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Title: Peacemakers—Blessed and Otherwise - Observations, Reflections and Irritations at an International Conference
Author: Tarbell, Ida M. (Ida Minerva)
Language: English
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     _Observations, Reflections and Irritations at an International


                             IDA M. TARBELL

             FATHER ABRAHAM
             IN LINCOLN’S CHAIR
             HE KNEW LINCOLN
             THE WAYS OF WOMAN


     _Observations, Reflections and Irritations at an International

                             IDA M. TARBELL

                                New York
                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

                         _All rights reserved_


                            COPYRIGHT, 1922,

                        BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

               Set up and printed. Published April, 1922.

                                Press of
                      J. J. Little & Ives Company
                           New York, U. S. A.



This book does not pretend to be a history or even an adequate review of
the work of the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, nor does it
pretend to be the writer’s full appraisement of that work. It is what
its sub-title suggests, a collection of observations, rejections and
irritations. These were set down each week of the first two months of
the Conference and were published practically as they stand here by the
McClure Syndicate.

                                                                I. M. T.


         CHAPTER                                          PAGE

              I. PRE-CONFERENCE REFLECTIONS                  1

             II. ARMISTICE DAY                              29

            III. NOVEMBER 12, 1921                          41

             IV. THE FRENCH AT THE CONFERENCE               60

              V. THE PARIS SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF HATES      83

             VI. WHY DID HE DO IT?                          99

            VII. DRAMATIC DIPLOMACY                        114


             IX. PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR PLACES              160

              X. CHINA AT THE CONFERENCE                   186




               _Observations, Reflections and Irritations
                    at an International Conference_

                               CHAPTER I
                       PRE-CONFERENCE REFLECTIONS

When one attempts to set down, with any degree of candor, his
impressions of a great gathering like the Conference on the Limitation
of Armament, he will find himself swayed from amusement to irritation,
from hope to despair, from an interest in the great end to an interest
in the game as it is being played. My hopes and interests and
irritations over the Washington Conference began weeks before it was
called. What could it do? All around me men and women were saying, “It
will end war,” and possibly—so deep was the demand in them that war be
ended—believing what they said. It has always been one of the singular
delusions of people with high hopes that if nations disarmed there could
be no wars. Take the gun away from the child and he will never hurt
himself. If it were so easy!

Their confidence alarmed the authors of the Conference. They did not
mean disarmament, but limitation of armament. Moreover it was not even a
Conference _for_ but one _on_ limitation. This was equivalent to saying
that there were other matters involved in cutting down arms—the causes
that had brought them into being in the first place, the belief that
only in them was security, and that if you were to do away with them you
must find a substitute, and a way to make this substitute continually
effective. That is, there were several problems for the Conference to
solve if they were to put a limit to armaments, and they were not easy
problems. But those who kept their eyes on disarmament, pure and simple,
refused to face them.

Along with the many who believed the coming Conference could say the
magic word were not a few—the sophisticated, who from the start said:
“Well, of course, you don’t expect anything to come out of it.” Or, “Are
you not rather naïve to suppose that they will do anything?” And
generally the comment was followed by “Of course nothing came from

This superior attitude—sometimes vanity, sometimes disillusionment,
sometimes resentment at trying any new form of international dealing—was
quite useless to combat. You had an endless task of course if you
attacked them on the point of nothing coming out of Paris when you
believed profoundly that a great deal of good, as well as much evil, had
come out of Paris, and that the good is bound to increase and the evil
to diminish as time goes on.

Very singular, the way that people dismiss the treaty of Versailles,
drop it out of count as a thing so bungling and evil that it is bound to
eventuate only in wars, bound to be soon upset. The poor human beings
that made the treaty of Versailles lacked omniscience, to be sure, and
they certainly strained their “fourteen points,” but it will be noted
that not a few of the arrangements that they made are working fairly

Moreover, what the Superior forget is that that treaty had an instrument
put into it intended for its own correction. The Covenant of the League
of Nations is a part of the treaty of Versailles and it says very
specifically that if at any time in the future any treaty—if that means
anything it must include the treaty of Versailles—becomes
“inapplicable,” works disturbance between the nations instead of peace,
the League may consider it.

The belief in political magic on one side and doubt of all new political
ventures on the other, made the preliminary days of the Washington
Conference hard for the simple-minded observer, prepared to hope for the
best and to take no satisfaction in the worst, not to ask more than the
conferring powers thought they could safely undertake, to believe that
the negotiators would be as honest as we can expect men to be, and that
within the serious limits that are always on negotiators, would do their

One had to ask himself, however, what substantial reasons, if any, he
had that the Conference would be able to do the things that it had set
down as its business. This business was very concisely laid down in an
agenda, divided into two parts and running as follows:

  _Limitation of Armaments_:

    (1) Limitation of naval armaments under which shall be discussed
    the following:

      (A) Basis of limitation

      (B) Extent

      (C) Fulfillment

      (D) Rules for control of new agencies of warfare

      (E) Limitation of land armaments.

  _Far Eastern Questions_:

    (1) Questions relating to China

      First. Principles to be applied

      Second. Application


          (A) Territorial integrity

          (B) Administrative integrity

          (C) Open door

          (D) Concessions, monopolies, preferential privileges

          (E) Development of railways, including plans relative to the
          Chinese Eastern Railway

          (F) Preferential railway rates

          (G) Status of existing commitments.


    Sub-headings the same as those under China.

  _Mandated Islands_:

    Sub-headings the same as those under China with railway sections

What reasons were there for thinking that the nations—England, France,
Italy, China, Japan, Belgium, Holland, Portugal—could, with the United
States, handle these problems of the Pacific in such a way that they
would be able to cut their armaments, and, cutting them, find a
satisfactory substitute. There were several reasons.

A first, and an important one, was that the difficulties to be adjusted
were, as defined, confined to one side only of the earth’s surface
which, if huge, is nevertheless fairly simple, being mostly water. It
was the problems of the Pacific Ocean that they prepared to handle.
These problems are comparatively definite—the kind of thing that you can
get down on paper with something like precision. They had one great
advantage, and that is that in the main they did not involve a past
running into the dim distance. England has held Hongkong for only about
eighty years. We, the United States, have had port privileges in China
only since 1844. France first got a stronghold in Cochin China in 1862,
and her protectorate over Annam is less than forty years old. It was
only twenty-five years ago that the war between Japan and China over
Korea began; the complications in eastern Russia are still younger. So
are those in Shantung, Yap, the Philippine Islands. That is, the chief
bones of contention in the Conference were freshly picked. In most of
the cases there were men still living who helped in the picking.

It was the same when it came to concessions. The question of the
ownership and administration of railroads and mines—they belong to our
age. We can put our fingers on their beginnings, trace with some
certainty what has happened, find the intriguers, the bribe givers and
takers, the law breaker, if such there have been. In the case of most of
the concessions we can get our hands upon the very men involved in
securing them and in carrying on their development.

How different from the problems of Europe, running as they do through
century after century, involving as they do successions of invasions, of
settlements, of conquests, of incessant infiltration of different races,
and the consequent mingling of social, political, industrial and
religious notions. The quarrels of Europe are as old as its
civilization, their bases are lost in the past. Without minimizing at
all the difficulty of the questions on the agenda of the Conference,
they did have the advantage of being of recent date.

There was encouragement in the relations of the conferees. These were
not enemy nations, fresh from wars, meeting to make treaties. They were
nations that for five years had been allies, and from the life-and-death
necessity of coöperation had gained a certain solidarity. True, their
machinery of coöperation was pretty well shot up. The frictions of peace
are harder on international machinery than the shells of war. The former
racks it to pieces; the latter solidifies it. Nevertheless, the nations
that were coming to the Conference were on terms of fairly friendly
acquaintance, an acquaintance which had stood a tremendous test.

These nations had all committed themselves solemnly to certain definite
ideals, laid down by the United States of America. True, their ideals
were badly battered, and as a government we were in the anomalous
position of temporarily abandoning them after having committed our
friends to them. However, they still stood on their feet, these ideals.

It could be counted as an advantage that the associations of the years
of the War had made the men who would represent the different nations at
the Conference fairly well acquainted with one another. Whatever
disappointments there might be in the delegations we could depend upon
it that the men chosen would be tried men. They were pretty sure to be
men of trustworthy character, with records of respectable achievement,
men like Root and Hughes and Underwood in our own delegation. They would
not come unknown to each other or unknown to the nations involved. It
would be a simple matter for us, the public, to become acquainted with
their records. If by any unhappy chance there should be among them a
political intriguer, that, too, would be known.

These were all good reasons for expecting that the Conference might do
something of what it started out for. How much of it it would do and how
permanent that which it did would be would depend in no small degree
upon the attitude of mind of this country, whether the backing that we
gave the Conference was one of emotionalism or intelligence. We were
starting out with a will to succeed; we were going to spend our first
day praying for success. It would be well if we injected into those
prayers a supplication for self-control, clearness of judgment, and
willingness to use our minds as well as our hearts in the struggles that
were sure to come.

Alarms went along with these hopes. There were certain very definite
things that might get in the way of the success of the Conference—things
that often frustrate the best intentions of men, still they were matters
over which the public and the press would have at least a certain
control, if they took a high and intelligent view of their own

First, there were the scapegoats. There are bound to be periods in all
human undertakings when the way is obscure, when failure threatens, when
it is obvious that certain things on which we have set our hearts are
unobtainable. Irritation and discouragement always characterize these
periods. It is here that we fall back on a scapegoat. An international
conference usually picks one or more before it gets through—a nation
which everybody combines to call obstinate, unreasonable, greedy, a
spoke in the wheel. Then comes a hue and cry, a union of forces—not to
persuade but to overwhelm the recalcitrant, to displace it, drive it out
of court. The spirit of adjustment, and of accommodation which is of the
very essence of success in an undertaking like the Conference on the
Limitation of Armaments is always imperiled and frequently ruined by
fixing on a scapegoat. Would this happen at Washington?

Of course the nation on which irritation and suspicion were concentrated
might be in the wrong. It might be deep in evil intrigue. It might be
shockingly greedy. But it was a member of the Conference and the problem
must be worked out _with_ it. You work nothing out with scapegoats.
Abraham Lincoln once laid down a principle of statesmanship which
applies. “_Honest statesmanship_,” he said, “_is the employment of
individual meanness for the public good_.”

It takes brains, humor, self-control to put any such rule as this in
force. If unhappily the Conference did not furnish a sufficient amount
of these ingredients, would the press and public make good the deficit?
They are always in a strategic position where they can insist that
everybody must be considered innocent until he is proved guilty, that
nothing be built on suspicion, everything on facts. Something very
important for them to remember if they insisted was that these facts had
a history, that they were not isolated but related to a series of
preceding events. For instance, there was the high hand that Japan had
played with China. We must admit it. But in doing so we must not forget
that it was only about sixty years ago that the very nations with whom
Japan was now to meet in council in Washington had gathered with their
fleets in one of her ports and used their guns to teach her the beauties
of Christian civilization. She had decided to learn their lessons. She
has wonderful imitative powers. She had _followed_ them into China, and
if she had played a higher hand there than any of them—and there might
be a question as to that—it should be remembered that she had only sixty
years in which to learn the degree of greed that can safely be practiced
in our modern civilization. We must consider that possibly she had not
had sufficient time to learn to temper exploitation with civilized

No scapegoats. No hues and cries. And certainly no partisanship. Was it
possible for the United States to hold a truly national parley, one in
which party ambitions and antipathies did not influence the
negotiations? We had had within three years a terrible lesson of the
lengths to which men’s partisanship will go in wrecking even the peace
of the world. Would we repeat that crime? It was an ugly question, and
be as optimistic as I would I hated to face it.

There was another danger on the face of things—crudeness of opinion. We
love to be thought wise. There are thousands of us who in the
pre-Conference days were getting out our maps to find out where Yap lay
or the points between which the Eastern Chinese railroad ran, who would
be tempted sooner or later to become violent partisans of, we will say:
Yap for America—Shantung for China—Vladivostok for the Far Eastern
Republic. There was danger in obstinate views based on little knowledge
or much knowledge of a single factor.

And there were the sacrifices. Were we going to accept beforehand that
if we were to have the limitation of armament which we desired—we, the
United States might have to sacrifice some definite thing—a piece of
soil, a concession, a naval base in the Pacific—and that nothing more
fatal to the success of the Conference could be than for us to set our
teeth and say: “We must have this”—quite as fatal as setting our teeth
and saying: “This or that nation must do this.”

But my chief irritation in these pre-Conference days lay with the
agenda. It was illogical to place limitation of armament at the head of
the program. That was an effect—not a cause. It looked like an attempt
to make reduction of taxes more important than settlement of
difficulties. Was the Conference to be merely a kind of glorified
international committee on tax reduction? Not that I meant to
underestimate the relief that would bring.

Suppose the Conference should say: We will reduce at once—by the
simplest, most direct method—cut down fifty per cent. of our
appropriations—for five years and before the term is ended meet again
and make a new contract.

What a restoration of the world’s hope would follow! How quickly the
mind sprang to what such a decision would bring to wretched, jobless
peoples—the useful work, the schools, the money for more bread, better
shelter, leisure for play. How much of the resentment at the huge sums
now going into warships, cannon, naval bases, war colleges, would

The mere announcement would soothe and revive. Labor bitterly resents
the thought that it may be again asked to spend its energies in the
creation of that which destroys men instead of that which makes for
their health and happiness.

“Get them to plowing again, to popping corn by their own firesides, and
you can’t get them to shoulder a musket again for fifty years,” Lincoln
said of the soldiers that the approaching end of the Civil War would
release. As a matter of fact—suppression of the Indians aside—it was
only thirty-three years when they were at it again, but there was no
great heart in the enterprise; they still preferred their “plows and
popcorn,” and the experience of the Great War had only intensified that

Cut down armament now merely for sake of reducing taxation and you would
give the world’s love of peace a chance to grow—and that was something.
But it was something which must be qualified.

The history of man’s conduct shows that however much he desires his
peaceful life, the moment what he conceives to be his country’s
interest—which he looks at as his interest—is threatened, he will throw
his tools of peace into the corner and seize those of war. It does not
matter whether he is prepared or not. Men always have and, unless we can
find something beside force to appeal to in a pinch, always will do just
as they did at Lexington, as the peasants of Belgium did at the rumor of
the advance of the Germans—seize any antiquated kicking musket or
blunderbuss they can lay their hands on and attack.

There was another significant possibility to limitation, on which the
lovers of peace rightfully counted—certainly believers in war do not
overlook it—and that was the chance that the enforced breathing spell
would give for improving and developing peace machinery. It would give a
fresh chance to preach the new methods, arouse faith in them, stir
governments to greater interest in them and less in arms.

It was a possibility—but to offset it experience shows that with the
passing of the threat of war, interest in pacific schemes is generally
left to a few tireless and little considered groups of non-official
people. Active interest inside governments dies out. The great peace
suggestions and ventures of the world have been born of wars fought
rather than of wars that might be fought. The breathing spell long
continued might end in a general rusting and neglect of the very methods
for preventing wars which peace lovers are now pushing.

What it all amounted to was that the most drastic limitation was no sure
guarantee against future war. Take away a man’s gun and it is no
guarantee that he will not strike if aroused. You must get at the
man—enlarge his respect for order, his contempt for violence, change his
notion of procedure in disputes, establish his control. It takes more
than “gun toting” to make a dangerous citizen, more than relieving him
of his gun to make a safe one.

If the Conference only cut down the number of guns the nations were
carrying, it would have done little to insure permanent peace. The
President’s conference on unemployment which held its sessions just
before the Conference on the Limitation of Armament spent considerable
time in considering what the industry of the country might do to prevent
industrial crises. Among the principles it laid down was one quite as
applicable to international as to business affairs.

“_The time to act is before a crisis has become inevitable._”

That was the real reason for the existence of the coming Conference—to
act before the jealousies and misunderstandings around the Pacific had
gone so far that there was no solution _but_ war. Let us suppose that in
1913 say, England, France, Germany, Austria and Russia had held a
conference over an agenda parallel to the one now laid down for the
Washington Conference—one that not only considered limiting their armies
and navies but boldly and openly attacked the fears, the jealousies, the
needs, and the ambitions of them all—might it not have been possible
that they would have found a way other than war? Are governments
incapable in the last analysis of settling difficulties save by force
and exhaustion, or are they made impotent by the idea that no machinery
and methods for handling international affairs are possible save the
ones which have so often landed their peoples in the ditch?

In his farewell words to this country at the end of his recent visit,
the late Viscount Bryce remarked that anybody could frighten himself
with a possibility but the course of prudence was to watch it and
estimate the likelihood that it would ever enter into the sphere of

It is just here that governments have fallen down worst. They might
watch the war possibilities, but they have refused or not been able to
evaluate them. They seemed to have felt usually that closing their eyes
to them or at least refusing to admit them was the only proper
diplomatic attitude.

As a rule, it has been the non-responsible outsider that has exploited
war possibilities. Sometimes this has been done from the highest
motives, with knowledge and restraint. More often it has been done on
half-knowledge and with reckless indifference to results. There are
always a number of people around with access to the public ear who love
to handle explosives—never quite happy unless their imaginations are
busy with wars and revolutions. There are others possessed by the pride
of prophecy—their vanity is demonstrating the inevitable strife in the
situation. They are the makers of war scares—the breeders and feeders of
war passions. Sometimes war possibilities are the materials for skillful
national propaganda—the agent of one nation working on a second to
convince it of the hostile intent of a third.

It is the governments concerned that should be handling this sort of
stuff and handling it in such a way that they would cut under the
malicious and the wanton, get at the real truth and get at it in time
and get it out to the world.

One of the chief reasons for some sort of active association of nations
is that there should be a permanent central agency always working over
war possibilities, estimating them, heading them off.

Present diplomacy does not do it. Could the coming Conference find a way
for just this service in the Pacific situation?

How could the public be sure the Conference was really seeking these
ends? Only by openness and frankness. Could one really expect that? No
one of sense and even a very little knowledge of how men achieve
results, whether in statecraft or in business, would think for a moment
that the Conference must sit daily in open session with a public
listening to all that it said. There was only one practical way of
handling the agenda. The Conference must form itself into groups, each
charged with a subject on which it was to arrive at some kind of
understanding. The report must be presented at the Conference. But when
this was done there should be free, open discussion.

To handle the plenary sessions of the present Conference as they were
handled in Paris in 1919 would be a tragic mistake. These plenary
conferences were splendidly set scenes. No one who looked on the
gathering at which the Covenant of the League of Nations was presented
would ever forget it. Nor would he forget how the gloved-and-iron hand
of Clemenceau never for a moment released its grip; how effectively, for
example, the incipient revolt against the mandate system aimed at making
nations the protectors and not the exploiters of the German territories
to be disposed of was soft-pedaled. Nor would he ever forget certain
sinister faces in the great picture that chilled at their birth the high
hopes which the Conference championed.

Free discussion, running, if you please, over days at this juncture,
might have insured an easier, straighter road for the treaty of
Versailles and particularly for the League of Nations.

Frankness would be the greatest ally of all who looked on the great
mission of the coming Conference as preventing the Pacific crisis from
ever ending in war. Frankness would break the war bubbles that the
irresponsible were blowing so gayly. It would be the surest preventive
of the fanatical and partisan drives which are almost certain to develop
if there was unnecessary secrecy. Naturally, those on the outside would
look on a failure to take the public in as proof that sinister forces
were at work in the Conference, that dark things were brewing which must
be kept out of sight.

As a matter of fact, one look inside would probably show a group of worn
and anxious gentlemen honestly doing their best to find something on
which they could agree with a reasonable hope that the countries that
had sent them to Washington would accept their decisions. After one good
look the public might change suspicion to sympathy.

There was always the argument from the conventionally minded that “it
isn’t done,” that diplomacy must be secret. John Hay didn’t think so. He
told his friend Henry Adams in the course of his efforts to establish
the “open door” in China that he got on by being “honest and naïf!”

