International Law and Some Current Illusions: And Other Essays

International Law and Some Current Illusions: And Other Essays

International Law and Some Current Illusions: And Other Essays

International Law and Some Current Illusions: And Other Essays

Excerpt

The immediate object of the publication of the present volume, and particularly of the paper which gives to it its distinctive title, is to contribute something towards the restoration of that sanity of thinking and legal and historical perspective which the recent so-called World War has so seriously disturbed. All wars tend, in proportion to their duration, extent and intensity, to unsettle existing conditions and subvert accepted beliefs. This is one of the necessary results of that intense preoccupation with immediate exigencies which war necessarily entails.

Heretofore this disturbing influence has been distinctly perceived and taken into account in estimating the effect of war on previously established rules, but it seems to have been reserved for the present time and for certain environments to accept the view that the international law of the future is to be found in the infringement of its rules committed under the stress of war.

It is an ancient legal maxim that in the midst of arms the laws are silent--inter arms leges silent. In its origin, this was a maxim not of international law but of municipal law, public and private. It simply means that, under the stress of a contest by force, when men are struggling with arms in their hands for mastery, violations of law are bound to occur because the means of securing the observance of law are reduced to a minimum. When, in the early days of the civil war in the United States, the administration was charged with infringements of the Constitution, an elated Senator retorted that he approved the administration's acts in precise proportion to their violation of that fundamental law. But it was not sur-

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