First Steps in Peacemaking
THE SENATE RIGHT MUST BE RECOGNIZED
By HENRY M. WRISTON, President of Brown University
Delivered at the War Service Meeting of the American Bankers Association, New York City, September 15, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 34, 36-41.
THERE is a marked contrast between the explicit nature of some phases of post-war planning and the nebulous character of others. The report of the National Resources Planning Board was concrete and detailed. In his address of July 28, President Roosevelt projected a six-point plan for demobilized soldiers and released a report discussing that issue. In the international field, also, we have some definite proposals which form the basis of public discussion with a view to crystallizing opinion. Three such have been published—the schemes for monetary stabilization, the draft agreement regarding relief and re-rehabilitation, and the master lend-lease agreement.
It will be observed that all these touch social and economic questions. When we examine the political field, there is nothing of comparable clarity or definiteness. It raises the question whether we are making adequate political preparations. The last peace conference in 1919, it has been said concentrated too heavily upon political questions and failed to deal sufficiently with economic and social problems. It would be no improvement merely to reverse the error this time; both need careful forethought. In a recent address, President Roosevelt said: "The same kind of careful planning that gained victory in North Africa and Sicily is required if we are to make victory an enduring reality and do our share in building the kind of peaceful world which will justify the sacrifices made in this war." Doubtless such political planning has been done, but the public cannot see the constructive consequences. This leads to irritating emphasis upon unfulfilled hopes, to recurrence of charges that, while policy is socially advanced, it is politically reactionary. It accentuates questions regarding our relationship to Russia. It adds to the fear that though we win the war, we may lose the peace.
The Atlantic Charter, the Four Freedoms, the United Nations Declaration do not fill the need for such forethought. They express general principles, but they can beaccepted without providing the observer with a political program for their realization. In the contest over specific implementation the principles can be lost. Unconditional surrender does not supply the void; it is essentially a military concept. While it opens the way for political action it gives no clue as to the nature of the program.
Public opinion needs something on political issues as explicit as the proposals on social and economic questions. It is not necessary to take "time out to define every boundary and settle every political controversy in every part of the world"; it is needful to make specific what we have expressed thus far only in terms of principle. If we can have a draft agreement on relief and rehabilitation, or on currency stabilization, we can have a draft treaty of peace so that public opinion can discuss tangible propositions.
This morning I propose to outline such a treaty. It is done with no hope of offering a solution to all political problems, but rather to explore a mode of procedure. We can think more clearly by approaching the problem concretely.
Four factors determine the form and structure of such a treaty. They are, first, the dimensions of the problem; second, the nature of a coalition; third, the variety of American opinion; and fourth, our constitutional peculiarity, arising from the special relationship of the Senate to foreign relations. All affect both the temper and method of the proposals. The temper is moderate; there is no effort to midwife a brave new world, and no attempt to revive a world that is dead. This draft seeks to clear the path to more freedom for today, and to give opportunity to organize a better tomorrow. It seeks to exploit whatever unity of thought now exists, and to avoid the extremes which divide men instead of drawing them together. The method is to reduce the treaty of peace to its basic essentials—leaving to subsequent treaties, agreements, or understandings whatever can best be handled by these other means.
Before outlining the specific terms of such a treaty, two of the limiting factors need discussion—the size of the problem, and the coalition war.
At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 an effort was made to wrap as much as possible in one package. Bulky as the treaty became, it could not comprise all the issues. Reparations were left out, the inter-allied debts, mandates and many other vital matters also were postponed. The Conference of Ambassadors functioned for nine years as a kind of continuing peace conference, and many special supplemental conferences were held. Nonetheless the peace negotiations at Paris comprised far too much. Partly it was the consequence of underestimating the task; Mr. Lloyd George had expected that three or four weeks of inter-allied discussions would make it possible to conclude the peace conference in a week! Partly the difficulty arose from indecision: statesmen started to frame a preliminary treaty and because of poor organization did not know when or how to stop; they went on to make a definitive treaty. Partly it was done by design: President Wilson insisted upon including the League of Nations Covenant. He wanted the whole pill swallowed at once, the bitter core with the sweetened coating. He hoped the Senate would accept unpalatable sections to achieve peace—much as a President sometimes signs a bill with a distasteful rider rather than jeopardize the whole legislation. Whether, in any circumstances, that is a sound procedure may be questioned. In any event Wilson failed, the memory of that failure is fresh and vivid in our political life. Certainly in the present temper of American politics the effort to include everything in one treaty or one great peace conference would be incredible folly.
