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Chapter 8 Sequel to Geneva: American isolation from the antidrug campaign PDF Print E-mail
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Books - American Diplomacy and the narcotics traffic
Written by Paul Goldstein   

The United States did not sign the Convention and Protocol of the Second Geneva Conference but was invited to adhere to them. Its re-fusal to do so was based more on political and face-saving considera-tions than on dissatisfaction with the Convention, for the United States was eventually forced to admit that the treaty was a forward step in the drug control movement. However, American withdrawal from the Geneva Conference precluded early acceptance of the Convention. Such acceptance would have constituted a dramatic reversal of the American position and a repudiation of the American delegation, especially Porter. As long as Porter was opposed to American ad-herence to the Convention, the State Department did not dare to take action. The initial rejection of the League invitation to become a party to the Geneva Opium Convention was not so emphatic, however, as to debar future consideration of the step.' Bishop Brent confidently ex-pected that the United States would accept the Convention and had so informed responsible people in Europe and England.2 Mrs. Wright, however, was definitely opposed to this step and even urged the gov-ernment to take steps to prevent its ratification by other powers.' Porter, on the other hand, while unalterably opposed to American acceptance of the Convention as it stood, nevertheless did not object to its ratification by other governments, holding that this would facili-tate the divorcement of the United States from it.4

For a brief period the State Department toyed with Mrs. Wright's suggestion of actively opposing the ratification of the Convention by other powers. On the occasion of the meeting of the Sixth International Conference of American States in January and February, 1928, the State Department, at the instigation of Mrs. Wright, instructed the American delegation to that conference to make known the American position on the Geneva Opium Convention if the question of opium was brought up, and to urge the Latin American states to cooperate with the United States in carrying out the Hague Opium Convention.5 Calling on other states to cooperate with the United States in carrying out the obligations of the Hague Convention was the principal means by which this government sought to undermine the Geneva Conven-tion and to block its going into force. This approach was not confined to Latin American countries but extended to European powers as well.

As it became clear that these efforts were not producing the desired results, the State Department began to reconsider its position. In a lengthy confidential memorandum drawn up in the Division of Far Eastern Affairs and dated March 3, 1928, the Hag-ue Convention was compared with the Geneva Opium Convention and the superiority of the latter was clearly admitted in virtually all respects. "The only respects in which the Geneva document is definitely inferior to the Hague Convention," declared the memorandum, "are its connection with the League of Nations and the substitution of a recommendation for an obligation to apply the restrictions of the convention to danger-ous new drugs." In regard to the American program at Geneva for the limitation of raw material production to medicinal needs, the memorandum did point out that the Geneva Convention fell far short. However, the statement which followed showed clearly the meta-morphosis in the Department's thinking, when it was declared that be-cause of the situation in the producing countries it would probably be impossible in the foreseeable future to realize the American principle. Therefore, the United States should direct its attention to securing a more attainable object—the limitation of manufacture—toward which the Geneva Convention had made a promising advance and which would largely solve America's and the world's most serious problem, smuggling. That the Geneva Convention likewise failed to incorporate the American goals of bringing under the same control as morphine and cocaine all the other derivatives and preparations of opium and the coca leaf and of taking measures for the suppression of opium smoking was also pointed out. It was admitted, however, that "the Hague Convention likewise fails to do each and every one of these things. It is repeated that no principle is weakened by the Geneva Convention and administrative and restrictive measures are made more effective."7

The memorandum simply constituted the official recognition of what had been quite evident ever since the Second Geneva Conference had finished its labors: that the Convention was a significant though not a giant step forward. Recognized here too was the fact that the United States, when comparing the Convention with what had existed before, could have no valid objection to it. The designation of its con-nection with the League as a defect was, of course, a most debatable assumption. Others could claim with considerably more reason that this very connection with a body composed of almost all the nations of the world was a source of strength. It must always be kept in mind, however, that on the narcotics problem the American antipathy to the League stemmed not only from political considerations-but also reflected the suspicion that the leading members of the League were not sincerely interested in the restriction of the drug traffic.

