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but old enmities do not so quickly die down, and Germany has still to prove that she is an honest and a peaceful power. Russia? To ask the question is to answer it. England? Who would wish to coöperate with the British Government in holding down Ireland by “competition in crime,” in reëstablishing her slippery grasp on Mesopotamia, laboriously pacifying India and Egypt, and struggling indefinitely against Russian conspiracies to destroy her influence in the Moslem world? How can an American wish to remit England's debt to America when she is at this moment invading Germany in order to collect "to the last farthing" a claim which the American delegates at the Peace Conference rejected as extortionate? And who would wish to increase the wealth of a Government which, immediately after the War to end War, is lavishing all it can afford, and more, on armaments and military expeditions? Other less plausible arguments could easily be added. The suggestion, for instance, that this country, or any party or any fraction of a party in this country, intends or ever intended to use the Japanese Alliance for a war against the United States is the merest moonshine, and has been repeatedly disproved by the terms of the old treaty and by the public statements of both parties. But, taking only arguments that have some basis of truth, the case for American isolation is very strong.
And yet it is the wrong case. It is based, I venture to think, first on a misunderstanding, and next on too narrow a point of view. A misunderstanding; because it is not coöperation in that sense which is asked of her. She is not asked to support the policies of any European nation. The League of Nations is not an alliance. She is asked only to sit in council with the other nations — as free and unpledged as they, or, if she wishes, still more so — to help those who have suffered, and are in part still sick in body and brain with their suffering, to face the vast problems which now confront mankind, and which the rest of us have pledged ourselves to face in the spirit of peace and justice and common sense which we thought was characteristically American. It is based on too narrow a view, because all summary judgments of foreign nations are that, whether they end in praise or blame. “La noble, l'incomparable Angleterre" of M. Briand is just as remote from fact as the “brutal and bloody Britain” of Mr. Hearst. Nations are made up of masses of individuals, who differ among themselves within each nation just about as much as the citizens of one nation differ from those of another. In every nation there are numbers of criminals and numbers of fine men. In every nation's past there are black places and white. Only it so happens that just now, after a time of hideous suffering and wrong-doing, in the midst of a time of savage resentments and passions and great material difficulties, the nations of the world are from the depth of their hearts longing for some way of avoiding war and treating one another in future a little more openly and fairly than they have in the past. They know they must have disputes, and that when the disputes come it is one of two things; they must either talk them out or fight them out. They are meeting to talk them out. But how can the talk be quite frank and free, or how can the promises of peace and fair dealing carry full conviction, while the greatest and the least wounded of all the nations refuses to join in them, but sits aloof in silence, from time to time sharpening her sword?