The Commonwealth and the League of Nations
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The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 21 Sep 1933, p. 217-235


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Chelwood, Viscount Cecil of, Speaker
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A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
Differences between the Commonwealth and the League of Nations, but both striving for the betterment and improvement of mankind. A definition of these two institutions, what they stand for, what they mean, their great purposes. Aspects of the League in relation to the Commonwealth. The illusion that there is some kind of opposition between the League and the Commonwealth. The League as a guarantee for the existence of the Commonwealth and how that is so. The issue of the reduction of armaments. Why it is important from the point of view of peace, apart from economics, to reduce armaments. How disarmament might be administered and policed. Dangers in the present state of things unless there can be gotten some control on the limitation of armaments. The existence of great interests whose prosperity depends upon the continued demand for weapons of war. What people mean when they say that the Commonwealth is a small League of Nations. Ways in which they are in fact distinct conceptions. The impossibility of establishing a group which can give laws to the world. The equal impossibility of isolation. The need, as members of the community of nations, to see whether we can't do something to make the world better before we die. What the League can do in this regard. The Commonwealth doing very much inside the League in order to carry on the great work to which the League has set its hand. Response to those who say that the League has become a complete failure. An examination of the situation in Manchuria, and whether or not the League has been effective. The formal condemnation by all the nations of the world of the policy of Japan. A look at why the League has not been successful in restraining Japan. The absence of the United States of America from the League and possible effects of that situation. The Canadian attitude and position.
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21 Sep 1933
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English
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THE COMMONWEALTH AND THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
AN ADDRESS BY VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD.
(Before a joint meeting of The Empire Club and The Canadian Club)
September 21, 1933

In introducing Lord Cecil, MAJOR BAXTER, the President of The Empire Club, stated that the Clubs were doubly honoured in having also as their guests, Captain James Mollison, and his wife, Amy Mollison.

LORD CECIL: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen

I should like to preface my observations by expressing my thanks to Captain and Mrs. Mollison for their presence here this afternoon. (Applause.) It shows, I am convinced, their interest in the great cause of peace, and of such advocacy of peace, it can not be said that it is due to any lack of personal courage.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have undertaken tot speak to you about the Commonwealth and the League. They are, in their present form, recent developments, though no doubt in one sense, the Commonwealth has existed for many years, but in its present form which I will describe in a moment, it is quite modern; and the League of Nations, though it also has a very long history behind it, yet in the realization of the aspirations of many generations of thinkers and well wishers, that realization has only taken place in the last fifteen years.

The Commonwealth and the League have many differences but they are great institutions whose existence is dependent on the fact that they are both striving for the betterment and improvement of mankind. I will not admit that in; this respect the objectives and purposes of the Commonwealth are one whit inferior to the objectives and the purposes of the League of Nations. (Applause.)

Now, we speak of these institutions--they can be called institutions. What exactly do we mean by them? The Commonwealth is, in its present form, a group of independent, autonomous nations, bound together by a common allegiance to the Crown, by a common tradition and still more, as I think, by common aspirations. The Commonwealth stands, as I see it, with the great cause of ordered progress throughout the world and, particularly, throughout the Commonwealth, and is based on the great principles of justice and of liberty. The nations in the Commonwealth form part of the League of Nations on exactly the same footing with exactly the same rights as those of all the other nations which are members of that institution.

You will all remember that when peace was made at Paris after some little discussion it was agreed by all those who became members of the League of Nations that the self-governing dominions and India should be admitted as members of the League of Nations with full rights and privileges in that respect. They had their full rights and privileges and, conversely, of course, they are bound by all the provisions of the Covenant of the League of Nations of which they form a part. They are bound in honour and by their signature on the Covenant to carry out the purposes to fight--I don't mean physically, but morally and spiritually-for peace and national co-operation and progress.

As for the League, that, too, is a free association of independent and sovereign nations,, brought together from all the corners of the world, including every type of humanity, every race, every religion and every culture, some fifty-five of them now-practically all the important nations of the world, with one or two exceptions. And they are brought together for the great purpose, the great objective of carrying out the advancement of mankind.

I am not going to make many quotations to you, but I should like to read once again the preamble of the Covenant which sets forth the purposes for which the League exists: "It exists to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security by acceptance of obligations, not to resort to war, by the provision of just and honourable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of understanding of international law as the actual rule of conduct between governments, by the maintenance of justice and of scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another."