This proposal for a basic treaty takes account of that bitter experience. At the end of every great war there are many treaties; in a war of this scope and duration there will be more than ever before. By making a peace treaty of limited scope, the over-all pattern can be set; thereafter the different phases need not be crowded into one unwieldy negotiation at one time or one place. The enormously complicated issues can be broken up and dealt with piecemeal at different times and places in the order of their urgency or significance, or as they are reduced to manageable proportions. The process is already under way, as the three agreements, already referred to, indicate. This method, if continuously pursued, will relieve statesmen of some of the pressures which became so intolerable in 1919. It avoids undue strain upon the ties of alliance. It also avoids indigestion of public opinion from swallowing too much of too many kinds all at once.
Lend-lease illustrates the point. The idea has been before the public a considerable tune. After it had won acceptance, the master agreement was negotiated with Article VII as its heart. It was not as explicit and clear-cut as desirable, but in diplomatic exchanges a first formulation seldom attains that objective. In his letter of August 25 transmitting the current lend-lease report to Congress, President Roosevelt said: "The Congress in passing and extending the Lend-lease Act made it plain that the United States wants no new war debts to jeopardize the coming peace. Victory and a secure peace are the only coin in which we can be repaid." Perhaps that is a trial balloon to test the reaction of Congress and the public to a more explicit interpretation. In that and other ways, democratic statesmanship will attempt to give opportunity for the crystallization of a real concensus of opinion. If our government is to act wisely and firmly, it must know mat the American people will support its commitments. It will move, as in this instance, step by step, openly instead of clandestinely. A democratic peace, therefore, must allow time for the public to understand the central issues; a basic peace treaty would establish anorm by which subsequent specific agreements could be tested.
The second limiting factor which shapes the present proposal arises out of the fact of coalition. Alliances are always imperfect unions. The United States should know that, for it has made no treaty of alliance since 1778. In the last war President Wilson would not even use the word; he always spoke of the United States as an associated, not an allied, power. It was a strange reservation on the part of the prophet of a united world, but it proved very significant, nonetheless. He entered upon the negotiations for an armistice in October, 1918 without conferring with our associates in the war; they were frantic with nervousness lest he commit them before any consultation. On the way to the Peace Conference, in a talk to the staff of the American peace commission, he emphasized our separatism and detachment.
There was an unconscious, but no less real, connection between that attitude and the fact that the United States ultimately made a separate treaty of peace. True, it was made after the fighting was over, but there can be no doubt that our repudiation of the tripartite treaty of guaranty with Britain and France, our failure to join the League and the Court, our absence from the Council of Ambassadors, and our disembodied presence as unofficial observers at supplementary conferences all helped destroy the solidarity of the peace. Today public discussion centers about the possibility of a "separate peace by one of our present associates. As that discussion proceeds, we should recall our own history. It is well to emphasize the fact, moreover, that though President Roosevelt uses the word "allies," we have no formal treaty of alliance such as that between Russia and Britain. Our status as an ally is distinctly limited; our commitments are more moral than legal.
In this war Russia occupies the separatist role which the United States assumed in the last war. Russia is now the associated power; it is not at war with all our enemies—specifically Japan. The relationship was highlighted by Prime Minister Churchill, broadcasting from the Citadel in Quebec, when he said, "It would not have been suitable for Russia to be represented at this Anglo-American conference, which . . . was largely . . . concerned with heating and inflaming the war against Japan, with whom the Soviet Government has a five-years treaty of non-aggression, it would have been an embarrassing invitation for us to send." It is no use to call this "one war" under such circumstances; we only deceive ourselves in so doing. A war of coalition is seldom "one war."
The difference between Russia and ourselves must be recognized, and neither exaggerated nor minimized. The divergence in point of view is old, and it runs deep; it cannot be cured or even concealed by a verbal formula. It will require time, patience, and wise statesmanship, for it stems from lack of confidence—on both sides. We have feared communism; we long refused recognition to the Soviets; our confidence was alienated by the failure of the Comintern to live up to the agreements of the government—Tweedledee insisted he was not Tweedledum. Again Winston Churchill's extraordinary candor clears the air. When Russia entered the war he accepted the new ally, but said explicitly that he withdrew none of his earlier criticisms. On the other side, Stalin intimated that Britain and France would gladly have embroiled Germany with Russia to escape war in the West; that was one reason for his fateful pact with Hitler in 1939. He did not open Pandora's box, but by that treaty he gave the Nazis leave to do so—with the classic result. When in our current discussion it is assumed (as it has seen stylish to do) that Stalin has always been correct in his judgments, this error should not be forgotten.
