KC Johnson

Progressivism and the Law, II

Asle Gronna, perhaps the most left-wing member of the Senate in 1919. He opposed both World War I and the League of Nations as unconstitutional infringements on congressional authority.

Asle Gronna, perhaps the most left-wing member of the Senate in 1919. He opposed both World War I and the League of Nations as unconstitutional infringements on congressional authority.

Selections from four documents for today’s reading. First, the controversial items from the League of Nations covenant. Second, President Wilson’s defense of the League. Third, Henry Cabot Lodge’s critique of the League from the right. Fourth, Asle Gronna’s critique of the League from the left.

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The Covenant of the League of Nations

THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES,

In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security

by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war,

by the prescription of open, just and honourable relations between nations,

by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and

by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organised peoples with one another,

Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations . . .

ARTICLE 2.

The action of the League under this Covenant shall be effected through the instrumentality of an Assembly and of a Council, with a permanent Secretariat.

ARTICLE 3.

The Assembly shall consist of Representatives of the Members of the League.

The Assembly shall meet at stated intervals and from time to time as occasion may require at the Seat of the League or at such other place as may be decided upon.

The Assembly may deal at its meetings with any matter within the sphere of action of the League or affecting the peace of the world. At meetings of the Assembly each Member of the League shall have one vote, and may have not more than three Representatives.

ARTICLE 4.

The Council shall consist of Representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, together with Representatives of four other Members of the League. These four Members of the League shall be selected by the Assembly from time to time in its discretion. Until the appointment of the Representatives of the four Members of the League first selected by the Assembly, Representatives of Belgium, Brazil, Spain and Greece shall be members of the Council.

With the approval of the majority of the Assembly, the Council may name additional Members of the League whose Representatives shall always be members of the Council; the Council, with like approval may increase the number of Members of the League to be selected by the Assembly for representation on the Council.

The Council shall meet from time to time as occasion may require, and at least once a year, at the Seat of the League, or at such other place as may be decided upon.

The Council may deal at its meetings with any matter within the sphere of action of the League or affecting the peace of the world.

Any Member of the League not represented on the Council shall be invited to send a Representative to sit as a member at any meeting of the Council during the consideration of matters specially affecting the interests of that Member of the League.

At meetings of the Council, each Member of the League represented on the Council shall have one vote, and may have not more than one Representative.

ARTICLE 10.

The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.

ARTICLE 11.

Any war or threat of war, whether immediately affecting any of the Members of the League or not, is hereby declared a matter of concern to the whole League, and the League shall take any action that may be deemed wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. In case any such emergency should arise the Secretary General shall on the request of any Member of the League forthwith summon a meeting of the Council.

It is also declared to be the friendly right of each Member of the League to bring to the attention of the Assembly or of the Council any circumstance whatever affecting international relations which threatens to disturb international peace or the good understanding between nations upon which peace depends . . .

ARTICLE 14.

The Council shall formulate and submit to the Members of the League for adoption plans for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice. The Court shall be competent to hear and determine any dispute of an international character which the parties thereto submit to it. The Court may also give an advisory opinion upon any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or by the Assembly . . .

ARTICLE 16.

Should any Member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants . . . , it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other Members of the League, which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial or personal intercourse between the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a Member of the League or not.

It shall be the duty of the Council in such case to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval or air force the Members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the covenants of the League.

The Members of the League agree, further, that they will mutually support one another in the financial and economic measures which are taken under this Article, in order to minimise the loss and inconvenience resulting from the above measures, and that they will mutually support one another in resisting any special measures aimed at one of their number by the covenant-breaking State, and that they will take the necessary steps to afford passage through their territory to the forces of any of the Members of the League which are co-operating to protect the covenants of the League.

Any Member of the League which has violated any covenant of the League may be declared to be no longer a Member of the League by a vote of the Council concurred in by the Representatives of all the other Members of the League represented thereon.

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Woodrow Wilson: public address in favor of U.S. membership in the League: September 1919

I never feel more comfortable in facing my fellow citizens than when I can realize that I am not representing a peculiar cause, that I am not speaking for a single group of my fellow citizens, that I am not the representative of a party but the representative of the people of the United States. I went across the water with that happy consciousness, and in all the work that was done on the other side of the sea, where I was associated with distinguished Americans of both political parties, we all of us constantly kept at our heart the feeling that we were expressing the thoughts of America, that we were working for the things that America believed in. I have come here to testify that this treaty contains the things that America believes in.