That is the great purpose for which the League exists. I venture to say to you, and to say it with great confidence, that those great purposes are absolutely identical with the traditions and the aspirations of the Commonwealth, and the dominions which make part of the Commonwealth, in all external affairs.

Now, I am not going to weary you this afternoon with a description which is probably well known to all of you, of the machinery of the League or even its achievements, great and striking and outstanding as those achievements have been, but I am going to discuss one or two aspects of it in relation to the Commonwealth.

I find in my own country, and echoed to some extent in Canada, curious illusions that there is some kind of opposition between the League and the Commonwealth. I hear distinguished persons and some who are not distinguished, say that they prefer the Commonwealth to the League and others who, as I think, are equally foolish, who say they prefer the League to the Commonwealth. There is no kind of opposition of that kind that I can see between the two institutions. You might almost as well say that you prefer lunch to dinner, or dinner to lunch. It is pure nonsense; there is no such opposition.

The League, in my view, is a great guarantee for the existence of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, I will not say, depends on peace, but can only flourish and progress in times of peace. And the League stands for peace and the Commonwealth is a great element, a great buttress of the League of Nations, one of those elements on which humanity has relied and believe me, does rely, as one of the great forces which will uphold the League in the great struggle for peace and progress. There can be no opposition between them; they are working for the same causes. The Commonwealth is part of the League; the League is the guarantee of the Commonwealth. The only conceivable opposition, the only possible opposition, would be if the Commonwealth were, in a fit of insanity, to try and carry on some aggressive war in breach of its obligations under the Covenant. That really would be, as I am sure every single soul in this room agrees, absolute madness.

I know, and I find traces of it even in Canada, that there is a kind of conception--you find it in foreign countries quite often--that the United Kingdom, that country simply penetrated with the idea and the love of peace, is capable of plotting for the most sordid and commercial reasons some great attack on its neighbours, of carrying on what in the camp phrases are called, "Imperialistic wars". You will see it carried to the extreme by certain writers in Germany, mainly before the War, who were fond of describing Britain as "the rubber state", which was flourishing on the ill-gotten gains of a disreputable military policy and a still more disreputable diplomacy. If ever there was any truth in that statement-in my judgment there never was-if there ever eras any truth in it, it certainly can not by any stretch of imagination be regarded as true of the British Commonwealth or the United Kingdom at the present day. For Britain to indulge in a war of aggression would be the height of folly. To use the old phrase, "It would be worse than a crime--it would be a blunder". We certainly have no intention or desire of attacking our neighbours or interfering with the existing order of things.

Well, now, if that be so, and I believe that everybody in this room will agree with me that it is so, what is it that people who suggest that there is this opposition between the Commonwealth and the League mean? x think it is rather different in most men's minds to what I have been trying to describe. I think they conceive the League as a kind of substitute for the Commonwealth, as taking the place in men's minds of the Commonwealth, as setting up a new object of loyalty or affection or whatever it may be, and they fear that those who adhere to the League will be neglectful of the safety and interests of the Commonwealth. Well, I believe that to be a profound mistake. People say, "O, well, how can you expect the people of the United Kingdom to go on supporting (this is the kind of case they put) armament for her defence and protection so long as she is a member of the League? There will be a tendency," they say, "for her to put aside all such armaments and to rely entirely on the protection of the League."

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, some day that may be so. Some day we may see the League in such a position, an established safety, an established authority, when not only British armaments but armaments throughout the world will become unnecessary. We would all rejoice if it were so but for myself, I must say quite frankly, that 'I don't think it is practicable at the present moment for any country that has to carry on relations with foreign countries. I do not think that it is practicable for them to abandon their armaments altogether. I think as long as other nations have armaments, as long as they are armed, and as long as in some cases, as we only too regretfully notice, statesmen and people indulge in nationalistic speeches and actions, it is, I think, impossible to rule out as an inconceivable event, an attack by some nation on the British Empire or the British Commonwealth on some occasion. But that doesn't alter this fact in my judgment, that though it is impossible for us here and now-I am speaking of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth at large-it is impossible for us here and now, for ourselves alone and not for other nations, to abandon all armaments and to trust to the good feeling-for that is what it would amount to-of other countries, though I believe that to be impossible at the moment, I am quite convinced it is not only possible but our duty to do our utmost to induce other nations to agree to a reduction and limitation of armaments by international agreement. (Applause). I think that is desirable; I believe that you may go further and say that it is absolutely essential for the continued existence and prosperity of the Commonwealth, essential for the continued existence of the civilization of the world.

