guarantors is obvious and was apparently in mind when the Covenant was being evolved. The same principle was applied throughout the negotiations at Paris.
The mutual guaranty from its affirmative nature compelled in fact, though not in form, the establishment of a
ruling group, a coalition of the Great Powers, and denied, though not in terms, the equality of nations. The oligarchy was the logical result of entering into the guaranty or the guaranty was the logical result of the creation of the oligarchy through the perpetuation of the basic idea of the Supreme War Council. No distinction was made as to a state of war and a state of peace. Strongly opposed to the abandonment of the principle of the equality of nations in times of peace I naturally opposed the affirmative guaranty and endeavored to persuade the President to accept as a substitute for it a self-denying or negative covenant which amounted to a promise of “hands-off” and in no way required the formation of an international oligarchy to make it effective.
In addition to the foregoing objection I opposed the guaranty on the ground that it was politically inexpedient to attempt to bind the United States by a treaty provision which by its terms would certainly invite attack as to its constitutionality. Without entering into the strength of the legal argument, and without denying that there are two sides to the question, the fact that it was open to debate whether the treaty-making power under the Constitution could or could not obligate the Government of the United States to make war under certain conditions was in my judgment a practical reason for avoiding the issue. If the power existed to so bind the United States by treaty on the theory that the Federal Government could not be restricted in its right to make international agreements, then the guaranty would be attacked as an unwise and needless departure from the traditional policies of the Republic. If the power did not exist, then the violation of the Constitution would be an effective argument against such an undertaking. Whatever the conclusion might be, therefore, as to the legality of the guaranty or as to whether the obligation was legal or moral in nature, it did not seem possible for it to escape criticism and vigorous attack in America.
It seemed to me that the President's guaranty was so vulnerable from every angle that to insist upon it would endanger the acceptance of any treaty negotiated if the Covenant was, in accordance with the President's plan, made an integral part of it. Then, too, opposition would, in my opinion, develop on the ground that the guaranty would permit European Powers to participate, if they could not act independently, in the forcible settlement of international quarrels in the Western Hemisphere whenever there was an actual invasion of territory or violation of sovereignty, while conversely the United States would be morally, if not legally, bound to take part in coercive measures in composing European differences under similar conditions. It could be urged with much force that the Monroe Doctrine in the one case and the Washington policy of avoiding "entangling alliances” in the other would be so affected that they would both have to be substantially abandoned or else rewritten. If the American peo ple were convinced that this would be the
accepting the affirmative guaranty, it meant its rejection. In any event it was bound to produce an acrimonious controversy. From the point of view of policy alone it seemed unwise to include the guaranty in the Covenant, and believing that an objection on that ground would appeal to the President more strongly than one based on principle, I emphasized that objection, though in my own mind the other was the more vital and more compelling.
The points of difference relating to the League of Nations between the President's views and mine, other than the recognition of the primacy of the Great Powers, the affirmative guaranty and the resulting denial in fact of the equality of nations in times of peace, were the provisions in the President's original draft of the Covenant relating to international arbitrations, the subordination of the judicial power to the political power, and the proposed system of mandates. Having discussed with sufficient detail the reasons which caused me to oppose these provisions, and having stated the efforts made to induce President Wilson to abandon or modify them, repetition would be superfluous. It is also needless, in view of the full narrative of events contained in these pages, to state that I failed entirely in my endeavor to divert the President from his determination to have these provisions inserted in the Covenant, except in the case of international arbitrations, and even in that case I do not believe that my advice had anything to do with his abandonment of his ideas as to the method of selecting arbitrators and the right of appeal from arbitral awards. Those changes and the substitution of an article providing for the future creation of a Permanent Court of International Justice, were, in my opinion, as I have said, a concession to the Euro pean statesmen and due to their insistence.
President Wilson knew that I disagreed with him as to the relative importance of restoring a state of peace at the earliest date possible and of securing the adoption of a plan for the creation of a League of Nations. He was clearly convinced that the drafting and acceptance of the Covenant was superior to every other task imposed on the Conference, that it must be done before any other settlement was reached and that it ought to have precedence in the negotiations. His course of action was conclusive evidence of this conviction.
On the other hand, I favored the speedy negotiation of a short and simple preliminary treaty, in which, so far as the League of Nations was concerned, there would be a series of declarations and an agreement for a future international conference called for the purpose of drafting a convention in harmony with the declarations in the preliminary treaty. By adopting this course a state of peace would have been restored in the early months of 1919, official intercourse and commercial relations would have been resumed, the more complex and difficult problems of settlement would have been postponed to the negotiation of the definitive Treaty of Peace, and there would have been time to study exhaustively the purposes, powers, and