U.S. “hands-off” Policy in Internal Affairs of Other Nations Stressed by Welles

Mr. Welles then declared

Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles declared tonight the United States was alive to the sufferings of the oppressed, but could not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, although it could take an attitude when American interests or the principles of international law were endangered.

Mr. Welles’ exposition of American foreign policy, which was made at a dinner of the Presbyterian Social Union of Maryland here, stressed that the Government was prepared to deal with the possibility of alien influences seeking to undermine our institutions, but cautioned against confusion between an attack on our institutions and the internal policy of a foreign government.

He quoted the following paragraph from President Roosevelt’s message to the B’nai B’rith convention dinner in Washington May 9: “In the conflict of policies and political principles which the world witnesses today, the nation remains unshaken in its devotion to the ideals and the institutions of democracy. Except in so far as we deplore ill treatment of human beings anywhere, the domestic policies of other nations are of no concern to the United States. When, however, alien influences seek to undermine the foundations of our own institutions we become definitely concerned.”

“We Americans always have been, and I trust we always will be, alive to the sufferings of the oppressed. Today, within the limits of our existing domestic legislation, we are preparing to join with 32 other nations in finding a way to afford help and refuge in some other part of the world to many thousands of political refugees from Central Europe.

“Apart from this legitimate humanitarian concern on our part, manifested in a constructive manner, we surely do not advance the cause of world peace by undertaking publicly to assail domestic policies of other nations. When the policy of another country endangers our rights or our interests as a nation, or when it threatens the maintenance of those basic principles of international law and of conduct to which we have proclaimed our adherence and which we believe essential to world order, then this Government should feel free to adopt such attitude as it believes the best interest of the American people demand. But domestic policies of other peoples are as much a matter of their own determination as are our domestic policies a matter for our decision.

“The cause of world peace, and the fundamental objective in our foreign policy of keeping our own country at peace are not furthered by our participation in international polemics or recrimination over internal policies of other nations, regarding which we have no rightful concern.”

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