Nine National Women's Organizations Holding Meeting at Washington Would Substitute Intelligence for Force
By Marie B. Manly, January 1927 Issue
FOR NEARLY three years, the leaders in the departments of peace, foreign policy and international relations of the great women's organizations have been working hard trying to find a common program upon which women could unite to abolish war. After some months of deliberation a Conference on the Cause and Cure of War was called in Washington in January, 1925.
Since that time a continuing committee made up of the representatives of nine of the leading women's organizations have been studying the problems involved and cementing the common interests. The second conference was held in Washington during the second week of December, 1926, when approximately six hundred women representing the American Association of University Women, the Council of Women for Home Missions, the Federation of Woman's Boards of Foreign Missions of North America, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Associations, the National Council of Jewish Women, the National League of Women Voters, the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the National Women's Trade Union League, came together to consider ways and means of promoting understanding of economic and political relations among nations as a sound basis for world peace. This subject was discussed, not in glittering generalities, but in explicit, concrete terms by representative speakers of this nation and of the great foreign powers which are recognizing this as a paramount issue, and by the delegates themselves who had come from all parts of the United States to take part in the Conference.
Intelligence for Force
THE delegates had set for themselves the task of working out a system that would offer the substitution of intelligence for force in the settling of economic disputes between countries. The conference served to start the ball rolling, and continuing committees in all of the participating organizations will carry on so that this conference will not be found guilty of the criticism of so many like gatherings that there is much talk and no action. They are prepared for a long campaign of education to further the gospel of reasonableness and common sense in international affairs.
Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, organizer and chairman of both the first and the second Conferences on the Cause and Cure of War, in one of her earlier statements said, "The cause of war is fear. Nations not only fear for their survival, but they fear to cast aside customs in settling their differences. They have always gone to war to settle disputes, therefore they continue to go to war instead of applying logic and reason to their problems. The remedy is a system of treaties built up between nations under which they promise to submit to arbitration their international differences, not their domestic disputes, and further agree to abide by the result of arbitration."
Neither delegates nor speakers were all agreed as to the best means of insuring peace. There were those who saw a safe harbor in the adherence to the World Court or the League of Nations, and there were those who, while they want to prepare for peace, did not want the conference to consider either the League of Nations or the World Court. Out of it all came two reports of the Findings Committees which represented the tireless work of many of the ablest women of the conference, and which submitted a series of recommendations. After much debate and a few minor changes, these reports were accepted as a working basis for continuing the work.
Opened With Mass Meeting
THE opening session was in the form of a mass meeting which was held in the largest theater in Washington, and which, in spite of the most severe snow storm of the season, was filled to capacity. Mrs. Catt presided and in her opening remarks urged the delegates to "use tolerance toward their opponents, to avoid being dragged into a conflict of personalities, and to cut through the conservatism which prevents the political parties and women's organizations from taking outstanding positions in international affairs." She referred to the recent attacks of the American, Legion and concluded by saying, "I think its members do not understand what we are trying to do."
At this opening session an American General (General Tasker H. Bliss) advocated the substitution of "Law for War." An English scholar (Dr. Alfred E. Zimmern) declared that the "study of international relations must proceed on the assumption that remedies are discoverable; that the differences observable in international affairs can be made to yield to treatment, if the right treatment be found and applied, and the treatment worked out co-operatively, by the friendly collaboration of the governments concerned." A German statesman pointed out that the German officers who were the leaders in war have become the leaders in peace. "Because we did prepare for war," he said, "we got war. If you want peace, you must prepare for peace."
Program By Sections
THE PROGRAM for the rest of the week was divided into sections. Section One: Security, Arbitration and Disarmament were the general topics for Monday and Tuesday, and on those days morning, afternoon, and evening, the leading educators, military men and statesmen discussed them in detail. "What are the Causes of Insecurity?" "What Are the Appropriate and Safe National Policies with Reference to Them?" "What Can We Do Now?" are some of the questions answered by Professor Shotwell of Columbia. "Do International Economic Rivalries Contribute to the Maintenance of the War System?" "Is National Economic Security Attainable Through National Self-Sufficiency?" "What are the Constituent Elements of National Economic Security?" were discussed by Prof. Edward Meade Earle. The Hon. Theodore Burton and Dr. Norman Angell discussed Progressive Disarmament in its many phases.