As Stalin calls for a second front Churchill does not vent his complaints and even reproaches." Nevertheless lie British Prime Minister recalls that "we once had a fine front in France, but it was torn to pieces . . . and it is easier to have a front pulled down than it is to build it up again." He did not need to remind Stalin that during that tragic debacle, Russia was despoiling Poland, the Baltic States, and Finland. It is no thanks to Stalin that Britain stands, that there is any springboard from which to launch an attack on Hitler from the West.
The United States has a very engrossing second front in the Far East. It constitutes so arduous an assignment as seriously to impair our capacity to establish a new front in Western Europe. But so sedulously does our ally avoid our second front that when our aviators are forced to land on Russian territory they are interned, and may not even fight our common enemy Hitler. We have another costly battleground on the Atlantic, against the submarine. From that war also our ally is absent, though victory in that sector is essential to the flow of lend-lease materials to Russia. It is also vital to the establishment of the particular second front Stalin demands. There is a second front in Italy, heavily depreciated by Russia until the Italians surrendered. That front, however, has shaken the political structure of the Axis to its foundations. In masses of troops it does not compare with the Russian front; communications and supply problems make that impossible. Nonetheless its political effect is immense. Italy has become an enemy to Hitler, whose Balkan allies are also groping for peace.
I mention these things not to denounce Russia, but solely to emphasize that mutual trust and confidence cannot be attained by wishful thinking. Stalin is a realist; it is no flattery to a realist to grow sentimental about him. Yet that has been the tone of a good deal of recent discussion. So far as we know them, several desires of Russia run counter to ours. Stalin apparently wants all the Baltic States, a sizable part of Poland, and territory in the Balkans. Policy touching Germany also contrasts with ours—he speaks plainly of leaving Germany partly armed; he does not look forward to complete unilateral disarmament. European federations, desired by some of the United Nations, were recently denounced in a Soviet organ, and particularly any federation of eastern Europe which might appear to be "leveled against the Soviet Union." The old fear of a cordon sanitaire dies hard.
We cannot overlook these divergencies of view. Russia will come to the end of the war with incomparably the biggest army in Europe. It may be flushed with triumph and a sense of having been the major factor in producing victory. It will have no Japanese war to liquidate; presumably we shall have that major problem. It will no longer need our lend-lease supplies; our leverage will be declining while Russia's bargaining position grows apace. It may be at its zenith when a peace conference assembles.
Russia is of vital importance to us in this war; at this moment we are of vital importance to Russia. We ought now to collaborate as fully as we can to win the war. Then we should work together as actively as possible to maintain the peace. But to expect history suddenly to be rolled back is absurd; to hope that differences so old and so profound can be glossed over is simply to fly in the face of reality. We should make up our minds, therefore, to draft the kind of peace that both can sign, minimizing and mitigating the differences. Then we must trust to time and skill for the solution of problems not yet capable of being mastered. That program would leave to separate settlement whatever can safely be left to that process. To some extent it would dissipate the immediate collisions of policy; to concentrate them into a sharp focus at a general peace conference might destroy the peace.
Russia's position dramatizes some of the influences of a coalition war upon the structure of a peace treaty. But its particular problems are not the only ones. A coalition war and a coalition peace mean uneven participation in the war and unequal interest in various aspects of the peace. This is one world, and a great nation like the United States has interests which touch every region, every crag and cranny in the round world. But it is obvious that while there is a universality of interest, it is of greatly varying intensity.
Pan-Americanism, recognized even by its critics as "one of the immutable principles of the foreign policy of the United States," is based on the assumption that no European power can have interests in this hemisphere either so extensive or so intensive as our own. That being so, we must recognize the corollaries—that Russia has a deeper stake in eastern Europe than we, China a livelier concern with the western Pacific, and Australia with the southern Pacific. Any other assumption is arrogant, however unconscious, imperialism. The peace treaty must not commit us greatly beyond our substantial interest—nor can we expect to exercise an influence greater than our stake. This strongly suggests that the treaty should be a kind of greatest common demoninator; it cannot cover all problems.
Local problems should be largely excluded and, within the framework of general principles, left to local settlement. That is the real significance of regionalism.
Regionalism, as a formula, has been badly overdone because it has been identified with institutions. But if we look at it less formally and institutionally it makes good sense. There has been far too much tendency to talk as though the world could be put together by the President and the Prime Minister or by a "big three" or a "big four." That will never do. If we are to have a peaceful world, the smaller nations must play a vital part. Because military might plays so dominant a role in war, we think of power as a peacetime measure of the importance of a nation. But Switzerland, Sweden and other small nations have much to teach us. Their wisdom is not measured by their might. They are properly jealous of their rights. This plan lets them settle their own affairs and deal with the matters which concern them most deeply.
