THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE N.R.A.
AN ADDRESS BY MR. WILLIAM O. SCROGGS
Thursday, March 21, 1935
MR. DANA PORTER: Gentlemen, in these days of insecurity, it is perhaps somewhat of a surprise and even though we do not know what our speaker is going to tell us today, perhaps somewhat of a relief to hear that the New Deal has a foreign policy.
Mr. Scroggs is connected with the Council on Foreign Relations, of New York City. Shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Peace there was established in England the Royal Institute of International Affairs, of which there is a branch in Canada known as the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. At the same time there was established in the United States the Council on Foreign Relations. The functions of these bodies are similar. Their purpose is to enquire into various subjects of international affairs, dispassionately and with the approach of scholarship. The membership is made up of a very great variety of men representing as many different points of view as possible. It is not the object of these societies to influence policy or to come to any official conclusion as to what should be done, but merely to attempt to understand and to find out.
Mr. Scroggs comes to us well versed in the subject about which he intends to speak, The Foreign Policy of the New Deal, and as one of the leading members of this Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, he will not be bringing to you any point of view that is the point of view of that Council, but he will be explaining the situation as he sees it. It is with very great pleasure that I introduce to you, Mr. William O. Scroggs.
MR. WILLIAM O. SCROGGS: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: I am very glad that I was asked to discuss the foreign policy of the New Deal and not the domestic policy, because the foreign policy is very much simpler than the domestic policy. I don't believe there has ever been a time within the memory of living people when our American people on the other side of the border were quite so perplexed as to what it is all about as they are today.
I heard a few days ago of a conversation between three American citizens. The question arose: What past year in our history most resembles the present? One of these gentlemen who was an enthusiastic New Dealer, said, "1776, because that was the year we gained our independence, and now we are gaining it again." Another who was even more enthusiastic said, "No, not 1776, but 1865 because then we had emancipation from slavery and we are being emancipated again." And the third, who was a different political faith, said, "No, Gentlemen, you are both wrong. It is not 1776, it is not 1865, but it is 1492." They said, "Why?" And he said, "Don't you know, we are just like Columbus. Columbus sailed out into the unknown, not knowing where he was going, and when he got there he didn't know where he was and he turned around and came home and he never did know just where he had been."
Well, I don't have to discuss the domestic aspects, but I will just add this to what the other two New Dealers said, "Anyhow, whether Columbus knew what it was all about or not, he really did a swell job." Let us hope the swell job is being done even though we don't exactly understand it.
When Mr. Roosevelt came into office he was regarded as more of an internationalist than was President Hoover. He was elected on a platform calling for lower tariffs and he was generally regarded as being more friendly, for instance, to the League of Nations, than his political opponent, but under the pressure of circumstances the Roosevelt Administration during the first year followed a rather strictly nationalist policy. It had to devote its attention to relieving unemployment, to promoting domestic recovery, to taking care of the banks which were in trouble and also it was pledged to carry out certain economic and social reforms and so we find the tendency of an administration which was expected to take a rather internationalist attitude, taking for a time, a nationalist attitude. This is seen in a good many of the domestic policies which had their repercussions on foreign policy, particularly in the case of our monetary policy, our going off gold, our agricultural adjustment policy, and the N.R.A., but that is all beyond the scope of our discussion today.
In the second year the administration had come to the conclusion that domestic recovery could not be attained by relying wholly on domestic measures and so we find an increasing tendency toward economic collaboration with other countries.
The Administration was faced with something of a dilemma. If they went along the nationalist road it would be necessary to abandon some 50,000 acres of land and redistribute a large part of the population and the social cost was too large, as well as the economic cost, so we find the administration comes to rely more on measures of economic collaboration as a means of promoting recovery.
The best example of that economic collaboration, of course, is seen in the Trade Agreement Act in which you people in Canada are very much interested. We have already negotiated reciprocity treaties with three countries -Cuba, Brazil and Belgium, and negotiations have been initiated with about a dozen other countries. Of course, this is still in the experimental stage.
While we have been coming to rely more and more on international economic collaboration we seem, I think, to be showing a tendency to seek at the same time, a greater degree of political isolation. You see that in the case of the World Court, for instance. The Senate refused to ratify our adherence to the World Court although five Presidents have been urging it, from President Wilson down to President Franklin Roosevelt. It is a rather peculiar thing that our international relations the world over, have been going from bad to worse since the worst of the world depression has been past. So far as we can judge, from comparisons of statistics from various countries, we reached the lowest point in the world depression about the middle of 1932. Since then there has been some improvement nearly everywhere; in some countries, quite a substantial improvement; in the `gold bloc countries,' not so much improvement as in Great Britain and in Canada and the United States. But international relations have been growing worse as economic conditions have tended to become better and that change from bad to worse has had its effect on the foreign policy of the United States, under the New Deal, and so, while we are leaning in the direction of some kind of collaboration, we are also ending to isolate ourselves more and more from the troubles of the rest of the world. We can't completely do it, of course, but we are trying to reduce the points of friction which may involve the United States in international complications.
