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Today's date, the eighteenth of May, should sometime become an occasion of great international celebration, for on this day ten years ago the first Peace Conference opened at The Hague.
To read the report of a discussion in which arguments for and against are presented, in which a subject has been covered from different points of view, with new ideas advanced - this is far more instructive than to read a brief account of the resolution passed on the matter.
This is the task, I think, of a letter movement. But it should be set up only in states where a significant response can be achieved, for a letter movement necessarily presupposes a strong organization.
There is one criticism which cannot be leveled at interparliamentary conferences but which is applicable to a great extent to peace congresses: the meetings waste time.
There are those who believe we have need of more literature, of a large international publishing house, of a great peace newspaper, or the like. I am rather skeptical about this idea.
There are many members of parliament present here who know as well as I do that, if a man has not already been converted, it will require a great deal more than a letter of appeal to achieve conversion.
There are in most states one or two ministers of war, one of whom is the minister of naval affairs.
The last Hague Conference has in the meantime expressed its opinion that a body should be established which could prepare for the work involved more effectively than has hitherto proved possible.
The interparliamentary conference should, in my opinion, direct its particular attention to the preparation of the next Hague Conference, the diplomatic conference, the conference of governments.
The aspect of congresses and such meetings generally to which I attach the greatest importance is the discussion. That is why people assemble: to hear different opinions, rather than to pass resolutions.
Peace congresses often start by dealing with some of the less important questions in excessive detail, so at the end there is no time to discuss the most important problems.
On the other hand, the waging of peace as a science, as an art, is in its infancy. But we can trace its growth, its steady progress, and the time will come when there will be particular individuals designated to assume responsibility for and leadership of this movement.
Nevertheless, this type of propaganda has a special value, for it serves to convince those who sign the appeal, of the necessity for carrying on propaganda; so a corps of propagandists, if I may use the term, is thus trained.
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