Published Date

August 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 12: Can We Prevent Future Wars? (1944)

Some ways of working toward a desired result may be useful or even necessary without being sufficient. In the treatment of a disease, a doctor may use several remedies, all of them needful or at least helpful, but no one of them alone capable of curing the patient. In dealing with the problem of peace, people sometimes forget this simple point. They observe that something or other would undeniably help toward peace, or it might even be indispensable. Then they present this as a remedy for the disease of war, without seriously considering whether it alone would be sufficient. But what we want to know is, what means, if any—a single one or a combination of different ones—might be sufficient to prevent wars of aggression. And we are concerned only with means which an international organization, such as the Declaration of Moscow promises, could use for this purpose.


Means That Have Already Been Tried and Have Failed

There are some means of preventing war which have been tried in the past and have proved insufficient (though some of them may still be useful or necessary). These are:

1. Promises not to go to war. Every member of the League of Nations promised “not to resort to war” against any other member unless that member itself had already gone to war in violation of the Covenant of the League, which required that all disputes should first be submitted to the World Court or the League Council for decision. Each member promised also to “respect the territorial integrity and existing political independence” of all member countries. These promises were broken by Japan in 1931–32, in attacking China, and by Italy in 1935, when it invaded Ethiopia.

Thus the history of the League showed—as might have been expected—that little can be accomplished merely by getting nations into an organization in which they give pledges to one another not to commit aggressions. The peace-desiring majority of nations will respect such promises, but the minority—the countries that are determined on aggression—give such promises merely to quiet suspicion until they are ready to attack. Promises to keep the peace, then, though they are doubtless desirable and even necessary, are certainly not sufficient to prevent war.

2. Reduction of armaments. Of course, if all countries agreed to disarm completely—and kept their agreements—there could be no wars. But countries have never been willing to do this, and there is no reason to believe that they will be after this war. Attempts have been made, however, to bring about a reduction of armaments by international agreement, with the idea that this might at least make wars less frequent and less destructive. These attempts have never resulted in more than very slight arms reductions; and even if war-weary and impoverished nations agreed after the present war to more substantial reductions, the question would still remain whether all would keep the agreements.

So long as there are some countries disposed to aggression it seems certain that they would no more keep promises to limit their armaments than they would keep promises not to go to war—unless some means can be found to force them to do so. So long as agreements for reducing armaments are not enforced, they serve only to put peaceable and treaty-keeping nations at the mercy of aggressor states which have secretly or openly rearmed in disregard of those agreements.

3. Machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. Wars would evidently be prevented if nations brought all their disputes or their claims against one another before some permanent and impartial international body for peaceful settlement. To be successful, however, this method depends on two conditions: (1) that all states would voluntarily agree to refer their disputes to such bodies for settlement, and (2) that they would always comply in good faith with decisions against them as well as decisions in their favor.

Such agencies for peaceful settlement are clearly a necessary part of the set-up of an international organization. Disagreements or disputes between countries are certain to arise from time to time, and they must be settled in some fair and orderly way if they are not to be settled by fighting—by the power of the stronger over the weaker. That means that there must be an international court—or courts—to which claims based on international law, or disputes about the meaning of treaties, can be submitted. It means also that there must be other agencies for dealing with controversies on matters not yet covered by international law. Changes in the relations of one country with another may become necessary in the future, and some way has to be provided for making these changes peaceably. But the whole question of how international disputes are to be settled before nations resort to force is outside the scope of the present pamphlet. We are considering here simply the means that may be used to prevent nations that will not try or abide by a peaceful settlement from resorting to war.

4. Economic penalties against aggressors. None of the three means so far mentioned involves any use of force against countries threatening or attempting aggression. It is, or has been, believed by some that the use of some kind of force by an international organization is necessary to prevent wars, but that what may be called “economic force” will be sufficient. They point out that a country cannot carry on modern war successfully without the use of manufactures, foodstuffs, raw materials, and the like, which it does not itself produce or possess. Therefore, it is argued; if a sufficient number of peace-desiring nations pledge themselves not to export their products to any aggressor country, aggressions will be doomed to failure. They will therefore either not be tried, or if tried, will be quickly put down.

