The Peace Pact That Wasn't

Posted by Priscilla Linn
August 28, 2008
Kellogg-Briand Agreement Pen

About the Author: Priscilla Linn is the Curator for the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

If only it were possible to outlaw war by decree. This large pen represents world leaders' hopes for peace when they signed the anti-war Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 1928. The Pact never lived up to its expectations, and the pen is a reminder just how elusive the quest for peace can be.

The Pact originated with French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, who convinced Secretary of State Frank Kellogg to join him in the peace effort in 1927. Ten years after the end of World War I (1914-1918), they agreed to condemn war as a solution to international disputes. Diplomats from 16 nations originally signed the agreement in 1928, and 62 ultimately ratified it. Although both Kellogg and Briand won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, the Pact failed since there were no provisions to enforce it.

Secretary Kellogg received this pen from the mayor of Le Havre, France while en route to the signing ceremony in Paris. Words in Latin on the pen read, "Si Vis Pacem Para Pacem," or "If You Want Peace Prepare for Peace." The signers dipped it in the ink holder that Benjamin Franklin used to sign the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, the agreement that helped gain the American colonies' independence from Britain.

Tell us what you think. Is it important to save the pens that sign treaties? Why do you think this pen was saved? What do you think about creating a pact for peace with no means to enforce it?

About the U.S. Diplomacy Center

The U.S. Diplomacy Center (USDC) collects artifacts that tell the story of all aspects of American diplomacy, its history, practice and challenges. The scope of the collections includes items that represent the activities, events and people who engaged in American diplomacy from the 18th century to the present.

The USDC is actively seeking artifacts for the collections that represent the range of work on global issues at American embassies and consulates overseas, including objects which represent the challenges and dangers diplomats sometimes face in simply trying to do their jobs.

Please contact USDC Senior Curator Priscilla Linn or Collections Manager Katie Speckart for more information.

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
August 28, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The answers to all of your questions are contained in a book entitled, "The Treaty Trap".

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 29, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

We have the same conflicts and will repeat the same wars of the last century in the future. Because, the basis for International Relations that was set up were defective and establish rule of the developed over the underdeveloped countries. The U.N. is prime example of the deficiencies. It has failed in all its charters and mandates. A new fairer International system and Organizational bodies needs urgently to be set up. One that it is more equitable, account for the developed, educated and much prosperous world than the past one and enforces the treaties, charters and mandates it agreed upon.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 29, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

There is nothing an organization could do that could not be done by treaty. The problem with treaties is that they are always abandoned when they conflict with a strong national interest.

The same problem can occur with any new international organization. For example, an international court can rule away human rights to free speech about the holocaust with the stroke of a pen, but if a nation's leaders sincerely disagree with the ruling, the ruling will be ignored. The U.N. can enact a million resolutions, but only those that are acceptable to national leaders will be obeyed. If the U.N. had a military force of overwhelming power to enforce its resolutions, the result would be war -- the exact opposite of the intended purpose of the U.N.!

Trade relations makes wars impractical. If we are buyers and sellers of products and services with each other, then we do not want to disturb that relationship by war. It is the natural way to civilize ourselves.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 29, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

On the other hand trade relation needs resources to sell and trade, the acquisition thereof becomes the main goal for Wars. Trade relations will not make man civilized, but civilized man makes trade relations peacefully and progressive.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 29, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Seems to me the power of the pen is fully dependant on the will to implement the words that flow from it.

It then becomes a historical artifact of either the success or failure of diplomacy.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 2, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

National interest determines compliance with treaties, not individual or collective will. When a president determines that it is in the national interest to violate or abandon a treaty, he will do so even if he might personally prefer not to.

There are many good examples throughout America's history. One example is when President Reagan closed the US border with Mexico for two weeks, and he said he did not want to do that, but he did because it was in our national interest to send a message to the Mexican government that our DEA agents could not be tortured and killed without consequences for them. It cost Mexico a lot of tourist dollars as a result but there was no war.

The federal government already has enough warehouse space filled with historical junk that symbolized bloated budgets, excessive spending, and generally poor judgment.

The cost of storing a pen for the next 200 years, including security guards, cleaning and restoration, special cases for display, etc., will be how much?

.

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