The point in this policy at which most people, in and out of the present
Conference, would stick is that word “naïf.” They would prefer to be
thought dishonest rather than simple-minded. However, if everybody who
had a part in the gathering could be as simple-minded as he was in fact,
would pretend to know no more than he did in truth and would be as
honest as it was in his nature to be, there would be a good chance of
keeping Mr. Hay’s door in China open. And if that could be done along
with the other things it implied, the Conference would have actually
contributed to the chances of more permanent peace in the world and
could cut down its armaments, because it had less need of them, not
merely because it wanted temporarily to reduce taxation.

                               CHAPTER II
                             ARMISTICE DAY

It was the Unknown Soldier Boy that put an end to the doubt, the
faultfinding, the cynicism that was in the air of Washington as the day
for the opening of the Conference approached. It all became vanity,
pettiness, beside that bier with its attending thousands of mourning

They carried the body to the capitol where for a day it lay in state.
Busy with my attempts to learn something of what it was all about, it
was not until late in the afternoon that I thought of the ceremony on
the hill, and made my way there for my daily walk. It had been a soft,
sunny day, the air full of gray haze. Everything around the great
plaza—the Capitol, the library, the trees, the marble Senate and House
buildings right and left—was tender in its outline. There were no
crowds, but as I looked I saw massed four abreast from the entrance door
to the rotunda, down along terraces of steps, across the plaza as far as
I could see, a slowly moving black mass, kept in perfect line by
soldiers standing at intervals. I made my way across. Where was its end?
I went to find it.

I walked the width of the great plaza and turned down the Avenue. As far
as I could see the people were massed—one block, two blocks, three
blocks, four—and from every direction you could see men and women
hurrying to fall in line. I had had no idea of joining that line, of
passing through that rotunda. My only notion was to take a glimpse of
the crowd. But to have gone on, to have been no part of something which
came upon me as tremendous in its feeling and meaning, would have been a
withdrawal from my kind of which I think I should always have been
ashamed. And so I fell in.

The mass moved slowly, but very steadily. The one strongest impression
was of its quietness. Nobody talked. Nobody seemed to want to talk. If a
question was asked, the reply was low. We moved on block after
block—turned the corner—now we faced the Capitol—amazingly beautiful,
proud and strong in the dim light. I never had so deep a feeling that it
was something that belonged to me, guarded me, meant something to me,
than as I moved slowly with that great mass toward the bier. The
sentinels stood rigid, as solemn and as quiet as the people. The only
murmur that one heard was now and then a low singing, “Nearer My God to
Thee.” How it began, who suggested it, I do not know; but through all
that slow walk, the only thing that I heard was women’s voices, now
behind me, now before me, humming that air. It took a full
three-quarters of an hour to reach the door and pass into the rotunda.
It took strong self-control not to kneel by the bier. They told me that
there were women, bereft mothers, to whom the appeal was too
much—mothers of missing boys. This might have been hers. Could she pass?
The guards lifted them very gently, and in quiet the great crowd moved
forward. I fancy there were thousands that passed that place that day
that will have always before their eyes that great dim circle with bank
upon bank of flowers, from all over the earth—flowers from kings and
queens and governments, from great leaders of armies, from those who
labor, from the mothers of men, and hundreds upon hundreds from those
who went out with the dead but came back. The only sound that came to us
as we passed was the clear voice of a boy, one of a group, once
soldiers. They came with a wreath. They carried a flag. The leader was
saying his farewell to their buddy.

A hundred thousand or more men and women made this pilgrimage. A hundred
thousand and many more packed the streets of Washington the next day
when the bier was carried from the Capitol to the grave at Arlington.

The attending ceremony was one of the most perfect things of the kind
ever planned. It had the supreme merit of restraint. Every form of the
country’s service had a place—not too many—a few—but they were always of
the choicest—from the President of the United States down to the last
marine, the best we had were chosen to follow the unknown boy.

There was an immense sincerity to it all. They felt it—the vast,
inexpressible sorrow of the war. And no one felt it more than the
President of the United States. What he said at Arlington, what he was
to say the next day at the opening of the Conference, showed that with
all his heart and all his mind the man hated the thing that had brought
this sorrow to the country, and that he meant to do his part to put an
end to it.

The ceremony was for the dead sacrifice, but the feature of it which
went deepest to the heart and brought from the massed crowds their one
instinctive burst of sympathy and greeting was the passing, almost at
the end of the procession, of the War’s living sacrifice—Woodrow Wilson.

The people had stood in silence, reverently baring their heads as the
bier of the soldier passed, followed by all the official greatness of
the moment—the President of the United States, his cabinet, the Supreme
Court, the House, the Senate, Pershing, Foch. And then, quite
unexpectedly, a carriage came into view—two figures in it—a white-faced
man, a brave woman. Unconscious of what they were doing, the crowd broke
into a muffled murmur—“Wilson!” The cry flowed down the long avenue—a
surprised, spontaneous recognition. It was as if they said: “You—you of
all living men belong here. It was you who called the boy we are
honoring—you who put into his eye that wonderful light—the light that a
great French surgeon declared made him different as a soldier from the
boys of any other nation.”

“I don’t know what it is,” he said, “whether it is God, the Monroe
Doctrine or President Wilson, but the American soldier has a light in
his eye that is not like anything that I have ever seen in men.” Woodrow
Wilson, under God, had put it there. His place was with the soldier. The
crowd knew it, and told him so by their unconscious outburst.

His carriage left the procession at the White House. Later the crowd
followed it. All the afternoon of Armistice Day men and women gathered
before his home. All told there were thousands of them. They waited,
hoping for his greeting. And when he gave it, briefly, they cheered and
cheered. But they did not go away. It was dark before that crowd had

But this expression of love and loyalty and interest in Woodrow Wilson
is no new thing in Washington. For months now, on Sundays and holidays,
men, women and children have been walking to his home, standing in
groups before it, speaking together in hushed tones as if something
solemn and ennobling stirred in them. Curiosity? No. Men chatter and
jibe and jostle in curiosity. These people are silent—gentle—orderly.
You will see them before the theater, too, when it is known that he is
within, quietly waiting for him to come out—one hundred, two hundred,
five hundred—even a thousand sometimes, it is said. They cheer him as he
passes—and there are chokes in their voices—and always tenderness. Let
it be known that he is in his seat in a theater, and the house will rise
in homage. Let his face be thrown on a screen, and it will receive a
greeting that the face of no other living American will receive. It
requires explanation.

The people at least recognized him as belonging to the Conference. And,
as a matter of fact, the Conference never was able to escape him. Again
and again, he appeared at the table. The noblest words that were said
were but echoes of what he had been saying through the long struggle.
The President’s great slogan—Less of armaments and none of war—was but
another way of putting the thing for which he had given all but his last
breath. The best they were to do—their limitation of armaments, their
substitute to make it possible, were but following in the path that he
had cut. The difficulties and hindrances which they were to meet and
which were to hamper both program and final settlements were but the
difficulties and hindrances which he had met and which hampered his work
at Paris. From the start to the finish of the Conference on the
Limitation of Armament, the onlooker recognized both the spirit and the
hand of Woodrow Wilson as the crowd recognized him on Armistice Day.

There was another figure in the memorial procession which deeply touched
the crowd and which stayed on, uninvited. She came with the dead soldier
boy. She stood by him night and day as he lay in state, followed him to
the grave in which they laid him away at Arlington, a symbol of the
nation’s grief over all its missing sons. She did not go with the
crowds. She took her place at the door of the Conference, and there, day
by day, her solemn voice was heard.

“I am the mother of men. Never before have I lifted my voice in your
councils. I have been silent because I trusted you. But to-day I speak
because I doubt you. I have the right to speak, for without me mankind
would end. I bear you with pain, such as you cannot know. I rear you
with sacrifice, such as you cannot understand. I am the world’s
perpetual soldier, facing death that life may be. I do not recoil from
my great task. God laid it on me. I have accepted it always. I give my
youth that the world may have sons, and I glory in my harvest.

“But I bear sons for fruitful lives of labor and peace and happiness.
And what have you done with my work? To-day I mourn the loss of more
than ten million dead, more than twenty million wounded, more than six
million imprisoned and missing. This is the fruit of what you call your
Great War.

“It is I who must face death to replace these dead and maimed boys. I
shall do it. But no longer shall I give them to you unquestioning as I
have in the past, for I have come to doubt you. You have told me that
you used my sons for your honor and my protection, but I have begun to
read your books, to listen to your deliberations, to study your
maneuvers; I have learned that it is not always your honor and my
protection that drives you to war. Again and again it is your own love
of glory, of power, of wealth; your hate and contempt for those that are
not of your race, your color, your point of view. You cannot longer have
my sons for such ends. I ask you to remold your souls, to make effective
that brotherhood of man of which you talk, to learn to work together,
white and black and brown and yellow, as becomes the sons of the same

“I shall never leave your councils again. My daughters shall sit beside
you voicing my command—you shall have done with war.”

                              CHAPTER III
                           NOVEMBER 12, 1921

We shall have to leave November 12, 1921, the opening day of the
Conference on the Limitation of Armament, to History for a final
appraisement. Arthur Balfour told Mr. Hughes after he had had time to
gather himself together from the shock of the American program that in
his judgment a new anniversary had been added to the Reconstruction
Movement. “If the 11th of November,” said Mr. Balfour, “in the minds of
the allied and associated powers, in the minds perhaps not less of all
the neutrals—if that is a date imprinted on grateful hearts, I think
November 12 will also prove to be an anniversary welcomed and thought of
in a grateful spirit by those who in the future shall look back upon the
arduous struggle now being made by the civilized nations of the world,
not merely to restore pre-war conditions, but to see that war conditions
shall never again exist.”

Whatever place it may turn out that November 12 shall hold on the
calendar of great national days, this thing is sure; it will always be
remembered for the shock it gave Old School Diplomacy. That institution
really received a heavier bombardment than War, the real objective of
the Conference. The shelling reached its very vitals, while it only
touched the surface of War’s armor.

Diplomacy has always had her vested interests. They have seemed
permanent, impregnable. What made November 12, 1921, portentous was its
invasion of these vested interests. Take that first and most important
one—Secrecy. When Secretary Hughes followed the opening speech of
welcome and of idealism made by President Harding, not with another
speech of more welcome and more idealism, as diplomacy prescribes for
such occasions, but with the boldest and most detailed program of what
the United States had in mind for the meeting, Diplomacy’s most sacred
interest was for the moment overthrown. To be sure, what Secretary
Hughes did was made possible by John Hay’s long struggle to educate his
own countrymen to the idea of open diplomacy; by what President Wilson
tried to do at the Paris conference. Mr. Wilson won the people of the
world to his principle, but his colleagues contrived to block him in the
second stage of the Paris game. Mr. Hughes, building on that experience,
did not wait for consultation with his colleagues. On his own, in a
fashion so unexpected that it was almost brutal, he threw not only the
program of the United States on the table, but that which the United
States expected of two—two only, please notice—of the eight nations she
had invited in, Great Britain and Japan.

His proposals came one after another exactly like shells from a Big
Bertha!—“It is now proposed that for a period of ten years there should
be no further construction of capital ships.” One after another the
program of destruction followed.

  The United States:—to scrap all capital ships now under construction
  along with fifteen old battleships, in all a tonnage of 845,740

  Great Britain:—to stop her four new Hoods and scrap nineteen capital
  ships, a tonnage of 583,375 tons;

  Japan:—abandon her program of ships not laid down, and scrap enough
  of existing ones, new and old, to make a tonnage of 448,928 tons.

I once saw a huge bull felled by a sledge hammer in the hands of a
powerful Czecho-Slovac farm hand. When Mr. Hughes began hurling one
after another his revolutionary propositions the scene kept flashing
before my eyes, the heavy thud of the blow on the beast’s head falling
on my ears. I felt almost as if I were being hit myself, and I confess
to no little feeling of regret that Mr. Hughes should be putting his
proposals so bluntly. “It is proposed that Great Britain shall,” etc.
“It is proposed that Japan shall,” etc. Would it have been less
effective as a proposal and would it not have been really more
acceptable as a form if he had said—“We shall propose to Great Britain
to consider so and so.” But, after all, when you are firing Big Berthas
it is not the amenities that you consider.

Mr. Balfour and Sir Auckland Geddes, sitting where I could look them
full in the face, had just the faintest expression of “seeing things.” I
would not have been surprised if they had raised their hands in that
instinctive gesture one makes when he does “see things” that are not
there. The Japanese took it without a flicker of an eyelash—neither the
delegates at the table nor the rows of attachés and secretaries moved,
glanced at one another, changed expression. So far as their faces were
concerned Mr. Hughes might have been continuing the Harding
welcome—instead of calling publicly on them for a sacrifice
unprecedented and undreamed of.

The program was so big—its presentation was so impressive (Mr. Hughes
looked seven feet tall that day and his voice was the voice of the man
who years ago arraigned the Insurance Companies) that one regretted that
there were omissions so obvious as to force attention. There was a
singular one in the otherwise admirable historical introduction Mr.
Hughes made to his program. He reviewed there the efforts of the first
and second Hague Conferences to bring about disarmament—explained the
failure—and jumped from 1907 to 1921 as if in 1919, at the Paris Peace
Conference, man’s most valiant effort to bring about disarmament had not
been made. He failed to notice the fact that to this effort scores of
peoples had subscribed, including _all_ of the nations represented at
the council table; that these nations had been working for two years in
the League of Nations, under circumstances of indescribable world
confusion and disorganization, to gather the information and prepare a
practical plan not only to limit the world’s arms but to regulate for
good and all private traffic in armaments. Before Mr. Hughes sat M.
Viviani of France who had been serving on the Commission charged with
this business. Before him, too, was man after man fresh from the
discussions of the second annual Assembly of the League. Disarmament and
many other matters pertaining to world peace had been before them. They
came confident that they had done something of value at Geneva however
small it might be compared with the immense work still to be done.
Arthur Balfour of England, Viviani of France, Wellington Koo of China,
Senator Schanzer of Italy, Sastri of India, Van Karnebeck of
Holland—were among those that heard Mr. Hughes jump their honest
efforts, beginning in 1919, to bring the armaments of the world to a
police basis. It must have bewildered them a little—but they are
gentlemen who are forced by their profession to take hints quickly—they
understood that as far as the American Conference on Limitation of
Armament was concerned, the League of Nations was not to exist. From
that day, if you wanted information on the League from any one of them
you had to catch him in private, and he usually made sure nobody was
listening before he enlightened you as to his opinions, which invariably
were “not for publication.”

One could not but wonder if Mr. Balfour had this omission in mind when
at a later session he said in speaking of Mr. Hughes’ review of past
disarmament efforts that “some fragments” had been laid before the
Conference. What Mr. Hughes really did in ignoring the work for
disarmament carried on at Paris and Geneva in the last three years was
to call attention to it.

After all, was it not petty to be irritated when something so bold and
real had been initiated? Was it not yielding to the desire to “rub in”
the omission as bad—or worse—than the omission? As a matter of fact, the
thing going on at the moment was so staggering that one had no time for
more than a momentary irritation. Mr. Hughes swept his house on November
12—swept it off its feet. If secret diplomacy was given by him such a
blow as it never had received before, diplomatic etiquette was torn to
pieces by the Senate and the House of the United States, each of which
had a section of the gallery to itself. Possibly their action was due to
a little jealousy. They are accustomed to holding the center of the
deliberative stage in Washington, and they always have, possibly always
will resent a little the coming of an outside deliberative body which
for the time being the public regards as more interesting than
themselves. They made it plain from the start that they were not awed.
The House of Representatives particularly was a joy to see if it did
make a shocking exhibition of itself. It looked as if it were at a ball
game and conducted itself in the same way. It hung over the gallery,
lolled in its seats, and when the President struck his great note, the
words which ought to become a slogan of the country—“Less of Armament
and None of War”—it rose to its feet and cheered as if there had been a
home run.

Having once broke out in unrestrained cheers, they gave again and again
what William Allen White called “the yelp of democracy.” Even after the
program was over and the remaining formalities customary on such
occasions were about at an end, they took things into their own hands
and finished their attack on diplomatic etiquette by calling for Briand
as they might have called for Babe Ruth. “It isn’t done, you know,” I
heard one young Britisher say after it was over. But it had been done,
and the chances are that there will be more of it in the future.

If this day does work out to be portentous in history, as it possibly
may, the time will come when every country will hang great historical
pictures of the scene in its public galleries. We should have one,
whatever its fate. And I hope the artist that does it will not fail to
give full value to the Congress that cracked the proprieties. Let him
take his picture from the further left side of the auditorium. In this
way he can bring in the House of Representatives. He can afford to leave
out the diplomatic gallery, as he would have to do from this position.
The diplomatic gallery counted less than any other group in the

Secrecy and etiquette were not the only vested interests attacked on
November 12, 1921. There was a third that received a blow—lighter to be
sure, but a blow all the same and a significant one. The exclusive
vested right of man to the field of diplomacy was challenged. Not by
giving a woman a seat at the table, but by introducing her on the floor,
in an official capacity, a new official capacity, rather problematical
as yet as to its outcome—a capacity which if it ranks lower than that of
delegate is still counted higher than that of expert, since it brings
the privilege of the floor.

Behind the American delegation facing the hall and inside the sacred
space devoted to the principals of the Congress, sat a group of some
twenty-one persons, the representatives of a new experiment in
diplomacy—a slice of the public brought in to act as a link between the
American delegates and the public. Four of these delegates were
women—well-chosen women. They are the diplomatic pioneers of the United

Who were those people, why were they there? I heard more than one
puzzled foreign attaché ask. When you explained that this was an
advisory body, openly recognized by the government, they continued, “But
why are women included?” They understood the women in the diplomatic
gallery, the women in the boxes. It was a great ceremony. It was quite
within established diplomatic procedure that the ladies of the official
world should smile upon such an occasion.

They understood the few women scattered among the scores of men in the
press galleries—but women on the floor as part of the Conference? What
did that mean? It meant, dear sirs, simply this, that man’s exclusive,
vested interest in diplomacy had been invaded—its masculinity attacked
like its secrecy and propriety. What would come of the invasion no one
could tell.

It is doubtful if ever a program has received heartier acclaim from this
country than that of Mr. Hughes. It stirred by its boldness, its
breadth. “Scrap!” Whoever had said that word seriously in all the long
discussion of disarmament. Ten years!—the longest the most sanguine had
suggested was five. It caught the imagination—had the ring of
possibility in it. It might be putting the cart before the horse, as I
had been complaining, but it made it practically certain that the horse
would be acquired even if you had to pay a good round sum for him, so
desirable had the cart been made.

And then the way the nations addressed picked it up! Three days later
their formal acceptances were made. For England, Arthur Balfour accepted
in principle, declaring as he did so:

“It is easy to estimate in dollars or in pounds, shillings and pence the
saving to the taxpayer of each of the nations concerned which the
adoption of this scheme will give. It is easy to show that the relief is
great. It is easy to show that indirectly it will, as I hope and
believe, greatly stimulate industry, national and international, and do
much to diminish the difficulties under which every civilized government
is at this time laboring. All that can be weighed, measured, counted;
all that is a matter of figures. But there is something in this scheme
which is above and beyond numerical calculation. There is something
which goes to the root, which is concerned with the highest
international morality.

“This scheme, after all—what does it do? It makes idealism a practical
proposition. It takes hold of the dream which reformers, poets,
publicists, even potentates, as we heard the other day, have from time
to time put before mankind as the goal to which human endeavor should

“Japan,” declared Admiral Baron Kato, “deeply appreciates the sincerity
of purpose evident in the plan of the American Government for the
limitation of armaments. She is satisfied that the proposed plan will
materially relieve the nations of wasteful expenditures and cannot fail
to make for the peace of the world.

