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- The Progressive Democracy of James M. Cox - 6/14 -


"'I promise you formal and effective peace so quickly as a Republican congress can pass its declaration for a Republican executive to sign.'

"This means but one thing--a separate peace with Germany!

"This would be the most disheartening event in civilization since the Russians made their separate peace with Germany, and infinitely more unworthy on our part than it was on that of the Russians. They were threatened with starvation and revolution had swept their country. Our soldiers fought side by side with the Allies. So complete was the coalition of strength and purpose that General Fochs was given supreme command, and every soldier in the allied cause, no matter what flag he followed, recognized him as his chief. We fought the war together, and now before the thing is through it is proposed to enter into a separate peace with Germany! In good faith we pledged our strength with our associates for the enforcement of terms upon offending powers, and now it is suggested that this be withdrawn. Suppose Germany, recognizing the first break in the Allies, proposes something we cannot accept. Does Senator Harding intend to send an army to Germany to press her to our terms? Certainly the allied army could not be expected to render aid. If, on the other hand, Germany should accept the chance we offered of breaking the bond it would be for the express purpose of insuring a German-American alliance, recognizing that the Allies--in fact, no nation in good standing--would have anything to do with either of us.

"This plan would not only be a piece of bungling diplomacy, but plain, unadulterated dishonesty, as well."

"No less an authority than Senator Lodge said, before the heat of recent controversy, that to make peace except in company with the Allies would 'brand us everlastingly with dishonor and bring ruin to us.'

"And then after peace is made with Germany, Senator Harding would, he says, 'hopefully approach the nations of Europe and of the earth, proposing that understanding which makes us a willing participant in the consecration of nations to a new relationship.'

"In short, America, refusing to enter the League of Nations (now already established by twenty-nine nations) and bearing and deserving the contempt of the world, would submit an entirely new project. This act would either be regarded as arrant madness or attempted international bossism.

"The plain truth is, that the Republican leaders, obsessed with a determination to win the presidential election, have attempted to satisfy too many divergent views. Inconsistencies, inevitable under the circumstances, rise to haunt them on every hand, and they find themselves arrayed, in public thought at least, against a great principle. More than that, their conduct is opposed to the idealism upon which their party prospered in other days."

"Illustrating these observations by concrete facts, let it be remembered that those now inveighing against an interest in affairs outside of America, criticised President Wilson in unmeasured terms for not resenting the invasion of Belgium in 1914. They term the League of Nations a military alliance, which, except for their opposition, would envelop our country, when, as a matter of truth, the subject of a League of Nations has claimed the best thought of America for years, and the League to Enforce Peace was presided over by so distinguished a Republican as ex-President Taft, who, before audiences in every section, advocated the principle and the plan of the present League. They charge experimentation, when we have as historical precedent the Monroe Doctrine, which is the very essence of Article X of the Versailles covenant. Skeptics viewed Monroe's mandate with alarm, predicting recurrent wars in defense of Central and South American states, whose guardians they alleged we need not be. And yet not a shot has been fired in almost one hundred years in preserving sovereign rights on this hemisphere. They hypocritically claim that the League of Nations will result in our boys being drawn into military service, but they fail to realize that every high-school youngster in the land knows that no treaty can override our Constitution, which reserves to Congress, and to Congress alone, the power to declare war. They preach Americanism with a meaning of their own invention, and artfully appeal to a selfish and provincial spirit, forgetting that Lincoln fought a war over the purely moral question of slavery, and the McKinley broke the fetters of our boundary lines, spoke the freedom of Cuba, and carried the torch of American idealism to the benighted Philippines. They lose memory of Garfield's prophecy that America, under the blessings of God- given opportunity, would by her moral leadership and co- operation become the Messiah among the nations of the earth.