There is a dispute between The Netherlands and Belgium with regard to the Scheldt; it is important that it should be settled. The precise nature of that settlement, however, is of no profound significance to us, and those who can best arrange it are The Netherlands and Belgium. A boundary dispute between Czechoslovakia and Poland is a threat to the peace of the world, but the line will be better drawn if they determine it and if we do not underwrite it They know that any such guaranty would become formal in the course of time, just as our underwriting of the prohibition upon German militarization of the Rhineland became meaningless. In many of these regional disputes, moreover, states now neutral have lively interests. Sweden, Turkey, and Switzerland cannot be neglected, but they should not be drawn into questions from which their neutrality properly excludes them.
The ultimate substance of regionalism is not a mass of formal federations such as Russia recently denounced. It is the steady and continuous-settlement of local questions by the powers immediately concerned, upon bases which the nations less intimately involved can approve and recognize. This means that there may be many treaties in the negotiation of which the United States might play a useful part as friend and counsellor. On the other hand the United States should not be a party, because formal participation would certainlylead to needless domestic difficulties. Moreover it might make us a major partner where we have minor interest, which eventually means instability. Our good offices are more valuable than our bargaining power in situations in which we do not have a substantial interest.
Dividing the task of settlement is more realistic in another way. The solutions of various problems do not all have an equal finality. There must be room for change. If there is not free opportunity for peaceful change, then changes will surely be warlike. When too many questions are rolled into one vast treaty structure, it tends to lend equal finality to all solutions. Then any small break imperils the whole fabric—as each violation of the Versailles system weakened the entire structure.
We have seen two limiting factors—the dimensions of the problem and the fact of coalition. The other two—domestic opinion and the Senate's powers—may be left for discussion after examining the draft treaty.
Doubtless the thought has occurred to you: does anything remain for inclusion in this basic agreement? What is left is a separate treaty between each of the Axis powers upon the one hand and all the United Nations at war with it upon the other. That is not a novel proposal; it was the procedure followed at the Paris Conference. While we usually speak of the Versailles Treaty as the one which ended the World War, it dealt only with Germany. Austria's treaty was signed at St. Germain; Hungary's at the Trianon; Bulgaria's at Neuilly; and Turkey's at Sevres and later at Lausanne.
Each peace treaty should resolve the major issues between all the United Nations and one of the defeated powers, but not the differences among the United Nations themselves. It should settle matters in outline rather than detail, leaving time and circumstance to work out the particulars. It would be a dictated peace; the United Nations would negotiate it among themselves, and the treaty would be presented to the enemy as the terms of peace. It should provide as harsh treatment as the enemy is ever to receive, allowing for subsequent mitigation if and when it becomes justified—as a prison term may be shortened by good behavior.
On one point of procedure it should follow exactly the opposite pattern from 1919. President Wilson refused to make an armistice, much less sign a treaty, with the Kaiser's government. He made revolution a prerequisite. The effect was to put the humiliation of a hard peace upon the successor government, not the perpetrators of the war. This treaty should bear the signature of Adolf Hitler and the Chief of the German General Staff. Mussolini should be brought from his retirement for his signature beneath that of the king. Let the authors of the war admit defeat. Revolution will follow, no need to worry about that. But if at all possible, let the successor government escape the opprobrium of surrender.
Each treaty should be brief enough and clear enough so that every citizen can read it and understand it. Such was the draft in preparation for Secretary of State Lansing before the Paris Conference; such, also, was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by which Germany made peace with the Bolsheviks in 1918. In preparing this draft I made the arbitrary assumption that it should not be longer than the Constitution of the United States. The outlines might be as follows:
Article I. Peace is restored.
This clause has sweeping legal effects in both domestic and international law. It is modeled upon the Treaty of Bucharest of 1886—a classic of brevity, for this was its only provision ; all other matters at issue were settled by unilateral action by each of the powers involved.
Article II. Germany shall evacuate all occupied territory and demobilize all armed forces; all warships, all airplanes, all war material shall be immediately surrendered to the United Nations. All waters controlled by Germany shall promptly be cleared of every hostile device, and all defensive works on land destroyed. The whole operation shall be under the supervision of the United Nations, which may occupy part or all Germany for such time as may seem to them desirable.
This is as near unconditional surrender as it is possible to get. It fulfills the eighth provision of the Atlantic Charter: "Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea, or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, . . . pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, the disarmament of such nations is essential." Complete unilateral disarmament of the enemy, moreover, contains no inferential promise of any like action on our part, such as bedeviled the Versailles Treaty. It should be observed that this goes beyond present Russian desires.
Article III. The boundaries of Germany shall be those of January 30, 1933.