“She cannot remain unmoved by the high aims which have actuated the
American project. Gladly accepting, therefore, the proposal in
principle, Japan is ready to proceed with determination to a sweeping
reduction in her naval armament.”

Italy, through Senator Schanzer, greeted the proposal as “The first
effective step toward giving the world a release of such nature as to
enable it to start the work of its economic reconstruction.”

France—her Premier, Briand, spoke for her—slid over the naval program.
France, he said, had already entered on the right way—the way Mr. Hughes
had indicated; her real interest was elsewhere. “I rather turn,” said M.
Briand, “to another side of the problem to which Mr. Balfour has
alluded, and I thank him for this. Is it only a question here of
economy? Is it only a question of estimates and budgets? If it were so,
if that were the only purpose you have in view, it will be really
unworthy of the great nation that has called us here.

“So the main question, the crucial question, which is to be discussed
here, is to know if the peoples of the world will be at last able to
come to an understanding in order to avoid the atrocities of war. And
then, gentlemen, when it comes on the agenda, as it will inevitably
come, to the question of land armament, a question particularly delicate
for France, as you are all aware, we have no intention to eschew this.
We shall answer your appeal, fully conscious that this is a question of
grave and serious nature for us.”

What more was there to do? England, Japan and the United States had
accepted “in principle” a program for the limitation of navies, much
more drastic than the majority of people had dreamed possible. To be
sure the details were still to be worked out, but that seemed easy. Had
not the Conference finished its work? There were people that said so.
No. Mr. Hughes had simply awakened the country to what was possible if
the reasons for armament could be removed.

So far as we, the United States, were concerned, these reasons were

  (1) Our Pacific possessions. Until we felt reasonably sure that they
  were safe from possible attack by Japan, we must keep our navy and
  strengthen our fortifications.

  (2) The England-Japan pact. We suspected it. It might be a threat.
  So long as it existed could we wisely limit our navy?

  (3) Our Open Door policy in China. We meant to stand by that. It had
  been invaded by Japan in the Great War; could we reaffirm it now and
  secure assurances we trusted that there would be no further
  encroachments? If not, could we limit our armament?

  (4) Our policy of the integrity of nations—China and Russia. We had
  announced a “moral trusteeship” over both. No more carving up. Let
  them work it out for themselves. How were we going to back up that

That is, we had possessions and policies for which we were responsible.
Could we protect them without armament? That depended, in our judgment,
upon England and Japan. Would they be willing to make agreements and
concessions which would convince us that they were willing to respect
our possessions and accept our policies in the Pacific?

If so, what assurances could we give them in return that would convince
them that we meant to respect their possessions and policies? How could
we prove to them that they need not fear us?

It was within the first month of the Conference that the answers to
these questions were worked out “in principle” again.

                               CHAPTER IV
                      THE FRENCH AT THE CONFERENCE

The morale of an international conference is easily shaken in the
public’s mind. Seeming delay will do it. Those who look on feel that
whatever is to be done must be done quickly, that things must go in
leaps. They mistrust days of plain hard work—work which yields no
headlines. It must be, they repeat, because the negotiators have fallen
on evil times, are intriguing, bargaining.

Two days after Mr. Hughes had laid out his plan for ship reduction, and
it had been accepted in principle and turned over to the naval
committee, I heard an eager, suspicious young journalist ask Lord Lee
who, at the end of eight hours of committee work—grilling business
always—was conducting a press conference, if they were really “doing
anything.” His tone showed that he doubted it, that in his judgment they
must be loafing, deceiving the public; that if they were not, why, by
this time the program ought to be ready for his newspaper. Lord Lee was
very tired, but he had not lost his sense of humor. He made a patient
answer. But one understood that there had already begun in Washington
that which one saw and heard so much two years and a half before in
Paris—a feeling that taking time to work out problems was a suspicious

The calm of steady effort on the part of the Conference was brief. Mr.
Hughes in closing the second plenary session where his naval program had
been so generously accepted “in principle,” had said “I express the wish
of the Conference that at an opportune time M. Briand will enjoy the
opportunity of presenting to the Conference most fully the views of
France with regard to the subject of land armaments which we must
discuss.” Mr. Hughes kept that promise, fixing November 21, nine days
after the opening, as the “opportune time.”

The Conference went into M. Briand’s open session serene, confident,
self-complacent. It came out excited, scared, ruffled to the very bottom
of its soul. In an hour one-third of Mr. Hughes’ agenda had been swept
away. Could this have been avoided? I am inclined to think that it would
have been if there had been a larger sympathy, a better understanding of
the French and their present psychology. If we are to carry on the world
coöperatively, as seems inevitable, we must have a much fuller knowledge
of one another’s ways and prejudices and ambitions than was shown at the
outset of the Washington Conference.

Back of the commotion that M. Briand stirred up on November 21 lay the
idiosyncrasies and experiences of France. To understand at all the
crisis, for so it was called, one must understand something of
France—that she is a land which through the centuries has held herself
apart as something special, the élite of the nations. The people of no
country in the civilized world are so satisfied with themselves and
their aim. There are no people that find life at home more precious,
guard it so carefully, none who care so little about other lands, and it
might be said, know so little of other lands.

It is only within the last twenty years that the Frenchman has come to
be anything of a traveler. To-day, in many parts of France, the young
man or young woman who comes to America has the same prestige on
returning that thirty years ago the person in towns outside of the
Atlantic border had in his town when he returned from a trip abroad. I
was living in Paris in the early 90’s when Alphonse Daudet made a trip
to England. It was a public event. Peary discovered the pole with hardly
less newspaper talk.

Now this country, so wrapt up in itself and the carrying out of its
notions of life—among the most precious notions in my judgment that
mankind have—finds itself for a long period really the center of the
world’s interests. It makes a superhuman effort, is valiant beyond
words, practically the whole civilized world rallies to its help. It
comes off victorious, and when it gathers itself together and begins to
examine its condition it finds the ghastly wounds of a devastated
region; the work of centuries so shattered that it will take centuries
to restore the fertility, beauty, interest. It finds itself with an
appalling debt; with a population depleted at the point most vital to a
nation, in its young men, threatening the oncoming generation. It sees
its enemy beaten, to be sure, but with its land practically unimpaired.

France not only had her condition in her mind, she had all her
past:—reminiscences of invasions, from Attila on. Old obsessions, old
policies revived:—the belief that she would never have safety except in
a weak Central Europe—a doctrine she had repudiated—broke out.

She came to the peace table in Paris under an accepted program which
said: Reparations, but no indemnities. And her bitterness so overwhelmed
her that she forgot the principle pledge and demanded indemnities in
full. She forgot her pledge to annex nothing and called for the Rhine
Border. Every effort to reason with her, to persuade her not to ask the
impossible of her beaten enemy, she interpreted as lack of sympathy, and
pointed to her devastated region, her debts, her shrunken population.
She accused of injustice those who felt that mercy is the great wisdom.
Justice became her great cry. Intent on herself, her dreadful woes, her
determination to have the last pound, she magnified her perils, saw
combinations against her, and went about in Europe trying to arm other
peoples, to build up a pro-France party. Any effort to persuade her that
the spirit which underlay the Versailles Treaty was pro-humanity and not
pro-French embittered and antagonized her. She resented the English
effort to bring some kind of order into the Continent. She resented the
conclusion of the world—slow enough though it was—to let Russia work out
her own destiny.

No lover of France has any right to overlook or encourage this attitude.
It is the most dangerous course she could take. She is building up
anti-French antagonisms in beaten Europe, and she is alienating
countries that want to bring the world onto a new basis of Good Will and
who believe it can be done.

When M. Briand came to the Washington peace table, he left behind him a
country in this abnormal mood—her thoughts centered on herself—her
needs, her dangers. M. Briand knew well enough that she would not see
the program that Mr. Hughes had thrown out as it was intended—a
tremendously bold suggestion for world peace—a call to the sacrifice
that each country must make if order was to be restored, the awful
losses of recent years repaired. M. Briand knew that what France
expected him to get at Washington was recognition, sympathy, guarantees.
The last thing that she wanted brought back was a request to join in a
program of sacrifice.

Moreover, M. Briand came to the Conference at considerable peril to
himself. He was Premier, and in this office he had been doing as much as
he seems to have thought possible to hold down the military trend of the
country. His policy had been fought for a year by a strong party, intent
on demonstrating that France was the most powerful nation on the
continent of Europe, that it was her right and her ambition to hold
first place there. M. Briand’s friends thought that he should not come
to the United States. But, as he publicly said, he wanted to come in
order to persuade the Conference that France was not as military in
spirit as much of the world seemed to believe, that she did want peace,
that her refusals to disarm came from the fact that she was still
threatened by both Germany and Russia and must either have arms or

M. Briand knew the line of argument that the Hughes program would awaken
in France. This argument was admirably set forth early in the Conference
by the semi-official _Le Temps_:

  “I. Under a régime of limited armaments such as that of which Mr.
  Hughes has defined the basis, each state has the right to possess
  force proportioned to the dangers to which, in the opinion of all
  the contracting powers, it may reasonably believe itself to be

  “II. When powers agree among themselves to limit their armaments
  they oblige themselves by that very fact even though tacitly aiding
  that one of themselves which should find itself at grips with a
  danger which its limited armaments would not allow it to subdue.

  “III. It is not possible to have a contractual limitation of
  armament without there being at the same time among all the
  contractants a joint and several obligation of mutual aid.”

It is not unfair, I think, to say that when M. Briand came to speak to
the Washington Conference on November 21, he was not thinking of the
peace of the world; he was thinking of the needs and ambitions of
France. Moreover, his mood was not the most conciliatory in the world.
His pride and his pride for his country had been deeply wounded on the
opening day of the Conference. He had found himself on that occasion set
at one side. To be sure, he and his colleagues were given a position at
the right of the American delegates, Great Britain being at the left;
but when Mr. Hughes presented his naval program, France did not figure
in it, except incidentally. The whole discussion was centered on Great
Britain, Japan and the United States. France and Italy were set aside
with the casual remark that it was not thought necessary to discuss
their tonnage allowance at that time.

Did Mr. Hughes lack tact and understanding when he confined his opening
speech to three nations? I think that the after events point that way.
To have invited eight nations and to have spoken to but two at the start
was a good deal like inviting eight guests to a dining table and talking
to but two of them through the meal. The oversight, if that’s the proper
word for it, was forgotten, if noticed by any one in the really
tremendous thing that Mr. Hughes did. The trouble is that there is
almost always one among a number of neglected guests that does feel and
does not forget it.

The opening week of the Conference kept France in about the same
position that she had on the opening day. She was not yet a principal,
and another point—and one that is hard on the French—they saw here what
they began to see in Paris in 1919 and so openly resented there—that
English is taking the place of French as the language of diplomacy.
There is no mistake about this, and I don’t wonder that all Frenchmen
resent it. At the opening day every delegate, except M. Briand, spoke in
English; the French translations which followed each speech were made
purely out of compliment to the French delegation. M. Briand is one of
not a few in France who will take no pains, whatever their contracts, to
learn a word of English. For the last two years he has been constantly
in conference with Lloyd George, he has had most of that time the
remarkable interpreter, M. Carmlynck, at his side. I have heard M.
Carmlynck say that in all this time M. Briand has not learned a word of
English, although Lloyd George, who at the start understood no French at
all, is now able to follow closely the arguments in French, and even
will at times correct or question the phrasing of the translation into

The French are not a race that conceal their feelings. An Englishman, an
American, is apt to accuse anybody who does not cover up disappointment,
resentment, of being a poor sport. France’s chief contempt for the
Anglo-Saxon is that he is not out and out with everything; that he has
reticences and reserves, conceals his dislikes, his vices, his emotions.
The French showed at Washington from the start that they were
disappointed. They did not mix freely; they did not use the ample
offices prepared for them in the Annex to the Pan-American Building,
where the delegates sat, although every other nation was making more or
less use of these quarters. They insisted on conducting all their press
meetings in French alone, although every other nation, when it put up
somebody who did not speak English, provided a translator. The result
was that the French press gatherings were sparsely attended.

And then came M. Briand’s speech, which caused the first Conference
crisis. For days after that speech was made, I listened to people remake
it, giving their idea of how he might have used the same matter and
carried his audience with him, giving them the impression of a
courageous people, as they really are, intent not only on the
restoration of their tormented and suffering land but willing to do
their part to restore the rest of the world. Instead, M. Briand gave an
impression of a land in panic, its mind centered on possible dangers
from a conquered enemy. It was _France Sanglante_ that he held in
upraised arms before the Conference, a bleeding France at whom ravening
German and Russian wolves were snapping and threatening. All his
powerful oratory, his wealth of emotional gesture, upraised arms, tossed
black locks, rolling head, tortured features—all these M. Briand brought
into play in his efforts to arouse the Conference to share the fears of
France. He could not do it. He was talking to people as well informed as
himself on the actual facts of Europe, but people who are not
interpreting those facts in the way that the French do. He was talking
to people who view the situation of the present world as one to be
corrected only by hard, steady sacrifice and work in a spirit of good
will and mercy. Unhappily he gave them the impression that France
thought only of herself and of what the world should do for her to pay
her for her terrible sacrifices. In his picture of bleeding France he
did not include bleeding Belgium, Italy, England, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, all of whom sat at the table and all of whom had suffered
losses and are staggering under debts, if not equal, at least comparable
to those of France.

It was a mistake of emphasis, that brilliant journalist Simeon Strunsky
said. He pointed out that the thing really relevant in M. Briand’s
speech was practically concealed from the public, that France had
disarmament plans on hand which soon would reduce her army one half and
her term of military service from three years to eighteen months. M.
Briand’s tragic picture of the danger of France so obscured this
statement, so vitally important to the work of the Conference, that not
a few people contended that no such statement was ever made. One has
only to look at the text of the address to see that it was there, though
so out of proportion to the bulk of the speech that it failed of its

The speech was disastrous. “I was never so heartsick in my life,” I
heard one of the greatest and most important men in Washington say after
it was over. Mr. Wells, that ardent advocate of the brotherhood of man,
knocked his doctrine all to smithereens by accusing France of wanting
arms to turn against England. Lord Curzon, as militant as Mr. Wells,
made a most unguarded speech for a man in his position.

France, sore and sensitive, cried aloud that the United States and Great
Britain were trying to isolate her. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Balfour had, to
be sure, made consoling speeches after M. Briand’s outburst, but they
were rather the efforts of serene elderly friends trying to calm the
panic of a frightened child, and their effect was rather to aggravate
France’s determination to assert herself, to prove herself the equal, by
arms, if necessary, of any nation in the world, England included.

The irritation of that day spread over the world. The Conference was
“wrecked,” cried the lovers of gloom and chaos. Washington buzzed with
gossip of wrangling between even the heads of delegations. There was a
rumor spread of a sharp quarrel between Mr. Balfour and Mr. Hughes on
the way the discussions in the committees were to be handled. It was
said that Mr. Hughes wanted everything that was voiced put down; that
Mr. Balfour thought a digest of the discussions would be sufficient.
This rumor was followed by the story of an ugly scene in committee
between the French Premier, Briand, and the Italian Senator Schanzer
over the morals of the Italian army.

Now, luckily the Conference was admirably arranged to scotch vicious
rumors. There never has been a great international gathering in which
the press had as real an opportunity to learn what was going on. Every
morning there was given out at press headquarters a list of delegates
who at fixed hours would receive the press. This morning bulletin ran
something like this:

      11:00 A.M. Lord Lee
      11:30      Ambassador Schanzer
       3:00 P.M. Lord Riddle
       3:30      Secretary Hughes
       4:00      The President of the United States (twice a week)
       5:30      Admiral Kato
       6:00      Mr. Balfour

and so on. Every day from six to eight opportunities were given to
correspondents to question principals of the Conference. How much they
got depended upon how much they carried—how able they were to ask
questions—how sound their judgment was of the answers they received—how
honest their intent in interpreting. When ugly rumors such as those
which disturbed the second week of the Conference’s life occurred, this
method of treating the press was of real advantage to the powers
concerned. It was a joy to see the way Secretary Hughes, for instance,
handled the rumors at this moment.

It was always a joy to see Mr. Hughes when he was righteously indignant,
and he certainly was so on the afternoon of November 25. He lunged at
once at the report of the break between himself and Mr. Balfour. The
statement had no basis but the imagination of the writer. It was unjust
to Mr. Balfour, who had been coöperative from the start. To put him of
all men at the Conference in a position of opposing the United States
was most unfair. There had been no clashes in committees, no quarrels.
There had, of course, been differences in points of view, candid
statements, free explanations, but any one with common sense knew that
such exchange of views must take place. It was a fine, generous,
convincing answer to the ugly rumors, and the beauty of it was that you
believed Mr. Hughes. You knew that he was not lying to you. I believe
this to have been the general conviction of the newspaper men. He
convinced them and they were all for him. This was a real achievement
for any man, for the press craft are hard to convince and quick to
suspect. Many of them have been for years in the thick of public
affairs, watching men go up and down; seeing heroes made and unmade; the
incorruptible prove corruptible. One wonders sometimes not that they
have so little faith, but that they have any. They believed Mr. Hughes.
When he denied the rumors his word was accepted. But the rumors were
out, and had been cabled abroad and were already doing their ugly work
there—fighting right and left like mad dogs. There was even riot and
bloodshed in Italy over the report that Briand had spoken lightly of
their army.

It looked for the moment as if an atmosphere was gathering around the
Washington Conference similar to that in which the Paris Conference had
done its work. Indeed, already the observer who had been in Paris in
1919, had been more than once startled with the way the two conferences
were beginning to parallel each other. Just what happened in Paris had
already happened here—a wonderful first stage in which a noble program
had been given out—a program to which all the world had responded with
joy and hope. Then came a second stage in which the delegates attempted
to make their noble ideas realities. It was in this transition period
that the first convulsions of public and press began. They saw that, as
a matter of fact, the Conference had no magic to practice, that it was
nothing but the same old hard effort to work out by conferring, by
bargaining, by compromise, the best that they could get. And they saw,
too, that most of this work was going on behind closed doors. The moment
that the Washington Conference attempted to get down to cases there was
the same burst of remonstrance, suspicion, accusation that we saw in
Paris. “Secret diplomacy.” Then came rumors of quarrels. If it was
secret, must it not have been because there were things that they did
not want known outside—breaks in their good will? The rumors of quarrels
were spread with relish, and often malice. Dislike of this or that
nation flared up, mistrust of this or that man. Washington air was
saturated with impatience, suspicion, intrigue. Was the Conference to
gather about it the same storm of wicked passions that had been so
strong in Paris, doing their best to wreck the work, and frustrating
some of the noblest attempts. That dreadful “outside” of the Paris
Conference, created by the unreason, hate, vanity and ambitions of men,
seemed about to be duplicated. I had never set down my impressions of
the Paris atmosphere at the time of the Peace Conference; I would do it
now, that I might have it to compare with what seemed to me was about to
develop in Washington.

                               CHAPTER V

Men and women who have been spectators of great human tussles are
generally possessed by a desire to tell what they saw, thought and felt
during its progress, and until they have relieved themselves of this
obsession they are uneasy, as from a duty undone. Until one carries for
a time such an obsession as this he cannot realize the patness of the
vulgar expression getting a thing “off one’s chest.” It lies there,
literally a load. He may have a notion—and his delay is probably due to
that—that he will only be adding another folio to a more or less
pestiferous collection; that, as a matter of fact, he will not, and
cannot, communicate anything that others have not already communicated.
All he can do is to say, “So I saw it; so it seemed to me.”

For three years I had carried around a few impressions of the Paris
Conference of 1919. I had meant to keep them to myself—they were so
ungracious. Summed up they amounted to a melancholy conclusion that in
times of stress, public and press, unrestrained, make a bedlam in which
steady constructive effort, if not frustrated utterly, is sure to be
hindered and distorted. Taken as a whole the _milieu_ in which the Paris
Conference operated, furnished the most perfect example the world has
ever seen of the arrogance of the one who calls himself liberal, of the
irresponsibility of him who calls himself radical, of the unutterable
stupidity of him who calls himself conservative, of the universal habit
of saving your face by crying down what others are attempting to do, and
of the limitations which the laws of human nature and human society put
upon the collective efforts of human beings.