Those who do not believe this to be a sufficient preventive of war point out: first, that a country bent upon aggression can pile up in advance sufficient materials for a war of some years duration, and a powerful aggressor state may be able to accomplish its purpose before its accumulated stock is exhausted; second, that a state which has begun an aggression will use military force against states—especially against weak neighboring states—from which it can obtain the materials it lacks (as Germany did against some small countries in Europe, and Japan did against the Netherlands Indies).

This method, also, has been actually tried once without success. The countries belonging to the League of Nations were pledged to break off “all trade and financial relations” with any state which should go to war in violation of its agreements. They were also supposed to prevent “all financial, personal or commercial intercourse” with that state, whether by their own citizens or by the citizens of any other state.

In 1935 Italy went to war against Ethiopia in violation of the League Covenant. Italy, of course, knew of this pledge (and was in fact a party to it) but did not believe that the other members of the League would fulfill it. As a matter of fact, six weeks after Ethiopia was invaded fifty member countries did agree to impose some economic penalties on Italy. But they did not refuse to export to her the supplies, such as oil, which she needed most for carrying on the war, and the attempt to stop her soon petered out.

No attempt was made to stop the aggressions of Japan and Germany in the 1930’s by cutting them off from trade and financial relations with the rest of the world, because of the general belief that this would probably lead to war. States strong in both economic and military resources are more likely togo to war than to heed threats of economic penalties, unless the nations applying such penalties are willing and able to back them up, at need, with military force. In that case it is the military and not the economic threat which is effective.

Since these four means have been tried—not merely separately but in combination—and have completely failed to accomplish their purpose, a new international organization which relies upon them alone cannot be expected to “banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.” Is there a means which has not been tried, and which seems likely to be more effective than these others have been? Many people think there is, and urge that it be adopted as the one remaining hope of lasting peace. Other people either doubt that it would be effective, or for other reasons oppose its adoption. We must now, therefore, consider this question.

An International Armed Force as a Means of Preventing Wars

The hitherto untried means now being proposed is that the future international organization shall have at its disposal an armed force to use against countries committing aggressions. Advocates of this proposal say that it is as absurd to expect to preserve general peace and order among nations without having some sort of force available for that purpose as it would be to expect to preserve general peace and order among individuals without a police force.

It is true, they admit, that fear of the policeman is probably not the chief reason why most individuals do not assault or rob their neighbors. And it is perhaps true that most nations would not attack their neighbors even if there were no international peace-enforcing agency. But in the community of nations, as in nearly all communities of individuals, there is always a minority who will violate the law and try to take what they want by force if they think they can get away with it. Therefore, it is argued, the only way to safeguard peace—in a community of nations as of individuals—is to have a force, controlled by law and acting for the whole community, strong enough to take care of any disturbers of the peace. In the case of nations, it is said, no aggressions would be likely to be tried at all, if the international peace force were known to be strong enough to ensure the defeat of any aggressor. For no government starts a war that it knows it is practically certain to lose.

Those who favor this general proposal disagree as to how it should be worked out. There are three main types of plan for an international armed force.

1. A purely international police force. According to one plan, that force would be very much like an ordinary police force, except that it would act against law-breaking nations instead of individuals. Its personnel would consist of volunteers, selectively recruited for limited terms directly by the international organization, and exclusively under the command of officials appointed by that organization. Admission to it would be open to young men of all countries who could meet high standards of physical and mental ability and moral character. Care would be taken, however, not to have an undue proportion from any one country.

The inducements to enlist would include educational advantages, especially in engineering and aviation, as well as high pay. Its members would be constantly trained to regard themselves as guardians of world peace. During their term of service they would owe allegiance only to the international organization, not to their native countries. Units of the force would be stationed at strategic points in various parts of the world. They could be ordered into action against a state attempting aggression only by a vote of the member states of the international organization or of some body authorized by it to issue such orders.

