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Prospectors for Peace

ISSUE:  Winter 1945

Strategy of Peace. By Henry M. Wriston. World Peace Foundation. $1.00. Peace through Law, By Hans Kelsen. University of North Carolina Press. $2.00. The Sinews of Peace. By Herbert Feis. Harper and Brothers. $2.50. The Second Chance: America and the Peace. Edited by John B. Whitton. Princeton University Press. $2.50. Look to the Frontiers: a Geography for the Peace Table. By Roderick Peattie. Harper and Brothers. $3.00.

Is peace chiefly political, legal, economic, geographic, moral? This collection of books provides backing for any choice. The proposals are in most cases reasonably precise—in the first two books, draft treaties are presented, and in the others, specific proposals for one or another aspect of peace-making.

Because of the very multiplicity of these aspects, President Henry M. Wriston in “Strategy of Peace” is concerned lest too much be attempted in the treaties which will terminate hostilities with the various enemies of the United Nations and in which the respective United Nations must necessarily feel different degrees of concern.

His book is divided into three sections: a preliminary analysis of the factors which, in different combinations, appear in national policy for both war and peace: reason, culture, emotion, economic activity, force; a survey of the American commitments, by geographic areas, which are the result of national policy to date; and a proposal for a basic treaty of peace for use this time. His emphasis is political; he suggests that if last time too much importance was placed on political factors to the exclusion of economic matters, that is no reason to reverse the mistake now,—and most of the preliminary conferences so far held treat of economic matters.

From providing the simplest overall framework for peace, Mr. Wriston anticipates several advantages. Adoption can be immediate; there should be no cooling off period—”zeal often cools more rapidly than anger.” By leaving many matters for subsequent determination, scope will be given for regionalism, and only so can the varying intensities of interest of the United Nations be properly recognized. A less sharply definitive settlement will make subsequent changes more orderly, less likely to be attempted by force.

A treaty for each enemy state, covering the main issues, should therefore be negotiated by the United Nations among themselves, and then presented for signature to the successively capitulating enemies. It should be signed, not by the forthcoming governments of the enemy states, on whom the onus was placed last time, but by the chief of state and the chief of staff presently responsible for the conduct of the war.

The main provisions of Mr. Wriston’s draft include German disarmament, retirement to the boundaries of January 30, 1933, transfer of colonies and mandates to the United Nations, equal treatment of all countries in trade matters, restoration of property to rightful owners, cessation of propaganda, release of prisoners, cessation of racial and personal discrimination, repatriation and exchange of populations under United Nations direction, delivery of war guilty to the United Nations, acceptance of controls by an Economic Commission, agreement to participate in whatever regional or world organizations are started in the next five years.

Finally, it is suggested that the ratification of this treaty be a pre-condition of an armistice. Mr. Wriston cites early American historical practice to support the desirability of connecting the objective of stopping the war with the objective of deciding on the terms of peace as a stimulus to rapid Senatorial action. If the showdown as to how much the United States proposes to do were made quickly, he points out, the position of the other Allied nations would not be equivocal—as it is now—and the world could get on with the many more limited agreements necessary to fill in the framework of overall peace.

In “Peace Through Law” Hans Kelsen likewise presents a draft treaty, not to terminate the war but to set up the world organization that is to come afterwards. Recognizing both that a world state would be the ideal solution and that such a state is by no means practical now, he offers compulsory adjudication as a practical substitute. He refuses to accept the usual distinction between justiciable and political disputes, between disputes subject to international adjudication and questions “solely within the domestic jurisdiction of a state”; he insists that no such exemptions can be recognized without destroying international procedure.

Under his proposal, the important agency in the new international league would be the Court, with the other organs grouped around it. Under his scheme, the Assembly, in which the various member states would each have one vote, would serve as the electing body for part of the seventeen members forming the Court, and would itself discuss matters affecting the international situation. The Court’s two panels would be so appointed as to give the members maximum freedom and detachment from their respective states as political entities; the judges would be stateless as to citizenship during their period of tenure; they would reside at the seat of the League, and devote themselves exclusively to their Court work; their appointments would run for life or until compulsory retirement at 70, though they would be free to resign their posts.

A Council, with the Big Four as permanent members plus an unspecified number of non-permanent members chosen by the Assembly, would be competent to adopt decisions binding on members, but only on matters provided in the Covenant.

To keep the body of international law adapted to current circumstances, the Assembly may, by a two-thirds majority, declare existing treaties inapplicable; it may also, by a threefourths majority, amend the Covenant establishing the international organization. Paralleling this proposal for an international structure, Professor Kelsen likewise develops a series of treaty stipulations which would establish international criminal jurisdiction in the Court, further to bulwark peace by fixing individual responsibility for violations of international law.