From the day that the Conference opened you had the impression of each
man—I am talking here only of the man on the outside—being for himself
in what was plainly and admittedly the world’s most gigantic effort to
sink this each man in the whole. It was the insistence of the individual
and his way of thinking, so long held in check by the terrific
necessities of the war, that caused the first doubts of the undertaking
to one who struggled to keep a disinterested outlook. Take the idealists
who had accepted the great formula for world peace laid down; they
regarded it as something accomplished because for the moment it stood
out as the clear desire of the world, and were heedless and contemptuous
of the wisest words that were uttered at the start, the words of Georges
Clemenceau, who, at the first session, told the delegates of all the
nations of the world that if this daring thing, which he doubted but to
which he consented, went through it meant sacrifice for everybody. But
your idealist had not come for sacrifice. He had come to put into
operation his particular formula for a perfect world.

With every day the numbers in Paris grew who had come to help—to get a
hearing—to help in the group at the top—to be heard by principals. They
failed. Disappointment, wounded vanity, the sense that they were
somebody, had something to contribute, stirred them to resentment. They
would serve, and they were rejected. There was, to be sure, one thing
that those who resented this apparent unconsciousness of their
importance by those charged with the conduct of things might have
done—one surely useful thing, and that was, casting an eye about and
seeing the multitude of problems that shrieked for solution, master one,
little as it might be:—the case of Teschen, of the Banat of Tamesvar,
the history of a boundary, the need of a coal mine here or there—and
working, really working, on this particular problem, produce some sound
presentation, something that men could not get around. The whole
bubbling pot of trouble called for such cooling drops of real, carefully
considered work.

But this demanded self-direction, poise, a willingness to make a very
small contribution, to have no pretense of being called into council, to
trust to the gods and your own knowledge of what really counts in
solving complications. It called for going aside, of not pretending to
be on the inside. Minds were too troubled, vanity was too keen. You
eased your mind and poulticed your vanity by talk—talk at dinner tables,
over restaurant coffee, over tea—and talk in endless articles.

One of the banes of the Paris Peace Conference was that there were so
many men and women on the field under contract to write, to produce so
many words every day or every week. There was no contract that these
words should add something to the knowledge of the many things about
which it was so necessary for men and women to learn—no contract that
they should contribute by ever so little to the great need of control on
every side, that they should comfort, soften hates, stimulate common
sense. Writers covered up their ignorance of things doing by prophecies,
by shrieks of despair, by poses of intimacy with the great, by
elaborately spun-out theories. And they built up superstitions. They
created things—absolutely created superstitions that may never be
dispelled from the minds of those who read them back home.

There was the superstition of the mysterious four who, without advice,
without use of the vast machinery of expert knowledge that had been
called into existence, without consideration of political prejudice, of
ancient hates and struggles, carved up countries, made artificial
boundaries, and did it with a nicely calculated sense of revenge, hate,
self-advantage. This “Big-Four” came in popular minds to be a
hydra-headed tyrant—more irresponsible, brutal, and cynical than any
czar of Russia or Machiavelli of the Middle Ages.

And it was a creation that left out of consideration facts that were
there for everybody to read if they were willing to work. It was a
Putois they created. Who was Putois? Read your Anatole France, or if
Crainquebille is not at hand, read Joseph Conrad’s review.

The malevolence of those not charged with the conduct of affairs against
those so charged grew thicker and thicker as the days went on. Gossip
became more and more unrestrained. It was the only refuge of the numbers
who had no definite business in the scene but who had come to
watch—often with the idea in their minds that they might be able to
contribute some definite, salutary, stimulating something, often again
with a very definite idea that they might be able to pull down this or
that person having some actual inside hold.

There were those who set themselves with calculation to destroy the
prestige of the President of the United States; not to destroy it by
sound criticism of his point of view, by the presentation of a larger
aspect of things than his, but to do it by a calculated meanness of
mind. In the general and frightful disorder left by the war, everything
begged that men should sink their littleness and show bigness, if there
was any in them, or if not leave the scene, in order at least, by their
absence, there might be so much less of littleness of mind around. But
these men—and women—stayed on. They sat at the tables of the Ritz and
smacked their lips over a nasty piece of scandal, born of
mischief-making partisans in far distant places; the meanness of the
“outs” against the leader of the “ins.” And there were always those to
listen and to spread.

In the greatness of the calamity that had overwhelmed the world, it
would seem that men should have gone beyond the point not only of this
wanton mischief but beyond the point of sneering. A sneer in the face of
this vast destruction of mankind was like a sneer at an angry Jehovah.
But men everywhere sneered at the attempts at order, at justice. And,
curiously enough, it was those who labeled themselves liberal, humane,
that sneered most.

There was a despairing consciousness at times that in every heart some
unextinguishable hatred was nourished. There were the hatreds against
those who did not believe with you. You began to see growing in Paris
among Americans what we have seen growing here at home since the war—the
revival of that old, old hate of England. What hope is there of the
world, one felt sometimes like asking, when some man or woman who
literally had given his life to good works or good causes poured a vial
of vitriol on the English nation? It took you back to the Civil War, and
the delivery up to England, by the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, of the
Confederate commissioners. Owen Lovejoy, lifelong friend of human
freedom, enemy of human slavery, rose in the Congress of the United
States then and swore, so that all the country heard, his own undying
hatred of England.

What was the world problem, after all, but to extinguish hatred?

Unless that hymn of hate could be silenced, what hope was there of
peace, order, or the forms of order? And yet the advocates of peace fed
the fires in their own hearts and did their best to enkindle them in

And it was not alone American hatred of England, French hatred of
Germany, or English hatred of Germany that you heard of, but new hates.
They ran about like fire maniacs, pouring oil on old factional, national
and international troubles,—the Egyptian against the English, the Greek
against the Turk—the Pole against the Russian.

There used to stand in Brittany one of those frank, realistic shrines
that the Gallic—honest with the ways of his own heart—so often sets up,
a statue to Notre Dame des Haines-Our Lady of the Hates. A mob from all
over the earth flocked to Paris, carrying under their arms big or little
replicas of Notre Dame des Haines—intent on rearing them at the doors of
the Conference.

Savage instincts came to the top, and no contradiction, in all this sea
of contradiction, stared at you more hatefully than that of announced
pacifists lending all their efforts to a May Day riot, almost panting to
see blood run, and perching themselves on possible vantage points, to
cheer on any possible disorder at a time when tormented authorities had
ordered the public to stay indoors, and had taken taxis and omnibuses
from the streets. They wanted the protest of blood against what? As
nearly as one could see, it was against the only organized widespread
effort then making in the tormented world to bring the peace and justice
which they had made it their professional business to preach.

A despairing fact was that individuals and groups, whose profession in
life it had been to be auxiliaries of peace and order, became
auxiliaries of war and disorder. There was one way of counteracting
their power, and that was using them, putting it up to them as Mr.
Lincoln put it up to Horace Greeley in 1864.

To put it up to them in the way of the Niagara Conference—that was the
real wisdom, the real wisdom of the leader always toward protesting
groups—let them try their hand. Possibly they can pull it through,
contribute something which he and those of his type cannot do. But in
this avalanche of demands—causes, old and new; injustices running back
to the Flood; with a hundred unsolvable problems for every hour—how
place all this pestiferous mob that knew how to do it? It was to bale
out the Seine with a teaspoon—a vaster river than the Potomac and a
smaller teaspoon.

And the trying came so often to naught. There was Prinkipo—modeled on
the real idealist’s formula, sound enough for a limited scene, with a
limited cast—“get together around a table and talk it over.”

But the table? How find it in this still seething land over so much of
which the lava was still hot and uncrossable, with so many craters where
at every instant new eruptions threatened. They tried it—went into the
sea for their table, at a spot of which some of those who chose it had
never heard, and to which one at least objected—soundly enough—because
the name sounded so like the name of a comic opera.

And the table selected, how get contestants there? In this Europe they
were remaking, such was the physical, military and political hampering
that there was no spot to which it was certain that everybody could
reach. And, as in the Prinkipo case, you ran up against things more
unyielding than armies or parties—that hardening of will, that deadening
of the spirit of coöperation which is one of the most terrible works of
revolutions—something happening to men who have all their lives been
good men, devoted to the end of human happiness, freezing them until
they will no longer work with other men to bring order and peace to a
tormented land for which they have always slaved.

To sit at a table and hear a great noble, white-bearded advocate of
human rights, turned to bitterness and scorn of those who have ruined
his plan of doing things but who, for the moment, are in the saddle,
carrying out their own violent, fanatic way, refuse to even meet at the
Prinkipo table the representative of those advocates of violence in
order to attempt to somehow soften their madness—you know then that you
have reached a human limit, a limit to the human being’s capacity to
face those who disagree and those whom he despises though in that
meeting there may be a remote, though ever so remote, chance to stay a
murderous hand and soften a murderous spirit.

It was not only such curious impressions of the limitations of the human
mind one received, but of the human heart as well. It seemed as if it
were not big enough—even in the case of those whose profession it is to
be humane—not big enough to cover anything but some special group whose
cause they espoused. There were many disheartening exhibits of this
limitation. One that will always stick in my mind as one of the most
hideous was the tears of a great humanitarian over the German prisoner
in France—a prisoner at that time receiving the same rations and even
better shelter and more clothes than most French refugees, and an
absolute setting of lips and hardness of eyes at the mention of children
and women in the caves of Lens, the shattered ruins of Peronne—it was
not humanity but an espoused group of humanity that stirred his

Limits to human endurance, human capacity, human kindness, human
foresight—that was what every day of the Peace Conference cried louder
and louder into your ear.

                               CHAPTER VI
                           WHY DID HE DO IT?

But Washington was not to parallel Paris. The uproar caused by M.
Briand’s speech died away in an amazingly short time—so far as
Washington was concerned. The violence and indiscretions of the press to
which so much of the disturbance on the other side of the Atlantic was
due was not followed up. Those that had been responsible were all of
them, I think, a little ashamed, though Mr. Wells obstinately came back
once or twice to tell what he thought of the French. Explanations
quieted the Italians. M. Briand had never used the offensive word
attributed to him, it had been but a mistake of the cables—and a serious
mistake, it should be said, too, of the journalist that had cabled it
without verification. On all sides lectures were read to the
correspondents. Go on this way and they could easily wreck the whole
thing. Go on this way and peace never at any time could be made in the
world. Any effort of man could be easily upset if passionate judgments
and unconfirmed suspicions were to be sent broadcast through the
newspapers. People believe what they read, unhappily, and have little or
no way of verifying. There was much of this reproving talk going on and
some of those who handled it most vigorously belonged to the Washington
press. It had its effect at once.

Then, too, it was hard to be continuously violent and suspicious in
Washington. The lovely days, the wide streets, the freedom from the
turmoil of business and industry, the very absence of exciting night
life—all tended to calm the spirit. How different from Paris in 1919!
There one lived in a city encircled by vast hospitals where thousands
upon thousands of shattered men tossed on their beds of pain. Soldiers
of all nations swarmed everywhere. In many streets of the city the shops
were still sealed up. On all sides one found great staring gaps—the
wounds of the city made by the shells of Big Bertha or the nightly
visits of airplanes. Everywhere you went you saw still the signs
“_Abri_” (shelter), vividly recalling the long years in which no man
safely went out without knowing that there was a refuge near by. The
streets at night were still dark, and those within still tightened their
shutters and drew close their curtains, unable to believe that light was
no longer a danger.

You rode in battered taxicabs over streets that were rough from long
inattention. In every house you entered the marks of war still remained.
Nothing had been mended or repaired in Paris for five years. A heating
apparatus out of order, it stayed out of order. A window broken, it
stayed broken. A hinge off, it stayed off. Carpets and furniture went
uncleaned. And in the homes of the rich where there had been beautiful
pictures, empty frames hung on the wall, the canvas having been cut out
and sent to some place of safety. There was no color. All Paris was in
black. Even in the windows of the shops you saw nothing but black. Your
dressmaker and milliner had no heart to work in colors, it still to them
was bad taste. It was only the influx and the demand of the visiting
foreigners, who multiplied as the Conference went on, that brought back
colors to the shop windows.

What a contrast to all this was Washington in the fall of 1921, with its
gayety and lavishness, its incessant round of lunches and teas and
dinners, its over-weighted tables, unbelievable in their abundance to
the visiting strangers, so long—and still—on stricter rations. You could
not be tragic long in Washington.

Then there was Mr. Hughes’ steady hand. He laughed daily at his press
conferences at the insinuations and solemnity of the questioning press
correspondents. Everything was going on swimmingly, he asserted.
“Excellent progress.” The naval committee was at work, the Far Eastern
committee had begun its sessions, the agenda would be followed step by
step, but one thing at a time would be attempted; when they had finished
what they were at now they would take up the next step, and not before.
It was certainly steadying, if not exciting. It gave confidence, if not
headlines. All of this quieted the storm, but it was left to the
President of the United States to sweep it entirely from the Conference
sky, though whether he did it intentionally or accidentally is still, I
think, an unanswered question.

Why did President Harding, without warning, inject an Association of
Nations into the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, on the last
day of its second week of life? The Conference had a definite agenda.
Mr. Hughes, its chairman, was following it with the rigor of a good
schoolmaster. That agenda made no mention of a conference, association
or league of nations. So far as it was concerned, the world war is made
up of nine nations. And here came the President of the United States and
casually announced that before the work was completed it should include
an association of all the nations of the earth.

Why did he do it? Did he want to divert public attention from the
dangerous irritations of the moment? We do not yet know enough of the
workings of Mr. Harding’s mind to be able to say whether he would, like
Napoleon III, gild a dome when there was squally public weather. All we
do really know about the President, so far, is his genuinely beneficent
intent. Is he canny enough to know that the public is as easily diverted
as a child and capable of attempting the trick when things are getting a
bit out of hand?

Whether this is true or not, he certainly put an end to the ticklish
situation in which the Conference found itself in Thanksgiving week.
Everybody fell to discussing the proposition. Was the Conference really
to end up in an Association of Nations? Did this mean that the United
States would suggest to the delegates gathered at the Conference—all of
them members of the League of Nations—that they scrap that institution?
There had been much speculation in Geneva before the Washington
Conference was called as to whether the intention was to force the
League out of existence. So great was the anxiety of more than one
European country to be in any congregation in which the United States
figured, that it was pretty generally agreed that if such a proposition
should be made it would be assented to. Was this Mr. Harding’s first
feeler then toward substituting something of his own for the League? But
this was only a speculation. Nobody could get from any official source
any confirmation that Mr. Harding had anything definite in mind. And yet
they were not unwilling to accept the notion that he had inadvertently
thrown out so important a suggestion.

There were those who had an unamiable explanation. We are all human,
they said. We must remember that this has ceased to be Mr. Harding’s
conference. His fine sentiments on Armistice Day on the opening of the
Conference had been greeted with loud acclaim the world over. But after
he had opened the Conference he left the hall. Secretary Hughes
appeared, and it was Secretary Hughes who stirred the world. From that
time on, the Secretary had been the one man quoted. We have had great
secretaries—Mr. Root, for instance, who never allowed his shadow to fall
across that of the President of the United States. When Mr. Roosevelt
was President, Mr. Root prepared some very remarkable state papers, but
they always began “The President instructs me to say.” Mr. Hughes has
been speaking for himself. It is quite possible, said these
interpreters, that the President thinks the time has come to let the
public know that, after all, it is he who occupies the White House.

I am quite sure that if this had been true, we should have had other
evidence of it as time went on, but none came. Mr. Harding knew well
enough that a successful Conference was in the long run his triumph. He
knew well enough that the only man who could give him this success was
Secretary Hughes. Possibly the wisest thing that Mr. Harding has yet
done as President has been to let the members of his cabinet do their
own work. Jealousy is not, I am sure, an explanation of Mr. Harding’s
sudden introduction of an Association of Nations into the Conference on
the Limitation of Armament. Was it to be found in M. Briand’s speech?

M. Briand did not convince his audience, as we have seen. That is, he
did not bring it to the point at which he was aiming. But one thing that
he did do was to bring into sharp relief the fact that land and naval
armaments cannot be handled separately. They dovetail in the game of
war, are mutually defensive and offensive; to cut the navy of a nation
whose main defense is ships, without considering the relation of that
cut to the size of the armies of those nations in which armies are the
chief defense, is to leave an unbalanced situation.

A second realization went along with this, and that was that the
scrapping and cutting by nine nations must be done with an eye to the
actual or potential naval armaments of the other forty-five or so
nations of the earth. Senator Schanzer had already suggested this in his
speech made on November 15, accepting in principle for Italy the naval
program. “I think it rather difficult,” he said, “to separate the
question of Italian and French naval armament limitation from the
general question of naval armaments of the world.”

M. Briand’s speech made one realize how France and Italy must consider
possible continental alliances of powers that were not represented at
this Conference; must consider a possible Russian crusade to convert the
world by force to its gospel. And if France and Italy must, or thought
they must, secure themselves against these possibilities, could England
weaken herself disproportionately? When you began to consider the
question of armament in terms of the world and not simply of nine
nations, you could not if you were candid find any peaceful solution but
by bringing everybody in—Germany, Turkey, Russia. Now it may be, though
we do not know Mr. Harding well enough yet to say, that the logic of the
experiences that the Conference had been through up to date laid hold of
him and he said it like a man—“there is but one way out, and that is by
One Big Union.”

Of course there is another explanation of why he did it and I rather
think it may be the true one, after all. The President may have been
hearing from the country. One thing that we do know about him is that he
is a man who with almost religious care listens to the voices that come
up to him from the people. And it was no secret that a multitude of
them, strong and weak, had been calling to him in the weeks
preceding—“conference,” “association,” “league,” “some method of
carrying on in which everybody can join,” “in no other way can we hope
for permanent peace.” It may be that Mr. Harding had heard so much of
this that he felt he must reply. And if this was true, he did wisely.

We may lay it down as one of the great facts of the present
international state of mind, that the world is intent on some sort of an
association of nations. It is not set, so far as one can determine, on
any particular covenant, though of course there is one to which some
fifty nations of the world have subscribed and in which for some two
years now they have been doing increasingly practical work in adjusting
difficulties between nations. The very fact that the League of Nations
lives—the divers ways in which its adventures in world unionism come to
us—only makes the idea of association stronger in the minds of the
peoples of the earth.

The Conference might limit armaments, naval and land, in the nine
nations that were here gathered. It might make settlements of the Far
Eastern questions, but there still would remain the rest of the world.
It is a part of things. The world is one. It has come to a consciousness
of its oneness. Nothing can dull that consciousness, stop the
determination to realize it. Not Mr. Borah, not Mr. Lodge. Somehow we
have got to learn to come together and stay together. Walt Whitman once
said of Abraham Lincoln’s passion for the Union that unionism had become
“a new virtue” with him,—a virtue like honesty, goodness, truthfulness.
There is no manner of doubt that in the minds of this world unionism is
coming to be regarded as a virtue; that the demand for its realization
as the only road to world peace is becoming more and more universal.

Mr. Harding may have seen this. He may have gone over in his mind the
steps that in the last twenty-five years—not to go back farther—the
world has taken toward this—the steps at the Hague, the various peace
conferences, the greatest of all experiments now making at Geneva—and he
may have seen that he could no longer deny the demand of this people
that he take another step toward the realization of this great hope.
Whatever the reason, however, of his unexpected suggestion, it served
the excellent purpose of turning the mind of the public to the fact that
however complete the work of the Conference might be there would still
be more to do if the world was to remain at peace.

