Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941

By United States Department of State | Go to book overview

VI
DEVELOPING DANGERS 1936-1937

Warnings by President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull

THROUGHOUT 1935 the world peace structure had continued to deteriorate. In Europe, Germany swept away the disarmament provisions of the Versailles Treaty when in March Hitler announced the existence of a German air force and the reestablishment of conscription. In the Far East, Japan was increasing its military and naval strength and undertaking limited military actions for extending domination over China. At the end of the year Italian armies were advancing steadily into Ethiopia.

It was against this background that President Roosevelt delivered his Armistice Day address on November 11, 1935. He made clear that in foreign policy the primary purpose of the United States was to avoid being drawn into war; that we sought also in every practicable way to promote peace and to discourage war. He said that jealousies between nations continued, armaments were increasing, national ambitions were disturbing world peace and, most serious of all, confidence in the sacredness of international contracts was declining; we could not and must not hide our concern for grave world dangers, we could not "build walls around ourselves and hide our heads in the sand", we must go forward with all our strength to strive for international peace. He declared that aggression on the part of the United States was an impossibility; that defense against aggression by others was our accepted policy; and that the measure of defense would be solely the amount necessary to safeguard the United States against the armaments of others. In conclusion, he said that the more greatly others decreased their armaments, the more quickly and surely would we decrease ours. (58)

In an address to Congress on January 3, 1936 President Roosevelt warned that developments in international affairs had resulted in a situation which might lead to the "tragedy of general war". He said that nations seeking expansion had reverted to belief in the law of the sword, to the fantastic conception that they alone were chosen to fulfil a mission and that all the other human beings in the world must learn from and be subject to them.

The President in this address summarized the foreign policy of the United States: We sought earnestly to limit world armaments and to attain the peaceful solution of disputes among nations; we sought by every legitimate means to exert our moral influence against discrimination, intolerance, and autocracy, and in favor of freedom

-34-

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Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Peace and War - United States Foreign Policy 1931-1941 *
  • Foreword iii
  • Contents v
  • Documents i
  • I- The Fateful Decade 1
  • II- Japanese Conquest of Manchuria 1931-1932 4
  • III- Disarmament Discussions 1932-1934 9
  • IV- Warnings of Danger 1933-1935 13
  • V- Italian Conquest of Ethiopia 1935-1936 29
  • VI- Developing Dangers 1936-1937 34
  • VII- Japanese Attack on China 1937 45
  • VIII- European Crisis 1938 54
  • IX- European War 1939 62
  • X- European War 1940 71
  • XI- Defense Measures of the United States 1940 80
  • XII- Relations with Japan 1938-1940 88
  • XIII- European War 1941 99
  • XIV- Discussions with Japan 1941 Pearl Harbor 118
  • XV- United Nations 151
  • Documents 1-271 *
  • Index *
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