But such an international police would be effective for its purpose only if it were stronger than the armed forces of any aggressor. Those who favor this particular plan therefore usually also propose ways of making sure that the international force will be stronger. One such proposal is that the nations belonging to the international organization shall give up all “heavy” weapons—military aircraft, tanks, heavy artillery, warships—leaving these weapons to be used exclusively by the international police force, and retaining only such light weapons as may be needed for keeping order at home. A somewhat less extreme proposal is that the international force shall have a monopoly only of military aircraft. This, some experts think, would be enough to enable it to defeat quickly any country which—with no air force—should attempt aggression.

Those who reject this plan do so mainly because these proposals mean virtual disarmament of national states. They say, first, that it is practically certain that no great nation will, in the near future, consent to give up having an army and navy and air force of its own—to leave its national security wholly to a force which it does not control. And second, they say that if the international police force were thus given sole or supreme military power, it might itself become a danger to mankind. Ambitious commanders of it might, in the course of time, seek to use it for their own purposes, and we might see again the situation which existed in the later days of the Roman Empire-a world ruled by an army.

Supporters of this plan say that the alleged danger is imaginary. The central command of the international police force would be appointed and could be removed by an international body in which all nations would be represented, or by a commission appointed by it, and this civilian body alone would be authorized to call .the force into action. The personnel of the force, drawn from many countries and sworn to loyalty to the international authority, would be very unlikely to obey orders from their commander to attack their own countries in behalf of his ambitions; and the units of the force would be situated in widely scattered parts of the world, under local commanders of different nationalities. Joint action of such units to coerce or override the international civil authority would, it is argued, be improbable and scarcely possible. Consequently—advocates of this plan maintain—the proposed international police force would be no more dangerous to the international community, and the states composing it, than the citizen armies or constabularies of modern states are to their respective national communities.

2. An international force drawn from the armies of the states belonging to the organization. Those who believe that peace must be backed by force but reject the plan for a purely international police force propose that the countries which are members of the international organization should pledge themselves to place their own national forces, or contingents from them, at the disposal of the international organization. This would not involve the disarmament of the nations. They would still have their own armies, navies, and air forces, equipped with all kinds of weapons, and these forces could be used by them as a first line of defense to resist sudden invasion from a neighboring country. But they would all be bound by treaty to use their national forces also to defend one another against any aggressor—and to leave it to the international organization (in which they would all be represented) to decide when an aggression is being attempted.

This sort of joint international force would be rather more like a sheriff’s posse than a regular, established police force. Its units, the national armies—like the individual citizens of a county—would not be engaged in international police duty unless summoned to help preserve the peace. But they would be legally obligated to obey the summons of the international organization to help put down an aggression, just as individual citizens are obligated to obey the summons of a sheriff to help put down a riot or make an arrest.

The League of Nations plan contained a provision of this sort. Its members promised not only to “respect” but also to “preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League.” It might seem, therefore, that this means for safeguarding peace has also been tried and has failed. But those who favor such a plan say that there were certain defects in the constitution of the League, loopholes in the provisions for the organization and use of the joint international force, which made the failure of the League inevitable. These defects can be corrected, they maintain, and if they are, a plan of this kind could not only give all nations far stronger means of defense against aggressors, but probably could actually prevent wars by making aggression too dangerous to attempt.

What Were the Weak Points in the League Plan?

We must therefore note what these weak points in the old League were, and what proposals have been made for eliminating them.

A. Though the members of the League promised to “protect” one another, they did not promise to provide any actual forces which the League could use for this purpose. The Council of the League was authorized to “recommend” to member states what forces they should contribute to a joint international army when one was needed to preserve the peace. But the member states were left entirely free to disregard these recommendations if they chose. There was always a possibility, and in fact a probability, that some states would disregard them for one reason or another.

But any international organization to enforce peace will inevitably be ineffective if there is no certainty as to what forces it will have available when the need arises. To make it effective, the first thing necessary—though not sufficient—is that each of its members shall be bound by a definite pledge to place its own army and navy, or such part of them as may be required, promptly at the disposal of the organization, whenever joint action against an aggressor has become necessary. It is proposed by some, therefore, that a binding contract to this effect shall be included in the constitution of any new league of nations.