In the meantime the Conference itself was going steadily ahead.
Everybody seemed cheerful. Everybody was cheerful. If the Conference had
rocked on its base for a moment, it had come back to its position; and
it was obvious enough, too, from all that one heard and saw, that there
was going soon to be something definite and important to announce as a
result of the work that was going on.

                              CHAPTER VII
                           DRAMATIC DIPLOMACY

Who was the dramatist of the Conference on the Limitation of Armament?
Mr. Hughes? I would never have believed it. I could never have conceived
of his deliberately staging his diplomatic achievements with an
appreciation of the time, the place and the world at large which was
really amazing. It did not need Mr. Balfour’s delicate and humorous
understanding to point out to those who were present at the opening on
November 12 that the dramatic quality of Mr. Hughes’ great speech
rivaled, if it did not outstrip, its splendid matter. But who would have
believed that he would repeat himself? Yet he did it. Just four weeks
from his first great coup he pulled off another that had every element
of drama which characterized the first—and it had more—strains of
genuine emotion and one scene of biting satire. (Not for a moment,
however, do I believe that Mr. Hughes intended _that_.)

The surprise of the opening day of the Conference, November 12, lay in
the unexpectedness of what Mr. Hughes had to say. The first surprise, of
December 10, lay in the fact that there was to be a full session. It was
not until nearly midnight of the 9th that it was announced. A few diners
lingering late heard of it. The press of course was informed. But to
most of us the news came when we opened our morning paper over our
coffee—a full headline across the top of the page—

                         PLENARY SESSION TO-DAY

Of course we realized that it was going to be a big day. For days there
had been hidden in the mists about the Conference something which those
who were able to penetrate near to the center of things declared to be a
treaty. Watching this treaty emerge was like watching a ship come out of
a thick fog. There were warning signals, faint at first, but growing
more and more distinct—the Anglo-Japanese pact was dying. If the United
States wished it, it should go; and it was certain that the United
States had for a long time wished it,—also Australia and other parts of
the British Empire. Then we began to hear more and more from another
direction—signals that had been sounded at intervals for weeks before
the Conference convened. Japan was uneasy about the naval bases in the
Pacific. She would like to have them dismantled. As one listened one
began to understand that Mr. Hughes’ program of naval limitation would
stay where it was until something had been done about both the
Anglo-Japanese Pact and the Islands of the Pacific.

The logic of the situation began to be clear. The fair-minded began to
ask themselves, “Well, now, after all, how can we expect Japan to strip
herself of ships, if she must, as seems to be inevitable, give up her
understanding with England? How can we expect her to weaken her defenses
and take no exception to the fortifications in the waters near her? She
is the member of this Conference that is being asked to sacrifice until
it hurts, and the only one. Is it fair to ask her to sacrifice without
guarantees? Is there any way out but a treaty—a treaty in which we

Moreover, if you ask her to sacrifice without a guarantee, will she do
it? Not Japan. Thus it became more and more clear that the success of
the naval program depended on some kind of a pact which would satisfy
Japan that she could agree to what Mr. Hughes had asked and still have
no reason to feel herself in danger.

The first definite black-faced, full-width-of-the-page headline came, as
I remember, on December 5—“Four Power Entente to Replace Anglo-Japanese
Alliance.” The morning after this bold announcement it was not quite so
sure. The newspapers were keeping a line of retreat open. As they now
put it: “Discussions of the proposals have reached a well-advanced
stage,” none of the governments concerned had given final approval.
There was enough that was sure, however, to give the wicked a chance to
jeer at approaching “entangling alliances.”

By Friday, December 9, the most careful journals were saying, on what
they declared to be the best sort of authority, that the United States
was going into a pact with Japan and England and France, guaranteeing
various things. There was considerable diversity in the assertions about
what it guaranteed. Washington said nothing. The news came from all of
the capitals of the powers concerned, except our own. It was evidently
very hard for Washington to say “treaty.”

There was much entertaining gossip running around as to how Tokyo and
London and Paris had been able to give the press the news of what was
going to be done, while Washington was silent. One story was that a
clever Japanese journalist had managed to get a glimpse of the document
in preparation and had cabled what he had been able to make out of its
contents to Tokyo; that from there it had gone to Paris and London and
finally came here. That was one story. Another was a rather thin version
of that old, old device of writers of diplomatic fiction—a lively and
lovely lady lunches with an elderly diplomat, who, to win her favor,
reveals the secret that is in the air. That evening she dines with a
young journalist whom she naturally (and necessarily for the purpose of
the plot) much prefers, and to prove her devotion she tells him what her
elder suitor has revealed. Threadbare as the formula is, it was honored
the week that the treaty was coming out of the fog by at least one
important newspaper.

Mr. Hughes seems to have concluded by the end of Friday, the 9th, that
unless he acted quickly his reputation for dramatic diplomacy might be
shaken, and so the hasty summons, the thrill at the breakfast table, the
quick readjustments of plans, the rush to make sure that your
credentials were all right and your ticket waiting you.

From the beginning of the Conference, sun and air were in league with
those who were staging it with such a sense of dramatic values. Never
was there a morning of lovelier tenderness than that on which they
carried the Unknown Soldier to his grave; Mr. Hughes’ big gun was fired
under a perfect morning sky—it was only when we came out that things had
grown stern and the clouds were dark, as if to give us a sense that a
serious thing had been done that morning and it was well to get down to
work, if it was to be made good.

The morning of December 10 there was frost on all the Washington roof
tops, the sky was clear, there was an air that put a spring in your
heels and it was a joy to hurry down with the crowd to get your ticket;
it put you in mood for something exciting, helped enormously the keen
anticipation that stirred the town.

The scene in the Conference was what it had been at the three previous
open sessions: each delegate in his place, the advisory board banked
behind them, the boxes overflowing with ladies, the press in their usual
seats, the House gallery even more amusing than on the opening day. It
was quite full, for somehow the House had obtained permission to bring
its family along, and there were many ladies sprinkled through the
gallery. They made it more animated but not a whit more dignified in its

And then, on the tick of the hour, Mr. Hughes arose. What an orderly
mind! A mind that must know where it is headed, how it is going to get
there, the exact point it has reached at the given moment! He must know
himself, and he never fails, when he presents his case, to make sure
that you know. Again and again in his talks to the press he would
carefully point out to the correspondents who were given to jumping to
the future, running back to the past, wanting to know this or that that
was not on the agenda by any stretch of the imagination, just what “the
muttons” were in this particular Conference. “The agenda is our chart,
here is where we have arrived to-day. We are moving in this or that
direction. I shall have nothing to say about what we find when we arrive
until we are there, then you shall know everything.” That is, Mr. Hughes
did his utmost to keep the mind of press and public concentrated on the
actual problem under his hand. He started the Plenary Conference of
December 10 in the same fashion.

The session, he said, was to be devoted to that part of the agenda which
concerned itself with the Pacific and Far Eastern questions. The
committee charged with these questions had taken up first a
consideration of China; certain conclusions in regard to China already
given out to the public had been reached. It was the business of the
full Conference, however, to assent to these conclusions. In turn, Mr.
Hughes reviewed them, and in turn the Conference assented to them:

  (1) The four resolutions which will go down in history as the Root
  resolutions; they are, as Mr. Hughes pointed out eloquently, a
  charter given China by the eight powers at this Conference,
  protecting her sovereignty and independence and guaranteeing that no
  one hereafter shall seek within China special advantages at the
  expense of the rights of others.

  (2) The agreement between powers not to conclude between themselves
  any treaty affecting China without previously notifying China and
  giving her an opportunity to participate.

  (3) A pledge given by all the members of the Conference not to enter
  into any treaty or understanding either with one another or with any
  power which would infringe the principles laid down in the Root

This business done, Mr. Hughes sprang the second surprise of the day:

  “I shall now ask Senator Lodge to make a communication to the
  Conference with respect to a matter which is not strictly within the
  agenda, but which should be made known to the Conference at this
  first opportunity.”

It was the treaty that had been lurking so long behind the fog. A simple
enough treaty in form, brief, only 196 words, but how portentous for us,
the United States. Those few words bind us to Great Britain, the French
Republic, the Empire of Japan in a contract to respect one another’s
rights in relation to all insular possessions and dominions in the
region of the Pacific Ocean. We agree to settle quarrels, if any there
should be, by conference, when it cannot be done by diplomacy. We agree
also if the rights of any one of the four associates are threatened from
the outside “to communicate with one another fully and frankly as to the
most efficient measures to be taken jointly and separately to meet the
exigencies of the particular situation.”

Article X of the League of Nations! I pinched myself to be sure I was
not asleep. Swift glances right and left reassured me, for I could see
sly little smiles—and some looks of disgust—on near-by faces. And then I
fixed my eyes on the American delegation. They were taking it like
gentlemen, though it did seem to me that Mr. Hughes was not sitting
quite so straight and looking quite so proud as usual. Article X read by
Henry Cabot Lodge! Was the dramatist for the Conference for the
Limitation of Armament also a great satirist? Surely you must search far
in American history to find another scene so full of irony.

Mr. Lodge read the treaty through in his fine, clear voice; digested it
in a few simple words; followed it with a nice little literary talk on
the romance that hangs over the isles of the Pacific, which we were
protecting from all future aggressors; said some hard things about war,
quite justified—but I was incapacitated for appreciating his eloquence,
for all I could see was the United States climbing into the League of
Nations through the pantry window, while Senator Lodge held up the sash.

But it was a fine climb for the United States!

In the week thus opened there followed more agreements, more
settlements,—all necessary to round out the Four Power Pact. These were
presented to the public not in open sessions of the Conference but
through the press in what might be called private rehearsals. Standing
at one end of the long audience room, opening from his own office in the
State Department, a hundred or more newspaper folk of various
nationalities, pressing close to him, Secretary Hughes read on Monday
afternoon, December 12, the text of an arrangement with Japan concerning
Yap, an arrangement hanging since last June and now settled and settled
rightly by a fair give and take on both sides.

He followed this by reading the written consent of the United States to
another chunk of the League of Nations. What it amounted to was that the
United States agreed to the mandate given Japan by the Versailles Treaty
over the islands in the Pacific north of the equator, late the property
of Germany. The United States also accepted all the terms of the mandate
as laid down by the League of Nations. Excellent terms they are, too. We
are even to get a copy of the annual report of her stewardship which
Japan, like all other League mandatories, is obliged to make, showing
that she is really developing and not exploiting the territory which she
is being allowed to administer. This was a good deal for one day!

What did it mean? Why, most important of all, that the delegates of the
United States had seen that limitation of armament means sacrifice. It
was unwillingness to sacrifice that had prevented the disarmament
proposed at Paris.

England must have her navy; her security required it.

France and Italy must have their armies; their security required it.

Each one of the little new nations that one would have supposed to have
been so fed up on war that they never again would have been willing to
spend a dollar on a soldier, must have their armies; their security
required it.

Japan must have her army, her navy, her war loot; her security required

That is, no one of the allied nations was ready to make a sacrifice to
carry out the plank of disarmament they had adopted. They insisted on
applying the plank to the enemy they had beaten, but not to themselves.
This was not in any large degree because of greed or revenge, it was
because of fear—fear of the vanquished. There was utter lack of
confidence in the plan of peaceful international coöperation which they
had written into their program. Force alone spelt security in their
minds. They had no sense of safety in a mere covenant, though all the
nations of the world did commit themselves to its provisions.

It has been our boast that we alone asked nothing at Paris. But was this
true? When it came to working out the code which the world had acclaimed
as the true path to permanent peace, we refused to accept the one point
on which all the rest hung; that for an association of nations looking
to the continuous peaceful handling of international difficulties. Such
an association we saw would invade our isolation and that isolation we
have come to believe to be our chief security. That is, in essence, the
United States was no more willing to make a sacrifice for permanent
peace than were the distracted and disheveled nations of Europe. We and
they all held on to the particular device which we had come by national
experience to believe essential to safety—England her navy, France her
army, Japan her army and her navy, we our freedom from entangling

The Four Power Pact proved that we were willing to sacrifice something
of our isolation—just how much the future would have to show. But would
we be willing to sacrifice anything of our naval program? There had been
rumors of changes asked by both England and Japan. The ugliest gesture
seen in Washington in the early days of the Conference had greeted these
rumors. We were not going to tolerate tampering with the great work. It
must be accepted as it was laid down, and if it was not, we would build
the biggest navy on earth; we had the money; moreover we would call our
foreign loans and then we’d see!

Various rumors of objections to the naval program, now that it had gone
to the committee for detailed examination, were said to have been made.
There was a disturbing rumor that England wanted the submarine banished
from the navies of the world, and that we flatly refused to consider a
request which could not but be welcome to the mass of the country,
anxious to see not only capital ships scrapped, as had been proposed on
the opening day, but auxiliary craft of all sorts. The chief irritation,
however, had been over Japan’s strenuous objection to doing away with
the greatest of her ships—indeed, the greatest ship afloat, the _Mutsu_.
It was just what we might have expected of Japan; her acceptation of the
program at the opening of the Conference was a pretense. She was going
to object at every point. What the public was still not realizing in
regard to the _Mutsu_ was that to Japan it had become a tremendous,
almost sacred, symbol. It was a ship designed entirely by the Japanese
naval architects, built of materials prepared by Japanese workmen, named
for a beloved emperor. The delegation feared to consent to her
destruction. So much national pride had been aroused by the great ship
that to consent to her destruction might ruin the whole naval program
with Japan.

It was hard for Americans to understand any such feeling as this. We
have little or no sentiment about any ship, big or little. They mean
nothing to us but taxes. We don’t depend upon battleships for safety as
an island nation does. There is Japan, a little land all told, Formosa
and Korea included, not as large as the state of Texas, with a sea front
of over 18,000 miles. Ships mean food, contacts, security to her. When
we asked her to sacrifice them we must remember that we were asking much
more of her than we were of ourselves though our ratio might have been
larger. We must remember the world is not ruled simply by tons of
material. Symbols weigh more with nations than tonnage. We could give up
our ships without a sigh; but when Japan scrapped hers, something of her
heart went with the scrapping.

So far as the _Mutsu_ was concerned, the answer came three days after
the agreement over Yap and the Caroline Islands had been made public. On
the 15th of December, at six o’clock in the evening, Mr. Hughes staged
one of his private rehearsals for the press. It was the decision as to
the capital-ship ratio which had been so long expected and which had
been settled on the basis that had been proposed on November 12—5–5–3.
But, while the ratio had been kept, the details had been changed. Great
Britain and the United States had had the good will and the wisdom to
recognize that Japan’s feeling about the _Mutsu_ was genuine.

One has only to read the revised agreement to understand what pains the
two countries took to readjust the calculations of the United States in
such a way that the desired ratio would be preserved and Japan’s pride
and sentiment saved. When nations come to the point that they are
willing to try to understand and to consider one another’s feelings as
well as one another’s force, there is some hope for the peace of the

There was no gainsaying the fact that the great triumph of this dramatic
week was Japan’s. It was a legitimate triumph, honestly won. She
understood what she gained. As the session of December 10 broke up, one
of the ablest members of her delegation—a bitter critic of what had been
doing—came out from the Conference hall with tears in his eyes, though
they do say that no Japanese knows how to shed tears. “It is the
greatest day in the history of the new world,” he said. And that was
true,—if Japan would now be as generous toward the rights and
aspirations of her great neighbor China as she had been tenacious of her
own safety and dignity. The world had recognized her power and her
diplomatic skill. Would she now win its confidence in her moral

But if December 10 was the beginning of Japan’s week of triumph, it was
Mr. Balfour’s day. He made a little speech which will stick long in the
minds of those who heard it.

“It so happens,” said Mr. Balfour, “that I was at the head of the
British administration which twenty years ago brought the great
Anglo-Japanese Alliance into existence. It so happens that I was at the
head of the British Administration which brought into existence an
entente between the British Empire and France, and through all my life I
have been a constant, ardent and persistent advocate of intimate and
friendly relations between the two great branches of the
English-speaking race.

“You may well conceive, therefore, how deep is my satisfaction when I
see all these four powers putting their signatures to a treaty which I
believe will for all time insure perfect harmony of coöperation between
them in the great region with which the treaty deals.”

That little speech gave one a clearer sense of what through all these
years Arthur Balfour has been doing than anything that ever has before
come to me. There is something supremely brave about a man of such fine
understanding, such humorous and distinguished cynicism, standing by
through all of the disillusions, disgust, deceptions, forced evil
choices of public life, never quitting whatever the temptation. For
forty years now Arthur Balfour has stood by. He is, I believe, 73 years
old. He has never had so much reason in all his long political career to
believe that the good will of men can be mobilized for the world’s

It was a great week, noble in its undertaking, dramatic in its planning,
the just triumph of a people who know what they want and are willing to
wait to get it. And for us, America, it was a week of brave deeds. We
were coming to our senses, realizing that we are of the world, and if we
are to enjoy its fruits, we must bear our share of its burdens; that if
we would have peace, the surest way is to use our strength and our good
will to guarantee it.

                              CHAPTER VIII

If we are to succeed in repairing this battered world through the medium
of the International Conference, then plainly it is the business of us
all to try to understand the methods, the conduct and particularly the
moods of this instrument of peace. It is as temperamental as a stock
exchange. The Washington Conference began with a period of tremendous
exultation. Mr. Hughes’ great naval program lifted the world. For ten
days this mood prevailed. Then came the French in the person of their
Prime Minister, Briand, and in an hour he had the temple of peace
rocking on its base.

It was very interesting to see how the men who made up the Conference
went steadily ahead from ten to six every day—and sometimes longer—in
spite of the excitement M. Briand had stirred up. It was a fine example
of the stabilizing effect of a daily task regularly followed. They went
on for four weeks and then again stirred the world to enthusiasm by
their Four Power Pact; their removal of the Yap irritation; their
consent to the Japanese mandate in the Pacific; their acceptance of the
Five-Five-Three naval ratio. At one swoop the war with Japan that a part
of the American public has so sedulously cultivated for a good term of
years was wiped off the map—unless the United States Senate prefer to
restore it to its position.

However, the naval program was not a fact accomplished until France and
Italy had consented to a ratio. That was the next step, and Mr. Hughes
seemed to have turned to it with the utmost confidence—1.75 was the
ratio he had fixed on as proper; then suddenly, without any warning, the
soaring stock of the Conference dropped way below par. A British
journalist, with more love of sensation than the honor of his
profession, announced that the French had told the naval committee that
France wanted to build ten 35,000 ton ships. The effect of those numbers
suddenly thrown on a table where the figuring for weeks had been down,
not up, was more nearly to throw the Conference delegates off their feet
than anything that had happened to date. There was no questioning their
dismay, for while Mr. Balfour and Mr. Hughes refused, as it was proper
for them to do, to discuss the matter, while the French likewise kept
their mouths shut, and complained that they had been betrayed, Mr.
Hughes showed his excitement by a long cablegram, appealing to M.
Briand, over the head of the then acting chief of the French delegation,
M. Sarraut. Outside the Conference an excited world declared the whole
thing was wrecked and that France had wrecked it.

Could this unhappy incident have been avoided? If the Conference had
shown a more sympathetic understanding of the way France is feeling
to-day, if there had been the realization which we certainly should
expect of the effect of calling her into a gathering of this kind and
then letting her Premier sit for a week with practically no attention,
it probably would have been. When M. Briand was leaving the Conference
on the opening day an American journalist asked him what he thought of
it. The American way, he said, “à la Américaine.” And then he went on to
remark that when the time came France would do like Mr. Hughes and talk
in the American way. Weeks went on and France had no chance to talk in
anybody’s way about her naval ratio. Everybody else but herself seems to
have taken it for granted that 1.75 was to be her proportion. When her
turn finally came, however, she began to hurl capital ships at Mr.
Hughes’ program—ten of them, 35,000 tons each. The figures looked
appalling, preposterous—they produced, as I have said, almost a panic.
Now, obviously, the panic would have been avoided, as far as the public
is concerned, if the matter had been kept in committee where it belonged
and where the French intended to keep it. Given to the public, it
stirred up anger on both sides of the water, whipped up suspicion, set
all the busybodies at inventing far-fetched explanations and reading
sinister meanings into the French proposal.

