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respect of each nation's rights in relation to its insular possessions. In case of controversy between the covenanting powers it is agreed to confer and seek adjustment, and if said rights are threatened by the aggressive action of any outside power, these friendly powers, respecting one another, are to communicate, perhaps confer, in order to understand what action may be taken, jointly or separately, to meet a menacing situation. There is no commitment to armed force, no alliance, no written or moral obligation to join in defence, no expressed or implied commitment to arrive at any agreement except in accordance with our constitutional methods. It is easy to believe, however, that such a conference of the four powers is a moral warning that an aggressive nation, giving affront to the four great powers ready to focus world opinion on a given controversy, would be embarking on a hazardous enterprise.
Frankly, Senators, if nations may not safely agree to respect each other's rights, and may not agree to confer if one to the compact threatens trespass, or may not agree to advise if one party to the pact is threatened by an outside power, then all concerted efforts to tranquilize the world and stabilize peace must be flung to the winds. Either these treaties must have your cordial sanction, or every proclaimed desire to promote peace and prevent war becomes a hollow mockery.
We have seen the eyes of the world turned to the Pacific. With Europe prostrate and penitent, none feared the likelihood of early conflict there. But the Pacific had its menaces, and they deeply concerned us. Our territorial interests are larger there. Its waters are not strange seas to us, its farther shores not unknown to our citizens. Our earlier triumphs of commerce were there. We began treaty relationships with China full eighty years ago, in the youthful vigor of our republic, and the sailings of our clipper ships were the romance of our merchant marine, when it successfully challenged the competition of the world. Seventy years ago Commodore Perry revealed Japan to commerce, and there followed that surpassing development of the island empire, with whom our unbroken peace found a most gratifying reflex in the conference just closed.
A century ago we began planting the seeds of American friendship in Hawaii, and seventy years ago Webster told the Senate that the United States could "never consent to see these islands taken possession of by either of the great commercial powers of Europe." Whether it was destiny, or the development of propinquity, or the influence of our colonists, or faith in our institutions, Hawaii came under the flag in 1898, and rejoices to-day as a part of our Republic.
The lure of the waters, or the march of empire, or the call of commerce or inscrutable destiny led us on, and we went to the South Seas and planted the flag in Samoa. Out of the war with Spain came our sponsorship in the Philippines, and the possession of Guam; and so we are deeply concerned in the mid-Pacific, the South Seas, and the very center of the Far East. We crave peace there as we do on the continent, and we should be remiss in performing a national duty if we did not covenant the relations which tend to guarantee it. For more than a half century we have had a part in influencing the affairs of the Pacific, and our present proposed commitments are not materially different in character, nor materially greater in extent, though fraught with vastly less danger, than our undertakings in the past.
We have convinced the on-looking and interested powers that we covet the possessions of no other power in the Far East, and we know for ourselves that we crave no further or greater governmental or territorial responsibilities there. Contemplating what is admittedly ours, and mindful of a long-time and reciprocal friendship with China, we do wish the opportunity to continue the development of our trade peacefully, and on equality with other nations, to strengthen our ties of friendship, and to make sure the righteous and just relationships of peace.
Holding the possessions we do, entertaining these views, and confessing these ambitions, why should we not make reciprocal engagements to respect the territory of others and contract their respect of ours, and thus quiet apprehension and put an end to suspicion?
There has been concern. There has been apprehension of territorial greed, a most fruitful cause of war. The conference has dissipated both, and your ratification of the covenants made will stabilize a peace for the breaking of which there is not a shadow of reason or real excuse. We shall not have less than before. No one of us shall have less than before. There is no narrowed liberty, no hampered independence, no shattered sovereignty, no added obligation. We will have new assurances, new freedom from anxiety, and new manifestations of the sincerity of our own intentions; a new demonstration of that honesty which proclaims a righteous and powerful republic.
I am ready to assume the sincerity and the dependability of the assurances of our neighbors of the Old World that they will respect our rights, just as I know we mean to respect theirs. I believe there is an inviolable national honor, and I bring to you this particular covenant in the confident belief that it is the outstanding compact of peace for the Pacific, which will justify the limitation of armament and prove a new guarantee to peace and liberty, and maintained sovereignty and free institutions.
No allusion has been made to the treaty restraining and limiting the use of the submarine, and the prohibition of noxious gases in warfare. Since we are asking the world's adherence, it is easily assumed that none in America will hold aloof.
Nor need I dwell on the nine-power treaty relating to principles and policies to be followed in the relationship of the signatory powers to China. Our traditional friendship for the ancient empire, our continued friendship for the new republic, our commitment of more than twenty years to the open door, and our avowed concern for Chinese integrity and unimpaired sovereignty, make it easy to assume that the Senate will promptly and unanimously assent. China's own satisfaction in the restorations covenanted here has been officially expressed, quite apart from the testifying signatures.
Perhaps I may fittingly add a word which is suggested by my relationship as a former member of the Senate. I had occasion to learn of your very proper jealousy of the Senate's part in contracting foreign relationships. Frankly, it was in my mind when I asked representatives of both the majority and minority to serve on the American Delegation. It was designed to have you participate. And you were ably represented.
The Senate's concern for freedom from entanglements, for preserved traditions, for maintained independence, was never once forgotten by the American Delegates. If I did not believe these treaties brought us not only new guaranties of peace but greater assurances of freedom from conflict, I would not submit them to your consideration.
