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   Chapter 16 THE COVENANT AND MINORITIES

The Inside Story of the Peace Conference By Emile Joseph Dillon Characters: 83474

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


In Mr. Wilson's scheme for the establishment of a society of nations there was nothing new but his pledge to have it realized. And that pledge has still to be redeemed under conditions which he himself has made much more unfavorable than they were. The idea itself-floating in the political atmosphere for ages-has come to seem less vague and unattainable since the days of Kant. The only heads of states who had set themselves to embody it in institutions before President Wilson took it up not only disappointed the peoples who believed in them, but discredited the idea itself.

That a merely mechanical organization such as the American statesman seems to have had in mind, formed by parliamentary politicians deliberating in secret, could bind nations and peoples together in moral fellowship, is conceivable in the abstract. But if we turn to the reality, we shall find that in that direction nothing durable can be effected without a radical change in the ideas, aspirations, and temper of the leaders who speak for the nations to-day, and, indeed, in those of large sections of the nations themselves. For to organize society on those unfamiliar lines is to modify some of the deepest-rooted instincts of human nature. And that cannot be achieved overnight, certainly not in the span of thirty minutes, which sufficed for the drafting of the Covenant. The bulk of mankind might not need to be converted, but whole classes must first be educated, and in some countries re-educated, which is perhaps still more difficult. Mental and moral training must complement and reinforce each other, and each political unit be brought to realize that the interests of the vaster community take precedence over those of any part of it. And to impress these novel views upon the peoples of the world takes time.

An indispensable condition of success is that the compact binding the members together must be entered into by the peoples, not merely by their governments. For it is upon the masses that the burden of the war lies heaviest. It is the bulk of the population that supplies the soldiers, the money, and the work for the belligerent states, and endures the hardships and makes the sacrifices requisite to sustain it. Therefore, the peoples are primarily interested in the abolition of the old ordering and the forging of the new. Moreover, as latter-day campaigns are waged with all the resources of the warring peoples, and as the possession of certain of these resources is often both the cause of the conflict and the objective of the aggressor, it follows that no mere political enactments will meet contemporary requirements. An association of nations renouncing the sword as a means of settling disputes must also reduce as far as possible the surface over which friction with its neighbors is likely to take place. And nowadays most of that surface is economic. The possession of raw materials is a more potent attraction than territorial aggrandizement. Indeed, the latter is coveted mainly as a means of securing or safeguarding the former. On these and other grounds, in drawing up a charter for a society of nations, the political aspect should play but a subsidiary part. In Paris it was the only aspect that counted for anything.

A parliament of peoples, then, is the only organ that can impart viability to a society of nations worthy of the name. By joining the Covenant with the Peace Treaty, and turning the former into an instrument for the execution of the latter, thus subordinating the ideal to the egotistical, Mr. Wilson deprived his plan of its sole justification, and for the time being buried it. The philosopher Lichtenberg[339] wrote, "One man brings forth a thought, another holds it over the baptismal font, the third begets offspring with it, the fourth stands at its deathbed, and the fifth buries it." Mr. Wilson has discharged the functions of gravedigger to the idea of a pacific society of nations, just as Lenin has done to the system of Marxism, the only difference being that Marxism is as dead as a door-nail, whereas the society of nations may rise again.

It was open, then, to the three principal delegates to insure the peace of the world by moral means or by force. Having eschewed the former by adopting the doctrines of Monroe, abandoning the freedom of the seas, and by according to France strategic frontiers and other privileges of the militarist order, they might have enlarged and systematized these concessions to expediency and forged an alliance of the three states or of two, and undertaken to keep peace on the planet against all marplots. I wrote at the time: "The delegates are becoming conscious of the existence of a ready-made league of nations in the shape of the Anglo-Saxon states, which, together with France, might hinder wars, promote good-fellowship, remold human destinies; and they are delighted thus to possess solid foundations on which a noble edifice can be raised in the fullness of time. Tribunals will be created, with full powers to adjudge disputes; facilities will be accorded to litigious states, and even an obligation will be imposed to invoke their arbitration. And the sum total of these reforms will be known to contemporary annals as an inchoate League of Nations. The delegates are already modestly disavowing the intention of realizing the ideal in all its parts. That must be left to coming generations; but what with the exhaustion of the peoples, their aversion from warfare, and the material obstacles to the renewal of hostilities in the near future, it is calculated that the peace will not soon be violated. Whether more salient results will be attained or attempted by the Conference nobody can foretell."[340]

This expedient, even had it been deliberately conceived and skilfully wrought out, would not have been an adequate solution of the world's difficulties, nor would it have commended itself to all the states concerned. But it would at least have been a temporary makeshift capable of being transmuted under favorable circumstances into something less material and more durable. But the amateur world-reformers could not make up their minds to choose either alternative. And the result is one of the most lamentable failures recorded in human history.

I placed my own opinion on record at the time as frankly as the censorship which still existed for me would permit. I wrote: "What every delegate with sound political instinct will ask himself is, whether the League of Nations will eliminate wars in future, and, if not, he will feel conscientiously bound to adopt other relatively sure means of providing against them, and these consist of alliances, strategic frontiers, and the permanent disablement of the potential enemy. On one or other of these alternative lines the resettlement must be devised. To combine them would be ruinous. Now of what practical use is a league of nations devoid of supernational forces and faced by a numerous, virile, and united race, smarting under a sense of injustice, thirsting for the opportunities for development denied to it, but granted to nations which it despises as inferior? Would a league of nations combine militarily against the gradual encroachments or sudden aggression of that Power against its weaker neighbors? Nobody is authorized to answer this question affirmatively. To-day the Powers cannot agree to intervene against Bolshevism, which they deem a scourge of the world, nor can they agree to tolerate it.

"In these circumstances, what compelling motives can be laid before those delegates who are asked to dispense with strategic frontiers and rely upon a league of nations for their defense? Take France's outlook. Peace once concluded, she will be confronted with a secular enemy who numbers some seventy millions to her forty-five millions. In ten years the disproportion will be still greater. Discontented Russia is almost certain to be taken in hand by Germany, befriended, reorganized, exploited, and enlisted as an ally."[341]

Conscious of these reefs and shoals, the French government, which was at first contemptuous of the Wilsonian scheme, discerned the use it might be put to as a military safeguard, and sought to convert it into that. "The French," wrote a Francophil English journal published in Paris, "would like the League to maintain what may be called a permanent military general staff. The duties of this organization would be to keep a hawklike eye on the misdemeanors, actual or threatened, of any state or group of states, and to be empowered with authority to call into instant action a great international military force for the frustration or suppression of such aggression. The French have frankly in mind the possibility that an unrepentant and unregenerate Germany is the most likely menace not only to the security of France, but to the peace of the world in general."[342]

And other states cherished analogous hopes. The spirit of right and justice was to be evoked like the spirit that served Aladdin, and to be compelled to enter the service of nationalism and militarism, and accomplish the task of armies.

The paramount Powers prescribed the sacrifices of sovereignty which membership of the League necessitated, and forthwith dispensed themselves from making them. The United States government maintained its Monroe Doctrine for America-nay, it went farther and identified its interests with the Hay doctrine for the Far East.[343] It decided to construct a powerful navy for the defense of these political assets, and to give the youth of the country a semi-military training.[344] Defense presupposes attack. War, therefore, is not excluded-nay, it is admitted by the world-reformers, and preparations for it are indispensable. Equally so are the burdens of taxation. But if liberty of defense be one of the rights of two or three Powers, by what law is it confined to them and denied to the others? Why should the other communities be constrained to remain open to attack? Surely they, too, deserve to live and thrive, and make the most of their opportunities. Now if in lieu of a misnamed League of Nations we had an Anglo-Saxon board for the better government of the world, these unequal weights and measures would be intelligible on the principle that special obligations and responsibilities warrant exceptional rights. But no such plea can be advanced under an arrangement professing to be a society of free nations. All that can with truth be said is what M. Clemenceau told the delegates of the lesser states at the opening of the Conference-that the three great belligerents represent twelve million soldiers and that their supreme authority derives from that. The r?le of the other peoples is to listen to the behests of their guardians, and to accept and execute them without murmur. Might is still a source of right.