The memorandum was designed to stimulate discussion within the State Department and among other interested officials as to the feasi-bility of American adherence to the Convention. For the Convention to be acceptable to the United States the following conditions were laid down: ( i ) the extension of the provisions of the document to new drugs on the recommendation of the International Office of Public Health, (2) the settlement of disputes involving the United States as to the interpretation or application of the Convention by diplomatic negotiations between the parties concerned or by referral to the Hague I Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, (3) the divorcement of the functions of the Central Board from the 1 League, and (4) the recognition that adherence by the United States implied no legal relation to the League or assumption of obligations under the Treaty of Versailles nor involvement in the Agreement of the First Geneva Opium Conference. If the other signatory powers accepted these reservations by an exchange of notes, it was recommended that the United States adhere to the Convention in order to better promote the fight against the illicit traffic than it could by "heading a faction outside the group." If association with the League precluded American adherence to the Convention, it was suggested that in order to regain its leadership in the antidrug movement, the United States should call a new conference whose agenda could be confined to the limitation of manufacture, as it was not likely that pro-ducing countries would be able to accept the American proposals for the limitation of production. If it proved unfeasible to take either of these suggested steps, it was recommended that the United States never-theless cooperate with the other nations by fulfilling all the obligations of the Geneva Convention.8

This straightforward and unbiased look at the Geneva Convention was not sufficient to cause the State Department to abandon its timid policy. The chief factors in the decision to take no action for the pres-ent were the unlikelihood that the signatories of the Geneva Conven-tion would accept the American reservations in regard to the removal of the Central Board from League control; the likelihood that the American reservations, constituting as they did a fundamental revision of the Geneva Convention, might be more easily obtained through the negotiation of a new convention; the fact that American adhesion would indicate a recession from its position in 1924;9 and most impor-tant, the division of opinion in the United States among those interested in the narcotics problem. The last point reflected the fact that there was much sentiment in the United States for American adhesion to the Convention,1° but that the State Department dared not act without the approval of Porter. When the matter was referred to him, Porter turned thumbs down on the idea." The Department realized that it could hardly prevail against his wishes, as his influence in Congress could easily block the contemplated step. Thus the idea was abandoned. After the Convention went into effect in September 1928, the United States did cooperate to the extent of submitting the desired information to the Central Board. The suggestion that the United States call a new conference was likewise tabled when it was realized that the United States did not have a program to offer beyond that of 1925, which most likely would suffer the same fate in a new conference as it did in 1925.12

In judging the American action at Geneva and in assessing the net effect upon the antinarcotics movement of that action, one is forced to conclude, in retrospect, that the United States failed to make the most of the opportunity to advance that movement. This failure stemmed from the very nature of the American approach to the prob-lem. This approach was characterized by the desire to deal with the whole problem in all its aspects, and all at once. It was also charac-terized by the holier-than-thou attitude which the delegation took toward other member nations of the Second Conference. This attitude did have much to justify it. Undoubtedly many of the other nations were not responsive to the moral considerations that enveloped the American proposals. On the other hand, the Americans failed to take into full account the fact that their high morality was not complicated by other factors that other nations had to take into consideration; that in demanding the full acceptance of their program they we,re asking other countries to make considerable sacrifices in regard to revenue, domestic peace, independence in domestic jurisdiction, and even sov-ereignty, while the United States had nothing to lose and everything to gain from such action. To charge other nations with bad faith and disreputable motives, even though the charges may have been partly warranted, could not under these circumstances advance the cause for which the conference was striving. Furthermore, while castigating the powers with Far Eastern possessions for the refusal to commit them-selves to definitive measures to suppress the traffic in prepared opium, the American delegation played down the role of China in the situa-tion. The refusal to look objectively at conditions in China and at their effect upon surrounding territories was one of the weaker aspects of the American argument. Although little could be done about these conditions by China or by anyone else at the time, it was most unreal-istic to refuse to face up to the problem that they presented to other Far Eastern territories. To adopt a policy based on moral considera-tions which would have no real effect on the existing situation in these territories would provide no solution to the problem, but might merely serve to camouflage the situation. An equal failing on the part of the American delegation was its refusal to face the fact that the interna-tional movement which had been initiated to force other nations, prin-cipally Great Britain, to help China solve her opium problem, had in its results so far failed. It might have been better appreciated that Great Britain would be skeptical of making further sacrifices in the interest of China, sacrifices that might again prove of no value to China and might, on the other hand, intensify the traffic in Great Britain's pos-sessions.

