I have long believed that when peace really comes to the world, that the Jewish people, men and women, are going to have a tremendous place in that great movement. It is because I believe that so sincerely that I am pleased that l may have the opportunity of addressing the Council of Jewish Women, tonight.
I want to talk about the great question as it stands before us, today. The gravest question in all the world is, How may we attain and how may we maintain peace? I say it is the greatest question in the world, because it includes practically every problem in which thinking men and women, the entire world around, are now giving their attention to.
We are everywhere weighed down with a staggering load of debt, we are everywhere struggling with the high cost of living. These two problems mean more than merely answering the needs day by day. It means that many of the young people, millions of them in this generation—to whom belonged opportunities and the vision of this day—are denied them, because the family budget and income will not permit those opportunities.
It is something more than this, however, for the problems which are engaging our attention mean more than mere money questions. We are, today, facing the great question of unprecedented crying of unrest, and, indeed, I know of no problem which involves the care for the dependent in uniform which has not been very greatly augmented as a result of the war. The first two problems are the direct aftermath of the war, the others have been augmented by it.
Ever since history began, wars have been going on, and, after every war, these same problems have beset not only the men who have been the contestants in that war, but many other nations have been affected by it.
There is an almshouse in Great Britain, presided over by a matron who has discovered a method of testing the feeble-minded, all her own. When children come to this almshouse, she says she sends them all out into the backyard. "There," she says, "you see that spigot. Well, we turns the water on and we puts a pail under, and when the pail is full, we turns the spigot off, and then we empty the pail and tell the child to do that thing. We have found that thems is not feeble-minded turns the spigot off."
It is a question for us, who have read history, whether it is time that we turn the spigot off, and if we do not know enough to do it now, it seems to me that our own nation and the world is indicted for feeble-mindedness.
It is five years since the Armistice was signed, and we may well ask ourselves, upon this momentous time, whether we are going onward toward peace, or whether we are going backward toward war. Are we turning the spigot off, or are we letting the water run?
The League of Nations has a Commission on Disarmament, and it has been engaged for sometime in gathering statistics concerning the armies and the armament of all the nations of the world. Basing his statement upon findings of this Commission, Ex-Premier Nitti, of Italy, has made three startling declarations. He says:
"Today, France has a larger army than had Germany in 1914, on the eve of the great war, when it was said that everybody was ready for the conflict. Remember that, today, the great armies of Austria and Germany have been reduced to the minimum and, excluding Russia, there are in Europe today more men under arms than in 1914. Including Russia, there are twice as many men under arms as in 1914. There are fourteen nations in the world that today have conscription and are giving to all their young men compulsory military training."
They tell us that in the days of Julius Caesar, when at the height of his great power, only seven hundred thousand men were necessary to keep the entire world in order, and most of the time the army was reduced to three hundred thousand. Seven hundred thousand was the greatest army that Napoleon ever had, but when the Great War came men were counted by the millions, and today they tell us that these fourteen nations, with conscription, could mobilize armies counting two hundred and fifty millions, a number as much greater than the armies of the Great War as those armies were greater than all that had gone before.
There is something more than this: You will remember with what horror we received the news when the first submarine sent the first ship to the bottom. You will remember how we felt when we read the terrible news that the Lusitania had been sunk in twenty minutes. It was, however, but a short time when all the Allies were engaged in building submarines and were using them in what they call necessary retaliation.
Today, in this time of peace, not only have all the great powers of the earth supplied themselves with submarines, but many of the smaller nations have them also for defense.
It is a fact which perhaps Americans may not have observed, but which you may be sure no foreign rower has failed to note, that the United States of America possesses more submarines than any nation in the world, and it intends to ask of the next Congress an appropriation of twelve millions, in order to build a few more.
You will remember the horrible experience when the Germans used the first poison gas. It was not long before all the laboratories at the command of the Allies were turned into the business of trying to find a gas more poisonous than any the Germans had. In our own country there has been a lively propaganda for sometime going on in behalf of the dye industries, but one of the motives behind it has not been talked about publicly very much. The laboratories of Germany that made the poison gas were dye factories, and dye factories—because they can be transformed so quickly into poison gas factories—are considered an asset of a nation, in time of war.
