THE SINO-JAPANESE INCIDENT IN
RELATION TO THE PROBLEM OF
AN ADDRESS BY DR. S. MACK EASTMAN, CHIEF OF
SECTION RESEARCH DIVISION, INTERNATIONAL LABOUR
OFFICE, LEAGUE OF NATIONS, GENEVA.
4th November, 1931
PRESIDENT STAPELLS introduced DR. EASTMAN, who was received with applause, and spoke as follows:-You will understand that while I have recently come from Geneva I speak today entirely as a free lance, being on my triennial holiday; no one in Geneva knows I am -here today. This is my thirteenth University visit, and I shall finish three happy days here this evening. It is a great joy to me to meet old personal friends, and especially my greatest teacher in the past, Principal Hutton. (Applause). I had the good fortune to be one of the small number of youths who still believed in the Classics, and who learned to love Greek when guided by the greatest Hellenist of Canada. (Applause).
I have a difficult and dangerous topic to discuss. I will be very frank. In many ways the last year has been the worst year for the world and the League since the war, or at least since the Ruhr question; yet in spite of the depression-economic, financial, and therefore psychological and political-there are encouraging signs for the League, for the Empire, and for the state of the world. One of those signs is religious and spiritual. Never so much as during the past year has Christendom rallied to the support of the League. The Protestant churches in majority have always favored it, but now we have the Catholic church fully behind it, not only in its political work, but also in the work of the International Labour organization, of which I am an official, and the Hague Court as well. After twelve years patient observation of the League's troubled labours, Christendom is able to decide that while it is not yet a sure refuge for ,humanity, at any rate it is its highest hope, and politically speaking it is indeed its only present existing hope. The other encouraging feature is of a political sort-I mean the promising affiliation in American policy as regards the League. The United States years ago, metaphorically speaking, threw the letters from Geneva into the waste-basket, but during the last few years they have cooperated officially, or at best in a semi-official manner. This year it was a great joy and surprise to the assembled nations to see Ambassador Hugh Wilson fly over to Geneva from Berne, Switzerland, to take his place officially in the Third Committee Assembly of the League.
The Sino-Japanese incident has been added to the title of my talk today at the last moment. With some diffidence I agreed to put it there. I have been away from Geneva almost since the beginning of the incident. I do not know the secrets of the private discussions of the Council; but this incident bears directly and obviously upon the supreme question of the day-the question we are going to have to face next February at the Disarmament Conference; a question which we cannot shirk or avoid without incurring suffering certainly, and disaster possibly, in years to come. The Sino-Japanese incident and others prove that armaments are not the sole cause of trouble and war. It proves above all that the world needs a world authority endowed not only with conciliatory influence but with power to call upon its members immediately and effectively to assist in restraining threatening aggressors. China placed her case entirely in the hands of the Council and begged it to be strong. M. Briand admitted sadly, that much against his will, the powers of the Council had been left very limited during twelve long years. Even Japan, who up to now has played a noble and dignified role at Geneva, declared that it would be highly desirable that either China or the League should be in a position to handle the Manchurian situation efficiently. Everyone, indeed, except those of us who consider ourselves as safe nations, earnestly desires the strengthening of the right of the Council to call upon Member States for unhesitating and unequivocal backing and support. The Japanese military authorities gambled on the weakness of the Council. They did not expect it to show even great moral strength and persistence. They certainly did not foresee that their beloved empire would be placed three times in succession in the pillory of public opinion by a vote of thirteen to one. Without knowing the inner history of the debates, we can rest assured that when men of such spiritual calibre, and intellectual preeminence as Viscount Cecil, Briand, and Madariaga, and others" feel constrained, sorely against their will, to pass on over the veto of a great power, hitherto a warm friend of the League, their reasons must be unanswerable. Japan must be in danger of too lightly regarding her solemn pledge under Article XI of the Covenant to submit in such circumstances to the Council's guidance. What will happen if she does not follow the Council's recommendation before November 16th? I cannot foretell. Will the Council proceed undaunted from the mild and conciliatory Article XI to the firmer Article XV or the forbidding Article XVI? All this will now depend upon the extent to which the American Administration is able, in spite of senatorial attacks, to live up to its spontaneous promise to accord the Council its hearty support.
