Appeal for Disarmament, May 21, 1917


As a neutral, our government addressed indirectly to all belligerents a note stating that no peace based on victory could be lasting and asking for definite peace proposals. The replies were evasive.

Should we not now as a belligerent again demand a clear and definite statement from our allies as a proof of the sincerity of their and our professions, and -- further remembering our President's words -- ask of both allies and enemies an agreement for permanent disarmament, military and naval, except -- for the first experiment -- an international police if insisted upon. For further terms, perhaps simply the status quo before the war and no indemnities, these latter falling upon the innocent of an enemy nation for whose relief we all state we are also fighting.

It would seem with this point -- disarmament -- conceded, and such a peace gained, with absolutely no further conditions, we could safely leave all else such as the complicated adjustment of the rights of small states, to gradual adjustment later by continuous international arbitration.

Disarmament by common consent, called Utopian, seems surely only common sense if proposed thus directly and definitely by our President as a belligerent. He has committed himself to the principle, and it seems to offer to all parties what they profess to be fighting for -- security for themselves and the world.

This seems the first moment when a man in authority, subscribing to the principle has been in a position almost to force consideration of the question of general disarmament.