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The world moves forward, and with it the American people. The changing viewpoint of the nation is evidenced by President Roosevelt's proclamation yesterday. In banning the shipment of articles of war to Italy and Ethiopia, the chief executive is asserting once more his avowed policy of neutrality.
Eighteen years ago, another Democratic president was also determined to keep this country out of war. His name was Woodrow Wilson, and he went about the situation in a different manner. In those days, America was just beginning to attain recognition as an important power in the economic world, and she was proud of her newfound position.
Thus when war came it was to the advantage of the United States to stand aloof, and in this way to reap enormous profits from the sale of materials to the belligerents. Because of this traffic Germany instituted its submarine campaign which so seriously hindered American commerce that it was considered an affront to our neutrality. The viewpoint of that day is illustrated by Wilson's proposal to Congress. He recommended that a law be passed to enable all ships in the American Merchant Marine to mount guns and carry appropriate gun crews. America's neutrality was something which must be maintained by force of arms. What happened is history.
Now in 1935 the change in American thought is startling. Instead of struggling to maintain our rights as neutrals, we are abrogating all such claims. Under the Neutrality Act passed in the last season of Congress, the course of action which the United States will follow differs in every respect from that of 1914-1917. A complete embargo on any articles employed in war will remove the American Merchant Marine from the necessity of defending itself. Henceforth American citizens will travel on Italian ships, (and on Ethiopian ships too) only at their own responsibility.
The new policy thus placed in operation by President Roosevelt is the latest attempt in the form of neutrality legislation. The fact that experts have stated that it is the best under existing circumstances increases the danger that it may be considered sufficient to maintain American neutrality. It is impossible to overemphasize the fact that the Administration must be willing to sacrifice trade and other economic staples such as cotton and foods before the United States can insure itself peace in time of war.
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