The San Francisco Conference
ARE THE OBJECTIVES PROGRESSIVE OR REACTIONARY?
By FELIX MORLEY, President, Haverford College, Haverford, Pa.
Delivered before the Chamber of Commerce, Youngstown, Ohio, April 26, 1945
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 461-466.
MEN whose fortune it is to live in periods when history is made should be particularly interested in the lessons of history. Those lessons are helpful reminders that civilizations rise and flower and fall; that nations come and go; but that individual men go on thinking, Seating, building—regardless of military destruction and Political changes. Those lessons also warn us that the hour of victory is as vital as it is brief, and that the making of a peace can destroy the conqueror as surely as it can destroy the conquered.
There have been many more indecisive than decisive wars. Of those which our country has fought, prior to the present conflict, only one was really decisive—and that was the Civil War, settling for all time the issue of secession from the Union and—almost incidentally—the issue of human slavery in this country. Do I surprise you by suggesting that theWar of Independence was not decisive? If you think otherwise you must explain why, twice in a quarter of a century, we went to war with Germany as soon as it became apparent that Britain could not win without our aid. All those who say that we could not let Germany, or Russia, or any other power destroy Great Britain suggest simultaneously that on July 4, 1776, we declared a nominal rather than a real independence from the Mother Country. In future, however, Britain may well be our dependency, rather than the other way round.
But the present war, which started in August 1914 and in the early stages of which some of us here in this room tonight saw service, is destined to be a decisive war, much as the Punic Wars, between Rome and Carthage, were decisive. For something over a century those great empires—the Britain and the Germany of their day—fought, with intervals of uneasy peace, until Carthage was utterly crushed, its majestic capital destroyed, its cities razed, its colonies annexed and its status as an independent nation eliminated. The victory was complete—but Rome, and indeed all Italy, never recovered from that triumph. There are those who will tell you that Great Britain, similarly, will never recover from the successful outcome of its generation of war with Germany. Certain it is that the two great giants of the postwar world—Russia and the United States—have achieved that status largely because of Europe's suicide.
Just as this war and the last will, a century hence, be regarded as a single historical episode, so the effort to form an effective international organization will then be seen as a continuous effort, and let us hope one that the future can declare successful. The great conference which convened at San Francisco yesterday is not an isolated experiment and, for all its importance, it must not be regarded as unique. All the rich experience of Geneva is available, both as guidance and as warning, for the assembled delegates of the United Nations. Again, let us hope that we may profit from the lessons of human experience.
I can see no essential reason why the techniques of peacemaking should not be as progressive as are those of military science. Between the two phases of the great Anglo-German war, which has utterly ruined Germany and greatly weakened Britain, there was steady advance in the destructive quality of every instrument of war-making. During the past five years that progress has been maintained and accelerated.
There is no comparison between the bombing plane of today and that of 1918. The development of the tank has been scarcely less spectacular. Some very efficient weapons, like the rocket bomb, and such new devices of military use as radar were not even anticipated when the Kaiser capitulated. We can be reasonably sure, moreover, that advance in destructiveness will be continued. Should there be a Third World War, after some such interval as the fifty years which separated the second from the third and final Punic War, we may be sure that its weapons would excel those of today, in power of annihilation, to at least the degree that the devices now in operation excel those of 1917-18.
In the art of peace-making there is no such automatic advance. The applications of physics and chemistry, and fortunately biology also, proceed in a progressive sequence, so that each new model of a war machine is a little more efficient in destruction, a little more effectively murderous in operation, than was its predecessor. For those who read history the lessons of political science are no less clear than are those of natural science to the skilled technician. But, for some reason which I find inexplicable, when it comes to building for peace we are not eager to make use of what we know.