We do need a reduction of armaments but as I have said, I don't think we can safely do it by ourselves, though we do need it profoundly. We need it in the first place-no inconsiderable motive at the present time-in order to save money, to save expenditure on an object which is, economically, altogether unremunerative. We, in England, spend something like a hundred and ten million pounds a year. That is, is it not, about five hundred and fifty million dollars a year on armaments? Other nations spend more. The world at large spends annually not less than a thousand million pounds on armaments -five thousand million dollars! Conceive that enormous drain on the resources of the world. Conceive the menace of allowing that drain to go on when we know the whole world is suffering deeply from an economic crisis, unparalleled in living history. Therefore, merely for the purpose of saving money, a restriction of armaments by international agreement is of the utmost importance.

But that is not the only thing. It is said that even if countries were unarmed they could fight. So they could. You see boys fighting in the streets, and nations could fight, I suppose, with their fists even if you get rid of armaments altogether--and you won't get rid of armaments altogether.

Why, then, is it important from the point of view of peace, apart from economics, to reduce armaments? Well, it is important for this reason: that as long as these great armaments exist there must be carried on in every country that has them--you haven't in Canada, I know but in most countries they have them, particularly in Europe--in order to justify the expenditure on armaments, in order to induce their people to agree to the expense, there has to be carried on, more or less openly, more or less secretly, a great campaign in favour of military force and, in the last resort, in favour of war.

Those of us who remember the condition of the world before 1914 will know exactly what I am referring to and will be able to give instance after instance of the kind of campaign that was carried on in certain European countries, particularly, justifying war and regarding it as a great expression of national virility and strength and glorifying every aspect of it and every instrument by which it was carried on.

If you can once get the nations to turn their minds from that conception and say, "We can't get rid of armaments altogether at the moment but we do recognize the great objective to be to diminish them and, ultimately, in the distant future it may be, get rid of them altogether"--if you once get them in that frame of mind you change the whole conception and you put war as it ought to be, as only justifiable, if justifiable at all, as a final necessity, only to be avoided at all costs and by every means possible. And though that may not be practicable at the moment, you set the nature of the mentality of the people in a new direction and, above all, you diminish that tremendous burden which lies upon the nations at this moment and consequently, diminish the necessity for justifying the campaign for armaments which goes on in so many countries at the present moment.

That is the second reason and there is a third which, to honourable men is not less strong. When the powers were assembled at the Council in Paris, they determined to place upon their defeated foes very stringent obligations to reduce their armaments, and those stringent obligations were accepted but they were not accepted without negotiations and, as is well known" the Germans in particular addressed a formal question to the victorious powers. They said-I am not quoting the words but the substance is this: If we disarm, if we cut down our armaments to the extent-and it was a tremendous extent-which you demand, are you going to remain armed' And the reply given by the mouth of Mr. Clemenceau, speaking on behalf of all the victorious powers-Canada, the United Kingdom, every one of them-said: "Not at all. We require the Germans to disarm first because, in our view, they were responsible." Rightly or wrongly' that was the view held at the time-that they were responsible for the outbreak of the war-"but when they have disarmed, then, indeed, the other countries will follow suit." That was the substance of Mr. Clemenceau's letter which has been so often quoted.

And then they were not content with that, but they put 'definite provisions, a particular provision into the preface to the disarmament clauses which were accepted by Germany, saying: "as the necessary prelude to general disarmament", and since that time we have-the United Kingdom and all the other powers and also the League of Nations has affirmed over and over again,, its desire and purpose to bring about a system of general reduction and limitation of armaments, similar to, though not necessarily absolutely identical with" that which was imposed on the defeated powers at the Conference in Paris. It seems to me, that is an obligation of honour, if ever there was one. We do not wish to say, in our country at any rate, that we treat obligations of that kind as scraps of paper, (Applause), though there is still something to be said about that. Is it safe? Can we do it with safety? I think we can. I think we can, at any rate, make a great beginning now at this Disarmament Conference which is to meet in three weeks again, and it will depend on the attitude some other powers, but mainly the British Commonwealth, take, what is going to be the results and decisions of that Conference. I say that they ought, at any rate, to express their willingness to apply those provisions of the Treaty of Versailles which forbid to Germany and the other powers the possession of certain great classes of armaments on the grounds that those armaments are essential if you want to make an attack upon your neighbour. "Armaments of aggression", they have come to be called. I don't defend the scientific accuracy of the expression it is quite near enough for all practical purposes. Armaments of aggression-aircraft of a military and naval character, tanks, great land guns, submarines, and the gigantic battleships-all these things were forbidden to Germany because they were regarded as armaments of aggression. If we are clear that we don't intend to commit an aggression, what justification have we for maintaining those armaments which have been defined, by the agreement of all of us, as armaments of aggression in the hands of Germany? (Applause.)