There was little trouble when Mr. Hughes appealed to M. Briand in
getting the capital-ship ratio dropped back to the 1.75 first suggested.
But along with this concession in the matter of capital ships went the
decision that France would not limit her submarines and auxiliary craft.
She wanted unlimited submarines for defense—defense against whom? It
must be us, said England. She wanted auxiliary craft for the protection
of scattered colonies. Here she took her position and here she remained.
Mr. Hughes’ naval program leaves the number of submarines and light
craft a nation builds at its discretion. Too bad—could it have been

One thing seems quite certain, that Mr. Hughes missed a tremendous
opportunity in not boldly declaring in his original program that as for
the United States, it was done with submarines. We did that at Paris in
1919. The head of our delegation, President Wilson, and his naval
advisers agreed that in the disarmament pledged by the League of Nations
the submarine was one weapon which could and should be put entirely out
of existence. Its record of cowardice and plain murder no one could
defend. The treaty of Versailles forbade the Germans to construct
submarines for any purpose, and it certainly was the farthest from the
thought of the majority of those who made that treaty that they were
laying down one rule for Germany and another for themselves. The idea
there was to disarm and to begin with Germany.

Why the American delegation should not have followed that policy here in
regard to the submarine is not clear. But when it was not done in the
opening program, it is still less understandable why they did not seize
the British suggestion when it was made by Mr. Balfour. The British had
the American program for naval reduction flung into their faces without
warning, and they picked it up like wonderful sports, as did the
Japanese. But when Mr. Balfour notified the Conference that he should
propose complete abolition of the submarine, there was no such response.
There were not a few of us who had an uncomfortable chill over the
Washington Conference when our government failed promptly to follow the
British in this policy, failed to say, “Yes, we are with you, it’s
beastly business this submarine warfare—one thing we can do away with.
We will join you in outlawing it.” But this was not done, and because it
was not done, coupled with France’s determination to seize every chance
that came along to secure recognition for herself, to enforce her
argument that she must be prepared to defend herself, since nobody in
the world seemed prepared to give her the guarantees which she thought
necessary, if she were to disarm, the submarine came in to trouble Mr.
Hughes’ program, and, incidentally, to spoil the Conference’s holiday

The regret was the greater because the arguments that Lord Lee and Mr.
Balfour had put up for the abolition of the submarine were so weighty
and conclusive that if they could have been presented at the start, or
at least earlier in the negotiations, there seems to be little doubt
that they would not have won over the Conference. These arguments have
the backing of Great Britain’s experience with submarines, the most
serious and extensive experience that any nation has yet had with this
particular weapon. Lord Lee and Mr. Balfour had the facts to show that
the German submarine fleet was able to accomplish relatively little in
the Great War in the way of legitimate naval warfare. It left the
British Grand Fleet untouched. In spite of all its efforts, it did not
prevent the British taking fifteen million troops across the English
Channel, and the Americans two million across the Atlantic. It was of
little use to the British in guarding their coast line, which, as Lord
Lee pointed out, was almost as great as the combined coast line of the
four other powers in the discussion. What the German submarine fleet did
do, however, was to destroy some twelve million tons of mercantile
shipping and murder twenty thousand non-combatants—men, women and
children. The counter defense against the submarine has been so
developed, Lord Lee claimed, that an attacking fleet could be equipped
to resist any number of them. That is, the methods of detecting,
locating and destroying submarines have greatly outstripped their
offensive power.

One of the strong arguments for the abolition of the submarine is the
fact that it is possible to abolish it by general consent. Its case is
very different from that of poison gas, which is a by-product of
essential industries. You do not need to set out to find poison gasses;
they come to you in the natural course of chemical research, and they do
not have to be manufactured until you are forced to do it for defense.
Moreover, they have the enormous advantage of not looking like war. They
are disgusting, hateful things against which man instinctively revolts.
They do not tempt the adventurous, as the submarine does.

Although the French particularly, through Admiral le Bon and M. Sarraut,
did their utmost to combat the British position, their arguments had
little weight in comparison with the British. The entire discussion
which ran more than a week and which was given out day by day
practically in full to the press only emphasized my feeling that the
French, in insisting on a fleet of submarines all out of proportion to
that contemplated in the original American program, were actuated more
by a desire to assert themselves in this council of nations, to
demonstrate that it is not safe to overlook their susceptibilities, than
from any desire to have submarines for defense. If the representatives
of the United States are to work successfully with other nations in
international conferences, they must learn that diplomats can no more
afford to overlook the feelings of other nations than an engineer can
afford to overlook the susceptibilities of the iron and steel which he
employs. France’s acute sensitiveness, her black imaginations, may
irritate Americans who know nothing of invaded and devastated territory,
who have not had to sit through five long years with the sound of
bursting shells continually in their ears; but if they have not the
imagination and the sympathy to tell them what the results of such an
experience are, then let them accept the judgment of physicians and
realize that in whatever negotiations they have with the French people
at this time, their shell-shocked minds and souls must be taken into

Mr. Hughes lost a second great opportunity in the submarine matter. A
few days before Christmas, when it became obvious that the submarine was
in danger of destroying the American delegation’s plans for a glorious
Christmas present to the nation, Mr. Balfour asked for an open session
in which to discuss the matter. For some reason not at all clear, Mr.
Hughes did not consent. Our Secretary of State proved himself a superior
dramatist at the Conference, but in this instance a poor psychologist!
If there was to be no holiday, as had become clear, then an open session
with a chance to hear Mr. Balfour, Lord Lee, M. Sarraut, Admiral le Bon,
Senator Schanzer, in the free discussion of a matter in which the whole
country was tremendously interested—such an open session would have been
a Christmas present in itself, and it would have done much to have
cleared up the thick atmosphere.

In these conferences the atmosphere easily becomes heavy with suspicion.
The sight of a group of eminent gentlemen of various nationalities
shutting themselves up morning after morning, for hours, considering
matters which concern the peace and happiness of the world, if too long
continued, stirs up resentment in the best of us. If you are an
impersonal, detached, philosophical, fairly well-informed person, it is
not difficult for you to visualize what those gentlemen are doing; if
you take the trouble you can even build up in your mind what they are
saying. Suppose it is a question of the ratio of capital ships. You know
that they are listening to disputes over tonnage and the way it has been
computed, are studying long arrays of figures, matters dull in
themselves and requiring the closest attention. Most of us would not
remain a half hour, unless we were compelled to when such discussions
were going on. But if you are a suspicious person, if you have been
trained in the cynical school of sensational journalism, to look for
mischief and intrigue—and often it must be confessed finding it—you have
dark thoughts about the gentlemen.

The only way in which such suspicions can be cleared up—or better,
prevented,—is by frequent open sessions and much freer discussion at
those sessions than we had at the Conference for Limitation of Armament.
Some of the Americans prominent in the Conference have in the last two
years frequently criticized the secrecy with which the Paris Conference
was conducted but there was very little difference in the procedure from
that in Paris. The work there as here was done in committees. There as
here there were daily communications to the press. They were more
satisfactory here, fuller, but that was made possible by the fact that
the situation here was far less complicated and by the rigor with which
Mr. Hughes kept one thing at a time on the table. As for the press
conferences, in Paris as here they were held daily by the Americans and
frequently by all of the other delegations. Nobody in Paris, of course,
was so satisfactory to the press as Mr. Hughes. His candor, his good
humor, his out-and-out, man-to-man conduct of his daily meeting cannot
be too highly praised. He has set a pace for this sort of thing very
hard to follow. There was no American in Paris in a position to do for
the press what Mr. Hughes did in Washington. President Wilson had not
the time. The other members of the delegation were not in Mr. Hughes’
position. Nobody else in our delegation here would have had the
authority, even if he had had the ability, to do what Mr. Hughes did.
The difference here and in Paris was mainly a difference of
situation—the difference between an infinitely difficult and complicated
situation and a comparatively well defined and definite one.

Mr. Hughes himself was partly responsible for the resentment that the
press felt at the failure to follow Mr. Balfour’s suggestion and conduct
the submarine discussion in the open. Any one who took the pains to read
the text of these discussions as they were printed in the leading
journals of the country, can see how well adapted they were to a public
meeting. There was nothing in them that would jeopardize any nation;
there was much in them that would have been illuminated, its impression
intensified, if it could have been heard instead of read. Mr. Hughes in
his talk of these discussions to the correspondents was actually
tantalizing. When he walked briskly into his press conference at the end
of a long committee discussion and told a hundred and more men and women
gathered around him what an intellectual treat it had been, of how Mr.
Balfour had been in his best form, of how lively the exchange had been
between French and English, his snapping eyes, his appreciative voice,
his glow of enthusiasm, were actually antagonizing. He overlooked
entirely the fact that he was making more than one in the assembly say:
Selfish man, don’t you suppose that we would have enjoyed seeing and
hearing Mr. Balfour in his best form? Is there anything at this
Conference that we would have liked so much, except of course hearing
you? Do you think we are going to be satisfied with your promise that we
shall have full reports of all that was said?

I know very well that it is not considered good form to use the words
League of Nations in connection with the Conference on the Limitation of
Armament, and no offense is intended—but if one is really interested in
trying to decide just how much publicity is wise in such a conference as
this, any experience of other similar bodies should be considered, and
after all it cannot be denied that the assembly of the League of Nations
is a similar body to this, the chief difference being that it includes
some fifty nations instead of nine. At the second meeting of the
assembly of the League last fall, lasting four and a half weeks, there
were 33 plenary conferences. One cannot say that the matters under
consideration there were less delicate and dangerous than in Washington.
They were even more inflamed at the moment, including such open
irruptions as the boundary dispute between Jugo-Slavia and Albania.

It was not only Mr. Hughes’ naval program that was seeing heavy weather;
the Four Power Pact was in trouble. The President did not agree with the
American delegation that the mainland of Japan was covered by the
treaty. For my part I had never questioned that when this Four Power
Pact talked about insular dominions as well as insular possessions it
meant what it said, and that Nippon as well as Australia and New Zealand
was included. Moreover, Mr. Hughes had repeatedly told the press that
was the intention. There seems, however, to have been doubts in some
minds, and when finally twelve days after the Pact itself was submitted
and accepted by the full Conference, an insistent journalist presented
Mr. Harding at his biweekly press meeting with a written question. (The
President was now requiring all questions at these gatherings to be
submitted in writing.) He remarked in his casual manner, “No, the Japan
mainland is not included in the treaty.” To be sure he took it back that
night in a public document, but here was food for the trouble makers—a
disagreement in the cabinet! All of those who, while loudly declaring
themselves advocates of peace, were doing their utmost to belittle the
efforts of the responsible, to magnify differences in interpretation, to
fan partisan jealousies, to read in intrigue and deceit and concealment
where there was usually nothing worse than blundering or stupidity,
declared with satisfaction or despair that the Conference was now surely
wrecked. Joined to the cry of anguish that was rising over the failure
to limit the submarine and auxiliary craft, the chorus was dismal

Little by little, however, events shut off the pessimists. For instance,
one of the “intrigues” that had been brought to light was that Japan and
France had combined on the submarine issue, and were lining up in the
Conference against England and America. But Japan destroyed that fine
morsel, declaring formally that she felt it would be a misfortune if the
Conference failed to come to an agreement on limitation; that she
supported the original American proposal of November 12 in regard to
auxiliary craft and hoped that agreement would be reached on that basis.

She followed this quieting information by an announcement that she did
not consider it consistent with her dignity as one of the four powers to
accept any special protection, and that she therefore asked that the
Four Power treaty be amended so as to exclude her mainland.

Even the submarine became less threatening as the discussion went on. If
it was not to be limited in number, it was in field of action—so far as
a rule of war could limit. If auxiliary craft were to be built according
to the “needs” of each nation, their tonnage was not to run over 10,000
tons each and their guns were to be but eight inch. Add this to the
ratio in capital ships now fixed—5–5–3—1.75—1.75—and to a ten years’
naval holiday, and you had a solid something.

One grew philosophical again and reflected how childish it was to
suppose that a Conference of this importance could be carried on without
sharp differences of opinion, without those periods which we call
“deadlocks,” without the flaring up at times of century-old feuds, such
as that between Great Britain and France. All of these things, we told
ourselves, were part of the problem of working out new understandings,
and to overemphasize them or willfully to exploit them in order to
increase ill will and obstruct a progress which was necessarily slow and
difficult, was work fit only for the irresponsible and the malicious.

The naval program was certain of adoption. There were details still
unsettled, but it seemed safe to assume that if the patience and good
will of the delegates stood the strain, these details would be
satisfactorily arranged; but, as from the start, the final success of
the Conference depended upon removing the fears that England, Japan and
the United States had of one another, of our securing reasonable
assurance that our policies of the open door in China and of moral
trusteeship for Russia and China were adopted. We had proposed a pact
and it had been accepted; principles regarding China and they had been
accepted; but this was by no means all of the Far Eastern problem. By
Christmas we were at the heart of it—the hostile relations of China and
Japan, and whether it was possible to help them to peacefully adjust
these relations.

                               CHAPTER IX
                      PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR PLACES

A shrewd, reflective and cynical doorman with whom I sometimes discussed
affairs of state in Washington, confided to me on one of the busy days
just before the opening of the Conference on the Limitation of Armament
that in his judgment there was a peck of trouble about to be turned
loose on the American Government.

“Take them Japs and Chinamen,” he said, “they’re coming with bags of
problems, and they’re going to dump them on us to sort and solve! And to
think we brought it on ourselves!”

There were people nearer to the administration than this anxious
observer who said the same thing. “The Far East is a veritable Pandora’s
box, and why did we open it?”

I don’t remember ever to have seen in Washington, even in war times, so
many responsible people who gave me the impression of wanting to hold
their heads to keep them from splitting.

Of one thing there was no doubt—if the troubles that were to be loosed
on the Conference were as serious as these serious observers feared, it
was better that they be _out_ than _in_ the box, for they were of a
nature that, confined, would be sure to explode, but give them time and
they might dissolve under the healing touch of light, sun and air.

But why were there people close to things in Washington aghast at the
program of the Conference, people who two months before had looked
forward to it with confidence and even exultation? No doubt this was
explained partly by the realization that cutting down armaments did not
necessarily mean long-continued peace; that there must be settlements.
When they looked over the problems to be settled, attempted to put
themselves in the place of the people concerned, find solutions through
agreements which did not require force behind them, they were appalled
at the difficulties in the way.

Put the problems which disturbed them into their simplest terms:—Japan
could not get enough food on her six big and her 600 little islands for
her 60,000,000 people. She was spilling over into China and its
dependencies—not merely as a settler, content to till the soil, to work
the mines, to sell in the market place, but as an aggressive conqueror,
aspiring to military and political control as well as economic

China—that is, Young China, the founder of the Republic—said she would
not have it, that she must govern and administer her own, and we,
China’s friend, were backing the integrity she demanded. But Japan was
“in China”—“in” as was Great Britain and France. She had an army and
navy to back her pretensions and she could very well say—and did—“Why
should Great Britain and France be allowed to hold their political and
military control in Hongkong and in Tonkin, raise and train troops, not
of their own people but of natives, collect taxes, run post offices, and
we be forbidden? If they do these things, and they do, why should Japan
not have equal privileges?”

Young China answered this pertinent inquiry: “It was Old China that
arranged those things. You are dealing now with a new China, one that
does not intend to barter its inheritance, that proposes to rule its
own; a China that will no longer submit to having a carving knife
applied to its heart.

“What Old China did we inherited and must make the best of, but it is
our duty to see that no nation on earth ever again takes from us what we
do not willingly give. You must abandon your effort to direct our
policies, administer our railroads, keep your troops on our soil.”

What frightened my doorkeeper, who got his views from the press, and the
press that got its views from a hundred conflicting sources, was how
peacefully Japan’s right to food for her people and China’s right to her
own were to be squared. Could the one inalienable right be fitted into
the other inalienable right by other means than force? Of course there
were many places on the earth beside China where Japan might expand, but
search as they would these anxious observers did not find any available
spot except in Asia.

One of the chief occupations of these friends of mine in Washington as
the peace conference opened was trying to find some territory from which
Japan could get her food; something the Conference could “give” her;
something that would satisfy her. As things now are such a search must
start with the provision that there is nothing for Japan on the Western
Hemisphere. Obviously there is no place for her in Europe. Australia
will not have her; we will not have her.

“If it were a question of war or restricted immigration,” I asked a
Californian in the course of the Far Eastern discussion, “which would
you choose?” The look of surprise at the question answered me—“War.” I
received the same reply from a Canadian—from an American labor
leader—and they were all “pacifists”!

The narrower the confines were drawn around Japan, the more hysterical
observers grew in their search, the more they insisted the Conference
must “give” Japan something. “Give it Eastern Siberia!” But what right
did the Conference have to deal with any part of Siberia? The United
States had finally settled her attitude to this suggestion by declaring
that she would not consider any partitioning of Russian territory. She
refused to countenance the carving up of Russia as she did the further
carving up of China. She refused even to recognize the government that
was now struggling to plant itself in Eastern Siberia. It was Russia’s
problem to take care of the Far Eastern Republic. She must be free, as
China must be free, to work out her own destiny.

Then “give” Japan Manchuria! She already had important recognized rights
in Southern Manchuria, rights that came from old wars; the territory
borders on Korea which Japan holds and governs, and undoubtedly the
Conference would not dispute her claim to Korea, since that claim stands
on about the same kind of a bottom as England’s claim to Hongkong and
France’s to Tonkin. It was the fruit of the nation’s dealing with Old
China. This being so and Japan having her established hold in Southern
Manchuria and having made a remarkable record, give her the country.

But here came Young China again. “Manchuria is ours,” she said. “We will
not recognize the rights that Japan claims through her treaty made in
1915. It really was a treaty with Old China, still alive in our
Republic. It was wrested from us by cunning and bribery. There are
twenty million Chinese in Manchuria. They have made that province grow
more rapidly in wealth in recent years than any other part of the land.
They are converting the wilderness, raising such a crop of soy beans as
no other part of the earth has ever seen. We propose to stand by our
people. We cannot give Manchuria to Japan, nor can we give her Mongolia.
Here, too, our people are good, patient, hardy settlers, peacefully
converting the wilderness. True, there are great tracts still untouched,
but remember that we have surplus millions, and it is here that we
expect them to expand.”

What set my doorman and many serious onlookers to holding their heads
was that they could not find a place to _put_ Japan; that is, a place to
which she would not have to fight her way.

But what are they doing in the search of the earth for something to
“give” her? Was it anything but following the old formula that has
always gone with wars? Was war anything but a necessary corollary to
this way of dealing with the earth’s surface? No nation or group of
nations ever has or will give away without its consent the property of
another nation without sowing trouble for the future.

Races must settle their own destinies. Japan must settle her food
problem by war or by peace, and whether it was to be by the one or by
the other depended largely upon Young China. What did Young China think
about it? Not a hasty, violent Young China, expecting to convert its
great masses in an hour to the Republican form of government that came
into being ten years ago, but a moderate Young China, that has stayed at
home, that knows its people, that is conscious of the length of time,
the patience, the sacrifices, the pain that adapting the mind of China
to a new order requires.

What did this moderate Young China think about the relation of Japan to
itself? I looked him up and asked.

He made it quite clear that the Republic had come to stay. He did not
attempt to minimize its difficulties. He did claim, however, that
whatever the surface indications, the whole Yangtze Valley, which is the
very heart of the country, is committed to the Republic, and is
coöperating with it. He gave a hundred indications of how from this
great central artery running east and west democratic influences are
surely and steadily spreading north and south. He showed how in the
northern provinces the progress was slowest, most difficult, because
here conservatism was strongest, most corrupt. He pointed out how Old
China is concentrating in the Peking government all its cunning, its
wisdom, its appeal to the old thing, but he claimed, and unquestionably
believed, that Young China was going to be too much for it. He went over
the southern provinces and showed how in all of them, except Canton,
there was a steadily improving coöperation with the Peking government.