That cancels every Hitlerite gain. It resists a natural temptation to dismember Germany. There can be no question that many plans for reducing the size of Germany have been considered—lopping off the Rhineland, taking away the Saar, giving East Prussia to Poland, and so on. One by one they appear to have been abandoned, not through tenderness to Germany, but because they would lay foundations for new irredentisms and future war. We want no more Alsace-Lorraines. We do well to remember that after Poland had thrice been partitioned and was "abolished" for over a century, it still lived on. We should not attempt the impossible.
This decision is based on one other fundamental assumption—that the best boundary is a fixed boundary. As Colonel House said after weary experience, "To create new boundaries is to create new troubles." A completely satisfactory boundary is a rarity; there are very few in all the world that cannot be challenged upon some ground—strategic, geographic, economic, linguistic, ethnographic or cultural. Most can be criticized on several bases.
To take away territory from one nation as "punishment," or to add it to another as "reward" or "compensation," gives the color of support to the right of conquest, the abolition of which is vital to the peace of the world. To parcel out conquests also looks like contravention of the self-denying promise of the Atlantic Charter to "seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other." This peace should have no tincture of bad faith; where the Atlantic Charter has made a promise, it should be scrupulously—even meticulously—observed if at all possible. We want no recurrence of the charge that Germany surrendered on the basis of the Fourteen Points and that the treaty abandoned them.
Article IV. All German colonies and mandates shall be transferred to the United Nations, who will determine their future status.
This clause is not relevant in the case of Germany; it is inserted as a model for use in treaties with Italy and Japan. There is no single, simple, over-all solution to the colonial problem.
Article V. Germany agrees that all its treaties, laws, regulations, port dues, tariffs, inspection methods, charges of every kind, and foreign exchange controls shall as to the rest of the world be uniform and equal, without any discrimination, difference, or preference, direct or indirect.
Germany shall immediately reveal all existing treaties, agreements, and understandings; any which are inconsistent with the first paragraph of this Article shall become inoperative forthwith. All future treaties, agreements and understandings are to be made public immediately.
This is based in part upon a draft article prepared 25 years ago for Secretary Lansing. It is calculated to implement, on the part of Germany, the fifth principle of the Atlantic Charter: "To bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security." And it is designed to harmonize German policy with the temper of Article VII of the master lend-lease agreement. It is intended to put an end to the kind of ruthless economic imperialism which gave Hitler some of his easiest and cheapest victories.
Article VI. Germany shall restore all tangible property, of whatever sort, to its rightful owners.
All merchant ships shall be delivered to the United Nations for immediate use, without compensation to Germany, in the distribution of food, clothing, medical supplies, and other necessities to the inhabitants of the territories occupied by Germany and to such others as the United Nations may determine. The ships may subsequently be delivered to nations in compensation for shipping destroyed by Germany, or they may be returned to Germany at the discretion of the United Nations.
Germany shall deliver to the Bank for International Settlements, as trustee for the United Nations, all publicly or privately held evidences of ownership or of debt of all properties located outside the Reich as it existed on the thirtieth day of January, 1933; any compensation to its citizens shall be at the expense of Germany.
Germany shall also deliver to the Bank for International Settlements as trustee for the United Nations, clear title, free of debt, to all properties within the Reich, any part of which was owned on September 1, 1939 by persons of other than German nationality.
Reparations are a bugaboo. One would think that after the last experience no temptation to excess would remain. Yet the demand for reparations is rising in many countries. These provisions are designed to get what can be gotten promptly, to acquire the German patents in the hands of Swiss holding companies, and to recover what has been stolen or bought with printing-press money.
Article VII. Germany agrees to cease and refrain from all agitation and propaganda against the governments or the public institutions of other countries.
Germany agrees to provide freedom of access to news and its unhampered exchange domestically and internationally.
The first paragraph of this Article is based upon the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk forced upon Russia by Germany in 1918. The second is designed for the enlightenment of the German people through one of the Four Freedoms.
Article VIII. Germany shall release all prisoners of war and pay all costs of their return to their homes.
Article IX. Germany agrees to an immediate and definitive end to every kind of personal discrimination against Jews, other minorities and foreign workers. All persons under restraint, detained or imprisoned for political reasons shall be released and assisted to re-establish themselves. Foreign workers shall be free of all compulsion and each permitted to settle in the country of his choice, at the cost of Germany.
Article X. Germany accepts responsibility for the repatriation, at its own expense, of all German nationals dwelling outside the Reich who desire to be repatriated, or who are expelled by any signatory power.
