After Five Years
FIVE years ago began the great controversy regarding the League of Nations. Prejudiced from the outset by the personality and tactics of its chief exponent, the proposal was rejected by the American Senate and with seeming greater decisiveness by the American people.
I made my own little contribution to that decision — all the contribution of which I was capable. To-day I am reconciled to the League. I believe that my experience is that of some millions of my fellow Americans. It is this belief that prompts me to reopen for myself a ‘closed issue.’
Not that I objected to cooperation in principle. I despised the argument that participation in European affairs would cost us money and get us into trouble. As well object that to rescue a drowning man you are liable to get wet. I am and always have been ready to have my country help to the limit of its capacity and at any cost to itself which would not destroy its power to help. That is what our money is for, what we are for—‘to spend and to be spent’; and if we have not learned the satisfaction of such spending, it is time we did. Throughout the period of controversy nothing tried me so much as the plaudits of those whose slogan was: ‘America for itself; the Devil take the rest.’ I remember with satisfaction having granted my frank permission to some of these would-be sympathizers to go to their own place. I had no words for them.
And it is not they whom I am addressing now. They have not changed their attitude; or if they have, it is for reasons which they are more competent than I to set forth. I speak for those who accepted freely the principle of international cooperation in the interest of world peace and progress, but who did not believe that the League of Nations, as then proposed, would contribute to the end sought. We had our misgivings and our definite objections.
Here again, however, there is need of a disclaimer. Not all the objections urged against the League were ours. For instance, no sincere believer in cooperation ever urged the notorious six-to-one objection. The proposal that in this congress of Babel our own race, those committed to our ideals, should have a relatively large representation, was not one to disturb any friend of cooperation. It was rather a consummation devoutly to be wished, and the marvel was that we had found a satisfactory excuse for securing it. That this representation was chiefly British rather than American was inconsequential, or, if open to objection, it was as nothing to the objection that we had a whole bevy of Caribbean satellites whose action we were in a position to influence if we chose, as Britain could never influence the action of Canada and Australia. It was clear from the first that this objection was urged by those who wished to defeat the scheme rather than to safeguard it. As such, it always seemed to me disingenuous.
But the friends of coöperation had their objections to the proposed League none the less — objections to features which they believed would destroy its efficiency and discredit the cause which they had at heart. Has the experience of the last five years justified or dispelled their fears?
In the first place, we doubted the feasibility of anything like formal and binding joint-action on the part of all the nations. They were too diverse in size, in power, in wealth, in intelligence, in diplomatic experience. The great Powers would never submit to be bound by the small Powers, nor the small by the great. It was not a question whether they ought to feel that way; they did feel that way, and we were — or tried to be — realists. And if the great and small could not trust each other, still less could the great trust the great. Expostulate all you will, there is the patent fact. The skeptic has but to recall Spa, Genoa, Cannes, Brussels, London, Paris.
The framers of the League did not reassure us at all by their devices to remove this very obvious objection. There was the famous fivc-to-four arrangement, which Mr. Taft assured us guaranteed in perpetuity the control of the great Powers. Five was more than four — we could all see that. But suppose one of the great Powers should refuse to play and should go and flock with the little ones. Would not five be more than four in this case as well? Then there was the requirement of unanimity in certain cases where we were especially sensitive. Surely no one could do anything to us if they had to wait for our consent. No; nor could we do anything if we had to wait for theirs. We could not all of us see safety in the prospect of universal deadlock. Taking everything as it stood, it seemed to us that an association of all the nations offered a large opportunity for deliberation, persuasion, and influence, but very little hope of acceptable or wise control.
But our enthusiasts wanted a league ‘with teeth.’ Some — and among them men usually accounted sane — would go so far as to substitute for the armies and navies of the nations an international force under the control of the League. I have never been able to understand how intelligent men in this age of the world could be so unconscious of the psychological requirements of military loyalty and discipline or of the incitement to international intrigue and to individual ambition, which this proposal implies. But as the proposal never reached the point of serious consideration by the nation, it does not call for it now.
