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Address on Foreign Policy and the International Court of Justice Intended for Delivery in San Francisco, California

July 31, 1923

[This address was to have been delivered in San Francisco on July 31, 1923. The President's illness prevented its delivery, but the speech was given out for publication on August, 1, 1923.]

My Fellow-Countrymen:

Something in your golden gateway has impelled me to speak to you of the foreign relations of our republic. Happily it is not a message of anxiety, but one of satisfaction and rejoicing. It is easy to share the feelings of home concern of those who think first of all of our domestic fortunes, but there can be no divorcement in these modern days of home affairs and foreign relationships. Human progress had established a relationship little short of the community among nations, and there is and can be no great people in a position of permanent aloofness. The urging of commerce, quite apart from human fellowship, is fashioning intimate relationships each succeeding day. This pressure is not foreign; it is a reflex of American commercial aspirations: The Department of Commerce, newly vitalized under the administration of your fellow-townsman, alone frequently receives between three and four thousand inquiries a day for information relative to foreign trade. Amid such hungering of America for trade relations abroad the cordiality of our foreign relations is little less important than our tranquility and confidence at home.

When the present national Administration came into responsibility world affairs were in a complicated and very difficult posture. Our foreign relations presented many novel, delicate and far-reaching problems, and their fortunate solution is no less significant than our domestic rehabilitation.

We have strengthened our friendly relationships and have done much to promote peace in the world. We encountered a world condition in which peace had been covenanted, but the compact had been rejected by the United States Senate. This action left us in a technical state of war with the Central Powers of Europe and aloof from the colossal adjustments following the World War. Many just and very necessary rights were accorded to us under the Treaty of Versailles. But these were all threatened by uncertainty and doubt. Many parts of Europe were in a pitiable destitution; small wars persisted, and widespread revolutions upset the orderly processes of civilization; so that there was a chaos of peace little less menacing than the tumult of world war.

For a little while there had been a world remorse, a penitence promising a new order, but the temporary spirit of international dedication to a common cause soon gave way to a revived concern for particular national interests. The new and only partially re-established peace was threatened and the urgent processes of reconstruction were discouragingly retarded. Our own prestige, once reaching outstanding eminence in 1919, had been greatly impaired, and we faced a situation offering little promise of satisfactory solution. With faith in our sincerity of purpose, with the consciousness of utter unselfishness, the Administration promptly undertook the accomplishment of four main tasks:

First—The re-establishment of peace with the Central Powers and the orderly settlement of those important after-problems of the war which directly involved the United States.

Second—The protection and promotion, amid the chaos of conflicting national interests, of the just rights of the United States and the legitimate interests of American citizens.

Third—The creation of an international situation, so far as the United States might contribute thereto, which would give the best assurances of peace for the future; and

Fourth—The pursuit of the traditional American policy of friendly cooperation with our sister republics of the western hemisphere.

The eminent success and the far-reaching achievements must have their ultimate appraisal by American public opinion, but I submit them with unrestrained pride and sincere tribute to the historic services of a great Secretary of State.

Few people have stopped to measure the outstanding task of reestablishing peace. The peace negotiated by my distinguished predecessor, though he was impelled by lofty purpose, had evoked a bitter and undying controversy. It was conclusive to those who had studied the public verdict that our people would never consent to assume any obligations, moral or legal, which would fetter their cherished freedom of action in unknown contingencies. If our people are ever to decide upon war, they will choose to decide according to our own national conscience at the time and in the constitutional manner without advance commitment, or the advice or consent of any other Power. To revive the old controversy in any phase would have been disastrous.

We do not challenge the utility of the League of Nations to others; we wish it more power in every righteous exercise of its functions; but it is clearly not for us as presented in the Versailles covenant. To have fought over again the controversy would have postponed our resumption of peaceful relations, essential to our commerce, and impaired our own tranquility. So we took the only way, and the direct way, to peace, and we established it. We avoided controversy and recorded accomplishment. Negotiations were begun with the Central Powers, and those negotiations culminated in treaties which established peace with those countries on an equitable basis and at the same time preserved for the United States the rights embodied in the Paris treaties which we had acquired through participation in common victory. These treaties were promptly ratified and have been in full force since November, 1921.

