Pacific: A new arena for peace distinguished from “old” Europe

The development of IR was deeply influenced by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy of “New Diplomacy.” On January 8, 1918, during World War I, in his “Fourteen Points Speech,” Wilson outlined universal principles for future peace. Criticizing European imperialistic “Old diplomacy” as the fundamental cause of tire war, Wilson advocated implementing “New diplomacy” such as open diplomacy, disarmament, free trade, and most importantly the formation of the League of Nations.

It should be noted, however, that even though the League of Nations was newly set up after World War I, the post-war international order was not “new” for the majority of peoples in non-Western world. At Paris, Japan’s proposal of inserting a racial equality clause into the Covenant of the League of Nations was rejected by the United States, Britain and Australia. While the Covenant made significant progress toward peace through providing collective security and thus outlawing certain wars, it made only vague references to economic and financial questions, and thus lacked provisions to protect weaker nations from great powers’ economic penetration.21 Though Woodrow Wilson’s emphasis on “self-determination” bolstered the aspirations for political independence of the subjugated people in non-Western countries, Wilson never intended to apply the principleuniversally and century-old imperialistic diplomacy remained in Europe. The Permanent Mandates Commission (PMC) was created in order to govern the former colonies of German and Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. The League declared these territories were designated as “mandates,” and Prance, UK, Japan and other victor countries were supposed to administer them on behalf of the League. The paternalist Western-centric notion of “a civilizing mission” penetrated the system. Article 22 of the League’s Covenant, which established the mandate system, empowered Europeans, who held “the sacred trust of civilization,” to rule “peoples not yet able to stand by themselves.”22 The consequences of the Paris Peace Conference caused tremendous disillusions among the subjugated people in non-Western world.23

The consequences of the Paris Peace Conference also caused tremendous disillusion among progressives in the United States who shared Wilson’s ideal of “new diplomacy.” Among them, some turned their eyes to the Asia-Pacific, which according to them, had not been “contaminated” by European “old” power politics and thus could be an ideal place to implement American idealism. The participants in the early IPR conferences in the 1920s shared optimism for a newly emerging peaceful Asia-Pacific, contrasting it with war-torn Europe. At the second conference in 1927, which was held again in Honolulu, one member from each country’ gave a statement on their visions for the future Asia-Pacific. While their views were diverse in reflecting each background, they shared basic visions for the future Asia-Pacific—increasing importance of the region and a coming “Pacific Century'.” Sawayanagi Masataro, president of the Teikoku Kyoiku Kai (the Japanese Empire Association), declared,

The Pacific Ocean is gradually becoming the center of the world, and Japan is firmly' lodged in the thinking of internationally minded people as one of the important Pacific Powers. As such, Japan’s future is inseparably linked with the slowly' unfolding destiny of the great Pacific area.24

British delegate. Sir Frederick Whyte also stressed, “It has become a commonplace in recent times to say' that the future of peace and war lies in the Pacific.”25 Frederick W. Eggleston from Australia stressed that the Asia-Pacific should become a “pacific” sea just as its name suggested.

It is frequently said that the Pacific is the area in which the next war will take place. In my opinion such a statement is as misleading as it is mischievous .... The Pacific nations are widely separated by the ocean. They are not crowded together like European countries. Do not let us argue from European analogies or be dominated by a European psychology' in these matters. The spaciousness of the Pacific is a factor of safety'. If there is no bankruptcy of statesmanship, the Pacific should be made an arena pacific in fact as well as name.26

Among them, U.S. members were the most ardent advocates of a new order in the Pacific. Herbert Croly, well-known editor of the New Republic stressed that the IPR should be regarded as an embryo of a future “Pacific Community,” whose members on its shores would all enjoy some measure of political security, autonomy, and equality.27 However, it should be noted that none of them who advocated a new international order in the Pacific including Croly envisioned radical changes of the status quo at the moment. Croly practically admitted that the realization of a “Pacific Community” would be a distant goal by stating that:

No doubt powerful maritime nations, such as the United States, Japan, and Great Britain, would continue to possess legal rights in the territory of Pacific islands in Eastern Asia, which derived from predatory’ expeditions of the past, and the beneficiaries of these pockets of imperialistic politics would have an interest in contesting the future development of a Pacific society of nations. But these powers, however atty one or all of them behave in the future, have consented to the first essential step. The peoples of the Pacific are partially protected in theory' against any further aggression, and in this sense they' are by way of forming a community of political equals which are obligated to consult one another about their common political and economic difficulties and policies.28

What Croly implied by these statements was that the Western colonial rule is indeed unjust and should be abolished. Unfortunately, however, it is unrealistic to expect its immediate abolition. What the IPR can do in the future, Croly suggested, is to keep the ideal of a “Pacific Community” as an ultimate goal, hoping that the Western powers would voluntarily abolish their colonial rule someday.

Some members defended the status quo more apparently. At the second IPR conference held in 1927, James Shotwell, Professor of the History of International Relations at Columbia University, proposed jointly with Columbia Law Professor, J. P. Chamberlain, “Draft Treaty of Permanent Peace,” which consisted of the two main parts, the renunciation of the war on one hand, and arbitration and conciliation on the other hand.29 Despite its idealistic appearance, however, “peace” intended by the treaty was not so different from the old-fashioned great power peace. Commenting on the text of the treaty, Shotwell openly' stated, “A treaty of this kind will hardly' be found suitable for application with nations which have widely different conceptions of political institutions and varying degrees of political development,” “The Draft Treaty has been prepared with an eye to its possible application as between civilized powers equal in sovereignty and capable of ensuring respect for law and treaty obligations.” Then, how could “civilized” countries cope with “uncivilized” countries, which would not stop waging illegal war? Shotwell frankly admitted that the only way for “civilized” countries to deal with these “uncivilized” countries would be “measures of an international police.”30

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