Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
RAW MATERIALS: GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

Foodstuffs, upon which human life depends, and raw materials which are the foodstuffs of the manufacturing industries, have since the dawn of history been counted among the stakes of diplomacy, colonization, and conquest. The Israelites were lured on through the desolate Sinai Peninsula by the prospect of "the land flowing with milk and honey." Captain John Smith placed the cod fisheries of the North Atlantic above the gold mines of the King of Spain, and the Canadian fisheries continued for over a century and a quarter after the American Revolution to be a cause for controversy between the United States and Great Britain. In the morning of civilization, the Island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean was a prize successively struggled for by Phoenecian, Egyptian, and Greek because of the copper and iron so necessary in craftsmanship. Cyprian timber for the building of ships was likewise valuable in the eyes of the ancients. Timber was prized by Cromwell and his successors, who, as the English forests dwindled, sent their fleets to the Danish Sound to keep open the passage for supplies from the wooded lands along the Baltic.

As steel has come to occupy a foremost place in modern construction, the interest of statesmanship in coal and the steel- making minerals has correspondingly increased. In the Republic of Austria stands a massive red mountain of iron, the Erzberg, the value of which was recognized by the Romans. Feudal princes contended for it. Today it is described as a "political magnet" exercising its powers of attraction upon the Fascist leaders of ironless Italy. The coal mines of the Saar have furnished a cause for Franco-German jealousy since the war. The richer veins of the Ruhr also provided fuel for European hate as the armies of France moved into that area in 1923; but the coal of the Ruhr may yet be the cause of a close economic cooperation between France and Germany as the industrialists of the two countries press upon their governments the modern necessities

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