The indications of that thing, I think, are unmistakable. We can call them„ collectively, I think, in the case of my country, a retreat from Imperialism. We have withdrawn the marines from Nicaragua where they had been since about 1910, and we have withdrawn the marines from Haiti, where we had maintained a kind of military government since 1915; and we have abandoned our protectorate over Cuba which existed since Cuba attained its independence as a result of the Spanish-American War. We have made preparations to withdraw from the Philippines. We plan to withdraw gradually over a period of ten years. Now, we are withdrawing from these outposts because the American people really fear another war somewhere in the world. I don't think they fear it immediately. The American people seem to take very calmly the recent German announcement of plans to rearm but they feel that some time in the not distant future there may be another war and they do not wish to be involved in it if it can be avoided.
That is seen in still other ways. The United States is cultivating now, better relations with Latin America than have existed at any time within my memory. The withdrawal of the marines from Nicaragua and Haiti, the abandonment of the protectorate over Cuba are two instances.
We really began this policy in the Coolidge Administration when Mr. Dwight W. Morrow went to Mexico as the American Ambassador and almost from the day Mr. Morrow arrived in Mexico, our relations with Latin America began to improve. President Roosevelt, in December, 1933, made a restatement of the Munroe Doctrine which was intended to reassure Latin American neighbours. The Munroe Doctrine, as you know, goes back to the year 1823, and it was directed at a group of European powers who had been suspected of designs to restore the rule of Spain in South America. Essentially, the Doctrine is that we shall not tolerate European interference in the affairs of our southern neighbours. The southern neighbours for whose benefit this was intended have never appreciated it and they feel we are trying really to assert a kind hegemony over Latin America, and in the course of time the Munroe Doctrine was elaborated by several Presidents, until under President Theodore Roosevelt we had practically taken the position, since we were not allowing European nations to interfere in Latin American affairs if any trouble developed in Latin America, then it was up to us to perform the duties of the peace office and preserve peace.
Well, President Roosevelt has restated the Doctrine and gone back to the first principle. In a speech which he delivered in December, 1933, he said, "It is not the sacred obligations of the United States to maintain constitutional government in nearby countries. That is the duty, first of all, of the country immediately concerned, and it is only when these disturbances begin to affect other countries that it is the duty of other countries to take some action," and he pledged that the United States would, before taking any action, also consult with the neighbours of the country concerned and he has carried that out on a number of occasions. When revolution broke out in Cuba in the summer of 1933, President Roosevelt summoned representatives of some half dozen Latin American countries to the White House and consulted with them about policy and as you know, we went through that revolution without the United States intervening although the United States had the legal right at that time under our treaties with Cuba to intervene whenever there were disorders that were threatening life and liberty and civil order in the country. We landed no marines. We recognized the first government which showed that it rested on the consent of a considerable part of the Cuban people and then we went further and repealed what is known as the Platt Amendment which is the legislative enactment which establishes the wayside protection over Cuba. Under the Platt Amendment, Cuba could not make any treaties with foreign countries involving anything like an alliance, and Cuba could not incur foreign indebtedness on its own responsibility, and Cuba acknowledged the right of the United States, also, to intervene when it seemed the existing government couldn't maintain law and order. Our abrogation of the Platt Amendment has done a great deal to improve our relations not merely with Cuba but with all the Latin American countries. So, that policy we call `the good neighbour policy'.
Now, just a word with regard to our relations with Europe. A great many people think, a great many Canadians think the foreign policy of the United States is characterized by isolation. But we have never followed a policy of isolation in the Far East. We have always been ready to take a hand in affairs there when we thought it necessary. We have never followed a policy of isolation in Latin America. It is only in the case of Europe that our policy smacks at all of isolation. The Roosevelt Administration has carried on President Hoover's policy so far as disarmament is concerned and has gone a little further in the direction of making what they regard as practical arrangements for disarmament than the Hoover Administration was willing to go.
The United States is not a member of the League of Nations but has been represented in the Disarmament Conference called under League auspices and when the Disarmament Conference first met, the United States proposed what it called 'qualitative disarmament'; that is, let the nations lay aside their offensive armaments and maintain defensive armaments only. France, you will recall, was demanding that she should have guarantees of security before there was a treaty for disarmament. The Hoover Administration hoped, by advocating qualitative disarmament and the abandonment of offensive armaments that they would meet the French demand for security; that is that the great powers would abandon certain weapons which allegedly could be used for offensive warfare and they could increase if they cared to, their defensive weapons. In other words, they could build as many forts along their frontiers as they pleased but they ought to agree among themselves not to build heavy mobile artillery, that they should abandon tanks, bombing planes and chemical warfare.
Well, it is very difficult when we come to concrete cases to draw the line between offensive and defensive weapons. If some one trespasses on your place and is brandishing a brick bat or a sword at you, that brick bat is an offensive weapon, but if the brick bat is in your hand's and you are trying to drive off the invader, the brick bat is a defensive weapon, so when an attempt is made to put into rigid category an offensive and defensive weapon, it was decided it could not be done and a British delegate finally said he had come to the conclusion that armaments are defensive when you are standing behind them and offensive when you are standing in front of them, so the whole effort to solve the disarmament problem on the ground of offensive and defensive armaments is practically abandoned.