In lieu of this Prætorian Guard, the League was obliged to content itself with the vague implications of Article X and the economic boycott. We were to ‘guarantee’ all members of the League — ultimately, of course, all nations — against the violation of their frontiers. Just how and who and when in each case was not and could not be specified. Plainly, however, it was not to be left to our own individual national discretion, for that would have left us just where we were; and if war was not the means intended, it obviously might prove the means required. It was an opportunity for the imagination to run riot and our imaginations were not reassuring. We pictured ourselves summoned from Geneva to repel an invasion of Poland. We did not like that. Or Germany perhaps commissioned to drive Argentina out of Paraguay. We should n’t like that. Or Germany authorized to drive the Reds out of Poland. For a quite different reason we should not like that. Indeed we could scarcely think of any acceptable commission under Article X.
But we were assured that this would never be necessary. The economic boycott would settle all that. This weapon was much lauded as both easy and safe. It could be applied by Government edict in an hour. Its pressure would be tremendous and in the case of any advanced nation would be unendurable.
Let us imagine a case. Germany will most easily serve our purpose. She breaks bounds and must be coerced. The edict goes forth from Geneva that Washington must sever relations with Berlin, that our Government must have no dealings with Germany or with Germans, and that our citizens must have no dealings with Germans at home or abroad. Let us be concrete. Germany is our second largest customer for cotton. The price is thirty cents. The boycott will knock the bottom out of the cotton market in five minutes. Millions of bales bought by dealers on a market basis are dumped on the market and sold below cost. Planters and dealers are ruined and the disaster is propagated by the ‘sympathy’ of the market to the whole line. What will these men say about it? do about it? What did they do in 1917, when it was announced that cotton, like wheat, was to be subjected to a maximum-price limit? Through their spokesmen in Congress they angrily declared: ‘What we demand of this administration is the assurance that its policy is to be hands off cotton.’ It was hands off cotton. Easy, oh yes, and prompt; but there will be some hesitation in shooting with a gun that kicks like that when fired.
The objection to all this is not that it is illogical or even unreasonable, but that it is impossible. The sufficient reason why we should not promise all this is the certain fact that we would not keep the promise. You can’t make a people fight a war without a war psychology. They will not fight unless they are mad or scared. They will not make great sacrifices unless under the influence of great emotions. Mr. Wilson thought the mood of 1919 favorable to the launching of his scheme. It certainly was, if it was only a question of launching. The world would have launched anything, even the least seaworthy, in its mood of utter warweariness. That was a very good reason for waiting. The appeal was like that to a young couple drawn together by a brief emotional experience: ‘Better marry now. If you wait till to-morrow you may not feel like it.’ Then for heaven’s sake, wait till tomorrow.
This, in brief, was my objection in 1919, and under like conditions it would be my objection now. The nations of the world were utterly unprepared and are still unprepared to exercise the powers which it was proposed to confer upon them. They lack the intelligence, the cohesion, the disinterestedness to adopt the principle of majority rule and to exercise coercion under majority sanction. Qualify and disguise as we please, there can be no coercion under world mandate as yet. There may be emergency combinations of great potency and even permanent predilections toward joint action in certain connections, but for the nations as a whole, under whatever covenant or device, the possibility of joint coercion is still remote. Whether the time will ever come is an academic question.
Why, then, is the League of Nations acceptable to-day as it was not in 1919? Simply because it has shed its teeth. During the past five years the League of Nations has begun to take real form. Political institutions are not manufactured; they grow. Written constitutions and covenants are merely forecasts of the form which this growth is expected — or desired — to take. The inscrutable forces which determine growth reck little of these paper preliminaries — so little indeed that they seldom stop to revise them in accordance with vital achievement. The British Cabinet, the most powerful governing body in the world, does not exist in law and is mentioned in no British statute. On the other hand, in theory British laws still derive their authority from the ‘royal assent.’ It would be a strange observer, however, who would ignore the one or heed the other in his inventory of political Britain.
This suggests the nature of our problem. The League of Nations is no longer a theory. It is a fact. It has had a brief but momentous existence and there is no mistaking the verdict of experience to date. It is unnecessary here to repeat the familiar facts as to its organization: the big Assembly where all meet on equal terms, the Council where the chosen few exercise their more potent influence, and the Secretariat which, by its mastery of facts and its unlimited command of expert services, is the potent dispenser of destiny. It concerns us chiefly to know these in the flesh.
