The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 42: Back to Isolationism

WE have now reached the year 1933. In that year, says a historian of American diplomacy, writing in 1937:

The new Democratic Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into office uncommitted by the Stimson Doctrine. It has made no reiteration of that doctrine. It has committed itself in general to a policy of peace and neutrality which makes it inconceivable that the United States would take upon itself alone the enforcement of the Nine-Power Treaty or the Pact of Paris. There is every indication that this will continue to be the policy of the United States in future administrations.

Professor Bemis then goes on to speak of the Act of Congress of March 1934 providing that, after the lapse of a ten-year period of protection under the United States, the Philippine Islands "shall become an absolutely independent Republic." "This act," he continues, "presages a definite retreat by the United States from all active diplomacy in China. If this is accomplished without complications during the next ten years, it will bring to an end the great aberration of 1898."

That the American people were at that time not indisposed toward this frame of mind may be inferred from the unfavorable response of public opinion to President Roosevelt's speech of October, 1937, proposing a "quarantine" against Japan in the Sino-Japanese War then proceeding, and from the very mild reaction to the bombing of the U.S.N. gunboat Panay in Chinese waters in the same year.

Here then our exploration of the American road to world peace during the twenty years between the two world wars may well break off; for the Kellogg Pact was the last attempt made by American statesmanship during that period to grapple with the problem of peace and world order on broad lines and as a whole.

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