In consequence of the functions which were added to the League, the character of the League itself underwent a change. Instead of an agency created solely for the prevention of international wars, it was converted into an agency to carry out the terms of peace. Its idealistic conception was subordinated to the materialistic purpose of confirming to the victorious nations the rewards of victory. It is true that during the long struggle between the President and the Senate on the question of ratification there was in the debates a general return to the original purpose of the League by both the proponents and opponents of the Covenant, but that fact in no way affects the truth of the assertion that, in order to save the League of Nations, its character was changed by extending its powers and duties as a common agent of the nations which had triumphed over the Central Alliance.
The day before the Treaty of Peace was delivered to the German plenipotentiaries (May 6) its terms induced me to write a note entitled “The Greatest Loss Caused by the War,” referring to the loss of idealism to the world. In that note I wrote of the League of Nations as follows:
“Even the measure of idealism, with which the League of Nations was at the first impregnated, has, under the influence and intrigue of ambitious statesmen of the Old World, been supplanted by an open recognition that force and selfishness are primary elements in international co-operation. The League has succumbed to this reversion to a cynical materialism. It is no longer a creature of idealism. Its very source and reason have been dried up and have almost disappeared. The danger is that it will become a bulwark of the old order, a check upon all efforts to bring man again under the influence which he has lost.”
The President, in the addresses which he afterward made in advocacy of the Covenant and of ratification of the Treaty, indicated clearly the wide divergence of opinion between us as to the character of the League provided for in the Treaty. I do not remember that the subject was directly discussed by us, but I certainly took no pains to hide my misgivings as to the place it would have in the international relations of the future. However, as Mr. Wilson knew that I disapproved of the theory and basic principles of the organization, especially the recognition of the oligarchy of the Five Powers, he could not but realize that I considered that idealism had given place to political expediency in order to secure for the Covenant the support of the powerful nations represented at the Conference. This was my belief as to our relations when the Treaty of Peace containing the Covenant was laid before the Germans at the Hotel des Reservoirs in Versailles.
THE SYSTEM OF MANDATES