It is fair to say that the disclosure of the true base of the new ordering, as blurted out by M. Clemenceau at that historic meeting, caused little surprise among the initiated. For there was no reason to assume that he, or, indeed, the bulk of the continental statesmen, were converts to a doctrine of which its own apostle accepted only those fragments which commended themselves to his country or his party. Had not the French Premier scoffed at the League in public as in private? Had he not said in the Chamber: "I do not believe that the Society of Nations constitutes the necessary conclusion of the present war. I will give you one of my reasons. It is this: if to-morrow you were to propose to me that Germany should enter into this society I would not consent."[345]

"I am certain," wrote one of the ablest and most ardent champions of the League in France, Senator d'Estournelles de Constant-"I am certain that he [M. Clemenceau] made an effort against himself, against his entire past, against his whole life, against all his convictions, to serve the Society of Nations. And his Minister of Foreign Affairs followed him."[346] Exactly. And as with M. Clemenceau, so it was with the majority of European statesmen; most of them made strenuous and, one may add, successful efforts against their convictions. And the result was inevitable.

"The governments," we read in the organ of syndicalists, who had supported Mr. Wilson as long as they believed him determined to redeem his promises-"the governments have acquiesced in the Fourteen Points.... Hypocrisy. Each one cherished mental reservations. Virtue was exalted and vice practised. The poltroon eulogized heroism; the imperialist lauded the spirit of justice. For the past month we have been picking up ideas about the worth of the adhesions to the Fourteen Points, and never before has a more sinister or a more odious comedy been played. Territorial demands have been heaved one upon the other; contempt of the rights of peoples-the only right that we can recognize-has been expressed in striking terms; the last restraints have vanished; the masks have fallen."[347]

From every country in Europe the same judgment came pitched in varying keys. The Italian press condemned the proceedings of the Conference in language to the full as strong as that of the German or Austrian journals. The Stampa affirmed that those who, like Bissolati, were in the beginning for placing their trust in one of the two coteries at the Conference were guilty of a fatal mistake. "The mistake lay in their belief in the ideal strivings of one of the parties, and in the horror with which the cupidity of the others was contemplated, whereas both of them were fighting for ... their interests.... In verity France was no less militarist or absolutist than Germany, nor was England less avid than either. And the proof is enshrined in the peace treaties which have masked the results of their respective victories. Versailles is a Brest-Litovsk, aggravated in the same proportion as the victory of the Entente over Germany, is more complete than was that of Germany over Russia. Cupidity does not alter its character, even when it seeks to conceal itself under a Phrugian cap rather than wear a helmet."[348]

M. Clemenceau's opening utterance about the twelve million men, and the unlimited right which such formidable armies confer on their possessors to sit in judgment on the tribes and peoples of the planet, was the true keynote to the Conference. After that the leading statesmen trimmed their ship, touched the rudder, and sailed toward downright absolutism.

The effect of such utterances and acts on the minds of the peoples are distinctly mischievous. For they tend to obliterate the sense of public right, which is the main foundation of international intercourse among progressive nations.

And already it had been shaken and weakened by the campaigns of the past fifty years, and in particular by the last war. In the relations of nation to nation there were certain principles-derivatives of ethics diluted with maxims of expediency-which kept the various governments from too flagrant breaches of faith. These checks were the only substitute for morality in politics. Their highest power was connoted by the word Europeanism, which stood for a supposed feeling of solidarity among all the peoples of the old Continent, and for a certain respect for the treaties on which the state-system reposed. But it existed mainly among defeated nations when apprehensive of being isolated or chastised by their victors. None the less, the idea marked a certain advance toward an ethical bond of union.

Now this embryonic sense, together with respect for the binding force of a nation's plighted troth, were numbered by the demoralizing influence of the wars of the last fifty years. And one of the first and peremptory needs of the world was their restoration. This could be effected only by bringing the peoples, not merely of Europe, but of the world, more closely together, by engrafting on them a feeling of close solidarity, and impressing them with the necessity of making common cause in the one struggle worth their while waging-resistance to the forces that militate against human welfare and progress. The feeling was widespread that the way to effect this was by some form of internationalism, by the broadening, deepening, and quickening all that was implied by Europeanism, by co-ordinating the collective energies of all progressive peoples, and causing them to converge toward a common and worthy goal. For the working classes this conception in a restricted form had long possessed a commanding attraction. What they aimed at, however, was no more than the catholicity of labor. They fancied that after the passage of the tidal wave of destructiveness the ground was cleared of most of the obstacles which had encumbered it, and that the forward advance might begin forthwith.

What they failed to take sufficiently into account was the vis inerti?, the survival of the old spirit among the ruling orders whose members continued to live and move in the atmosphere of use and wont, and the spirit of hate and bitterness infused into all the political classes, to dispel which was a herculean task. It was exclusively to the leaders of those classes that Mr. Wilson confided the realization of the abstract idea of a society of nations, which he may at first have pictured to himself as a vast family conscious of common interests, bent on moral and material self-betterment, and willing to eschew such partial advantages as might hinder or retard the general progress. But, judging by his attitude and his action, he had no real acquaintance with the materials out of which it must be fashioned, no notion of the difficulties to be met, and no staying power to encounter and surmount them. And his first move entailed the failure of the scheme.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Wilson came to the Conference with a home-made charter for the Society of Nations, which, according to the evidence of Mr. Lansing, "was never pressed." The State Secretary added that "the present league Covenant is superior to the American plan." And as for the Fourteen Points, "They were not even discussed at the Conference."[349] Suspecting as much, I wrote at the time:[350] "The President has pinned himself down to no concrete scheme whatever. His method is electric, choosing what is helpful and beneficent in the projects of others, and endeavoring to obtain from the dissentients a renunciation of ideas belonging to the old national currents and adherence to the doctrines he deems salutary. It is, however, already clear that the highest ideal now attainable is not a league of nations as the masses understand it, which will abolish wars and likewise put an end to the costly preparations for them, but only a coalition of victorious nations, which may hope, by dint of economic inducements and deterrents, to draw the enemy peoples into its camp in the not too distant future. This result would fall very short of the expectations aroused by the far-resonant promises made at the outset; but even it will be unattainable without an international compact binding all the members of the coalition to make war simultaneously upon the nation or group of nations which ventures to break the peace. I am disposed to believe that nothing less than such an express covenant will be regarded by the continental Powers of the Entente as an adequate substitute for certain territorial readjustments which they otherwise consider essential to secure them from sudden attack.

"Whether such a condition would prevent future wars is a question that only experience can answer. Personally, I am profoundly convinced, with Mr. Taft, that a genuine league of nations must have teeth in the guise of supernational, not international, forces. In these remarks I make abstraction from the larger question which wholly absorbs this-namely, whether the masses for whose behoof the lavish expenditure of time, energy, and ingenuity is undertaken, will accept a coalition of victorious governments against unregenerate peoples as a substitute for the Society of Nations as at first conceived."

The supposed object of the League was the substitution of right for force, by debarring each individual state from employing violence against any of the others, and by the use of arbitration as a means of settling disputes. This entails the suppression of the right to declare war and to prepare for it, and, as a corollary, a system of deterrents to hinder, and of penalties to punish rebellion on the part of a community. That in those cases where the law is set at naught efficacious means should be available to enforce it will hardly be denied; but whether economic pressure would suffice in all cases is doubtful. To me it seems that without a supernational army, under the direct orders of the League, it might under conceivable circumstances become impossible to uphold the decisions of the tribunal, and that, on the other hand, the coexistence of such a military force with national armaments would condemn the undertaking to failure.