And if you can arrive at some acceptance of that kind of agreement, then you have got to do some other things or one other thing, at any rate. You have got to take precautions that after the treaty has been accepted there is no rearming by those who have accepted the new level of armaments under the treaty. For that purpose, you require, as I think, two provisions. You require the establishment for the first time of an international authority whose business it shall be to watch over the execution of the treaty. (Applause.) That is a new conception but one of enormous value. Its headquarters would be, I suppose, in Geneva. It would make whatever examinations it thought right and above all, it would follow the expenditures and the actions of all the different countries and would very soon be able to ascertain that one country or another was making a very substantial addition to its expenditures and if it was keeping within the terms of the treaty.

Then you have got to say, as I think, one other thing; if you find a nation that is rearming in breach of its agreement, you ought to say, as you must say: The only reason that that rearming is taking place is because such a nation contemplates and is preparing for an aggressive policy." You treat them as a threatening aggressor to the other nations of the world. (Applause.) And you say to them, as I should wish to say, "Unless you will abandon that policy, we must have nothing further to do with you. We must cut off all commercial and other relations with you."

If you have got something of that kind-these are no wild theories; they have been discussed at the Conference and very largely approved--if you have got something of that kind, you would have no weakening of the defence of any country. The weakening would be in the power of attack; it would really strengthen their powers of defence because if you weaken the powers of attack all round, it is evident the powers of defence become infinitely stronger and you would help to destroy war.

Let me say one or two more words about that one great danger of the present state of things--a danger which you would eliminate if you could get a voluntary agreement of that kind by all the main powers of the world is the possibility of competition in armaments. I need not develop that. It is quite plain if you have competition in armaments, you have immediately in every parliament, and where there isn't a parliament, in every discussion, a suggestion that you have got to increase your armaments because such and such a country is arming or is dangerous to you unless you do so. That is common form. You can't read a debate in England, and I don't think we are particularly warlike, you can't read a debate of the army or the navy or the air estimates, particularly the navy and the air estimates, without continually coming across arguments that such and such a country is much superior to us in their particular armaments; that such and such a country is a possible danger to us from a certain point of view and, therefore, the Minister says, we must make this increase. Obviously, points of view of that kind are the very antithesis to real peaceful relations between the nations of the world. If you are always regarding your neighbour as a possible burglar you are not going to carry on completely amicable relations with him.

And then there is another great source, as I think, of danger in the present state of things unless you can get

Some control on the limitation of armaments and that is the fact that great interests exist whose prosperity depend upon the continued demand for weapons of war. I don't want to say anything derogatory of those gentlemen who create great financial interests, who desire, who must desire, to see the continuance, at any rate from a business point of view, of bad relations between countries and of unrest--political unrest--because that makes a demand for the particular kind of goods that they have got to sell. Surely that is not a state of things which is conducive to the peace of the world. It seems to me that we ought to control the manufacture of armaments sufficiently to eliminate the motive of pecuniary gain from their manufacture. (Loud applause.) We ought to treat them as we treat-at any rate in my country and I suppose in yours-the manufacturer of noxious drugs and I see no real distinction between the man who manufactures heroin for the purpose of corrupting his fellowmen and the man who manufactures weapons that only can be used for the slaughter of other men. Heroin and rifles arc. both things which, in certain circumstances, have their legitimate use. They ought to be controlled as we do control one; set of those commodities. Both sets of commodities ought to be controlled so that they are only used, only made, and only sold for legitimate and proper purposes.

