Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

ECONOMIC FOREIGN POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION: THE PLACE OF THE ECONOMIC MOTIVE

In international relations, as in any other branch of learning, a knowledge of causation is important. Accurate thinking with regard to present or future situations is not possible if, in the study of existing data, attention is paid only to legal acts, agreements, troop movements, and pronouncements, which are the symbols of governmental policies. The real investigator must go farther. He must acquire a factual background as to the conditions precedent. He must raise eternally the question: Why, in any emergency, do governmental officials act as they do? This is not a simple inquiry. National policies are seldom entered upon for single reasons. More frequently do they arise from a complex of motives. Emotions of national pride in the expansion of power, the fear of aggression, the love of peace, the desire for national economic betterment, the influence of high- powered spokesmen for commercial or financial groups, departmental loyalty, or the weight of tradition--these are some of the reasons for action. Any two or more of them may combine to create state of mind in governmental circles. The hundreds of citizens and officials who have appreciable weight in policy formation may all want substantially the same thing but for different reasons. Hence, with regard to any announced policy, it is often difficult to say just what are the influencing motives and what importance must be attached to each.1

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1
For an excellent discussion of motives, see MOON, PARKEN THOMAS, "Imperialism and World Politics," Chap. IV, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1926.

-1-

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