I brought a copy of the treaty along with me, for I fancy that, in view of the criticisms you have heard of it, you thought it consisted of only four or five clauses.

Only four or five clauses out of this volume are picked out for criticism. Only four or five phrases in it are called to your attention by some of the distinguished orators who oppose its adoption. Why, my fellow citizens, this is one of the great charters of human liberty, and the man who picks flaws in it – or, rather, picks out the flaws that are in it, for there are flaws in it – forgets the magnitude of the thing, forgets the majesty of the thing, forgets that the counsels of more than twenty nations combined and were rendered unanimous in the adoption of this great instrument.

Let me remind you of what everybody admits who has read the document. Everybody admits that it is a complete settlement of the matters which led to this war, and that it contains the complete machinery which provides that they shall stay settled.

You know that one of the greatest difficulties in our own domestic affairs is unsettled land titles. Suppose that somebody were mischievously to tamper with the land records of the state of Nebraska, and that there should be a doubt as to the line of every farm. You know what would happen in six months. All the farmers would be sitting on their fences with shotguns. Litigation would penetrate every community, hot feeling would be generated, contests not only of lawyers but contests of force would ensue. Very well, one of the interesting things that this treaty does is to settle the land titles of Europe, and to settle them in this way, on the principle that every land belongs to the people that live on it.

This is actually the first time in human history that that principle was ever recognized in a similar document, and yet that is the fundamental American principle. The fundamental American principle is the right of the people that live in the country to say what shall be done with that country. We have gone so far in our assertions of popular right that we not only say that the people have a right to have a government that suits them but that they have a right to change it in any respect at any time. Very well, that principle lies at the heart of this treaty . . .

You have heard of the council that the newspaper men call the “Big Four.” We had a very much bigger name for ourselves than that. We called ourselves the “Supreme Council of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers,” but we had no official title, and sometimes there were five of us instead of four. Those five represented, with the exception of Germany, of course, the great fighting nations of the world. They could have done anything with this treaty that they chose to do, because they had the power to do it, and they chose to do what had never been chosen before, to renounce every right of sovereignty in that settlement to which the people concerned did not assent. That is the great settlement which is represented in this volume.

And it contains, among other things, a great charter of liberty for the workingmen of the world. For the first time in history the counsels of mankind are to be drawn together and concerted for the purpose of defending the rights and improving the conditions of working people – men, women, and children – all over the world. Such a thing as that was never dreamed of before, and what you are asked to discuss in discussing the League of Nations is the matter of seeing that this thing is not interfered with. There is no other way to do it than by a universal league of nations, and what is proposed is a universal league of nations.

Only two nations are for the time being left out. One of them is Germany, because we did not think that Germany was ready to come in, because we felt that she ought to go through a period of probation. She says that she made a mistake. We now want her to prove it by not trying it again. She says that she has abolished all the old forms of government by which little secret councils of men, sitting nobody knew exactly where, determined the fortunes of that great nation and, incidentally, tried to determine the fortunes of mankind; but we want her to prove that her constitution is changed and that it is going, to stay changed; and then who can, after those proofs are produced, say “No” to a great people, 60 million strong, if they want to come in on equal terms with the rest of us and do justice in international affairs?

I want to say that I did not find any of my colleagues in Paris disinclined to do justice to Germany. But I hear that this treaty is very hard on Germany. When an individual has committed a criminal act, the punishment is hard, but the punishment is not unjust. This nation permitted itself, through unscrupulous governors to commit a criminal act against mankind, and it is to undergo the punishment, not more than it can endure but up to the point where it can pay it must pay for the wrong that it has done.

But the things prescribed in this treaty will not be fully carried out if any one of the great influences that brought that result about is withheld from its consummation. Every great fighting nation in the world is on the list of those who are to constitute the League of Nations. I say every great nation, because America is going to be included among them, and the only choice my fellow citizens is whether we will go in now or come in later with Germany; whether we will go in as founders of this covenant of freedom or go in as those who are admitted after they have made a mistake and repented.

I wish I could do what is impossible in a great company like this. I wish I could read that Covenant to you, because I do not believe, if you have not read it yourself and have only listened to certain speeches that I have read, that you know anything that is in it. Why, my fellow citizens, the heart of the Covenant is that there shall be no war. To listen to some of the speeches that you may have listened to or read, you would think that the heart of it was that it was an arrangement for war. On the contrary, this is the heart of that treaty.

