Reading the situation thus and convinced of the objections against the mandatory system from the point of view of international law, of policy and of American interests, I opposed the inclusion of the system in the plan for a League of Nations. In view of the attitude which Mr. Wilson had taken toward my advice regarding policies I confined the objections which I presented to him, as I have stated, to those based on legal difficulties. The objections on the ground of policy were made to Colonel House in the hope that through him they might reach the President and open his eyes to the true state of affairs. Whether they ever did reach him I do not know. Nothing in his subsequent course of action indicated that they did.
But, if they did, he evidently considered them as invalid as he did the objections arising from legal difficulties. The system of mandates was written into the Treaty and a year after the Treaty was signed President Wilson asked the Congress for authority to accept for the United States a mandate over Armenia. This the Congress refused. It is needless to make further comment.
DIFFERENCES AS TO THE LEAGUE RECAPITULATED
The differences between the President’s views and mine in regard to the character of the League of Nations and to the provisions of the Covenant relating to the organization and functions of the League were irreconcilable, and we were equally in disagreement as to the duties of the League in carrying out certain provisions of the Treaty of Peace as the common agent of the signatory Powers. As a commissioned representative of the President of the United States acting under his instructions I had no alternative but to accept his decisions and to follow his directions, since surrender of my commission as Peace Commissioner seemed to me at the time to be practically out of the question. I followed his directions, however, with extreme reluctance because I felt that Mr. Wilson’s policies were fundamentally wrong and would unavoidably result in loss of prestige to the United States and to him as its Chief Magistrate. It seemed to me that he had endangered, if he had not destroyed, his preeminent position in world affairs in order to obtain the acceptance of his plan for a League of Nations, a plan which in theory and in detail was so defective that it would be difficult to defend it successfully from critical attack.
The objections to the terms of the Covenant, which I had raised at the outset, were based on principle and also on policy, as has been shown in the preceding pages; and on the same grounds I had opposed their hasty adoption and their inclusion in the Peace Treaty to be negotiated at Paris by the Conference. These objections and the arguments advanced in their support did not apparently have any effect on President Wilson, for they failed to change his views or to modify the plan which he, with General Smuts and Lord Robert Cecil, had worked out for an international organization. They did not swerve him one jot from his avowed purpose to make the creation of the League of Nations the principal feature of the negotiations and the provisions of the Covenant the most prominent articles in the Treaties of Peace with the Central Powers.