First of all, we should differentiate our terms. A "League of Nations" through continued repetition has become so much identified in the public mind with the hope of permanent peace mind with the hope of all war, that many even of the most intelligent men confound the two, and criticism of a League of Nations is denounced as advocacy of war and hostility to peace. Nothing could be more dangerous than this. The whole subject is one of such vast importance and hostility to peace. Nothing could be more dangerous than this. The whole subject is one of such vast importance and so wide spread in its ramifications that it should not be determined by a mere reiterations of slogans and cries. It is a subject which calls for very deep consideration and for logical thought. Theoretically, we all favor peace. We should be glad if the curse of war could be swept from the earth, but there is something worse than war and that is national dishonor, and there is something better than peace and that, the preservation of national sovereignty. If it were certain that a League of Nations would bring about universal peace without impairing the sovereignity of the United States or the dampening of American spirit which has brought us to out present prosperity, and which has enabled us to have so far reaching an influence on the welfare of the world, then every real American would favor it.
Must Not be Lulled to Sleep.
It would certainly have been a shameful thing if the United States had failed in resisting the encroachments of the German Empire upon its national rights, and it would have been a sand thing for humanity if through a narrow passion for the preservation of our own comfort we had let France fall to her destruction before the onslaught of the Hun. It would be an almost equally shameful thing if now, after all the sacrifices which have been made and which have been accentuated through lack of timely preparation, we should be lulled to sleep by sweet sounding pleas for universal peace through a League of Nations, seducing us into a frame of mind where we should feel that we need never again prepare ourselves for self-defense. It may not be in fashion now to speak of Washington or his Farewell Address, and it is true that we have gone far since his words of warning were first spoken, but. Washington said one the thing which will be eternally true so long as nations shall exist: "There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard." "A just pride" would prompt us not to place our trust in the altruism of other nations, for every other nation in the world, until man's nature shall be revolutionized, will have its own interest to observe and its own enlightened selfishness to guide its path. America has its own mission in the world and can go far in the universal promulgation of American ideals but it can accomplish nothing in this way unless it remaking true to those ideals itself. It is with nations as with individuals--We cannot hope to benefit others if we are stripped of the ability to help ourselves.
First Duty to End War.
The first duty of the Peace Conference at Paris was to being the war with Germany to an end and fix such terms of victorious peace as would discourage any nation from undertaking a war of wanton aggression for all time. But months have been wasted in parleying about vague schemes for future peace which should have been devoted to forcing Germany at once to realize that she has been defeated. After bringing this war to a close there will be ample time to talk about the prevention of future wars. They are two distinct and separate propositions and it is deplorable that this has not been recognized by those who have been handling the parleys in Paris.
The draft for a League of Nations which was brought over here by Mr. Wilson on his hurried trip was hastily thrown together and so clumsily phrased that even he cannot interpret clearly what it means. Comparatively few American citizens have read the draft at all, and so far as the American public is concerned, aside from the debates in the Senate and some critical discussion in the press, there has been no attempt to make clear just what effect any one of the twenty-six articles will have either upon the future of the United States or upon the future of the world. With a proposal of such momentous possibilities pending, it is inconceivable that the people of the United States should be tied up irrevocably to an international program without the opportunity of amendment or popular debate. The one thing clearly definite about the proportion is that it must tend to the elimination of national lines, the deadening of the spirit of nationality and the subordination of our own home interests to misty visions of international bliss. The spirit of internationalism bliss and bolshevism is abroad. It has overrun Russia, is overrunning Germany and other European countries and there are far too many indications of it right here at home. Let us preserve American ideals and stand fast to the principles of ordered liberty by observing which our country has grown great and by ignoring which it may go the decadent way of other nations once no less strong than we.