Does it not seem strange to you, for instance, that in select ing our delegation for the San Francisco conference we should have chosen a group whose members without exception had no close experience with the League of Nations, while carefully excluding a man like Herbert Hoover, who at one time was attacked on the grounds that he had been too much interested in international organization to be a good President of the United States! Many of you gentlemen manufacture instruments of war and on your efforts the success of our arms depends. None of you would hire technicians because they were of your political party, or exclude competent engineers because they don't belong to your lodge or college fraternity. Unfortunately we have let personalities affect our planning of permanent peace. And that is I major reason why prospects at San Francisco are a good deal less rosy than O. W. I. and State Department propaganda have led many to believe.
During the heyday of the League of Nations I spent three years at Geneva, from 1928 to 1931, in the course of which I studied its organization and procedures very closely, even writing that book on the subject of its constitutional development to which your chairman has graciously referred. So tonight, because I am sure it is vital for any constructive consideration of the San Francisco conference, I want briefly to summarize what I think were the major weaknesses leading to the collapse of the Geneva experiment. I am certain that every student of the League of Nations, regardless of his nationality, would agree with the criticisms that I arc going to make, though some would doubtless put more emphasis on one point and less on another. And if these criticisms are valid it follows that, in building the new World Organization, care should be taken to insure that the grave errors of the past are avoided. You will see, as we turn from the lessons of the League to the Dumbarton Oaks formula, that in some cases we seem to be learning from experience, and in others to be ignoring it completely.
Of course the League of Nations did not fail wholly, or even primarily, because of the constitutional defects which I am going to outline. The League as constituted achieved a great deal—just as much as the governments of the member-States wanted it to achieve. Had there been a firm will among these governments to prevent the successive aggressions of Japan, of Italy, and of Germany, those aggressions could have been checked. The will—and nowhere more so than here in the uncooperative United States—was far more deficient than the machinery at Geneva. As the Black Market teaches us, all the machinery of government will not make rules work if people lack faith in those rules and do not wish to observe them.
Faith in the idea, and in the ideals, of international organization was lacking at Geneva, and is the first prerequisite at San Francisco. And by faith in international organization I mean not merely willingness to pray for success but actually demonstrated a willingness to see applied to ourselves the same procedures which we are willing to apply to others. It is not enough to be physically prepared to police other people whom we have good reason to regard as aggressors. We must also be spiritually prepared to be policed by other people who might have equally good reason to regard us as aggressors. If we insist on being Judges in our own Cause we have not dropped isolationism for internationalism, but for imperialism. And imperialism does not eliminate war. It breeds war.
This matter of putting oneself, or one's nations, above the law deserves our very careful consideration, partly because nothing rankles in the human heart more than that type of injustice and partly because it is an Anglo-Saxon characteristic to believe that we are qualified to make laws, in our own interest, which we think others should be happy to obey. Speaking in sweeping generalities, it has been the Teutonpractice arrogantly to assert superiority, and the Anglo-Saxon practice blandly to assume it. An illustration is Kipling's famous line about the "lesser breeds without the law," meaning those peoples whose allegedly natural inferiority makes them proper subjects of the Empire, destined to be content in the station to which God has called them, in the revealing phraseology of the Church of England prayer book.
Another illustration, closer home, is the manner in which, having ourselves finally discarded neutrality as a cardinal doctrine of our foreign policy, the Roosevelt Administration assumed that all other traditional neutrals must forthwith follow the course which we had decided to be desirable for ourselves. This infuriating characteristic has led to such anomalies as the exclusion of Switzerland, which provided land, hospitality and ardent support for the old League of Nations, from the San Francisco deliberations. The offense of Switzerland is that it would not prove itself a "peace-loving nation"—according to our definition of such—by hastily abandoning its long-established neutrality and entering a war in which, for over two years, we ourselves insisted on being neutral.
We were resolute in telling the Swiss that they must break commercial relations with Germany because the latter proved itself an aggressor. Would we take it in good part if the Swiss should urge Russia to break relations with us if we should think it desirable to land marines in Nicaragua? If so, then we can with a clear conscience say that at San Francisco we are working for honorable and promising international organization—not for a phony. As Cordell Hull so well expressed it in his inspiring message to the conference: "That structure must be built upon the foundations of law, justice and fair dealing.
