General Committee on the Limitation of Armament, Bulletin Number 1, November 26, 1921

On The

Bulletin No. 1

November 26, 1921

Do you believe that America should retire into self-centered and cautious Isolation?

Or, do you believe that, in view of the intricate interdependence of modern civilization, America must develop a policy in international relations of continuous and increasing [cooperation]?

The General Committee on the Limitation of Armaments urges that every effort should be made to stimulate Public Opinion to stalwart support of the proposal for Naval Disarmament, presented to the Conference by the American Delegation, but it further urges that this opportunity, when the attention of the Nation is fixed on international problems, should be utilized to the full in making clear the contrast between the conflicting theories of Foreign Policy-Isolation or [Cooperation]. Our generation must choose one of these paths for America. Either we must set before us the ideal of a Hermit Nation, self-sufficient, distrusted and feared, sacrificing at once our hope of foreign trade and our share in the common heritage of civilization or we must give ourselves to the task of helping the world back to prosperity and peace. We cannot share the advantages of participation in the affairs of the world without being affected by its disasters and discords, without being involved in its problems and their solutions. If we are to refuse all responsibilities, we also refuse participation. The whole world is now so deeply involved in problems that can be solved only by [cooperation] that it says, -- "He who is not for us is against us." Isolation today means hostility.

While whole-heartedly approving the scrapping of battleships, the General Committee believes that this move will lose its significance unless it is understood to be the first step towards moral disarmament. If the will to war persists, merchantmen can be converted into warships, new and more devastating weapons can be invented.

Our hundred million people want less armament and no war. The first half of that wish is in a fair way of satisfaction. The second half does not appear prominently on the agenda of this Conference. In facing the larger problem of the limitation of the causes and probabilities of war, the people of the United States must choose between the ideal of nationalistic isolation. -- every nation's arms against its neighbors -- or as a realization that peace can only be achieved by a policy of mutual accommodation and international [cooperation].

This General Committee is unqualifiedly in favor of "an organic and continuing relationship" between the nations, in which America will accept its full share of responsibility. It will seek to keep before the public, during this period of general interest, the need of some permanent international body to supervise the execution of the agreements reached at this Conference, the necessity of further Conferences, in the near future, to deal with the many other and equally pressing questions which disturb the nations, and the obvious gain in convenience and efficiency to be secured by regularizing such meetings, through creating permanent organization. [page 2]

No one can question the wisdom of Washington's warning in his famous farewell address. At that time the original Thirteen Colonies had a population of barely three million people. They could not have joined any European nation on terms of equality: "entangling alliances," the danger of which at that time Washington clearly realized, would have meant dependence. In the days before railroads and steamships, before power-driven machinery, before telegraph, telephone, and wireless, a policy of Isolation was desirable and possible. In this new day, with a population of a hundred and ten million virile people, with all the power of our inventions, with the wealth of our vast territory, and the productivity of the Nation, Washington would not have counseled a policy of timid isolation.

This General Committee therefore desires to revive discussion of America's attitude towards membership in a permanent organization among the nations for the establishing and preservation of peace, but it is desirous not to revive the rancors and personalities which distorted the debate on this subject during the last campaign. There are many among the Democrats who supported the "League" as advocated by Mr. Wilson, and there are many among the Republicans who voted for this Administration in confidence that it would lead the way into an "Association," who are as much convinced as ever that "Moral Isolation" is an impossible policy for America and who believe that our national welfare, as well as the more generous ideal of world peace, demands that America should take her place in the Councils of the Nations -- a place of duty as well as privilege.

This General Committee believes that the movement of opinion in favor of American participation in an international organization for the safeguarding of peace has been weakened, because its supporters have divided on questions of domestic politics, but it believes that the American people are fundamentally in agreement in this matter and hence it will feel that it has justified its existence if it can be to some degrees instrumental in bringing into a working accord the two great groups of American citizens, who favor a Foreign Policy, not of Isolation, but of Collaboration with other nations, active and continuing -- two groups, which, by partisan disputes, have been kept from [cooperation], although united in ideals of Foreign Relations.

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