The bulk of it is concerned with arrangements under which all the members of the League – that means everybody but Germany and dismembered Turkey – agree that they never will go to war without first having done one or other of two things – either submitted the question at issue to arbitration, in which case they agree absolutely to abide by the verdict, or, if they do not care to submit it to arbitration, submitted it to discussion by the council of the League of Nations, in which case they must give six months for the discussion and wait three months after the rendering of the decision, whether they like it or not, before they go to war. They agree to cool off for nine months before they yield to the heat of passion, which might otherwise have hurried them into war.

If they do not do that, it is not war that ensues; it is something that will interest them and engage them very much more than war; it is an absolute boycott of the nation that disregards the Covenant. The boycott is automatic, and just as soon as it applies, then this happens: No goods can be shipped out of that country; no goods can be shipped into it. No telegraphic message may pass either way across its borders. No package of postal matter – no letter – can cross its borders either way. No citizen of any member of the League can have any transactions of any kind with any citizen of that nation. It is the most complete isolation and boycott ever conceived, and there is not a nation in Europe that can live for six months without importing goods out of other countries. After they have thought about the matter for six months, I predict that they will have no stomach for war.

All that you are told about in this Covenant, so far as I can learn, is that there is an Article X. I will repeat Article X to you; I think I can repeat it verbatim, the heart of it at any rate. Every member of the League promises to respect and preserve as against external aggression – not as against internal revolution – the territorial integrity and existing political independence of every other member of the League; and if it is necessary to enforce this promise – I mean, for the nations to act in concert with arms in their hands to enforce it – then the council of the League shall advise what action is necessary. Some gentlemen who doubt the meaning of English words have thought that advice did not mean advice, but I do not know anything else that it does mean, and I have studied English most of my life and speak it with reasonable correctness.

The point is this: The council cannot give that advice without the vote of the United States, unless it is a party to the dispute; but, my fellow citizens, if you are a party to the dispute you are in the scrap anyhow. If you are a party, then the question is not whether you are going to war or not but merely whether you are going to war against the rest of the world or with the rest of the world, and the object of war in that case will be to defend that central thing that I began by speaking about. That is the guarantee of the land titles of the world which have been established by this treaty. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Yugoslavia – all those nations which never had a vision of independent liberty until now – have their liberty and independence guaranteed to them.

If we do not guarantee them, then we have this interesting choice: I hear gentlemen say that we went into the recent war because we were forced into it, and their preference now is to wait to be forced in again. They do not pretend that we can keep out; they merely pretend that we ought to keep out until we are ashamed not to go in.

This is the Covenant of the League of Nations that you hear objected to, the only possible guarantee against war. I would consider myself recreant to every mother and father, every wife and sweetheart in this country, if I consented to the ending of this war without a guarantee that there would be no other. You say, “Is it an absolute guarantee?” No; there is no absolute guarantee against human passion; but even if it were only 10 percent of a guarantee, would not you rather have 10 percent guarantee against war than none? If it only creates a presumption that there will not be war, would you not rather have that presumption than live under the certainty that there will be war? For, I tell you, my fellow citizens, I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it.

But I did not come here this morning, I remind myself, so much to expound the treaty as to talk about these interesting things that we hear about that are called “reservations”. A reservation is an assent with a big but. We agree – but. Now, I want to call your attention to some of these buts. I will take them, so far as I can remember the order, in the order in which they deal with clauses of the League itself.

. . . I have already adverted to the difficulties under Article X and will not return to it. That difficulty is merely as I repeated it just now, that some gentlemen do not want to go in as partners; they want to go in as late joiners, because they all admit that in a war which imperils the just arrangements of mankind, America, the greatest, richest, freest people in the world, must take sides. We could not live without taking sides. We devoted ourselves to justice and to liberty when we were born, and we are not going to get senile and forget it.

. . . The fourth matter that they are concerned about is domestic questions, so they want to put in a reservation enumerating certain questions as domestic questions which everybody on both sides of the water admits are domestic questions. That seems to me, to say the least, to be a work of supererogation. It does not seem to me necessary to specify what everybody admits, but they are so careful – I believe the word used, to be “meticulous’! – that they want to put in what is clearly implied in the whole instrument.