Opinion seems to be unanimous that the League has been fortunate in its initial personnel. The nations have sent of their best and the spirit of cooperation is pronounced. Most conspicuous of all these appointments is that of the Secretary-in-Chief, Sir Eric Drummond, to whose initiative is doubtless due the atmosphere of welcome and helpfulness which pervades the headquarters of the Secretariat at Geneva. This is apparent to the most casual observer. It is possibly due in part to this atmosphere that the representatives of the different nations seem unconsciously to think of themselves as members of one body rather than as representatives of distinct and rival nations. We may call this the League consciousness, as contrasted with the diplomatic consciousness which is the inevitable result of working from separate national centres. There seems to be nothing of the sparring for advantage which characterizes a conference of ambassadors.
All this has been increased by the nature of the work which has been given to the League to do. The most sagacious feature of the original plan was the assignment to the League of all international activities hitherto carried on by minor commissions such as the Danube Commission, the International Postal Union, and so on. The aggregate of these activities was considerable and they were, in general, activities involving no rivalries or conflicting claims. They were things that everybody wanted done and asked only that they be done well. Other things of like sort were speedily added: the traffic in narcotic drugs, the whiteslave traffic, the control of epidemics, international labor problems, and the like. The great body of delegates was divided into committees and kept busy doing things that involved no other question than that of ways and means.
The League, once recognized as an international maid-of-all-work, it is astonishing how much such work we find for it to do, work hitherto left undone and — as we are beginning to realize — neglected to our hurt. The League is a hive of industry of an indubitably useful sort. Thus employed, men get all over thinking of one another as rivals bent on overreaching and outwitting their antagonists, and become dominated by a new consciousness.
The wary nationalist will scent danger in this new temper of trust and cooperation. Can we trust men thus minded to look after national interests? He may console himself with the thought that this temper is not likely soon to become universal. Meanwhile, remembering the events of recent years, perhaps we can afford to take the risk.
The League, once habituated to these international tasks, finds occasional opportunities for exceptional service. The outstanding example is the rehabilitation of Austria. The situation was desperate and Austria was unable to extricate herself. She was humbled and helpless, an object of pity rather than of fear. Everybody wanted the thing done, yet no individual nation could extend a helping hand without political implications of a disturbing character. With unanimity the League of Nations was invited to undertake the task. For this the League was ideally fitted. The world’s ablest experts were at its disposal for the searching inquiry and formulated plan required. The plan once formulated and accepted by Austria, the country that could not have borrowed a penny before, now found her new loan oversubscribed in every monetary centre in which it was offered. Expectations have been more than realized, and a country which but a few months ago was paralyzed and bankrupt, is now busy and prosperous. The League has bestowed no charity and exercised no coercion. It has simply served as a vehicle — and an indispensable vehicle — for the helpfulness of the nations.
Similar action is contemplated for Hungary and, possibly, for others. Even Germany may come within the range of League assistance if we can get to the point where all are willing that Germany should be rehabilitated. Nothing can be done without universal consent.
A striking case of League service was the repatriation of war prisoners, of whom nearly half a million were stranded in the Russian chaos, unable to return to their homes and families. Everybody was willing to have them return, but no nation could go after them. It was not the kind of thing that nations could do. The League performed the difficult task satisfactorily, creating appropriate instruments and machinery for the purpose. But, as before, the secret of success lay in the universal willingness to have the thing done. That has been the condition of every success thus far achieved.
Curiously enough, that condition is sometimes realized in cases of bitterest dispute. Such a case occurred at one of the conferences when the relation between England and France was one of extreme tension. The discussion ended in absolute deadlock. Neither would yield or could yield with the sentiment at home as it was. Yet to leave the question unsettled would have been almost a guaranty of rupture. It was with a sense of relief to both that they adopted the suggestion that it be referred to the League of Nations. The League began as usual by a searching expert inquiry. This took time, which in this case was of the essence of the situation. By the time the inquiry was completed the issue was somewhat forgotten and the tension relieved. The report of the experts, too, was convincing as usual and the weary diplomats on both sides were glad of a face-saving pretext to accept a hitherto impossible settlement.
Few are aware how frequent are cases of this kind in diplomatic experience. It would be a poor diplomat who did not begin by claiming rather more than he expected to get and claiming, of course, in very positive terms. If left to themselves, the negotiators try each other out and finally make the inevitable concessions. This is the reason for secret diplomacy. If the first stout asseverations are public, concession is sure to be construed as surrender or betrayal and the negotiator is ruined. Far worse is the situation when the public itself has made the initial demands and is excited about them. Negotiators charged to represent such rival claims can make no concession, however convinced of its reasonableness, under pain of ruin for themselves and possible war for their people. In such cases the dispute has not infrequently been referred to a disinterested foreign monarch. How many Americans realize that we hold a portion of our own national domain by the award of the first German Emperor? For such purposes the League is obviously better fitted than a monarch or other referee chosen on the spur of the moment. Procedure in such cases becomes systematized and principles gradually emerge from experience. All depends, of course, upon the thoroughness and impartiality with which it performs its task, but its record in this respect is above criticism.