Moderate Young China thinks Canton is wrong in its haste. He does not
believe that the people can assimilate the new ideas as rapidly as
Canton claims. He believes that its hurry to make over a great country
is one of the most dangerous factors in the nation’s present problem. To
sustain, guard, and develop the struggling Peking government is his

“We are quarreling, to be sure,” moderate Young China said, “but it is
_our_ quarrel. We are like brothers who have fallen to beating one
another—let a neighbor interfere and both turn on him. China will turn
on any nation or nations that attempt to coerce her. She alone can work
out her difficulties. She can work out best her disputes with Japan, and
if let alone, will do so.”

“Of course,” continued Young China, “Japan must resign control of
Shantung, and particularly of the Shantung railroad. Look at the map and
you will understand why. If Japan controls the Shantung railroad she can
at any moment cut our main rail communication between Peking and
Shanghai, destroy the main artery of our circulatory system. She can do
more than that. By that control she will be able to cut off the two
arteries across the mainland, the Yellow River and the Yangtze. No
government in its senses could permit that.

“Nor can we consent to her political and military control, either, in
Shantung or Manchuria. But that does not mean, as some people pretend,
that we want to drive Japan from our country. No intelligent Chinaman
does. We need the Japanese to help us open and develop our resources, to
buy our raw material; and Japan needs our market in which to sell. We
are willing she should have the fullest economic privileges if she will
cease to interfere with our policies and will withdraw her troops.

“If she will coöperate with us on an economic basis purely and simply
Young China will welcome Japan and there are liberal Japanese that will
do that. It is only Military Japan, believing in progress by force, that
threatens us.”

“How are you going to carry out your program? How enforce it?”

“The economic boycott,” he said. “It has been successful so far. We’ll
neither buy of Japan nor sell to her until she gives up her

There is something tremendous in the idea of that great passive three
hundred and twenty-five million or more, the greatest single market on
earth, and Japan’s natural market, passing by on the other side, leaving
the goods untouched on docks and warehouses—but they do it. There are
children of China who will refuse a toy to-day if told it was made in
Japan, will go hungry rather than eat Japanese food, so they told me,
these ardent young Chinamen.

“But if Japan insists on her demands, turns her navy on you?” I asked.

“Ah, then,” said trustful Young China, “our great friend the United
States will take a hand. She will not permit Japan to force us.”

This confidence in America’s friendship was China’s strongest card at
the peace table. For over sixty years we have been her avowed
protector—ever since in 1858 we signed the quaintly worded compact:
“They (the United States and China) shall not insult or oppress each
other for any trifling cause so as to produce an estrangement between
them, and if any other nation should act unjustly or oppressively, the
United States will exert their good offices on being informed of the
case to bring about an amicable arrangement of the question, thus
showing their friendly feeling.”

Faith in the protection of the United States has worked its way far
inland, to the very sources of the Yellow and the Yangtze rivers. I am
told that many Chinamen in those distant places who never have looked on
a white face will point to the Stars and Stripes and say “our friend.”

According to moderate Young China’s view of the case, the work of the
Conference on the Limitation of Armament was to persuade Japan that her
real economic progress lay in giving up the political and military
privileges in China which she believes are fairly hers, as spoils of the
late war, and to accept full opportunities of “peaceful
penetration”—persuade if possible, force if not!

There was no question of where sympathy lay at the opening of the
Conference—it was with moderate Young China. Sympathy for her and
suspicion for Japan—this showed in a catlike watchfulness of Japan’s
every move, particularly by the newspaper correspondents.

As a rule, newspaper people are instinctively suspicious. It seems
sometimes to be the pride of the profession, and a smart
characterization of a suspicion has almost the value of a scoop. There
was an instance at the opening of the Conference, just after the naval
program was announced, when Ambassador Shidehara fell ill of intestinal
trouble. It had been announced that Japan could make no reply to the
naval program until she had communicated with Tokyo, and somebody
remarked brilliantly that the Baron’s illness was probably a “congestion
of the cables.” As a matter of fact it turned out that the poor Baron
was seriously ill, but the phrase stuck.

At the first press conference given by Admiral Baron Kato there was
another evidence of this instinct. An interpreter translated the
questions of the correspondent to the Admiral who replied in his native
tongue, a delightfully musical voice; you could hardly believe you did
not understand him, so understandable did his words sound. Once or twice
Baron Kato did not wait for the interpreter to repeat the English
question to him, but gave his answer at once in Japanese.
Instantaneously there ran around the big circle of men the signal “He
understands English.” Any one who has had any experience with a foreign
language knows that often one does understand, but cannot speak;
moreover, one understands when the question is simple but cannot follow
it when involved. The point is simply here, that the moment Baron Kato
showed he understood any English, the guards of the men were up. He was
a Jap and must be watched. That is, Japan came to the Washington
Conference handicapped by the suspicion of the American press and
public, while China came strong in our good will.

Was there anything to be said for Japan? I had believed so a long time,
but felt that my impressions were treasonable, so contrary were they to
the expressed judgment of practically all of my liberal and radical
friends—many of them knew vastly more than I did about the Far East—and
to the feeling of the general public as I caught it in the press and in
conversation. My treason consisted in thinking that although, as a
matter of fact, Japan had been doing a variety of outrageous things, if
you compared her operations with those of most of us, there was little
reason to make a scapegoat of her. I have been impressed often in the
last three years that there were a good many people trying to help China
by crying down Japan—a practice that has played a mischievous part in
history. I felt that we were not giving Japan the fair deal we should,
even if we had no other object than aiding China. The books I read, the
observers from the Far East with whom I talked, almost invariably were
partisan in their attack. They liked one and did not like the other.
Everything that one did was understandable and excusable; everything
that the other did was oppressive and inexcusable.

The Japanese had not been long at the Washington Conference, however,
before their stock began to rise. The delegation was the most diligent,
serious, modest body at the Conference, and so very grateful for every
kind word! The contrast between the Chinese and Japanese delegations was
striking. Nothing more modernized in manner and appearance, democratized
in speech, gathered in Washington than the Chinese. They looked, talked,
acted like the most sophisticated and delightful of cultivated
Europeans. They understood and practiced every social amenity—suave, at
home, frank, gay—I have never encountered anything more socially
superior than some of the young Chinese. The two delegations were
perfectly characterized by a woman friend of mine familiar with both
peoples—“The Chinese look down on everybody; the Japanese look up to
everybody.” That was the impression. But when it came to diplomacy, the
Chinaman was the aristocrat begging favors, the Japanese the plebeian
fighting for his rights.

The Japanese seemed to have felt that possibly there might be some
intent on the part of their Western brothers to throw them out of China
and go in themselves. We cannot blame Japan for such a thought if we
review her experience with the West in the last twenty-five years. She
was forced into Korea, after China had agreed with her to jointly
suppress disorders if they broke out and both of them to withdraw when
there was no longer need for their work. It was China’s refusal to abide
by the treaty of 1885 that led Japan into war and that brought her, as a
result of that war, Formosa, the Pescadores, Liaotung, with Port Arthur
and Dalny. We all remember—that is, those of us living then—how only a
few days after the treaty with China which gave Japan these territories
the Czar stepped in and told Japan that he would “give her a new proof
of his sincere friendship” by taking over Liaotung. There was nothing
for Japan to do but accept the offer.

Pretty nearly all Europe at once proceeded, as everybody remembers, to
give China and Japan further “proofs of sincere friendship.” Germany
took over Kiaochow; England, Weihaiwei; France, Kwang chowwan. This is
only a little over twenty years ago.

It was Russia’s obvious effort to get Japan out of Korea that caused the
Russo-Japanese war, a war which amazed the world by its result, put
Japan on the map, very possibly turned her head a bit. She had been
studying the West, and the remarkable thing about this country which we
call imitative, in studying it she had learned not only its power but
its weakness. She had accepted its militarism at its full face value,
but she had quickly put her finger on the weak spots in the militarism
of different nations. She had seen how corruption, bribery,
self-indulgence had weakened the militarism of Russia; she saw how the
half-heartedness of France and England in war weakened them, how
liberalism and pacifism undermined militarism; she saw how Germany had
the pure science and undivided devotion, and she took Germany as her
model. And then in 1914 her great chance came. She did exactly what the
Prussian would have done if he had been in her place. She joined the
strong, her great ally, England, against Germany, for Germany had
possessions in China which Japan coveted. She out-Prussianized Prussia
in the demands she made upon the corrupt and unstable Peking crowd.
There is no shadow of defense for the twenty-one demands, except the
defense that she was applying the lessons that she had learned from
Russia, from Germany—lessons which she had seen applied, in a modified
form, it is true, but still in a form by England and by the United
States in the Philippines.

I could never forget all this in Paris. Japan came to the Conference
peace table with her treaties—read them in that invaluable compilation
of treaties which John McMurray has made and the Carnegie Peace
Foundation published. England there sets down her approval; France sets
down her approval; they promise the German rights in Shantung to Japan
when the treaty shall be made; they promise her the Caroline Islands and
the other island possessions of Germany north of the equator. This is
all written down in the books, and this was what faced President Wilson
when the matter of Shantung was taken up. What were England and France
to do? England had gone into a war and we had followed her, largely, so
we both claimed, because a treaty had been regarded as a scrap of paper.
Were you now to treat other treaties as scraps of paper?

Italy would not have it so. She held France and England to their war
promises. And when President Wilson balked, she left the peace table.

One of the things that interested me most in Paris was that Japan never
left the peace table. She was apparently willing to trade anything to
get that recognition of racial equality denied her, so far as one can
make out, because she is so able, not at all because she is an inferior.
She hung on, and by the sheer strength of her position, her refusal,
whatever she got or did not get to quit the game, came out with a
recognition, partial at least, of what may be correctly called her
nefarious demands.

And then she found herself with a whole world jumping on her back. She
had played the Western game and the West despised her. I could not help
feeling in Paris that Japan must have been bewildered a little by the
contradictions of the Occident she had tried so faithfully to follow.
She saw the doctrine of force she had accepted grappling with the gospel
of the brotherhood of man. There are many who think that the brotherhood
got the worst of it in Paris. That gospel was driven into the world as
never before there. More people were committed to it than ever before.
More people realized that it is a power that you must count with in the
affairs of nations as well as of individuals. More people accepted it
and tried to get together to make it a practical reality. Japan herself
bowed before the power of this spirit before she left Paris. She never
gave up more because of it than she felt she must, but she gave up
rather than quit the game. She was learning. She has been learning ever
since. She has never stayed away from any international attempt to bring
order to the world. She has had a bevy of her people at every meeting of
the League of Nations. She has taken an active part in the work of all
of its commissions. In 1919 Japan had eighty-seven delegates at the
International Labor Conference held in Washington, and those delegates
accepted the radical program there adopted. Japan means to understand
the Occident; and she is making the same valiant attempt to ally herself
with the best of the Occident that before the war she made to ally
herself with the worst.

What we have to remember is that Japan is, like all nations to a degree,
a dual nation; there are two Japans—the one clinging to the old
militaristic, autocratic notion of government, the other struggling to
understand and realize the meaning of a united, coöperating world in
which each man and each nation shall have a chance at peaceful,
prosperous living.

                               CHAPTER X
                        CHINA AT THE CONFERENCE

The most difficult problems with which the Conference for the Limitation
of Armament had to deal were those centering about China. We wanted
China to have her own. We wanted her to be let alone, to run her
government to suit herself, to be free from exploitation, duress,
intrigues. As a people we wanted this very much. We came as near being
sentimental over China as one nation can be over another. We like the
Chinese as a people. We would like to see them as sanitary as they are
friendly, as honest as they are industrious, as free from their own
vices as they are from most of ours.

We are more sentimental about them because our own dealings with them
have been on the whole so fair. We are proud of the position we have
taken as a nation toward China and we would like to keep up our record,
justifying the Chinese conviction that we are a disinterested and
reliable friend. Our dealings have been decent—the policy of the Open
Door, the return of a large share of the Boxer indemnity, the protest
that we made in 1915 when we learned of the outrageous twenty-one
demands that Japan had forced from the Peking government: we have prided
ourselves on these things, and when at Paris in 1919 President Wilson
consented to the transfer of the German rights in Shantung to Japan,
there was a chorus of disapproval, and we came to this Conference
resolved that Shantung should be restored to China; moreover, that a
long list of interferences with her freedom of administration should
cease. The disappointment came in finding that what China wanted, and we
wanted her to have, was much more difficult to realize than we had
appreciated, and that in a majority of cases, probably the worst thing
that could happen would be to have her full requests granted.

The primary difficulty in China’s getting what she wanted was that she
has no stable government, nothing upon which she can depend and with
which the nations can deal with any assurance that the engagements that
are entered into will be faithfully carried out. The Conference began
with an exhibit of disorganization in the Peking government which was
most unfortunate—the failure to pay a loan due us at that moment.
Moreover, it soon became a matter of common knowledge at the Conference
that the Peking government was failing to meet all sorts of financial
obligations at home as well as abroad, that it was not paying the
salaries of its officials, its school-teachers. There were delegates in
Washington who, it was claimed, had had no funds from their government
for many months. A greater part of the moneys collected seemed to go
into the pockets of the military chiefs of the provinces, whose leading
occupation was to make life and property unsafe for the rich and to
prevent political conditions becoming settled.

All of this had an important relation to these demands that the Chinese
delegation presented to the Conference. Take the matter of tariff
autonomy—nothing shows better China’s position. She does not and has not
for many years controlled her customs. They are fixed by treaty with the
powers and collected by them. They have been netting her recently but 3½
per cent. on her importations. Moreover, there have been vexatious
discriminations and special taxes which have been both unfair and
humiliating. China came to the Conference begging for freedom from all
these restrictions. She wanted a tariff autonomy like other nations, and
on the face of it what more reasonable request? And yet, after a very
thorough inquiry by a sub-committee of the Conference, headed by
Secretary Underwood, control of her tariff was denied her. To be sure,
some of the worst of the discriminations were cleared up. She was given
a rate which would immediately raise her revenue by some $17,000,000,
and the promise of other changes in the near future which would increase
the amount to something like $156,000,000. It looks small enough!

But why should China’s tariffs remain in the hands of foreigners? Why
should she not be allowed to collect more than an effective 5 per cent.
on her importations, while her exportations to this country, for
instance, are weighted with tariffs all the way from 20 to 100 per
cent.? Why, simply because the committee, after a long study made, as it
declares and as there is no reason to doubt, in a spirit of sympathy and
friendliness, believed that tariff autonomy would be a bad thing for
China herself. When the committee presented its report, Senator
Underwood said: “I am sure this sub-committee and the committee to which
I am now addressing myself would gladly do much more for China if
conditions in China were such that the outside powers felt they could do
so with justice to China herself. I do not think there was any doubt in
the minds of the sub-committee on this question that, if China at
present had the unlimited control of levying taxes at the customs house,
in view of the unsettled conditions now existing in China, it would
probably work in the end to China’s detriment and to the injury of the

So far as tariff autonomy was concerned, this judgment had to be
accepted. It did not, however, answer the question why China should be
able to collect but 5 per cent. on the machinery we send her, and we
collect 35 to 50 per cent. on her silks. That is, it does not seem that
if the powers believe that it is for the good of China that her duties
should be kept at this low rate they would feel, as a matter of
fairness, that they should grant reciprocity and collect no more on her
goods than she is allowed to collect on theirs.

When you come to the question of extra-territoriality, by which is meant
the establishment and conduct of judicial courts by foreigners in China,
a humiliating condition that dates back almost to the beginning of her
treaty relations with other countries, you find her own delegates asking
no more than that the powers coöperate with China in taking initial
steps toward improving and eventually abolishing the existing system.

There is no real solution of most of the problems which the Chinese
delegation pleaded so eloquently and persistently in Washington to have
solved, except the establishment within the country of a stable,
representative government. That is, if the fine young Chinese that
represented their country want to see their program carried out, they
must go back to China and work within the country to secure order,
education, development of their people along modern lines. There were
too many Chinese at the Washington Conference who had spent the greater
part of their lives in Europe and America and who were actually
unfamiliar with home conditions.

A stable Chinese Republic depends, then, upon long, faithful efforts at
reconstruction as well as upon freeing China from foreign encroachments.
Not a few people came to the Conference believing that the only problem
was to expel the Japanese from Shantung and force her to withdraw her
twenty-one demands. If China had had a strong, united government in the
past there would have been no Japanese now in Shantung, and no
twenty-one demands. Shantung is a spoil of war and under the old code by
which the world has acquired power and possessions “belonged” to Japan.
That is, her claim to it was as valid as the claim of many nations,
ourselves included, to certain territories which we hold without
dispute. Japan pointed out that she had spent blood and treasure for
Shantung, and this is true. And always when in the past men spent blood
and treasure, the world has sanctioned their performance. Japan’s right
to Shantung was questioned now because of the new code we are trying to
put in force. That is, men are trying to prove that it shall be no
longer by blood and treasure that we progress, but by good will, fair
dealing, superior efficiency of mind and hand. The practical question
now seems to be, When is this new code to begin to operate? In 1922, as
Japan wished, or with the first entrance of the foreigner into China, as
radical Chinese wished? And if it is to be adopted, is it to apply only
to China? The code that would sweep Japan entirely out of China would
also sweep us out of the Philippines and Haiti; England out of India and
Egypt. There are strong young nationalist parties to-day in the
Philippines and in Haiti, in India and in Egypt, using the same
arguments that the Chinese delegation used in Washington, that the
foreigners shall go; and in all of these countries as in China to-day,
the reason given by the protecting or invading power, as you choose to
regard it, that they stay, is that their going would be the worst thing
in the world that could happen to the country.

In the case of Shantung and the twenty-one demands, the solution was
going to depend upon how far Japan realized that these “valid” claims of
hers—that is, valid under the old code—were handicaps and not advantages
to her. How far she realized that by attempting to keep them in force
she was going to cripple her own real advancement in China, increase and
prolong the boycott of her goods, and incur the ill will of other
nations, particularly of this nation.

It became clear early in the Washington Conference that we were not
going to help China’s case, or encourage Japan in generous dealing by
continuing to cultivate mistrust and hatred of the Japanese. A
systematic effort to make one nation hate another belongs to the old way
of doing things. Indeed, it has been one of the chief methods by which
we have thought to progress in the world. You built up distrust,
dislike, suspicion, until you had created an enemy in the minds of the
mass of the people so hateful that it became an almost religious duty to
overthrow it. We have had this sort of thing going on in this country in
regard to Japan for years, a calculated, nation-wide, extremely able
effort to make the American people fear and despise the Japanese, to
bring them to a point where they would gladly, as a relief to their
feelings, undertake a war against Japan. I do not know that a sterner
rebuke to the American public—the sterner because unconscious—could have
been given than the remarks of Prince Tokugawa in one of his little
talks before he sailed for home. He was telling how surprised as well as
grateful the Japanese had been at American hospitality, “Because,” he
said, “when we came we feared that the Americans were so hostile to us
that it might be impossible for us to go with safety on the streets.”