An analysis of the Covenant lies beyond the limits of my task, but it may not be amiss to point out a few of its inherent defects. One of the principal organs of the League will be the Assembly and the Council. The former, a very numerous and mainly political body, will necessarily be out of touch with the peoples, their needs and their aspirations. It will meet at most three or four times a year. And its members alone will be invested with all the power, which they will be chary of delegating. On the other hand, the Council, consisting at first of nine members, will meet at least once a year. The members of both bodies will presumably be appointed by the governments,[351] who will certainly not renounce their sovereignty in a matter that concerns them so closely. Such a system may be wise and conducive to the highest aims, but it can hardly be termed democratic. The military Powers who command twelve million soldiers will possess a majority in the Council.[352] The Secretariat alone will be permanent, and will naturally be appointed by the Great Powers.

Instead of abolishing war, the Conference described its abolition as beyond the power of man to compass. Disarmament, which was to have been one of its main achievements, is eliminated from the Covenant. As the war that was to have been the last will admittedly be followed by others, the delegates of the Great Powers worked conscientiously, as behooved patriotic statesmen, to obtain in advance all possible advantages for their respective countries by way of preparing for it. The new order, which in theory reposes upon right, justice, and moral fellowship, in reality depends upon powerful armies and navies. France must remain under arms, seeing that she has to keep watch on the Rhine. Britain and the United States are to go on building warships and aircraft, besides training their youth for the coming Armageddon. The article of the Covenant which lays it down that "the members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety,"[353] is, to use a Russian simile, written on water with a fork. Britain, France, and the United States are already agreed that they will combine to repel unprovoked aggression on the part of Germany. That evidently signifies that they will hold themselves in readiness to fight, and will therefore make due preparation. This arrangement is a substitute for a supernational army, as though prevention were not better than cure; that it will prove efficacious in the long run very few believe. One clear-visioned Frenchman writes: "The inefficacy of the organization aimed at by the Conference constrains France to live in continual and increasing insecurity, owing to the falling off of her population."[354] He adds: "It follows from this abortive expedient-if it is to remain definitive-that each member-state must protect itself, or come to terms with the more powerful ones, as in the past. Consequently we are in presence of the maintenance of militarism and the régime of armaments."[355] This writer goes farther and accuses Mr. Wilson of having played into the hands of Britain. "President Wilson," he affirms, "has more or less sacrificed to the English government the society of nations and the question of armaments, that of the colonies and that of the freedom of the seas...."[356] This, however, is an over-statement. It was not for the sake of Britain that the American statesman gave up so much; it was for the sake of saving something of the Covenant. It was in the spirit of Sir Boyle Roche, whose attachment to the British Constitution was such that, to save a part of it, he was willing to sacrifice the whole.

The arbitration of disputes is provided for by one of the articles of the Covenant;[357] but the parties may go to war three months later with a clear conscience and an appeal to right, justice, self-determination, and the usual abstract nouns.

In a word, the directors of the Conference disciplined their political intelligence on lines of self-hypnotization, along which common sense finds it impossible to follow them. There were also among the delegates men who thought and spoke in terms of reason and logic, but their voices evoked no echo. One of them summed up his criticism somewhat as follows:

"During the war our professions of democratic principles were far resonant and emphatic. We were fighting for the nations of the world, especially for those who could not successfully fight for themselves. All the peoples, great and small, were exhorted to make the most painful sacrifices to enable their respective governments to conquer the enemy. Victory unexpectedly smiled on us, and the peoples asked that those promises should be made good. Naturally, expectations ran high. What has happened? The governments now answer in effect: 'We will promote your interests, but without your co-operation or assent. We will make the necessary arrangements in secret behind closed doors. The machinery we are devising will be a state machinery, not a popular one. All that we ask of you is implicit trust. You complain of our action in the past. You have good cause. You say that the same men are about to determine your future. Again you are right. But when you affirm that we are sure to make the like mistakes, you are wrong, and we ask you to take our word for it. You complain that we are politicians who feel the weight of certain commitments and the fetters of obsolete traditions from which we cannot free ourselves; that we are mainly concerned to protect and further the interests of our respective countries, and that it is inconceivable we should devise an organization which looks above and beyond those interests. We ask you, are you willing, then, to abandon the heritage of our fathers to the foreigner?'

"That the downtrodden peoples in Austria and Germany have been emancipated is a moral triumph. But why has the beneficent principle that is said to have inspired the deed been restricted in its application? Why has the experiment been tried only in the enemies' countries? Or are things quite in order everywhere else? Is there no injustice in other quarters of the globe? Are there no complaints? If there be, why are they ignored? Is it because all acts of oppression are to be perpetuated which do not take place in the enemy's land? What about Ireland and about a dozen other countries and peoples? Are they skeletons not to be touched?

"By debarring the masses from participation in a grandiose scheme, the success of which depends upon their assent, the governments are indirectly but surely encouraging secret combined opposition, and in some cases Bolshevism. The masses resent being treated as children after having been appealed to as arbiters and rescuers. For four and a half years it was they who bore the brunt of the war, they who sacrificed their sons and their substance. In the future it is they to whom the states will look for the further sacrifices in blood and treasure which will be necessary in the struggles which they evidently anticipate. Well, some of them refuse these sacrifices in advance. They challenge the right of the governments to retain the power of making war and peace. That power they are working to get into their own hands and to wield in their own way, or at any rate to have a say in its exercise. And in order to secure it, some sections of the peoples are making common cause with the socialist revolutionaries, while others have gone the length of Bolshevism. And that is a serious danger. The agitation now going on among the people, therefore, starts with a grievance. The masses have many other grievances besides the one just sketched-the survivals of the feudal age, the privileges of class, the inequality of opportunity. And the kernel formed by these is the element of truth and equity which imparts force to all those underground movements, and enables them to subsist and extend. Error is never dangerous by itself; it is only when it has an admixture of truth that it becomes powerful for evil. And it seems a thousand pities that the governments, whose own interests are at stake, as well as those of the communities they govern, should go out of their way to provide an explosive element for Bolshevism and its less sinister variants."

The League was treated as a living organism before it existed. All the problems which the Supreme Councilors found insoluble were reserved for its judgment. Arduous functions were allotted to it before it had organs to discharge them. Formidable tasks were imposed upon it before the means of achieving them were devised. It is an institution so elusive and elastic that the French regard it as capable of being used as a handy instrument for coercing the Teutons, who, in turn, look upon it as a means of recovering their place in the world; the Japanese hope it may become a bridge leading to racial equality, and the governments which devised it are bent on employing it as a lever for their own politico-economic aims, which they identify with the progress of the human race. How the peoples look upon it the future will show.

On the Monroe Doctrine in connection with the League of Nations the less said the soonest mended. But one cannot well say less than this: that any real society of peoples such as Mr. Wilson first conceived and advocated is as incompatible with "regional understandings like the Monroe Doctrine" as are the maintenance of national armaments and the bartering of populations. It is immaterial whether one concludes that a Society of Nations is therefore impossible in the present conjuncture or that all those survivals of the old state system are obsolescent and should be abolished. The two are unquestionably irreconcilable.

It would be a mistake to infer from the unanimity with which Mr. Wilson's Covenant was finally accepted that it expressed the delegates' genuine conceptions or sentiments. Mr. Bullitt, one of the expert advisers to the American Peace Delegation, testified before the Senate committee in Washington that State-Secretary Lansing remarked to him: "I consider the League of Nations at present as entirely useless. The Great Powers have simply gone ahead and arranged the world to suit themselves. England and France, in particular, have gotten out of the Treaty everything they wanted. The League of Nations can do nothing to alter any unjust clauses of the Treaty except by the unanimous consent of the League members. The Great Powers will never consent to changes in the interests of weaker peoples."[358]

This opinion which Mr. Bullitt ascribed to Mr. Lansing was, to my knowledge, that of a large number of the representatives of the nations at the Conference. Among them all I have met very few who had a good word to say of the scheme, and of the few one had helped to formulate it, another had assisted him. And the unfavorable judgments of the remainder were delivered after the Covenant was signed.