Then followed quickly a treaty with Germany for the determination by a mixed commission of the amount of American claims against Germany. The Commission was promptly appointed, and the extraordinary tribute, unparalleled in international relationships, was paid to the American sense of justice by the suggestion on the part of Germany that the United States should appoint an American umpire. History has yet to record another like expression of trust by one nation in the fairness of another. In recognition of this signal tribute by the vanquished to a victor, I asked Justice Day to retire from the Supreme Court bench to serve in that capacity. I know you share my sorrow that ill-health forced his retirement from this great service, and only a little later his retirement was followed by his death.

A stupendous problem, no less important and no less difficult, was the settlement of the debts owed to the United States by its late associates in the World War. This involved the funding and eventual repayment to the American taxpayers of a total sum in excess of $10,000,000,000. A freely expressed sentiment among our own people had argued for cancellation, and it was more than seized upon and urged abroad; but we believed in the sanctity of contract and that world stability which is founded on kept obligations. Settlement may enforce hardships and denials and economies which hinder the easy way to restoration, but it maintains the foundations of financial honor which must be everlasting. Accordingly, Congress created the World War Foreign Debt Commission, and notice was sent to the debtor nations that this country was ready to negotiate an equitable adjustment. In response to this invitation the British Government sent a commission to Washington; a settlement with Great Britain was soon effected and subsequently approved by Congress and by the British Government. Under this settlement the British Government has undertaken the discharge of an obligation of more than four and a half billion dollars, and thereby put a fresh stamp of approval on the sacredness of international obligations.

When that settlement was announced there was a new assurance of stability throughout the world. More, here was the example of two great Powers dealing with a sum of indebtedness unparalleled in international history, and a settlement was promptly readied without the exactions of greed on the one hand or appeal to sentimental modification on the other, and two peoples were at once committed to the validity of international contract. An adjustment on a like basis has been reached with the Government of Finland, which awaits only the approval of Congress to become effective. Negotiations are now in progress with the Government of Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia has given notice of its intention to send within the near future a mission to Washington for the same purpose. The advocacy of cancellation is drowned out by the advancing hosts of settlement and maintained integrity, and the United States will keep faith with its own people who loaned, as they fought, with faith in the republic.

Seemingly a trivial thing in itself, it was nevertheless a notable achievement to effect a successful settlement of the costs incurred for the maintenance of our army on the Rhine. Without adequate understanding, our own people were urging the withdrawal of bur troops long before it was finally ordered, but nearly all of Europe, and Germany in particular, meanwhile was asking us to stay. There was a feeling that our military forces were immensely helpful in maintaining peace and order. We know that our military forces left behind them a fine and lasting impression of courtesy and consideration. But we were aloof from the Reparation Commission, and the payment for our Army of Occupation was ignored in the reparation payments made by Germany. We had received nothing up to January, 1923, though our costs had accumulated to an amount of more than $250,000,000. After discouraging delays, a definite plan for the payment of this large sum was negotiated at Paris, and the settlement was sanctioned late in May of this year. There is little about it all to make sentimental appeal, but it is a gratifying record of sane business and the seemly assertion of our just rights.

Few post-war adjustments have embodied greater potentiality of harm or exacted more careful vigilance in behalf of American interests than the new experiment of mandates, to which the United States ceased to be a direct party upon rejection of the Treaty of Versailles. We denied for ourselves any acquirement of territory, but that denial surrendered no rights which accrued to us along with the Allied victors in the war. I mean the rights of equality in industry and commerce. Under the system of mandates an effective sovereignty over former German overseas possessions was transferred to certain of the Allied Powers, and it was necessary for us to obtain definite assurances from those Powers that our citizens should not suffer discrimination in territories which came into their possession in the bestowal of the fruits of victory.

