IN 1754 the long-heralded philosophical works of Lord Bolingbroke were published. To Edmund Burke they constituted an effort to exclude God from his universe as a wholly unnecessary phenomenon, and he composed "A Vindication of Natural Society" as an indignant protest. The form of this protest was a seriously argued examination of all merely human institutions, with a view to demonstrating "that every endeavor which the art and policy of mankind has used from the beginning of the world until this day, in order to relieve or cure natural ills, has only served to introduce new mischiefs or to aggravate or inflame the old." This thesis, set forth with stately logic and illustrated by critical examinations in all the fields of political activity, leads the reader, with solemn power, to the conviction that all human efforts to improve the world in which we live are necessarily fruitless and that the only true state of happiness for mankind is that Edenic condition in which our first parents were before wisdom, in the form of a serpent, had beguiled them into a reliance upon mere human powers for improvement.

But, of course, Burke was playful and was imposing upon us with sham artillery. By using Bolingbroke's method, he destroys his conclusion and then proves that man, too, is worse than useless in the universe in which Bolingbroke had sought to place him as the dominant and supreme if not solitary figure. Burke knew, as we know when we read his paper, that he was exemplifying one of those common states of mind which make progress difficult. The fact is that all efforts to solve human problems are beset by unidentic twin evils. On the one hand, we have the enthusiast who declines to see difficulties, is indifferent to the lessons of history, takes no account of the deep ruts worn by mental habit and, by expecting too much, either in speed or achievement, takes a flight from reality and accomplishes less than the possible. On the other, we have the pessimist, his ranks all too often recruited by disillusioned enthusiasts. Starting with an assumption of human incorrigibility, he soon despairs of any progress in a tough and obdurate world and looks with sour disfavor upon those who would disturb any arrangement which has been found to ease the galling of a burden which it is the inescapable lot of mankind to carry. This acceptance of failure as a guide for future conduct is easily fortified by a selective reading of history, and Burke's "Vindication of Natural Society," if read without the humor which underlies it, is a classical illustration of how fiercely learned and at the same time unwise this temper can be.

Somewhere between these temperamental extremes lies the great mass of mankind; neither credulous nor incredulous, neither foolishly hopeful nor foolishly hopeless, aware of the fact that progress is not a steadily ascending spiral but a jagged thing on a chart, with peaks and valleys and yet constantly rising, as is shown by the median line in the diagram which marks increasing comfort, security, beauty and nobility in the life of man. This great mass of people, unnumbed by learning, are yet aware that old abuses have been swept away, tyrannies over the body and spirit of man abolished, superstitions and fears dissipated, and that all this has come about by experimental processes, many of which were failures, all of which were assailed, and only some of which fruited in lasting good. It may well be, therefore, that "the new spirit" has been greeted with too much enthusiasm by some of its proponents; but it is certainly true that the emanations of that new spirit, in practical efforts to establish a better order in international relations, have been too quickly distrusted and condemned by those who stand at the other extreme in philosophical outlook.

In the course of his "Vindication of Natural Society," Burke examines war as one of the results of man's effort at political organization. He says: "The first accounts we have of mankind are but so many accounts of their butcheries. All empires have been cemented in blood, and in these early periods when the races of mankind first began to form themselves into parties and combinations, the first effect of the combination and, indeed, the thing for which it seems purposely formed and best calculated, was their mutual destruction." Following this, he makes what he calls "a small calculation" of the number of people done to death by war as a political institution, from the earliest times to the middle of the eighteenth century, and comes to the serious conclusion that the number is not less than thirty-five billion human beings. To this number no doubt would have to be added indirect losses from epidemics and famines resulting from wars. These ragings of the heathen and more refined slaughterings among the civilized had taken place with undiminished ferocity, in spite of diplomacy, resident ambassadorial representation, and all manner of other efforts, by way of offensive and defensive alliances and bargains, which from time to time constituted the mechanism of international relations. Since Burke made this estimate the world has gone steadily on, increasing the possibility of largescale mobilization and wholesale destruction, until in our own day we have had actual world war with losses counted in tens of millions and dislocations of normal life world-wide in extent and covering decades -- how many we do not know --in their duration.

