“. . . Modern weapons of offense are vastly stronger than modern weapons
of defense . . . fixed fortifications . . . are no longer impregnable to
the attack of war planes, heavy mobile artillery, land battleships
called tanks . . .”
Message to the Nations of the World appealing for Peace by Disarmament
and the end of Economic Chaos, by cable from Washington, D. C.,
May 16, 1933
A profound hope of the people of my country impels me, as the head of
their Government, to address you and, through you, the people of your
Nation. This hope is that peace may be assured through practical
measures of disarmament and that all of us may carry to victory our
common struggle against economic chaos.
To these ends the Nations have called two great World Conferences. The
happiness, the prosperity, and the very lives of the men, women and
children who inhabit the whole world are bound up in the decisions which
their Governments will make in the near future. The improvement of
social conditions the preservation of individual human rights, and the
furtherance of social justice are dependent upon these decisions.
The World Economic Conference will meet soon and must come to its
conclusions quickly. The world cannot await deliberations long drawn
out. The Conference must establish order in place of the present chaos
by a stabilization of currencies, by freeing the flow of world trade,
and by international action to raise price levels. It must, in short,
supplement individual domestic programs for economic recovery, by wise
and considered international action.
The Disarmament Conference has labored for more than a year and, as yet,
has been unable to reach satisfactory conclusions. Confused purposes
still clash dangerously. Our duty lies in the direction of bringing
practical results through concerted action based upon the greatest good
to the greatest number. Before the imperative call of his great duty,
petty obstacles must be swept away and petty aims forgotten. A selfish
victory is always destined to be an ultimate defeat. The furtherance of
durable peace for our generation in every part of the world is the only
goal worthy of our best efforts.
If we ask what are the reasons for armaments, which, in spite of the
lessons and tragedies of the World War, are today a greater burden on
the peoples of the earth than ever before, it becomes clear that they
are two-fold: first, the desire, disclosed or hidden, on the part of
Governments to enlarge their territories at the expense of a sister
Nation and I believe that only a small minority of Governments or of
peoples harbor such a purpose; second, the fear of Nations that they
will be invaded. I believe that the overwhelming majority of peoples
feel obliged to retain excessive armaments because they fear
some act of aggression against them and not because they themselves seek
to be aggressors.
There is justification for this fear. Modern weapons of offense are
vastly stronger than modern weapons of defense. Frontier forts,
trenches, wire entanglements, coast defenses-in a word, fixed
fortifications-are no longer impregnable to the attack of war planes,
heavy mobile artillery, land battleships called tanks, and poison gas.
If all Nations will agree wholly to eliminate from possession and use
the weapons which make possible a successful attack, defenses
automatically will become impregnable, and the frontiers and
independence of every Nation will become secure.
The ultimate objective of the Disarmament Conference must be the
complete elimination of all offensive weapons. The immediate objective
is a substantial reduction of some of these weapons and the elimination
of many others.
This Government believes that the program for immediate reduction of
aggressive weapons, now under discussion at Geneva, is but a first step
toward our ultimate goal. We do not believe that the proposed immediate
steps go far enough. Nevertheless, this Government welcomes the measures
now proposed and will exert its influence toward the attainment of
further successive steps of disarmament.
Stated in the clearest way, there are three steps to be agreed upon in
the present discussions:
First, to take, at once, the first definite step toward this objective,
as broadly outlined in the MacDonald? Plan.
Second, to agree upon time and procedure for taking the following steps.
Third, to agree that while the first and the following steps are being
taken, no Nation shall increase its existing armaments over and above
the limitations of treaty obligations.
But the peace of the world must be assured during the whole period of
disarmament and I, therefore, propose a fourth step concurrent with and
wholly dependent on the faithful fulfillment of these three proposals
and subject to existing treaty rights:
That all the Nations of the world should enter into a solemn and
definite pact of non-aggression; that they should solemnly reaffirm the
obligations they have assumed to limit and reduce their armaments, and,
provided these obligations are faithfully executed by all signatory
powers, individually agree that they will send no armed force of
whatsoever nature across their frontiers.
