Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 4 July 1930

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - We all must have been edified by the pious aspirations of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat (Senator McLachlan). I am in favour of the motion because I believe in giving the League of Nations and the International Court of Justice all the machinery they may require to function efficiently. At the same time I cannot accept the common idea that the League of Nations is going to ensure a permanent world peace. Already in a number of disputes in which it has intervened, its efforts have been disastrous. Those who are acquainted with the facts do not require me to supply the details. The statement is impossible of refutation that the League of Nations has signally failed to secure justice in disputes which have arisen since the great war. I take the view that, so far from being a body that is going to ensure permanent peace to mankind, the League of Nations is a distinct menace to world peace, inasmuch as it leads people into believing that its machinery is capable of effecting that purpose when, in actual fact, it will prove to be an absolutely rotten reed to lean upon. It is misleading the genuine pacifists into the false belief that it is in a position to ensure permanent world peace. My belief is that the ever-increasing rivalry between the great imperial powers for the diminishing markets of the world, is the fundamental cause of friction arising between nations, which ultimately resort to war. Any system which fails to remove the fundamental causes of war cannot have any permanent effect in securing world peace.

Senator Reid - Does not the honorable senator think that this is a good start?

Senator RAE - No. It is merely camouflage. While many small nations are enrolled as members of the League, they have very little authority, and the important powers which control its operations disguise their rivalry. The League of Nations has not yet succeeded in securing any reduction of armaments, and has made no sincere effort to bring about world peace. There have been numerous international conferences, protocols, pacts, and things of that kind;but, at the same time, the great powers have been increasing their fighting strength on land, on the sea, and in the air in preparation for war. Our gravest danger is that we are leaning too much upon the League of Nations as a means to secure international peace. Prior to the outbreak of the world war, millions of pacifists and socialists in various European countries held conferences at which it was resolved that, in the event of any of their governments provoking war, they would refuse to fight, and would, at once, commence a general strike by refusing to manufacture or transport munitions of war. Yet, at the call of so-called patriotism, they forgot their resolutions and rushed to the front in what they called the interests of their country. If we depend upon the League of Nations for world peace, while all the forces that make for Avar and international friction are more active than they were prior to 1914, we shall find that the results will not be as satisfactory as some are foolish enough to anticipate. As the League of Nations does not do anything to remove the cause of war, it cannot be a potent factor in preventing it. At this juncture thereis insufficient time to elaborate on this important subject; but the convictions which I have expressed are supported by many who have devoted very long and deep research into international topics. I could not allow this motion to pass without registering the opinion that I have absolutely no confidence in the League of Nations. I believe that it was never founded with any other idea than of establishing a temporary truce between the great powers, and to give them time to recover from the terrible effects of the Great War. I further contend that, if serious international troubles should arise, the League will crumble to pieces, and will be found quite incapable of preventing any further international disaster, which may result in the destruction of civilization. Something totally different from the League of Nations will be necessary before we can have any reasonable guarantee of permanent world peace.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Suggest corrections