Thus war has presented historically, and still presents, the major catastrophe in human relations. In its modern forms it challenges the very continuance of organized society. It is no longer fought by selected champions but engages the energies of whole peoples. Its stage is no longer some remote and confined battlefield but the whole area of the combatant nations. It is fought in three dimensions and with weapons which, like Satan's dart, seize us with "strange terrors, pangs unfelt before." The consequences of modern wars, we have now learned, threaten an integrated world with the complete dissolution of the foundations upon which organized and expanding life must rest. Whether history is encouraging or discouraging, we cannot contemplate the World War, and the world which has resulted from it, without realizing that no spirit can be too bold which refuses to accept war as a constantly recurring menace and that no experiment can be too rash, however much the books on international law and history may creak on their shelves, if its intention is to rescue the race from this threat of destruction. The time has come for somebody to be "a fool in Christ" if necessary.

Clearly, if there is any substitute for war it must lie in the pacific settlement of controversies out of which wars grow. Throughout the long period of recorded history, efforts of one sort or another to establish the means of such pacific settlements have been made. They have, however, been sporadic rather than consecutive, and for the most part were responses to war weariness, religious enthusiasm, the brief ascendency of a philosophical spirit, or a change in political policy in a dominant state. Writers on international law have, since Vattel, given the subject some attention. But until recent years the discussion of pacific settlements usually revolved around the possibility of a substitution of arbitration or adjudication for an appeal to arms; and, of course, both of these agencies take hold of a full-grown conflict, and the likelihood of their being used is diminished by the fact that passion has already been engendered before they can be appealed to. They are envisaged, frankly, as alternatives to war rather than as anticipatory adjusters of incipient controversies in which the seeds of conflict have only begun to germinate. For the most part, statesmen have preferred to try one or the other of two policies to preserve the peace of the world: either a Roman Peace, dictated by a single authoritative state, strong enough to impose its will upon the rest of the world, or a balance of power, which seeks to divide the world into an equipoise by systems of alliances and understandings. Both of these types of effort, repeated under every variation of time and circumstance, have failed. The spirit of nationality has always been too strong to endure an imposed peace. Balances of power, being organized with war in mind, become unstable as one side or the other feels that it has acquired a momentary supremacy or has detached from the other side and annexed to itself an ally, thus putting itself in a position to overpower its adversaries and accomplish certain long-cherished political objectives of its own group.

As against these policies, based frankly upon power, the intermittent suggestion of securing pacific settlement by using among nations the agencies worked out in the domestic policy of civilized states, secured a hearing with difficulty. One obvious reason for this lies in the fact that the people who made wars and resorted to them to accomplish their political objectives were not the people who suffered in wars, while the people who did suffer and pay the price had no voice in the councils where the extent of their sacrifices might be weighed against the advantage of a political policy which the governing class sought to pursue. King William of Prussia had a violent quarrel with Bismarck, after the humiliation of Austria, because of Bismarck's unwillingness to annex Austrian territory from the defeated enemy. The King said to him that it had been the policy of his House to enlarge Prussia and that each of his ancestors had annexed territory as the result of his conquests. The whole diplomatic history of the world has revolved around the dreams of empire builders; and the historic policies of states, lying buried in the archives of their foreign offices, have contemplated conquest and acquisitions based on opportunities, as they might arise, for advantageous wars. Sometimes these policies have been purely defensive, as for instance the interest of England in Persia and Afghanistan to protect the Indian frontier. Sometimes they are aggressive, like the policy which has for centuries dictated to the Russian mind the dominance of Asia and an outlet through the Bosporus to the Mediterranean. Under the old order, each new foreign minister came to his task with orders to follow the chart. Necessity might require gestures, opportunity might have to be waited for; but all concessions and all combinations looked to the ultimate accomplishment of objectives which, though often undeclared and unexposed, were the final and supreme concern of the state. As these policies were hopelessly irreconcilable, the relations of the nations which entertained them were necessarily transitory and unstable. That this picture is not fanciful is illustrated by any realistic view of the relations of modern Europe. Bismarck's Reinsurance Treaty, Caprivi's failure to renew it, the hesitance of Germany as between friendship with England and friendship with Russia, the effort to build a European anti-English alliance, these and a hundred other episodes in modern European diplomatic history evidence the uneasy tension of nationalistic policies against the restraints of world order and world peace. Even the United States was captured by "manifest destiny" and made overnight into an Asiatic power by exactly the sort of impulse which has led Russia and Japan through a long period of years to look with acquiring eyes on Manchuria and Chosen.

