The Peace Negotiations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 244 pages of information about The Peace Negotiations.

To be entirely frank in stating my views in regard to Mr. Wilson’s attitude toward international arbitration and its importance in a plan of world organization, I have always been and still am skeptical of the sincerity of the apparent willingness of the President to accept the change which was inserted in his revised draft.  It is difficult to avoid the belief that Article V of the original draft indicated his true opinion of the application of legal principles to controversies between nations.  That article, by depriving an arbitral award of finality and conferring the power of review on a political body with authority to order a rehearing, shows that the President believed that more complete justice would be rendered if the precepts and rules of international law were in a measure subordinated to political expediency and if the judges were not permitted to view the questions solely from the standpoint of legal justice.  There is nothing that occurred, to my knowledge, between the printing of the original draft of the Covenant and the printing of the revised draft, which indicated a change of opinion by the President.  It may be that this is a misinterpretation of Mr. Wilson’s attitude, and that the change toward international arbitration was due to conviction rather than to expediency; but my belief is that expediency was the sole cause.

CHAPTER XII

REPORT OF COMMISSION ON LEAGUE OF NATIONS

The Commission on the League of Nations, over which President Wilson presided, held ten meetings between February 3 and February 14, on which latter day it submitted a report at a plenary session of the Conference on the Preliminaries of Peace.  The report was presented by the President in an address of exceptional excellence which made a deep impression on his hearers.  His dignity of manner, his earnestness, and his logical presentation of the subject, clothed as it was in well-chosen phrases, unquestionably won the admiration of all, even of those who could not reconcile their personal views with the Covenant, as reported by the Commission.  It was a masterly effort, an example of literary rather than emotional oratory, peculiarly fitting to the occasion and to the temper and intellectual character of the audience.

Considering the brief time given to its discussion in the Commission and the necessary haste required to complete the document before the President’s departure, the Covenant as reported to the Conference was a creditable piece of work.  Many of the more glaring errors of expression and some of the especially objectionable features of the President’s revised draft were eliminated.  There were others which persisted, but the improvement was so marked that the gross defects in word and phrase largely disappeared.  If one accepted the President’s theory of organization, there was little to criticize in the report, except a certain inexactness of expression which indicated a lack of technical knowledge on the part of those who put the Covenant into final form.  But these crudities and ambiguities of language would, it was fair to presume, disappear if the articles passed through the hands of drafting experts.

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The Peace Negotiations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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