Now, President Roosevelt, shortly after taking office, in an address to the fifty-three nations which were represented in the Disarmament Conference, urged a new international treaty, a non-aggression treaty. The importance of that non-aggression treaty is that it was to carry a simple definition of aggression. The nations were to pledge themselves mutually, not to send armed forces of any character across their own frontiers and a nation which did that would be adjudged the aggressor. Now, that Non-Aggression Treaty goes much further than the Briand-Kellogg Pact. Under the Briand-Kellogg Pact, some fifty odd nations, as you know, have renounced war as an instrument of national policy. But we have discovered that in the Far East and down in South America, several countries have been able to carry on really first class wars in spite of their agreement in the Kellogg-Pact, simply because they don't call it war. They have never formally declared war and they go on fighting. Now, instead of leaving that loophole, the Non-Aggression Pact would stipulate that the country which sent its forces across its frontiers is an aggressor and a violator of the treaty, but the administration has not stopped at that. It has announced its willingness in a case of a disarmament treaty and agreement through this Non-Aggression Pact to consult with the other nations whenever there is any threat to world peace.
Now, the agreement to consult is really important. Lord Grey said if there had been a general agreement among the world powers to consult in 1914, that the World War would not have come in 1914. We are willing then to consult if there is a threat to world peace, the powers that have possessions in the Pacific, Great Britain, the United States, Japan and France. These four powers agreed to respect each others possessions and they agreed to consult among themselves in case there is any aggression upon their possessions.
Then, there is the Nine Power Treaty in which five other nations besides the four I have named are joined, in which these various countries have agreed to respect the territorial integrity of China and to maintain the open door.
Now, the Naval Agreement and the Nine Power Agreement are all tied together in one system to maintain stability and peace in the Pacific, but Japan lately has insisted that the Naval Agreement must be altered. Japan insists on complete naval equality with Great Britain and the United States and in December there was a preliminary conference in London in which the United States and Great Britain and Japan took part in an effort to work out some satisfactory arrangement. That failed and on the 29th of December last, Japan gave formal notice of her intention to abrogate the Naval Treaty. She has to give notice two years in advance which means unless some arrangement is reached before the end of 1936, that the five, five, three ratio arranged will be at an end.
Now, the United States has taken the position that Japan is entitled in the Pacific to naval equality. That is not to tonnage equality but to equality of security - equality of security but not equality of tonnage. And the United States Government has maintained that the five, five, three ratio gives Japan equality of security because Great Britain and the United States have interests both in the Atlantic and in the Pacific and therefore they need a larger naval establishment than Japan. To give Japan naval equality in tonnage means giving Japan naval superiority in the Pacific and that, neither Great Britain or the United States is willing to concede. So there will probably be a new kind of naval conference sometime during the current year in an effort to work out 1928, we have the Kellogg Pact, and in 1929, the Young Plan and in 1931, the Hoover Moratorium, and in 1932, the so-called Stimson Doctrine;, by Secretary of State Stimson, which has been adopted by the League of Nations and which pledges the members of the League not to recognize the fruits of military aggression, which has prevented the members of the League from recognizing what Japan has done in Manchuria.
Just a word as to how far you can count upon the United States in going to promote collective security and the stabilization of peace. There are a number of things which very definitely the United States will not do. The United States will not agree to allow any outside agency to determine what its policy shall be under a given situation which may arise in the future. The United States will not even say today what it will do in a future contingency. It does insist on freedom to form its own independent judgment and to act as it seems its interests dictate when it meets that situation. The United States is willing to stand with its agreement with other nations not to recognize the fruits of aggressive warfare. That is, it will co-operate with other nations in maintaining the Stimson Doctrine. The United States is ready to join other nations in a treaty for disarmament or, more correctly, for arms limitation, more than actual disarmament. The United States announced its readiness to join other nations in a non-aggression pact and the United States is ready to consult with other nations in the event they agree to a limitation of armaments, to consult with other nations and to modify its policy of neutrality if it agrees with the other nations as a result of this consultation. That is as far as you can safely count on the United States going in the promotion of collective security but ,that is, I think, really a substantial distance and I would say further, that the history of the United States since 1920 has shown that there is a vast difference between what we actually do when an occasion arises and between what we say we will do in advance. That is, we will not promise before a trouble arises that we will do a certain thing in the case of trouble but when trouble comes we frequently do certain things we would never think of promising we would do before hand.
The New Deal moved toward nationalism is its first year; in its second year it has moved toward international collaboration. It may, under the pressure of development, have to modify its policy again, but whatever it does, I rather think that perhaps Canada will have considerable influence in its policy. I think the man who is, perhaps, our greatest internationalist, is Professor Shotwell of Columbia University. He is really the author of the Briand-Kellogg Pact, the Pact of Paris, and he is a native of Canada. On the other hand, our greatest anti-internationalist is probably Father Coughlin - he also is a native of Canada. So, I say, no matter which way we go, one way or the other, Canada perhaps, will have a finger in the pie. (Applause, prolonged.)