B. But the weakness just mentioned, in the Covenant of the old League, was not the actual cause of the League’s failure. For no recommendation or request to the member states to contribute forces for action against an aggressor was ever made. No summons to join the posse was ever issued.

This fact brings out the really fatal weakness in the League. It was that most of the governments of member states, especially some of the great powers, were not willing, despite the flagrant and repeated aggressions committed in the 1930’s by Japan, Italy, and Germany, to vote for the use of military force. Any country that voted for League action to stop these international crimes would have had to provide a part of the needed force itself. That is, it would have had to go to war against Japan or Italy or Germany. Nearly all of them did in the end become involved in war with these aggressor countries, and some of them with all three at once. If the League had announced with assurance of action, when the first aggression was being attempted, that the armies and navies of all its loyal member states would be used to any extent necessary to defeat the aggressor, the present World War—in the opinion of many students of international affairs—would have been prevented. But as nothing of this sort was done, the criminally inclined governments of Japan, Italy, and Germany saw that they had nothing to fear from the League. They went on to commit one aggression after another, and got away with them. Finally, the situation became so threatening to the countries that remained unconquered that they (including the United States) were forced to unite for mutual defense. But by this time the aggressors had become so strong that they could only be defeated at an enormous expense of blood and treasure. The League was like a sheriff who, when a dangerous “public enemy” has broken loose in the community, refuses, through fear or some other reason, even to call on citizens to form a posse.

State of Mind Is the Important Thing

This weakness in the League of Nations is not one which can be cured simply by new rules and regulations or new machinery for enforcing peace. For no machinery is of any use without the will to use it; and it was the will to use force to stop aggressions that was lacking. If a future international organization is to be more effective than the old League was, there must first of all be a change in the state of mind of the governments and peoples of the countries which are members of it—or at least of the peace-loving majority of them.

Even in 1919–39 the great majority of nations genuinely wanted peace, and together they had, or could have had, enough military strength to overpower any would-be aggressor. But they were like a sick person who wants terribly to be cured of his disease, but can’t bear to swallow the only medicine that will cure it. They were not willing to do two things that were necessary to ensure peace: to cooperate in good faith in providing men and armaments for the international force, and to make it certain in advance that this force would be called promptly into action if any aggression was attempted anywhere.

Some students of the peace problem, however, think that the unwillingness to take action which was fatal to the old League was largely due to a mistake in the original plan of the League and in its organization—a mistake which could be corrected.

Can Enforcement Be Made Automatic?

Under the League Covenant, decisions as to whether or not force should be used to stop an aggression were made by the Council. This was made up of delegates appointed by the governments in power at any given time, and these delegates were mainly diplomats or political officials. For the most part they approached questions before the Council as representatives of the special interests of their own countries. The question as to whether anything should be done when a country was threatened with aggression thus became, for the representatives of the other countries, a question of policy. They thought first of how their own countries, or the political interests of their own governments at home, would be affected by a decision to take vigorous action in defense of the victim. The Council’s conclusions were therefore reached chiefly through negotiation, pressure, intrigue, and compromise. They almost invariably ended in a decision to do nothing.

But—those who take this view say—the question whether an aggression is occurring, and if it is, whether it should be suppressed by the military forces at the disposal of the international organization, is not, or should not be, a question of policy at all. If the world security system is to work effectively, such a question should be removed from the arena of politics and diplomacy, and be treated simply as a matter of enforcing the established criminal law o f the community o f nations.

When a serious crime is committed in our municipalities, we don’t call the city council or state legislature into session to discuss and decide whether to do anything about it. One can imagine that such a system of municipal law enforcement wouldn’t be very efficient. The inefficiency of a system of international law enforcement of the same kind need not be left to the imagination; it is shown by the history of the League of Nations and by the present condition of mankind.

