Nations are only aggregates of the individual. The parallel between war and the duel is complete; and as society within our race already relies upon courts of justice to protect its members from all wrongs, so shall the nations finally rely upon international courts.
Objection has been made that unreasonable, dishonoring or baseless claims might be made under arbitration. That any member of the family of nations would present a claim wholly without basis, or that the court would not decide against it if made, is a danger purely hypothetical. The agreement between nations when made will undoubtedly be framed in accordance with the ideas of Grotius, and the independence and equality of all members and their existing territories recognized. These could not be assailed.
Three incidents have occurred since the court was organized which have caused much pain to the friends of peace throughout the world.
America refused the offer of the Filipinos to adjust their quarrel by arbitration. Britain refused the offer of the Transvaal Republic to arbitrate, although three of the court proposed by the republic were to be British judges, and the other two judges of Holland—the most remarkable offer ever made, highly creditable to the maker and a great tribute to British judges. Neither Russia nor Japan suggested submission to The Hague. Since the Hague Court is the result of the Russian Emperor's initiative, this caused equal surprise and pain. The explanation has been suggested that peaceful conferences were being held when Japan attacked at Port Arthur without notice, rendering arbitration impossible.
We must recognize these discouraging incidents, but we have the consolation left us of believing that, had either of the three nations seen, at the beginning, the consequences of ignoring arbitration, as clearly as they did later, they would have accepted arbitration and had reason to congratulate themselves upon the award of the court, whatever it was. They will learn by experience. Notwithstanding these regrettable failures to refer disputes to the Hague Court as peaceful umpire, we have abundant reason for satisfaction in the number of instances in which the court's award has already brought peace without the sacrifice of one human life—the victories which bring no tears.
Signs of action in favor of universal peace abound. Among these may be mentioned that the Inter-Parliamentary Union assembled at St. Louis last year requested the governments of the world to send representatives to an international conference to consider:—First, the questions for the consideration of which the conference at the Hague expressed a wish that a future conference be called. Second, the negotiation of arbitration treaties between the nations represented. Third, the advisability of establishing an international congress to be convened periodically for the discussion of international questions.