When one has heard, in public and in committee, spiritual elements like Viscount Cecil struggling, reasoning and feeling for the safety of humanity, for comprehension and intervention; when one has seen great audiences swept by the incomparable eloquence of Briand through these last seven years, with the one great ideal of making the world safe not only for democracy but for humanity, under any regime whatsoever; when one knows the unparrelled competence of Madariaga, now Ambassador to the United States but for seven years Chief of our section of Disarmament-when one sees these men, and other men like Benes relentlessly pressing the case against Japan, even at this distance one may rest assured, much more than by the votes of Parliament or decisions of Governments, that Japan has for once placed herself entirely in the wrong.
In Canada, in most Anglo-Saxon countries, in Norway and in "safe countries" generally, the arguments in favour of serious and immediate disarmament are considered unanswerable. The burden of armaments is recognized as unbearable in a world striving to lift itself out of a slough of depression. I see varying figures quoted by various speakers to show what sums different nations are spending in defence. The most accurate and impartial source I know is the League's Disarmament Year Book, since it applies the same method of calculation to all countries. This gives Great Britain's budget estimate for military, naval and air defences for 1930-31 as 95,000"000 pounds sterling (gold standard); this shows a decrease parallel to the fall in prices. It shows France's estimates for the three services as over 94,000,000 pounds sterling, a slight increase. The present French Government described the maintenance of this level of expenditure and the fortification of the northeastern frontier as compensation for the withdrawal from the Rhineland and for the reduction of compulsory military service from three years to one year.
When one considers the total financial, economic and social sacrifices made for Defence by each of the Great Powers, the differences among these totals are less than is usually believed. At any rate, the world's total Defence Budget estimates for 1930-31 would appear to have amounted to approximately four and a half billion American dollars-a staggering total of unproductive expenditure. I will not labor the point. The Protestant churches, the Pope, President Hoover, and a majority of other political leaders have emphasized it during the last few months. The economists have always insisted upon it. We agree that a wholesale reduction should be operated within as short a time as possible. What I wish to do today is to bring home to you the other side of the question, to forecast the situation which will confront us in Geneva in three months at the Disarmament Conference, and finally to state clearly the price we must pay if we want to secure from the coming Conference an adequate programme of progressive disarmament. We cannot have something for nothing. Here we come to the interaction of the two factors, equally unavoidable--the joint problem of disarmament and security. Before I attempt to sum up the security argument, let me repeat: We are all fervently in favor of disarmament; we feel the burden of armaments; Sir Josiah Stamp says that without this burden the world's standard of living would rise 10% per capita; we have seen the danger of armaments; Earl Gray showed their danger before 1914. We know how they may sometimes become not a secondary but a primary cause of war; we acknowledge our moral obligation, admitted in 1919 by M. Clemenceau, to follow the defeated empires in the programme of disarmament we imposed upon them. What then must we do in order finally to get this moral obligation fulfilled? By "we", I mean the "safe" peoples, the nations to whom geography and history have been kind and considerate.
First we must reread the Covenant-this Shorter Catechism of the new dispensation-and especially Article VIII, paragraph I. Around this article has turned the whole controversy of these last twelve years between the safe countries on one side and the exposed and anxious populations on the other. The representatives of the nations which count themselves secure and therefore especially peaceful, have invariably read the first few words of Article VIII and then come to a dead stop: "The Members of the League recognize that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments." However, there is no stop there, not even a comma. The delegates of the threatened or exposed States insist upon reading further, and in emphatic tones: "to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action of international obligations". It is upon the words "common action" that they lay all the stress-security or safety through common or united action. This is the kernel of the so-called "French thesis", which is no more French than it is Belgian, Polish, Czech, Rumanian" Jugoslav, Persian or (today at least) Chinese, or probably, at bottom, even Japanese. I am explaining it rather than advocating it. It is the point of view of all the nations who for one reason or another fear aggression. It is the pivotal point of the recent French Memorandum on Disarmament. This Memorandum is objectionable at several points, and is not sufficiently conciliatory toward Germany, but its central paragraph contains the doctrine not only of France but of a whole circle of nations, and probably of a majority of the States-Members of the League. It says: "The limitation of armaments, in connection with the development of systems for the peaceful settlement of disputes and for mutual aid, is one means of organising peace. But for its realization it requires the substitution, in the minds of the people, of the principle of united action for the principle of individual defence. It implies that the people consider the League as a living reality, invested with positive responsibilities and endowed with effective power."