But I should get on with my consideration of those deficiencies in the Covenant—or Constitution—of the League of Nations which must not be duplicated at San Francisco, if we are to see progress in the making of peace comparable with that which we have so disastrously achieved in the waging of war.
The Covenant of the League contained four major faults, both implicit and explicit, which cumulatively were in large part responsible for the inability of the organization to prevent aggression. These faults were general and permeating, rather than specific and limited to particular Articles in the organic Act. The first of the faults was Psychological in nature, rooted in the fact that the Covenant was made an integral part of a set of punitive Treaties forcibly imposed by a group of victorious powers over a group of vanquished powers.
When we condemn those Senators who in 1919 opposed ratification of the Treaty of Versailles we should remember that some of them, at least, were not opposed to international cooperation, but reasonably disliked the fact that they could not vote for membership in the League of Nations without indorsing a so-called Peace Treaty in which the far-sighted could readily discern the seeds of another war. It is true that we refused membership in the League of Nations. But it is equally true that we refused to be parties to a treaty which contained the germs of the present war.
Let me remind you of a penetrating observation made over 250 years ago by the great English philosopher John Locke, who wrote the original Constitution for the colony which is now North and South Carolina, whose thinking greatly influenced Thomas Jefferson and unquestionably shaped our Declaration of Independence, In his Second Treatise of Civil Government, published in 1690, Locke considers the right of a victorious nation to impose conditions on a vanquished power. He asks—I quote—"whether promises, extorted by force, without right, can be thought
consent, and how far they bind." And Locke concludes: "they bind not at all." So one may argue that it was in the best tradition of our political thought for the Senate to reject a treaty exacted from Germany under duress, though unfortunately that rejection involved simultaneous repudiation of membership in the League of Nations.
Let me guard against possible misinterpretation of the important point I seek to make. I am not saying that the Treaty of Versailles was undesirably rigorous. Viewed retrospectively, there is reason for arguing that Germany was left with far too much power by the terms which she was forced to accept in 1920. But that conclusion will not alter the fact that the German Republic was placed in an impossible position before the democratic German people by being compelled to acknowledge all the blame and responsibility for a war of which the root causes were, to say the least, involved and intricate. That compulsory recognition of moral inferiority is the sort of imposition against which human nature instinctively rebels. So I maintain that it was a tragic psychological blunder to associate the League of Nations, designed "to promote international cooperation and to achieve international peace and security," with what was intended to be a permanent affirmation of the degradation of one people. Hitler was the natural, indeed almost the inevitable, reaction to that blunder.
This psychological blunder is not to be repeated, in part because Germany, like Carthage, is this time to be utterly destroyed, and, I anticipate, for the most part incorporated in the spreading Communist Empire of Russia. The fact that the San Francisco conference opens while the war is still raging of itself emphasizes the separation of the new international organization and the political settlement which is still to be made. There is, however, a clause in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals which, if it is maintained at San Francisco, will shadow the optimism aroused by the separation of Charter and Peace Treaty. "No provision of the Charter," says Chapter XII, Paragraph 2 of the Proposals, "should preclude action taken or authorized in relation to enemy states as a result of the present war by the Governments having responsibility for such action."
In other words the new international organization is still to be subject to the secret diplomacy of the Cairo, Tehran and Yalta conferences. No lip service to the Atlantic Charter, as one illustration, will be allowed to affect decisions made in the case of Poland. And if the control of Manchuria by Russia has already been "authorized" no protest which China may make to the new League will have any efficacy. So we cannot as yet be sure that the world organization now in formulation will be entirely free from the major psychological fault of the old League.