The case made by Professor Kelsen for emphasizing the primacy of the legal structure in the search for peace is twofold: the aim “to establish justice” is the first sign of a developing, community; and, historically, arbitration has one of the most successful of international histories. He points out that in the development of national law, obligation to submit disputes to courts long precedes the existence of a legislature; he thinks a parallel can be drawn in the present imperfect state of organization of sovereign nations on a world basis.

Mr. Herbert Feis would probably deny with some vigor the priority of the legal over the economic approach. He recognizes that “peace is fundamentally an affair of the spirit. It will be attained only if men come to deal with each other with a deep sense of justice and understanding. But there is warrant for the belief that material advancement can help bring this to pass.” “The Sinews of Peace” is a lesson in anatomy: Mr. Feis’s learned knife strips back layer after layer of economic tissue, with explanations of its function, where it shows marks of disease in the past, what sutures might make it operate better henceforward. The outer layer, most easily reached, controls international monetary arrangements; the next, international investment; the deepest, trade. The currently proposed institutions for development and stabilization of each are examined, with their between-wars background of practice and theory: the Bretton Woods plan for an international monetary fund and for an international investment bank; and the means of lessening trade restrictions, with particular attention to the postwar trade policies of the United States and Britain.

Mr. Frank D. Graham’s contribution to the symposium prepared by the Princeton Group for the Study of Postwar International Problems is comparably concerned with economics and peace; after reviewing the cycle from eighteenth-century mercantilism through free trade to twentieth-century mercantilism again, he concludes that “we cannot get peace through liberal economic policies but we may get liberal economic policies through peace . . . But peace must come first” As minimal economic conditions of peace he lists full employment, access to raw materials, control of monopolies.

Much of the Princeton book, “The Second Chance: America and the Peace,” discusses the political conditions

of peace: the first essay by Gordon A. Craig, reviewing American foreign policy, is followed by two studies, “World Order and Great Powers,” by Gerhart Niemeyer and “In-

stitutions of World Order,” by John Whitton, the latter with a specific plan for a world organization. The practical, politics of the adoption of any plan by the United States is analyzed and argued by Edward S. Corwin, who considers the Senate’s prerogative in treaty making and the various constitutional means, particularly the executive agreement and the joint resolution, which have developed as alternative methods of conducting foreign relations. Mr. Jerome Bruner introduces the chorus to contemporary history in a section on public-opinion polls. And after the political scientists and economists have said their say, George Thomas discusses the moral basis for what the United States has done, and failed to do.

In “Look to the Frontiers” Mr. Peattie’s geography for the peace table is rather like one of the rivers he describes; its meanderings carry forward a solution in which many particles of miscellaneous origin are gathered together. His specific proposal for frontiers is a zonal concept of boundaries. Illustrating from Europe, he says “we have seen that line boundaries bring differentiated and opposing dynamic nationalisms into the closest possible contact with each other.

Along the line occur border incidents pregnant with war . . . But if a zone boundary is established at a point of tension, its width may be sufficient so that national expansion tendencies may expend their force before they come into contact with an opposing nationalism.” Mr. Peattie anticipates with equanimity the establishment of numerous zonal countries across Europe, all of them to be separate states with representation on a European Council—”dignity and national honor are to the European what ‘face’ is to an Asiatic.” Provincialism is one of the fundamental factors of history: “the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is now no longer a single unit in the diplomatic sense. There are now sixteen republics. This should not come as a surprise, because no nation has encouraged provincialism and local autonomy as have the Soviets.”

On such a book, one is tempted to comment, sancta simplicitas. But what is wrong with the others? Perhaps it is inevitable that the American generation now in its forties should feel that in the unreeling of world history this is where we came in before. It is certainly better that this time we are coming in with eyes accustomed to the darkness, But the “realism” of the present mood should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all reasonable suggestions and proposals are dreary because they aren’t going to be adopted. The indifference which the country as a whole seems to feel about Dumbarton Oaks as well as all the less official suggestions that parallel it must have an explanation. Does George Thomas touch on it: “It is, of course, possible to argue that, while the American democracy of yesterday was universalistic in its hopes, the democracy of today and tomorrow must be purely national. But it is difficult to see how democracy can maintain itself as a dynamic faith if it renounces the conviction that it is the highest form of social organization and as such is normative for all peoples who have reached political maturity. Once this conviction is lost, the preference for democracy becomes irrational and its moral superiority over its rivals disappears.


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