„Great powers agreeing among themselves may indeed hold small powers in check. But who will hold great powers in check when great powers disagree?“
— Charles Evans Hughes
Context: Time has shown how illusory are alliances of great powers so far as the maintenance of peace is concerned. In considering the use of international force to secure peace, we are again brought to the fundamental necessity of common accord. If the feasibility of such a force be conceded for the purpose of maintaining adjudications of legal right, this is only because such an adjudication would proceed upon principles commonly accepted, and thus forming part of international law, and upon the common agreement to respect the decision of an impartial tribunal in the application of such principles. This is a limited field where force is rarely needed and where the sanctions of public opinion and the demands of national honor are generally quite sufficient to bring about acquiescence in judicial awards. But in the field of conflicting national policies, and what are deemed essential interests, when the smoldering fires of old grievances have been fanned into a flame by a passionate sense of immediate injury, or the imagination of peoples is dominated by apprehension of present danger to national safety, or by what is believed to be an assault upon national honor, what force is to control the outbreak? Great powers agreeing among themselves may indeed hold small powers in check. But who will hold great powers in check when great powers disagree?.