“Well,” you say, “why not?” Well, why not, my fellow citizens? The conference at Paris will still be sitting when the Senate of the United States has acted upon this treaty. Perhaps I ought not to say that so confidently. No man, even in the secrets of Providence, can tell how long it will take the United States Senate to do anything, but I imagine that in the normal course of human fatigue the Senate will have acted upon this treaty before the conference in Paris gets through with the Austrian treaty and the Bulgarian treaty and the Turkish treaty. They will still be there on the job.

Now – every lawyer will follow me in this – if you take a contract and change the words, even though you do not change the sense, you have to get the other parties to accept those words. Is not that true? Therefore, every reservation will have to be taken back to all the signatories of this treaty, and I want you to notice that that includes Germany. We will have to ask Germany’s consent to read this treaty the way we understand it. I want to tell you that we did not ask Germany’s consent with regard to the meaning of any one of those terms while we were in Paris. We told her what they meant and said, “Sign here.” Are there any patriotic Americans who desire the method changed? Do they want me to ask the assembly at Weimar if I may read the treaty the way it means but in words which the United States Senate thinks it ought to have been written in?

You see, reservations come down to this, that they want to change the language of the treaty without changing its meaning and involve all the embarrassments. Because, let me say, there are indications – I am judging not from official dispatches but from the newspapers – that people are not in as good a humor over in Paris now as they were when I was there, and it is going to be more difficult to get agreement from now on than it was then. After dealing with some of those gentlemen, I found that they were as ingenious as any American in attaching unexpected meanings to plain words, and, having gone through the mill on the existing language, I do not want to go through it again on changed language.

. . .Therefore, we cannot rewrite this treaty. We must take it or leave it, and gentlemen, after all the rest of the world has signed it, will find it very difficult to make any other kind of treaty. As I took the liberty of saying the other night, it is a case of “put up or shut up.” The world cannot breathe in the atmosphere of negotiations. The world cannot deal with nations who say, “We won’t play!” The world cannot have anything to do with an arrangement in which every nation says, “We will take care of ourselves.”

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Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Massachusetts) criticizes the treaty from the right: August 1919

The independence of the United States is not only more precious to ourselves but to the world than any single possession. Look at the United States today. We have made mistakes in the past. We have had shortcomings.  We shall make mistakes in the future and fall short of our own best hopes. But none the less is there any country today on the face of the earth which can compare with this in ordered liberty, in peace, and in the largest freedom? I feel that I can say this without being accused of undue boastfulness, for it is the simple fact, and in making this treaty and taking on these obligations all that we do is in a spirit of unselfishness and in a desire for the good of mankind. But it is well to remember that we are dealing with nations every one of which has a direct individual interest to serve, and there is grave danger in an unshared idealism.  Contrast the United States with any country on the face of the earth today and ask yourself whether the situation of the United States is not the best to be found. I will go as far as anyone in world service, but the first step to world service is the maintenance of the United States.

. . . I have always loved one flag and I cannot share that devotion [with]  a mongrel banner created for a League.

. . . You may call me selfish if you will, conservative or reactionary, or use any other harsh adjective you see fit to apply, but an American I was born, an American I have remained all my life. I can never be anything else but an American, and I must think of the United States first, and when I think of the United States first in an arrangement like this I am thinking of what is best for the world, for if the United States fails, the best hopes of mankind fail with it. I have never had but one allegiance–I cannot divide it now. I have loved but one flag and I cannot share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for a league.

Internationalism, illustrated by the Bolshevik and by the men to whom all countries are alike provided they can make money out of them, is to me repulsive. National I must remain, and in that way I like all other Americans can render the amplest service to the world. The United States is the world’s best hope, but if you fetter her in the interests and quarrels of other nations, if you tangle her in the intrigues of Europe, you will destroy her power for good and endanger her very existence. Leave her to march freely through the centuries to come as in the years that have gone. Strong, generous, and confident, she has nobly served mankind.

Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance, this great land of ordered liberty, for if we stumble and fall freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin. We are told that we shall ‘break the heart of the world’ if we do not take this league just as it stands. I fear that the hearts of the vast majority of mankind would beat on strongly and steadily and without any quickening if the league were to perish altogether. If it should be effectively and beneficently changed the people who would lie awake in sorrow for a single night could be easily gathered in one not very large room but those who would draw a long breath of relief would reach to millions.