Our own chemical service, perhaps because it is so proud of what has been accomplished, rather "let the cat out of the bag" the other day, when it told the public that we now have seventy-five dye factories, which can he transferred, in the event of emergencies, into gas factories. It also announced to our own public and to all the world that the United States is the leader in chemical warfare preparations.
Before the war came to an end, it was announced that our own country had discovered the gas called "Lewisite." It was discovered by a professor of the Northwestern University of Illinois. It was said of this gas that it could destroy a city in a night, that it could wipe out an entire nation. It was said that ten bombs of this gas could eliminate the last particle of life in the great city of Berlin.
When Thomas Edison was asked, not long ago, if he believed that the city of London could be destroyed in twelve hours, as was claimed, he replied, "It would not require twelve hours. It could be done in three."
Admiral Sims said, not long ago: "If we are attacked and gas is used, you may be sure the United States will use gas, and it will not care how or when or where."
At this point, let us pause to observe that no country· ever prepares for anything but defense. No military man ever admits that his country expects to attack another. We prepare and every other country prepares for defense. At present, we apparently lead the world in chemical preparedness.
You will remember how we gasped when the first bomb from an airplane fell upon its unsuspecting victims. It was not long before the allies were building airplanes. Today, in time or peace, not only has every nation airplanes, but so feverish has been the competition that Mr. Owsley, President of the American Legion, has requested the American government to call a World Conference for Aircraft Limitation.
The other day, in the city of St. Louis, Assistant Secretary of War, Colonel Davis, told about the preparedness of other countries and, said he, "In the days of the revolution, a sailing ship required six weeks to cross the ocean, and they might, in the flotilla, bring two thousand men to our shores. Today, airplanes, in a flotilla, could bring as many men in forty hours." Then he asked, anxiously, "What are we doing to prepare to defend ourselves against this terrible menace?"
Well, United States government has six hundred airplanes. France has twelve hundred, Great Britain has a few more than we have, but with those two exceptions, our air strength exceeds that of any other country in the world. Do we expect France to attack our country? Are we expecting Great Britain to land an army upon our shores for the third time, by airplane? Both of those nations seem rather absorbed with their own home problems, and both of them are on the brink oi bankruptcy. Yet, because we want to catch up, there is a ten year building program under way, and Congress will be asked for its annual appropriation to the amount of three hundred and fifty million, in order that we may have as many airplanes as France or as Great Britain, or as both of them are likely to build.
The airplane, poison gas, the submarine, were new modes of destruction in the Great War. ln the next one, they will be old established methods, every country having adopted them in time of peace, and not one nation—not one nation the world around has made a movement or a proposal for the elimination or even the curtailment of any one of them. We are told, however, that we will not pause with these three methods of destruction, but other novelties are promised.
One of the best known surgeons in this country, after investigating the question, made the statement not since that, in the next war, bombs of disease germs would certainly be used, and might prove as efficient in destroying life as any of these means that have already been employed.
The electricians have announced the fact that they have about completed a marvelous magneto, which can fix an airplane in the sky and hold it there until it chooses to release it. They tell us there may be wonders of surprises in the next war, that may grow out of the wireless, and they even hint other possibilities.
I ask you, therefore, a plain question, and let us insist upon a plain answer: lf the Germans, in 1915 and 1916 were barbarians, as all the world said, to introduce these methods of destruction then, what shall we say of all the rest of the nations of the earth who have adopted all their methods of destruction and promise still more?
We may ask ourselves, why this difference between the hope that the world had held out to it at the close of the war, when everybody believed that the Great War had been a war to end war, why that hope? Was it an iridescent dream of impractical minds, as so many people say, or did someone do something or fail to do something which should have been done that made the peace tum into this restless state of competition of preparedness? I answer neither the one nor the other.
The people of 1918 wanted peace then and they want it now. I believe the people of no nation in modern times ever wanted war. The difficulty has been that those in authority cannot get away from the traditional instinct of the old military mania. There are two groups of militarists in every country. One of them is a small minority. It is composed of those who want war, who like war and who profit by war. It is said that in the Great War, in this country, twenty-one thousand millionaires were created. The figures were found in the income tax returns. Now, it would not be strange if some of these men would like an opportunity to make a few millions more. I believe, however, that this minority is an unimportant factor in the case.
