Our Foreign Policy

A Democratic View

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivering Fireside Chat number six, September 30, 1934. Public Domain / Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

In our century and a half of national life there have been outstanding periods when American leadership has influenced the thought and action of the civilized world towards international good will and peace; and there have been moments—rare ones, fortunately—when American policy either has been negative and sterile, or has earned for us dislike or fear or ridicule.

I believe many millions of citizens in the United States share my conviction that the past nine years must be counted on the debit side of the ledger.

Since the summer of 1919 our country has had to face the charge that in a time when great constructive aid was needed in the task of solving the grave problems facing the whole earth, we have contributed little or nothing save the isolated Naval Conference of 1921. Even here the ground gained was not held. The definite sacrifices we made were not productive because we assumed that a mere signature was enough; no machinery was set up to finish the work. This is a negative charge. On the positive side, we must admit also that the outside world almost unanimously views us with less good will today than at any previous period. This is serious unless we take the deliberate position that the people of the United States owe nothing to the rest of mankind and care nothing for the opinion of others so long as our seacoasts are impregnable and our pocketbooks are filled.

An analysis of our own history disproves the accusation that this selfish spirit is the real American spirit. In the debates during the war of the Revolution and in the long discussions immediately preceding the adoption of the Constitution it was plain that careful thought was being given to every conceivable form of government in the hope that what the United States finally adopted might serve as a pattern for other peoples, especially in regard to the spirit that should govern the relations of one state with another. The

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