Secretary Hull's Conversation With the German Ambassador
ON NOVEMBER 2, 1933, in a conversation between Secretary of State Hull and German Ambassador Luther on the related questions of disarmament and world peace, the Secretary said that "the outlook in Europe at this distance for disarmament or for peace" did not appear very encouraging; that "a general war during the next two to ten years seemed more probable than peace"; that this country "had exerted itself in every way possible in support of the latter [peace] and against the possible recurrence of the former [war]", but that frankly he felt discouraged.
The German Ambassador quoted Hitler's statement to the effect that Germany
would not seek the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, and that in his opinion this
should quiet French apprehension. He added that the Saar question was an entirely
Consul General Messersmith's Report From Berlin
The United States Consul General at Berlin, George S. Messersmith, who had been at that post since 1930, reported frequently to the Department of State during this period on the menace inherent in the Nazi regime. Mr. Messersmith expressed the view, in a letter of June 26, 1933 to Under Secretary of State Phillips, that the United States must be exceedingly careful in its dealings with Germany as long as the existing Government was in power, as that Government had no spokesmen who could really be depended upon and those who held the highest positions were "capable of actions which really outlaw them from ordinary intercourse". He reported that some of the men who were running the German Government were "psychopathic cases"; that others were in a state of exaltation and in a frame of mind that knew no reason; and that those men in the party and in responsible positions who were really worthwhile were powerless because they had to follow the orders of superiors who were suffering from the "abnormal psychology" prevailing in Germany. "There is a real revolution here and a dangerous situation", he said.
Consul General Messersmith reported further that a martial spirit was being developed in Germany; that everywhere people were seen drilling, including children from the age of five or six to persons well into middle age; that a psychology was being developed that the whole world was against Germany, which was defenseless before the world; that people were being trained against gas and airplane attacks; and that the idea of war from neighboring countries was constantly harped upon. He emphasized that Germany was headed in directions which could only carry ruin to it and create a situation "dangerous to world peace". He said we must recognize that while Germany at that time wanted peace, it was by no means a peaceful country or one looking forward to a long period of peace; that the German Government and its adherents desired peace ardently for the time being because they needed peace to carry through the changes in Germany which they wanted to bring about. What they wanted to do was to make Germany "the most capable instrument of war that there has ever existed".
Consul General Messersmith reported from Berlin five months later, in a letter
of November 23, 1933 to Under Secretary Phillips, that the military spirit in
Germany was constantly growing and that innumerable measures were being taken
to develop the German people into a hardy, sturdy race which would "be able
to meet all comers". He said that the leaders of Germany had no desire for peace
unless it was a peace in complete compliance with German ambitions; that Hitler
and his associates really wanted peace for the moment, but only to have a chance
to prepare for the use of force if it were found essential; and that they were
preparing their way so carefully that the German people would be with them when
they wanted to use force and when they felt that they had the "necessary means
to carry through their objects".
President Roosevelt's Address of December 28, 1933
In an address delivered at Washington on December 28, 1933 President Roosevelt stated that the blame for the danger to peace was not in the world population but in the political leaders of that population. He said that probably 90 percent of the people in the world were content with the territorial limits of their respective nations and were willing further to reduce their armed forces if every other nation would agree to do the same thing. He said that back of the threat to world peace were the fear and possibility that the other 10 percent might go along with a leadership seeking territorial expansion at the expense of neighbors and unwilling to reduce armament or stop rearmament even if everybody else agreed to non-aggression and to arms reduction. He believed that if the 10 percent could be persuaded "to do their own thinking and not be led", we would have permanent peace throughout the world.
Acting Commercial Attaché Miller's Report on the Nazis
Consul General Messersmith transmitted to the Department of State on April 21, 1934 a report by Acting Commercial Attaché Douglas Miller on the situation in Germany. The Consul General noted that the conclusions of the Attaché had been arrived at independently and that they accorded entirely with his own appraisal of the situation.