The second general fault inherent in the Covenant of the League of Nations was a Political fault—the emphasis upon the protection and safeguarding of National Sovereignty. Under the League Covenant it was necessary to have the unanimous approval of all member-States as a precedent to almost every action of any consequence. In the words of the first paragraph of Article 5:
"1. Except where otherwise expressly provided in this Covenant or by the terms of the present Treaty, decisions at any meeting of the Assembly or of the Council shall require the agreement of all the Members of the League represented at the meeting."
The nullifying effect of this unanimity rule was well illustrated at the time of the Manchurian crisis, the first step in the sequence of aggressions which led to the present war. As a permanent member of the Council of the League, Japan was able to block any action at Geneva under Articles
10 and 11 of the Covenant, both of which required unanimity including the vote of the nation accused of aggression. One section of the League Covenant (Article 15, Paragraph 4) did permit a report and recommendations on a dispute by majority vote. But even here various preliminaries were necessary and by the time the Japanese representatives at Geneva, in the Winter of 1931-32, had skillfully invoked all possible delays the occupation of Manchuria was a fait accompli. Thus the powerlessness of the League to check aggression on the part of a Great Power was demonstrated and the attack on the international security system initiated by Japan was followed up in due course first by Italy and then by Germany. It is to provide a more effective system that the San Francisco conference is now in session.
The political fault in the Covenant of the League—the inability to override the sovereignty of the powerful aggressor in the common interest—was fatal. But let us be on guard against the easy assumption that our active participation in international organization will somehow automatically eliminate this fault. Unfortunately, there is some reason to believe that we shall aggravate the difficulty. In spite of its scrupulous protection of national sovereignty, the League of Nations was stridently denounced by many Americans as a "Superstate." As such, the critics shouted, it would have the power to send American boys to fight in Armenia. They are fighting—and dying—in places more distant than Armenia now. But it was not the authority of the League of Nations—it was rather the lack of any reliable international authority—that sent them there.
In failing to grapple resolutely with the issue of sovereignty the Covenant of the League said, in effect, that international law will not be binding on any nation sufficiently strong to defy it. How is the revised Dumbarton Oaks Program meeting this problem? If we examine it carefully, and disregard propagandist misrepresentation which seems intended deliberately to deceive, we find this extraordinary assertion: Henceforth international law will be binding and enforced for all except five nations which declare themselves immune from its provisions. Those five nations are the permanent members of the Security Council—the United States, Great Britain, Russia, China "and, in due course, France."
I suggest to you, gentlemen, that it is more immoral, and more disastrous for successful social organization, to enforce one law for the strong and another for the weak, than it is to say that no law is binding if you can violate it successfully, which is what the League Covenant said in effect. And I am stating simple fact in charging that the Dumbarton Oaks Program, as revised at Yalta, would legalize a dual standard, remote from "the foundations of law, justice and fair dealing" as urged by Cordell Hull. The so-called compromise achieved at Yalta permits a permanent member of the Security Council to be charged with aggression, but it also gives any one of those five privileged nations the right to veto such a charge if the issue of resisting aggression on its part is raised. Far more definitely than was ever the case under the League Covenant the accused, if one of the five privileged powers, is given the right to vote as a member of the jury charged with deciding his own guilt or innocence.
Secretary of State Stettinius has indeed publicly admitted this anomalous arrangement. Explaining the Yalta compromise in a public statement on March 5 he said: "Where the Council is engaged in performing its quasi-judicial functions of promoting pacific settlement of disputes, no nation, large or small, should be above the law." The intimation that the Great Powers are in some circumstances above the law—as when it is a matter of determining aggression—is as clear as it is dangerous to the prospects of enduring success at San Francisco. The conscience of mankind, gentlemen, will not stand for any charter, whether it be for a boy's club or for an international league, in which some members are made subject to the rules and others, by their own nomination, are exempted from rules applicable to others. There is no advance here from the provisions of the League of Nations. There is a shameful retrogression which Woodrow Wilson would have been the first to repudiate.
I have noted the Psychological and the Political defects of the old League, finding that in the first respect the Dumbarton Oaks Program offers some progress, but in the second is starkly reactionary. The third major fault of the Covenant of the League of Nations was Organic; it made no adequate allowance for change and growth.