We hear much of visions and I trust we shall continue to have visions and dream dreams of a fairer future for the race. But visions are one thing and visionaries are another, and the mechanical appliances of the rhetorician designed to give a picture of a present which does not exist and of a future which no man can predict are as unreal and short-lived as the steam or canvas clouds, the angels suspended on wires and the artificial lights of the stage.

They pass with the moment of effect and are shabby and tawdry in the daylight. Let us at least be real. Washington’s entire honesty of mind and his fearless look into the face of all facts are qualities which can never go out of fashion and which we should all do well to imitate.

Ideals have been thrust upon us as an argument for the league until the healthy mind which rejects cant revolts from them. Are ideals confined to this deformed experiment upon a noble purpose, tainted, as it is, with bargains and tied to a peace treaty which might have been disposed of long ago to the great benefit of the world if it had not been compelled to carry this rider on its back? ‘Post equitem sedet atra cura,’ Horace tells us, but no blacker care ever sat behind any rider than we shall find in this covenant of doubtful and disputed interpretation as it now perches upon the treaty of peace. No doubt many excellent and patriotic people see a coming fulfillment of noble ideals in the words ‘league for peace.’ We all respect and share these aspirations and desires, but some of us see no hope, but rather defeat, for them in this murky covenant.

For we, too, have our ideals, even if we differ from those who have tried to establish a monopoly of idealism. Our first ideal is our country, and we see her in the future, as in the past, giving service to all her people and to the world. Our ideal of the future is that she should continue to render that service of her own free will. She has great problems of her own to solve, very grim and perilous problems, and a right solution, if we can attain to it, would largely benefit mankind. We would have our country strong to resist a peril from the West, as she has flung back the German menace from the East. We would not have our politics distracted and embittered by the dissensions of other lands. We would not have our country’s vigor exhausted or her moral force abated, by everlasting meddling and muddling in every quarrel, great and small, which afflicts the world. Our ideal is to make her ever stronger and better and finer, because in that way alone, as we believe, can she be of the greatest service to the world’s peace and to the welfare of mankind.

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Senator Asle Gronna (R-North Dakota) criticizes the League from the left: October 1919

In connection with this covenant, which proposes an international organization invested, as it is, with that I believe to be arbitrary and almost unlimited power, I feel that we should carefully look into the subject and ascertain what has been done by the Governments which are to be our partners in this colossal enterprise.

If this double-headed contract only provided for specific obligations and performances, setting forth in plain, unmistakable terms what the obligations are, we might overlook the novelty of the scheme. But the most unfortunately and objectionable features of the covenant are its provisions setting up a supergovernment with unlimited powers defined in vague and indefinite language.

Some people seem to believe that this covenant embodies a new theory of promoting peace, but it does not, because in theory as well as in practice the making of peace treaties and alliances is as old as the world itself . . . I know of no treaties or alliances by nay nation or nations in which there have not been provisions to safeguard and protect most carefully the sovereignty of the nations or parties in interest.

So let us not attempt the impossible, but let us proceed in a sane and practical manner; let us protect our own people first–the people of the United States–with confidence and full assurance and belief that we shall in the future as we have in the past, to the utmost of our ability, assist the helpless, defend the defenseless, assist and protect the oppressed, and to the best of our ability aid and support the people of the nations which may suffer injustice., But I believe that the people of the United States will resent the idea, and will take it as an insult, to be told by a council composed mostly of aliens that we must do thus and so.

You know as well as I do that this covenant will not be a promoter of lasting peace; no covenant can be made to promote a lasting peace unless it is based upon the fundamental principles of justice and equality.

If we ratify this covenant as proposed, we bind ourselves and our posterity to support the dominant powers of every nation that belongs to this league, and to participate in their wars, their struggles, and their troubles; and the question of self-determination will have been completely defeated and destroyed . . . This covenant in its present form would set up an autocracy with powers unrivaled or unheard of among the family of man.

[On Article XI], I doubt if any two members of this body or any two citizens anywhere would agree upon the construction and the meaning of this article. I may be entirely mistaken in my analysis and my conclusions, but I interpret it to mean that the members of the league agree to preserve and protect the existing political independence of all the members of the league. I construe the last sentence of this paragraph to mean that in any case of aggression or assault, or in case of any threat against any member of the league, the council shall advise what steps are to be taken and what means are to be employed in order that the obligations entered into shall be fulfilled . . .

