National Geographic : 1919 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE the rules of international law or those of decency, moral conduct, and good form. What we propose in the League is merely to give a sanction to such rules of inter national law and decency and moral con duct and good form by providing machin ery of international courts of justice and conciliation such as to bring needed pres sure to bear on the lawless members of the community of nations, so that they shall keep within the law. A PROTECTION AGAINST THE FOOTPADS AMONG NATIONS This is in analogy to our domestic courts of justice and our instrumental ities for conciliation in domestic commu nities. It is not an impairment of sover eignty. It merely stabilizes the sover eignty of every nation by enabling the great and small nations equally to enjoy the benefits of international law without maintaining armed forces to secure their rights, to prevent murder and robbery, and to drive off the footpads among the nations, as travelers and householders of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had to go armed always to protect them selves. It is to protect the sovereignty of the smaller nations and to relieve the greater nations from the burden of their self protection that the League of Nations is to be formed. In the sense in which the word sover eignty is used in this objection, every treaty restricts the sovereignty of a na tion. Every time it agrees to do any thing, it binds itself and its freedom of action, and in this extreme definition of the word the League of Nations would be a limitation upon the sovereignty of the countries entering into it. A BUGABOO TO BE DISREGARDED BY SERIOUS MEN But in the true, broad, and liberal sense, sovereignty is a matter of degree, and where a nation retains complete free dom of action within its borders and only yields by its consent to regulations for the maintenance of the principles of mo rality and international law to be sanc tioned by an association of nations, it does not yield its sovereignty at all. The argument is a mere bugaboo and ought not to attract the support of serious men. The final objection is that in entering into such a treaty we would be violating the traditions of Washington and Jeffer son, sacredly followed down to this war, to avoid entangling alliances in Europe or in Asia. We have been able to live until the last four years and keep out of European wars, but this war has developed clearly that no general European war could hap pen again without involving the United States. This country, with its enormous re sources, would be resorted to by all bel ligerents for food, ammunition, and war supplies, and this participation by the United States in the essential mainte nance of the war will always put her in opposition to one country or the other and create a friction that ultimately will drive her into the contest, if it lasts long enough. THE ATLANTIC OCEAN DOES NOT SEPARATE The Atlantic Ocean is not a separation from Europe. It is a means of communi cation and transportation. In Washington's and Jefferson's day we were a month or six weeks from Eu rope. Now it is but a week in transpor tation and but a few minutes in point of communication. We are the greatest nation in the world: greatest in population of a high average intelligence, greatest in natural resources, and greatest, as we have shown in France, in our potential military power. This power enjoins upon us the obligation to the rest of the world to do our share in keeping the peace. It is a very narrow view of our inter national duty which would prevent our keeping the rest of the world out of the danger of war. We are no longer a small struggling nation of four millions of people, as we were in the early part of the last cen tury, but we are now the world's great est power, and we should not wish to avoid the responsibility which that entails upon us.