Memorandum by the Secretary of State (Hull) Regarding a Conversation With the Italian Ambassador (Suvich), [Extracts], [WASHINGTON,] July 6, 1937.

I then launched into the strongest possible discussion of nationalism in its extreme form, carefully distinguishing between sane, practical nationalism within reasonable limits and the extreme type which during the post-war period has constituted the worst disease that could overtake the human family. I repeated my illustration of a community of families, as set forth in a radio address of mine during Foreign Trade Week, in which I pointed out what happened to a family that undertook to live a hermit existence without a single friend among the families of the same community, how it stagnated and steadily became hopelessly decadent. I said, This is the great curse of the world today and threatens civilized nations with still more disastrous effects, unless the nations immediately begin at least to move in a different direction with a definite and sound program. I remarked that our entire program promulgated at Buenos Aires contains a reasonable, practical and most urgent set of principles and policies as the single alternative to the present disastrous course of affairs in Europe,-that is, a peaceful settlement and adjustment and rehabilitation of all worthwhile and indispensable international relationships. I said that it is nobody's fault in particular that after eighteen years the only foundation which Europe presents for a restored international order is the narrowest, cutthroat, trouble-breeding method of trading and a wild, runaway race in armaments; but that this is in striking contrast with the program of the 21 American nations, and of several European countries which have approved it in the main, which does provide a solid and permanent foundation for a stable structure of business, of peace, and of government; that the single question is-whether the civilized nations will wait until it is too late before proclaiming and pursuing this practical and constructive course. I elaborated further with my usual arguments in support of this program and especially emphasized the extreme necessity for its support by European countries generally, before too late.

I said, " . . . all of the nations never get fully armed under a policy of rearmament races; one or more always desires longer time to get more fully armed and equipped; and, in the end, an explosion inevita bly occurs." I continued. "This is the situation in Europe today. It is to avoid just such a cataclysm that the 21 American nations have offered a program and are pleading to all other civilized nations to embrace it and give it support without a day's delay." . . . I said that there was never before such an opportunity for some important country in Europe to furnish leadership with just this sort of a program as I had outlined; that a few addresses proclaiming it and supporting it would result in an amazing awakening of peace and good neighbor sentiment and that a wave of grateful public sentiment would sweep over Europe and over the entire Western World. . . . He again came back to the question of the time not being propitious for a movement in support of an alternative program for economic and peace restoration. I replied that if each nation waits until the time is exactly right from its standpoint, then I must again repeat that the time never would become propitious; that the experience of recent years in Europe clearly demonstrates this view; that it has not been possible for the nations of Europe to settle any one or two of the 7 or 8 point program involved, or, in other words, the situation is merely drifting amidst increasing turbulence and uproar in Europe, as well as in certain other parts of the world . . . .

I elaborated here on the general situation in Europe, referring to it as serious and what many would call dangerous. I remarked that either another war or a deep-seated economic panic would be utterly destructive of all that is worthwhile in the affairs of the western world, and yet absolutely nothing in Europe is being done in the way of permanent planning in the direction of peace and general stability. I said that today there are probably 4 million wage-earners in Germany engaged in armament production, who, with their families, comprise 15 to 20 million of the entire German population of 70 million; that relative numbers in the United States, Great Britain, Italy, France, and other countries, are likewise engaged; that within another eighteen months, when the resources of most countries necessary for further increased armaments are exhausted, it would not be humanly possible to find other gainful and productive employment for all the millions and millions and millions of wage-earners now engaged in military production; and that yet, with the roar of the economic and the military Niagara below, now within distinct hearing, and with the certain knowledge that the happening of either catastrophe would be fatal, nations are drifting and drifting and drifting with no broad or permanent or peaceful planning.

I said that it is in these circumstances that this country, as state before, while taking every precaution to keep aloof from political and military involvements abroad, strongly feels that each civilized country right now has the unshirkable responsibility of making a real contribution to promote peace and normal international relationships; that therefore it and the other American nations are behind the broad economic program and its kindred provisions to which I had referred, and that naturally we are looking longingly to leading countries in Europe to offer a similar contribution to peace and economic well-being; that unless they do awaken and give support to such a program and movement, an economic collapse in Europe within 18 to 24 months is inevitable.


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. 365-367.

Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Interwar Period Page