Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

On the President and his Secretary of State

Apropos our discussion last Monday of the the “non-treaty agreement” being presented to the Senate, Richard Jacoby offered this (I have author rights, he does not)
More on the President and his Secretary of State and the proposed five power agreement before the Senate.

The President appeared before the Senate and asked for ratification of the agreement. His message was couched in soothing terms as he urged the senators not to be swayed by narrow suspicions and fears. He assured them that the various agreements were open covenants which concealed no “alliance, entanglement or involvement” and had been constructed “in accordance with our constitutional methods.”  After giving such assurances he reminded them that as a former member of the senate he was well aware of the senatorial desire to exercise the Senate’s prerogatives. But he pointedly added: “since my senate experience I have come to know the viewpoint and inescapable responsibility of the Executive. To the Executive comes the closer view of world relationship and a more impressive realization of the menaces, the anxieties and the apprehensions to be met.”  Pass these agreements, he said, not merely because it is right to do so, but because the President feels that they are absolutely essential to the welfare of the United States.  He added: I am hopeful that we will establish the conviction in the minds of the world that it is possible for the American government to enter into international agreements and be able to secure the approval of the Senate. 

The Washington Post reflected on an almost universal sentiment when it cautioned the Senate that “rejection of these agreements would plunge the international situation into chaos.”
The foreign relations committee attaching a reservation to the agreement an amendment declared: “The United States understands that under this agreement there is no commitment to armed force, no alliance, no obligation to join in any defense.”
The opposing party relished the discomfort [of the administration] and sought to embarrass the administration by asking for the full record of all negations.
February 10, 1922:  Warren Harding and his Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes in their successful appeal for the Senate approval of the Five Power Navy Treaty limiting the future naval armaments of Japan by treaty between Japan, U.S., Great Britain, France and Italy.
From The Harding Era: Warren G. Harding and His Administration by Robert Murray. 1969.

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