Therefore, it is maintained by some, if the new international organization is to be free from the “most serious weakness of the old League, its constitution must (1) declare aggression to be an inter-national crime; (2) leave all decisions as to whether aggression is being committed or attempted, not to an ever-changing political body, but to a permanent court whose only duty shall be to apply the law; and (3) provide that when the court finds a country is engaged in aggression, it shall call upon all members of the organization to supply forthwith such forces as may be necessary to put down the aggression.

Under these conditions, it is argued, the use of force to repress the crime of aggressive war will be, as nearly as is humanly possible, certain and automatic. But only insofar as it is known in advance to be certain and automatic will powerful aggressors be restrained from taking a chance on getting what they want by violence. The aggressors of the 1930’s knew that the use of force against them by the League was more than uncertain; it was very unlikely. They could therefore proceed to carry out their criminal designs with good hope of success and impunity.

Force Must Be Adequate If It Is to Be Effective

C. Even if the peoples and governments united in an international organization have the will to enforce peace, one thing more is evidently necessary if that purpose is to be accomplished: The force at the command of the organization must be strong enough to do the job. If, in a community of individuals, the gangsters are more numerous and better armed than the law-abiding citizens, a sheriff’s posse would not be of much use. In the community of nations, the international force must not merely be strong enough to have a chance of defeating any aggressor; it must be so clearly superior in military strength that no country or combination of countries will be likely to take the risk of challenging it—for only then would it serve to prevent war. Is there any way in which this could be assured, or at any rate made highly probable, so long as countries continue to have armies and navies of their own?

Fortunately in no community, either of nations or individuals, are the gangsters likely to outnumber the law-abiding citizens. Most peoples, as has been said, want to live in a peaceful and orderly world. It might seem, therefore, that if they would all arm themselves and agree to act together to hold down the gangsters, the peace-loving majority could easily keep the community in order. But unfortunately between nations there are far greater differences in power—in the ability to use force—than there ever are between individuals. Thus a very few of the most powerful ones might be stronger than all the others put together. The question is, then How, if at all, can we make it reasonably sure that the international peace force will be clearly stronger than any aggressive forces, even if one or more great powers should at some time be numbered among the aggressors?

There are some who say that this cannot be done and that to attempt it would therefore be a dangerous mistake. For a long time after this war, the great powers in the military sense—the countries whose manpower and ability to manufacture armaments will far exceed those of any other countries—will probably be only three: the United States, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and Soviet Russia. China is a great power, but until its industries are much more fully developed, it will not be among the first in military strength. In a longer period of time other countries may, of course, become great powers, too.

If as members of an international organization the three great powers were pledged to use their national forces against any aggressor, and if one of them were then to commit an aggression itself, the others would be bound to go to war against it. Perhaps two of them might be on the side of aggression. Whichever way it was, the war would be long and on an immense scale, and it would not necessarily be certain in advance that the countries supporting the international organization could defeat the aggressor. For the defensive strength of each of these three powers is very great—so great, in fact, that it would certainly be hard, and might be impossible, for even two of the others to overcome it.

In any case, if the law-abiding members of the international organization fulfilled their pledges the result would be another world war. And it has been argued that if they should some day have to face this situation, they probably would not fulfill their pledges; they would find some excuse for doing nothing.

What Can Be Done about the Great Powers?

Those who reason in this way, therefore, believe that the idea of compelling any of the great powers by force, or the threat of force, to obey the law must be given up. We may hope that none of them will be tempted to aggression; we can try to keep their relations with one another friendly and cooperative; but in their case we cannot rely upon force as a means of preventing war.

On the other hand, it will be easy for the great powers to prevent disturbances of the peace by weaker countries. They are fully able to put down aggressions by minor states if they wish, and they might well find it to their interest to agree to do so. There could thus be established an international organization in which the smaller countries would be protected against one another by the Big Three (or the Big Four), but in which there would be no guarantee of protection against any of the great powers, or of any of these against one another.

It will probably not be disputed that if this is all that can be done to prevent future wars, the outlook is a gloomy one. For it is, of course, aggressions by powerful states that most need to be prevented, because they are the most dangerous to all countries, large and small. It is more important to prevent murder than petty larceny.