The other group of militarists numbers million. and many of you who are here tonight belong to that group. It is a group of honest and sincere people who cannot get away from the old hereditary idea which has been going on among all the nations for a good many years, that the way to get peace and the way to keep peace is to be armed to the teeth, so that no enemy will dare attack the nation. In all discussions of peace. I will tell you now that when you haw removed all the details, all the burdens, you will find the real kernel of the discussion centers around that old traditional view which still governs the policy of our own and every country.
No, the truth is, the world wants peace, but it does not know how to get it. There is no difference of opinion worth while upon the general subject of peace. Let any speaker addressing any audience in any land in the world, today, make an allusion to the blessings and the common sense of peace, and he wins the approval of his entire audience and perhaps their applause. But let him tum aside to discuss any method that anybody has yet suggested for bringing that peace, and he at once divides his audience, and some will be pretty sure to want to hiss him. In other words, as one of the humorists said, "There is a mighty big wishbone for peace, but a precious little backbone for getting it."
Two thousand years ago, Tacitus said, "The Gauls are separated from the Germans by high mountains and mutual dread." That "mutual dread" has been kept up by careful training and new tricks through the centuries, and nothing has yet happened to reduce its intensity. And every pair of neighbors, the entire world around, are engaged in the same business of building up a wall of "mutual dread."
At any international dinner, one hears the oratory overflow with brotherly love, and every orator assures every one at the table that his nation loves and trusts and admires the nation of everybody else at that table. But while they are sitting there, every nation represented is conducting itself like the small boy: An old lady, wanting to make conversation with him, said, "Jimmie, how do you make your dear little dog love you?' "Huh. He has to. If he didn't love me, he knows I'd knock the stuffing out of him." That is the way the nations try to make their neighbors love them.
Nation "A," wanting the affection and trust of Nation "B," conscripts an army and trains it; Nation "B," observing, conscripts an army just as big and trains it; Nation "A," observing, builds some naval ships, and Nation "B,'' observing, builds as many naval ships and then some submarines; Nation "A," observing, builds more submarines and a few airplanes, and Nation "B,'' observing, builds as many airplanes and a few more. Then Nation ''A" announces that it has the most poison gas in all the world, and Nation "B" goes into chemical warfare.
This preparation, extending over many years, continually makes the taxes amount higher and higher, and when the people begin to ask questions or perhaps to make a complaint or criticism, then the publicity, carefully and subtly designed to win the approval of their own people, is put out through the press and through speakers, through political parties, perhaps, and the people of Nation "A" are told that the people of Nation "B" are absolutely untrustworthy. At the same moment, the people of Nation "B" are being carefully told that the people of Nation "A" are untrustworthy.
So, from the very beginning perhaps, in their history at school, in the lessons their fathers and mothers have told them, in the traditions of their nation, they have been prepared so that when an accident occurs, the minds of the people are as carefully inclined for war as the soldier in the field. The accident happens and the explosion comes. This is war.
When we look backward at the Great War, is there anybody living who can tell the real cause of it? I think it is fair to say that no one had any more to do with that cause than Germany, no one was any more responsible than the Kaiser, but that did not cause the war, nor did that poor consumptive assassin at Serajevo. It was the whole damnable system that had been going on for a generation and more that caused that war, and that same system is going on now.
At no time in the history of the world were the nations so well prepared for war as they are at this very moment. They only lack one thing, and perhaps we ought to thank God for that—most of the nations are bankrupt.
We may ask ourselves, in the face of these facts, in the face of the fact that our own nation seems to be possessed of its full share of the military mania, what we Americans can do about it? What can we women do about it? They used to say that war was a man's job, and it was, or men possessed the system oi preparing for war, they declared war, they got the war, they made the peace. But the Great War brought that theory to an end. There was not one nation in the Great War whose ministers and great men did not say, officially, that they could not have carried on as long as they did without the help of the women.
Then Mr. Balfour visited this country in 1917, and he said that for every British soldier, there were twelve persons in the rear who made his presence in the field possible, and of those twelve, seven were women. They did everything, they took the places of men in the factories, in the mills and on the farms, and in every country they made munitions, they ran railroads and telegraphs and banks, and even built ships.
