PLAYING HIDE-AND-SEEK WITH
F. D. ROOSEVELT
The American Government provided the British and French Governments with the smoke-screen they needed.
As we have seen, the Act of August 31 made it "mandatory" for the President, upon the outbreak of hostilities or during their progress between foreign countries, to impose against the belligerents on both sides, without discrimination, an embargo upon the exportation from the United States to them of "arms and munitions of war"; these were to be scheduled in a list which the President was to proclaim.
Waiting for this event, Haile Selassie asked the American Chargé d'Affaires whether the United States would be willing to mediate, provided Italy would agree (September 10). Hull replied that the suggestion "would not appear to be practicable", in view of the fact that the dispute had been referred to the League of Nations, which was endeavouring to arrive at a solution (September 12). American liking for Sunday sermons could not stop there. Therefore Hull issued a long statement in which he recapitulated the steps the U.S.A. Government had taken in connection with the dispute, and announcing that "a threat of hostility anywhere cannot but be a threat to the interests—political, economical, legal, and social—of all nations" (September 13). Hull imagined that he was thus "building up a foundation on which later to rest the moral embargo" against Italy.1
Mussolini was not afraid of any "moral"—i.e. verbal—embargo. In a talk with the American Ambassador (September 17) he showed that his mind was "definitely closed to any compromise of any kind which might be made to him from Geneva or elsewhere". He "was definitely and irrevocably determined to proceed in Abyssinia". The American Ambassador hoped the United States would not associate itself with sanctions.2 Did he mean to exclude "moral" sanctions too?
When Sir Samuel Hoare informed the American Chargé d'Affaires in London that in the event of sanctions being imposed by the League, the League would ask the United States to co-operate, Hull stated that the American Government could not arrive at any conclusion before they were placed in full possession of the reasons upon which collective action by the League was founded and before he got a____________________