It is said further that all this is the wrong way of proceeding, that what you ought to aim at is such a degree, of preparation that victory is certain and if you have got that, that is really the greatest protection against war and the best guarantee of peace. Obviously, if every country sets about that ideal, you will have, in the first place, great competition and in the second place, it is quite plain it couldn't be true of every country that they could be superior to every other country. It is the old doctrine that if you want peace you should prepare for war and it is one of the doctrines which has done the most harm, in my judgment, in the whole history of the human race.

The truth is that we, at any rate, in this generation should recognize that in war there is no victory. It doesn't exist! There are different degrees of defeat but everyone., whether they call themselves victors or the reverse, everyone of them suffers, and as in the case of this war, may suffer very severely, indeed.

It is true--it is an old tag, I know--it is absolutely true that peace is the greatest of British interests, far greater than any of the interests of which we hear, or used to hear so much, and not only the greatest of traditions but the greatest in the interest of every nation in the world.

Then, I come back to my theme-this was a digression, explaining to you why I don't believe there is any rivalry between the League and the Commonwealth. It is put somtimes in rather a different way by very well-meaning people. I have often heard it said that the Commonwealth is a small League of Nations. I see what people mean and there is a sense in which that is true but, fundamentally, they are distinct conceptions. The Commonwealth, as I have said more than once, is a part of the League in exactly the same way as in the United Kingdom the nations of Scotland, Wales and England, a unit of itself, is a part of the Commonwealth. It is just the same thing; the Commonwealth is a part of the League just as the United Kingdom is, a part of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth must be regarded in that way. It can't be regarded as aiming to bring peace to the world by itself. It can't be the policeman of the world. It is quite impossible, even if it were joined by the United States of America,, as some people suggest. Even that great combination, immensely powerful as it would be, would never be able by force, which is the conception I suppose the people have in mind, to establish peace in the world and I think it more than doubtful whether you would persuade the United States of America to enter upon an adventure of that kind.

But the truth is, whether the group is small or great, you can not in modern days-I don't think you ever could hope to establish a group which can give laws to the world, and that is what people mean. It can't be done! It can't be done, nor is it possible., as some other people think, for any group to retire within some strange Chinese wall and say that they will have nothing to do with any other nation in the world and are going to keep entirely clear of the lesser breeds without the wall. It can't be done. The world is one for most purposes now-culturally, scientifically, spiritually, commercially and in many other ways the nations are one and must be one, interdependent as they must be.

The thing we have got to do as members of the community of nations is to see whether we can't do something to make it better before we die, (Applause) and as part of the League we can unquestionably do a very great deal. The Commonwealth--it may be with the assistance of America, if not, without--can do very much inside the League in order to carry on the great work to which the League has set its hand, there are people who urge that the League has become a complete failure, that it isn't able to discharge its duty, that recent events have shown that it is weak and feeble. They cite in support of all this, the great case of the Manchurian question, the great case of the Far East. They readily and easily forget the astonishing the amazing success of the League in the years up until the last year or two and, on their admission, the immense advantages in international solidarity and international peace which have been achieved at Geneva.

Let us take Manchuria for a moment. Is it true that the combination of the nations, even in that case, has been completely ineffective? I say not. It is quite true there has been very bad fighting but there has, technically, at any rate, been no war, and that is more than a technical consideration. If you compare the slaughter that went on in the Great War and the deaths occasioned in the condition between Japan and China, you will see that there is something to be said for the League in avoiding, even technically, a war. More than that, you had no scramble of the other nations for some bit of China. If this controversy had taken place before the League of Nations existed, every nation that had any interest in the Far East would have demanded compensation-some bit of China as compensation for what Japan had taken.

Finally, though not effective yet, there has been a formal condemnation by all the nations of the, world of the policy of Japan and it is surely a great thing to have got that great, solemn, universal declaration supporting the principles of justice and peace in the relation of one nation to another.

But I do not think there has been a failure. There has been fighting; there has been controversy; the League has not succeeded in restraining Japan from a policy of adventure and aggression and why is that? It is the point that comes home to you and me: Why is it that the League hasn't succeeded. It has nothing to do with the machinery of the League and, after all, the League is essentially machinery. It has nothing to do with that. Whether it has been trying for any purpose, whether making enquiries or pronouncing judgment or what it may be, the machinery has worked quite well and quite perfectly. What has failed has been the will to use that machinery to the utmost on the part of the nations who desired to keep the peace. That is what has failed. Undoubtedly, had the nations combined to say to Japan, "Stop, or we shall cut off all relations with you", there is no doubt whatever that Japan would have stopped. She could have done no other. If we have to admit that there has been a failure of the League, or rather a failure of the members who make part of the League, no doubt there are many reasons for it, no doubt there are many excuses, but if there has been that failure, then we, all 'of us, at any rate, our nations, must take part of the responsibility for that failure.

