Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

COMMENT OF FOREIGN MINISTER BALFOUR ON THE PROGRAM LAID DOWN BY PRESIDENT WILSON ON SEPTEMBER 271
October 1, 1918

The main theme, as I understood him, which he developed was this: that if the world is not only to have peace, but is to be sure that it is going to have peace, it must come to some arrangement by which the malefactors or would-be malefactors are to be kept in order. Justice, as between great and small nations, is to be preserved not merely by pious sentiment, not merely by elaborate treaties, but by some machinery which will be effective for carrying out the objects for which it was created. That was his first proposition, a League of Nations or some machinery such as is contemplated in this scheme for a League of Nations. Some such scheme must be brought into being, if we are to be sure that our labors in the present war are to bear their full fruit.

The second proposition, as I understood it, was that, if you are to carry out this great ideal with all its obvious and immense difficulties, the only time to do it effectually is the moment when the peace itself is being forged by the labors of the victorious Powers. Allow that moment to pass, and do you suppose that the world, weary of its tremendous effort, absorbed in the domestic problems, which will crowd upon us, neutrals and belligerents alike, when this war is over, will have the patience, endurance, and resolution really to contrive the international machinery which shall carry out our objects? The President's opinion is--and personally I am very much of his mind--that to allow this occasion to sink into the past would be to lose one of the great opportunities given to mankind permanently to put international relations on a sound, lasting, and moral footing.

These, as I understand it, are the two great pillars of the policy to which he has given eloquent expression.

But evidently something yet further is required. Evidently we are bound to see that the labors, the work which you require your new machinery to do, shall not be greater than any machinery can be asked to do. In other words if you are going to bring into existence an international machinery for the securing of peace, you must so arrange the map of Europe and of the world that the great occasions for wars will not overwhelm you.

____________________
1
Text in The New York Times, October 2, 1918, p. 12.

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