In all probability the people of the United States would likely do what the friends of this measure say they must do, but it is very clear to me that if the executive council should command that the United States send her soldiers abroad to protest some European, Asiatic, or African nationality, and if the United States should refuse until Congress had so declared, we would have violated Article 10, because the language is so plain and so clear that it cannot be misunderstood by anyone.

[On Article XI], this article makes it possible for any member of the league to summon a meeting of the council, and to interfere with any war or threat of war, whether it affects any of the members of the league or not. In other words, this supergovernment undertakes to dictate and regulate the affairs of every nation on the face of the globe. Can it be possible that such a policy would promote peace? And does anyone believe that it would be possible for the dominant powers of the league at any time in the future to reduce armaments to a minimum? Is it not reasonable to believe that munitions and armaments must be increased on a tremendously large scale, so that peace may be enforced by war, and that no small nation shall have the right to demand reform, regardless of how oppressed, or of how brutal the treatment of its people may be by the dominant nation which may happen to be a member of the league? . . . I wonder what has become of the idealistic 14 points.

To be consistent, we cannot claim that we advocate peace and at the same time do the things which we know will provoke war. We are either in favor of peace or we are in favor of war. We cannot serve two masters.

To adopt this proposed covenant would be to give the lie to the principles for which we said we fought. We were told by the leaders of Great Britain, of France, of Italy, of Japan, as well as by the leaders of this Government, that this war was waged in the interest of humanity and democracy, in the interest of self-determination and oppressed people. How can we at this moment, before this horrible war has completely ended, before peace has been officially declared, how can we look any liberty-loving human being in the face and say that we are carrying out our pledges in good faith?

This proposed treaty provides for the enforcement of peace by force, by the sword, by waging war, and it takes from the peoples of every nation on the face of the globe the right to have a voice in the matter. So in this matter, so important to the welfare of the human family, you are setting up a supergovernment ruled by what we hope may be a few benevolent despots; but, if we miss our guess, so that instead of directing their energies in the interest of benevolence, justice, and peace, if they desire to become autocrats, there is absolutely nothing to prevent them from becoming the greatest tyrants the world has ever known; and yet you call this a league to establish peace.

4 Responses

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  1. kcjohnson9 said, on March 16, 2009 at 6.34pm

    Apart from the policy ramifications, which side in the debate–Wilson, Lodge, or Gronna–offered the stronger constitutional argument?

  2. Mr. Levi Keller Esq. said, on March 18, 2009 at 3.25pm

    If you will accept his interpretation of the terms, Gonna offers the strongest constitutional argument in pointing out that we cannot give an external power the right to override our legislative and judicial prerogatives. Wilson and Lodge do not address constitutional points directly. Although Wilson does respond to Gonna’s objection by pointing out that the council’s orders would be ‘advice’, he fails to address our subjugation to a foreign judiciary. This would require a constitutional amendment, which still can be attacked on the grounds that it does not adhere to the declaration of independence, in which all power must derive from the people. If all member states were democratic, a good constitutional counterargument could be made for membership.

  3. Matt Vadala said, on March 19, 2009 at 2.36pm

    I hate to sound like a parrot, but (as mentioned by Levi already) Gronna has the most Constitutional, and sound argument of the three. Wilson, in his support for the form and American allegiance to the League, tries to sell the plan domestically, understood. However, the plan is an international plan, not one specifically the benefit domestic affairs. Wilson addresses international concerns, but the American people come first.

    In Gronna’s argument, he lays out, very concretely, each and every clause which would not only cause contradiction within the act itself but would also infringe on people’s liberties and their safety domestically and abroad. The important fact that Gronna points out is that people’s liberties and safety would be put at risk for the benefit and aid of another member of the League, on occasion. Though an honorable gesture, and a very sound model, it is certainly something to be concerned about.

  4. Allen Korman said, on March 19, 2009 at 3.32pm

    Not to sound repetitive, but Senator Gronna offered the strongest Constitutional arguments about the League of Nations. Wilson pleads with the people to remember why we fought in the Great War,and in so doing he focus’ totally on the international side of why the U.S. should join the league. Lodge, on the other hand talks about things past. He talks about how our history of staying aloof from European affairs served us good for over 100 years and will serve us well into the future.
    Gronna, on the other hand, tells people that the league super-imposses itself over the Constitution, and that the powers of war or peace will no longer be in the hands of the Congress and the American people, but in a foreign entity.


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