Germany also agrees to the principle and practice of the exchange of populations under United Nations direction, all the costs to be borne by Germany. This is the most radical provision of the draft treaty, but it is the least radical solution of a crucial issue. The Paris Peace Conference gave Europe the best set of boundaries it ever had, but no boundary can prevent minorities, and treaties for the protection of minorities notably failed. An exchange of minorities achieves the purpose. At the end of the last war plebiscites to determine boundaries made infinite trouble. The exchange of Greeks and Turks, on the other hand, produced a satisfactory solution. Admittedly this is hard on those who are to be moved—but neither so hard on them or upon the rest of us as periodic wars.
This exchange of population is a large order. It would mean moving at least five million persons. Before we set that down as hopelessly large, let us bring it into perspective. Early in this century as many as two million persons emigrated from Europe each year, at their own expense and without government assistance. Within the United States there was an annual shift of population of very large proportions. The Germans, during this war, have transferred or colonized perhaps three million people. The problem, therefore, while serious, is not insoluble.
Of all times in history this is the most favorable moment. Enormous numbers of persons in the regions most vitally affected have been dispossessed by the ravages of war. The present dislocation of population through mobilization, labor migration, military occupation and population transfers runs to well over one hundred million people. This proposal would involve a number only five per cent as large. Drastic as this solution seems at first sight, in the long view it is probably the least costly and the most humane.
Article XI. Germany shall deliver to the United Nations for trial and punishment, under procedures to be established by the United Nations, all Germans accused of violence or crimes committed during the war in violation of law or human rights.
To this we are fully committed. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that Articles 228, 229 and 230 of the Versailles Treaty provided for this; a list of nearly a thousand was drawn up, and a few were tried, some were convicted and then escaped. The Kaiser was to be hung—but The Netherlands granted him asylum. We have warned neutrals against furnishing places of refuge, but their reception of the admonition was not favorable. They may be right. The woodchopper of Doom was an unimpressive figure. For twenty years he had not a word to say and left no legacy of ideas. Those futile years revealed his impotence when stripped of the glitter and bombast of his regal setting. Perhaps Hitler dead might be a more romantic figure in future German history than Hitler alive and set to work forever hanging paper on peeling walls.
Article XII. Pending a definitive agreement between the United Nations and Germany, full authority to issue and to take all measures to control the currency of Germany is vested in an Economic Commission to be appointed by the United Nations.
Article XIII. Germany agrees, if invited, to participate in regional or world organizations which may hereafter be established, upon such terms and conditions as may be defined by the United Nations at any time within a period of five years.
This secures Germany's adherence, if we want her, to any future organization; it does not commit the United Nations —or any of them—to any specific international organization. After the experience of the last war no proposal to embody a new association of nations within the treaty could possibly succeed. At the present moment public opinion is far from clear as to what kind of organization is desirable. We seem to be moving empirically through alliance and the United Nations framework. Winston Churchill suggested developing a structure on this foundation. It is not a "plan," but it may be a practical procedure.
Article XIV. Agreements among the United Nations shall implement this treaty.
Article XV. Upon ratification of this treaty, an armistice shall be effective in each theatre of war as proclaimed by the commander of the United Nations forces.
The last two articles open up the whole question of the constitutional position of the Senate. It will be observed that there is no armistice, no cessation of fighting until the treaty is ratified. That is not a trick; it is designed to cure one of the great evils of American foreign relations, and it is based upon sound historical precedent.
Nothing so inhibits our negotiators, nothing leads other nations to be so reluctant to make commitments with the United States as the fear that the Senate will not consent to ratification. Clemenceau yielded many points in exchange for the tripartite treaty of guaranty. When the Senate repudiated that, he had made his concessions without compensation. He lost the presidency of France, and retired in bitterness.
Historically, treaties of peace have had especially hard sledding. The Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo which concluded the War with Mexico had a rough passage in the Senate during a period of fifteen days. Three articles were eliminated and two others were altered. A number of amendments were considered and ultimately excluded. Only after this was advice and consent to ratification obtained.
When the treaty of peace at the end of the Spanish War was laid before the Senate it was the subject of debate for over a month and was approved with only two votes to spare. Senator Lodge said while it was under consideration, "I cannot think calmly of the rejection of this Treaty by a little more than one-third of the Senate. It would be a repudiation of the President and humiliation of the country in the eyes of the whole world, and would show we are unfit as a nation to enter into great questions of foreign policy." When the fight was over, he exclaimed: "It was the closest, hardest fight I have ever known, and probably we shall not see another in our time in which there was so much at stake."