Those who know the Orient best all agree that its future peace, and
therefore the future peace of the world, depends largely upon Japan. She
is the one strong, stable, unified nation in the East. She has, it is
true, a powerful militaristic party, but opposed to that is a great
liberal group. Prince Tokugawa, who played so fine a part in his
delegation during the Conference, is a man who has taken keen interest
in labor questions, education of the people, the development of
industry, and has thrown all his great interest against the military
spirit. It is said by those who know much of Japan’s interior workings
that the Empress herself is convinced that either the empire must have a
democratic leadership, a constitutional monarchy with a responsible
cabinet, an army and navy under civil control, or that it will be
overthrown, and that the reason that the young Crown Prince was sent on
his visit to England was that he might have a look at a democratic
monarchy. There are many Japanese saying openly in the press and in
public assemblies that the future of Japan depends upon an entire change
of policy, that the hard dealings in Korea, the wresting of the
twenty-one demands from Peking, the methods in Shantung have all been a
mistake, that Japan must deny them, correct the wrongs done under them
if she is to have the sympathy and enjoy the coöperation of the outside
world. It is most important that the people of the United States
particularly should understand these liberal leanings in Japan, should
give them all the support within their power.

There was much irritation at different times in Washington because the
Japanese delegation insisted on holding up the march of negotiations
until it could hear from Tokyo, and between Tokyo and poor cable
connections the answers were slow in coming. The delegation always
insisted on waiting, however, and in this it was wise. It could go no
further safely than the government at home would back it. If it
attempted to do so, it would mean the final repudiation of the measures
to which it had agreed. Certainly Americans should have understood this.
It might take time for the Japanese to stop at every point in the
negotiations to consult their government, but it was a much safer method
in the long run than making such haste that a situation could arise such
as that between our own delegation and the President of the United
States—the difference in the interpretation of the Four Power Pact, a
difference which no doubt arose from a failure to see that the busy
President did have in his head just what the meaning of the short and
simple document really was. It sometimes pays to make haste slowly.

If the Japanese were cautious in their dealings, haggled over details,
were slow to make concessions which it was likely they intended all the
time to make, gave up nothing until they were sure they would be backed
by the home government, it might be exasperating but it was not
necessarily a proof of intrigue or of a lack of sympathy with the larger
purposes of the Conference. In spite of these methods so irritating to
people whose only thought is to put things through in the shortest time
possible, the Japanese made a better impression on the Conference than
the Chinese, for the simple reason that the one were workers, the other
talkers. More than once in the course of the negotiations it was
necessary to recall the Chinese’s attention to the fact that what was
under discussion was not theories, but conditions. All one’s sympathies
were with the talkers, and all one’s practical sense with the workers.

The nations in adopting the principles that they did in regard to China,
in insuring her a protecting ring within which they promise to see that
she has the chance to develop and maintain effective and stable
government, and to give all nations an equal opportunity of carrying on
commerce and industry with her, are attempting something that has never
before been done in this world—they are insuring a great weak, divided
nation its chance. Never again under the protection adopted, if the
promises made are kept, can anybody chip off a piece of Chinese
territory, secure a monopoly of her resources; never again can there be
in China a Shantung, a Twenty-one demands, a Port Arthur. The pacts and
principles adopted establish over China that “moral trusteeship” of
which Mr. Hughes talks. They put upon all nations agreeing and
particularly upon this nation the obligation to see that this moral
trusteeship is something more than a phrase.

Although the immediate results to China are not as sweeping and generous
as many of her friends desire and many believe would have been possible
and wise, they are substantial. She will control her own post offices
beginning with January, 1923; the correction of the humiliating
extra-territoriality is being undertaken; foreign troops will be
withdrawn; a beginning at least toward tariff autonomy has been made. No
future concessions and agreements will be made by China to other powers
except under an international board of review, the office of which will
be to see that no terms unjust to China or discriminatory in the favor
of any particular outside nation are made. This leaves old commitments
where they are, but it is fair to suppose, if the board does its duty,
that any manifest injustice or flagrant discrimination now existing can
and will be eventually cured.

The Shantung question has been settled—settled in the way that President
Wilson believed at Paris that it finally would be settled—by Japan’s
withdrawing. The real bone of contention between the two countries—the
Tsingtau-Tsinanfu railway—will go back entirely to China within a few
years—five at the shortest, fifteen at the longest—upon terms of payment
and of management which, if painful to both countries—Japan feeling that
she is giving up too much, China that she is getting too little—yet
seemed reasonable and the best that could be done by the American and
British delegation.

With the withdrawal of Japan from Shantung, will go England’s from
Weihaiwei, and probably a little later, France’s from Kwangchow-wan.

As for the twenty-one demands, Japan so thoroughly realized the
discredit they had brought her in the eyes of the liberal world that she
began the discussion upon them by voluntarily withdrawing one whole
section, that which compelled China to employ Japanese advisers in the
military, financial and political departments of her government. She
also declared her intention to give up her preferential rights in
Southern Manchuria and to open to the international consortium the
railway loans in Manchuria and Mongolia which she has been holding as
her exclusive possession. This is going a long way to clear up the
difficulties under the commitments. With this start and with intelligent
international supervision, it ought to be possible in a reasonable time
to free China entirely from whatever is oppressive in the twenty-one

It is a beginning. If Young China will take hold vigorously now there is
reason to believe that the thongs about her feet will in time be cut.
She has work, long, slow work, before her, but she is assured sympathy
and protection in carrying it on. That is a vastly more important result
than to have been granted all the demands of her eager young democrats
and left alone in the world.

It is the old, old story—nations must climb step by step—they have no

                               CHAPTER XI

How are we to measure the Washington Conference? There are people who
think it should be by the things that it did not undertake to do. The
Conference was indicted in Washington in January by a league of people
of considerable ability who declared that it had not lessened the chance
of war by a fraction of one per cent. The reason they gave for this
verdict was that it had not taken up the causes of India, Korea, the Far
Eastern Republic, Persia, the Philippines, Haiti, the “Republic of Mt.

It is certain that the world is going to have no quiet until these
troubled countries are satisfied. But they are not the only problems to
be solved. Mr. Hughes named a considerable number on his agenda. Is an
international conference to be declared a farce because it selects one
set of problems instead of another, and believes it more practical to
give exclusive attention to one side of the globe than to the entire
surface? You could not persuade Mr. Hughes and his colleagues that any
other policy than that of one thing at a time would contribute a
“fraction of one per cent.” to the peace of the earth. They believe the
block system is the only practical one for setting the world aright.
They lay it out something like this:

“Let us clean up the Pacific, then we can disarm. Having disarmed, we
can lend a hand in the next most distressed and troublesome
block—France, Central Europe, Russia. Having helped set them straight,
one at a time, then possibly we may consider an association of
nations—but not now.” So convinced was Mr. Hughes of the soundness of
his system that he threw out one of the chief subjects on his agenda—the
limitation of land armament—when he discovered he must leave his
block—the Pacific—and pass into Europe if it was considered.

The only system a man can successfully handle is that in which he has
faith,—the only fair way to judge what he does is by what he undertakes
to do—not what you would like him to undertake. Measured by the method
it adopted and the limitations it set for itself, how does the
Conference come out?

I began my observations on the Conference with a quarrel with the
agenda. Putting the problem of the limitation of armament before the
settlement of the difficulties or threats of difficulties in the
Pacific, which were keeping the countries concerned in arms, looked
illogical. It proved good psychology. The naval program stirred the
imagination of the country, became at once something tremendously
desirable—a real move toward peace. When England and Japan at once
agreed it became possible and practical. If they agreed, why, then—it
must be—the difficulties could be settled which many had doubted. The
Conference thus at the start gained what it needed most, popular faith
that it meant to do a concrete, tangible thing. The proposition that
England, the United States, Japan, France and Italy should adopt a naval
ratio of 5–5–3, 1.75—1.25 and agree not to build for ten years was a
big, substantial, stirring fact. To have them accept, as they did,
strengthened the faith of the world. It was the first time big powers
had ever said “scrap,” had ever been actually eager for a naval holiday.

The fact that neither the submarine nor the auxiliary craft are to be
limited in tonnage, as the original program proposed, if disappointing,
still does not upset the achievement. The submarine comes out of the
Conference unlimited in number but crippled in its field of action.
Merchant ships are forbidden it on penalty of piracy. That will not in
the thick of war prevent merchant ships being destroyed but it will take
the heart out of the business. Outlawry helps if it does not prohibit.
There is compensation also in the failure in regard to the tonnage of
auxiliary craft, for at least their size is limited—to 10,000 tons—and
their guns to 8 inches, and that is a fairly satisfactory substitute for
the original proposal.

In spite of the changes, cutting and trimming, the naval program remains
something which the country wants, something which it feels to be a blow
at war as well as a relief to its tax burdens.

If the naval program could stand on its own feet, it alone would make
the Conference a brilliant success, but it cannot. It was no sooner
raised to its feet than its makers had to rush in with props. The first
was a policy in regard to China. The reason was clear enough. Unless the
nations at the Conference could agree among themselves on a method of
assisting in the development of China which would prevent any one of
them taking an unfair advantage of the others, there were sure to be
quarrels sooner or later and they would need their ships. Unless they
could fix on a policy under which not only they each had a fair chance
but nations outside—not at the Conference, but likely in the future to
desire to invest in China—were not discriminated against, they would
need their ships. They would surely need them, too, one of these days,
if they did not satisfy China that what they agreed upon was as good for
her as for them.

Mr. Root hurried in with his four principles. Mr. Hughes outlined his
Nine Power Pact, which was to assent to the principles and the practical
applications of them which were to be worked out.

But the naval program had to have another prop before it could proceed.
It was not worth the paper it was written on unless England and Japan
agreed to it. They agreed in principle at the start, but in practice
they could and would not until they were sure that the nation that was
asking them to disarm wanted peace in the Pacific badly enough to join
them in a league to assure it by coöperation. Before they scrapped their
ships they wanted to know whether their present boundaries and rights
were to be respected by their colleagues—whether if one of them suffered
aggression from without the others were to remain indifferent or were
willing to pledge at least moral support. The Four Power Pact was the
prop desired. England, the United States, France and Japan agree in it
to face the future in the Pacific together. Pull out this prop and your
program for scrapping ships and a naval holiday falls flat—as flat as
the disarmament of France has fallen and for the same reason. If this
Conference for the Limitation of Armament does nothing more than to make
the American public understand better what has been at the bottom of the
conduct of France since the Armistice, it will have been worth all it

France has held up the peace of Europe, delayed its reconstruction,
lessened her own chances of reparation, alienated her best friends by
her persistent militarism. Go back to the peace treaty of 1919 when
disarmament was one of the fundamental principles adopted by the allied
nations. From the start France’s argument in regard to disarmament was
that for her it was impossible unless England and the United States
would guarantee her against aggression from Germany—if they would do
that she would disarm. In order to get disarmament, Mr. Wilson and Lloyd
George agreed to protect France against _unprovoked_ attacks. Our Senate
refused to ratify the agreement.

Having no guarantees, France kept her arms. Keeping her arms, the
military spirit spread, the military group grew stronger. How strong
recent events have shown.

One-third of the agenda of the Washington Conference—that in regard to
land disarmament—had to be scrapped ten days after the opening because a
reduction of land armament still meant to France a guarantee, the same
kind of a guarantee in principle that a little later we gave to Japan in
order to make it possible for her to agree with Great Britain and
ourselves on the naval program. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the
Conference on the Limitation of Armament is its demonstration that
disarmament means a union of the nations that disarm, that in no other
way, the world being what it is, can it be accomplished.

Along with this demonstration has gone another, frequently repeated,
that this union to which you are to pin your faith instead of ships and
armies, if it is to be permanent, must be all inclusive.

Again and again the Conference ran up against the difficulty that
although all the nations represented in Washington might make agreements
to cut down their capital ships, limit their auxiliary craft to 10,000
tons and their guns to 8 inches, put the mark of pirate on a submarine
that attacked a merchant vessel, forbid chemical warfare, limit the
number of air-craft ships—any one or all of these restrictions might
overnight be frustrated by one nation or a group of nations outside of
the alliance, entering on an ambitious and aggressive campaign of naval
construction. That is, this fine program for the limitation of
armament—almost certain to be carried out if the Four Power Pact in
regard to the waters of the Pacific and the Nine Power Pact in regard to
the protection of China are ratified by the different governments—still
may be destroyed overnight by some part of the world not included in
this union for peace. So obvious is this that the naval pact includes an
agreement that in case any one of the signing nations finds itself in a
dangerous position in regard to an aggressive neighbor, it shall have
the right to withdraw. Every step that has been taken in the Washington
Conference leads inevitably to the conclusion that it is all or none—if
the work is to stand.

The difficulty in the way of most people and most nations accepting this
conclusion is that they do not believe any such union of all nations
practical. They cannot see men of all races working together, settling
only by agreement the misunderstandings that inevitably come up.

If the Conference on the Limitation of Armament has demonstrated the
necessity of world coöperation if we are to have peace, it has also
demonstrated its practicability. Mr. Hughes started off by calling on
the two nations which the people of this country have for a long time
regarded with the most suspicion—the two nations against which we have
conducted a persistent campaign of ill will—England and Japan. Yet for
three months the delegations of these two nations worked with ours in
the utmost friendliness. Again and again I heard Mr. Hughes declare that
nobody could have been more coöperative, as he expressed it, than the
delegates from England and Japan. It was obvious that those countries
were quite as eager as ourselves to work out agreements that would
enable them to declare a naval holiday. All those initial suspicions
that we had of England and Japan and that England and Japan had of us
did not prevent the delegates of the three countries from coming to
conclusions on matters on which they had differed. What it seems to
prove is that you can get peace by friendly negotiation, that a
coöperation of nations is not a dream, that it is a reality.

What more amazing and convincing proof of this than the fact that China
and Japan did, by conference, agree on Shantung? Who would have believed
it possible? What made it possible was the faith and the wisdom of Mr.
Hughes and Mr. Balfour, their determination that the Chinese and
Japanese should learn to work together. “Talk it over” was their
instruction. “The Shantung question can only be settled peaceably by
yourselves.” It was one of the wisest, one of the most significant
decisions of the Washington Conference. Day after day the Chinese and
Japanese held conversations—not conferences. They talked, they
quarreled. Day after day they went home in wrath and disgust, refusing
suggested compromises, pleading the danger of losing their heads if they
consented. If the Chinese delegates offered Peking anything less than an
immediate and completely free Shantung, they could never again pass the
border of China. If the Japanese gave up even what they had promised to
give up, their lives would not be worth a song in Tokyo. Yet, day by
day, Japan was giving in a little, China becoming a little more
coöperative. Mr. Harding, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Balfour stayed on the
outside, genial but determined friends—determined that these two Eastern
neighbors should begin now to settle their disagreements. More than
once, China came to them: “Make Japan be good, great friends. You know
Shantung is ours. Make her be good.”

Patience won the day. It took thirty-eight “conversations,” interminable
cables, breaks, returns, the constant counsel of Mr. Balfour and Mr.
Hughes—“Steady now, steady. Don’t give it up. You must do it
yourselves”—to bring a final agreement between the two nations. But in
the end they did settle the Shantung difficulty. It was a tremendous
victory for the new international method of handling quarrels.

How reasonable it is that it should be so. It is a direct attack on a
difficulty not a roundabout one by correspondence through ambassadors.
Face to face, you examine the basis of suspicion. You ask, Is this true
or not? Are you doing so-and-so or not? Do you aim to do so-and-so? Thus
the actual situation, not the imagined one, is arrived at. It becomes
the actual property of a group of negotiators sitting at the same table;
and when the actuality is before them all, being turned over and
examined by them all, adjustment is almost certain _if there is good
will_. And here you come to the crux of the whole matter—you get no
adjustment unless the negotiators are working in a spirit of good will.

When I first set out to observe the Washington Conference I looked up a
man unusually wise and experienced in international affairs, one who for
many years has been collecting, arranging and explaining the diplomatic
adventures of men and of nations so that each coming generation might
have, if it would, the materials from which to find out what men had
already done in making peace and, if it were wise enough, why they so
often had failed. I was in search of just the material of which he of
all men knew most. “What shall I read first?” I asked him. His instant
reply was, “Æsop’s Fables. That should be the textbook of the
Conference. Read Æsop,” he said, “to see what they can do, and follow
with Don Quixote to see what they cannot do.

“But there is one book more important than all for the Conference—the
Gospels. But not King James’ version. That is a great and wonderful
translation, but it has done some harm in the world by not always giving
true values to great truths. It promises peace on earth and good will to
men. But that is not what was promised. Peace was promised to men of
good will. The success of the Conference will depend upon the degree to
which men of good will are able to prevail over those of ill will.”

This is the way it turned out in Washington. At every stage it was good
will which carried the undertaking forward. What will happen now in the
various countries to which the pacts of the Conference go will depend
upon the spirit of the peoples to which they are submitted, whether it
be malicious or charitable. Will there be good will enough in Japan to
make such rearrangements of her claims in China that Chinese bitterness
and suspicion will be removed? Will there be enough good will in China
to coöperate when these rearrangements are made? Will there be enough in
the United States to accept the pledges of mutual support which must be
made if the nations concerned are to limit their armaments? Have we
enough faith in men to accept the only possible alternative in the
present world to unlimited armament, and that is, a union of peoples
pledged to face misunderstandings at their beginning, to separate them
into their elements, and to bring all the force of collective judgment
and intelligence to adjustment?

It may be that the United States does not yet sufficiently understand
that the principle of unionism which is its strength is a world
principle, that one primary cause of wars in this world is isolation,
with its necessity of being suspicious, on guard, ready to strike—like a
rattlesnake. Æsop is a guide here, with his fable of the bundle of
sticks—sticks easy to break if separated, unbreakable when bound

It may be that the Senate of the United States will refuse to back this
pact of good will which is just as essential to carrying out the program
of limitation of naval armament as a guarantee to France against
unprovoked aggression was two years ago (and is still) to European
disarmament. But, refuse it or not, the day will come—and nothing has
ever demonstrated it more clearly than the Washington Conference,—when
we are going to understand that the world can only remain in peace
through a union which is a practical application of the brotherhood of
man, not a limited brotherhood of man, such as Mr. Wells preached in his
final comment on the Arms Parley, but one including all men.

Mr. Wells’ idea of a brotherhood of nations is—or was!—one that includes
not every state of the world but “the peoples who speak English, French,
German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, with such states as Holland and
Norway and Bohemia, great in quality if not great in power—sympathetic
in training and tradition.” He would admit only people of like ideals,
exclude Russia, India, China. Could there be a surer way to throw Russia
and India and China into an alliance against this so-called “Brotherhood
of Man”? Is there a surer way to awaken an ambition for liberty, to
spread ideals than to share what you have with those that seem to
you—and yet never in all respects are—backward nations? Is there any
brotherhood of man worthy the name which does not include all men?

However we may feel about it as a nation to-day, though we may ruin the
present program for limitation of armament by rejection of its
underlying pacts, the day will surely come when we shall realize and
admit the fullest international association and coöperation. It is the
one real asset humanity has carried from this war—the sense of the
oneness of the world, the impossibility of order and progress and peace
except as each is allowed to develop its individuality, in a free
continuing union of all.

Eventually the Washington Conference for the Limitation of Armament will
be judged by what it contributes to this union of nations, exactly as
all its predecessors will be judged. The Washington Conference is but
one in a long chain of international undertakings looking to peace. It
is built on the experience of many different men, of many different
countries, running back literally for centuries. Its immediate
predecessor was the Hague Conferences and tribunal and the Paris
Conference with its resultant League of Nations. So far the League of
Nations is at once the most idealistic and the most practical scheme men
have yet framed, the broadest in its scope and the most democratic in
its spirit. It may prove that humanity is as yet too backward to grasp
and realize its intent and its possibilities. It may make too great a
demand on their faith, their charity, their love; but nothing can
destroy the great fact that it has been undertaken by fifty-one nations,
that it is alive and at work. That fact will stand as a hope and a guide
to the future.

The present Conference has boldly and nobly attempted to do in a limited
field something of what the Paris Conference attempted to do for the
whole world. The limitation of armament it proposes rests, like world
disarmament, on unionism, standing together. Unionism requires faith;
have we enough of it? It requires, too, men of good will. Have we enough
of them? In the final analysis, it is with them that “peace on earth”


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Changed ‘one or twice’ to ‘once or twice’ on p. 99.
 2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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