The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, March 01, 1919, Image 1

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The Commoner
VOL 19, NO. 3
Lincoln, Nebraska, March, 1919
Whole Number 719
r. Bryan Supports League of Nations
but Suggests Certain Amendments
The league of nations is the grsatest 'step
Howard peace in a tfiousaud years. The idea of
Substituting reason for force in the settlement
of int( -ational disputes is in itself an epocli-
I making advance. The nttitution of the league, t
as announced, provides for three thingq which
c tute in themselves an advantage, tie im
portance of which can scarcely be estimated.
First, deliberation before war the investiga
tion of all disputes of everykind and character
before hostilities begin. This almost ends war.
The idea is-taken from the thirty treaties nego
tiated by the UnitecLStates' with three-quarters
of the world. Our nation, therefore, gives to
the peace league 4ts? greatest piece of machinery.
Second, the reduction of armaments will make
it impossible for a nation to prepare for war
without notifying the world of its intentions.
Third, the abolition of secret treaties, which
will do much to prevent the combinations which
lead to war.
If the league of nations did nothing' more
than provide those three things, our nation
would be justified in supporting it to the ut
most. It is not to be expected that so great an idea
as the league of nations would be made'perfect
in detail in so short a time. There are defects
that should be corrected, und the fullest dis
cussion of prop2d amendments should be in- .
vited. The newspapers of Great Britain, France
and Italy are not backward in the expression
or their views as to changes that should be
made, Why should the American people bo
client? Ours is the nation most influential -a
the league, and most powerful bemuse most
disinterested. Its p-ople should help by free
and frank discussion -to perfect the league. The
President has done the best he could, but he
M be aided by intelligent criticism from those
Wendly to the idea.
venture to point out certain amendments
that should in my judgment bo made in the in
west of a stronger and bettor league. First,
ne basis of representation is not fair to "the
wm States A comparison of voting strength
show that while our nation is the most
werfu in tho combination, whether measured
JQ pDulation, wealth or m -I influence, it has
. rger votG than nations much inferior In
equaml0n' Wmlth an(l influoncO- This in
wi . Uellt' if Possible, to bo corrected, for
Jnstit V nly foundatiori uPn whIcl1 any
Sec i Can reSt hl permanent security,
that Ul t?rms of admission to nations
To , (l6Siro to 3oin hereafter are not fair.
t,nit. u u two-thirds vote to admit a new
black balls may keep out an uncongenial ap
plicant. This world league is for tl.o world.
The President has well said that our nation is
not interested in a league unless all nations are
in it. The qualifications for admission ought to
be fixed, and then it ought to bo made as easy
as possible for thoso who are qualified to gain
admission. Under no circumstances should tho
consent of more than a majority be roquired
for the admission of any qualifying nation.
The faults of the constitution are to bo found
in its indefiniteness rather than in things
positively objectionable. For instance, it is not
stated with sufficient clearness that the Monroe
Doctrine Is preserved. Our nation is not asking
t be permitted to assYst In the settlement of
European disputes, and, therefore, it ought not
to bo asked to give up Its paramount influence
in tho western hemisphere as a condition pre
cedent to its entry into the league. Then, too,
it is not stated with sufllcienf clearness that a
league member is not required to become a
mandatory. It ought to bo definitely stated
that a nation asked to become a mandatory is
at liberty to accept- or decline. Again, it should
be made clear that the league Is not to Iriterforo
in tho internal affairs of the nations belonging
to the league. The league is for the settlement
of international disputes, not for tho adjustment
of differences between a nation and I'- own
Another matter that should bo made clear
and nothing can be bo more important than
this is that each nation has a right to decide
for itself whether it will undertake tho things
advised by the general council. The language
of the constitution, while not definite, would
seem to indicate that no nation Is required to
furnish force to back up a decision of tho coun
cil. But no doubt should bo left on this sub
ject. This nation cannot afford to allow a coun
cil in which It has so small a voice to carry it
into war against its will. Our people will have
suggests the social club, where a few
as much sense when tho timo comes to act as
they have now and they will havo moro light
to guido them. When tho emorgemcy arises and
they understand all tho circumstances and con
ditions, they may be willing to assist by forco,
but they cannot docldo in advance or allow a
council to deckle for them.
Tho constitution of tho loaguo would seem to
imply tho right of tho council to compel tho
declaration of an oconomlc boycott by tho mem
bers of tho league. This is not quito so serious
as tho declaration of war, but economic boycott
is likely to develop Into a war and an economic
boycott may be pecuniarily advantageous to tho
nations that want to declare it. Our iaterdsti
may not bo identical in this respect, and wo
ought to have a right to say at tho timo whether
wo would declare such a boycott. I venturo to
suggest that tho scope of tlio league's work
might well fie extended beyond what Is how
contemplated. A substitute for war must bo
able to deal with every situation that can be
come a cause of war. One of the most fruitful
causes of war has boon the necessity for ex
pansion. Growing nations, feeling tho necessity
for moro room, havo often gone to war on some
clumBy pretext when tho real purpose has been
to secure territory for an Increasing population.
Tho right to live Is one of the inalienable rights.
It is a primal right that must bo recognized in
nations as well as individuals. Nations exerciso
tho right of taking unused land and distributing
It to thoso who need It. So, if tho league of
nations Is to substitute reason for war, It must
bo able to deal with claims that aro made for
the waste places of the earth. A nation feeling
a need for moro territory should bo able to go
bofore the league and present its clailns, and
point out the territory which it can use to ad
vantage. The council should consider the claim
and advise upon it, and tho forco of public
opinion should bo used to secure such an ad
justment of equities as would afford a peace
able means of securing needed territory. Such
adjustments could be made the easier if tho
league endorsed the preposition that any nation
extending its sovereignty over new territory
should stand ready to purchase tho property of
residents who do riot desire to romaln under
the new sovereignty. Tho resident does not go
with the land. He has rights Independent and
superior to the right t tho land. If, against lite
will, he is brought under new sovereignty, ho
ought to be ablo to sell his propert without
loss, and choose a sovereignty of his own like,
I have suggested what seemod to mo desirable
changes, some being modifications, some being
merely moro explicit statements. I conclude as
v I began, that while we should endeavor to make
the league as nearly perfect as possible, we
should not allow its imperfections to load to
Its rejection. Wo must take risks, no matter
whether we accept the league or reject It. The
risks that we take In accepting It are less than
tho risks we take If we reject it and turn back
to the old ways of blood and slaughter. God
grant that thoso who are entrusted with tho
launching of this great work may havo the wis
dom to so purge It of selfishness and greed, and
so infuse Into it tho spirit of the Prince of
Peace as to mako It the end of war.