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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 9
Cordell Hull on Disarmament, Germany and France

Secretary Hull says he favored disarmament, but "it had to be by all nations. You could not have some disarming, others not." [p. 222]

"In Europe, Britain and France were dominating the League of Nations, sometimes from the viewpoint of their own individual welfare and purposes." [222-223]

"When the London Naval Conference of 1930 decided on a 10-10-7 ratio of cruisers for the United States, Britain, and Japan—a concession to Japan—I was not too well pleased with its very limited accomplishments." [223]

He says at the 1932 disarmament conference Herbert Hoover and Henry Stimson advocated "the total abolition of submarines, gas and bacteriological warfare; protection of civilian populations against aerial bombing; special restrictions for offensive armaments; and limitations on expenditures of arms." [223]

Already Britain and France wanted to know if, in case of war, whether the U.S. "would uphold our rights as a neutral and our traditional policy of freedom of the seas? Would we insist on maintaining commerce with Germany or Italy?" [223-224]

On May 16, 1933 President Roosevelt, anticipating a speech by Hitler, "suggested that all nations eliminate offensive weapons, agree upon the MacDonald plan, enter into a nonaggression pact, and promise not so send any armed forces across their frontiers." Hull describes Hitler's speech as "conciliatory." Roosevelt and Hull agreed to commit the U.S. to uphold any collective sanctions against aggressors, which was a change from the tradition of U.S. commercially opportunistic neutrality. [227-228]

At that time Hull opposed an embargo against Japan, if international sanctions were made, because he believed Japan would be able to blockade Chinese ports, and that China was much more dependent on imports than Japan. [229]

France refused to disarm without a collective security agreement from the U.S. Germany wanted to arm unless France disarmed, and so on October 14, 1933 withdrew from the Conference. "The armaments race was now on in earnest." Hull blamed Germany, not France. [230]

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