Mr. Miller stated that the fundamental purpose of the Nazis "is to secure a greater share of the world's future for the Germans, the expansion of German territory and growth of the German race until it constitutes the largest and most powerful nation in the world, and ultimately, according to some Nazi leaders, until it dominates the entire globe". He expressed the view that the German people were suffering from a traditional inferiority complex, smarting from their defeat in the war and the indignities of the post-war period, disillusioned in their hopes of a speedy return to prosperity along traditional lines, and inflamed by irresponsible demagogic slogans and flattered by the statement that their German racial inheritance gave them inherent superior rights over other peoples. As a result the German people, who were "politically inept and unusually docile", had to a large measure adopted the Nazi point of view for the time being.
The most important objective of the Nazis, according to Mr. Miller's analysis,
was to retain absolute control of the German people This control, he said, had
been gained by making irresponsible and extravagant promises; by the studied
use of the press, the radio, public meetings, parades, flags, uniforms; and
finally by the use of force. He said that the Nazis were at heart belligerent
and aggressive; that although they desired a period of peace for several years
in which to rearm and discipline their people, the more completely their experiments
succeeded "the more certain is a large-scale war in Europe some day".
Mr. Miller warned that we must not place too much reliance on Nazi public statements designed for consumption abroad, which breathed the spirit of good-will and peace and asserted the intention of the Government to promote the welfare of the German people and good relations with their neighbors. The real emotional drive behind the Nazi program, he said, was not so much love of their own country as dislike of other countries. The Nazis would never be content in merely promoting the welfare of the German people; they desired to be feared and envied by foreigners and "to wipe out the memory of 1918 by inflicting humiliations in particular upon the French, the Poles, the Czechs and anybody else they can get their hands on". Hitler and the other Nazi leaders had capitalized on the wounded inferiority complex of the German people and had magnified their own bitter feelings "into a cult of dislike against the foreign world which is past the bounds of ordinary good sense and reason". Mr. Miller emphasized that the Nazis were building a tremendous military machine, physically very poorly armed, but morally aggressive and belligerent. The control of this machine was in the hands of "narrow, ignorant and unscrupulous adventurers who have been slightly touched with madness from brooding over Germany's real or imagined wrongs". Mr. Miller stated that the Nazis were determined to secure more power and more territory in Europe; that they would certainly use force if these were not given to them by peaceful means.
Reported German-Japanese Entente
Throughout this period indications were received by this Government from various sources that Germany and Japan were drawing together in closer relations. The two countries were in similar situations in that each had left the League of Nations and each was already engaged in preparing militarily and otherwise a program of national expansion. In May 1934 the United States Military Attaché in Berlin, Lieutenant Colonel Wuest, reported that evidence was accumulating which tended "to show the existence of unusually close and friendly relations between Germany and Japan even to the extent of a possible secret alliance". This report stated further that these friendly relations between the two countries were dependent entirely upon self-interest; that the Germans usually expressed themselves to the effect that "we are encouraging close and friendly relations with Japan because it is to our advantage to do so but we must never forget that we are white people and they are not".
Shortly thereafter, United States Consul Geist at Berlin reported to the Department of State that the German Government was bent on recovering Germany's military prestige and then seeing what could be obtained from the rest of the world. He said that German rearmament was concentrated upon power in the air and motorization of attacking forces; that the young Nazis were enthusiastic with regard to military prospects; that they spoke of gas war, bacteriological war, and the use of death-dealing rays; that they boasted that airplanes would not pass the German frontiers; and that they had fantastic ideas about Germany's invincibility in "the next war".
Mr. Geist emphasized that the youth of Germany were being inculcated with
an unprecedented, conscious, and deliberate love of militarism; that one of
the amazing things of modern history was that the government of a great power
should definitely teach children to cherish ideas of valor, heroism, and self-sacrifice,
"unrelieved by any of the virtues which modern civilization has come to place
above brute force". The Consul said that war might not be imminent but it was
difficult to foresee how the bellicose spirit here can be restrained and directed
into permanent channels of peace towards the end of this present decade".
