In view of what later occurred a very definite conclusion may be reached concerning the President’s rejection of the proposed substitute for his guaranty. Article 10 was from the first the storm center of opposition to the report of the Commission on the League of Nations and the chief cause for refusal of consent to the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles by the Senate of the United States. The vulnerable nature of the provision, which had been so plainly pointed out to the President before the Covenant was submitted to the Commission, invited attack. If he had listened to the advice of his colleagues, in fact if he had listened to any American who expressed an opinion on the subject, the Treaty would probably have obtained the speedy approval of the Senate. There would have been opposition from those inimical to the United States entering any international organization, but it would have been insufficient to prevent ratification of the Treaty.
As it was, the President’s unalterable determination to have his form of guaranty in the Covenant, in which he was successful, and his firm refusal to modify it in any substantial way resulted in strengthening the opponents to the League to such an extent that they were able to prevent the Treaty from obtaining the necessary consent of two thirds of the Senators.
The sincerity of Mr. Wilson’s belief in the absolute necessity of the guaranty, which he proposed, to the preservation of international peace cannot be doubted. While his advisers were practically unanimous in the opinion that policy, as well as principle, demanded a change in the guaranty, he clung tenaciously to the affirmative form. The result was that which was feared and predicted by his colleagues. The President, and the President alone, must bear the responsibility for the result.
On the day that the Commission on the League of Nations held its first meeting and before I had reason to suspect that Mr. Wilson intended to ignore the letter which I had sent him with the suggested resolution enclosed, I determined to appeal to him in behalf of international arbitration. I decided to do this on the assumption that, even if the plan for a resolution was approved, the Commission would continue its sessions in preparation for the subsequent negotiation of an agreement of some sort providing for world organization. The provision as to arbitration in the President’s original draft of a Covenant was so wrong from my point of view and showed such a lack of knowledge of the practical side of the subject that I was impelled to make an effort to induce him to change the provision. Except for the fact that the matter was wholly legal in character and invited an opinion based on technical knowledge, I would have remained silent in accordance with my feeling that it would be inadvisable for me to have anything to do with drafting the Covenant. I felt, however, that the constitution and procedure of international courts were subjects which did not affect the general theory of organization and concerning which my views might influence the President and be of aid to him in the formulation of the judicial feature of any plan adopted.