We had sought none of those fruits, but we had yielded none of our rights. So negotiations to this end were promptly begun. The island of Yap had special advantages as a cable centre, and an acute difference developed concerning its control. A settlement satisfactory to all concerned was nevertheless reached with the mandatory Power, Japan, and the treaty which was concluded and sanctioned fully secures all American rights with respect to all those Pacific Islands north of the Equator over which Japan exercises its mandate. The contention that the United States is rightfully entitled to fair opportunity in the mandated regions held by other Powers had been successfully presented to the Governments of France and Belgium, and satisfactory treaties have been signed with those Powers relating to the territories in Africa under their control.

Negotiations are now in progress with Great Britain relating to the British mandated territories in Africa, and we look with confidence to a satisfactory treaty. Since I am only paying tribute to the Department of State in so saying, I may say becomingly that these adjustments of mandate difficulties constitute an outstanding achievement of inestimable importance and benefit to our America.

The outstanding historical monumental achievement is the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armament. Only a few days ago the Government of France gave the ratification which makes unanimous the approval of the nations concerned, and confirms the dawn of a new era in international cooperation for world peace.

From the day the present Administration assumed responsibility it has given devout thought to the means of creating an international situation, so far as the United States, might contribute to it, which would give assurance of future peace. We craved less of armament, and we hated war. We felt sure we could find a rift in the clouds if we could but have international understanding. We felt sure that if sponsors for Governments could only face each other at the conference, table and voice the conscience of a penitent world, we could divert the genius and the resources of men from the agencies of destruction and sorrow to the ways of construction and human happiness. The world was needing some new assurances. The old British-Japanese military alliance was about to be extended, at a time when alliances were less needed, and common consecration at the altar of peace was a pressing world necessity. There was anxiety about the Pacific area, no one knew why, but the, prophets of evil were prolific in forebodings. It is a pity we have the mischief makers who are ever adding to the burdens of distrust, but we do have them and in 1921 they were busy in our land and in the East, exciting suspicion and ill feeling. War might easily have been precipitated; but responsible government heads knew that the great undercurrent of human feeling was flowing toward peace, and that a frank discussion would reveal it. The world was weary of war burdens and armament cost, and an honest and authoritative confession would reveal that fact so that men might act in concert to relieve the situation and make for widespread amity.

The Limitation of Armament Conference was significantly triumphant in two accomplishments; it relieved and limited the burden and found a way to remove the causes of misunderstanding which lead to war. In the gloom and grief of the world, the Conference table lighted the torch of understanding and pointed the simplest way to peace. The Conference proved one of the greatest achievements in the history of international relations. Its four great treaties, now ratified, related to the limitation of naval armament, to the restricted use of submarines and poison gases, to principles and policies restoring the integrity of China, and to the regulation of Chinese customs tariff. Important resolutions were adopted, providing a commission of jurists to consider amendments to the laws of war, made necessary by new agencies of warfare; for a board of reference for Far Eastern questions; for international unity of action respecting various matters affecting China, such as extraterritoriality, foreign postal agencies, foreign armed forces, unification of railways, reduction of Chinese military forces, publicity for existing commitments, and the Chinese Eastern Railway. Though not a part of the Conference, the Shantung treaty between China and Japan grew out of it, accomplishing for China a restoration in which Versailles had failed, and China today needs only her self-assertion-to find a restored place among the nations, with her own destiny impelling and wholly in her own hands.

Another achievement, not technically a part of the work of the Conference as such, but which was negotiated while the Conference was in session and which was most important, was the Four-Power Treaty between the United States, the British Empire, France and Japan, relating to their insular possessions and insular dominions in the Pacific Ocean. This treaty provided for the termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and in the pledge of respected rights it recorded a new assurance of peace. Not the semblance of war's foreboding in the Pacific remained when this covenant of good faith was signed.

Probably the most important results of this historically important conference are those which are unwritten and imponderable. I refer to the revelations of sentiment and purpose, to the manifestations of good-will and the evident thirst for better understanding. New friendships were assured, new confidence revealed. Where there is friendship and confidence, treaties to maintain peace are of least importance. The friendly relationship and the soul of national honor are infinitely more important to peace than a written form of their expression. If you would measure the work of the conference, contrast the present opinion as to peace in the East with the view which was widely entertained and frequently expressed before the conference was held. The mists, which had the forebodings of war clouds, have been dispelled. There is confidence today; fears have been allayed, and out of understanding has come a new feeling of friendship and respect. Quite apart from specific engagements, it was a distinct achievement to produce a new state of mind, a reign of good-will and with it new assurances with respect to our relations in the Far East. There has been a way revealed to the world, the way of peace, and if humanity and its governments will only accept the indicated way, that which has been a world lament may be turned to a universal paean of rejoicing.