Addresses by Secretary Hull
In an address at Washington, May 5, 1934, Secretary of State Hull warned of the dangers in the international situation. He said that dictatorships had sprung up suddenly in place of democracies; that nations everywhere were narrowing their vision, their policies, and their programs; that each was undertaking more and more to visualize only itself and to live by itself; that numerous nations were "feverishly arming", taxing their citizens beyond the limit of ability to pay, and in many ways were developing a military spirit which might lead to war. He warned that it "would be both a blunder and a crime for civilized peoples to fail much longer to take notice of present dangerous tendencies".
Secretary Hull stated that international cooperation to promote understanding, friendship, and reciprocal benefits and conditions of peace was indispensable to the progress of civilization; that these international relationships had been practically abandoned; and that the entire political, economic, social, and moral affairs of most parts of the world were in a chaotic condition. The Secretary said that every Christian nation had an obligation to itself and to humanity to promote understanding, friendship, and peace. The civilization of the time was amply capable of meeting the unprecedented challenge which existing conditions offered and which must be met successfully unless the world was to be threatened with "another period of long night-such as the Dark Ages". He appealed to every individual to awaken and come to a realization of the problems and difficulties facing all and of the necessity for real sacrifice of time and service.
In another address of June 11, 1934 at Williamsburg, Virginia, Secretary Hull again warned of international dangers. He said that abroad there was reason "for the gravest apprehension"; that armaments were being increased; that the theory seemed to be abandoned that nations like individuals should live as neighbors and friends. He stated that the Government of the United States was striving to the utmost to make its fullest contribution to the maintenance of peace and civilization.
Relations With Japan-1934
The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Koki Hirota, in a message delivered to Secretary Hull on February 21, 1934, stated that no question existed between the United States and Japan which was fundamentally incapable of amicable solution and emphasized that Japan had no intention whatsoever of making trouble with any other power. (25)
Secretary Hull replied on March 3, 1934 that it was the fixed intention of the United States to rely in the prosecution of its national policies upon pacific processes; that if there should arise any controversy between the United States and Japan, this Government would be prepared to examine the position of Japan in a spirit of amity and of desire for peaceful and just settlement. He expressed the hope that it might be possible for all countries interested in the Far East to approach every question arising between or among them in such spirit and manner that these questions might be regulated or resolved with injury to none and with definite and lasting advantage to all.
Despite this encouraging exchange of views, there occurred almost immediately thereafter significant indications of an attitude inconsistent therewith on the part of the Japanese Government with regard to the rights and interests in China of other countries. These indications included a statement by Mr. Amau, spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Office. On April 29, 1934, in accordance with instructions from Washington, Ambassador Grew presented to the Japanese Foreign Minister a note stating that the relations of the United States with China, with Japan, and with other countries were governed by the generally accepted principles of international law and the provisions of treaties to which the United States was a party; that treaties could lawfully be modified or terminated only by processes prescribed recognized or agreed upon by the parties to them; that no nation could, without the assent of the other nations concerned, rightfully endeavor to make conclusive its will in situations where there were involved the rights, the obligations, and the legitimate interests of other sovereign states; that the United States sought to be duly considerate of the rights, obligations, and legitimate interests of other countries, and it expected on the part of other governments due consideration rights, obligations, and legitimate interests of the United States.
In a conversation four days earlier the Japanese Foreign Minister had assured Ambassador Grew that Japan had no intention whatever of seeking special privileges in China, of encroaching on the territorial and administrative integrity of China, or of creating difficulties for the bona-fide trade of other countries with China; and that Japan would take no action in China purposely provocative to other countries. In reply, Ambassador Grew had said to the Foreign Minister that the Government and people of the United States would be less impressed by statements of policy than by more concrete evidence.
On May 16, 1934 Secretary Hull had a general conversation with Japanese Ambassador Saito, one of many conversations in which the Secretary endeavored to convince the Japanese that their best interests lay in following policies of peace. Citing the commercial and military possibilities brought about by the remarkable advance in aviation, he said that twenty years ago no human being could have visualized the amazing changes that were taking place in every part of the world; that amidst these amazing changes the more highly civilized nations had correspondingly greater responsibilities and duties, from the standpoint both of their own progress and well-being and of that of the world. He expressed the belief that no highly civilized nation could let the people of other countries undergo a steady state of decline and even collapse without that civilized nation itself being drawn down in the vortex. He said that this meant that Japan and the United States, for their own self-preservation and for their world responsibility, should exhibit the utmost breadth of view and the most profound statesmanship.