The world has special reason to be hesitant now, for since the Washington Conference no treaty of large political importance has been accepted by the Senate. Despite the difficulties, we do not want to evade the Constitution. I think most American citizens would be glad to see the Constitution amended to provide for ratification of a treaty by a simple majority in both houses of Congress. But the likelihood that such an amendment could be adopted in wartime is slender. It would be so obvious an abdication of function that the Senate would probably lack the political courage toyield such powers even if most senators thought it wise andthat is doubtful.
There is, however, one kind of treaty the Senate would accept. Article I of the separate treaty with Germany at the end of the last war stated: "The United States shall have and enjoy, all the rights, privileges, indemnities, reparations or advantages . . . stipulated for the benefit of the United States in the Treaty of Versailles . . . notwithstanding the fact that such Treaty has not been ratified by the United States." When Senator Lodge, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee introduced the treaty, he said, "We secure every advantage. . . . We are left absolutely free in regard to assuming any obligations."
In a like manner the draft treaty I have described is unilateral in its obligations, it lays burdens upon the enemy, it confers powers upon us, but makes no heavy commitments for the future. Personally I should like to see us agree to accept responsibilities correlative with our position of power; but this draft does not represent my idea of the best kind of peace; it is an exploration of method. It seeks to achieve some ends which are almost undebatable. We shall have to seek other desirable ends by a harder process. The treaty would clear the decks.
This draft provides that the political settlement should precede the armistice. Far from being a novel proposal, that is actually the normal procedure. Many times in our history the political settlement has been made before fighting stopped. At the end of the Revolution the preliminary treaty was negotiated before an armistice; in the wars with the Barbary States treaties were regularly negotiated before ending hostilities; at the end of the War of 1812 the definitive treaty was ratified before fighting Ceased; in the Mexican War the general in command was instructed to proclaim an armistice only after Mexico had ratified the treaty; in the Spanish War the bases of peace were set out in a protocol before an armistice ; and in the World War by an exchange of notes. All sought the same end, the means varied only in procedural detail. This treaty simply follows the basic idea of all those precedents, and selects the most appropriate and successful among those methods.
The specific provision that there be no armistice until ratification is based upon unimpeachable American historical precedent. When peace negotiations were undertaken during the War of 1812, a first draft of Article I of the Treaty of Ghent provided that "all hostilities, both by sea and land, shall immediately cease." But the British commissioners, aware of the Senate's functions, inserted the words "after the exchange of ratifications." In its final form, the Article read: "All hostilities, both by sea and land, shall cease as soon as this treaty shall have been ratified by both parties." The treaty reached Washington late in the evening of February 14, 1815 and was considered at a Cabinet meeting that same night. The next day, in a message to the Senate, President Madison said, "The termination of hostilities depends upon the time of the ratification of the treaty by both parties. I lose no time, therefore, in submitting the treaty to the Senate for their advice and approbation." The Senate read the treaty, reviewed the instructions of the envoys at Ghent and examined their correspondence with the Department of State, and then voted advice and consent to ratification unanimously on February 16. On February 17, 1815 ratifications were duly exchanged.
Here was an instance where the power of a minority indefinitely to obstruct was fairly checkmated, and yet there was no attempt to by-pass the Constitution. The treaty was of such dimensions that it could be quickly read and easily understood. Prolonged debate meant needlessly prolonging the fighting; the procedure provided both fair consideration and promptitude.
It is a sound historical precedent. In that instance we were giving assurance to our enemy that cessation of fighting really meant peace. In this instance we should be giving assurance to our allies that they are not asked to agree to something, to make concessions to our desire, only to have the whole business repudiated. The world must gain confidence that we will support our commitments—not momentarily, but steadily and faithfully. One European statesman, very popular in America, asked bluntly, "Are you going toleave another baby on our doorstep and run away again?"
There is every reason to believe senators will agree that the proposed procedure is fair. Though it seems evident that the Senate will not yield its right to advise and consent to ratifications, it clearly does not want again to take the responsibility for destroying the structure of peace by a minority vote. Nor does the Senate want to take responsibility for delay so protracted as to be even worse than killing the treaty outright.
Having freely and fully recognized the right of the Senate, we may give attention to Article XIV which provides implementation by agreements, not by treaties. This also is based upon sound precedent and established practice. The employment of executive agreements is almost as old as the Government of the United States. They have covered many matters and often those topics have been indistinguishable from the subject matter of treaties. In at least one class of agreements they were first regarded as treaties and subsequently, without protest on the part of anyone, as executive agreements. In some instances they have even been called "treaties"—postal treaties, for example—though they were executive agreements. One executive agreement was approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, though it was not a treaty. One executive agreement is printed in the official treaty series of the Department of State. In one instance the same instrument is regarded as an agreement by the United States and as a treaty by the other party.
