Page 11, 25th October 1935

25th October 1935
Page 11
Page 11, 25th October 1935 — The Use of War: in General and To-day

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The Use of War: in General and To-day


During the past week the " Catholic Herald " has approached a number of public men with the request that they should reply to the following two questions:— ( 1) What are your principles (or those of the body whom you represent) governing the use of armed force in international affairs?

(2) How would you apply those principles to the present crisis?

We print below a selection of the answers received. Our readers 1, ill note that sonic of the replies are hardly ansners to the questions pot.

On enquiring the views of HIS MAJE:SEY'S GOVERNMENT, We WerC referred to the speech made by Sir Samuel Hoare in the House of Commons on Tuesday, from which we take the following passages:—

Our policy has remained unchanged. I purposely use the phrase "our policy" . . . . for it was made clear in both the previous debates on foreign affairs that the policy of loyalty to our League obligations was approved by almost everyone in the House. . . .

The League cannot be said to have failed until the provisions of the Covenant have been tried out. Nor is it wise to sit still and let the League fail without making the greatest effort of which we are capable to avert such a calamity. . . .

The League cannot go beyond the public opinion in the countries of the member states. . . .

I us Majesty's government are prepared to play their part to the full. but on the clear understanding that the part that they play is a joint part, and that the risks and responsibilities incurred are accepted and shared by the other members of the League. . . .

There are those who say that action of this kind will lead directly to military sanctions and so to war. I disagree with both these lines of criticism. I do not believe that economic pressure of this kind will . . . be ineffective. . . . 1 believe that it will definitely shorten the duration of war. . . .

We have tried to avoid any action ... that was impracticable.... The League, let us remember, is a great instrument of peace. Let the critics remember this fact when they say that we ought to block up the Suez Canal and cut the Italian communications. . . .

No wise man will wish to throw a spark into this inflammable material by threats that cannot be collectively carried out or, if they were carried out, would turn the Abyssinia conflict into a European war.

MAJOR C. R. Artsisa, M.P., chairman of the Parliamentary Labour party and leader of the Opposition in the House of Corn1110t3S, wrote: I have been asked the %,iews of the

I.abour party on the question of military sanctions. Our view is that if we are to establish the rule of law there must be behind it the sanction of force. When aggression takes place the amount and kind of force required is conditioned by the violence of the aggressor. It may be that in the last resort armed force is necessary.

The League of Nations is at present a very imperfect instrument for keeping the peace, but it is all we have between us and international anarchy.

In my opinion if economic sanctions are applied honestly and fully by the League members, military sanctions will not be needed.


the Communist daily newspaper, replied: The Daily Worker has not hesitated to give full support to the application of economic and financial sanctions through the League of Nations, in order to defeat the unprovoked attack of Italian fascism upon the independence of Abyssinia.

It has no illusions about the attitude of the British government. The foreign policy of this government is largely responsible for the present war situation. It has always encouraged German fascism and the Japanese militarists in their war plans against the U.S.S.R., and because this policy was in accordance with its imperialist interests it did not advocate sanctions when the Japanese militarists broke the covenant and marched into Manchuria.

The Daily Worker understands that the government is concerned about its own interests and not with the independence of Abyssinia and the presei vation of peace, and is now taking advantage of the situation to launch a panic general electon.

But the organised action of the workers and all lovers of peace to bring pressure to enforce effective sanctions, including the closing of the Suez Canal. can defeat the aim of the National government and ensure that all measures will be taken for the defence of Abyssinia in opposition to all aggressors.

MRS. LYNES, secretary of the Society of Friends (" Quakers ") Peace Committee, replied:

The Friends Peace Testimony has, since the first pronouncement of the Society in 1660, denied " utterly . . all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatever."

In the present crisis the Society as a whole could not pronounce in favour of any sanctions. The way of coercion is not their way of approach to the solution of any problems. Many individuals, however, realise that lestraint may be necessary in order to secure time for love to work, and would support certain economic sanctions.

All would desire that moral pressure should be exercised by such political means as fact-finding commissions, local observers, wide publicity and so on. If these measures fail, Friends do not feel obliged to advocate more effective measures which would contravene the Peace Testimony.

The HON. HAROLD NICOI.SON, C.IvI.G., author and critic, and for many years in the diplomatic service, wrote:

(1) 1 should not be opposed to the use of armed forces in international affairs provided that such forces were applied only against an aggressor declared such by the Assembly of the League of Nations, after all possibilities of conciliation have been exhausted; and provided that the whole action remains from start to finish under the general mandate and supervision of the League. (2) My answer to question one obviously implies that the usc of such force must be overwhelming. 1 should be much opposed to the use of force by individual powers even given under a League mandate since, unless such force is overwhelming in character the resultant hostilities might he prolonged.

MR. Fl. WICKHAM STEED, lecturer on Central European history at King's College, London, wrote:

(1) The principles governing the use of armed force in international affairs are essentially the same as those which govern the use of force in this country to restrain law-breakers or to ensure their punishment.

If the Covenant and the Kellogg pact have any meaning it can only be that recourse to armed violence or war in despite of them is a felony under existing international law. Therefore. governments and nations which have undertaken to uphold the League covenant and to observe the Kellogg pact find themselves in a position similar to that of British subjects under English common law, which holds them guilty of an indictable offence if they fail to assist the forces of law and order when law-breakers have to be restrained or coerced.

Legal force is the ultimate sanction of law. Law itself has no intrinsic validity apart from its eventual enforcement, though the acceptance of law by the members of a law-abiding community may confer upon legal provisions a certain moral force on the hither side of the application of penalties foreshadowed.

Unwillingness to apply or to support the use of force is tantamount to a desire to enjoy the privileges of membership of a national or international community without incurring the risks or fulfilling the duties which such membership implies.

(2) In the present crisis these principles involve collective action under the League covenant and in the spirit of the Kellogg pact against the law-breaker.

Economic and moral action to restrain him should have been automatic from the outset. Should such economic action as the I.eague may propose prove ineffective, the question would arise whether the League Council should recommend more drastic action to ensure respect for the covenants into which the covenant-breaker freely entered. There is no moral difference between economic and military restraints under the auspices of the League but only a difference of expediency.

Should the League breaJc down Or show itself unable to enforce respect for its covenants, its individual members would be released from their obligations towards it, and would be entitled to take such individual action as their national interests might determine.

Finally we approached a well-known theologian, who gave us the 'ollowing statement of the teaching of the Catholic Church about the Lawfulness of war, in reply to (1) above;—

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