Can Men Negotiate the Cure?
AS FAR back as history shows, treaties have regularly been broken in favor of selfish national interests. Moreover, they have not prevented war.
“Ever since men grouped themselves in tribes,” writes Laurence W. Beilenson in his book The Treaty Trap, “peace treaties have walked hand in hand with war. Yet such is the magic of labels that treaties for peace are subconsciously associated with peace and their absence with war. This has led some commentators to assert that since war has become so suicidal, logic dictates dependence on treaties to prevent it. The conclusion, however, does not follow from the premise. Nuclear war would be a calamity, but only historical experience is a guide to whether treaties will prevent war.”
Do Treaties Last?
The historical record shows that treaties do not prevent warfare. “All nations have been dependable treaty-breakers,” Beilenson states. And while private citizens can find enforcement for a court’s judgment against breaking a contract within their nation, this is not the case when treaties between nations are breached. War may even be resorted to as an effective means of redress.
Neither have international tribunals been able to settle disputes and maintain world peace. The International Court of Justice (the judicial agency of the United Nations, often referred to as the World Court), for instance, cannot enforce its decisions. Instead, it depends on world opinion and moral suasion. Many nations have refused to accept the Court’s jurisdiction as compulsory in settling disputes. And according to the World Court’s own rules, a nation can refuse to be judged by it by so stating before a particular case is taken to the Court.
Compounding the problem is the fact that nations are particularly sensitive concerning matters that would affect their sovereignty. Consequently, they are extremely wary when drafting treaties, often doing so in language that allows room for evasion wherever their sovereignty would be restricted. “Treaties are frequently drafted in ambiguous language,” states The Encyclopedia Americana. “The rules of interpretation are legion . . . yet there is no generally accepted practice as to the proper application of any of them. . . . Hence disagreements as to the proper meaning arise, and countercharges of treaty violations are rife.” As Charles de Gaulle, former president of France, once put it: “Treaties are like young women and roses. They last as long as they last.” Then, quoting from Victor Hugo’s Les Orientales, he added: “Alas how many young girls have I seen die.”
A Feature of Our Critical Times
That our time would be dominated by proud, selfish men unwilling to agree or to abide by their word was long ago foretold in the Bible. At 2 Timothy 3:1-5 we read: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.”
These “last days” began in this century—in 1914, with the first world war—and have continued down to the present time. The truthfulness of the Biblical prophecy has been firmly attested to by the historical record. Shocked by the severity of the Great War, as it was then called, the nations attempted to negotiate treaties that would prevent another war of such proportions. Before the war, there was neither a treaty that universally outlawed war nor any organization for the purpose of enforcing peace. So world leaders sought to formulate agreements between the nations to do just that and to ensure world peace.
The Covenant of the League of Nations was a promise that the member nations would support and protect one another and would not go to war, except in self-defense, and then only after submitting the dispute to the Council of the League for settlement and allowing a three-month cooling-off period. It went into effect in 1920. The Locarno treaties, put into force in 1926, were hailed as a “victory for peace and security” among the European nations. The Pact of Paris, also known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, renounced “recourse to war.” It was to be a multilateral pact that would be open to ratification by all nations. Formally proclaimed in 1929, it was eventually signed by 63 nations that agreed to settle their disputes only by “pacific means.” A number of other treaties were enacted during that period, leading many to think that war would be a thing of the past. But it was not long before most of those nations were embroiled in another world war.
So, then, can men negotiate peace? The historical record and world events today answer NO! As author Beilenson sums it up: “After the destruction of World War I, the statesmen erected the strongest paper structure for peace ever devised. It did not prevent as cynical a disregard for treaties as in any era of history, or the vast destruction of World War II, or other smaller wars since. Despite the treaty of the United Nations, the nations remained disunited.”
Today, since mankind is “not open to any agreement” as the Bible foretold, no general peace treaty exists and the world lives in a climate of fear. Does that mean that there is no hope for our critical times? If there is a cure, wherein does it lie?
[Picture on page 5]
“Treaties . . . last as long as they last”