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Senator Knox. Speaking from the language of the treaty itself, is it a matter in which we have perfect freedom of action under article 10?
Secretary LANSING. I think so.
Senator Knox. You think that we may do just as we please without violating our honor or agreement on any recommendation made in the council of the league of nations?
Secretary LANSING. I think so.
Senator Knox. Yes, I said without violating our honor; with honor.
Secretary LANSING. With honor?
Secretary LANSING. I presume in honor we would have to follow out the general purposes of that article.
Senator Knox. In other words if the council of the league of nations directed us to resort to arms against China in order to prevent her from regaining her rights in Shantung, we would be bound to do it?
Secretary LANSING. If Congress approved.
Senator Knox. No, I am not talking about Congress, I am talking about the obligations we have assumed under the treaty.
Secretary LANSING. I do not think that is an absolute obligation.
Senator Knox. It is one thing or the other, Mr. Secretary. We either have liberty of action, or we are bound by our agreement, and there has been a great deal of difference of opinion in the discussion in the Senate on that subject, and apparently among the Democratic Members of the Senate some are convinced that we are absolutely bound by the decision of the council. Others say, just as this last expression of the President indicates, that it is up to us to decide, after the recommendations have been made.
Secretary LANSING. Is it not very much like the Panama Treaty?
Senator Knox. I do not think there is a particle of analogy between the Panama treaty and that, because in Panama we were defending our own property. We have a zone in Panama, and we have built the greatest engineering enterprise in the world, and the peace of the environment is essential to the operation of that property. We are merely defending our own down there. I do not see any analogy between this and the Panama treaty.
Secretary LANSING. It is more essential, then, that there should be peace in Panama than that there should be peace in all the world ?
Senator Knox. No; not at all. That is a non sequitur. It is in my mind that wherever we have tremendous property interests at stake we should see that there is peace in that neighborhood.
Secretary LANSING. And therefore the change of sovereignty would affect our rights there?
Senator Knox. Would affect our rights.
Senator Knox. The change of sovereignty would affect our rights in this sense, that as long as our zone and our great property is surrounded by a friendly nation we are at peace. That is a matter of great concern to us; but the difference between that and guaranteeing the territorial integrity and the political independence of a remote nation is just as great as the difference between night and day, to my mind.
Secretary LANSING. It is a difference in degree rather than anything else.
Senator Knox. It is the degree, I think, that determines the question.
Secretary LANSING. But it binds future Congresses, does it notthat treaty?
Senator Knox. Only in the sense that future Congresses might feel that the same reasons that justified the making of the treaty would justify the carrying of it out as long as we have the canal.
Senator WILLIAMS. Which cost us the most money from an American standpoint, the Panama Canal or the European war?
Secretary LANSING. It is hardly necessary to answer that question.
Senator WILLIAMS. It seems that we had a pretty important interest in that war when we were dragged into it against our own will.
Senator Knox. We did not go into it in pursuance of any agreement whatever.
Senator WILLIAMS. No; but if we had gone into it in the pursuance of any agreement we would not have been any more in it than we were without any agreement.
Senator Knox. But I do think in all seriousness that it is important to understand the provisions of the treaty. In one breath the President says we are bound. In the next breath he says we may act according to our own discretion upon the recommendation. Now, we ought really to know what the thing means, and I am only trying to get your opinion, because I value your opinion.
Secretary LANSING. Thank you. I confess that all it provides in article 10 is that the council shall advise upon the means.
Senator JOHNSON of California. That is the last sentence of article 10. That is as to a threat or a danger. First we guarantee. Then after that sentence guaranteeing comes another sentence Or in case of any threat or danger of such aggressionIf you will follow me, am I accurate in that statement?
Secretary LANSING. You are the council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.
That is the obligation with respect to preserving territorial integrity and the political independence. .
Senator JOHNSON of California. You do not divide it, then, as Senator Lodge does, into two distinct segments or sections ?
Secretary LANSING. No; indeed I do not. There is no comma after the word “aggression.”
Senator Williams. Mr Secretary, Italy had an alliance with Germany and Austria under which Italy was obliged to go the assistance of her allies under certain circumstances, in a war of defense. Germany declared that she was in a war of defsnse. Austria declared that she was in a war of defense, and Italy put her own interpretation upon the sort of war it was, and declared that she was neutral. Is not that analogous ? There may be a moral obligation, but after all each nation is left to determine whether the particular circumstances that bind it are confronting it?
Secretary LANSING. I think you are right, Mr. Senator.
Senator Knox. I think, Mr. Secretary, that there is no one phase of the covenant of the league of nations that the public are so much interested in as in Article X, and I think any elucidation that you can make of it would be a real service, to tell us your opinion as to whether we have bound ourselves so that in honor we must accept the advice of the council and go to the relief of nations that are threatened by outside aggression or whether we can take the matter under consideration and do as we please.
Secretary LANSING. As I understand the last clause of article ten, the council shall meet to consider the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled, and then it is up to the various nations to take such action as they may deem proper after the result of that consultation is reported.
Senator Knox. But that advice is only as to the means. We have already entered into a covenant that we will do the thing.
Secretary LANSING. Yes; that is quite true.
Senator Knox. If you have covenanted to do a thing and then leave it to somebody to determine the means, it seems to me you are under an obligation to adopt the means suggested by the council or committee, or whatever the authority is that suggests the means. The strength of the covenant, it seems to me, is in the first sentence there.