Another thing, the introduction of these three new modes of destruction no longer recognized the non-combatant class. For many centuries, this was held to be inviolate. It was not always a law observed. Nevertheless, decent armies were supposed to respect women and children. No longer could or did they do it, with airplanes and submarines and poison gas. Now we are told by the military authorities of the world that in the next war, which all the military people expect, there must be conscription of old men, women and children, in order that the army in the rear may be more efficiently and more properly organized. They tell us that, in the next war, money will he conscripted as well as men. Mr. Harding said it in his speech at St. Louis. Now, at this present moment, the Bureau of Efficiency in Washington has figured out that of all the money that is paid into the Federal treasury, eighty-five per cent of it already goes to the support of war, past, present and future.
Now, women, if you are going to be conscripted in the next war, as soldiers of the rear, if you are going to be regarded as legitimate victims of the enemy, if you are going to have your money conscripted, if, even now, eighty-five cents of every dollar you pay in your income tax goes to the support of war, then l say, war has become very much a woman's business.
I say it is your right, it is not only your right, it is your duty to ask yourselves, seriously, how much longer shall this senseless savagery we call war permitted to go on? It is a question which the women of the world may legitimately ask; it is a question which the women of the world may yet be obliged to answer.
You may say, "What can we women do?" To be sure, we have the vote, and so have the women of twenty-six countries in the world, but everybody knows that we are not really in the heart of politics, we are only hanging on the fringe on the outside. What then can we do?
Well, last year, in South America, l had an experience which I think might be useful. We were visiting the zoological garden in Buenos Aires. Mr. O'Neilly, the world-round well known scientific superintendent of that garden, was showing us about. After we had seen all the wonders, he said, "Now, I have kept the most remarkable thing for the last. I am going to show you the most wonderful lion in captivity." We asked, of course, how he differed from other lions, and the answer was, "Because he is a man eating lion, that is, he would eat his keeper if he could only get out of the cage. He hates him."
That moment, we came in front of this great cage and, at the same moment, the keeper appeared with a panful of bones. The lion seemed to scent his presence, and he sprang to his feet, he dashed across the cage, the hair stood erect upon his back, he switched his tail, he roared and he attempted to get through those iron rods. He growled, he gnashed his teeth. I had seen lions roar before, but l had never seen one in rage, and my heart fairly stood still as I thought what would happen should one of those rails break away.
Then Mr. O'Neilly, who is a very good feminist but has a sense of humor, turned to me and said, "You see, there is no feminism about the king of beasts." But at that particular moment, the female lion, lying in the back of the cage, sprang to her feet, she dashed across the cage, and, with one great cruel mouthful, she nipped into his flank. It was exactly as though she had said, "John, shut up.'' You know, the remarkable thing about it was that John did shut up. The hair upon his back laid down, his tail hung between his legs, he roared no more, he hung his head, and showed all that dejected state of humiliation you have seen dogs assume, and he turned around and slowly walked into the rear or the cage. It was as though he had said. ''Mariah, you have humiliated me before all the world." I could not withstand the temptation of saying to Mr. O'Neilly, "You see, the female of the species, after all, is mightier than the male."
So I think perhaps this is the way we will have to do it, perhaps we will have to take a nip, and I want to tell you that the time to nip is now.
This is the greatest question the entire world around, and have you paused to think that, while it is engaging the attention of most of the nations of the world, while thinking men and women everywhere are trying to contribute toward the bringing and the maintenance of peace, that our own country has no policy concerning that question at all? I repeat, there is no one in this world who knows what the policy of this government is on the subject of peace or war.
The Washington Conference for the Limitation of Armament was good. It ironed out some ugly wrinkles in the big world problem. But there we rest, and why do we there rest? Because Congress is waiting for the President to make a recommendation. The President is waiting for his party. His party is waiting for the President; the President is waiting for the people; the people are waiting for the President: and so the circle has been formed, and there is not anybody anywhere who dares to do anything. So we stand there, and I say the fault is not with Washington, it is with us, the people, who do not know what we want.
The average citizen, man and woman, does not know his own mind on the subject of peace and war. He waits for somebody to tell him what he ought to do. His neighbor does not know, he waits. His Congressman does not know. But I will tell you what his Congressman is thinking. He is praying every day that no question involved in the discussion of peace and war will break out in his constituency while he is in office. They do not know what their senator thinks, and the senator does not know himself and so we have this do-nothing condition, and I do not wonder that our government is bewildered.