The preservation of the just rights of the United States and its citizens has been maintained as to the basis of an American policy in respect to two very difficult situations, one growing out of revolution attending the World War, the other antedating the war itself. I refer first to the situation in Mexico. Our feeling toward the Mexican people is one of entire and very cordial friendliness, and we have deeply regretted the necessity for the continued suspension of diplomatic relations. We have no hatred toward Mexico, no selfish ends to serve at her expense. We have no promptings other than those of a neighborly friendship. We have no desire to interfere in the internal concerns of Mexico. We respect in the Mexican people the same rights of self- determination which we exact for ourselves. It is not for us to suggest what laws she shall have relating to the future, for we willingly acclaim Mexico as the judge of her own domestic policy.

We do, however, maintain one dear principle which lies at the foundation of all international intercourse. When a nation has invited intercourse with other nations and has enacted laws under which investments have been legally made, contracts entered into and property rights acquired by citizens of other jurisdictions, it is an essential condition of international intercourse that lawful obligations shall be met, and that there shall be no resort to confiscation and repudiation.

We are not insistent on the form of any particular assurance against confiscation, but we do desire the substance of such protection. We would give as freely as we ask. Such assurance is in the interest of permanent friendly relations. We have sought to have this wholly defensible attitude understood by our Mexican neighbors ever since the present Administration came into power. I am happy to say that we now have our Commissioners in conference at Mexico City and it is earnestly hoped that there may be definite and favorable results from their exchange of views with the Mexican Commissioners. We crave not only friendly diplomatic relationship, but we wish it to be founded upon an understanding which will guarantee its permanence. Upon such an understanding we may jointly promote the most neighborly friendships which shall mutually advantage the two republics.

The problem of Russian recognition is complicated by a fundamental difficulty, because of a government regime there whose very existence is predicated upon a policy of confiscation and repudiation. No one much questions the continuation of the present government or wishes to direct the expression of Russian preference. There is an unfailing friendship in the United States for the people of Russia, The deplorable conditions in Russia have deeply touched the sympathies of the American people, and we have sought to give evidence of friendship rather than dictate the course of its government. I gladly recommended an appropriation of $20,000,000 by Congress for the relief of her famine-stricken people, and, all told, America's friendly interest has been expressed in a $66,000,000 relief expenditure, handled in the main by the Secretary of Commerce, in distributing food and combating disease. That this Administration, supported by the strength and generosity of the American people, has saved the lives of ten millions of men, women and children in Russia, at the very door of death from famine and pestilence, is the complete answer to every charge of our ill will toward the Russian people.

It has been urged that we ought to grant political recognition to the present Russian regime because the destitution of the Russian people would thereby be put in the way of alleviation, and that this humane appeal is so urgent that all other considerations should be put aside, but the fact remains that the establishment of a basis of permanent improvement in Russia lies solely within the power of those who govern the destinies of that country, and political recognition prior to correcting fundamental error tends only to perpetuate the ills from which the Russian people are suffering. International good faith forbids any sort of sanction of the Bolshevist policy. The property of American citizens in Russia, honestly acquired under the laws then existing, has been taken without the color of compensation, without process of law, by the mere emission of countless decrees. Such a policy challenges the very groundwork of righteous intercourse among peoples and rends the basis of good faith everywhere in the world.