The existence of these forces, controlled only by considerations of national advantage, has always been perfectly well known, but the cost of leaving them so controlled has only gradually come to be realized. The scientific spirit, which has given us in the realm of material things the courage to look unpleasant facts in the face and to follow truth wherever it may lead, has, in recent years, begun increasingly to make itself felt in considerations of the social and political relations of men, and this has given both new dignity to the speculations of philosophers and new hopefulness to the efforts of statesmen in the international field. If wider knowledge and franker thinking have bred a new spirit which by searching has found common interests in the preservation of peace that are of higher value than the ruthless pursuit of national objectives, we may be permitted to hope that the moral equivalent of war, if not at hand, is at least not so remote as it was when these matters of life and death were held to be games for princes to play at and, like the wills of princes, not subject to moral restraint. Surely, too, the triumphs of science in the material world encourage us to do some laboratory work with the human spirit. A peaceful world would have been less amazing to George Washington than wireless telegraphy. We must not think too well of atoms at the expense of thinking too ill of men.

From its beginnings the United States has had an attitude favoring the pacific settlement of international controversies. This has been manifested particularly in our attitude toward arbitration. But we early began to advocate the addition of adjudication to the means of settlement. Long before the World War, American public opinion had reached the settled conviction that coöperative international action was necessary for the preservation of peace, and but for the controversy of prestige between the Senate and the President it seems likely that an enlightened sentiment against war would have made the United States a partner, if not the leader, in widespread arrangements -- perhaps compulsory in character -- for pacific settlements.

Theodore Roosevelt was certainly one of the most combative and valiant of modern Americans. Yet, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, he said in 1910:

Finally, it would be a master stroke if those Great Powers honestly bent on peace would form a league of peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force if necessary, its being broken by others. The supreme difficulty in connection with developing the peace work of The Hague arises from the lack of any executive power, of any police power to enforce the decrees of the court. In any community of any size the authority of the courts rests upon actual or potential force; on the existence of a police, or on the knowledge that the able-bodied men of the country are both ready and willing to see that the decrees of judicial and legislative bodies are put into effect. In new and wild communities where there is violence, an honest man must protect himself; and until other means of securing his safety are devised, it is both foolish and wicked to persuade him to surrender his arms while the men who are dangerous to the community retain theirs. He should not renounce the right to protect himself by his own efforts until the community is so organized that it can effectively relieve the individual of the duty of putting down violence. So it is with nations. Each nation must keep well prepared to defend itself until the establishment of some form of international police power, competent and willing to prevent violence as between nations. As things are now, such power to command peace throughout the world could best be assured by some combination between those great nations which sincerely desire peace and have no thought themselves of committing aggressions. The combination might at first be only to secure peace within certain definite limits and certain definite conditions; but the ruler or statesman who should bring about such a combination would have earned his place in history for all time and his title to the gratitude of all mankind.

That this was not a mere rhetorical flourish by a retired President was shortly made manifest, for about a month later, by joint resolution, the Congress of the United States authorized the President to appoint a commission in relation to universal peace, its duty being to consider the expediency of utilizing existing international agencies for the purpose of limiting the armaments of the nations of the world by international agreement; and it was especially charged to consider and report upon any other means "to lessen the probabilities of war."

After the Great War had broken upon the world, the League to Enforce Peace enlisted in support of its program the highest types of Americans, men trained in the practical administration of affairs, and the idea of the League was universally acclaimed as perhaps the greatest gift of the American spirit to a world forced to admit the complete breakdown of its system of international relations. It was not a plan to deal with the existing war, but to deal with the future after that war.

Later, of course, we ourselves became involved in the conflict. But America's attitude toward war remained unchanged and is best illustrated by the fact that the two slogans which most profoundly affected the American mind in all those years were first, "He kept us out of war;" and second, "This is a war to end war." It has become the fashion nowadays to be cynical about the latter of these slogans and to say that America's participation was in fact no crusade in behalf of peace, but rather the pursuit of any one of a half-dozen sordid objectives which have come as afterthoughts of partisan rancor; but no one who lived through the days of America's participation can fail still to feel the thrill and exaltation which we had then from the belief that we were unselfish and fought both for a just and a permanent peace. And the soldiers of a country which had not denied knowledge to its citizens died on French battlefields believing that they were contributing their lives to the cause of peace. Since the end of the war, the world has been seeking with quickened zeal the means of pacific settlement. If some of these means in the future turn out to be frail reliances, America's background requires that we should exercise toward them, in their hour of trial, a great charity of judgment and extend to the effort to improve them and use them a spirit of sympathetic coöperation.