That is the heart of the French Memorandum. Many paragraphs would have been eliminated if it had been drawn up by less military-minded elements than the three gentlemen who composed the Memorandum in such uncompromising and rigid form. Had it been drawn up by, let us say, Painleve, the most delightful man in the world, whom they always called in as Minister of War whenever they had a Government of the Left, or by Paul-Boncour, or, better, Henri de Juvenal, then the sentiment running through would be the be-all and end-all of the Memorandum. That Memorandum may be rewritten, but as it stands it will be opposed by the British and some other nations at the Disarmament Conference, especially as regards equality of treatment for Germany. However, these excrescences of the Memorandum must not blind us to the fact that the essential doctrine is contained in the sentence that I have translated. Even the world's greatest newspaper, The London Times, in the haste of its specials" put in most of the excrescences and left out the substance of the whole Memorandum.
Before the War, the world was in a condition of international anarchy; each sovereign state claimed to be a law unto itself. Since the War we have lived in an international anarchy tempered by the conciliatory influence of the League of Nations. The delegates of Canada and the other safe nations have constantly urged at Geneva that the League be used almost exclusively for conciliation, investigation and the education of public opinion; but they have consistently sought to suppress, dilute, weaken and explain away the strong Articles of the Covenant-the Articles which foreshadow a supranational authority, a real federation of States, or, in other words, ultimate world government-a government that could nip in the bud the Sino-Japanese and other troubles. Sir Norman Angell recently wound up a paragraph on this topic with this concluding sentence: "Having solemnly embodied in the Covenant of the League the principle of common action for self-preservation, the French have been assured again and again by our public men that this promise of common action does not mean anything." I may add that certain of Britain's greatest dailies have frequently hinted at an ultimate repudiation of our solemn signature of the Covenant. Our Canadian delegates succeeded in getting a resolution through the Assembly which deprives Article X of almost all its value in the eyes of people, who feel that, if they disarm, they are likely to be victims of calculating aggressors. Article X would have bound the members of the League to "respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League." It may have been awkwardly worded" but it was to many peoples, anxious about the morrow, the central pillar of the Covenant's temple of peace. Our resolution deprives the League Council's advice of any binding effect and refers the question of our participation in police action to our parliament. The unsafe nations know what parliamentary palavers would mean, and they fear that the safe nations would arrive, if at all, as pall-bearers rather than as saviours. This not only makes them afraid to disarm but it renders them (obdurate in the matter of the revision of frontiers. Certain modifications in existing boundaries are probably desirable, but revision except through the League would cause pandemonium in Europe today. Until the new nations, whose frontiers may be open to criticism, are convinced that the League has not only influence but also authority and power, they will never consent to putting Article XIX of the Covenant into operation. Article XIX differentiates the Treaty of Verseilles from the old Treaties; it is the most life-giving Covenant; it provides for evolution, without which we would have had political death. Article XIX provides for the revision of treaties, but if we can explain away Article X, the new States can close their eyes to Article XIX. Last week Mr. Thomas W. Lamont advised Germany that France would be found not unreasonable concerning any revision that might be justified, provided it came through "orderly processes". But these orderly processes can be guaranteed only by a League grown strong through the unequivocal promise of its members to stand together against any violator of the Covenant unwilling to abide by the moderate decisions of the League's courts. Time and time again during the last twelve years, the insecure nations have pleaded for a League with authority and power, whose unanimous Council could call upon StatesMembers for a demonstration of immediate and effective solidarity.
