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The
Edinburgh Review

or Critical Journal

JULY, 1917 OCTOBER, 1917

To be continued Quarterly

Edited by HAROLD COX

JUDEX DAMNATUR CUM NOCENS ABSOLV1TUR

Fublius Sytvs

Vol. 226

LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO

London, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras
LEONARD SCOTT PUBLICATION COMPANY, New York

1917

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The' %... Edinburgh Review JULY, 1917 No. 461 X

NATIONAL FEDERATIONS AND WORLD FEDERATION 1. Bodies Politic and their Governments. By Basil Edward Hammond. Cambridge University Press. 1915. 2. Recueil de Rapports sur les differents points du Programme- minimum. Published for the Organisation Centrale pour une Paix Durable by Martinus Nijhoff. The Hague. 1916. 3. The Morality of Nations. By C. Delisle Burns. London University Press. 1915. 4. Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty. By Harold J. Laski. Yale University Press. 1917. WHEN President Wilson called upon Congress to declare a state of war with Germany, he justified his action to his countrymen and to the world by the lofty disinterestedness of its motive. This was 'to vindicate the principles of 'peace and justice in the life of the world as against selfish 'and autocratic power, and to set up among the really free 'and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of 'purpose and action as will henceforth ensure the observance 'of those principles.' The conditions on which alone the United States would become a party to such a concert he had already denned in his Address to the Senate of the 22nd of January—a statement of his ideal aims to which enormous

AU rights reserved. Vol. 226. No. 461.'

weight has undoubtedly..$jeeji: added by the entry of the United States into the war. There seems, indeed, to be a tendency to look upon this.#<^pch-rnaking event as throwing upon us and our Allies ."ax'tfitirely new obligation. Whatever the objects for which we have hitherto been fighting, it is argued that the supreme aim of the Allies must henceforth be the realisation, ."of the ideal of an international commonwealth, based on the principles of pure democracy and sanctioned byVthe'"organised force of humanity.' It appears to be assumed by many people that what was, after all, but the expression of the President's personal views is the settled policy of the United States, and that we should in some sort be untrue to the new union of purpose between the two great branches of the English-speaking race were we to refuse to commit ourselves to it. This attitude, as might be expected, is most pronounced in quarters most out of touch with patriotic sentiment. The 'Nation,' for instance, outstripping all other competitors in somewhat fulsome adulation of the American people and government, is eager to subordinate purely British interests, and hopes to see, as the outcome of the future Peace Congress, the establishment of some 'real 'Society of Nations,' which would only be possible, it implies, 'under the leadership of the United States.' * This outburst of sentiment is perhaps natural in view of the deep gratification, which all of us feel, at the bridging of the chasm which has so long divided us from the American people, with whom we have always been conscious of being united by innumerable ties of interest and sympathy. The fact remains, however, that the ideal of a League of Nations must be judged by us upon its merits; nor is there in the circumstances under which America entered the war anything which throws upon us a fresh obligation in this matter. It is true that an ideal motive lay behind the action of America in taking up arms, just as it did behind that of Great Britain. It is untrue to say that, in either case, the immediate impulse to action was anything but the vividly realised necessity of safeguarding the national honour and interests. Great Britain declared war, and persists in the war, not only because she was bound in honour to protect the rights of Belgium, but * War and Peace, Supplement for May 1917, p. 5. because the German policy of expansion by conquest threatened her vital interests. America equally declared war because her honour and her vital interests left her no other alternative. This the President himself has explained in quite unequivocal language.'I have again and again stated the very serious and long-continued wrongs which the Imperial German Government has perpetrated against the rights of commerce of the citizens of the United States. The list is long and overwhelming. No nation that respected itself or the rights of humanity could have borne those wrongs any longer.'—The Times, 24th of May 1917. Nor is this all. For some time past there has been a growing realisation among thoughtful Americans that it has been to British sea-power alone that the United States has owed her long immunity from attack; and the moral has been enforced by Mr. Gerard who, speaking with all the authority of a former American ambassador at Berlin, has publicly declared that, had Germany succeeded in destroying this power, she would certainly have directed her next attack against the United States. Thus, although it may be true that America had nothing to gain by entering the war, she had much to lose by remaining out of it. We have welcomed her participation for many reasons, of which reasons of sentiment are not the least; but there is no obligation upon us, because of this sentiment, to commit ourselves blindfold to the carrying out of the ideal programme put forward by the President as the ultimate justification of his action in the eyes of humanity. This programme was made by me the subject of some criticism in the last number of this Review. I there ventured to challenge President Wilson's claim that the tradition of the American people gives them a- 'peculiar right' to appear as the pacific nation par excellence; I pointed out the dangers to the British Empire and to the nations at large involved in the acceptance of the conditions laid down by the President as essential to the participation of the United States in a world-union; and I drew attention to the significant omission from his programme of any reference to the principle of universal freedom of trade and intercourse, which to many is the absolute sine qua non of a peaceful co-operation between nations. But no attempt was made, either in the President's

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