rights, as we then interpreted neutral rights, by both of the belligerent groups, were sources of never-ending irritation. Submarine warfare was responsible for the weight of this sentiment turning against Germany.
The contested points of blockade, search and seizure, submarine warfare, and the claim of neutrals that their rights during war are the same as during peace, have never been settled. When the American delegates attempted to settle them at the Versailles peace conference, they were advised there would be no neutrals in another warthe League of Nations would see to that. Therefore, the rights of neutrals became a dead issue. But the United States did not become a member of the League of Nations. Several other great powers are not members. The League demonstrated its inability in 1933 to prevent Japan, then one of its members, from taking Manchuria away from China, thereby multiplying the size of the Empire three times, without even going through the formality of declaring war. It was not able to stop the war between Bolivia and Paraguay. Its ability to stop another general conflagration is very much questioned. As long as the United States maintains its traditional claims on the freedom of the seas, there is danger of being drawn into a European conflict. However, American diplomacy is definitely set for a modification of these claims.
The United States is interested in having a modern definition of contraband established for use in international law. In the World War, England declared that food is contraband. England, even though an island, can afford to take this stand as long as she is mistress of the seas. The United States is apparently perfectly willing at this time to accept as international law the contraband list established, without law, by the Allies during the World War. In the event of war, food production will not be a problem for the United States. It might be a serious problem for an enemy, and it would then be very much to our advantage to operate under the contraband list which we opposed as a neutral during the World War.
Consciously or unconsciously, America has been turning her back on Europe and facing west. Any transfer of soil in Europe brings no protest from our State Department. The preservation of the post-Versailles status is the least of our troubles. However, a transfer of soil in the Pacific or the Far East means very definite protests, and a universal interest throughout the nation. When Japan took over Manchuria, our State Department, on January 7, 1932, notified China and Japan, in no uncertain terms, that the United States would not "recognize the legality of any situation, treaty or agreement impairing the territorial integrity of China and the open door." As far as the United States is concerned, there is no Manchukuo. It is still Manchuria, and still a part of China. From America's point of view, every law of Manchukuo involving foreign citizens, tax levies on foreign property, and state monopoly on oil, is illegal. Eventually America must yieldor Japan must yieldor the dispute must be settled by a clash of arms.
There is nothing new about America's looking westward. As early as 1849, when the territory west of the Mississippi was still mostly a wilderness, President Zachary Taylor, in that part of his message to Congress referring to the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was then called, said, "We could in no event be indifferent to their passing under the domination of any other power." Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, in an official dispatch, said, "The United States can never consent to seeing these islands being taken possession of by either of the great commercial powers of Europe." The next president, Millard Fillmore, in his message to Congress recognizing the independence of the Hawaiian group, said, "We were influenced in this measure by the consideration that they lie in the course of the great trade which must at no distant day be carried on between the western coast of the United States and eastern Asia."
With the passing of the frontier in 1890, the United States began reaching beyond its own shores, and the Hawaiian Islands were annexed in 1898. At the close of the Spanish-American war, President McKinley instructed the peace commissioners to insist upon the purchase of the Philippine Islands because "it is the commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent."
The United States, in granting independence to the Philippines, has begun the withdrawal of her frontiers. There are those in America who advocate our withdrawal from trade competition in the Pacific. If America abandons protection to commerce in the Far East, it practically means withdrawing our ships from the seas. To submit to such a demand would be to establish a precedent; to uphold the policy which we have maintained for the last one hundred years probably means war. The price of peace apparently will be to accept the status of a second rate nation and humble ourselves before the Asiatic power that proudly boasts that its statecraft will make it the world's greatest empire.
The American laborer cannot exist on the pittance paid for labor in Japan. The American wants to sleep on a bed with a comfortable mattress and he must have beef and a variety of good food. The Jap is happy to sleep on a mat on the floor and to feast on dried fish and rice. However, low wages are not alone responsible for the ability to undersell all competitors. Japan has low cost power; the corporations are not over capitalized; excessive executive salaries do not exist, and the morale of the workers, who believe that they are winning and must win in the trade offensive against the western world, is unsurpassed.
Frequently we hear Americans saying, "Why should we protect the merchant ships and insist that they have the privilege of trading with China or any other country? That is their owners' business. They should assume the risk." Of course, they will not and can not assume the risk. No protection means no shipments, and no shipments mean fewer jobs. Again we hear Americans declaring, "Why should we get excited because our citizens, who are residing in other countries, are being mistreated? If they want to live in other countries, they should assume this risk." We must not forget that there are thousands of American business men scattered throughout the world, securing orders which keep the wheels of American industry(text continues on next page)