Three days later the Secretary talked again with the Japanese Ambassador. During the conversation the Ambassador repeated the formula which his Government had been putting forward publicly for some weeks to the effect that Japan had a superior and special function in connection with the preservation of peace in eastern Asia. The Secretary felt it desirable to bring to the Japanese Ambassador's attention the clear implications contained in the Japanese formula of the intention on the part of Japan to exercise an overlordship over neighboring nations and territories. Accordingly, he inquired why the Ambassador's Government "singled out" the formula of Japan's claim to superior and special interests in "eastern Asia" and of her superior rights and duties in connection with the preservation of peace there; whether this formula had ulterior or ultimate implications partaking of the nature of an "overlordship of the Orient". The Ambassador protested that this was not the meaning intended.
The Secretary said to the Ambassador that there was universal talk about armaments on a steadily increasing scale, and that Japan and Germany were the two countries considered chiefly responsible for this talk. He said that if the world understood the absence of any Japanese intentions of overlordship or other unwarranted interference by the Ambassador's Government, Japan "would not be the occasion for armament discussion in so many parts of the world".
A comprehensive appraisal of the situation in Japan was sent to the Secretary of State by Ambassador Grew in a despatch of December 27, 1934. The Ambassador reported that things were being constantly said and written in Japan to the effect that Japan's destiny was to subjugate and rule the world. He said that the aim of certain elements in the Army and Navy, the patriotic societies, and the intense nationalists throughout the country was "to obtain trade control and eventually predominant political influence in China, the Philippines, the Straits Settlements, Siam and the Dutch East Indies, the Maritime Provinces and Vladivostok, one step at a time, as in Korea and Manchuria, pausing intermittently to consolidate and then continuing as soon as the intervening obstacles can be overcome by diplomacy or force". With such dreams of empire cherished in Japan, and with a Japanese Army and Navy capable of "taking the bit in their own teeth and running away with it", we would be "reprehensibly somnolent", Ambassador Grew warned, if we were to trust to the security of treaty restraints or international comity to safeguard our own interests.
Continuing, the Ambassador said that there was a "swashbuckling temper" in the country, largely developed by military propaganda, which could lead Japan during the next few years to any extreme unless the saner minds in the Government were able to cope with it and to restrain the country from national suicide. He referred to the extreme sensitiveness of the Japanese people which, he said, arose out of a marked inferiority complex manifested "in the garb of an equally marked superiority complex, with all its attendant bluster, chauvinism, xenophobia and organized national propaganda". He characterized as "thoroughly mistaken" the idea that a great body of liberal thought lying just beneath the surface since 1931 would be sufficiently strong to emerge and, with a little foreign encouragement, assume control. The liberal thought was there, he stated, but it was inarticulate and largely impotent and probably would remain so for some time to come.
The Ambassador said that unless we were prepared to subscribe to the "Pax Japonica" in the Far East, we should rapidly build up our Navy to treaty strength, and when the Washington Naval Treaty expired we should continue "regardless of cost" to maintain the existing naval ratios with Japan; that Japan's naval policy had been formulated on a premise that the United States would never build up to treaty strength. He reported that almost half of the Japanese national budget for 1935-36 was for the Army and Navy.
Finally, the Ambassador declared, it would be "criminally shortsighted" to discard from calculations the possibility of eventual war with Japan; the best possible way to avoid it would be adequate preparation, as "preparedness is a cold fact which even the chauvinists, the military, the patriots and the ultra-nationalists in Japan, for all their bluster concerning 'provocative measures' in the United States, can grasp and understand".