I don't deny that the absence of the United States of America from the League in this case has weakened the power of international control which the League ought to possess. At the same time, a true conclusion is surely that if the League has failed it has failed because it isn't strong enough. That is not a reason for abandoning or for rejecting it. It is a reason for saying to our governments and people: "You have got to be firm; you have got to use the League to its full power; it is your business to use this great instrument of peace in order to ensure that the peace of the world be maintained".

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I venture to press that upon you for I am convinced that in this matter the responsibility of the Commonwealth and, I may add, the Commonwealth and the United States of America, taken together, for in a foreign policy of this kind their aspirations and objectives are usually the same, I say the responsibility is very great, very great, indeed.

I hear certain Canadians tell me that you are in a position of great security in Canada, that you don't need to trouble about what goes on in other parts of the world whatever happens, you are safe. I don't know whether that is true or not. Surely that is not an argument which is going to appeal to a great and generous people like the people of Canada. (Applause.) They are not going to say, "We are safe. We don't mind what happens to the rest of the world. As long as we can go on prosperously and peacefully in our country, it matters nothing to us." That is not what they are going to say. They are going to say, "We have a duty to our fellowmen, just as the individual has a duty to his fellowmen, so the nations have a duty to their fellow nations". And if it be true, and I doubt whether it is, even if it is true that you are, so secure that you needn't mind about the troubles of the rest of the world, you still are bound to do your utmost to preserve the peace of the world.

And, don't doubt that you have immense power. The positions of the Commonwealth is one of unrivalled powers among the nations of the world. I assure you that from my personal knowledge, and it wouldn't be contradicted by any person of any kind of responsibility, they have immense power. The nations of the world look to the Commonwealth; they look to the United Kingdom, perhaps, in the first instance, but to the Commonwealth as a whole, to judge and to decide what should be done by the international authorities in great crises.

Just because we in the Commonwealth stand apart, because in various degrees we are not mixed up with the controversies of Europe or anywhere else, we have a position of impartiality and authority which no other nations have, except, perhaps, the United States. We can give our opinion and our opinion will be listened to. And if we don't, if we decide to take no action" war may again come upon the world and even if we should escape immediate and direct contact with it, we should be responsible for the nameless horrors and sufferings which war creates and remember, terrible as the last war was, horrible beyond description as some of its incidents were, the next war, by all accounts, will be far worse. Not only have great advances, as they are called" been made in engineering science which will enable men, more easily and more thoroughly, to destroy their fellowmen, but the fact that we grow, year by year and day by day, much closer to one another means that any disaster which affects one nation spreads over the whole world. It is no exaggeration to say, if there is another war it will not only be an orgy of cruelty, as every war is, but it will be a dangerous step, perhaps more than a dangerous step, toward the destruction of civilization and the re-establishment of chaos in the world. That is the issue that is before you. You cannot escape. The decision as to whether the world is to turn toward progress or chaos rests with you. Posterity is waiting for your decision and I pray Heaven that that decision may be right. (Applause.)

Mr. Harry Sifton, President of the Canadian Club, ,expressed for The Empire Club and the Canadian Club, their appreciation of Lord Cecil's address, after which

MRS. MOLLISON: Mr. Chairman, My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have been extremely interested to be here today. I have certainly not regretted my decision to Come along and listen to Lord Cecil. It has been a revelation to listen to what he has to say. I have grown up in a generation which only dimly remembers the last war and one must remember that the generation now growing up is quite new to the ways of war. I must tell you, also, that there is certainly something about war which has a definite appeal, which brings forth a patriotism and has the lure of adventure. When you don't remember the horrible parts there is that kind of attraction and I think one of the great things, one of the important things in the world today, is to inculcate in the children growing up what it means to have peace.

There is also in this generation a new thing coming into great prominence--you must pardon me saying this; naturally, I have to say it--and that is flying. Aviation has come to stay. There is no doubt about that and flying will absolutely revolutionize any war that there can be in the future. All the great thinkers and all the great talkers in the world can talk about peace and while they are talking about it, one aeroplane can fly overhead and send them all to blazes. (Laughter.)

