Bachelor of Arts
Foreign affairs, United States, League of Nations, Naval, Pearl Harbor, Washington
In conducting their foreign affairs, nations rarely act for purely altruistic reasons. Often, when their stated objectives are noble ones- such as world peace- one can find others which stem from the perceived needs of the individual nation or nations. The United States has not been an exception to this rule. Between World War I and World War II the foreign policy of the United States had as one of its major goals world peace or, failing world peace, peace for the United States. Naturally, this was not a totally altruistic ideal. It was believed that the United States would prosper more in a world at peace than in a world at war. In addition, the people of the United States did not wish to become involved in another world war.
The United States supported many different policies to attempt to attain this objective of peace. All of them were limited, to some degree, by national self-interest. A major limit was the dictum that the United States should not enter into any treaties with any major power which could force the United States into a situation where it would be required to commit its armed forces, or impose sanctions, at the command of other governments. Thus, the United States wished to preserve its freedom of action in international affairs. It might consult with other governments, but it would decide what to do by itself. The policies which the United States supported during this time ranged from Wilson's League of Nations- which did not meet the criteria for independence of United States action- to the Neutrality acts of the late 1930's. One of the most successful and long lived of these policies was that of naval disarmament. It was also representative of United States interwar foreign policy because it spanned the period.
Murphy, David Jonas, "The United States and Naval Limitation: From the Washington Conference to Pearl Harbor" (1983). Honors Papers. 643.