What, then, is the new spirit, what is its approach to the problem of pacific settlement, and what agencies has it established, experimental or otherwise, to accomplish its purpose? Perhaps it is enough to say that the new spirit is an awakened conscience, chastened by experience, informed by research, and driven by the necessity of finding a solution for the problem presented by man's most destructive enemy. The principles underlying the agencies so far established or suggested are principally four -- adjudication, arbitration, conciliation, and conference.

The World Court is the embodiment of the first of these. As we have already seen, it is equipped to deal only with matured controversies, and of these, only those which lie within the field of legal rights. It can interpret and apply treaties which define, by contract, the obligations which the high contracting parties are willing to assume toward each other. To a more limited extent it can determine rights upon generally accepted principles of law, and it may be expected that, as time goes on, larger areas of jurisdiction will be conceded to it as confidence in its wisdom and disinterestedness grows. It has not been and ought not now to be given any jurisdiction over political questions. Whether it should ever be given such jurisdiction is a profitless speculation. Our own Supreme Court at the beginning moved with hesitant steps and slow, and in an early case its judgment was flouted by a State in the Union, so that its contemporary critics foresaw its early dissolution. It was in that spirit that the judgment of the World Court in the Anschluss case was assailed until John W. Davis, in a dispassionate and irresistible paper,[i] demonstrated that the Court had acted judicially upon questions of intricacy and difficulty, and had reached a judgment about which conflict of opinion was possible but with the weight of argument strongly with the judgment of the Court. But with the years our Supreme Court has been tried in the fire of fierce contests and has acquired finality for its judgments based upon unshakable confidence in its wisdom and integrity. The controversies which our Supreme Court now decides are such as in Europe cause general mobilizations and marching armies. In the so-called Chicago Drainage Canal case, the plaintiff State, Wisconsin, and the States associated with it in interest aggregated a population of thirty-nine millions, while on the other side were arrayed Illinois and the States of the Mississippi Valley with an aggregate population of twenty-two millions. The issue was believed on both sides to have vital economic implications. Yet it was argued, determined, and the judgment accepted, without any emotional outburst due to wounded pride or loss of prestige. In like manner the judgments of the World Court will come to have authority in great matters. This precedent of our own Supreme Court in adjudicating controversies among forty-eight sovereign States makes the idea of a world court peculiarly congenial to our mode of thought, as is evidenced by the practically unanimous judgment of the American people outside of the Senate in favor of adhesion to its protocol. Even in the Senate, where the appetite for reservations and interpretations is as yet unsatisfied, the sentiment is practically unanimous for a court, even on the part of those who are critical of this one.

It would be idle to set out again the extent to which the World Court as now constituted is an American institution, but it is difficult for an American lawyer to check an expression of his pride that at The Hague conference and elsewhere this great idea was exploited as an expression of American confidence in the supremacy of law and the efficacy of justice, and even more difficult for him to restrain an exclamation of grateful admiration for his countryman, Elihu Root, whose services in connection with the Court dignify the profession of which he is the leader as they nobly express the political philosophy of the people for whom he spoke.

But useful as is the function of the Court, its limitations are obvious. It must sit at the door of its tent until the controversy is brought to it. It may not anticipate controversies, and especially it may not deal with political and economic questions. And it is out of these latter that wars are likely to arise. As a part of the modern peace machinery the World Court is indispensable, but it is probable that the very nature of adjudication has retarded the acceptance of the other agencies which have been suggested for use in the field which the Court cannot cover. Conciliation and conference are more remote and less tangible in their operation. When they succeed, they are not known to have averted tragedies, and, like the undisclosed charities of the really benevolent, they are recorded in no books except those of the Guardian Angel. Everything about our modern life makes us thirst for the dramatic. Conciliation and conference administer no knock-out blows, and yet, if we are to find modes of pacific settlement, they will have to be based upon long-range wisdom which must see the cloud of controversy while it is still no larger than a man's hand. The process must afford no opportunity for diplomatic triumphs and either the gaining or losing of face.

