The following article on "The Problems of the New Administration in the Field of Foreign Relations," was written especially for the Crimson by William R. Castle, Jr. '00, Under Secretary of State.
One always wishes that a change of Administration might come when everything is quiet internally and externally. But world events do not wait on American presidential elections. The Democrats come into office at a time of world crisis and the new men whom they appoint must deal instantly with questions of vital interest to our country. Let us hope that they may be wise men, so conscious of their own lack of intimate knowledge of these questions that they will act conservatively, for the moment at least, strictly along the lines of traditional American foreign policy which is neither Democratic nor Republican.
It seems as though in the foreign field there were problems on every hand, problems which the Republican Administration has carried as far as is possible and must now leave to the Democrats to complete.
First in the public mind is the questions of the war debts, a question which has been raised, through propaganda, to a position altogether above its real importance. The war debts are only one phase of the perplexing international economic questions which depend on each other and must all be considered if there is to be a real solution. To stabilize currency the world over would probably be the longest step toward a solution. If this could be done the other knots would be far easier to entangle. World trade must be restored, prices of commodities increased, tariffs made more reasonable, the various barriers of trade, such as quotas and embargoes, removed, disarmament pushed forward. Which brings us back to the war debts. Nobody denies the legality of these debts; few who really understand the history of them deny that they are just. But there come times to all of us when we have to make compromises. That time has come with the war debts and the duty of the Democratic Administration is to reach a final settlement which will be really advantageous to the American people. This duty for the Democrats has become an opportunity because both Senate and House are overwhelmingly Democratic. Americans will watch and wait, hopefully, and with all friendly wishes to the President.
The situation in the Far East is very delicate. Since Japan began its offensive in Manchuria, the American policy has been motivated by determination to support the various treaties of peace, like the Kellogg Pact, to defend American interests; to avoid war. It has not always been easy to hold fast to this three-fold purpose, but all three angles were important. Not one must be forgotten. Mr. Roosevelt has expressed approval of what has been done so far. It will be very wise to continue this policy because it is based on respect for treaties, is a policy of peace and has the understanding support of the American people. No solution has yet been reached; new issues will arise in the Orient and the Democratic Administration must meet them as a part of the Western World, not independently or didactically.
Latin America is in dangerous ebullition. Here again the Democrats face dangers and must seize the great opportunity to show that the United States is always willing to cooperate, never to dictate. The days of settlement by the marines are mercifully over. Every Latin American nation is as proud of its independence as we are. We must help them to be proud because they are making the rest of the world respect them. There has never been a time when Latin America as a whole held the United States in greater respect. The Democrats must build even higher on that basis.
Everything internationally has been dislocated by the depression. Problems that were difficult have been made more difficult. Problems that were easy have become hard. More than ever is it true that trained men are needed to meet the issues that arise in such acute form because of conditions. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the Democrats will not make their own task more difficult by replacing the trained men in the field by ignorant political appointees. If there was ever a time when mere political work, mere contributions to the campaign fund should not unduly influence appointments, it is today. People used to laugh at Bryan's appointments of "deserving Democrats." Such appointments today would be the proper subject for tears, not laughter.
I have never seen a finer spirit than that of the outgoing Administration. One hears among its members only good wishes for the new Administration, expressions of desire to be of any possible service. After all, they are good Americans and in foreign relations more than any other activity of the Government politics plays a very small part.