The American delegation was quite justified in pushing for the full acceptance of its program. But in view of the foregoing it should have been more amenable to compromise, more willing to accept what was then possible, reserving for future discussions the effectuation of the rest of its program. Few international conferences achieve what they set out to do. The Geneva Opium Conferences were no exception, nor were the Hague Opium Conferences which preceded them. The Sec-ond Conference did make significant progress, though not to the point that the United States desired. This, however, was not sufficient reason for the American delegation to withdraw from the conference. The congressional resolution did not require this step; it merely prohibited the delegation from signing any unsatisfactory agreement arrived at. The withdrawal was motivated as much by political antipathy toward the League of Nations and irritation with the refusal of the members of that .organization to be dictated to in matters affecting their impor-tant interests as to dissatisfaction with the work of the conference. It is fairly safe to assume that had the chairman of the American delega-tion been one who was free of anti-League bias, the suggestion that the delegation withdraw would not have arisen. The American withdrawal was, in effect, an expression of no confidence in the League.

While the behavior of the American delegation at Geneva was char-acterized by boldness and vigor, the behavior of the United States in regard to the ratification of the resulting Convention was exactly the opposite. While forced to admit the great superiority of the Geneva Convention over the Hague Convention, the State Department was nevertheless afraid to advocate its implementation. This, of course, was the natural result of the action of the American delegation at Geneva. Instead, the government called for continued international cooperation on the basis of what it admitted was an inferior document, the Hague Convention. Thus the United States found itself occupying an illogical and somewhat embarrassing position.

The result was the lack for the first time of a clear-cut policy in dealing with the drug problem. From 1925 to 193o the United States virtually marked time so far as significant cooperation in the interna-tional movement was concerned. It could not resume the leadership in the movement, despite urgings from various quarters, foreign and domestic, because it simply did not know what to do, what to propose, what steps to take which would differ from its Geneva Conference pro-gram, which the crucial nations had already repudiated. At the time, for fear of congressional disapprobation symbolized in the person of Stephen J. Porter, it dared not cooperate fully with the League on the basis of the Geneva Convention. The dilemma was somewhat mitigated by the fact that because of its own legislation, which though somewhat advanced over the measures called for in the Geneva Convention, was similar in intent, the United States could march in time with the other nations and demand the enactment of measures similar to its own which would at the same time carry out the provisions of the ConVention. Furthermore, in purely administrative matters, the United States deigned to cooperate with the League—for instance, in submitting in-formation to the Central Board. It is significant, however, that the United States did not regain a position of leadership in the international movement until the League itself began to take new steps in which the United States, subordinating its traditional animosity toward that body, agreed to participate.

Aside from the impetus given to the fight against the narcotics traffic through publicity for the evil and the measures adopted to cope with it, the Geneva conferences were significant in several other re-spects.

First was the political significance of the American participation in the Second Conference. This action constituted a complete reversal, though brief, of the initial attitude and approach of the United States toward the League of Nations. In 1919 the majority of the Senate had declared that the narcotic drug question was not to be submitted to any agency of the League for consideration. Five years later the sub-mission of this question to a League-called conference had the specific endorsement of virtually the same Senators who had opposed such a step in 1919. The United States never did retrogress to the position taken by the Senate in 1919 nor to that of the early Harding administra-tion in refusing to cooperate at all with the League on the drug prob-lem.

Secondly, the conference revived the old animosity and suspicion in regard to the opium problem between Great Britain and the United States. Once again the United States came forward as the champion of Oriental peoples against what it regarded as a degrading aspect of Western influence. This was the major theme of Bishop Brent's re-monstrances to the British and the other Far Eastern Powers—the de-mand for the same consideration for the welfare of Eastern as well as for Western people. Once again India was the main source of con-troversy between the two nations, this time as a major producer and consumer of opium beyond medicinal and scientific requirements. The Americans charged the British with being callous towards the welfare of Oriental peoples where revenue considerations were con-cerned, while the British responded with the old charge of impractical idealism against the Americans.

Thirdly, the real complexity of the narcotics problem was finally brought home to the United States, which grudgingly came to realize that its solution could not be obtained by a stroke of the pen, but that the problem would have to be attacked piecemeal. The realization of the dilemma of the producing countries made some Americans also understand eventually that the problem was not simply one of morals, but that these countries had to consider matters which vied with the moral agpect of the opium question in order of importance, which in fact stood above and apart from moral considerations in many cases. For example, for such countries as Turkey and Persia, interference with opium production might very well undermine the foundation of the government.