Secretary LANSING. It is, and the word "aggression” is very important. The word "aggression” naturally conveys the idea of a wrongful act. Now, somebody has to determine whether or not it is a wrongful act. As I read it, the mere invasion of territory is not necessarily an aggressive act. You may invade territory to protect your own nationals from danger. I do not assume for one moment-
Senator Knox. Would it not be aggression just the same, only it would be justifiable aggression ? It is still aggression.
Secretary LANSING. Possibly that is in a broader sense, but I assume that this is used in the narrower sense of an evil invasion. For example, I can conceive where it is necessary to land troops in time of revolution or anarchy to protect your own citizens and their property.
Senator Knox. I would not regard that as an aggression at all.
Secretary LANSING. And there might be similar cases, where you could cover considerable area of territory.
Senator Knox. But take a case where it was a distinct aggression. We bind ourselves to protect the territorial integrity and political independence of all members of the league against external aggression. Now, suppose there is what, to your mind, would be a well defined case of aggression. There is no doubt about what we have agreed to do first.
Secretary LANSING. No.
Senator Knox. Very well then. If we have agreed to do it, have we not agreed to adopt the means of the council that we have set up to determine what means shall be adopted ?
Secretary LANSING. No; I do not think that follows at all.
Secretary LANSING. We might not agree with them. Our representative in the council might disagree with the others.
Senator FALL. About what about whether it was an act of aggression, or about how we should repel it, or what our obligations are?
Secretary LANSING. Or whether this Nation should take part in any military operations at all.
Senator Fall. Is it not clear to your mind that the council itself decides whether an act is one of aggression or not, and not the nation itself behind it? Secretary LANSING. I think the Nation has a right to determine.
Senator Fall. To decide whether it is an act of aggression? Then what has the council to do?
Secretary LANSING. It has to advise and consider means as to fulfillment of the obligation.
Senator Fall. It has to submit to every nation obligated by the treaty, and allow each nation to say whether a particular act under consideration is an act of aggression or not. Then suppose they report back to the council that they have discovered that it was an act of aggression. Then the council says, “You should repel it in such and such a way.” Then that is reported back to the individual members of the league, and then they take up the question as to how they will repel it, or whether they will repel it at all. Is that.what article 10 means ?
Secretary LANSING. I do not think the machinery is as complicated as that.
Senator Fall. I have understood you to say that the question as to whether it was an act of aggression was to be decided, not by the council but by the State.
Secretary LANSING. Ultimately. I think they have a right to review that question.
Senator FALL. Then there is an appeal from the council to the State, first as to whether it is an act of aggression, and second the State has power to determine as to whether it will adopt the recommendation of the council. That is your judgment, is it?
Secretary LANSING. I think so. It is just as if we, in the event of a manifest wrong against some nation
Senator Fall. We have that privilege without going into this league at all.
Secretary LANSING. But we will not do it. Senator FALL. We have done it in the history of this country. We have just done it, and we are now trying to wind up a war in which we did it. We had another war in 1898 in which we exercised that judgment. We engaged in that war. We have done it wherever humanity has called upon us to do it, every time in our entire history. I should like to see anyone cite an instance where we have not.
Secretary LANSING. Other nations have not.
Senator Fall. But we have, I am speaking of the United States of America. Now you say that is all the power we would have—all the obligation we would incur under article 10.
Secretary LANSING. As I have stated.
Senator JOHNSON of California. Were you ever present at any discussion of article 10 at Paris ?
Secretary LANSING. No.
Senator JOHNSON of California. Did you ever hear the American commissioners discuss article 10, as to what would occur under it?
Secretary LANSING. No; they never discussed it with me.
Senator JOHNSON of California. Never discussed it at all? Did you ever discuss it with anybody, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary LANSING. I have, a great many times.
Senator JOHNSON of California. But the viewpoint of the men who adopted it at Paris and the viewpoint of those of our own commission who adopted it you do not know?
Secretary LANSING. I do not know their views of it.
Senator JOHNSON of California. Never having discussed it with any of them?
Secretary LANSING. Oh, well, I have discussed it informally with them, of course.
Senator JOHNSON of California. You do not recall the discussions ? Secretary LANSING. I do not recall them.
Senator FALL. Mr. Secretary, so that we may clear up the record as we go along, that is so far as my own head is concerned, I wish to ask you another question or two. The Senator from Mississippi (Mr. Williams) asked you a question about to this effect, as to whether the line of demarcation agreed upon in this treaty between Poland and Germany could be maintained six months if it were not for the constitution of the league of nations, and I understood you to answer that it could not. Was that the effect of his question and your answer?
Secretary LANSING. I limited it.
Senator Fall. That it would be impossible unless it was for the league of nations—that it would be impossible to maintain that line.
Secretary LANSING. I went further than that.
Senator Fall. That is exactly what I want to know. Now, let us see how far.
Secretary LANSING. I stated that very clearly.
Secretary LANSING. That if Germany was disarmed and Poland was armed, of course Poland could hold it. That is a manifest fact.
Senator Fall. But you think it is necessary to form a league of nations for the purpose of maintaining that line ?
Secretary LANSING. I did not say so.
Secretary LANSING. If you keep Poland fully armed and Germany disarmed, you do not need the league of nations.
Senator Fall. Suppose they are both armed ?
Secretary LANSING. If they are both armed, then you need the league of nations.
Senator Fall. Then you need the league of nations ?
Senator Fall. The league of nations, as it happens, has nothing to do with it in the treaty.
Secretary LANSING. I think article 10 has.