Their scope is wide, and their bases varied. Executive agreements have been predicated upon presidential control of foreign relations. There are many such instances. Sometimes these agreements have had inferential Congressional approval by subsequent appropriations to implement them. Executive agreements have also been based upon statutes and joint resolutions of Congress. As the Supreme Court said in a notable decision (the United States vs. Curtiss-Wright): "Practically every volume of the United States Statutes contains one or more acts or joint resolutions of Congress authorizing action by the President in respect of subjects affecting foreign relations, which either leave the exercise of the power to his unrestricted judgment, or provide a standard far more general than that which has always been considered requisite with regard to domestic affairs."
As early as 1912 (the United States vs. Altman & Co.) the Supreme Court held that an executive agreement, even though no ratification was voted by the Senate, "was an international compact, negotiated between the representatives of two sovereign nations and made in the name and on behalf of the contracting countries. . . . If not technically a treaty requiring ratification, nevertheless it was a compact authorized by the Congress of the United States, negotiated and proclaimed under the authority of its President."
Executive agreements have also been founded upon the authority of a treaty—as in this proposal. A whole series of such agreements, extending from 1916 to 1934, were based upon a treaty with Haiti made in 1915; the treaty authorized implementation by "agreement with the President of the United States." That instance is by no means unique.
No one—neither the Supreme Court, nor Congress, nor the executive—has ever drawn a sharp, clear, differentiating definition which puts executive agreements on one side and treaties on the other. From the standpoint of a lexicographer this may appear to be confusion; in the art of government we call it flexibility. In settling a war of these dimensions we shall need all the suppleness our constitutional procedure allows—and it is ample. This proposal to implement the peace treaty by agreements involves no strain upon the Constitution. It merely employs an old instrument firmly established in our constitutional practice.
The prerequisite for its effective utilization is a spirit of mutual confidence. We seem on the way to achieve that. There was fear in Congress that the Senate was to be bypassed. It was suggested that an effort might be made to diffuse the settlement, and, in effect, to conceal it in such a vast number of specific agreements, understandings, commitments, legislative resolutions, laws and treaties that the total pattern would not be clear. The peace might, so to speak, be "put over" on Congress and the people.
The publication of the draft agreement regarding relief and rehabilitation brought the matter to an open issue. It produced a vigorous passage at arms between the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and the Secretary of State who had asserted that "participation in the establishment of this United Nations administration should be through an executive agreement." The stage was set for a constitutional struggle between the Senate and the Executive.
To avoid a direct clash there were conversations between a sub-committee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and officers of the State Department. Let us ardently hope they make at least a preliminary treaty of peace between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Sometimes when I hear the clamor for the President to go to the ends of the earth to meet with Joseph Stalin, I feel it would be useful if he could arrange a conference with Tom Connally. At all events there is reason to believe that the Senate will be content if, by unequivocal action, it is given the opportunity to adopt the formal treaty of peace, and will view with relief the opportunity for that treaty to be implemented, supplemented, and realized by legislation and by executive agreements authorized by the treaty itself or approved by appropriations or by other legislative action. The Senate has no desire to be merely an instrument of obstruction.
It is good to have this issue thrashed out now and the atmosphere cleared. No one can seriously believe there has been any intention to "put over" a peace settlement. It would be a self-defeating manoeuvre. Assuming that a series of diplomatic tricks achieved a kind of fait accompli, such a jerry-built peace would go to pieces in short order. Both our allies and our enemies would recognize its furtive techniques and would know that the process was inherently unstable. Public opinion here at home would repudiate it overwhelmingly.
Finally, this draft treaty was drawn in the consciousness that a national election is approaching. The treaty may be negotiated in the midst of a political campaign. It may be framed by one party and carried out by another. The minority when it is signed will, under the pendulum action of politics, almost inevitably be the majority at some later time. If ever there was a moment to heed the aphorism, "politics should stop at the water's edge," this is the moment. Everything should be done to unite us, nothing needlessly to divide. This draft commits us neither to the international sentimentalists with their dreams of milk and honey nor to the hard-shell isolationists with their blind prejudices. It leaves the way open for public opinion to mature step by step.
To summarize: such a treaty reveals the political implications of unconditional surrender; it makes separate treaties with each enemy as it is detached from the Axis; it removes the blockade and makes possible the prompt feeding of the populace; it excludes the enemy from discussion of interallied problems; it leaves to bilateral or group settlement problems of limited scope; it gives time for the slower, piecemeal solution of many problems. Domestically it can be supported by persons of many shades of political opinion; it makes possible prompt assent of the Senate at the most favorable moment; it implements the treaty with the most flexible of all our diplomatic instruments.