We have found the League thus far primarily an international administrative body, performing a large and increasing number of tasks, some permanent and others of an emergency nature. Incidentally, and to a far less extent, it serves as a tribunal for the settlement of disputes referred to it by common consent.
But it was something very different from this that we expected from the League. That it has been able to make itself useful in these ways is so much to the good, but it was not such services as these that excited our hopes or our fears five years ago. There was to be a policeman who should lay a heavy hand upon the marauder and hale him before the bar of justice. Does the League possess such powers, and if so, what has it accomplished? It will hardly be contended that there has been no occasion for their exercise.
The case most frequently cited as a fulfillment of these hopes is that of the Aland Islands dispute. Claimed by Finland, they preferred union with Sweden. The case was complicated by the usual strategic and ethnic considerations. The tension became so great that direct agreement was impossible. Both nations, however, agreed to refer the dispute to the Ambassadors of the great Powers. They, in turn, referred it to the League, by whom it was settled in the usual thoroughgoing and admirable manner. The ability with which the League handles these matters is indisputable. The mastery of facts and the spirit of fairness which are manifest in these awards is such as to compel acceptance. Again we must recognize valuable service.
But there is still no sign of police power, no coercion of an unwilling party. The partisans of the League would fain have us believe that the League averted war. Conceivably the affair, if neglected or bungled, might have led to war, but when both nations agreed on their own initiative to refer it to arbitration, the danger of war would seem not to have been imminent. Finland protested against the reference to the League but acquiesced, and Sweden protested against the award but acquiesced. Evidently there was a will to peace all round.
What could the League do if that will to peace were lacking?
We had not long to wait for an answer. A shocking crime against Italian citizens was committed on Greek territory and probably by Greeks. The Greek Government at once expressed regret and promised fullest amends. The Italian dictator ignored the proffered satisfaction, demanded a prodigious indemnity and humiliating obeisance, and, without waiting for acceptance or refusal, seized Corfu with a seemingly unnecessary bombardment, all as a pledge for the fulfillment of the condition imposed. Greece appealed to the League of Nations and Italy peremptorily and absolutely refused to recognize its jurisdiction, on the ground that the League could not intervene in a case affecting the honor of the nation. Finding his position a difficult one, the dictator consented to refer the case to the Council of Ambassadors, who rendered a decision suggested by the League but one which conceded most of the dictator’s demands.
It would be difficult to imagine a case more completely covering all the points of our inquiry. At the outset Mussolini had all the cards in his hand. The crime was completely established; Greek responsibility was clear and avowed; Italy was overwhelmingly superior to Greece in power and therefore above suspicion of weakness or fear; and finally, the sympathies of the entire world were on her side. We can hardly imagine a situation in which it would have been easier for a nation to submit its case to an international tribunal. Such a reference would have involved no loss of dignity or national interest and it would have ensured as favorable a judgment as it was humanly possible to grant.
But no. ‘National honor’ was at stake, and in such cases the competence of the tribunal was not to be recognized. When the Italian representative at Geneva was reminded of the possibility of an economic boycott, he remarked with naive surprise: ‘Why, I did n’t suppose that that applied to Powers like Italy.’ And in effect it did not, as the result proved. We may assume that Mussolini lost no sleep over the possibility of an economic boycott.
And so, in defense of the ‘national honor,’ Mussolini adopted a policy which at once alienated all sympathies and sacrificed every moral advantage that he previously possessed. It was a case of the big bully and the small boy — and worse, for the small boy had made abject submission for a wrong for which he was but indirectly and doubtfully responsible. Under such circumstances and with the absolute certainty of justice through the new agency to which Italy stood pledged, the seizure and needless bombardment of Corfu was one of the most unmitigated outrages which modern history records. The invasion of Belgium was sweet reasonableness compared with it.