One of those leaders, in conversation with several other delegates and myself, exclaimed one day: "The League of Nations indeed! It is an absurdity. Who among thinking men believes in its reality?" "I do," answered his neighbor; "but, like the devils, I believe and tremble. I hold that it is a corrosive poison which destroys much that is good and will further much that is bad." A statesman who was not a delegate demurred. "In my opinion," he said, "it is a response to a demand put forward by the peoples of the globe, and because of this origin something good will ultimately come of it. Unquestionably it is very defective, but in time it may be-nay, must be-changed for the better." The first speaker replied: "If you imagine that the League will help continental peoples, you are, I am convinced, mistaken. It took the United States three years to go to the help of Britain and France. How long do you suppose it will take her to mobilize and despatch troops to succor Poland, Rumania, or Czechoslovakia? I am acquainted with British colonial public opinion and sentiment-too often misunderstood by foreigners-and I can tell you that they are misconstrued by those who fancy that they would determine action of that kind. If England tells the colonies that she needs their help, they will come, because their people are flesh of her flesh and blood of her blood, and also because they depend for their defense upon her navy, and if she were to go under they would go under, too. But the continental nations have no such claims upon the British colonies, which would not be in a hurry to make sacrifices in order to satisfy their appetites or their passions."

The second speaker then said: "It is possible, but nowise certain, that the future League may help to settle these disputes which professional diplomatists would have arranged, and in the old way, but it will not affect those others which are the real causes of wars. If a nation believes it can further its vital interest by breaking the peace, the League cannot stop it. How could it? It lacks the means. There will be no army ready. It would have to create one. Even now, when such an army, powerful and victorious, is in the field, the League-for the Supreme Council is that and more-cannot get its orders obeyed. How then will its behest be treated when it has no troops at its beck and call? It is redrawing the map of central and eastern Europe, and is very satisfied with its work. But, as we know, the peoples of those countries look upon its map as a sheet of paper covered with lines and blotches of color to which no reality corresponds."

The constitution of the League was termed by Mr. Wilson a Covenant, a word redolent of biblical and puritanical times, which accorded well with the motives that decided him to prefer Geneva to Brussels as the seat of the League, and to adopt other measures of a supposed political character. The first draft of this document was, as we saw, completed in the incredibly short space of some thirty hours, so as to enable the President to take it with him to Washington. As the Ententophil Echo de Paris remarked, "By a fixed date the merchandise has to be consigned on board the George Washington."[359]

The discussions that took place after the President's return from the United States were animated, interesting, and symptomatic. In April the commission had several sittings, at which various amendments and alterations were proposed, some of which would cut deep into international relations, while others were of slight moment and gave rise to amusing sallies. One day the proposal was mooted that each member-state should be free to secede on giving two years' notice. M. Larnaude, who viewed membership as something sacramentally inalienable, seemed shocked, as though the suggestion bordered on sacrilege, and wondered how any government should feel tempted to take such a step. Signor Orlando was of a different opinion. "However precious the privilege of membership may be," he said, "it would be a comfort always to know that you could divest yourself of it at will. I am shut up in my room all day working. I do not go into the open air any oftener than a prisoner might. But I console myself with the thought that I can go out whenever I take it into my head. And I am sure a similar reflection on membership of the League would be equally soothing. I am in favor of the motion."

The center of interest during the drafting of the Covenant lay in the clause proclaiming the equality of religions, which Mr. Wilson was bent on having passed at all costs, if not in one form, then in another. This is one example of the occasional visibility of the religious thread which ran through a good deal of his personal work at the Conference. For it is a fact-not yet realized even by the delegates themselves-that distinctly religious motives inspired much that was done by the Conference on what seemed political or social grounds. The strategy adopted by the eminent American statesman to have his stipulation accepted proceeded in this case on the lines of a humanitarian resolve to put an end to sanguinary wars rather than on those which the average reformer, bent on cultural progress, would have traced. Actuality was imparted to this simple and yet thorny topic by a concrete proposal which the President made one day. What he is reported to have said is briefly this: "As the treatment of religious confessions has been in the past, and may again in the future be, a cause of sanguinary wars, it seems desirable that a clause should be introduced into the Covenant establishing absolute liberty for creeds and confessions." "On what, Mr. President," asked the first Polish delegate, "do you found your assertion that wars are still brought about by the differential treatment meted out to religions? Does contemporary history bear out this statement? And, if not, what likelihood is there that religious inequality will precipitate sanguinary conflicts in the future?" To this pointed question Mr. Wilson is said to have made the characteristic reply that he considered it expedient to assume this nexus between religious inequality and war as the safest way of bringing the matter forward. If he were to proceed on any other lines, he added, there would be truth and force in the objection which would doubtless be raised, that the Conference was intruding upon the domestic affairs of sovereign states. As that charge would damage the cause, it must be rebutted in advance. And for this purpose he deemed it prudent to approach the subject from the side he had chosen.

This reply was listened to in silence and unfavorably commented upon later. The alleged relation between such religious inequality as has survived into the twentieth century and such wars as are waged nowadays is so obviously fictitious that one can hardly understand the line of reasoning that led to its assumption, or the effect which the fiction could be supposed to have on the minds of those legislators who might be opposed to the measure on the ground that it involved undue interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. The motion was referred to a commission, which in due time presented a report. Mr. Wilson was absent when the report came up for discussion, his place being taken by Colonel House. The atmosphere was chilly, only a couple of the delegates being disposed to support the clause-Rumania's representative, M. Diamandi, was one, and another was Baron Makino, whose help Colonel House would gladly have dispensed with, so inacceptable was the condition it carried with it.

Baron Makino said that he entirely agreed with Colonel House and the American delegates. The equality of religious confessions was not merely desirable, but necessary to the smooth working of a Society of Nations such as they were engaged in establishing. He held, however, that it should be extended to races, that extension being also a corollary of the principle underlying the new international ordering. He would therefore move the insertion of a clause proclaiming the equality of races and religions. At this Colonel House looked pensive. Nearly all the other opinions were hostile to Colonel House's motion.

The reasons alleged by each of the dissenting lawgivers were interesting. Lord Robert Cecil surprised many of his colleagues by informing them that in England the Catholics, who are fairly treated as things are, could not possibly be set on a footing of perfect equality with their Protestant fellow-citizens, because the Constitution forbids it. Nor could the British people be asked to alter their Constitution. He gave as instances of the slight inequality at present enforced the circumstance that no Catholic can ascend the throne as monarch, nor sit on the woolsack as Lord Chancellor in the Upper House.

M. Larnaude, speaking in the name of France, stated that his country had passed through a sequence of embarrassments caused by legislation on the relations between the Catholics and the state, and that the introduction of a clause enacting perfect equality might revive controversies which were happily losing their sharpness. He considered it, therefore, inadvisable to settle this delicate matter by inserting the proposed declaration in the Covenant. Belgium's first delegate, M. Hymans, pointed out that the objection taken by his government was of a different but equally cogent character. There was reason to apprehend that the Flemings might avail themselves of the equality clause to raise awkward issues and to sow seeds of dissension. On thos

e grounds he would like to see the proposal waived. Signor Orlando half seriously, half jokingly, reminded his colleagues that none of their countries had, like his, a pope in their capital. The Italian government must, therefore, proceed in religious matters with the greatest circumspection, and could not lightly assent to any measure capable of being manipulated to the detriment of the public interest. Hence he was unable to give the motion his support. It was finally suggested that both proposals be withdrawn. To this Colonel House demurred, on the ground that President Wilson, who was unavoidably absent, attached very great weight to the declaration, to which he hoped the delegates would give their most favorable consideration. One of the members then rose and said, "In that case we had better postpone the voting until Mr. Wilson can attend." This suggestion was adopted. When the matter came up for discussion at a subsequent sitting, the Japanese substituted "nations" for "races."

