Publication: The China Critic

Full Citation

  • Title Mr. Roosevelt Speaks Out
  • Publication Title The China Critic
  • Collection China and the Modern World: Missionary, Sinology and Literary periodicals 1817-1949
  • Date Thursday,  Jan. 26, 1933
  • Volume 6
  • Issue Number 4
  • Page Number 90
  • Place of Publication Shanghai, China
  • Language English
  • Document Type Editorial
  • Publication Section Opinion and Editorial
  • Source Library National Library of China
Mr. Roosevelt Speaks Out JN three short sentences, the American President-elect, Franklin D. Roosevelt, served notice to the world that the change of the administration in March will not modify the American policy of non-recognition of situations brought about in breach of international agreements. He said: "Any statement relating to any particular foreign situation must, of course, come from the Secretary of State. I am, however, wholly willing to make it, clear that American foreign policy must uphold the sanctity of International treaties. That is the cornerstone on which all relations between nations must rest.” Important as this statement is, it does not say anything new, startling or argumentative. It reiterates a fundamental principle of international order. Woodrow Wilson had said it before. Colonel Stimson recently expressed it in his official documents. In fact every other nation in the world has at various occasions made the same declaration in favor of treaty obligations. Even Japan has at times insisted upon their fulfilment—but, of course, those were times when it suited her purposes to do so. The importance the world gives to Mr. Roosevelt’s statement now is not that he is a discoverer of a new theory or that he says something the world has never known before — far from it — but that he comes out to speak in the name of a great nation what other statesmen, representing also great nations, do not dare or have seen fit to speak out — just at present. The importance is also due to the fact that the simple language he uses excludes all possibility of argument or speculation of a change of the American pokey in the future towards the Manchurian question. There are no "ifs” and "bus” about it. He has made the sanctity of international treaties as sacred to the American people as the "open door” policy and the Monroe Doctrine. If there had been any hopes entertained in any quarters of the world that there might be a softening of attitude upon the inauguration of the new American president, Mr. Roosevelt now puts an effective stop to them. Japan may occupy Manchuria, so far as the United States is concerned, only I as Jeeves may hold properties to which they have no title or right. Whatever attitude others may take, the United States will not tolerate international thieves and bandits. What effect Mr. Roosevelt’s statement will have on the • cours e of world events, it is yet too early to say definitely. Washington reports that President Hoover is pleased with the statement, which pledges continuation of the policy of nonrecognition. Geneva says that there has been a noticable hardening of attitude during the last few days on the part of Great Britain towards Japan’s attempt to dictate to the League and to the world at large in connection with the Manchurian egression. Mr. Roosevelt’s statement may not have anything to do with Great Britain’s change of heart, and yet it may have. Nevertheless, we do not know whether the incoming President consulted the calendar when he chose the date for making his statement on international! treaties. In China, for an important event like this, we have a book already printed which gives the propitious moment for everything. You can’t go wrong on that, it is said. We don’t know what book told Mr. Roosevelt to make his statement on the day following the convocation of the League’s Committee of Nineteen. Some say it is significant. We would leave it at that. Anyway, the august gentlemen of the Committee of Nineteen had it within a few minutes after Mr. Roosevelt announced his policy on foreign relations. It might have given some help to these gentlemen who were then supposed to be seeking a formula for the solution of a one-sided warfare, affecting a piece of the world’s territory, as big as France and Germany combined, and the happiness of 30,000,000 people, presumably of some importance. What reaction this statement has on the inner soul of these Committee members, we are not given to know. Some future historians may tell our children and grandchildren. We are satisfied that they know that there is one great nation and one great man, who will presently come to direct the fore’gn policy of that great nation, and who remembers at these times of trouble the only rule that is effective for the settlement of international! disputes. This brings us to a problem that has been puzzling the League, which has been at a loss to understand why the United States has consistently declined to take part in the League’s discussions on the Manchurian affairs. Even most recently it has been desirous of enlisting the co-operation of America at conciEation — which by the way has been torpedoed by Japanese opposition. True to the practices of diplomacy, the United States has not found it necessary to give the real reasons for her refusal. We wonder if the League still needs to puzzle it out, after the plain 'language of Mr. Roosevelt. The fact is, the United States has already found out the formula for settlement — even from the very beginning of the trouble — which is the sanctity of international treaties. Unless the League can approach the question with the same idea and the same determination, there is no reason why the United States should keep company with it, since its attitude on international affairs, as evidenced by its actions so far, is radically different from hers.