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THE WESTERN MAIL,  June 13th, 1933  

The World Conference -London (i) 


 Why President Roosevelt must Beware

By Gareth Jones.

(Our Special Correspondent at the Conference)

 LONDON, Monday.

The King has spoken.  The representatives of 66 nations, Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretaries, Ambassadors, coming from all parts of the world, holding the most clashing of political beliefs and the most varying of religions, have stood to listen to his appeal for world co-operation. 

In many countries millions have heard his clear voice welcome the delegates to the World Economic Conference.  It is difficult to believe that those black-coated men have the fate of the world in their hands, and that this simple and dignified hall of the Geological Museum, South Kensington, will witness decisions affecting the lives of South Wales miners and of Argentinian farmers; of Cardiff tippers and of Berlin shop assistants; of Glamorgan tin-plate workers and of New York engine-drivers.

The problems which will be discussed are prices, the gold standard, tariffs, quotas, embargoes, subsidies, loans - indeed, the whole gamut of the world’s economic life.

A Scene Recalled

When the King has left the hall the Prime Minister speaks.  He points to the disastrous effects of falling prices, to the decline in national incomes, and to the 30,000,000 unemployed in the world.  

Suddenly there is a firm note in his voice as he says that war debts “must be dealt with” and that “Lausanne has to be completed.” At that moment I think of a scene far different from this historic gathering.  I forget the dignity of the King’s appeal and I recall a scene in Harlem, the negro quarter of New York.

It was a year ago as I was seated in a park next to an old negro preacher, watching the coloured children at play.

My black neighbour turned to me and said, “You see dem children in dis park and you tink dems de only people here, doan you?  Well, you’re wrong, cos dis park is full of people - not living people like you and me - but spirits, and dem spirits is talking to us and guiding us, and dere are millions of dem floatin’ about, and its dem what is important.”

Conference “Spirits”

There are spirits floating about this Conference, and the most influential of them are the millions of American farmers, workers, and unemployed who believe that the war debts must be paid; that America must live for herself alone, and that tariffs must be kept high.

These Americans are here in this Conference hall, not in the flesh, but in the minds of every delegate.  I believe that this is the crux of to-day’s meeting.  There is a danger that whatever the American delegates may do their plans will be wrecked when they return to their native land.

Wilson worked at the Treaty of Versailles, but when he arrived back in the United States he was met by a furious opposition, and his plans were thrown overboard.

To understand this Conference, therefore, we must study the invisible forces which haunt this simple and dignified hall, and recognise that all thoughts are on what the Americans do.

Will the Americans consent to cancel war debts?  Will the Americans lower tariffs?  Will they co-operate or not?

Forces at Work in United States

America has far-sighted men as leaders.  Norman Davis has been brave in his speeches at Geneva, and has stretched out a helping band to Europe.  He recently proposed to end the quarrel over the “freedom of the seas,” which has caused so much bad blood between England and America.

Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, has been admirable in advocating the lowering of tariffs, and is the friend of a reasonable internationalist policy.

President Roosevelt himself has been outspoken against the curse of economic nationalism.

Nevertheless, in spite of these bold leaders, there are forces in America which make one doubt whether they will be able to carry out the policy of internationalism and low tariffs, which is the only policy which can lead to recovery.

What are those forces hovering invisibly over the delegates?  The first is the American home-town man, or Middle West farmer - honest and brave, but who is now in misery.  He thinks that the international bankers are to blame for everything.

For him the unmasking of L P. Morgan is a far greater thing than this group of “furriners” sitting in London.  His favourite saying is, “If Uncle Sam sits at a table with Europeans he’s sure to get his pockets picked.”

Finally, our American small-towner wants to see the war debts paid.  “They borrowed the money.  Why should we Americans pay for the war?” he says.  He, therefore, mistrusts anything the Conference can do, and demands that Britain shall pay.

Vested Interests

The second group of spirits haunting the Conference are those of vested interests, who will fight bitterly rather than lower tariffs.  These exist every country, but they are particularly strong  this moment in America.  Those American delegates seated not many yards away are surely thinking: “Some business men are going to make a big battle before they’ll let us lower tariffs.”  At this very moment, there are people in America urging higher and higher tariffs.  

The third invisible force is a piece of paper with a picture of Washington and the words “One Dollar.”  The news that the dollar fell to-day cannot be over-estimated.  Behind that one dollar note there are millions of manufacturers, motor-car builders, cotton-growers, wheat-growers, longing to sell, their goods abroad, and the more the dollar falls the better chance they have selling their goods.  The fall of the dollar is bad for the export trade of the world, and it looks as if a war between the pound and the dollar is in progress.

Feeling Against Europe.

The last set of spirits who fill the minds of delegates as the Prime Minister speaks is that of the American politicians, unscrupulous, pandering to public prejudices.  These American politicians will never be forgotten by the American delegates, for it was they who wrecked Wilson.  They have always been jealous the President and anxious to maintain the power of Congress.

If the American delegates make too many concessions there will be passionate words in the American Congress, and Congress nearly always wins.  In Congress the feeling against Europe is getting ever stronger.  So Roosevelt had better beware.

These invisible forces are destined to play the greatest part in the Conference, and it is tragic that at a time when only international co-operation can save the world the driving ‘forces are more and more nationalistic and going further away from the standpoint of the King when he said: “I appeal to you all, co-operate for the sake of the ultimate good of the whole world.”








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