In the meantime the usual arts of parliamentary emergency were practised outside the Conference to induce the Japanese to withdraw their proposal altogether. They were told that to accept or refuse it would be to damage the cause of the future League without furthering their own. But the Marquis Saionji and Baron Makino refused to yield an inch of their ground. A conversation then took place between the Premier of Australia, on the one side, and Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda, on the other, with a view to their reaching a compromise. For Mr. Hughes was understood to be the leader of those who opposed any declaration of racial equality. The Japanese statesmen showed him their amendment, and asked him whether he could suggest a modification that would satisfy himself and them. The answer was in the negative. To the arguments of the Japanese delegates the Australian Premier is understood to have replied: "I am willing to admit the equality of the Japanese as a nation, and also of individuals man to man. But I do not admit the consequence that we should throw open our country to them. It is not that we hold them to be inferior to ourselves, but simply that we do not want them. Economically they are a perturbing factor, because they accept wages much below the minimum for which our people are willing to work. Neither do they blend well with our people. Hence we do not want them to marry our women. Those are my reasons. We mean no offense. Our restrictive legislation is not aimed specially at the Japanese. British subjects in India are affected by it in exactly the same way. It is impossible that we should formulate any modifications of your amendment, because there is no modification conceivable that would satisfy us both."

The Japanese delegates were understood to say that they would maintain their motion, and that unless it passed they would not sign the document. Mr. Hughes retorted that if it should pass he would refuse to sign. Finally the Australian Premier asked Baron Makino whether he would be satisfied with the following qualifying proviso: "This affirmation of the principle of equality is not to be applied to immigration or nationalization." Baron Makino and Viscount Chinda both answered in the negative and withdrew.

The final act[360] is described by eye-witnesses as follows. Congruously with the order of the day, President Wilson having moved that the city of Geneva be selected as the capital of the future League, obtained a majority, whereupon he announced that the motion had passed.

Then came the burning question of the equality of nations.[361] The Polish delegate arose and opposed it on the formal ground that nothing ought to be inserted in the preamble which was not dealt with also in the body of the Covenant, as otherwise it would be no more than an isolated theory devoid of organic connection with the whole. The Japanese delegates delivered speeches of cogent argument and impressive debating power. Baron Makino made out a very strong case for the equality of nations. Viscount Chinda followed in a trenchant discourse, which was highly appreciated by his hearers, nearly all of whom recognized the justice of the Japanese claim. The Japanese delegates refused to be dazzled by the circumstances that Japan was to be represented on the Executive Council as one of the five Great Powers, and that the rejection of the proposed amendment could not therefore be construed as a diminution of her prestige. This consideration, they retorted, was wholly irrelevant to the question whether or no the nations were to be recognized as equal. They ended by refusing to withdraw their modified amendment and calling for a vote. The result was a majority for the amendment. Mr. Wilson thereupon announced that a majority was insufficient to justify its adoption, and that nothing less than absolute unanimity could be regarded as adequate. At this a delegate objected: "Mr. Wilson, you have just accepted a majority for your own motion respecting Geneva; on what grounds, may I ask, do you refuse to abide by a majority vote on the amendment of the Japanese delegation?" "The two cases are different," was the reply. "On the subject of the seat of the League unanimity is unattainable." This closed the official discussion.

Some time later, it is asserted, the Rumanians, who had supported Mr. Wilson's motion on religious equality, were approached on the subject, and informed that it would be agreeable to the American delegates to have the original proposal brought up once more. Such a motion, it was added, would come with especial propriety from the Rumanians, who, in the person of M. Diamandi, had advocated it from the outset. But the Rumanian delegates hesitated, pleading the invincible opposition of the Japanese. They were assured, however, that the Japanese would no longer discountenance it. Thereupon they broached the matter to Lord Robert Cecil, but he, with his wonted caution, replied that it was a delicate subject to handle, especially after the experience they had already had. As for himself, he would rather leave the initiative to others. Could the Rumanian delegates not open their minds to Colonel House, who took the amendment so much to heart? They acted on this suggestion and called on Colonel House. He, too, however, declared that it was a momentous as well as a thorny topic, and for that reason had best be referred to the head of the American delegation. President Wilson, having originated the amendment, was the person most qualified to take direct action. It is further affirmed that they sounded the President as to the advisability of mooting the question anew, but that he declined to face another vote, and the matter was dropped for good-in that form.

It was publicly asserted later on that the Japanese decided to abide by the rejection of their amendment and to sign the Covenant as the result of a bargain on the Shantung dispute. This report, however, was pulverized by the Japanese delegation, which pointed out that the introduction of the racial clause was decided upon before the delegates left Japan, and when no difficulties were anticipated respecting Japan's claim to have that province ceded to her by Germany, and that the discussion on the amendment terminated on April 11th, consequently before the Kiaochow issue came up for discussion. As a matter of fact, the Japanese publicly announced their intention to adhere to the League of Nations two days[362] before a decision was reached respecting their claims to Kiaochow.

This adverse note on Mr. Wilson's pet scheme to have religious equality proclaimed as a means of hindering sanguinary wars brought to its climax the reaction of the Conference against what it regarded as a systematic endeavor to establish the overlordship of the Anglo-Saxon peoples in the world. The plea that wars may be provoked by such religious inequality as still survives was so unreal that it awakened a twofold suspicion in the minds of many of Mr. Wilson's colleagues. Most of them believed that a pretext was being sought to enable the leading Powers to intervene in the domestic concerns of all the other states, so as to keep them firmly in hand, and use them as means to their own ends. And these ends were looked upon as anything but disinterested. Unhappily this conviction was subsequently strengthened by certain of the measures decreed by the Supreme Council between April and the close of the Conference. The misgivings of other delegates turned upon a matter which at first sight may appear so far removed from any of the pressing issues of the twentieth century as to seem wholly imaginary. They feared that a religious-some would call it racial-bias lay at the root of Mr. Wilson's policy. It may seem amazing to some readers, but it is none the less a fact that a considerable number of delegates believed that the real influences behind the Anglo-Saxon peoples were Semitic.

They confronted the President's proposal on the subject of religious inequality, and, in particular, the odd motive alleged for it, with the measures for the protection of minorities which he subsequently imposed on the lesser states, and which had for their keynote to satisfy the Jewish elements in eastern Europe. And they concluded that the sequence of expedients framed and enforced in this direction were inspired by the Jews, assembled in Paris for the purpose of realizing their carefully thought-out program, which they succeeded in having substantially executed. However right or wrong these delegates may have been, it would be a dangerous mistake to ignore their views, seeing that they have since become one of the permanent elements of the situation. The formula into which this policy was thrown by the members of the Conference, whose countries it affected, and who regarded it as fatal to the peace of eastern Europe, was this: "Henceforth the world will be governed by the Anglo-Saxon peoples, who, in turn, are swayed by their Jewish elements."

It is difficult to convey an adequate notion of the warmth of feeling-one might almost call it the heat of passion-which this supposed discovery generated. The applications of the theory to many of the puzzles of the past were countless and ingenious. The illustrations of the manner in which the policy was pursued, and the cajolery and threats which were said to have been employed in order to insure its success, covered the whole history of the Conference, and presented it through a new and possibly distorted medium. The morbid suspicions current may have been the natural vein of men who had passed a great part of their lives in petty racial struggles; but according to common account, it was abundantly nurtured at the Conference by the lack of reserve and moderation displayed by some of the promoters of the minority clauses who were deficient in the sense of measure. What the Eastern delegates said was briefly this: "The tide in our countries was flowing rapidly in favor of the Jews. All the east European governments which had theretofore wronged them were uttering their mea culpa, and had solemnly promised to turn over a new leaf. Nay, they had already turned it. We, for example, altered our legislation in order to meet by anticipation the legitimate wishes of the Conference and the pressing demands of the Jews. We did quite enough to obviate decrees which might impair our sovereignty or lessen our prestige. Poland and Rumania issued laws establishing absolute equality between the Jews and their own nationals. All discrimination had ceased. Immigrant Hebrews from Russia received the full rights of citizenship and became entitled to fill any office in the state. In a word, all the old disabilities were abolished and the fervent prayer of east European governments was that the Jewish members of their respective communities should be gradually assimilated to the natives and become patriotic citizens like them. It was a new ideal. It accorded to the Jews everything they had asked for. It would enable them to show themselves as the French, Italian, and Belgian Jews had shown themselves, efficient citizens of their adopted countries.