These considerations have perhaps tended to make very practical people impatient and cause them to point out that the world always has enough real and threatening troubles to make it unnecessary to go poking about to see if there are any merely possible future troubles to be borrowed. To this is to be added a difficulty which arises from the fact that international conferences in the past have rather served the purpose of dramatically registering conclusions arrived at before the conference was held than actually reaching and adopting conclusions as the result of the conference itself. But when all of these difficulties are recognized, it must still be admitted that conference belongs in the scheme of pacific settlement. Great international conferences, with agenda prepared long in advance, serve a useful purpose even when they collapse without apparent result. The mere fact that nations are willing to meet and discuss their problems in public is a gain. They will continue to afford opportunities for the making of nationalistic speeches for home consumption and the adoption of intransigent attitudes upon questions which engage popular passion; but, even in such an atmosphere, agreements are often reached upon questions of real significance while the conferees maintain unyielding attitudes on others, and the ground is laid for future consideration, in a cleared atmosphere, of contentious and for the moment intractable differences. Nor is it to be forgotten that with each such conference the technique improves. A more patient and scholarly research, a more sympathetic comprehension of the facts in issue, a longer view of the history of the questions in controversy, and a more sobered realization of the value of agreement can be expected as the novelty of international conference wears off and the value of frank discussion becomes more apparent. We have a long way to go before we can feel that we have given conference a fair trial. It is to be hoped that we will more and more move away from the selection of personages as delegates and to an increasing degree give scholarship and character first consideration in the selection of conferees. If we can acquire the habit of appointing, not politicians with an eye on retaining or obtaining an office, but men who are willing to play for the long verdict of history, and surround them with knowledge dispassionately collected by men who work in the scientific spirit, the possibilities of conference are unlimited. If such improvements in the make-up and technique of conferences be regarded as fanciful, I can only reply that I write this paper in the deep conviction that the natural tendency of man is upward, that what is good will ultimately come to pass, and without the least impatience at not being able instantly to accomplish the best if I can but be sure that our aim is constantly toward the good.

The League of Nations is, of course, the visible and ultimate embodiment of all these principles of pacific settlement. Established in the peace treaty which ended the World War, it has always been beset by difficulties growing out of territorial and political arrangements made by other parts of the treaty in which the Covenant is contained, which it has no power suo motu to revise. Nations prostrated by their losses, paupered by their expenditures, and eager both for revenge for the past and security for the future, wrote their triumphant passions in the treaty and then said their prayers in the Covenant. The League of Nations is neither so authoritative nor so dentate as the Roosevelt-Taft-Lodge proposal for a League to Enforce Peace. Both its nature and its machinery rely on research, consultation, and conciliation; and the restraint of its deliberations and actions from the day of its organization has been in accordance with this theory of its functions. America's relationship to the League was at the outset confused by a wholly shabby, domestic, partisan controversy. As the years have gone by, however, a graver question has arisen, and while the United States no longer denies the existence of the League and does increasingly coöperate with it, we are far from having settled upon any practical basis by which a democracy like ours can so combine and delegate its power in foreign affairs, which is distributed by the Constitution between the Executive and the Senate, as to make full participation on our part helpful. Indeed, as the world comes to be more and more governed by democracies, in the sense of being ultimately controlled by popular opinion, the whole problem of foreign affairs becomes infinitely more complicated, for democracies will brook no check upon their emotions and yet, in the very nature of the case, must operate under inescapable limitations upon their information, thus making the agitation of demagogues and the appeal of super-nationalists peculiarly effective. The absence of the United States from the League has caused difficulties too well known to need recital. Without, for the moment, considering the possible use of force or even sanctions, the moral authority of the League is diminished by the absence from its composite voice of the disinterested and detached note which, in many controversies, the United States alone can strike. The League has, therefore, like the children in Maeterlinck's "Blue Bird," had certain infirmities handed to it before its birth, and to these have been added the grave misfortune of abstention by the United States, together with a third difficulty, arising out of exaggerated expectations on the one side and exaggerated fears on the other, according to the temperament of the particular critics who have watched its proceedings.

