An Agreement To Outlaw War

Despite all that they hypnotize with the 1928 Pact, the authors depend on their narrative of World War II, after which the wars of conquest slowed down. They go to great lengths to argue that the pact inspired the United Nations: American leaders, they claim, took the ostracism of war in 1928 and added “teeth” to it in a straight line in 1945. Shotwell is the main link in this argument, since after promoting the Pact, he contributed to the drafting of the Charter of the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the war. But, as I said before, Shotwell had always viewed the pact as an escape plan that would ultimately include a scheme of enforceable sanctions. The pacifist Levinson, who also marked the pact, supported it for the opposite reason: he hoped that he would never offer an arrest warrant to a great power to make war. After showing so much in their only chapter on the birth of the pact, Hathaway and Shapiro spend the rest of the book forgetting that insight by enthroning Shotwell as heir to the pact and virtually making Levinson disappear. They neglect to observe that Levinson`s pacifist type of internationalism lost when the United States not only created a new world organization, but also decided to establish itself as the supreme military power and executor of the “world order.” To the extent that Shotwell`s vision was realized, Levinson`s vision was betrayed. On August 27, 1928, 15 countries signed an agreement in Paris that attempted to eliminate the war. But even Shotwell`s vision had less influence on the postwar order than Hathaway and Shapiro claim. You are right to point out that the Charter of the United Nations, like the Paris Peace Pact, has prohibited the use of force, without, however, imposing any sanctions on violators. But the Charter also created a Security Council that allowed the major Powers to use force, as they wished together. For U.S. officials at the time, this was precisely the appeal of the UN: it could serve as a vehicle for the United States to project global power with its allies.

“Only violence will create and maintain a good peace,” as a post-war planner, Isaiah Bowman, put it in 1940. In an almost insolent implementation of Schmitt`s predictions, the United States nominally banned war, while claiming the right to monitor “peace.” For realists, Wilsonian ideas like world government and the ostracism of war were quixotic. Nations should realize that conflicts in the international arena are endemic and they should not spend blood and treasures in the name of abstraction.

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