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American Business and Foreign Policy

American Business and Foreign Policy: 1920--1933

Joan Hoff Wilson
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    American Business and Foreign Policy
    Book Description:

    With increasing world economic interdependence and a new position as a creditor nation, the American business community became more actively and vocally concerned with foreign policy after World War I than ever before. This book details the response of American businessmen to such foreign policy issues as the tariff, disarmament, allied debts, loans, and the Manchurian crisis.

    Far from presenting a monolithic front, the business community fragmented into nationalist and internationalist camps, according to this study. Division over each issue varied with the size, type, and geographic region of the various business interests, and despite their formidable economic power, business internationalists are shown to have played a more limited role on certain issues than has been formerly assumed.

    Unfortunately for the future development of United States diplomacy and world stability, no institutional means for tempering business influence on the formulation of foreign policy, or for coordinating economic and political foreign policies, were developed in the twenties.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6507-3
    Subjects: History, Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xviii)

    The foundations of modem American diplomacy were laid during and immediately following World War I. They were based on a combination of ideological considerations precipitated by the actions of Imperialist Germany and by the Russian Revolution, and the realization of unprecedented worldwide economic expansion by the United States. A number of the economic and political foreign policies established or reinforced in this period continued to influence the foreign affairs of the country beyond World War I. There has been a tendency either to exaggerate or to underestimate the role played by the business community in the formulation of foreign policy...

  4. Chapter One General Business Views & Foreign Policy Trends, 1920
    (pp. 1-30)

    Almost as soon as the United States entered World War I, American businessmen began to speculate about the impact that conflict would have on the country. There had been, of course, some discussion in business journals about postwar issues, such as the problems of world peace and foreign trade, before April 6, 1917. But only after America’s entrance into the war did the significance of the role the United States was destined to play in both the peace settlement and the economic reconstruction of Europe become obvious to most businessmen; they predicted that the nation would emerge from the war...

  5. Chapter Two Disarmament & the Peace Movement, 1920–1933
    (pp. 31-64)

    Disarmament was a favorite, if futile, preoccupation of the American people for approximately fifteen years following World War I. Between 1918 and 1933 the United States government, with widespread public approval, participated in four disarmament conferences. Only two of these—the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armament, 1921–1922, and the London Naval Conference of 1930—resulted in signed agreements between the participating nations. It is all too easy to dismiss these treaties for lack of enforcement provisions and the entire postwar disarmament movement for being predicated on the familiar but nonetheless fallacious assumption that there is a direct...

  6. Chapter Three American Commercial Policy, 1920–1933
    (pp. 65-100)

    Since foreign trade was considered essential to continued domestic prosperity,¹ the major international economic problems which concerned the American business community in the 1920s were tariff policy and foreign loans and investments, along with the related issues of intergovernmental debts and German reparation payments. These topics were intimately connected with the expansion of American markets abroad, and prominent businessmen considered all of them when they formulated plans for the reconstruction of Europe. Debate within the business community began on two of these issues, the tariff and foreign loans, immediately after the signing of the armistice, and opinions were clearly defined...

  7. Chapter Four Hoover & Foreign Loan Supervision, 1920–1933
    (pp. 101-122)

    The nationalist-internationalist split which occurred within the business community over tariff policy was also evident with respect to other economic foreign policy issues, such as loans and investments and the related problems of intergovernmental debts and German reparation payments. The average domestic businessman, however, was much less concerned with these questions than he was with the tariff controversies of the decade.

    Sometimes this lack of interest was due to a sense of inadequacy, but more often it represented apathy. In at least one case, a steel manufacturer on the Pacific Coast refused to consider the suggestion of the American Manufacturers...

  8. Chapter Five Allied War Debts & German Reparations, 1920–1933
    (pp. 123-156)

    Low tariff duties, increased imports through most-favored-nation agreements, and federal control of long-term capital issues all proved unacceptable to certain business and political interests between 1920 and 1933. This meant that the postwar dream of reconstructing Europe behind a cooperative, American-led effort depended, in the last analysis, upon how the United States dealt with the related problems of inter-Allied debts and German reparation payments. Together these two issues represented the most important variables with respect to the economic stability of the western world prior to 1929. Theoretically the war debts were a powerful lever that the United States could use...

  9. Chapter Six Manifestations of the Closed Door, 1920–1933
    (pp. 157-183)

    Whether the United States pursued an Open or Closed Door policy (through a combination of collective and unilateral actions referred to here as independent internationalism) depended upon the power of other nations in various parts of the world. In the remaining chapters, therefore, I shall discuss the practice of independent internationalism as it was used in attempts to open or close regions of Latin America and the Far East. Between 1920 and 1933 these two areas often received similar diplomatic treatment from the United States, except that a Closed Door policy was reserved for Latin America and an Open Door...

  10. Chapter Seven Manifestations of the Open Door, 1920–1933
    (pp. 184-218)

    After the end of World War I, the United States pursued the Open Door policy in a greater variety of geographical locations than it did the Closed Door because of the greater economic and political competition that existed outside the Western Hemisphere. This was especially true in the Far East, the Middle East, the East Indies, and Russia. In the case of the Far East the Open Door was invoked in response to general economic and political considerations, some of which dated back to at least 1900, but all of which finally fell victim to the Manchurian crisis of 1930–...

  11. Chapter Eight A Glimpse of the Future: Manchuria, 1931–1933
    (pp. 219-242)

    By the time Hoover became president the government had followed one basic economic policy and two rival political courses in the Far East for a number of years. Hoover’s own 1929 position on the subject reflected this ambiguity, as discussed in the previous chapter. While he had supported the efforts of Charles Evans Hughes at the Washington Conference, he had warned the secretary of state at the time that a “negative hands-off policy” would not be enough to strengthen China internally. What was needed, Hoover had advised Hughes, was foreign aid in the form of a $250 million bankers’ loan....

  12. Notes
    (pp. 243-312)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 313-330)
  14. Index
    (pp. 331-339)