To me it has always seemed irrational to expect instant ad hoc solutions of age-old difficulties and to criticize the League because there is still abroad in some parts of the world the spirit of Jenghiz Khan. It has seemed to me equally irrational to criticize the League as envisioning war as the ultimate recourse. It may be possible to dispute whether the good offices of the League, to date, have prevented this or that threatened outbreak of hostility; the "ifs" and "ands" of an event which has not happened are always numerous. But it is certainly impossible to assert that any action of the League has in the slightest degree tended to cause or increase the likelihood of hostility. To a dispassionate view, the offices of the League seem to have been wholly conciliatory in the post-war agitations, and the labors of the devoted scholars and statesmen who have worked in and for the League have developed a new and sounder technique of international inquiry and promoted a broad basis of understanding and sympathy among the nations whose delegates, sitting in the Council and Assembly, have discussed international problems and policies with thoughts of understanding and peace always uppermost in their minds. Of the League as an institution we may say that Paul has planted, Apollos has watered, and all sincere lovers of their kind pray that God will give the increase.

The things which have grown out of the League, the fruit of its spirit as well as the developments of its experience, form the great body of mechanisms which now constitute the agencies for pacific settlement. The League has developed the principles underlying the Bryan Treaties of Arbitration: it promoted the Locarno Treaty and its congeners. In 1925 it created a preparatory commission to study the possibilities of world disarmament. On the basis of its work the present Disarmament Conference is still laboring, and whatever formal treaties it may or may not achieve, an immense gain has already been had from its frank discussions and disclosures. In 1928 the Assembly prepared and promulgated a series of model conventions, many of which have been adopted as bilateral arrangements, for pacific settlements by definite provision for arbitration and conciliation. Ultimately there came out of the troubled waters the healing influence of the Pact of Paris, which was opened to general accession in 1928 and has since been adhered to by practically all the nations of the world, including, mirabile dictu, the United States.

I suppose when Moses brought down the Tables of the Law from Mount Sinai there was an immediate division of opinion about them. The sage but weary fathers in Israel doubtless asked on the one side, "Where are the sanctions?" and on the other, "Why all these innovations? Is not the old law, which was good enough for our fathers, good enough for us?" But truth has its own sanctions and so the Pact of Paris, enunciating a great moral datum, will continue to stand, as the Tables of the Law have stood, violated by casual law breakers but avenged in the consequences as the moral sense of mankind unites to rebuke the transgressor. In a world which has throughout its history treated war as an instrument of policy, a moral revolution is manifest when the nations of that world unite in a declaration condemning recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renouncing it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another. A new standard of judgment is set up. This is a thing around which world opinion can gather; and in the future of the world, so far as we can foresee it, the controlling force is going to be the slow-moving but irresistible tide of public opinion.

Whether, and by what means, and how fast the Pact of Paris should be implemented, the evolutions of time alone can determine. To criticize the Pact because the right of self-defense is reserved, or because nations retained freedom of action in special areas, or because certain Senators of the United States made slighting remarks about it when they voted for it, is all beside the point. For thousands of years the right to make war has been regarded as an attribute of sovereignty and it was inconceivable that anybody should question the discretion of a sovereign in resorting to it. Under that theory, war always lay in the field of normal expectation. Under this new theory, the normal expectation is pacific settlement. The burden of proof has shifted. The irrebuttable presumption of the right of the sovereign to go to war for political objectives has been abolished and the war-maker is put upon the defensive. How important this is any soldier will testify. Big guns are important, but a defensible cause is indispensable to ultimate success in war. Some of the criticism of the Briand-Kellogg Pact, and indeed of all this pacific settlement machinery, proceeds on the theory that when the world goes mad it pays no attention to previously enacted self-denying ordinances; and it must be conceded that the world has gone mad occasionally and ruthlessly disregarded prudential checks set upon its own behavior. But I fancy the best we can do is to legislate for a sane world and, so far as we can, set up standards of conduct so that departures from the normal will be recognized and all possible restraints exerted. The whole of mankind's conventional morality has grown by that process and there would seem to be no reason why the growth of an international morality might not be similarly fostered.