Mr. Hughes said, in Montreal, a few weeks ago, that although it was clear that some things might be done, those in power dared not introduce these suggestions, because it would only stir up such an acrimonious discussion, perhaps a partisan discussion, at least a political one in the legislative bodies, that the whole question might be more harmed than helped. Even the small thing that Mr. Hughes suggested concerning an advisory investigation of the reparations question, won that acrimony that he feared and some of his party have already attacked him vigorously upon that point.
I do not wonder that Mr. Hughes is slightly intimidated, nor the administration. Has not this country hounded one President to an untimely and lamentable death by its ignorant criticisms, and has it not hounded another to a fate that is worse than death? Now, don't you think it would be a good idea for us, the people, to take this burden away from Washington a little while and find out what we are willing to support, what we are willing to do, what we are willing to back up an administration on if it attempts? If we could only find out what we want, Washington would quickly act.
So I ask you: What can we do? There are four proposals that have been made for the abolition of war and, curiously enough, all of them have been made by Americans. The first scarcely concerns us. It was made by Benjamin Franklin, when the thirteen rebellious and "pig headed" colonies had been won to the idea of a union, and they had drafted a constitution which they reluctantly adopted. Then Benjamin Franklin made the suggestion that there might be a United States of Europe and, in consequence, an abolition of war. That idea took hold in Europe. Organizations sprang up. It had ninny advocates before the Great War, and even now it has gone up again and is receiving much support and sympathy from many people in Europe.
They tell us that what is really the difficulty in Eastern Europe are the old hates and the young tariffs. If they could only dispose of the frontiers, if they could only have a single kind of money, it would go far to bring them together, but that is a problem for Europe and not one for us.
The second, in point of time, is the International World Court. In point of importance and relationship, it is the League of Nations. The League of Nations was not invented in this country, but the idea to put it into practical application was. It was proposed by the League to Enforce Peace, which was led by the two Republicans, Mr. Taft and Mr. Lowell, of Harvard. It was conducted further by the Democrat. Mr. Wilson, who certainly made the fight of his life for it in Paris. It came to a temporary standstill when the Republican Senators refused to accept it without reservations, and the Democratic Senators refused to accept it with reservations, and there were not enough of either party to put it through their way. The curious thing about that episode is that this occurred in a Senate, the overwhelming majority of which were for the League.
Had our Constitution provided the same method of ratifying a peace treaty that exists for ratifying a declaration of war, we would now be a member of the League, as it is an established fact, this American idea. It is a going concern. It has fifty-four nations in it and only ten on the outside. Those nations are Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Hejaz, Thibet, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Ecuador—and I still have missed one. One might ask whether any one of those nations, at this time, is in a position to lead the world for peace. All of them will, without doubt, come into the league some day, the sixty-four nations. The tenth on the outside is the United States of America, the country that made the proposal that there should be a League. It made the motion, as it were.
It is said there is to be a new building to accommodate the League, that it will have sixty-four sittings, one for each nation. How long there shall remain a vacant chair among this family of nations depends, I repeat, not upon Washington, not upon any political party, but upon us, the people.
The next idea is the International Court. This is distinctly an American idea. When the Czar, in 1899, called a conference at the Hague, there came out of it, as the result, the Hague Tribunal, called the "American idea." The United States made the proposal that there should be another conference, and, at that conference, our country proposed that there should be an International Court. The idea was unanimously adopted, but it fell through because the call was never set up, because they could not come to an agreement as to how the judges should be elected. It was then written into the covenant of the League of Nations, an international commission was appointed, of which Elihu Root was one. He is supposed to have written most of the constitution or protocol. It is now a going concern, this American idea, it meets in the Peace Palace at the Hague, which was built by the American, Mr. Carnegie. It has on its list of judges, the eminent jurist, John Basset Moore. Of course, having originated the idea, having cultivated it for nearly a quarter of a century, we are not in it. That is our way.
Mr. Harding proposed that now we should join this League, and that proposition is the only peace proposition before our people, today. I find that friends of peace are working for it everywhere, and nearly everyone believes in it.
One, however, should not misunderstand. It is a court, it does not make the law. It interprets the law. It cannot go out and bring quarreling nations before it for arbitration, nor can it enforce its decisions. Nevertheless, it is a bit of the necessary machinery for the avoidance of war. It might prove useful in a great many cases, if it were universally used. There is a compulsory list. It is not proposed we should join that list. We would only be a member and would use it when and if we choose. We would merely pay our share of its expenses. It is not a bold nor a strong step onward.