"But in the flush of their triumph, the Jews, or rather their spokesmen at the Conference, were not satisfied with equality. What they demanded was inequality to the detriment of the races whose hospitality they were enjoying and to their own supposed advantage. They were to have the same rights as the Rumanians, the Poles, and the other peoples among whom they lived, but they were also to have a good deal more. Their religious autonomy was placed under the protection of an alien body, the League, which is but another name for the Powers which have reserved to themselves the governance of the world. The method is to oblige each of the lesser states to bestow on each minority the same rights as the majority enjoys, and also certain privileges over and above. The instrument imposing this obligation is a formal treaty with the Great Powers which the Poles, Rumanians, and other small states were summoned to sign. It contains twenty-one articles. The first part of the document deals with minorities generally, the latter with the Jewish elements. The second clause of the Polish treaty enacts that every individual who habitually resided in Poland on August 1, 1914, becomes a citizen forthwith. This is simple. Is it also satisfactory? Many Frenchmen and Poles doubt it, as we do ourselves. On August 1st numerous German and Austrian agents and spies, many of them Hebrews, resided habitually in Poland. Moreover, the foreign Jewish elements there, which have immigrated from Russia, having lost-like everybody else before the war-the expectation of seeing Polish independence ever restored, had definitely thrown in their lot with the enemies of Poland. Now to put into the hands of such enemies constitutional weapons is already a sacrifice and a risk. The Jews in Vilna recently voted solidly against the incorporation of that city in Poland.[363] Are they to be treated as loyal Polish citizens? We have conceded the point unreservedly. But to give them autonomy over and above, to create a state within the state, and enable its subjects to call in foreign Powers at every hand's turn, against the lawfully constituted authorities-that is an expedient which does not commend itself to the newly emancipated peoples."

The Rumanian Premier Bratiano, whose conspicuous services to the Allied cause entitled him to a respectful hearing, delivered a powerful speech[364] before the delegates assembled in plenary session on this question of protecting ethnic and religious minorities. He covered ground unsurveyed by the framers of the special treaties, and his sincere tone lent weight to his arguments. Starting from the postulate that the strength of latter-day states depends upon the widest participation of all the elements of the population in the government of the country, he admitted the peremptory necessity of abolishing invidious distinctions between the various elements of the population there, ethnic or religious. So far, he was at one with the spokesmen of the Great Powers. Rumania, however, had already accomplished this by the decree enabling her Jews to acquire full citizenship by expressing the mere desire according to a simple formula. This act confers the full rights of Rumanian citizens upon eight hundred thousand Jews. The Jewish press of Bucharest had already given utterance to its entire satisfaction. If, however, the Jews are now to be placed in a special category, differentiated and kept apart from their fellow-citizens by having autonomous institutions, by the maintenance of the German-Yiddish dialect, which keeps alive the Teuton anti-Rumanian spirit, and by being authorized to regard the Rumanian state as an inferior tribunal, from which an appeal always lies to a foreign body-the government of the Great Powers-this would be the most invidious of all distinctions, and calculated to render the assimilation of the German-Yiddish-speaking Jews to their Rumanian fellow-citizens a sheer impossibility. The majority and the minority would then be systematically and definitely estranged from each other; and, seeing this, the elemental instincts of the masses might suddenly assume untoward forms, which the treaty, if ratified, would be unavailing to prevent. But, however baneful for the population, foreign protection is incomparably worse for the state, because it tends to destroy the cement that holds the government and people together, and ultimately to bring about disintegration. A classic example of this process of disruption is Russia's well-meant protection of the persecuted Christians in Turkey. In this case the motive was admirable, the necessity imperative, but the result was the dismemberment of Turkey and other changes, some of which one would like to forget.

The delegation of Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, and Poland upheld M. Bratiano's contentions in brief, pithy speeches. President Wilson's lengthy rejoinder, delivered with more than ordinary sweetness, deprecated M. Bratiano's comparison of the Allies' proposed intervention with Russia's protection of the Christians of Turkey, and represented the measure as emanating from the purest kindness. He said that the Great Powers were now bestowing national existence or extensive territories upon the interested states, actually guaranteeing their frontiers, and therefore making themselves responsible for permanent tranquillity there. But the treatment of the minorities, he added, unless fair and considerate, might produce the gravest troubles and even precipitate wars. Therefore it behooved the Powers in the interests of all Europe, as of each of its individual members, to secure harmonious relations, and, at any rate, to remove all manifest obstacles to their establishment. "We guarantee your frontiers and your territories. That means that we will send over arms, ships, and men, in case of necessity. Therefore we possess the right and recognize the duty to hinder the survival of a set of deplorable conditions which would render this intervention unavoidable."

To this line of reasoning M. Bratiano made answer that all the helpful maxims of good government are of universal application, and, therefore, if this protection of minorities were, indeed, indispensable or desirable, it should not be restricted to the countries of eastern Europe, but should be extended to all without exception. For it is inadmissible that two categories of states should be artificially created, one endowed with full sovereignty and the other with half-sovereignty. Such an arrangement would destroy the equality which should lie at the base of a genuine League of Nations.

But the Powers had made up their minds, and the special treaties were imposed on the unwilling governments. Thereupon the Rumanian Premier withdrew from the Conference, and neither his Cabinet nor that of the Jugoslavs signed the treaty with Austria at St.-Germain.

What happened after that is a matter of history.

Few politicians are conscious of the magnitude of the issue concealed by the involved diplomatic phraseology of the obnoxious treaties, or of the dangers to which their enactment will expose the minorities which they were framed to protect, the countries whose hospitality those minorities enjoy, and possibly other lands, which for the time being are seemingly immune from all such perilous race problems. The calculable, to say nothing of the unascertained, elements of the question might well cause responsible statesmen to be satisfied with the feasible. The Jewish elements in Europe, for centuries abominably oppressed, were justified in utilizing to the fullest the opportunity presented by the resettlement of the world in order to secure equality of treatment. And it must be admitted that their organization is marvelous. For years I championed their cause in Russia, and paid the penalty under the governments of Alexander II and III.[365] The sympathy of every unbiased man, to whatever race or religion he may belong, will naturally go out to a race or a nation which is trodden underfoot, as were the ill-starred Jews of Russia ever since the partition of Poland. But equality one would have thought sufficient to meet the grievance. Full equality without reservation. That was the view taken by numerous Jews in Poland and Rumania, several of whom called on me in Paris and urged me to give public utterance to their hopes that the Conference would rest satisfied with equality and to their fear of the consequences of an attempt to establish a privileged status. Why this position should exist only in eastern Europe and not elsewhere, why it should not be extended to other races with larger minorities in other countries, are questions to which a satisfactory response could be given only by farther-reaching and fateful changes in the legislation of the world.

One of the statesmen of eastern Europe made a forcible appeal to have the minority clauses withdrawn. He took the ground that the principal aim pursued in conferring full rights on the Jews who dwell among us is to remove the obstacles that prevent them from becoming true and loyal citizens of the state, as their kindred are in France, Italy, Britain, and elsewhere. "If it is reasonable," he said, "that they should demand all the rights possessed by their Rumanian and Polish fellow-subjects, it is equally fair that they should take over and fulfil the correlate duties, as does the remainder of the population. For the gradual assimilation of all the ethnic elements of the community is our ideal, as it is the ideal of the French, English, Italian, and other states.