Much depends on your decision. We have joined in giving to the world the spectacle of nations gathering about the conference table, amid the convictions of peace, free from all passion, to face each other in the contacts of reason, to solve menacing problems, and end disputes, and clear up misunderstandings. They have agreed to confer again when desirable, and turn the revealing light of world opinion on any menace to peace among them. Your Government encouraged, and has signed the compacts which it had much to do in fashioning. If to these understandings for peace, if to these advanced expressions of the conscience of leading powers, if to these concords to guard against conflict and lift the burdens of armament, if to all of these the Senate will not advise and consent, then it will be futile to try again. Here has been exercised every caution consistent with accomplishment. Here was a beginning on your advice, no matter when conceived, and the program was enlarged, only because assurances of tranquillity were deemed the appropriate concomitants of the great experiment in arms limitation.
I alluded a moment ago to my knowledge of the viewpoint of the Senate, from personal experience. Since that experience I have come to know the viewpoint and inescapable responsibility of the Executive. To the Executive comes the closer view of world relationship and a more impressive realization of the menaces, the anxieties, and the apprehensions to be met.
We have no rivalries in our devotion to the things we call American, because that is a common consecration. None of us means to endanger, none of us would sacrifice a cherished national inheritance. In mindfulness of this mutuality of interest, common devotion, and shared authority, I submit to the Senate that if we can not join in making effective these covenants for peace, and stamp this conference with America's approval, we shall discredit the influence of the Republic, render future efforts futile or unlikely, and write discouragement where to-day the world is ready to acclaim new hope. Because of this feeling, because I believe in the merits of these engagements, I submit them to the Senate with every confidence that you will approve.
THE POWER OF PUBLIC OPINION FOR PEACE
In contrast to the generally destructive effects of war, one outcome of the world war of real constructive value is the condemnation by public opinion throughout the world of all wars, except those which can be defined as strictly defensive.
This attitude of the present generation is a powerful asset for good in the world, but no effective plan has yet been adopted for giving it practical application in international relations. Notwithstanding the almost universal demand of the people of the world today that unjustifiable wars should be outlawed, no attempt has been made to define by international agreement what inducements justify war, or to bring the subject within the jurisdiction of international law.
The great opportunity offered at the Peace Conference at Paris, which we cannot hope to have reproduced, was sacrificed to the ambition of the seekers after political control over international relations in disregard of the basic principal of equal rights of all nations before the law. Nevertheless it is not yet too late to recover some of the lost ground.
At Paris the leading nations of the world were prepared to curtail their hitherto unquestioned right to declare war at pleasure for any reason or for no reason, and without accountability to the family of nations. If they are still willing to submit this sovereign right to legal restraints, the opportunity to impose these restraints might be utilized to extend the jurisdiction of international law beyond the mere regulation of warfare so as to cover the inception of war as well.
A beginning might be made by an agreement among the leading nations declaring that they recognized that, in the spirit of our Declaration of Independence, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to war, and binding each of them, before declaring war, except against an actual belligerent, to declare those causes to an international conference in which they agree to participate and to which all other nations concerned shall be invited, and that respectful consideration shall be given to any recommendations made by such conference, and further that at the call of any nation against which war is threatened they will meet in conference with that nation for the purpose of avoiding war if possible through mediation, conciliation, good offices, or other pacific measures.
To perfect the plan by bringing it within the realm of international law, a further step is necessary and that is for the nations to declare as a binding rule of law that an unprovoked war, or a war of aggression to deprive a nation of legitimate rights, or a war for causes which properly come within the definition of justiciable questions, or any other war which they may agree to stigmatize as unjustifiable, constitutes an international crime. If this were done any threat against the peace of the world would involve a question of a legal nature within the field of international law.
The recent war has demonstrated that no nation can be regarded as a stranger in interest to a dispute between other nations, and that every nation is threatened with an invasion of its rights by a breach of the peace between other nations, and consequently all nations are entitled to demand that no nation shall declare war unless it can show adequate cause.
The peoples of the world have at last come to a realization of their interdependence and mutual obligations, and this realization is in itself a sufficient sanction to ensure the observance of an agreement designed to promote peace by recognizing the jural equality of all civilized nations and demanding universal respect for the rights of each. The essential thing is that they should agree upon certain rules governing the conduct of nations toward each other, based upon the equal rights of all and that these rules should be formulated in terms so clear and simple that everyone can comprehend them, so that if any nation violates them it will challenge the judgment of public opinion throughout the world.
The irresistible power of public opinion as a world force when aroused, was eloquently described by Mr. Root in presenting to the Washington Conference the treaty limiting the use of submarines in warfare. He said, in part—
When a rule of action, clear and simple, is based upon the fundamental ideas of humanity and right conduct, and the public opinion of the world has reached a decisive judgment upon it, that rule will be enforced by the greatest power known to human history. The power that is the hope of the world will be a hope justified. That power was the object of the vast propaganda of the late war; that power was the means of determining the conflict in the late war; and that power, the clear opinion of the civilized world, stigmatising a specific course of conduct as a violation of the fundamental rules of humanity and right, will visit a nation that violates its conclusion with a punishment that means national ruin.
Every nation will admit the truth of this and it is for this reason that no matter what the real cause of war may be, the nation declaring it invariably appeals to the public opinion of the world on the ground that it is a defensive war forced upon them by an aggressive enemy threatening their national security.
Instead of waiting, therefore, until after war is declared and then calling upon public opinion to finish it, the opportune time to bring public opinion to bear would seem to be before war is declared when, through some such