"These are fateful times. Organized government has a definite duty all over the world. The house of civilization is to be put in order. The supreme issue of the century is before us and the nation that halts and delays is playing with fire. The finest impulses of humanity, rising above national lines, merely seek to make another horrible war impossible. Under the old order of international anarchy war came overnight, and the world was on fire before we knew it. It sickens our senses to think of another. We saw one conflict into which modern science brought new forms of destruction in great guns, submarines, airships, and poison gases. It is no secret that our chemists had perfected, when the contest came to a precipitate close, gases so deadly that whole cities could be wiped out, armies destroyed, and the crews of battleships smothered. The public prints are filled with the opinions of military men that in future wars the method, more effective than gases or bombs, will be the employment of the germs of disease, carrying pestilence and destruction. Any nation prepared under these conditions, as Germany was equipped in 1914, could conquer the world in a year.

"It is planned now to make this impossible. A definite plan has been agreed upon. The League of Nations is in operation. A very important work, under its control, just completed, was participated in by the Hon. Elihu Root, Secretary of State under the Roosevelt administration. At a meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, February 11, and organizing committee of twelve of the most eminent jurists in the world was selected. The duty of this group was to devise a plan for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice, as a branch of the League. This assignment has been concluded by unanimous action. This augurs well for world progress. The question is whether we shall or shall not join in this practical and humane movement. President Wilson, as our representative at the peace table, entered the League in our name, in so far as the executive authority permitted. Senator Harding, as the Republican candidate for the presidency, proposes in plain words that we remain out of it. As the Democratic candidate, I favor going in. Let us analyze Senator Harding's plan of making a German-American peace, and then calling for a 'new relationship among nations,' assuming for the purpose of argument only, that the perfidious hand that dealt with Germany would possess the power or influence to draw twenty-nine nations away from a plan already at work, and induce them to retrace every step and make a new beginning. This would entail our appointing another commission to assemble with those selected by the other powers. With the Versailles instrument discarded, the whole subject of partitions and divisions of territory on new lines would be reopened. The difficulties in this regard, as any fair mind appreciates, would be greater than they were at the peace session, and we must not attempt to convince ourselves that they did not try the genius, patience, and diplomacy of statesmen at that time. History will say that great as was the Allied triumph in war, no less a victory was achieved at the peace table. The Republican proposal means dishonor, world confusion and delay. It would keep us in permanent company with Germany, Russia, Turkey and Mexico. It would entail, in the ultimate, more real injury than the war itself. The Democratic position on the question, as expressed in platform is:

"'We advocate immediate ratification of the Treaty without reservations which would impair its essential integrity, but do no oppose the acceptance of any reservation making clearer or more specific the obligations of the United States to the League associates.'

"The first duty of the new administration clearly will be the ratification of the Treaty. The matter should be approached without thought of the bitterness of the past. The public verdict will have been rendered, and I am confident that the friends of world peace as it will be promoted by the League, will have in numbers the constitutional requisite to favorable senatorial action. The captious may say that our platform reference to reservations is vague and indefinite. Its meaning, in brief, is that we shall state our interpretation of the covenant as a matter of good faith to our associates and as a precaution against any misunderstanding in the future. The point is, that after the people shall have spoken, the League will be in the hands of its friends in the Senate, and a safe index as to what they will do is supplied by what reservations they have proposed in the past.

"Our platform clearly lays no bar against any additions that will be helpful, but it speaks in a firm resolution to stand against anything that disturbs the vital principle. We hear it said that interpretations are unnecessary. That may be true, but they will at least be reassuring to many of our citizens, who feel that in signing the treaty, there should be no mental reservations that are not expressed in plain words, as a matter of good faith to our associates. Such interpretations possess the further virtue of supplying a base upon which agreement can be reached, and agreement, without injury to the covenant, is now of pressing importance. It was the desire to get things started, that prompted some members of the senate to vote for the Lodge reservations. Those who conscientiously voted for them in the final roll calls realized, however, that they acted under duress, in that a politically bigoted minority was exercising the arbitrary power of its position to enforce drastic conditions. Happily the voters of the republic, under our system of government, can remedy that situation, and I have the faith that they will, at the election this fall. Then organized government will be enabled to combine impulse and facility in the making of better world conditions. The agencies of exchange will automatically adjust themselves to the opportunities of commercial freedom. New life and renewed hope will take hold of every nation. Mankind will press a resolute shoulder to the task of readjustment, and a new era will have dawned upon the earth."

Speaking to the National Guardsmen at the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, on August 12, he said:


The Progressive Democracy of James M. Cox - 6/14

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