There are now in the world two fundamentally different ways of looking at international relations. On the one hand, we have the assertions expressed definitely in words by many Germans and acted upon consistently without qualification by the German Government, that justice is the interest of the stronger; that power and force may be, and indeed ought to be, exerted by a State without any check on moral grounds; that a strong nation must realise itself, develop and use its strength without regard to the so-called rights of the weaker; that “those should take who have the power, and those should keep who can.” To them Reason, Common Sense, even the Divine Law seem to say: “Assert thyself; have the will to power.” Where such a spirit exists there can be no binding force in agreements, rules of international law are a farce, but convenient perhaps at times for embarrassing the action of opponents who wish to treat them with respect. The dictates of humanity may be set aside at discretion. With that spirit argument is useless. With those who are inspired by it there can be no compromise, no truce. It must be met by force inspired by moral earnestness. In that struggle the alternative for the world is victory or death. Every man who falls fighting against such a foe dies a martyr, witnessing by his death that so far as in him lies the embodied powers of evil shall not prevail. Unless the Power which thus claims to dominate is defeated it is useless to talk of peace. On the other hand, it is essential to recognise, and keep ever before us, the spirit which is opposed to this claim for domination, this denial of the existence of justice, and to renew in the whole nation the spirit in which it entered into the War.
LEAGUE OF NATIONS—THE SCHEME
If any peace after the War is to be permanent there must be a settlement not only between territorial claims but an arrangement with regard to the machinery by which peace will be maintained in the future.
Perhaps the most convenient way to gain a more definite idea of what the proposal for a League of Nations really means, to understand both its advantages and the difficulties involved in it, may be to follow the debate on the subject initiated by Lord Parmoor in the House of Lords in March of 1918. It shows that the idea of a League of Nations to prevent war is taking definite shape, and is not regarded by practical men—statesmen with experience of the actual conduct of international affairs, and lawyers who as members of the judicial committee of the Privy Council have had to devote their attention to questions of international law—as outside the range of practical politics. It shows also that the idea will stand the test of discussion and calm criticism.