The League of Nations is fifteen years old today. All around the world its coming was hailed with joy by millions of men and women who accepted it as a sign that there would be no more war.
Alas! there were two facts the world forgot at that moment. First, when a nation proposes to enter war, certain primitive instincts are aroused among the people such as hatred, jealousy, scorn, suspicion, and distrust.
If its people are not sufficiently controlled by these low motives, it issues publicity aiming to bestir them. When the people regard the opponent as a bitterly despised enemy and a treacherous and dangerous member of society, the morale of the nation is ready for war. Those on the inside have said that it cost a million or more dollars to make this country war-minded before the World War. What is done to make one nation war-minded is also done by all its opponents and hate, bitter and menacing, is distributed through the world. This is a fact well known among all intelligent people.
The second fact, however, is not often remembered and that is that the hate and suspicion deliberately aroused for the war is still there when the war ends. There is little or no forgiveness and certainly "Love Thy Enemy" is not advice that is adopted at the end of a war. The conquered, dreams of revenge and the conqueror forgets mercy and regards the conquered with contempt.
As the World War was the largest and most destructive war in all history, it was inevitable that the period following the war would be filled with the usual symptoms many times intensified and multiplied.
New threats of war have been continuous since the Armistice.
The aim of the League of Nations, which is to end war, can only be carried out when the spirit of cooperation, goodwill, and the sincere wish for peace, pervades the world. Since the very opposite of these qualities has controlled the thought and action of every nation, it is a normal outcome that the League of Nations has disappointed some people who expected the millenium to appear instantly as a result of its birth.
The League is composed of nations. Its first and most important defect is that it is not composed of all nations. Before war ends, every nation in the world, including our own, must be a component part of the League. There can be no general disarmament, no cecession in the building of warships and no considerable reduction of armament by one nation. No nation is likely to feel safe should it announce itself a "conscientious objector" and throw away its war equipment. All nations, together, must unite to abolish war. It is well to understand that nice words many times obscure the reality of war. In plain words, war is the mobilization of young men, armed and trained, to kill other young men, also armed and trained, because older men have had a dispute. This does not sound civilized and it is not, but it is true. War is as certain to disappear from human customs as the sun is certain to rise tomorrow. Why wait?
Some people in every land think their country could get on without war, - their people are for peace, but no other nation can be trusted. There are Americans so minded. Our own nation is as sinful as most. For example, when Japan and the United States are having "conversations" over naval parity, how does our nation behave? An Admiral announces that the Naval Maneuvers will take place in the Pacific this summer and that the American Fleet gathered there will be "The greatest Armada ever seen", while over the fleet, it is reported, airplanes, like a nest of disturbed bumble bees, will dart here and there in numbers never witnessed before. This is provocative of suspicion. The Japanese will have their maneuvers in the Pacific also. The announced proceedings remind one of a cock fight, common in the Orient. That begins with maneuvers at close range also with a dead bird later.
If a nation has a Navy, it is for war purposes. Presumably, it must have maneuvers for training for war and if it has maneuvers,
it they must be on an ocean or gulf or bay. Japan has access to one ocean only also. We have two. Under the circumstances, a considerate psychology good manners would have taken our maneuvers to the Atlantic.
The nations now in the League are alarmed at the reported warlike talk and action of Germany and Japan, both of which, in a fit of temper, have withdrawn from the League. The certain remedy is for the United States to become a member of the League, persuade Germany and Japan to return and then talk things over. Give time enough to calm all ruffled tempers so that common sense can operate again and the way to eliminate war can and will be found. The League, with all the nations
sitting, considering, acting, together, is the only power that can end war. Before the last war is paid for and a complete recovery secured from its nerve-wracking aftermath, most of the world will want to end war. Let us join the League and put this barbarous institution beyond the pale of civilized nations.
Catt, C. C. (1935). Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: Speech and Article File, 1892-1946; Speeches; Untitled; 1928 to 1944. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mss154040425.