Defeat of Proposed Adherence to World Court
On January 16, 1935 President Roosevelt sent a message to the Senate, asking that the latter advise and consent to membership of the United States in the World Court. In his message the President said that such action would in no way diminish or jeopardize the sovereignty of the United States. He declared further that at this juncture, when every act was of moment to the future of world peace, the United States had an opportunity "once more to throw its weight into the scale in favor of peace". On January 29, 1935 the resolution of adherence was voted on by the Senate but failed of passage.
Warnings February-June 1935
Secretary Hull, in an address on February 16, 1935 at New York, said that the enormous speeding up of trade and communications made futile any endeavor to induce the United States again to withdraw into "splendid isolation". Our policies must of necessity be those of a great power; we could not, even if we would, "fail profoundly to affect international relations". The Secretary said that there had been a time when the ocean meant, or could mean, a certain degree of isolation; but that modern communication had ended this forever.
In this address Secretary Hull listed four pillars of a sound peace, structure: first, the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy; second, a promise of non-aggression; third, consultation in the event of a threat to peace; and fourth, non-interference on our part with measures of constraint brought against a deliberate violator of peace. In mentioning these peace pillars the Secretary emphasized that they might "readily crumble were they to be built on the shifting foundations of unrestricted and competitive armaments". Therefore, he said, the United States insisted that a real limitation and reduction of armament must be an essential concomitant of a peace program.
Mr. Messersmith, who had been appointed Minister to Austria in 1934, continued to send to the Department of State reports on the situation in Germany. In February 1935 he reported that the Nazis had their eyes on Memel, Alsace-Lorraine, and the eastern frontier; that they nourished just as strongly the hope to get the Ukraine for the surplus German population; that Austria was a definite objective; and that absorption or hegemony over the whole of southeastern Europe was a definite policy. A few weeks later he reported a conversation with William E. Dodd, United States Ambassador to Germany, in which they had agreed that no faith whatsoever could be placed in the Nazi regime and its promises, that what the Nazis were after was "unlimited territorial expansion", and that there was probably in existence a German-Japanese understanding, if not an alliance.
During a conversation with German Ambassador Luther on March 28, 1935, Secretary Hull questioned the Ambassador regarding the reported objectives of Germany with respect to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Memel, and the Polish Corridor. The Ambassador denied each reported objective and insisted that his Government favored peace. The Secretary said that the German Government then had the greatest opportunity in two generations to make a remarkable showing of leadership with a program that would gradually bring Western Europe to normal political, social, and peace relations. He said that nations could either take this course or could continue more or less aloof from each other with misunderstanding of each other's motives, purposes, and objectives; the result of the latter would be that each country would go forward and "arm to the teeth" so that at some stage a local incident might ignite the spark that would start a conflagration disastrous in ultimate effect to western civilization.
In an address on June 12, 1935 Secretary Hull warned that there were ominous tendencies in the world. He referred to the reckless, competitive building up of armaments which if unchecked would result in national bankruptcies and consequent inevitable inflation together with the utter destruction of such national stability as had thus far been achieved. He said that the world could not extricate itself from this relentless circle if it did not stop its extravagant military expenditures; that the continuation of the armament race would "again plunge the world into disaster."
In an address of a few days later the Secretary said that any clash abroad would dislocate the progress of recovery in the United States and that this country could not, in the long run, avoid the disastrous effects of such a clash. He could not, therefore, assure the people of the United States that they were immune from the effects of a possible conflict by being far removed from its locus or that they could "look without concern on the darkening clouds around the magic circle of the United States".
Proposed Arms Embargo
In a letter of April 5, 1933 to the appropriate committees of Congress, Secretary of State Hull asked that Congress enact legislation authorizing the application of arms embargoes under certain conditions. A similar proposal had been strongly urged upon Congress early in 1933 by President Hoover and Secretary of State Stimson.
The terms of the legislation advocated by Secretary Hull were that whenever the President found that the shipment of arms or munitions of war might promote or encourage the employment of force in a dispute or conflict between nations and, after securing the cooperation of such governments as the President deemed necessary and after making proclamation thereof, it should be unlawful to export any arms or munitions of war from the United States to any country designated by the President. This proposal would have authorized cooperation by the United States in an arms embargo against an aggressor nation.