In drafting the Covenant of the old League it was assumed that the territorial and other political arrangements of the Treaty of Versailles could be maintained unchanged and inviolate. The assumption was the more fatal because it was made at a time when revolutionary forces of tremendous explosive power were already visibly taking shape, especially in Russia. The only possible result of this attempt to compress dynamic human societies into a rigid mould was to make the inevitable explosion, when it came, of dreadful intensity. And the consequences of this fatal error continue even now to injure the prospects of the new world organization. The Polish issue, for instance, would not be so embittered and dangerous if the old League had not assumed that Polish boundaries had been fixed for all time at the expense of a Communist Russia which, twenty-five years ago, was regarded as an outcast from the family of Nations.
Nevertheless the men who framed the League Covenant were not wholly oblivious of the fact that change is the law of nature and that no political organization can be confined by a Constitution which makes no provision for organic growth and decay. In rather weak terms, which were several times invoked but never made effective, Article 19 of the Covenant provided that:
"The assembly may from time to time advise the reconsideration by Members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable and the consideration of international conditions whose continuance might endanger the peace of the world."
This revisionary procedure proved wholly inadequate. Yet, in spite of that lesson from League experience, the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, which are the basis of .the San Francisco discussions, make no provision whatsoever for the review of outworn treaties. There is far greater emphasis than the League provided on maintaining whatever political arrangements follow this war. There is even less emphasis on reasonable revision of these arrangements as wartime hatreds are gradually subordinated to the sense of human brotherhood and to real appreciation of what is meant by the slogan: "One World." That phrase, incidentally, seems to elicit more lip than brain service from some who use it.
Nor is the scheduled procedure for amendment of the new international organization any less conservative than was the case in the League Covenant, though it may appear so at first glance. The Covenant provided that no amendment could take effect until ratified by all the States represented on the Council, as well as by a majority of the inclusive Assembly. The Dumbarton Oaks Program suggests that amendments become effective when two-thirds of the members of the new Assembly have approved, plus approval by a majority of the non-permanent members and by all of the permanent members of the Security Council. Here again absolute veto power against any improvement is placedthe hands of each of the five dominant Nations. And these are the war victors, satisfied with the outcome, who are most likely to resist any reconsideration of the political settlement, even if its necessity should be plain to the great majority of mankind.
It is agreeable to turn to the fourth major fault of the League of Nations—what I shall call its Structural fault—because here there is certainty that we have learned from experience. A definite reason for the failure at Geneva was an attempted centralization of the consideration of all international problems, large and small, the resulting congestion proving the more unfortunate because there was no parallel concentration of authority to make concentration of consideration rational or effective.
The structure of internationalism requires, by definition, a society composed of national units for its basis. And since the facts of geography tend to impose a regional layer between the national and the international level of organization, it is important to encourage regional groupings within the universal structure. The chief obstacle to the development of regionalism, in the past, has been the British, and to a lesser extent the French, Empire, the overseas possessions of which are in both cases so widely scattered as to make regional organization seem inimical to their far-flung political interests. But I believe British statesmanship is now wise enough to see that the regional approach does not hamper imperial association in a world organization, since an empire, or certainly such a Commonwealth of Nations as Great Britain and the self-governing Dominions, is itself a special form of regionalism.
Although the League Covenant gave little encouragement to regional developments, like the Pan-American Union or the now rapidly developing Russian pattern of federated Socialist republics, it became very apparent at Geneva that regionalism is both a natural and a politically constructive tendency. The Latin-American nations, the Scandinavian States, the Balkan countries, even to some extent the Moslem States, all—in addition to the British Empire bloc—tended to coordinate their national policies on issues coming before the League. Without those preliminary groupings the important technical committees of the League could not have accomplished anything like as much as was actually achieved at Geneva. And I must say that I cannot picture any representative organization, from the Youngstown Chamber of Commerce down, in which there will not be a tendency to form blocs—a tendency which can be wholly constructive as long as these internal groupings keep the purpose and interests of the overall organization clearly in mind.