The Geneva conferences sought to deal with all aspects of the nar-cotics traffic—in the words of Professor Quincy Wright, with "smug-gling, smoking and surplus production" of both raw materials and manufactured drugs. In regard to smoking and the surplus production of raw materials the results were minimal. Some progress was made in the control of manufacture, that is, in giving publicity to excess manu-facture. The most progress was made toward the control of smuggling. In none of these areas, however, were the measures adopted altogether adequate. In fact, the desired goal of confining the use of narcotic drugs to medicinal and scientific purposes could not be achieved by concentration on a single aspect of the problem. Smoking, smuggling, and surplus production and manufacture had all to be brought under control before this objective could be realized. The Geneva conventions made a start; the most important work remained to be done. And in fact, thereafter no attempt was made to deal with all the aspects of the problem at once, but each was dealt with in separate discussions as part of a unified effort toward progressive solution of the overall problem.

The passivity which characterized America's international narcotics policy in the five years after the Geneva conferences was largely the result of two conflicting goals. On the one hand the United States wished to avoid entanglement with the League of Nations; on the other hand it wanted to reestablish American leadership in the interna-tional antidrug campaign. In pursuit of the first goal the United States maintained only a tenuous relationship with the Opium Advisory Committee. From August 1925 to April 1928, the United States was represented "unofficially" on the committee by Pinkney Tuck, the American consul at Geneva, except at the eighth session in 1926, when the vice-consul, Stanley Woodard, substituted for him. By the admis-sion of the State Department, Tuck was to serve only as an "unofficial spectator," reporting on the activities and discussions of the committee and responding to questions put to him, but not taking an active part in the work.13 By his own admission, Tuck, because of his lack of technical knowledge of the subject of narcotics, was quite unqualified to serve on the committee. He repeatedly urged the State Department to appoint someone more qualified who could effectively represent the United States on the committee, as other countries still looked to the United States for leadership.'4 The Department demurred, however, taking the position that the restoration of good relations between the Advisory Committee and the United States depended on the willing-ness of the committee to back the American efforts to restrict to me-dicinal and scientific needs the production and manufacture of raw and refined drug products.15

This attitude of the American government, expressed in the dispatch of an unqualified unofficial observer, finally aroused the ire of the League Secretariat. The announcement by the United States in Febru-ary 1928 that Tuck would again represent this country as unofficial observer drew forth pronounced expressions of dissatisfaction from League officials at America's uncooperative attitude and indifferent behavior. They pointed out that the virtual withdrawal of the United States from collaboration with the League was hamstringing that body in its efforts to deal with a common humanitarian problem, the solution of which should transcend party politics or any question of League membership. Until the United States put forth a sound and clear-cut policy in keeping with her traditional role and her obligations under the Hague Convention, they declared, the chance of convening an-other international conference was very sma11.16 This criticism, as well as pressure from prominent Americans active in the narcotics move-ment, finally led the State Department to assign John K. Caldwell, who replaced Edwin L. Neville in the narcotics work of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, to the American consulate at Geneva to become acquainted with the League machinery on drug matters and to attend with Tuck, as unofficial observer, the eleventh session of the Advisory Committee in April 1928. Caldwell was instructed to answer inquiries on the control of narcotics in the United States and to become ac-quainted with the members of the committee and other League per-sonnel concerned with the drug problem and to ascertain their views on all aspects of the problem!' Caldwell remained thereafter the prin-cipal representative of the United States not only on the Advisory Committee until the early nineteen thirties but also in the League-sponsored conferences on narcotics.

The touchiness of the United States on League matters was further illustrated by its refusal to become connected formally in any way with the League Commission of Enquiry sent to Persia in '926 to in-vestigate the growth of the poppy there and the possibilities of sub-stituting other crops. This commission was primarily the brainchild of Mrs. Hamilton Wright which the League had adopted as she had recommended in the Final Act of the Second Geneva Opium Confer-ence. Great pains were taken by the League to find an American to head the commission. The State Department refused to help in this effort and even declined to give formal assurance of its approval of the commission and the American finally chosen to head it. It did offer to give any informal assistance, however, that could not be construed as official involvement in a League matter."18

A similar motivation prompted the United States to refuse to co-operate with the Council of the League in selecting the members of the Permanent Central Board as provided for by the Geneva Convention. That instrument had received the requisite number of ratifications by the end of June 1928 and went into effect on September 25. According to the Convention, the eight members of the Central Board were to be chosen by the Council in concert with the United States and Ger-many. Thus, when on September 7 the Secretary General invited the United States to name its representative to sit with the Council to participate in the appointment of the board," the State Department was faced with a long anticipated dilemma. On the one hand the De-partment realized that as the Central Board would have considerable power with reference to the control of the narcotics traffic, the char-acter of the members of the board would be of great importanCe to the United States and the antidrug campaign as a whole. On the other hand, for the United States to participate in the selection of the members of the board would mean the government's active participation in a meet-ing of the League Council, a matter susceptible to great controversy.24

