We have ameliorated in many ways the ancient cruelties of war by Red Cross agreements, and by the immunity of private property on land from destruction. Now we are agreeing upon what is called the Declaration of London, which, if confirmed, as it seems likely to be, will take away from war on the sea those principles of lawful piracy that have always characterized in a naval war the dealing with the private property of the citizens to our enemies.Link: Thousands Hear President Taft Predict Peace [The Washington Herald]
By negotiations and mediation and the formation of arbitration agreements wars in the last decade have been stopped in Central and South America in a most gratifying number of instances. I am glad to say that today we have reached such a point in the negotiation for a treaty of universal arbitration with one of the great European powers that we can confidently predict the signing of a satisfactory treaty.
Just today four great powers, England, Russia, Japan, and the United States, signed a fur seal treaty, by which we agreed in effect to abolish the shooting of seals at sea in order to preserve the valuable herds on the land and to allow them to propagate in such a way as to maintain the fur seal industry and to secure for human use the valuable furs that such seals furnish. It is the beginning, I hope, of useful game laws for the open ocean, which has heretofore been subject to the wanton and irresponsible use of men of every nation. It is the settlement by treaty of a controversy that has troubled these four nations for several generations, and it out to be the cause of great congratulation.
The arbitration treaty heretofore with Great Britain and other countries has excepted form the causes which may be arbitrated those which involved the vital interests of either party or its honor. The treaty which we are now closing with Great Britain eliminates those exceptions and provides that all questions of international concern of a justiciable character shall be submitted to the arbitration of an impartial tribunal, and that whenever differences arise befoer they are submitted to arbitration at all they shall be taken up by a commission composed of some representatives from each government that shall investigate the controversy and recommend a solution without arbitration, if possible, and then shall decide whether the issue is capable of arbitration, and if so the arbitration shall take place.
In this way the treaty in one sense, instead of making arbitration necessary, interposes mediation of a year between the happening of the differences and the bringing of the matter to arbitration, with the growing possibility that the ruffled feelings of the nation may be smoothed out by time, that the differences maybe adjusted by mediation instead of judicial action, but holding judicial action as the ultimate resort to prevent war.
I am exceedingly hopeful that other countries beside Great Britain will accept the form of the treaty or one like it, and that we may have half a dozen treaties with the European countries looking toward arbitration of international differences. This will not abolish war, but it will provide a most effective and forcible instrument for avoiding it in many cases.
Of course, war between Great Britain and the United States, between France and the United States, and between Germany and the United States is quite remote, but the adoption by other great countries of arbitration and mediation as a means of meeting all controversies must have the most healthy moral effect upon the world at large, and must assist all the friends of peace in their effort to make it permanent.
To this audience and this great society with its world-wide influence I do not hesitate to appeal to give the tremendous might of its support to such a cause.
Link: Taft Sure of Arbitration Pact [The New York Tribune]