Economic Foreign Policy of the United States

By Benjamin H. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE COLLECTION OF THE INTERALLIED DEBTS: A PROBLEM IN INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND POLITICS
Concerning the problem of the interallied indebtedness to the United States, Herbert Hoover has said: "The question is one of the most complex and difficult in character that the American people have ever confronted."1 The United States has learned through disputes that have centered around the debts, as much as from any other matter, that it cannot enter a great world war, intertwine its economic affairs with those of allied governments, and then at the proclamation of peace retire to its former solitude. No question with which this government has to deal is more baffling to the average citizen, none more portentous, and to none are the principles of foreign policy learned by the American people in the days of isolation less applicable.
THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE LOANS
The Reasons for the Loans. --When the United States entered the World War, there were three considerations which prompted it to give large credits to the allied governments:
1. The allies were in dire need of munitions, supplies, food, and shipping. They had been actively fighting for nearly three years and their stocks were depleted almost to the point of exhaustion. The United States during that time had been building up a huge productive plant, which was capable of still greater expansion under the stress of actual participation in the war. The United States was the natural source from which the needs of the European allies were to be met. President Wilson in his War Message made this point clear. He said:

In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our preparation and the equipment of our own military forces with the duty--for it will be a very practical duty--of

____________________
1
From an address delivered at Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 16, 1922.

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