Treaties Defeated by the Senate: A Study of the Struggle between President and Senate over the Conduct of Foreign Relations

Treaties Defeated by the Senate: A Study of the Struggle between President and Senate over the Conduct of Foreign Relations

Treaties Defeated by the Senate: A Study of the Struggle between President and Senate over the Conduct of Foreign Relations

Treaties Defeated by the Senate: A Study of the Struggle between President and Senate over the Conduct of Foreign Relations

Excerpt

The charm of guessing ancient motives from the records of ancient deeds fascinated me--there is much in the pursuit to appeal to a gambler. D. G. HOGARTH.

Whipping a dead horse was ever a waste of effort, yet not more so, many people would maintain, than proving that senators are influenced by considerations alien to the merits of the questions on which they vote. Everyone knows that the Senate has sometimes rejected treaties for reasons that have nothing to do with the wisdom of the foreign policy presented. Everyone knows that these extraneous reasons can usually be traced either to the struggle between the President and Senate for the control of foreign policy or to the warfare of the President's political opponents who hope to secure some partisan advantage. Students have often noted that these considerations have been present and have contributed to the defeat of various treaties. But no attempt has hitherto been made to examine the circumstances attending the defeat of every treaty that failed of completion through the action of the Senate, in the hope of ascertaining which were lost either because of domestic politics or because of the contest between President and Senate.

Such an inquiry presents the problem of determining human motives which are always elusive even under the most favorable conditions of search. It is obvious that a senator whose vote is really cast as political considerations dictate would not say so publicly, but would find more creditable reasons for his action. In private letters to his friends and probably in his own thoughts he would not admit that anything but the merits of the question decided his vote. Conclusions must, therefore, be based either on deductions from his actions or on the evidence supplied by political opponents, who are often too ready to impute wrong . . .

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