In supporting the proposed legislation Secretary Hull said that it would be exercised by any President "to the sole end of maintaining the peace of the world and with a due and prudent regard for our national policies and national interests". He said that the special circumstances of each particular case which might arise would dictate what action, if any, would be taken, but the authority to act on terms of equality with other governments should be left to the discretion of the Executive. The Secretary said further that this Government should no longer be left in the position of being unable to join with other governments in preventing the supply of arms for use in an international conflict when it was exercising its diplomacy and the whole weight of our national influence and prestige to prevent or put an end to that conflict. Finally, he said that the enactment of the proposed legislation "would strengthen the position of this Government in its international relations and would enable us to cooperate more efficiently in efforts to maintain the peace of the world".
In a statement made on behalf of Secretary Hull to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, May 17, 1933, it was declared that in certain cases this Government might concur in the opinion of the rest of the world in fixing the responsibility for a conflict upon an aggressor nation; that in such cases an international embargo on the shipment of arms to one party to the conflict might be deemed an equitable and effective method of restoring peace; that this method, nevertheless, "would certainly not be adopted by this Government without such effective guarantees of international cooperation as would safeguard us against the danger of this country's being involved in the conflict as a result of such action".
Late in May the arms-embargo resolution, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives, was reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to the Senate with an amendment that any embargo established under it be applied impartially to all belligerents. Secretary Hull stated on May 29 that such an amendment was not in accord with the views of the President and of himself. The amended resolution was subsequently passed by the Senate but was not enacted.
In 1935 there developed considerable public support in the United States for an embargo on the export of arms to belligerents as a means of keeping the United States out of war. This support was based on the fallacious concept that the entrance of the United States into the World Wear in 1917 had been brought about by the sale of arms to belligerents. Under the influence of this concept and with the shadow of a new European war on the horizon the Congress passed a joint resolution in August 1935 providing that upon the outbreak or during the progress of war between or among two or more foreign states "the President shall proclaim such fact, and it shall thereafter be unlawful to export arms, ammunition, or implements of war" from the United States to any belligerent country. This legislation also contained provisions for the licensing of arms exports, the prohibition of the carriage by United States vessels of arms to belligerent states, and the restriction of travel by United States citizens on vessels of belligerent states. This joint resolution, known as the Neutrality Act, was signed by President Roosevelt on August 31, 1935. In signing it the President said he had done so "because it was intended as an expression of the fixed desire of the Government and the people of the United States to avoid any action which might involve us in war". However, he said that the "inflexible" arms-embargo provisions "might drag us into war instead of keeping us out"; that no Congress and no Executive could foresee all possible future situations.
A few months later Secretary Hull, in referring to the Neutrality Act, warned that to assume that by placing an embargo on arms we were making ourselves secure from dangers of conflict with belligerent countries was "to close our eyes to manifold dangers in other directions". He said further that every war presented different circumstances and conditions which might have to be dealt with differently; that, therefore, there were apparent difficulties inherent in any effort to lay down by legislative enactment "inelastic rules or regulations to be applied to every situation that may arise"; that the Executive should not be unduly or unreasonably handicapped; that discretion could wisely be given the President.
The Seventh International Conference of American States assembled in December 1933 at Montevideo, Uruguay. There the Good Neighbor Policy set forth by President Roosevelt on March 4, 1933 was given concrete expression. In an address before the Conference on December 15, 1933 Secretary Hull expressed confidence that each of the American nations wholeheartedly supported the Good Neighbor Policy-that each earnestly favored "the absolute independence, the unimpaired sovereignty, the perfect equality, and the political integrity of each nation, large or small, as they similarly oppose aggression in every sense of the word".
The Secretary stated that peace and economic rehabilitation must be "our objective" and avoidance of war "our supreme purpose"; that he believed profoundly that the American nations during the coming years would "write a chapter of achievement in the advancement of peace that will stand out in world history". He said that "while older nations totter under the burden of outworn ideas, cling to the decayed and cruel institution of war, and use precious resources to feed cannon rather than hungry mouths, we stand ready to carry on in the spirit of that application of the Golden Rule by which we mean the true good-will of the true good neighbor".