"Arbitration, and the attitude of the United States Toward Compulsory Arbitration;" "What is Happening in Europe, and What it Means to America;" "The Need of Co-operation with the League of Nations in All Direct Efforts to Abolish War," were some of the other topics considered by eminent speakers from widely different fields, while the last session was given over to Round Table discussion from which emerged definite policies to be followed by the organizations participating in the conference.
Wednesday and Thursday were given over to Section Two, "The Foreign Policy of the United States." In explaining the reason for including this section in the conference program, Mrs. Catt said, "We in the United States have been so accustomed to admiring ourselves that it has never occurred to us that there was any one in the world who did not admire us. Recently we have been led to believe that there are those who criticize us, and we are interested in examining the cause for this slackening admiration."
Consider Foreign Problems
UNDER this subject "The Far East" came in for a large share of the attention. "The Political Policy of the United States Past and Present in the Philippines," and what our policy should be, was considered by Dr. Stephen Duggan, Director of the Institute of Pacific Relations, while the Hon. Pedro Guevara, Resident Commissioner of the Philippines, told the delegates "What the Filipinos Want, Why They Want It, and How They Propose to Carry On."
"What China Demands of the World," "What the World Demands of China;" and "America's Role in China" were discussed respectively by Dr. P. W. Kuo, Director of the China Institute in America, Henry K. Norton, student of affairs in the Far East, and Dr. James M. Henry, President of Lingnan University, Canton, China. Chester H. Rowell, of California, H. Duncan Hall of Australia, and Mr. Frederick Moore, former Councillor to the Japanese Foreign Office, gave the conference the benefit of their study and understanding of this complicated questions touching our relations with Japan.
Mr. Canton Beals came from Mexico City to talk about the "Policy of the United States Towards Mexico," and the "Policy of' Mexico Toward the United States." His scathing criticisms of the present and past administrations, backed up, as they were, by an imposing array of facts, made a profound impression upon the delegates, Dr. Parker P. Moon, professor of International Relations at Columbia University, presented the Monroe Doctrine Versus Imperialism in the American Tropics—Central America, Santa Domingo, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
People Should Take Interest
ON THURSDAY afternoon "The Foreign Policy of the United States towards Europe—International Debts" was the subject lucidly presented by Dr. Harold G. Moulton, Director of the Institute of Economics, and by Prof. H. Duncan Hall.
The saying of Frederick the Great, "If my soldiers thought, there would be no war," was the text of the dinner speeches on Thursday evening when "Public Opinion—-War and Peace" was the subject under consideration.
On Friday, after long discussions of the reports of the two Findings Committees, several significant recommendations were adopted. The Findings for Section One included the statements: "That the United States is not maintaining its historic role as a leader in the development of international arbitration.
"That other nations are moving forward steadily in the establishment of political and economic machinery for the promotion and maintenance of peace and security, notably through the League of Nations, the World Court for International Justice, and special arbitration treaties and trade agreements.
"That so long as the United States does not through any other machinery assume similar obligations, it is retarding the efforts of other nations.
"That the people of the United States are not aware of these facts and must be awakened."
The Committee for Section Two recommended,
(a) Total cancellation of the debts incurred for relief work, and a gradual reduction of other war debts, by adjusting to an amount corresponding to fallen prices.
(b) A request that the President of the United States use his efforts to secure an adjustment of the present difficulties with Mexico without resort to such extreme measures as withdrawal of recognition, lifting of the embargo on arms or the movement of troops, and if such adjustment appears impossible, to request the State Department to attempt to settle the controversy by arbitration.
(c) That the Government is committed to the independence of the Philippines, and urged the appointment by the President of a Commission to meet with a Commission of Filipinos to be appointed by themselves.
(d) That the Government should take independent action to revise the existing unequal treaties with China on the basis of equality; and that the respective organizations study the relations with Japan, "looking toward creating of such public sentiment as will ensure, that the United States will meet each situation in its relationship with Japan with justice and courtesy."
These findings were not unanimously adopted. The objection to the clauses urging U. S. participation in the World Court and the League of Nations was very strong. They do, however, represent the opinion of the majority of the delegates, and every delegate went back to her organization fired with the thought that the paramount issue of these times is to find some means whereby the curse of war can be forever banished from the world. While the message is carried back to the eight million and more women represented, and they concentrate upon the issue, we can hope that, in the words of Professor Shotwell, "A means may be found to substitute intelligence for force."