Lodge on The League Nations proposal


We have now at this moment a league of nations. They have been engaged in compelling Germany to make peace and in restoring peace to the world. It has taken four years of the bloodiest war ever known to get that peace. By this existing and most efficient league the peace once signed must be carried out and made effective. Therefore, it is well to reflect that entering upon a new and larger league of nations involves somewhat heavy responsibilities and dangers which must be carefully examined and deliberately considered before they are incurred. The attempt to form now a league of nations—and I mean an effective league, with power to enforce its decrees—no other is worth discussing—can tend at this moment only to embarrass the peace which we ought to make at once with Germany. The American people desire as prompt action on peace with Germany as is consistent with safety. The attempt to attach the provisions for an effective league of nations to the treaty of peace now making with Germany would be to launch the nations who have been fighting Germany on a sea of boundless discussion, the very thing Germany most desires. . . . Is it not our first duty and our highest duty to bring peace to the world at this moment and not encumber it by trying to provide against wars which never may be fought and against difficulties which lie far ahead in a dim and unknown future? I have merely glanced at these outlying questions, my purpose being simply to show that they ought none of them to be pressed at this time; that the making of peace with Germany and the settlement of the questions inseparably connected with it is enough and more than enough for the present without embarrassing it with questions which involve the settlement of the unknown, without the attempt to deal with all possible questions that ever may arise between nations. To enter on these disputed fields which are not necessary to the making of the peace with Germany seems to me perilous and more likely at this moment to lead to trouble and to a failure of the German peace and its associated questions than to anything else.