Paris Peace Conf. 185.111/30

General Tasker H. Bliss to the Secretary of State 23

My Dear Mr. Secretary: In drawing up the provisions which, when accepted, will constitute a sort of Constitution or Articles of Agreement [Page 526] for a League of Nations, I think that there is one which should be drawn with special care and embodied. The absence of it would, I apprehend, provoke perhaps fatal criticism in the United States.

A domestic revolution always results in very great, though it may be temporary, disorder. The nature of the struggle often causes it to be carried on with little regard, sometimes, to strict international rights. Especially in these days of intimate commercial relations between States there may be done things that will be claimed by interested parties to be violations of treaty rights. Powerful interests will be invoked in favor of intervention.

Moreover, growing friendly relations between States will be represented by cordial friendly personal relations between the Representatives of States who sit about the council table of the League of Nations. Among such persons there may be an undue readiness to listen to appeals from some one to save his government from destruction. It has often been urged as an objection against a League of Nations that the more successful it is the more inevitable will be its tendency to keep everything on the dead-level of the status quo. I think that a wise self-restraint will be the saving grace of the League. Yet, the more its governments approximate each other in character the more will be the tendency to co-operate in efforts to prevent changes in any one of them.

Therefore, I think that some provision should be made to prevent abuse* of power on the part of the League in intervening in the domestic affairs of any nation. I do not deny that there may be justifiable causes for such intervention; but a treaty with no guarding clause such as I have suggested will have a hard gauntlet to run in the United States.

Cordially yours,

Tasker H. Bliss
  1. A copy of this letter was sent on the same day to Mr. D. H. Miller with the added note: “It don’t do to merely guarantee territorial integrity & political independence. Internationalists in Russia are ready to guarantee that. T. H. B.” (See Miller, My Diary, vol. iii, p. 26.)
  2. This is not accomplished by a mere provision guaranteeing territorial integrity and political independence. [Footnote in the original.]