Common sense points out that if any strong Nation refuses to join with
genuine sincerity in these concerted efforts for political and economic
peace, the one at Geneva and the other at London, progress can be
obstructed and ultimately blocked. In such event the civilized world,
seeking both forms of peace, will know where the responsibility for
failure lies. I urge that no Nation assume such a responsibility, and
that all the Nations joined in these great conferences translate their
professed policies into action. This is the way to political and
I trust that your Government will join in the fulfillment of these
The foregoing message was cabled to the Sovereigns and Presidents of the
Nations listed below:
His Majesty Zog I, King of the Albanians, Tirana, Albania.
His Excellency Augustin P. Justo, President of the Argentine Nation,
Buenos Aires Argentina.
His Excellency Wilhelm Miklas, President of the Confederation of
Austria, Vienna. Austria.
His Majesty Albert, King of the Belgians, Brussels, Belgium.
His Excellency Getulio Vargas, President of the United States of Brazil,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His Excellency Daniel Salamanca, President of Bolivia, La Paz, Bolivia.
His Majesty Boris III, King of the Bulgarians, Sofia, Bulgaria.
His Excellency Arturo Alessandri, President of the Republic of Chile,
His Excellency Enrique Olaya Herrera. President of the Republic of
Colombia Bogota, Colombia.
His Excellency Lin Sen, President of the National Government of the
Republic of China, Nanking, China.
His Excellency Ricardo Jimenez, President of Costa Rica, San Jose Costa
His Excellency Gerardo Machado, President of the Republic of Cuba,
His Excellency Thomas G. Masaryk, President of Czechoslovakia, Praha,
His Majesty Christian X, King of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.
His Excellency Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, President of the Dominican
Republic, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
His Excellency Juan de Dios Martinez Mira, President of the Republic of
Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.
His Majesty Fouad I, King of Egypt, Cairo, Egypt.
His Majesty George V, The King of Great Britain, Ireland, and the
British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, etc., etc.,
His Excellency Konstantin Pats, Head of State, Tallinn, Estonia.
His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, Addis
His Excellency Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, The President of Finland,
His Excellency M. Albert Lebrun, President of the French Republic,
His Excellency Field Marshal Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg,
President of the Reich, Berlin, Germany.
His Excellency Alexander Zaimis, President of the Hellenic Republic,
His Excellency Jorge Ubico, President of the Republic of Guatemala,
His Excellency Stenio Vincent, President of Haiti, Port au Prince,
His Excellency Tiburcio Carias A., Constitutional President of the
Republic of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
His Serene Highness Admiral Nicholas De Horthy, Regent of the Kingdom of
Hungary, Budapest, Hungary.
His Majesty Faisal I, King of Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq.
His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, Rome, Italy.
His Majesty Hirohito, Emperor of Japan, Tokyo, Japan.
His Excellency Alberts Kviesis, President of the Republic of Latvia,
His Excellency Antanas Smetona, President of the Republic of Lithuania,
Her Royal Highness Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Luxembourg,
His Excellency General Abelardo L. Rodriguez, President of the United
Mexican States, Mexico City, Mexico.
Her Majesty Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands, The Hague,
His Excellency Juan B. Sacasa, President of the Republic of Nicaragua,
His Majesty Haakon VII, King of Norway, Oslo, Norway.
His Excellency Harmodio Arias, President of Panama, Panama, Panama.
His Excellency Eusebio Ayala, President of the Republic of Paraguay,
His Imperial Majesty Reza Shah Pahlevi, Shah of Persia, Teheran,
His Excellency General Oscar Benavides, President of Peru, Lima, Peru.
His Excellency Ignace Moscicki, President of the, Republic of Poland,
His Excellency General Antonio Oscar de Fragoso Carmona, President of
the Republic of Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal.
His Majesty Carol II, King of Rumania, Bucharest, Rumania.
President Michail Kalinin, All Union Central Executive Committee,
His Majesty Prajadhipok, King of Siam, Bangkok, Siam.
His Excellency Alcala Zamora, President of the Spanish Republic, Madrid,
His Majesty Gustaf V, King of Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden.
His Excellency Edmond Schulthess, President of the Swiss Confederation,
His Excellency Gazi Mustafa Kemal, President of the Turkish Republic,
His Excellency Gabriel Terra, President of the Republic of Uruguay,
His Excellency Juan V. Gomez, President of the United States of
Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela.
His Majesty Alexander I, King of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.