I shall of course be reminded that this was only the surface aspect of the case. The seizure of Corfu, the most splendid naval base in the central Mediterranean and the key to the Adriatic and all its hinterland, was part of a vast scheme of military and naval expansion which is dear to the heart of Mussolini and his people, and for this the Albanian murder — coming at a time when France and Britain were hopelessly at loggerheads — was a welcome pretext. The problem was therefore not nearly so simple and the reference to the League not nearly so safe for Italian aims as we have indicated. Undoubtedly. Naive indeed must be the man who expected Mussolini to retire from Corfu as promised, unless compelled to do so. Italian ambitions are no secret, nor yet Mussolini’s attitude toward them. Promises of withdrawal in such cases are discounted not only by the age-long experience of nations, but by the flagrant case of the Dodecanese, still held by Italy in the face of an identical promise. If there are still trusting souls who think the Italian withdrawal was voluntary, they have but to note the fury of the Fascist newspapers against France at the time, as having abandoned her Latin neighbor. Confronted with a naval coup to which they were equally and absolutely unreconciled, France and Britain had pronounced the fatal veto. Italy withdrew, in accordance with her promise made expressly to save her face in this contingency, and wrathfully retaliated with the threat of an Italo-Spanish alliance. All of which means that the case was thoroughly representative, that it involved the usual passions and the traditional ambitions, and that it menaced the world with the usual dangers. It was precisely the case which the League had been created to deal with — a case with a minimum of obscurity as to fact and with world sentiment solidly behind the League in any judgment it might render. Not in a century shall we have a better test-case.
The League did not and could not bring the marauder to book. Mussolini could and did defy its authority. There were pretexts, of course — rather fortunate ones. The murdered commissioners had been appointed by the Council of Ambassadors. The Council was therefore the technically aggrieved party. Mussolini, somewhat embarrassed by his prompt ejection from Corfu, and the League, much more embarrassed by its absolute inability to assert its jurisdiction, both consented to refer the case to the Council — not, however, without a virtual surrender to Mussolini on the chief points of his ultimatum.
It was well. The withdrawal of Italy from the League and its consequent probable dissolution were averted. Mussolini got his money, — bread snatched from the mouths of half a million refugees, — but the apologies were made to the Council of Ambassadors rather than to Italy. To the man in the street this hardly impaired the victory of Mussolini. Mussolini, however, undoubtedly learned something. Italian supremacy in the Mediterranean is not to be established by a naval coup in a moment of discord.
And if the League did not teach him this lesson, it did teach him another. Perhaps the most significant thing in the whole affair was the formation overnight of a powerful bloc of the little nations, impotent individually but powerful in combination, who saw in the attack upon Greece a menace to their own safety. Had not the Assembly been prudently adjourned by pressure from above, action would undoubtedly have been taken which would have made it impossible to sidestep an issue that simply had to be sidestepped. That a man of Mussolini’s known sagacity should be insensible to this new danger, is hardly thinkable. The League had disclosed a new and profoundly significant possibility of service as an organ for the focusing and expression of world opinion. I venture the opinion that its future usefulness will be very largely in this connection.
But the League did not and could not coerce. Every nation in the world was on its side, but it issued no mandate for the ejection of Italy from Corfu and called for no economic boycott. Though directly appealed to by one of the parties and straining at the leash in its eagerness to intervene, it did not summon Italy before the bar of justice, did not even take official cognizance of the case. It dared not, could not. This does not mean that it did not considerably influence the result in this case, still more, perhaps, in future cases.
The League has influence, but not authority.
The conflict between Mussolini and the League is a conflict between two fundamental attitudes toward the world order. The League conception is that the world order, as regards the nations, is static. The nations are finalities. They are to stay at home, avoid trespass, and maintain neighborly relations. Disputes are to be settled by mutual concession, by arbitration, or if necessary by superstate authority.
Such is the reasoning of the theorists.
Mussolini and his like regard the world order as still dynamic. The nations are not finalities. The forces of aggression and absorption are perilously active, and the nation that assumes a passive attitude is doomed. Conditions of the great competition change, but not the competition.
Such is the instinct of the peoples.
The much decried ‘national honor,’which seems to stand for anything and everything and which can be invoked in every controversy, is nothing but an honorific term for this instinct. It is the spontaneous reaction against a national menace, real or fancied — a reaction indispensable to the active role of nations in a dynamic worldorder. Assuming that the world is still dynamic, that present national adjustments are not final, and that national self-assertion still has its place in the process, Mussolini is perfectly right in his assertion that cases involving national honor cannot be submitted to alien jurisdiction or to reasoned settlement of any kind. Instinct must have its way.