It may be courageous to set up a new thing, it is not courageous to join a thing that is already a going concern, but it is outrageously cowardly to stay outside of it. If we refuse to do the small thing to show our cooperation with the rest of the world, we must pay the consequences. There may be those here who do not realize that there are consequences. There dire consequences, and I will tell you what they are, in a moment.
The fourth idea is the outlawing of war. That seems very largely to be agitated and forwarded by those who do not believe in the League or the Court and want to do something different. Now I, for my part, believe in all these things, and then think it is not quite enough. 1 believe in the outlawry of war. I believe it ought to be considered a criminal act to make war. I believe that ii it is murder to kill in retail, it is not honorable to do it collectively. The sooner we recognize that it is criminal, the better.
I believe in the League, I believe in the Court, I believe in the United States of Europe, but l believe that even though the political embroil could be relieved in this country, and we should join all of those things, I do not think it is enough for this country to do.
I will ask you to ask yourselves a question, and that is to try to put yourself in the place of the men and the women of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, who are trying their best to combat this age old military mania, and then ask yourself what you would think of America if you were in their places. I want to tell you that when you have figured it out and find out what you would think, it is the very thing those people are thinking and what they are thinking is this:
America brought the idea of a war to end war into the world. It put faith into the nations that their might be made an end of war. It proposed the League of Nations as a means. It made the League of Nations one of the Armistice terms, which it gave to the Central Powers. In making that proposal, it refused to deal with the Kaiser and said it would deal only with the German people.
Now, the Germans say that we have not treated them squarely. We asked them to set up a government of the people, and anybody who has read two pages of history ought to know that a new republic, carved out of an old autocratic monarchy, would be blown hither and yon, first by the monarchical winds and then the communistic winds. Yet we did not stand by, we did not give the helping hand of an old and stable self-governing land. At the very moment when they caught themselves set up into republic, we quit.
The French say that we have cheated them. They wanted a League of Nations, but they wanted one with an international army and an international navy, so that they could go out and make war on anybody who made war. But the United States insisted that that was not the kind of League we would support. We wanted a League with the power behind it, public opinion, and when the United States won and got the kind of League that it wanted, it backed out and refused to endorse its own League, and left France with a League she did not want and did not believe in.
They all say, all the way around the world, that the greatest offense of all—and with this point I have great sympathy—is that this country never told the world why she did not endorse the League and go into it. Did you ever stop to think about that?
If we invite Germany to join the League, or the nations do, Germany will he expected, ethically and diplomatically, to make an answer, and to say whether she will or won't, and why. Now, the United States was a sort of charter member. She declined an invitation in a nice diplomatic envelope and, consequently, she has never made an answer, and the reason why it is so perplexing to the other parts of the world is that nobody knows here why this country did not join the League. The Senate does not know and nobody knows. We know that the Senate disagreed, we know what some Senators say was their reason, but we have never had a collective statement from the Senate as to why it disagreed, and if the Senate does not know and we do not know, then the world does not know, and it still stands with that offense. We have never told the world whether there were any conditions they could give us which would then persuade us to become a member of the League.
If the criticisms of other nations stopped here, we might bear it, but the truth is, they go further. When this country did not tell why it would not join the League, then the world puts its own interpretation upon the action of this country. The interpretation is that, when our Senators say the League is inimical to American interests, they ask, "What are those interests? America has some imperialistic ambition which is going to be checkmated by the League. That is the reason."
Now, before you self-righteous Americans—who think ourselves a great peaceful country, that never had any ambitions of aggression—laugh at what they say, listen: Our country has the most submarines of any country in the world; it has the most poisoned gas of any country in the world; it has the most airplanes of any country, except two, and those countries are in a position unlikely to attack us and we are building more with a view to catch up. Our navy has no other navy in the world its equal, and it, after the Washington conference, is of the same size.
It was said in the British parliament that while the British had cut down their army, the United States had extended hers. You will remember that Secretary Weeks denied that statement, and said that if the British had counted properly, it would not have said so. But afterwards the President of the League of Nations made the official statement that among the nations that had increased their army since 1914 was our own country.