The Secretary asked that this be made the beginning of a new era, "a great renaissance in American cooperative effort to promote our entire material, moral, and spiritual affairs and to erect an edifice of peace that will forever endure"; that suspicion, misunderstanding, and prejudice be banished from every mind and genuine friendship for and trust in each other be substituted; that actions rather than mere words be the acid test of the conduct and motives of each nation; and that each country demonstrate by its every act and practice the sincerity of its purpose and the unselfishness of its relationship as a neighbor.
Finally, the Secretary said it was in this spirit that the Government and people of the United States expressed their "recognition of the common interests and common aspirations of the American nations" and joined with them "in a renewed spirit of broad cooperation for the promotion of liberty under law, of peace, of justice, and of righteousness".
At Montevideo the 21 American republics agreed upon principles for peaceful international relations, in a convention on the rights and duties of states. This convention, of December 26, 1933, contained provisions that: No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another; the primary interest of states is the conservation of peace; differences of any nature which arise between states should be settled by recognized pacific methods; and territorial acquisitions or special advantages obtained by force or other measures of coercion should not be recognized. Ratification of this convention was approved by the United States Senate on June 15, 1934; the convention was proclaimed by the President on January 18, 1935.
Acting in the spirit and on the basis of the principles of the Good Neighbor
Policy, the Montevideo Conference attempted to bring to an end the conflict
between Bolivia and Paraguay which had broken out in 1932 as a result of a long-standing
boundary dispute. Through the efforts of the Conference and a League of Nations
commission a temporary armistice was brought about in December 1933. However,
hostilities were soon resumed. The American nations continued persistent efforts
to end the war, and in June 1935 Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and
the United States succeeded in bringing about a termination of hostilities.
As a result of an arbitral award delivered by representatives of these six countries,
final settlement of the dispute was reached in 1938.
In 1933 the enlisted strength of the United States Army was 115,000 men. As a result of reductions in governmental expenditures the War Department appropriation act of March 4, 1933 provided only $270,000,000 for the military activities of the Army-a sharp reduction from the amount made available for similar purposes during the previous year. General Douglas MacArthur, Chief of Staff, stated in his annual report of 1933 that successive reductions in appropriations had seriously injured the equipment and training of the Army. He said that the strength of the Army in personnel and equipment and its readiness for employment were "below the danger line".
In 1934 General MacArthur recommended a program of expansion for the Army; the accomplishment of this program, he said, would still leave us far behind all other major powers but would at least offer the United States "a justified assurance in freedom from attack or, at the worst, from extreme consequences in the event of attack".
The War Department appropriation act of April 1936 authorized an increase of the Army to 165,000 enlisted men. In his report of 1935 General MacArthur said that measures had been undertaken to procure additional airplanes, motorized vehicles, tanks, and artillery, in most of which the Army's supplies had become obsolete or inadequate.
By 1933 the United States Navy, in up-to-date ships, had fallen far below the tonnage allowed by treaty. In that year President Roosevelt allocated funds from the National Industrial Recovery Act for the purpose of constructing and equipping 32 naval vessels. The Secretary of the Navy reported in 1933 that no such building program had been undertaken by this country since 1916; that of the signatories to the naval treaties we alone had not undertaken an orderly building program designed to bring the Navy up to treaty strength. He recommended an orderly annual naval building and replacement program which would "shortly give this country a treaty navy". He stated that the United States continued to strive for a reduction of armament by agreement but that the time had come when we could no longer afford to lead in disarmament by example. Other powers had not followed such a policy, he said, with the result that the United States found its relative naval strength seriously impaired. He said that our weakened position jeopardized the cause of peace, "because balanced armament fortifies diplomacy and is an important element in preserving peace and justice, whereas undue weakness invites aggressive, war-breeding violation of one's rights".
During 1934 the Vinson Naval Bill was enacted, authorizing the construction of ships up to the limits of the Washington and London Naval Treaties.
Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943), pp.12-27
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