REVIEW of REVIEWS

U. S. Talks Peace But Does Little

American writer charges his country with dilatory tactics in promoting world’s welfare

RAYMOND B. FOSDICK October 15 1931
REVIEW of REVIEWS

U. S. Talks Peace But Does Little

American writer charges his country with dilatory tactics in promoting world’s welfare

RAYMOND B. FOSDICK October 15 1931

U. S. Talks Peace But Does Little

REVIEW of REVIEWS

American writer charges his country with dilatory tactics in promoting world’s welfare

RAYMOND B. FOSDICK

THAT the United States, while pretending to lead in the search for world peace, actually does very little to bring it about, is the charge made by an American, Raymond B. Fosdick, in The Atlantic Monthly. He writes:

“In 1913 the United States had a fleet of 963,000 tons, Great Britain had a fleet of 2,222,000 tons, and France a fleet of 689,000 tons. Today the United States has 1,173,000 tons, Great Britain has 1,378,000 tons, and France has 618,000 tons. In terms of annual cost for naval armament the United States is spending today $382,000,000, whereas in 1913 we spent $133,000,000; Great Britain is spending $271,000,000, as against $247,000,000 in 1913; while France is spending $100,000,000, as against $90,000,000 in 1913. In other words, the United States is today spending 187 per cent more than she spent in 1913, Great Britain ten per cent more, and France eleven per cent more.

“If army and air defense costs are added to navy costs, the United States is this year spending $842,000,000, Great Britain is spending $560,000,000, and France $431,000,000. In 1914 the officers and men of our regular forces, both Army and Navy, were about 164,000; in 1924 they were about 256,000; today they are roughly 250,000. Our citizens’ army, including the National Guard and other forms of reserves, increases these totals to about 299,000 in 1914,

672,000 in 1924, and approximately 728,000

“Of the present world expenditure on armament—a total of about four and a half billion dollars a year—sixty per cent represents the expenditure of all the European countries put together, twenty per cent is spent by the United States, and twenty per cent by the rest of the world. In the United States the expenditure attributable to war (service of war debt, war pensions, and current cost of armaments) constitutes eighty per cent of the total Federal budget. In Great Britain this expenditure is seventyseven per cent of the budget; in France it is slightly less.

“We are accustomed to refer with considerable pride to the achievements of the Washington and London naval conferences and to the initiative which came from America. It is true that in both these conferences forward step» were taken in limiting naval competition, in declaring a ‘battleship holiday,’ and in reducing the tonnage in certain categories of auxiliary vessels. But it must not be forgotten that the significant result of these conferences in terms of American policy was the recognition by Great Britain of our right of parity with her in combat fleets. In the perspective of history this is a stupendous event. We have climbed to the throne of naval supremacy which, in the three hundred years from the Spanish Armada to the Battle of Jutland, was occupied by Great Britain alone. We have successfully asserted our right to have a navy second to none, and that right is now written into the body of international law. Hereafter we can, without question, build ton for ton and gun for gun with an empire whose far-flung commonwealths and dependencies have seemed until now to place its naval needs in a special class. Not what we need, but what Great Britain thinks' she needs, is now our basis of measurement. What this will cost us if we build up to the treaty levels cannot with precision be determined. The chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee estimates an outlay for this purpose of $500,000,000 by 1940, which, added to the cost of ships already authorized, will bring the total building cost to roughly $936,000,000.

“It is true that these increases are optional and not mandatory, but the big-navy people now have the whip hand; a definite goal has been legally established; and the campaign which has already been initiated to drive the United States to exercise the right which it won at the London Conference will be increasingly difficult to resist.

“In the last decade American foreign policy has been profoundly influenced by the fact that fifty-four nations have grouped themselves into a League in which we have declined to accept membership. Nevertheless, the United States is today represented, officially and unofficially, on many committees and at many conferences of the League of Nations.

“But the relationship is still undefined and haphazard, and our foreign policy is in a state of continuous embarrassment in its attempt to work with other nations through the machinery which they have developed at Geneva, and at the same time avoid what Mr. Coolidge always referred to as the ‘entanglements’ of the League. The result is uncertainty and capriciousness.

“In spite of the fact that we participate on varying bases of collaboration in many of the League’s committees and conferences, in ten years we have contributed toward the expenses of this work only $25,000, approximately. We have paid nothing toward any share in the general overhead expenses of the League, such as salaries, printing of documents, headquarters at Geneva, and so forth, nor toward those conferences of a ‘humanitarian and technical’ nature—to quote the language of the Republican platform—in which we are represented by private citizens like Jeremiah Smith and Professor Millikan, who have been nominated by the League rather than by the State Department. During this same tenyear period Great Britain and France have contributed to the League roughly $4,000,000 each—and even Liberia and Haiti have given $67,000 and $118,000 respectively.

“This state of uncertainty, with one foot in the League’s door, makes our foreign policy fumbling and inconsistent. Our representatives on the Geneva committees are oppressed by the anomaly of their status and by the futility of the whole arrangement. No one knows at what conferences the United States will be represented, and frequently our delegates have appeared at the last moment, breathless and unprepared. An atmosphere of unreality and pretense hangs over the whole relationship. We advance and draw back, attend one conference and stay away from another. The State Department is afraid of the Senate and the Senate is suspicious of the State Department. A policy toward the League and its work that might be honest and forthright is consequently whittled down to furtiveness, and vacillation characterizes our whole approach.

"Meanwhile fifty-four governments, sitting around a table, have for ten years been reaching conclusions on all sorts of problems that overflow national boundary lines. A new method of international legislation has been developed, a new technique of continuous conference. In the blazing of this trail the United States has had no part. In only a few instances in an entire decade have we taken any initiative. In health, in child welfare, in questions relating to communication and transit, in the opium traffic, in double taxation,.in intellectual co-operation, in the codification of international law—and in a dozen other difficult matters where common counsel is necessary—it is Geneva that has set the pace, while the United States has trailed along behind, dimly conscious of the new interrelated world in which she must live, but bound by outworn methods and the slogans of old battles.

“It is scarcely necessary to speak of the World Court. Here is an institution which Chief Justice Hughes has called ‘the absolute minimum of intelligent effort for the promotion of world peace.’ Supported by forty-five other nations, accepted by ninety per cent of the civilized world, it has demonstrated over a ten-year period its fundamental usefulness in substituting the authority of law for the authority of force. Although it has received the endorsement of four Presidents and six Secretaries of State, the United States still remains aloof, fearful of some infringement upon its sovereignty. In spite of the fact that three distinguished Americans have served as judges on its bench, not a cent has been contributed from our Treasury to its support. Although America assisted in giving the original impetus toward a world court in the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, we have allowed the leadership in this great movement to pass to other hands, and today, with Honduras, Afghanistan, Mexico, Turkey, and two or three other nations, we stand on the side lines, mere spectators in one of the most significant developments in human history.

“In all this new forward movement by which nations are trying to build up definite machinery for the pacific settlement of controversies, the United States lags far behind. We are still thinking in pre-war terms.”