They tell us that all the pacifists of the world have said that one thing more important than all else for the abolition of war was a complete control of the private traffic in arms, and it was proposed that the League of Nations should take that matter up. It drew up a treaty, the Treaty of Saint Germain. It was presented to the various nations. It was presented to our own. Our nation refused not only to sign it once but it refused to sign it twice. It may be well enough to say this was because it was a League of Nations Treaty. The fact remains that this country did not say, "We sympathize with the objects, and although we would not sign it, because it is a League treaty, nevertheless, we will cooperate to that end." It did not do it and, consequently, because we are, as a nation, a great producer of private arms, we have frustrated that international movement.
The South Americans say that the proposition of Chile and Argentine at Santiago to disarm the surplus of our Western Hemisphere was defeated by the efforts of the United States. They say that our country has reached out and raked in the weak Spanish republics, Haiti and San Domingo, which they say is unwarranted. They tell the world that we have made a protectorate of Nicaragua and nobody knows why.
Lastly, there is something more in the Great War, another new element came into it, and that was oil. Lord Curzon said that the Allies had floated to their victory on a wave of oil. When the British and the French and the Italians and Japanese divided up the spoils of war, they took good care to divide up the oilfields at that time. The United States was in the lead in oil, but after the war was over, it was discovered that our oilfields would be exhausted, and that in ten years, with the findings of Great Britain, Great Britain would be in possession of oil, whereupon there was a wild struggle on the part of our own government to get more oil. And as preparedness in the future may depend upon oil, we are classified there as among the leaders.
More than half the gold of the world is in the United States. Here we are. Is the world prepared for war? We refuse to unite in the League. Suppose we do refuse to unite in the Court? Then they have won more assurance that we have imperialistic ambitions, and this is what the world says of us.
Therefore, I say to you, perhaps this country will never join the League, perhaps it will never believe it its duty to do so, perhaps it will do none of these things. Well, then, it must take two horns of the dilemma. It will either go on drifting and preparing, as it is preparing, and it will become one of the competitors in tile world for greater preparedness; and because it stands out a great nation with men and women and resources, it will absolutely frustrate any attempts which otherwise might be successful on the part of the League to abolish war, or it can do something that is bigger and bolder and stronger than the League itself.
At present, no one has come forward with a proposition of that sort, and yet we must make some gesture before the world to prove that we are a peace nation, or we must consent to the position which the rest of the world assigns us in this military mania.
For my part, I would go further. I would not be intimidated by France. I would join an international commission, but I would have a far bigger purpose in it than advising about those reparations. This country has in its power to bring peace into the world, and there can be no peace so long as there is war on the Ruhr. It has the opportunity to maintain peace, if it would; when it has found what Germany and Austria can pay, then it has the power with those international debts.
They all say, "'We will never cancel those debts. No, why should we?" But, on the other side, they say, "We fought the war for two years before the United States came in, and we borrowed money in order to keep the war going, until the United States should get her men over to the other side. America could never have won that war if we had not stood steadfast." It was the money borrowed in America and paid to our own contractors for food and shoes and munitions that is the subject under discussion.
Now, all the economists say it will never be paid, it never can be paid. They say Germany can never pay her reparations, and yet all the world says, "France ought to have the repayment for the damages done." We hold the power in our hands. We can keep those debts hanging over the heads of the governments of Europe for the next sixty or one hundred years, and with it maintain the power of the big brother, if we will. But since we are not going to have it paid anyway, why do we not use it to bring peace?
We could say to the nations that owe us, "We will relieve you of that part of the debt which went to American contractors and which was used to maintain the war until we got there, provided you will relieve Germany of that much of her reparations, and Austria, provided Germany and Austria will give the proper guarantees that they will pay the rest of the reparations after they are relieved of this much."
We should not stop there, we should demand that every nation in Europe should give up conscription, that every nation in Europe should disarm, down to the point necessary for the police guardianship of the nation. We should demand these things and, by so doing, we should bring that peace. We should demand that France withdraw from the Ruhr.
There will be peace if we have backbone enough to do that. We would then say, "We are not afraid of the League, and we will go into it if you will take Germany and Mexico with us." Then we will have an international League that might sit on the problem of. "Now that we have gained peace, how may we maintain it?"
The question before America is, will we drift and be a part of the power that brings the next war, or will we assume a position of leadership in the world affairs and bring peace and keep it? It is not for Washington, it is not for the Republican party, it is for us—the people.