Page images


reasons appealed to the President and caused him to oppose the plan, although the principle of primacy found application in a different and less radical form in his own plan of organization. Possibly he felt that the British statesman's proposal too frankly declared the coalition and oligarchy of the Five Powers, and that there should be at least the appearance of coöperation on the part of the lesser nations. Of course, in view of the perpetual majority of the Five Powers on the Executive Council, as provided in the President's plan, the primacy of the Five was weakened little if at all by the minority membership of the small nations. The rule of unanimity gave to each nation a veto power, but no one believed that one of the lesser states represented on the Council would dare to exercise it if the Great Powers were unanimous in support of a proposition. In theory unanimity was a just and satisfactory rule; in practice it would amount to nothing. The President may also have considered the council proposed by Lord Robert to be inexpedient in view of the political organization of the United States. The American Government had no actual premier except the President, and it seemed out of the question for him to attend an annual meeting of the proposed council. It would result in the President sending a personal representative who would unavoidably be in a subordinate position when sitting with the European premiers. I think this latter reason was a very valid one, but that the first one, which seemed to appeal especially to the President, had little real merit.

In addition to his objection to the Cecil plan of administration, another was doubtless of even greater weight to Mr. Wilson and that was the entire omission in the Cecil proposal of the mutual guaranty of political independence and territorial integrity. The method of preventing wars which was proposed by Lord Robert was for the nations to enter into a covenant to submit disputes to international investigation and to obtain a report before engaging in hostilities and also a covenant not to make war on a disputant nation which accepted a report which had been unanimously adopted. He further proposed that the members of the League should undertake to regard themselves as ipso facto at war with a member violating these covenants and “to take, jointly and severally, appropriate military, economic, and other measures against the recalcitrant State,” thus following closely the idea of the League to Enforce Peace.

Manifestly this last provision in the Cecil plan was open to the same constitutional objections as those which could be raised against the President's mutual guaranty. My impression is that Mr. Wilson's opposition to the provision was not based on the ground that it was in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, but rather on the ground that it did not go far enough in stabilizing the terms of peace which were to be negotiated. The President was seeking permanency by insuring, through the threat or pressure of international force, a condition of changelessness in boundaries and sovereign rights, subject, nevertheless, to territorial changes based either on the principle of “self-determination” or on a three-fourths vote of the Body of Delegates. He, nevertheless, discussed the subject with Lord Robert Cecil prior to laying his draft of a Covenant before the American Commissioners, as is evident by comparing it with the Cecil plan, for certain phrases are almost identical in language in the two documents.



The mutual guaranty which was advocated by President Wilson appears as Article III of his original draft of a Covenant. It reads as follows:

ARTICLE III “The Contracting Powers unite in guaranteeing to each other political independence and territorial integrity; but it is understood between them that such territorial readjustments, if any, as may in the future become necessary by reason of changes in present racial conditions and aspirations or present social and political relationships, pursuant to the principle of self-determination, and also such territorial readjustments as may in the judgment of three fourths of the Delegates be demanded by the welfare and manifest interest of the peoples concerned, may be effected if agreeable to those peoples; and that territorial changes may in equity involve material compensation. The Contracting Powers accept without reservation the principle that the peace of the world is superior in importance to every question of political jurisdiction or boundary.”

In the revised draft, which he laid before the Commission on the League of Nations at its first session Article III became Article 7. It is as follows:

ARTICLE 7 “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all States members of the League.”

The guaranty was finally incorporated in the Treaty of Peace as Article 10. It reads:

ARTICLE 10 “The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.”

In the revision of the original draft the modifying clause providing for future territorial readjustments was omitted. It does not appear in Article 7 of the draft which was pre

7 sented to the Commission on the League of Nations and which formed the basis of its deliberations. In addition to this modification the words “unite in guaranteeing” in Article III became “undertake to respect and preserve” in Article 7. These changes are only important in that they indicate a disposition to revise the article to meet the wishes, and to remove to an extent the objections, of some of the foreign delegates who had prepared plans for a League or at least had definite ideas as to the purposes and functions of an international organization.

It was generally believed that the elimination of the modifying clause from the President's original form of guaranty was chiefly due to the opposition of the states

« PreviousContinue »