If the fundamentals of our boasted civilization are based on twenty centuries of maintained error, if the Russian conception of the social fabric is the true revelation, tardily conceived after forty centuries of evolution and development, the truth will ultimately assert itself in the great experiment. I can see Russia only as the supreme tragedy and a world warning, the dangers of which we must avoid if our heritage is to be preserved. If the revolutionary order is the way to higher attainment and greater human happiness, Russia will command our ultimate sanction. Meanwhile, I prefer to safeguard our interests and hold unsullied the seemingly proven principles under which human rights and property rights are blended in the supreme inspiration to human endeavor. If there are no property rights, there is little, if any, foundation for national rights, which we are ever being called upon to safeguard. The whole fabric of international commerce and righteous international relationship will fail if any great nation like ours will abandon the underlying principles relating to sanctity of contract and the honor involved in respected rights.

We were never technically at war with Turkey, and had no part in the Greek-Angora conflict, which threatened to set the Near East aflame. But the rights of our nationals and other nationals long recognized by accepted civilization were involved in the settlement, and we had our representatives at Lausanne, not only to protect those rights, but to serve humanitarian interests and promote the cause of peace. Cynical critics sneered at our "unofficial" representatives, but the Powers of the Old World thought well enough of them to tender to the United States the chairmanship of the conference. It could not be accepted, for manifest reasons, but we did not fail to voice American sentiment on behalf of Christian minorities, and we did assist in reaching a settlement calculated to assure their future protection. I firmly believe that the American influence at Lausanne played a becoming part, and an influential part, in making for peace, when all the world stood in apprehension of an armed conflagration, the horrors of which no one ventured to predict. Unselfishness and understanding argued for the same grant to others which we would demand for ourselves, and that attitude was never successfully challenged. We supplemented state credit with a humanitarian work and a necessary and highly appealing relief work which planted the seeds of good-will in the Near East, to blossom in the years to come, and we left there the appeal of good-will and mutual understanding to argue for peace for all the future, so long as memory abides.

An achievement of a different kind in the humanitarian field has just been accomplished through the participation of American representatives in a conference at Geneva, dealing with international traffic in opium and other narcotics. A policy of aloofness would have forbidden our presence there, but human helpfulness impelled attendance. The American representatives recorded a distinct- accomplishment in obtaining the substantial acceptance of the proposals which they put forward, looking to the effective restriction of the opium traffic to the minimum required for medicinal and scientific purposes. Out of the American example, out of confidence in American unselfishness, has come a succession of incidents which reveal our influence and effective good-will in the economic and political fields, as well as those of humanity. Persia gave proof of her confidence in American impartiality and integrity by inviting the nomination of an American expert for the post of Administrator General of her finances. Colombia requested and is receiving the services of American financial experts in the study of her financial conditions. A. cordial friendship with Colombia has been fully re-established and her people are welcoming the agents of American development and facilitating their activities. Brazil invited an American Naval. Commission to participate in the development of her befitting naval defense, and such a commission was named—a fine testimonial of confidence and a deserved tribute to our navy.

Nothing can surpass the success of the maintenance and furtherance of our traditional policy of friendship and utterly unselfish helpfulness to our sister republics in the Western Hemisphere. We have given new proof of our cherishment for their independence, our desire for their peace, our wish for their unimpaired integrity and their increasing prosperity. It can not be unseemly to say that the proof of their confidence and the assurances of their reciprocated friendship are matters of especial gratification. If there was once a suspicion of intended domination or dictation, when only the most generous friendship was intended, it has been entirely dissipated. When we found Panama and Costa Rica about to engage in war we pointed the just way to peace, the very route we ourselves would have taken, indeed have taken. We merely asked them in join in holding sacred an agreement to accept an arbitral award. The ways of peace are in kept agreements.

We may gratefully contemplate new progress in Cuba toward stability and restored prosperity. Cuba was desperately hit by the deflation which followed in the wake of war, but out of the helpful advice, which was inspired by true friendship and extended because of our peculiar relationship, Cuba is now well on the road to economic recovery and healthful restoration.