After the last war, Germany and Japan were great powers—though they will probably not be after this one. And in the 1930’s the same situation existed which, under the program just outlined, would exist in the future. The League of “Nations did suppress a few attempts at aggression by small countries; but its members did nothing to stop the aggressions of Germany and Japan because they were great powers with which it would be probably dangerous, and certainly expensive, to interfere. An attempt to stop them seemed to involve the risk of starting a great war. It was this fear of war on the part of the peaceful countries that chiefly explains the unwilling-ness of the members of the League to take any strong stand against Japan and Germany.

We already know the result. Japan and Germany, finding that they could succeed in their first and comparatively small aggressions, went on to commit bigger ones, one after another, and in the end war came all the same. It is a far greater and more desperate war than the one the League countries thought they were avoiding when they lacked the courage to use force to nip aggression in the bud. The history of the 1930’s thus gives us a sample of what is likely to happen if an international organization for mutual defense and security is based upon the proposition that force is never to be used against a great power.

Can an International Force Be Built on a Quota System?

But the question still remains whether it is possible to make reasonably sure that the forces available for use by the international organization will be stronger than those of any aggressor, and so much stronger that aggression will be too dangerous to be attempted, even by a great power. Two means for accomplishing this have been suggested. One of them has already been outlined (page 8); it is the plan of a purely international police force having the exclusive use of “heavy weapons.” The other—which does not re-quire the practical disarmament of all countries—is the “quota plan.”

By this plan it is proposed that all the important countries, the three or four great powers and a number of others also, should agree at the end of this war to fix the size and strength of their national armed forces at certain “quotas” or ratios. These would be such that no one country, and no combination which is in the least likely to be formed for aggressive purposes, would have a force anywhere near equal to the combined forces of all the other members of the international organization.

If such an agreement were made and carried out, a great state, though it would still have a sizable army, would not have such military strength, that it could hope to succeed in acts of aggression. Even if an attempt at aggression should be made, the law-abiding majority would not be prevented from suppressing it by fear of possible defeat or of a long and uncertain struggle. Decisive strength would be known in advance to be on the side of the international organization-that is, of the law-abiding countries in that organization that want to live in a peaceful and orderly world.

Those who propose this plan admit that it is not a simple matter to figure out just what the quotas of the different countries ought to be. But they maintain that this calculation, though not so easy as twice-two-is-four, is entirely possible. The number of aggressive alliances that might conceivably be formed, in any future situation which we can imagine, is not really very large. When these various possibilities are all set down, it is not particularly hard to figure a set of ratios between national forces which would give us the result desired in each case—that is, would give the decisive superiority of force always to the countries that would want to stop the aggressors.

Working out the necessary proportions of the national forces, it is argued, is much easier because of two important facts: first, the majority of countries are pretty certain always to want to have peace preserved; second, we can be fairly sure that certain countries will not themselves attempt aggressions and will be ready to back up the international organization in enforcing peace once they have taken a binding pledge to do so. These would include most of the middle-sized and small countries. Most Americans believe that among the great powers the United States would, for one, be always on the side of peace—though possibly some other peoples may not feel so sure of this.

The Difficulty of Getting Any Plan Accepted

An effect of the quota plan—if it were adopted—would be to decrease the disproportion between the military strength of the big powers and the lesser ones. While the larger countries would still have the larger armies, the size of their armies would not be proportional to their populations; so that the total of the forces of the smaller countries could overbalance the force of any one—or, possibly, even two—of the great powers.

Probably the chief difficulty about any quota plan would be to get all the great powers to accept it. No one of the Big Three (or Four) would be very likely to accept for itself a quota smaller than that of any of the others. This particular difficulty might perhaps be got round by giving all the great powers equal quotas. But some of them might not be satisfied with this; they might feel that their armed forces ought to be proportional to their population, or territory, or wealth. If any one of them should insist on this, the purpose of the quota plan would be imperiled.