It is no part of my purpose to argue this question. It suffices to say that the conflict is there. The impulse of self-assertion holds mankind in the powerful grasp of age-long instinct, keeping that world dynamic but sorely troubled. Upon this world in flux — and pretty obviously in transition — we are asked to impose immediate status through the instrumentality of a League exercising authority and backed by force.
It cannot be done. The transition must be gradual and must be effected by the slow and vital process of growth. If Mussolini has had his lesson, the League has had one too. The League has found an unexpectedly large field of usefulness in what we may call international administration. It is the liaison officer among the nations. It has shown its capacity in the settlement of disputes between friendly or deadlocked and despairing contestants. It has proved itself startlingly efficient in the crystallization and expression of world opinion. In all this it has proved itself immensely and incalculably worth while. But it cannot coerce.
Will it ever be able to do so? Will it every try? I do not think so; certainly not if the present sagacity of its personnel continues. If we should have another Corfu case with another Mussolini, the League would be less tempted than before to assert a challenged authority. The precedent now established will be followed and reenforced by all subsequent action. If not, then the League will court defeat and will pay for its mistake with its life.
On the other hand, I believe Mussolini would be more cautious than before in braving the League with its dread scourge of public opinion. The League would exercise more influence than before. The student of American history will recall that our Supreme Court once had its decisions flouted by the Executive. It attempted no armed enforcement, invoked no economic blockade. It could rely only upon the reasonableness and justice of its opinion. That has proved sufficient, has succeeded where all else would have failed. Who flouts its decisions now?
What can and should America do about the League as it is to-day? Three courses are open: —
1. We can enter without reservations.
2. We can enter with reservations.
3. We can cooperate without entering.
In the outcome, these differ from one another as tweedledum from tweedledee. If we enter without reservations, we shall never hear of Article X or of the economic boycott. There is about as much danger that those dead provisions will rise up and plague us as there is that the Electoral College will refuse to elect our chosen candidate president, or that the King of England will veto a bill from the Commons. Political and religious institutions, like living organisms, have atrophied organs which it is safer to tolerate than to remove. A crusade against Article X to-day is a tilt against windmills.
To join with reservations would have the advantage of verbal consistency — an advantage variously appraised. It is relevant to add that the consistency which is of moral concern and relates to the integrity of character is not verbal, and it is not so clear that it is here at stake. But as the League is still young, and as the present members are probably not irrevocably committed to the verbal covenant, perhaps the elimination of the dead clauses in the interest of apparent consistency would be worth the trouble it would cost. But as far as the actual work of the League is concerned and our part in it, the reservations would not make one hair white or black.
Coöperation without entering the League would work out much the same. If we roll up our sleeves and pitch in, they are n’t going to ask us for our union card. It would not be so handsome a way of acknowledging our obligation, and it is conceivable that in some emergency it might have its disadvantages. But it is our presence rather than our technical status which is of concern. I am willing to draw cuts for the choice.
But I am not willing any longer to have our people, the richest and most powerful in the world, shirk their fair share of the world’s common burden. The world is sicker than we thought; recovery is slower and more doubtful than we thought; the danger that the acute may become chronic is greater than we thought. It is all very well to say that we can do our part better independently than in cooperation; suspicion deepens that we are not doing it better, that we are not doing it at all. Certainly a vast amount of work is being done which is of concern to us and of use to all, in which we have no part and to which we make no contribution. I am a bit ashamed that we cannot send our magnificent Dawes at the call of Europe, without disclaiming national responsibility for his action. I am incensed that we refuse to enter a World Court which American genius has planned and to which we are pledged by a unanimity of political pronouncement, simply because it involves momentary cooperation with the League of Nations in the choice of its personnel. Such picayunish scruples simply bring us into derision. Sensitive indeed to political contagion must be the American nation if it is imperiled by such a contact.
We have reached the parting of the ways. We have wisely hesitated until the League proved itself a sane and practical rather than a chimerical enterprise. To remain longer aloof is neither the manly nor the prudent part. Enthusiasms have sobered, rancors have subsided, and the chief source of irritation has been removed. Earlier appraisals are obsolete. It is time for a new inventory of realities and a new programme of action.