The Neutrality Policy of the United States

By Julia E. Johnsen | Go to book overview
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parties immediately concerned. Napoleon disregarded it, and thereby involved the whole of Europe in war. The law of neutrality saved Belgium in 1870, and its violation brought ruin upon her in 1914. In many cases the principle of neutrality has prevented little wars from becoming big wars, since it has enabled disinterested powers to use their good offices in the cause of peace. That it has in general worked for the preservation of peace seems to me to be an indisputable historical fact.

If the opponents of neutrality have their way, all this will be changed. No state will be allowed to proclaim itself disinterested, but all will be compelled to take sides at the beginning of every quarrel. There is, of course, no means of ensuring that they shall all take the same side, for we have no definition of aggression, and the League Council cannot bind its members by a majority vote. Every war will therefore be a world war, and there will be no room for the good offices of neutral powers, since we are forbidden to be neutral.


On October 5, 1935, the President of the United States, acting under this Joint Resolution, after proclaiming the existence of a state of war between Ethiopia and Italy, established an embargo on arms, ammunition, and implements of war, and notified American citizens that they traveled on any vessel of a belligerent nation at their own risk. In addition, he issued a notable statement, announcing a new policy for the better safeguarding of our neutrality, in which he said: "In these specific circumstances, I desire it to be understood that any of our people who voluntarily engage in transactions of any character with either of the belligerents do so at their own risk." The President took this step, not under any

From article by Charles Warren, former Assistant Attorney General of the United States. Foreign Affairs. 14:199-204. January 1936.


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