I stress the use of aviation in war but I also stress it a great instrument of peace. I have flown to many countries--as I say, I don't remember much about the last war and therefore I don't remember a lot of the dreadful parts of it-the point is this: I have flown to various countries and have gotten there so quickly that it amazes me. People give me the most remarkable receptions and have been most kind to me. I can imagine on some future date, a proclamation that my country is at war with some other country, and I can imagine my immediate reaction: I can't fight those people. I have been there; they are my friends and have been so kind to me. I will jump in my aeroplane and I will soon put it right if I go and talk to them. That sounds simple but often the simplest things begin world crises. Sometimes when two people get together quickly and talk things over great world disasters can be averted. I think that the aeroplane is not only useful to make contacts quickly; it is also useful in another way which occurred to me at lunchtime-and that is in getting away from people. How many of you men would be grumpy at breakfast time if it occurred to you that your wife had an aeroplane and could be up near the Arctic Circle by dark?

I don't want to keep you long. I do want to say that I think in Canada, flying ought to be a little more advanced than it is now. I am extremely interested to come to this country but I am disappointed at the stage in which aviation is. It has got to come. Right through history, transportation has come first arid population and civilization has come after. If we still rode on horses, how far would Canada be then. Some of you can remember when trains and motor cars came in, and you probably said, "Good Heavens, I can't go in this terrible contraption, this dirty train, rushing along at twenty miles an hour". Even if you don't want to fly, all your children are going to do it in the near future. So, if you won't fly, be open-minded about it and encourage the idea. Don't give them a bad start.

One thing I want to say in conclusion. I am saying this because it is rather a good opportunity to say it: as you know, we are here to start what we hope is a long distance flight. I just want to say two or three words on that now. When I was in Montreal a few weeks ago, someone said, "Why don't you take off from Canada?" I thought it over. A successful start means a lot. What better start than from British territory, under the Union Jack? That is why we are here ire Canada. What I want to say we, ourselves, will be dreadfully disappointed if we don't get up this year" but I just want to make it clear that there is a possibility of us not getting away. We are here; our machine is ready and we are ready. We set ourselves a job of work; it is not finished and we wanted to finish this year. It is rather late in the season but if weather conditions are perfect, we are off. We have only another week or ten days at most and we have to get off before that time. But we have to bear in mind our new aeroplane, given us by a very kind hearted old gentleman, Lord Wakefield. We want to get the record for our country. We know quite well when Bleriot flew the English Channel it meant a lot but if his aeroplane had gone down in the Channel it wouldn't have meant so much. You have to try things to accomplish them and we do want to make the trip a success. We are not going to give the trip a bad start. If you hear that we are not going to be able to take off, I hope you will know that we are as much disappointed as Canada could possibly be.

Thank you very much for giving us such a warm welcome. We are happy to be in Canada; I wish we could stay but we can always come again. (Hearty Applause.)

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The Commonwealth and the League of Nations


A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
Differences between the Commonwealth and the League of Nations, but both striving for the betterment and improvement of mankind. A definition of these two institutions, what they stand for, what they mean, their great purposes. Aspects of the League in relation to the Commonwealth. The illusion that there is some kind of opposition between the League and the Commonwealth. The League as a guarantee for the existence of the Commonwealth and how that is so. The issue of the reduction of armaments. Why it is important from the point of view of peace, apart from economics, to reduce armaments. How disarmament might be administered and policed. Dangers in the present state of things unless there can be gotten some control on the limitation of armaments. The existence of great interests whose prosperity depends upon the continued demand for weapons of war. What people mean when they say that the Commonwealth is a small League of Nations. Ways in which they are in fact distinct conceptions. The impossibility of establishing a group which can give laws to the world. The equal impossibility of isolation. The need, as members of the community of nations, to see whether we can't do something to make the world better before we die. What the League can do in this regard. The Commonwealth doing very much inside the League in order to carry on the great work to which the League has set its hand. Response to those who say that the League has become a complete failure. An examination of the situation in Manchuria, and whether or not the League has been effective. The formal condemnation by all the nations of the world of the policy of Japan. A look at why the League has not been successful in restraining Japan. The absence of the United States of America from the League and possible effects of that situation. The Canadian attitude and position.