You have precisely the same picture in a college faculty, where it is constructive administration to encourage cooperation between the Science department, the Language departments, the History, Economics, Government and Philosophy departments and so on—each of these academic blocs being helpful to the integration and accomplishment of the institution. There is nothing reprehensible in a bloC., unless it happens to be led by a blockhead! It is therefore wholly encouraging that the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals actively encourage regional arrangements, with essential proviso that "such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the purposes and principles of the Organization" which is to be established at San Francisco. Such a regional arrangement was concluded within the past few weeks at Mexico City, where the admirable Act of Chapultepec not only affirmed the judicial equality of all American States, but definitely subjected the United States, as much as Brazil or Haiti, to the supremacy of international law. If the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals can be revised at San Francisco to bring them in line with theachievement of Chapultepec the advantage in international thinking, and international organization, will be demonstrably real.
I have now concluded a rather tiresome comparison of the major deficiencies of the League of Nations—in the Psychological, the Political, the Organic and the Structural fields. And, endeavoring to analyze rather than to propagandize, I have reached the somber conclusion that the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, unless they are notably improved at San Francisco, are in some ways less promising for a successful international organization than was the League of Nations Covenant. Before closing, however, one or two general observations are important.
The most important feature of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals is not found in the extent to which they copy, or diverge from, the League pattern, but in the very different underlying objective. For all its shortcomings, the League Covenant definitely sought to build the foundations of a true union of nations. At Dumbarton Oaks that was a secondary and subordinate objective. The main purpose, as revealed by the enormous and unfettered powers given the dominant Security Council, is to establish a controlling Triple Alliance of Great Britain, Russia and the United States, to which China and France are, or will be, admitted by courtesy.
The post-war organization, therefore, grows directly out of the military experience—the successful military alliance—of this war. At the moment that seems logical, even inevitable and also, from the practical viewpoint, desirable. But we should be foolish to forget that a suspicion and distrust of permanent military alliance has for generations been deep-rooted in the American mind. The plain and true Americans—not those who follow "party lines" laid down in Moscow or London—are not so easily going to repudiate George Washington's admonition that " 'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world," Nor is the profound thought behind Washington's "Farewell Address" to be written off as isolationist claptrap. Those who argue that there is any bona fide internationalism in a revamped Holy Alliance which glorifies Force and pays no heed to Justice, have got a difficult case to prove.
It is said, and I think rightly, that we should not be "Perfectionists" about the San Francisco Conference. The important thing is to make a start, the more so because we certainly failed to play our part cooperatively after the last war. But in getting off with the gun, whether the race be a 100-yard dash or a marathon, it is important not merely to start, but also to start in the right direction. I have pointed to some issues in which it is dubious whether Dumbarton Oaks is headed in the right direction.
We have a great contribution to make at San Francisco. But it will not be made if our attitude is that any attempt to question the Administration's program is a form of sabotage. Our contribution will not be made if our chief anxiety is to throw away the American tradition—to damn the work of our forefathers as isolationist or by any other idiotic epithet—instead of bringing the rest of the world to an appreciation and a sharing of our ideals. I, for one, am not ready as yet to say that our system of government, that our political principles, are shoddy and worthless beside those so ably upheld in the Russian and British interests by Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. Of course I may be wrong. The prevalent trend is certainly to glorify Karl Marx, and to dismiss Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Hamilton as economic royalists. Our so-called "Liberals" do not call these founders Fascists—or not yet anyway.