Particularly since the adoption of the Briand-Kellogg Pact, there has grown up the practice of multilateral treaties dealing with special circumstances and regional situations. These treaties include provisions for consultation upon the occasion of alleged violation by one of the high contracting parties, and among the critics of modern peace machinery this provision causes special concern. The fear, apparently, is that if ten nations make a treaty and one of them appears to have violated it, if the other nine get together and consult about what ought to be done, their propensity will be to declare war at once or at least to make among themselves such commitments as may ultimately carry them into a war which they might otherwise avoid. This entirely overlooks the fact that both the purpose and spirit of such proposed consultation is to find a peaceful solution. So far as the United States is concerned, it would seem adequate to reply that the power to declare war rests with Congress and any consultation in which the United States was a party would necessarily be subject to that final safeguard. But the only alternative to consultations is not to consult, and the consequences of not consulting are either that the treaty will be violated with impunity, in which case it might as well not have been made, or the alleged violation will go unanalyzed and unredressed, breeding ill will and suspicion and war if the point of the violation is of sufficient interest to justify war by any one or more of the contracting parties which feel themselves sufficiently powerful to enforce the treaty. After all, it ought to be easy to prevent consultations from automatically becoming conspiracies, and if such consultations are conducted in the spirit of the modern devices for pacific settlement the danger from improper commitments would seem to be far less than that from a failure to consult. But consultation is not a novelty. Under the old procedure, consultation ad hoc was common. When war threatened, hurriedly gathered groups of ambassadors or foreign ministers got together to consult with a view to averting the outbreak. There are not wanting those who feel that if there had been some standing machinery for consultation in Europe in August 1914 the World War could have been averted. Sir Edward Grey's noble but pathetic effort to secure consultation is an excellent illustration of the point under consideration. If Russia, Austria, Germany, France and England had been under a treaty arrangement which required consultation, his fatal race against the limitations of time might not have been in vain.

But the chief flutter in the dovecote of all this criticism of arrangements for pacific settlement seems to grow out of the possible effect it may have upon the doctrine of neutrality.

When the World War broke out, President Wilson, issuing a proclamation of neutrality, called upon the American people not merely to be neutral within the restraints of legal definitions of that status, but to be neutral "in thought as well as action." This was in August 1914. In April 1917 President Wilson declared "neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples." And it must be admitted that Article 16 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, in effect, recognizes that resort to war by a member of the League in disregard of the restraints of the Covenant is an act of war against all other members of the League, to the extent at least of justifying immediate severance of all trade or financial relations between them and the aggressor and ultimate coöperative action, by force if necessary. It ought to be admitted that while the machinery for pacific settlement counts heavily -- or perhaps it ought to be said, hopes fervently -- for success through peaceful agencies, it does not and cannot close its eyes to the possibility of failure and the ultimate necessity of resort to force. But surely advocates of the doctrine of neutrality offer no more attractive prospect; for the rights of neutrals are, and always have been, no stronger than the power of the neutral to enforce them against the interest of a belligerent to break them. I am not here speaking of the status of perpetual neutrality accorded to certain areas of the world by the concerted action of surrounding states, like that of Switzerland, although in this connection it is wise to remember that Belgium had such a status and that Germany was a co-guarantor.

Temporary neutrality has had a long and varied history. Its periods of success have been largely those in which there were many strong nations neutral as to a particular conflict. Its periods of failure have been those when the dominant nations of the world were at war and their interest led them to disregard so-called neutral rights. Grotius considered the subject in the third book of his treatise "On the Law of War and Peace" and suggested that neutrals should form an opinion upon the justice or injustice of the hostility and then do nothing which would further the cause of the one in the wrong or hamper the movements of the one in the right. Vattel dissented from this view, holding that the neutral should not constitute himself a judge but that his greater safety lay in equal treatment of the belligerents. Modern statesmen and international lawyers have sought to build around the idea of neutrality a system of principles, with a view to restricting the extent of the conflict by defining the limits of conduct permissible to a neutral state and its nationals.

In its essence neutrality is a sort of indifferentism based on the theory that one is not obliged to imperil one's interests by espousing the cause of another, however innocent the victim or vicious his assailant. It has always been conceded that the doctrine of neutrality does not prevent a state from going to war when it has a sufficient interest to justify its intervention. It would seem, therefore, that the doctrine is really a system of rules of conduct for a state which has no interest justifying intervention and hopes to have, either alone or in concert with other states like-minded, the power to stay out of the conflict. Undoubtedly the doctrine has been highly useful to small states with warlike neighbors, but its dignity as a principle has often been marred by the fact that it has been used as a counter in bargains made in anticipation of aggression. A single example will suffice. Germany's neutrality in the Russo-Japanese War was the equivalent of an alliance. It protected Russia on her western frontier and at Constantinople and thus freed her to exert her entire power in Manchuria. A somewhat different case was presented when Germany in 1875 and 1887 contemplated fresh aggressions upon France to retard her recovery from the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck inquired whether England would be neutral, and being unable to secure a promise of neutrality refrained from a fresh war upon France. In this aspect, neutrality is in effect intervention. The assumption of British neutrality in 1914 was Bethmann-Hollweg's fatal mistake. On the basis of its history, therefore, the doctrine of neutrality can hardly claim to be an adequate safeguard, or indeed to be a basis which, however extended and developed, will sustain peace even to the peaceful.