Where resentment once abided because of the presence of our military forces in the Dominican Republic, there are today universal expressions of approval, and the processes of setting up a constitutional government have made gratifying progress. The provisional government is in actual operation, the constitution for a permanent government will soon be voted upon and it is expected that our troops may be withdrawn within the current year. To-day there is complete trust in the unselfish aims of our Government and a new record of high purpose will soon be completed. Progress in Haiti is giving promise of an almost unhoped for success. Peace and order have been established and safety of life and property exists for the first time in that troubled republic. A new day is dawning in Haiti, and the foundations of security are being safely laid. Public order has been so improved in the interior that our marines have been practically withdrawn therefrom, and the day is in prospect when our complete withdrawal from the island may be contemplated.

Those who little understood saw the United States embarked on a program of domination and exploitation, but the written history will recite another instance of a great republic's insistence on order and justice with a righteous peace attending.

The friendly offices of this Republic in furthering the settlement of a dispute, a generation old, between Chile and Peru have been attended by a most gratifying promise of success. With avowed confidence in our sense of justice, the Governments of Chile and Peru have agreed to submit to arbitral settlement the long-standing Tacna-Arica controversy. Through our friendly advices and a resulting conference in Washington these Republics have agreed upon a plan of peaceful settlement of the dispute which has divided them and troubled their relations for more than thirty years. The gratifying proof of confidence in the United States lies in their acceptance of our decision in the capacity of arbitrator. This is another tribute to the way of peace revealing understanding.

Added proof of our deep concern for Central American stabilization was revealed in the Washington conference of the five republics—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Salvador—assembled last December. New understandings were reached, the treaties of 1907 were made effective, measures were promoted to limit armaments, plans were worked out for the peaceful settlement of disputes, a general treaty of peace and amity was signed and die establishment of an international Central American tribunal was effected. Here was written a new and valid assurance of peaceful relations among the republics of Central America, a new proof that this republic favors conditions conducive to the best interests of the whole of the Western Hemisphere and more evidence that friendship and understanding open the avenues to peaceful progress.

In like spirit, in the same assurance that we always may confidently look into the faces of the spokesmen of all governments everywhere, our delegates attended the fifth international conference of American States held at Santiago, Chile. It was an occasion of most complete understanding between the United States and other participating governments. The results, tangible and intangible, are sure to facilitate commercial and other intercourse in the Western Hemisphere. While our diplomacy is not commercial, we do recognize the ties of trade and the fostering of exchanges of friendly relationship. When we give precisely as we ask, we are entrenched in righteous relationship. Frankly, trade impelled and lines of understanding urged the readjustment relating to the cable companies in various Central and South American countries, and to-day die way is open for the laying of one or more cables directly down^ the east coast of South America which, will bring these countries into closer communication with us and facilitate commerce and the exchange of news—always the ways of understanding.

Our relations in the Western world truly symbolize our position in the whole world; they reveal our friendly and peaceful intent and purpose. We have only the most genuine friendship for all. We seek nothing which belongs to another. We do not strive for aloofness, but we do not make an un-American commitment. We have shunned no obligations which duty has called us to share with others. We maintain a scrupulous respect for the rights of friendly nations in the adjustment of their own affairs not directly affecting the United States, and we have avoided their entanglements. With firmness we have asserted American rights and have insisted upon the open door of opportunity where Americans may enter on righteous and lawful ways, precisely as do other nationals everywhere under the shining sun. With the political controversies of other countries, which have often strained their friendly relations, we have had no part. In adherence to our conception of justice, with becoming dignity, we have maintained our rights, we have yielded willingly to the rights of others and we dwell in cherished and unthreatened peace.

I have thus far made no allusion to the hungering of humanity for new assurances that die world may be equally blessed. Peace ought to be the supreme blessing to all mankind. Armed warfare is abhorrent to the ideal civilization. Nations ought no more to need resort to force in the settlement of their disputes or differences than do men in this enlightened day. Out of this conviction, out of my belief in a penitent world, craving for agencies of peace, out of the inevitable presidential contact with the World War's havoc and devastation and the measureless sorrow which attended and has followed, I would be insensible to duty and violate all the sentiments of my heart and all my convictions if I failed to urge American support of the permanent court of international justice. I do not know that such a court will be unfailing in the avoidance of war, but I know it is a step in the right direction and will prove an advance toward international peace for which the reflective conscience of mankind is calling. Why should there not be a court of this character with the most cordial American support? We originated the modem suggestion of such a tribunal and have been advocating it for years. We have proclaimed in behalf of its establishment again and again. Its origin is no hindrance, because its inspiration, growing out of conditions which we ourselves were unable to contrive, need be no less noble. Our own concern is not with the beginning. Our interest is in the end to be attained.