Coming from Philadelphia, I like to look back to the great accomplishment of those early American statesmen who, during the long, hot summer of 1787, gathered in Independence Hall to construct the Constitution under which the United States have become the world's most powerful Nation. Essentially that Constitutional Convention was as much an international conference, albeit one in which it was less difficult to achieve success, as that now in session at San Francisco. The Articles of Confederation between the independent colonies had broken down, in 1787, as completely as the League of Nations broke down in 1939. Some of the States were in virtual rebellion against the powerless central authority. Others were on the verge of war with each other. Connecticut taxed imports from Massachusetts higher than imports from Great Britain. Pennsylvania and New Jersey had an offensive and defensive alliance directed against Maryland and Virginia. As Madison described the outlook:
"At the date of the Convention, the aspect of the political condition of the United States could not but fill the public mind with a gloom which was relieved only by a hope that so select a Body would devise an adequate remedy for the existing and prospective evils so impressively demanding it."
All the major problems which confront the United Nations at San Francisco were also present in principle for the United Colonies at Philadelphia 158 year ago. There were the Great Powers—Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and Massachusetts—and there were the Small Powers—such as New Hampshire, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The small States did not think it was "just" for the big States to control the Union which all knew to be desirable. The big States did not think it was "safe" to give the little States authority, since they could not provide the men, the money or the ships which Virginia and Massachusetts would contribute to the suppression of aggression. I tell you, gentlemen, scarcely a speech will be made at San Francisco during the weeks ahead that was not made in essentials, only probably much better, at Philadelphia in 1787. I am not joking when I say that you will get a clearer idea of the San Francisco Convention from James Madison's "Notes," written in Philadelphia 158 years ago, than you will obtain from many of the newspapers during the next few weeks.
ifou appreciate, of course, the marvelous political skill of these almost forgotten Americans who worked out what Gladstone, the great English statesman, called "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." The compromise whereby the Great States got proportional representation in the House of Representatives, the Small States equal representation in the Senate, still stands as a daily reminder of the political talent, as distinct from political trickery, in which we were adept.
Nobody expects that anything comparable with our Federal Constitution will come out of San Francisco. And that is not merely because Mr. Stettinius is scarcely a second George Washington. But the point I am making is that with our background in Constitution-making, and with the ability we once had in combining high ideals with practical common sense, we can and should expect the delegation of the United States to contribute something more distinctive than mere appeasement to these deliberations. For this country is too great in matters other than material; it has made too notable a contribution to the enlargement of the human spirit and to the unfettering of the human mind, to be content with the threatened reincarnation of the Quadruple Alliance which maintained a repressive stability in Europe for a few years after the downfall of Napoleon. In the ringing words of President Truman: "The responsibility of the great States is to serve and not to dominate the world." That should be the keynote for San Francisco.
Nor must we forget, if we are to draw wisdom from the lessons of history, that this conference at San Francisco is important not only for what we mean to it, but also for what it means to us. A Republic is the most ephemeral of all forms of government; already ours has lasted longer than most of those which have risen and fallen in the turbulent sea of political change; already there are signs—many clear signs—that our Federal Republic is changing its essential character, shaping more and more as the great centralized Empire which Rome became when the Republic fell, when the decay of individual Roman virtue brought first the rise of collectivism and then collapse because the heart of the Empire grew rotten.
After the Philadelphia Convention, before the Constitution was ratified, there was searching debate, throughout the length and breadth of the country, on arguments pro and con. The Federalist papers, so well worth reading now, re* main as one outstanding monument of this debate. In similar manner, before Congressional ratification of whatever is approved at San Francisco, there should be close popular examination—sponsored by great organizations like the Chamber of Commerce—of every line of the proposed treaty.
It cannot be perfect, but it must be good. What it implies for America, and for our form of government, must be understood by the American people. Only thus—only by intelligent support of a world order demonstrably calculated to bring Peace and Justice, can we pay the debt to those who have fallen. And only by protecting the fundamental principles of this Republic can we fulfill that trusteeship for our own posterity which is not the concern of Joseph Stalin, or of Winston Churchill, but of you and me.
That sense of trusteeship should weigh as heavily on us today as it did on George Washington when, in his Farewell Address, he set forth considerations deemed—in his own words—"all important to the permanence of your felicity as a People."