The World War experience with the doctrine of neutrality was disastrous. Not only were solemn obligations to respect neutrality disregarded, but a world situation was created in which neutrality was impossible. How can an integrated world, in which finance and commerce are thoroughly internationalized, be neutral when the high seas are marked out into lanes of permitted but limited travel and the list of contraband is extended beyond all the categories of arms and munitions so as to include, not the subsistence of armies alone, but the raw materials and manufactured products which sustain civilian life? If the doctrine of neutrality ever had a friend, it was President Wilson. He hoped with passionate fervor that the United States might remain neutral. He prayed that the United States might "speak the counsels of peace and accommodation not as a partisan but as a friend," and he struggled with all the belligerent governments to protect some vestige of America's right as a neutral, to remain at peace and store up a great reservoir of good will with which to bind up the wounds of the belligerents and make possible the restoration of peace and ultimate understanding among them. There were times when it was thought that we might be forced into the war to defend the definition of neutral goods. By 1917 he had come to realize that under the conditions of modern war neutrality had become impossible and, in the presence of so devastating a spectacle, that it was undesirable. After all, there is no reflection upon the soldier who lives up to the exact letter of the bond of his military obligation; but Congressional Medals of Honor are awarded for heroism above and beyond the call of duty. The law of neutrality and the rights of neutrals are brands plucked from the burning. They ought to be preserved, made more definite and certain, and every effort made to secure for them wider usefulness and more general acceptance. But there are situations, and the world has just faced one of them, where neutrality is not enough and where the thing needed is the sword of righteousness and not the mere security of a bomb-proof while our common civilization is being destroyed.

This was, to be sure, a special case, and no general way of defining aggression or determining the aggressor can be easily formulated. Even if we had a formula, the facts can rarely be gathered, in the midst of conflict, with final completeness. Don Quixote's procedures are not to be recommended for international action. But can we abandon the problem because it is difficult? There are both moral responsibilities and practical difficulties about being indifferent to the distinction between right and wrong. To insist on the right to sell pistols both to the highwaymen and to the occupants of the stage coach is bad morals and, when we have occasion to use the stage coach, may prove inconvenient if not fatal. But if this be a dilemma it is a very old one, and one which, for all practical purposes, has long been solved in all domestic matters. We let the community decide. We have determined that the chances of a wrong decision are immeasurably less serious than either not having it decided at all or letting each man decide for himself. The analogy is persuasive. The nations of the world are coming more and more to be a family or a community of nations, and the new mechanisms seek its judgments. The neutrality which merely refuses to decide has a hard case to make against an international consciousness which cooperates to decide and so to prevent the conflict. Even if a war, prevented by joint international action, would have been "a good war" the loss is not irreparable. The result may still be worked out by some other means, or the war started later, with a better chance for the side now known to be in the right.

Within its limited sphere neutrality is a useful doctrine, but its defense does not require an attack upon measures conceived in a bolder spirit and designed to avert catastrophes of a kind where neutrality is, as we have seen, impossible or undesirable. Indeed we should remember that neutrality does not even aim to prevent war. Its more modest and local object is to restrain its extension.

The world is cursed by its common fears. It is made better by its great faiths. The new spirit is the evidence of such a fighting faith. The agencies it has so far devised have in them the seeds of growth. Lawyers with their doubts and statesmen with their policies may encumber this spirit and delay its achievements. Its progress by trial and error may be slow and its course may sometimes seem to be inviting new perils. Some of the steps it eagerly takes may have to be retraced and fresh starts made, but if this is ever to be a world in which nations, like civilized men, are governed by moral restraints, and from which licensed war for the private objectives of ambitious states will disappear, it must be fought for in this spirit. Those who share this faith and work in this hope have no apology to make to their own or future generations.

[i]Atlantic Monthly, January 1932.

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