FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1921-1924

John William Davis. Library of Congress

PARTLY for political and partly for other purposes, the allegation has constantly been made that during the past three years nothing has been done by the United States in the great field of international relations. The endeavor has been to make this assertion about our abstention from foreign questions a common-place. Politically it was intended by the Democrats to reflect upon the party in power as having no policy and doing nothing, and also to cover up and conceal their own well-grounded fear of having the old issue of the League of Nations pressed into the field of party conflict. The other purpose which it served was to sustain the proposition that, because we were not members of the League of Nations and were not entangled in European affairs, therefore we were incapacitated from taking part in any international questions at all, and that the one solution for all the difficulties was that we should join the League of Nations and immerse ourselves in the quarrels of Europe.

These amiable purposes, political and international, overlooked two points. One was that there was a rather considerable field of international questions and international activities outside of Europe—not as important, perhaps, as Europe, but including Asia, Africa, and the two Americas, which, however inconsiderable in comparison with Europe, nevertheless had some questions of their own which were of a world interest. In the Far East, in China, and the Pacific Islands results of great practical importance have been achieved, while in South America the diplomacy of the United States has been correspondingly active. The allegation of inactivity also overlooked the more immediate fact that in the general field of foreign relations the United States during these three years had been unusually effective and successful. I have no intention of discussing the much-argued question of the League of Nations, but it seems to me perhaps not inappropriate at this moment, in view of these assertions, to state briefly what has actually been done by

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