On this point what the advocates of the quota plan say is that it is merely a question whether or not the great powers really want to have a world organization that will be capable of preventing wars of aggression. If they don’t want it, then of course nothing can be done to bring it about. But they have declared that they do want and intend to have such an organization. It is therefore argued that they will accept and carry out a system of quotas by which no country, and no likely combination of aggressor countries, can possess military power equal or even nearly equal to that of the rest of the countries belonging to the world organization. If no such system is adopted, say the supporters of this plan, the purpose proclaimed at Moscow cannot be realized. To prevent wars, they argue, you must not only have force behind the maintenance of peace but a permanently stronger force; and, it is asserted, if the international police force plan is rejected, the only other way of making the force behind peace too strong to be challenged is by a quota plan.

3. There is, however, a third type of plan for an international armed force which may be called the “dual-force plan.” It is simply a combination of the second type already outlined with a modified form of the first. The greater part of the force at the disposal of the international organization for use against aggressors would, as in 2 above (page 11), consist of the national armies, navies, and air forces of the states in the international organization. These states would be pledged to supply these forces, if or when needed; and the sizes of the national armies could be fixed at certain definite ratios, as in the quota plan. But there would also be a separate international police force, like that in plan 1 above (page 9), except that it would not have a monopoly of heavy weapons (though it might be mainly an air force), and would not, by itself, be large and powerful enough to be a danger to the organization or the countries belonging to it.

The system would be something like a combination of a sheriff’s posse with a professional police force. This international police force, which would be directly and exclusively under the command of the international organization, would, it is argued, reinforce the military power of the nations backing up the international organization whenever it was necessary to suppress an attempt at aggression. This force would thus increase the probability that the total strength at the disposal of the organization would be great enough to do the job. It could probably be more quickly brought into action at any point where trouble broke out than the large national armies, which usually need some time for mobilization. Minor disturbances—attempts at aggression by one small state upon another—could be put down by the world police force alone, without the necessity of mobilizing national armies.

This third plan, then, it is maintained by those who advocate it, would combine the advantages, while avoiding the weak points, of both the others-and would therefore provide the most effective means of preventing wars.

Facing the Cost of Peace

These are, in brief outline, the major proposals that have been made for providing the future international organization with an armed force that could prevent wars by making aggressions too dangerous to be attempted by any country or, at the worst, could make it practically certain that if any aggressions are attempted, they can quickly be suppressed. All the plans aim at the same result. But, if this result is what we want, all will admit that the important thing is to choose the right plan—one that will be really effective, and the most effective, for safeguarding peace between nations.

This problem of deciding what model of international organization to prevent wars is most likely to work now faces all of us. The great purpose of our own and other governments expressed at Moscow will certainly not be accomplished unless, by taking thought, we can find definite practical means for accomplishing it and then are willing actually to adopt and use these means.

This last point is the most important of all. For it may be that men will know what are the necessary and sufficient means for maintaining peace, but will not be willing to use them. As was said above, people sometimes know the remedy for a disease from which they suffer, but can’t bring themselves to apply it, because it is unpleasant, or expensive, or requires them to give up their usual habits, or calls for hard and persistent effort. Any real remedy for the old and deep-seated disease of war will not be a cheap or easy remedy. Lasting peace can be had by nations only at a price. It will be a high price, requiring some changes in their habits of thinking and acting, and time alone will show whether they are ready to pay it at the end of a second world war within a generation.

If it is decided that an international organization must have some sort of force at its disposal in order to preserve peace, every nation belonging to the organization must be willing to provide men and armaments for that force. Their readiness to act when they are called on to help put down an aggression cannot be less because the immediate object of the aggression is some other and perhaps distant nation. If all peaceable nations unite for mutual defense, each will gain greatly increased security. Each must pay for that security, however, by increased responsibility—responsibility for sending its own forces, if they should be needed, to help maintain the security of others.

So, if anyone has decided that some one or other of the proposed means for preventing future wars would probably be capable of preventing them, he will do well also to make clear to himself what it will cost—what his own country will need to do to help make it effective. And he must finally answer this question: Am I willing to pay that cost?