The declaration of the American representative at the Disarmament Conference is clearly and unmistakably an expression of the sentiments of the American people on war and peace. America has learned from its experience in the World War that it can only lose from any entangling alliances with European powers whose policies are determined not only by greed for material gains but also by age-old rivalries and antagonisms.
The American stand regarding disarmament would save the conference and avert the war that is being feverishly prepared in Europe today, if the European nations were sincerely desirous of maintaining peace.
The stand of the Soviet Government, as outlined by Litvinoff, has undergone a change since his first plea for general disarmament several years ago. Now Soviet Russia advocates security first, and disarmament afterwards. This is, in a measure, along the lines of the French insistence on security as the paramount guarantee of the peace of Europe.
At the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Maxim Litvinoff, the Soviet Commissary for Foreign Affairs, said:
“The Disarmament Conference was called at a time when, to many, war seemed to be only a theoretical or historical possibility. Can the conference, must the conference close down completely and disappear without a trace?
“Just now, of all times, when the peril of a most bloody war, or, rather, a series of such wars overhangs every continent and the whole of humanity, there are few states which can consider themselves removed from such peril. It may affect some earlier, others later, but it is not to be escaped… In the face of such danger no single state, if ### in the interest of self-preservation, has the right to wash its hands of responsibility and to refuse to participate in the common international cause of averting this terrible peril.”
Before Maxim Livinoff’s dramatic proposal for security before disarmament, the chairman of the United States delegation at the Disarmament Conference, Norman H. Davis, presented in a striking address the American program for saving the disarmament conference at this most crucial juncture. Among other things, Mr. Davis said:
“The American Government earnestly and sincerely believes that only by following the path of disarmament can the peace and progress of the world and the national security of each country be truly promoted.
“Unfortunately, there is at present a distinct tendency in Europe toward the old policy of political alignments accompanied by an uncontrollable race in armaments which, if persisted in, will recreate the conditions which preceded the World War. Those who are today pursuing that policy, rather than one which promotes good will and increases security through a reduction in armaments, are inviting a terrible risk for the future.
“The United States has repeatedly stated in unequivocal terms its belief in the value and efficacy of a drastic reduction of armaments and its willingness to join with other powers in bringing armaments down to a level to be determined by the needs of actual self-defense…
“We are prepared to cooperate in every way in efforts to secure a general disarmament agreement and thus to help promote the general peace and progress of the world….
“The United States will not, however, participate in European political negotiations and settlements, and will not make any commitment whatever to use its armed forces for the settlement of any dispute anywhere. In effect, the policy of the United States is to keep out of war, but to help in every possible way to discourage war…
“The people of the United States are aroused at the evils which are being revealed in the production and traffic of munitions of war. The American people and government are convinced that by some means the production and traffic in engines of death, and the profits resulting therefrom, must be controlled and eliminated…”
And then Dr. Davis added:
“If we are to foment international good will and stability we must take effective steps to control or suppress the forces which have a material interest in fomenting mistrust and discord. My government is ready to join in measure, for suppressing this evil and is prepared to negotiate in connection with disarmament a treaty that would deal drastically with this problem…”
In the face of the rise of Hitlerism with its war madness, with its war madness, with its deliberate and defiant race for rearmament, with its propaganda of hate and strife in other lands, it is logical that Russia, sincere in its policy of peace, should at this time adopt the French viewpoint, for the sake of self-preservation as well as for the sake of the maintenance of peace.
While the American representative referred to the production and traffic of munitions of war when he said, “We must take effective steps to control or suppress the forces which have a material interest in fomenting mistrust and discord,” this applies most fittingly to the efforts of Hitlerite Germany, which is systematically and brazenly fomenting mistrust and discord among the nations, by rearming, by militarizing its entire population, by poisoning the young generation with new hate for Germany’s neighbors, by spreading religious and racial bigotry at home and abroad.
The evils of the production and traffic in munitions of war are no greater than the evils of Hitlerite Germany which are imperilling the economic stability and peace of the world. While Germany is permitted to proceed with her rearmament and other preparations for war, notwithstanding the hypocritical peace declarations of the Nazi leaders, the rest of the world is compelled to abandon for the present all plans for substantial disarmament.
Europe is confronted by the terrible fact of a war-mad and defiant Hitlerite Germany. The responsibility for the failure of the Disarmament Conference rests exclusively upon the shoulders of the leaders of Naziland.