"Isolation and particularism are the negative of that ideal, and operate like a piece of iron or wood in the human body which produces ulceration and gangrene. All our institutions should therefore be calculated to encourage assimilation. If we adopt the opposite policy, we inevitably alienate the privileged from the unprivileged sections of the community, generate enmity between them, cause endless worries to the administration and paralyze in advance our best-intentioned endeavors to fuse the various ethnic ingredients of the nation into a homogeneous whole.

"This argument applies as fully to the other national fragments in our midst as to the Jews. It is manifest, therefore, that the one certain result of the minority clause will be to impose domestic enemies on each of the states that submits to it, and that it can commend itself only to those who approve the maxim, Divide et impera.

"It also entails the noteworthy diminution of the sovereignty of the state. We are to be liable to be haled before a foreign tribunal whenever one of our minorities formulates a complaint against us.[366] How easily, nay, how wickedly such complaints were filed of late may be inferred from the heartrending accounts of pogroms in Poland, which have since been shown by the Allies' own confidential envoys to be utterly fictitious. Again, with whom are we to make the obnoxious stipulations? With the League of Nations? No. We are to bind ourselves toward the Great Powers, who themselves have their minorities which complain in vain of being continually coerced. Ireland, Egypt, and the negroes are three striking examples. None of their delegates were admitted to the Conference. If the principle which those Great Powers seek to enforce be worth anything, it should be applied indiscriminately to all minorities, not restricted to those of the smaller states, who already have difficulties enough to contend against."

The trend of continental opinion was decidedly opposed to this policy of continuous control and periodic intervention. It would be unfruitful to quote the sharp criticisms of the status of the negroes in the United States.[367] But it will not be amiss to cite the views of two moderate French publicists who have ever been among the most fervent advocates of the Allied cause. Their comments deal with one of the articles[368] of the special Minority Treaty which Poland has had to sign. It runs thus: "Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath, nor shall they be placed under any disability by reason of their refusal to attend courts of law or to perform any legal business on their Sabbath. This provision, however, shall not exempt Jews from such obligations as shall be imposed upon all other Polish citizens for the necessary purposes of military service, national defense, or the preservation of public order.

"Poland declares her intention to refrain from ordering or permitting elections, whether general or local, to be held on a Saturday, nor will registration for electoral or other purposes be compelled to be performed on a Saturday."

M. Gauvain writes: "One may put the question, why respect for the Sabbath is so peremptorily imposed when Sunday is ignored among several of the Allied Powers. In France Christians are not dispensed from appearing on Sundays before the assize courts. Besides, Poland is further obliged not to order or authorize elections on a Saturday. What precautions these are in favor of the Jewish religion as compared with the legislation of many Allied states which have no such ordinances in favor of Catholicism! Is the same procedure to be adopted toward the Moslems? Shall we behold the famous Mussulmans of India, so opportunely drawn from the shade by Mr. Montagu, demanding the insertion of clauses to protect Islam? Will the Zionists impose their dogmas in Palestine? Is the life of a nation to be suspended two, three, or four days a week in order that religious laws may be observed? Catholicism has adapted itself in practice to laic legislation and to the exigencies of modern life. It may well seem that Judaism in Poland could do likewise. In Rumania, the Jews met with no obstacle to the exercise of their religion. Indeed, they had contrived in the localities to the north of Moldavia, where they formed a majority, to impose their own customs on the rest of the population. Jewish guardians of toll-bridges are known to have barred the passage of these bridges on Saturdays, because, on the one hand, their religion forbade them to accept money on that day, and, on the other hand, they could allow no one to pass without paying. The Big Four might have given their attention to matters more useful or more pressing than enforcing respect for the Sabbath.

"It is comprehensible that M. Bratiano should have refused to accept in advance the conditions which the Four or the Five may dictate in favor of ethnic and religious minorities. Rumania before the war was a free country governed congruously with the most modern principles. The restrictions which she had enacted respecting foreigners in general, and which were on the point of being repealed, did not exceed those which the United States and the Dominion of Australia still apply with remarkable tenacity. Why should the Cabinets of London and Washington take so much to heart the lot of ethnic and religious minorities in certain European countries while they themselves refuse to admit in the Covenant of the Society of Nations the principle of the equality of races? Their conduct is awakening among the states 'whose interests are limited' the belief that they are the victims of an arbitrary policy. And that is not without danger."[369]

Another eminent Frenchman, M. Denis Cochin, who until quite recently was a Cabinet Minister, wrote: "The Conference, by imposing laws in favor of minorities, has uselessly and unjustly offended our allies. These laws oblige them to respect the usages of the Jews, to maintain schools for them.... I have spent a large part of my career in demanding for French Catholics exactly that which the Conference imposes elsewhere. The Catholics pay taxes in money and taxes in blood. And yet there is no budget for those schools in which their religion is taught; no liberty for those schoolmasters who wear the ecclesiastical habit. I have seen a doctor in letters, fellow of the university, driven from his class because he was a Marist brother and did not choose to repudiate the vocation of his youth. He died of grief. I have seen young priests, after the long, laborious preparation necessary before they could take part in the competition for a university fellowship, thrust aside at the last moment and debarred from the competition because they wore the garb of priests. Yet a year later they were soldiers. I have seen Father Schell presented unanimously by the Institute and the Professional Corps as worthy to receive a chair at the Collège de France, and refused by the Minister. Yet I hereby affirm that if foreigners, even though they were allies, even friends, were to meddle with imposing on us the abrogation of these iniquitous laws, my protest would be uplifted against them, together with that of M. Combes.[370] I would exclaim, like Sganarelle's wife, 'And what if I wish to be beaten?' I hold tyranny in horror, but I hold foreign intervention in greater horror still. Let us combat bad laws with all our strength, but among ourselves."[371]

The minority treaties tend to transform each of the states on which it is imposed into a miniature Balkans, to keep Europe in continuous turmoil and hinder the growth of the new and creative ideas from which alone one could expect that union of collective energy with individual freedom which is essential to peace and progress. Modern history affords no more striking example of the force of abstract bias over the teachings of experience than this amateur legislation which is scattering seeds of mischief and conflict throughout Europe.

* * *

Casting a final glance at the results of the Conference, it would be ungracious not to welcome as a precious boon the destruction of Prussian militarism, a consummation which we owe to the heroism of the armies rather than to the sagacity of the lawgivers in Paris. The restoration of a Polish state and the creation or extension of the other free communities at the expense of the Central Empires are also most welcome changes, which, however, ought never to have been marred by the disruptive wedge of the minority legislation. Again, although the League is a mill whose sails uselessly revolve, because it has no corn to grind, the mere fact that the necessity of internationalism was solemnly proclaimed as the central idea of the new ordering, and that an effort, however feeble, was put forth to realize it in the shape of a covenant of social and moral fellowship, marks an advance from which there can be no retrogression.

Actuality was thereby imparted to the idea, which is destined to remain in the forefront of contemporary politics until the peoples themselves embody it in viable institutions. What the delegates failed to realize is the truth that a program of a league is not a league.