In 1924, in the Protocol of Geneva, Messrs. Ramsay MacDonald, Herriot, Benes and Politis realized an all-embracing synthesis of opposing theses. Whereas, we say "Security through disarmament" and the others say "Disarmament after security", the Protocol provided for security and disarmament as component parts of one process. It was the most ambitious political document in world history, and it was rejected by Ramsay MacDonald's successors and by the British Dominions. True, its arbitration provisions have since been adopted, but its mutual solidarity concept remains to confront us next February in Geneva. We shall say once again to those of the other side: "Disarm and you will be more secure." They will answer: "You may be right, but if we yield to your exhortations and if one of us fall a victim to a lawless neighbour, can we be sure that you will come immediately and effectively to the rescue at the call of the Council?" It is a straightforward" business-like proposition. At least it seems so to them. If our delegates to Geneva could only respond unhesitatingly in the affirmative, we should secure a Disarmament Convention after our own heart. If, however, they were obliged to avoid the issue and to content themselves once again with preaching at Europeans and Asiatics, then indeed the Conference would prove but one more disappointment to humanity. The Sino-Japanese incident has greatly strengthened the logical position of those who advocate a League that is powerful as well as conciliatory. If all States-Members could rise to the conception of guaranteed solidarity among them, it is morally certain that no potential aggressor would ever dare defy them, and thus bring upon his country financial ruin and economic isolation, not to speak of the possibility of ultimate and everlasting humiliating police measures. As Viscount Cecil has said: "The stronger the sanctions, the less risk of having to apply them." Sanctions do not mean violence; that word is a comprehensive connotation that means all the things together that I have been suggesting; and the stronger the possibility of world intervention and control, the less likelihood of those sanctions ever having to come into play.
In all I have said I have not forgotten that one all-important reservation must be made as far as Canada and the British Empire are concerned. Obviously we cannot constrain our mighty neighbor to the south. I feel sorry for the American writers of history at the end of this century; they will have to spend so much time, patriotic energy and patient research in endeavouring to explain why it has not been possible for the United States, whose great President launched the League, to "stand by their guns",,-metaphorically speaking,-their guns of peace; why they ceased to carry out their obligations, and that solemn Covenant which would never have been inserted in those treaties but for the fact that a man with a great world vision had been willing to lay down his life to get the Covenant permanently in the Peace Treaties. The supreme tragedy of the afterwar period has been the United States' withdrawal from the League. Recent helpful cooperation is mightily encouraging. Will it grow rapidly closer? For the assurance of peace in Europe it would not be necessary to wait for the official entrance of the Great Republic into League membership. It would suffice for its President, with the assent of its Senate, to declare that if unhappily the League were ever obliged under the Covenant to take police action against any violator of the Covenant and of the Kellogg Pact then the United States would feel morally bound to abstain from all interference, direct or indirect, with the efficacy of this police action. With this simple-possibly negative-guarantee, the League could certainly assure the peace of Europe. The positive assurance of peace in the Far- East after the sixteenth of November, or more distant day, would probably require more active cooperation than I have suggested here. But if, in the first session of this Disarmament Conference, President Hoover were able to assure Britain and Europe that the United States President, in the case of an outbreak somewhere in the world, would decide for himself who was the aggressor-and you may be sure that he would not think the aggressor was the victim, if the aggressor was designated by the unanimous Council of the rest of the world- and after deciding who was the aggressor he would say that that aggressor should not receive active aid and comfort from the United States or its citizens, then Europe and Britain can look after themselves; and there will be nothing desolating occur if the United States agrees merely not to interfere with the police action of the League. But it would have to do something more than abstain from action. It would have to do what the Kellogg Pact requires it to do, morally. You tell all the little nations that all war is illegal, and they believe you; you tell them they must disarm, and they disarm to show that they are good boys; then one of them is jumped upon; you initiate the Pact-made by the most powerful State in the world-and you stand and do what? You pray for them! (Laughter.)
In the meantime Canadians must make the most of the League. We are one of several dominions, one whose opinion in great issues sometimes determines the opinions of other dominions; and in great issues the Mother Country listens to the opinions of her daughters. There is a greater weight of per capita duty resting on our head than on the head of any other single nationality; we are more strategically placed than any in relation to the United States. Therefore, the more effective we can make the League ourselves, the sooner will our neighbours feel impelled to join us in the noblest adventure of human history. (Loud applause.)
The President thanked the speaker, on behalf of the Club, for his valuable address.