This hope was increased when the Colonel came to me on the evening of the same day that we had the conversation related above and told me that he was “entirely converted” to my plan for a negative guaranty and for the organization of a League.
At this second interview Colonel House gave me a typewritten copy of the President’s plan and asked me to examine it and to suggest a way to amend it so that it would harmonize with my views. This was the first time that I had seen the President’s complete plan for a League. My previous knowledge had been gained orally and was general and more or less vague in character except as to the guaranty of which I had an accurate idea through the President’s “Bases of Peace” of 1917, and Point XIV of his address of January 8, 1918. At the time that the typewritten plan was handed to me another copy had already been given to the printer of the Commission. It was evident, therefore, that the President was satisfied with the document. It contained the theory and fundamental principles which he advocated for world organization.
THE PRESIDENT’S PLAN AND THE CECIL PLAN
I immediately began an examination and analysis of the President’s plan for a League, having in mind Colonel House’s suggestion that I consider a way to modify it so that it would harmonize with my views. The more I studied the document, the less I liked it. A cursory reading of the plan, which is printed in the Appendix (page 281), will disclose the looseness of the language and the doubtful interpretation of many of the provisions. It showed an inexpertness in drafting and a fault in expression which were chargeable to lack of appreciation of the need of exactness or else to haste in preparation. This fault in the paper, which was very apparent, could, however, be cured and was by no means a fatal defect. As a matter of fact, the faults of expression were to a certain extent removed by subsequent revisions, though some of the vagueness and ambiguity of the first draft persisted and appeared in the final text of the Covenant.
The more serious defects of the plan were in the principles on which it was based and in their application under the provisions of the articles proposed. The contemplated use of force in making good the guaranty of sovereign rights and the establishment of a primacy of the Great Powers were provided for in language which was sufficiently explicit to admit of no denial. In my opinion these provisions were entirely out of harmony with American ideals, policies, and traditions. Furthermore, the clauses in regard to arbitration and appeals from arbitral awards, to which reference has been made, the lack of any provision for the establishment of a permanent international judiciary, and the introduction of the mandatory system were strong reasons to reject the President’s plan.