There manifestly are controversies between nations as there are between the men who constitute them, which should be decided by a court. There are controversies calling for the examination of facts and the application of principles of law. There are international contracts, better known as treaties, now more numerous than ever, to be interpreted. I should be the last man in the United States to surrender an essential national right or to yield the right to exercise self-determination. But here is a distinction between questions of a legal nature and questions. of policy or of national honor, and there has emerged from the discussions of jurists an agreement defining justiciable disputes as those which relate to the interpretation of a treaty, to any question of international law, to the existence of facts which would constitute a breach of international obligation, or to the reparation to be made for such a breach. A nation which believes in the reign of law, preferable to the rule of force, must subscribe to an agency for the law's just construction.

How else may controversies between nations be determined? Is a controversy to be left a festering sore? If it is, then there is ever increasing danger that the ultimate alternative to peaceful settlement would be arbitrament of arms. The logical way to prevent war is to dispose of the causes of war, and the honest desire for peace must be supported by the institutions of peace. If controversies over legal rights are to be determined peacefully there must be a tribunal to determine them, and I most devoutly wish the United States to do its full part, to voice a national conscience toward making secure the provision and strengthening the agencies for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Our own interests require the judgment of such la tribunal of international justice, and the interests of world peace demand it. Because such a court is not able to .deal with every sort of controversy, but only with those appropriate for a court to decide, is no more reason for dispensing with it than that we should cease hating war because there is no effective way to outlaw it. I would instantly subscribe to any proposal to outlaw war if some one would point to the effective way to accomplish it. There is no immediate access to perfected world conditions. No demand for the millenium will prevent war. If the plain and very simple path of progress in dealing with these controversies which all countries recognize to be susceptible to settlement through judicial tribunals is not to be followed, then hope lies dead and no progress is possible.

My own sincerity of purpose has been questioned because I do not insist that we shall accept the existing World Court precisely as provided. Personally I should vastly prefer the policy of submitting all controversies in which we are concerned to the court as it stands today as against any other agency of settlement yet devised. As President, speaking for the United States, I am more interested in adherence to such a tribunal in the best form attainable than I am concerned about the triumph of Presidential insistence. The big thing is the firm establishment of the Court and our cordial adherence thereto. All else is mere detail. No matter what the critics may say, we have the obligation of duly recognizing constituted authority, and I had rather have the Seriate grant its support and have the United States wholeheartedly favor the permanent court than prolong a controversy and defeat the main purpose. I respect the Senate precisely as I would have it respect the Presidency, and I can appraise opposition which is conscientiously inspired. In the grant of the same consideration which I would be justified in asking, I cherish the belief that fear may be allayed and hope encouraged.

It is the forward step to which we must first aspire. Our hopeful aspiration is to contribute whatever we can toward the elimination of the causes of war. My recital of two years of work in furthering our friendly foreign relations has had for its object the emphasis of that aspiration and the fruits of practicable application. Future accomplishments must be founded upon the combination of considered and practicable steps, and must have the support of an undivided American good will. The real hope of permanent and effective accomplishment depends upon freedom from internal dissension and international dissension. The forward steps already taken ought to be followed by many others in our generation, but the way to permanent world peace is a long and difficult one. Those who allege that the suggested ways or the accepted programs of today are final are denying the ever-impelling impulse to human progress. The surpassing accomplishments are progressively made, and I know that the soul of America will light the way to a gratifying victory. When that glad day comes—I hope it will be soon—when the sincerity of our own aspirations and the sincerity of the world's convictions bring us to a united endeavor, we shall forget that there were necessary compromises which hindered but did not obstruct, and all may rejoice in the assurances which are those of peace, with all its blessings.

Warren G. Harding, Address on Foreign Policy and the International Court of Justice Intended for Delivery in San Francisco, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/329292

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