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It would sow the most prolific seeds of future wars, it would defeat the very ends for which all the nations are fighting, and it would make any league of nations for permanent peace impossible. It is well to recall the words of our own President here: “Punitive damages, the dismemberment of empires, the establishment of selfish and exclusive economic leagues we deem inexpedient and in the end worse than futile; no proper basis for a peace of any kind, least of all for an enduring peace.” We are glad the workingmen have spoken so emphatically upon this point. They will carry the world with them.
Number four reads: "No indemnities or reprisals based upon vindictive purposes or deliberate desire to injure, but to right manifest wrongs." This sounds very much like the Sermon on the Mount and we are glad it comes from labour. It comes, too, at an opportune time, for many voices are urging the contrary. But, if, with the labour group, the world can rise above revenge at the close of this war, it will be one of the steps surest to guarantee permanent peace, and to win the heart of the German people to that friendship our President insistently says he hopes may sometime obtain again, and to that democracy for the German people for which we profess to be fighting. With the clause to the effect that there may be indemnity for manifest wrong no one can quarrel. The entrance into Belgium, with deportation, was a pure act of burglary, and nations that commit burglary must of course be made to make reparation just as an individual who burglarizes is always forced to do.
As to five and six, no comment is necessary. The whole world is fast turning to that conclusion, and we doubt if it will need any urging by the time this war closes. But, while the Allied nations are saying this more and more, they must be sure that they themselves remember it after the war. For they have all sinned here, as well as has Germany. This war must see the end of "subject races."
A LEAGUE OF NATIONS By Rev John CLIFFORD, D.D., LL.D., OF LONDON
VERY day of 1917 lifted to view the urgent necessity of a League of Nations, a league
framed to secure and to maintain as far as possible to our fractious human nature the permanent peace of the politically organized peoples of the earth.
It is not the first time men have been stirred by that divine vision. In the faraway ages of the world the Greeks felt the charm of it, and framed their councils to give it an operative place in the life and action of their conflicting States—not, we regret to say, with conspicuous success. Prophets and righteous men of the Hebrew race longed to create a Tribunal which should make wars to cease from the rivers to the end of the earth, but they died without setting it at work. Again and again in the Christian centuries our troubled fellows have attempted the colossal task of “ingeminating peace” amongst the warring tribes of the world; but the desire has never before been so strong, or the determination so fullblooded, or the prospect so bright as now, of casting out war, once and for ever, from the commonwealths of the world.
Surely war has to go. Slavery as an institution has gone, never to return. Duelling has gone from the practice of deeply and sanely cultured nations, although it lingers in Germany, along with other brutalities; and war, a relic of the state of savagery, though it has suddenly pounced upon the civilized world from its Prussian den like a tiger thirsting for blood, is doomed to destruction. We used to say so—at least every Christmas before 1914, when we joined in the angel song of "peace on earth toward men of good will”; but now we have a million more reasons for unrelenting hate of war and inflexible will to get rid of it.
"War" a "biological necessity”? Never! It is peace which is life, and life for evermore. The soul of the world can grow broad and strong and pure only in an atmosphere of peace. “War the healing medicine for nations?” Impossible! It is their death. Already it has smitten with paralysis the moral life of the people who prepared through thirty years for this Armageddon, and then plunged the whole world into its abysses. It is written in the annals of the ages that the people are “scattered who delight in war.”
The fact is, the Ideal Peace and the Ideal Right are one. They are not in conflict; they are necessary parts of the same whole, and dwell together in
Him who is at the same time King of Righteousness and King of Peace, and are destined to dwell together in His Kingdom. That ideal of the righteous peace is our ultimate objective in this war. That goal is clear. We know what we seek, and for what we are fighting; but the road to the goal is hidden, and alas, at present we have to travel through a river of blood and death, so that we may arrive on the shores of a peace permanent as the everlasting hills and beneficent as the sunshine of God.
It is for the sake of securing this peace and creating a League of Nations to guard it from attack, and to make it abiding, that President Wilson has brought the United States over to the side of the Allies. He insists at all times that "America has no grievance of her own"; that they "came into the war because they are the servants of mankind, and will not accept any advantage from it.” They seek “the peace of the world in and through righteousness.” To the President that is the alpha and omega of the situation, the end of ends. To attain that coveted goal he is devoting his masterly genius for statesmanship, his strong sense of justice, his broad democratic sympathies, his love of humanity, and the inexhaustible resources of the great Republic.
In like manner Mr. Asquith declares that such a League has been one of our aims from the beginning, and he speaks with authority, for on him, along with Viscount Grey, rests the responsibility