When the House of Representatives convenes today, it will begin the discussion of the Ludlow War Referendum Amendment, another in the modern series of peace panaceas. Like so many similar plans, it is totally impractical. Like all attempts to paralyze further American foreign policy, it is potentially harmful to the very cause it wishes to promote. Congress can never legislate peace, and the longer it continues to try, the nearer will be second World War.
Representative Ludlow proposes an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting Congress from declaring war, except in case of invasion, until the nation casts a favorable vote in a general referendum. Presumably he expects that the vote would be negative. The masses have never yet demonstrated calmness and clear thinking in the face of jingoistic propaganda, but even if the vote were negative, nothing would be solved. International conditions would change, and in a week another referendum would be necessary. While the nation was busy conducting Mr. Ludlow's weekly referendums, the central government would be paralyzed. As a peace measure, it is hopelessly futile.
Far more serious is the fact that this amendment is potentially very harmful; it would destroy the influence which a revitalized American foreign policy could wield. As Secretary Woodring recently said, "Let us keep ourselves in position to use our powerful influence . . . to uphold international good faith, decency, and order, in the knowledge that only in a world that respects these underlying principles can democracies survive."