On the debit side much might be added to what has already been said. The important fact to bear in mind-which in itself calls for neither praise nor blame-is that the world-parliament was at bottom an Anglo-Saxon assembly whose language, political conceptions, self-esteem, and disregard of everything foreign were essentially English. When speaking, the faces of the principal delegates were turned toward the future, and when acting they looked toward the past. As a thoroughly English press organ, when alluding to the League of Nations, puts it: "We have done homage to that entrancing ideal by spatchcocking the Convention into the Treaty. There it remains as a finger-post to point the way to a new heaven on earth. But we observe that the Treaty itself is a good old eighteenth-century piece, drawing its inspiration from mundane and practical considerations, and paying a good deal more than lip service to the principle of the balance of power."[372]

That is a fair estimate of the work achieved by the delegates. But they sinned in their way of doing it. If they had deliberately and professedly aimed at these results, and had led the world to look for none other, most of the criticisms to which they have rendered themselves open would be pointless. But they raised hopes which they refused to realize, they weakened if they did not destroy faith in public treaties, they intensified distrust and race hatred throughout the world, they poured strong dissolvents upon every state on the European Continent, and they stirred up fierce passions in Russia, and then left that ill-starred nation a prey to unprecedented anarchy. In a word, they gathered up all the widely scattered explosives of imperialism, nationalism, and internationalism, and, having added to their destructiveness, passed them on to the peoples of the world as represented by the League of Nations. Some of them deplored the mess in which they were leaving the nations, without, however, admitting the causal nexus between it and their own achievements.

General Smuts, before quitting Paris for South Africa, frankly admitted that the Peace Treaty will not give us the real peace which the peoples hoped for, and that peace-making would not begin until after the signing of the Treaty. The Echo de Paris wrote: "As for us, we never believed in the Society of Nations."[373] And again: "The Society of Nations is now but a bladder, and nobody would venture to describe it as a lantern."[374] The Bolshevist dictator Lenin termed it "an organization to loot the world."[375]

The Allies themselves are at sixes and sevens. The French are suspicious of the British. A large section of the American people is profoundly dissatisfied with the part played by the English and the French at the Conference; Italy is stung to the quick by the treatment she received from France, Britain, and the United States; Rumania loathes the very names of those for whom she staked her all and sacrificed so much; in Poland and Belgium the English have lost the consideration which they enjoyed before the Conference; the Greeks are wroth with the American delegates; the majority of Russians literally execrate their ex-Allies and turn to the Germans and the Japanese.

"The resettlement of central Europe," writes an American journal,[376] "is not being made for the tranquillity of the liberated principles, but for the purposes of the Great Powers, among whom France is the active, and America and Britain the passive, partners. In Germany its purpose is the permanent elimination of the German nation as a factor in European politics.... We cannot save Europe by playing the sinister game now being played. There is no peace, no order, no security in it.... What it can do is to aggravate the mischief and intensify the schisms."

A distinguished American, who is a consistent friend of England,[377] in a review article affirmed that the proposed League of Nations is slowly undermining the Anglo-American Entente. "There is in America a growing sense of irritation that she should be forever entangled in the spider-web of European politics." ... And if the Senate in the supposed interests of peace should ratify the League, he adds, "In my judgment no greater harm could result to Anglo-American unity than such reluctant consent."[378]

Some of Mr. Wilson's fellow-countrymen who gave him their whole-hearted support when he undertook to establish a régime of right and justice sum up the result of his labors in Paris as follows:[379]

"His solemn warning against special alliances emerged as a special alliance with Britain and France. His repeated condemnations of secret treaties emerges as a recognition that 'they could not honorably be brushed aside,' even though they conflicted with equally binding public engagements entered into after they had been written. Openly arrived at covenants were not openly arrived at. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers was applied to German barriers, and accompanied by the blockade of a people with whom we have never been at war. The adequate guaranties to be given and taken as respects armaments were taken from Germany and given to no one. The 'unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development' promised to Russia, and defined as the 'acid test,' has been worked out by Mr. Wilson and others to a point where so cautious a man as Mr. Asquith says he regards it with 'bewilderment and apprehension.' The righting of the wrong done in 1871 emerges as a concealed annexation of the boundary of 1814. The 'clearly recognizable lines of nationality' which Italy was to obtain has been wheedled into annexations which have moved Viscount Bryce to denounce them. 'The freest opportunity of autonomous development' promised the peoples of Austria-Hungary failed to define the Austrians as peoples...."

Whatever the tests one applies to the work of the Conference-ethical, social, or political-they reveal it as a factor eminently calculated to sap high interests, to weaken the moral nerve of the present generation, to fan the flames of national and racial hatred, to dig an abyss between the classes and the masses, and to throw open the sluice-gates to the inrush of the waves of anarchist internationalities. Truth, justice, equity, and liberty have been twisted and pressed into the service of economico-political boards. In the United States the people who prided themselves on their aloofness are already fighting over European interests. In Europe every nation's hand is raised against its neighbors, and every people's hand against its ruling class. Every government is making its policy subservient to the needs of the future war which is universally looked upon as an unavoidable outcome of the Versailles peace. Imperialism and militarism are striking roots in soil where they were hitherto unknown. In a word, Prussianism, instead of being destroyed, has been openly adopted by its ostensible enemies, and the huge sacrifices offered up by the heroic armies of the foremost nations are being misused to give one half of the world just cause to rise up against the other half.

THE END

FOOTNOTES:

[339] A contemporary of Goethe. His works were republished by Herzog in the year 1907.

[340] The Daily Telegraph, January 28, 1919.

[341] The Daily Telegraph, January 31, 1919.

[342] The Daily Mail (Paris edition), February 13, 1919.

[343] State-Secretary Hay addressed a note to the Powers in September, 1899, setting forth America's attitude toward China. It is known as the doctrine of the "open door." In a subsequent note (July 3, 1900) he enlarged its scope and promulgated the integrity of China. But Russia ignored it and flew her flag over the Chinese customs in Newchwang. It was Japan who, on that occasion, asserted and enforced the doctrine without outside help.

[344] General March intimated, when testifying before the House Military Committee, that President Wilson approved of universal training, indorsing the War Department's army program.-New York Herald (Paris edition).

[345] Bulletin des Droits de l'Homme, No. 10, May 15, 1919.

[346] Journal Officiel, November 21, 1917.

[347] Le Populaire, February 10, 1919.

[348] La Stampa, June 11, 1919. Cf. L'Humanité, June 13, 1919.

[349] Cf. The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 27, 1919.

[350] In The Daily Telegraph, February 8, 1919.

[351] The Covenant leaves the mode of recruiting them undetermined.

[352] Article IV.

[353] Article VIII.

[354] M. d'Estournelles de Constant, Bulletin des Droits de l'Homme, May 15, 1919, p. 450.

[355] Ibid.

[356] Ibid., p. 457.

[357] Article XII.

[358] Cf. The New York Herald (Paris edition), September 14, 1919.

[359] L'Echo de Paris, February 17, 1919.

[360] On April 11, 1919.

[361] The wording of the final Japanese amendment was: "By the endorsement of the principle of equality of nations and just treatment of their nationals."

[362] On April 28, 1919.

[363] The Jewish coalition in Vilna inscribed on its program the union of Vilna with Russia.... There was an overwhelming majority in favor of its retention by Poland.-Le Temps, September 14, 1919. The election took place on September 7th.

[364] On Saturday, May 31, 1919.

[365] I published several series of articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Fortnightly Review, and other English as well as American periodicals, and a long chapter in my book entitled Russian Characteristics.

[366] "Poland agrees that any member of the Council of the League of Nations shall have the right to bring to the attention of the Council any infraction, or any danger of infraction, of any of these obligations, and that the Council may thereupon take such action and give such direction as it may deem proper and effective in the circumstances."-Article XII of the Special Treaty with Poland.

[367] Cf. La Gazette de Lausanne, April 24, 1919.

[368] Article XI of the Special Treaty, L'Etoile Belge, August 17, 1919.

[369] Le Journal des Débats, July 7, 1919.

[370] M. Emile Combes was the author of the laws which banished religious congregations from France.

[371] Le Figaro, August 21, 1919. L'Echo de Paris, August 22, 1919.

[372] The Morning Post, July 21, 1919.

[373] L'Echo de Paris, April 29, 1919.

[374] Ibid., April 14, 1919.

[375] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), September 17, 1919.

[376] The New Republic, August 6, 1919.

[377] Mr. James B. Beck.

[378] The North American Review, June, 1919.

[379] Cf. The New Republic, August 6, 1919, pp. 5, 6.

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