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The President's News Conference

March 25, 1930


THE PRESIDENT. I would like to talk to you a little about some of the background of the arms conference, but under the circumstances that if I do, it is not for quotation and it is not for publication by any authority. And if it is not of any use to you, it is not for publication at all. I merely want to tell you some things about it so that you yourselves will understand the situation. And with that understanding I will try and tell you something about it.

There appears to be a good deal of misimpression through the United States as to the situation there in respect to some proposal of a consultative pact. Now, no such proposal for any pact has ever come from any of the governments engaged in this Conference. These proposals for consultative pacts have come entirely from outside groups, and chiefly people in the United States who are interested in devising methods that would be helpful. And they are not proposed on any other basis than trying to suggest something that would help the situation. The character of the consultative pact which they have suggested, that is, from outside sources, does not interest any of the governments sitting in that Conference. Bear in mind that the consultative pacts depend on what is in them. If they mean a mere exchange of cables over moral questions it is one thing. If they mean anything to favor obligation to use military forces on behalf of the other parties to the pact, they mean entirely a different thing.

The suggestions that have been hitherto made do not carry anything in the nature of military guarantees, and anything short of military guarantees are of no interest to the governments negotiating in London. And, obviously, the governments represented there are well aware that the United States will never enter into anything in the nature of undertakings to use its fleet in any contingencies by way of securitive pacts or guarantees or anything of the kind, and, therefore they have never suggested anything of the kind.

There seems to be a sort of illusion that we have demands made upon us for pacts of this character, and we have none. And all such suggestions arise entirely from outside people who believe solutions of this kind might be tried out. The confidence of these groups who advocate some form of a pact of consultative order is based on the notion that they might secure a reduction in tonnage as the result of putting forward some kind of a consultative pact. It would not secure the reduction of one single ton--any of the pacts that have been suggested. They are of no interest in that connection. They are not exchangeable into naval tonnage. Therefore, for import that is of no present, at least practical, importance in the reduction of naval strength.

I greatly appreciate the effort of our people who are endeavoring to support the Conference--the American delegation in their efforts--and their very earnest endeavors to maintain public support and public opinion for the American delegation.

But I only want to repeat that it has already been determined long since that the pacts, which are consultative pacts which are so far advocated, would not secure the reduction of a single ton at that Conference.

As to the Conference as a whole, it is making more progress than would appear on the surface. The men there are very earnest in endeavoring to come to an agreement, as everyone knows, and all conferences go through crises of one kind or another, and a general ventilation of the diverse views on different occasions have to be brought up and dealt with, et cetera, et cetera.

This Conference is not over with by any manner or means, and I am very confident that constructive results of some order will come out of it. That is all.

Note: President Hoover's ninety-ninth news conference was held in the State, War, and Navy Building at 12 noon on Tuesday, March 25, 1930.

The background discussion was an attempt to dispel confusion created by an American statement in London. Efforts to secure French cooperation led Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson to suggest that the United States would consider a limited form of consultation pledge.

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211725

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