The extensive discussions in the State Department on the issue brought forth two points of view. The Undersecretary of State, Reuben J Clark, was in favor of American cooperation with the Coun-cil in the selection of the board so as to secure the appointment of an American who would keep the United States fully informed on the board's activities. He recommended that the acceptance of the Secre-tary General's invitation be coupled with a statement expressing the intention of the United States to call a conference at an opportune time. This statement, he felt, would furnish the means by which the United States might regain the leadership it had lost after the Geneva conferences.21 But Clark stood virtually alone in his views. The opinion of Congressman Porter was conclusive in the matter. He endorsed the position taken by Nelson T. Johnson and Caldwell that the United States should decline the invitation, and Clark deferred to Porter's wishes." The reasoning underlying the refusal to cooperate with the Council was based on the considerations that acceptance of the invita-tion would imply a renunciation of the American objections in regard to the subservience of the Central Board to the League and in regard to other aspects of the Geneva Convention as stated in 9z5; that it would weaken the American position relative to the narcotics problem as a whole; that it would be inappropriate in view of the American refusal to sign the Geneva Convention; that it would appear to be contrary to the official attitude of the United States toward the League; and most important, that it would be opposed by Congress as Porter's attitude indicated.23 Furthermore, it was expected that other member countries of the Council would try to have an American elected to the board. Thus American participation in the selection would not be necessary and would not materially affect the board's composition.24

In reply to the League and in declining the invitation to sit with the Council, the State Department sought to use language that would not arouse ill feeling. Therefore the Department acknowledged that in re-gard to manufactured drugs and the control of transportation the Geneva,Convention was an improvement over the Hague Convention. It nevertheless maintained that Porter's objections to the Geneva Con-vention, because of its failure to provide for the limitation of the pro-duction of raw materials to the world's medicinal and scientific needs and for the control of all opium and coca leaf derivatives, were still valid and of sufficient importance to offset the improvements made by the Convention. The Department concluded with the statement that the United States could not participate in the selection of the members of the Central Board because "the Geneva Convention tends to destroy the unity of purpose and joint responsibility of the Powers accom-plished by the Hague Convention . . ." and that therefore the United States believed that the desired ends might better be achieved through the strict observance of the Hague Convention." Though refusing to sit with the Council, the State Department was careful not to close the door on American cooperation with the Central Board and also pos-sibly with the League itself. The Secretary General was assured that the United States would continue to cooperate in the international efforts to suppress the abuse of narcotic drugs and that it would submit to the board any information it might request.26 Significantly, the State Department did not repeat the objections to the Central Board pre-viously made. In fact, these objections never constituted major ob-stacles to American acceptance of the Geneva Convention. The promise to furnish the board with any information requested did not constitute, therefore, a change in the American attitude toward the Convention, but was made to avoid the probable charge, if such infor-mation were withheld, that the United States was attempting to prevent any progress through that instrument.27

Despite the effort of the Americans to phrase the reply to the League's invitation in an amicable manner, the Council was much ex-ercised over the American statement. In a memorandum adopted December 14., 192 8, it refuted the American views on the -Geneva Convention. The Council asserted that the treaty should be regarded as strengthening and supplementing the Hague Convention rather than weakening it. The Council took sharpest issue -with the American charge that the Geneva instrument tended to "destroy the unity of purpose and joint responsibility of the Powers accomplished by the Hague Convention." It maintained that, on the contrary, the best way to preserve and strengthen the unity of purpose and joint responsibility of the powers was to press for the widespread adoption of the Geneva Convention in addition to urging the strict enforcement of the Hague Convention.28

As the State Department had earlier anticipated, the anxiety of the League for an American on the Permanent Central Board made Ameri-can participation in the selection of the Board's members unnecessary. Though taking no official position on the matter, the Department ap-provingly acquiesced in the putting forth of the names of Herbert L. May and Frederic A. Delano as nominees for the Central Board by Mrs. Moorhead of the Foreign Policy Association, a private organiza-tion." Mrs. Moorhead approached Sir Malcolm Delevingne of the British Home Office and thereby obtained the assistance of the British Foreign Office in arranging for New Zealand to nominate May as a candidate for membership on the board.3° May was elected by the Council in its December session, along with seven other persons from a list of sixteen candidates.31 These individuals were to serve in their in-dividual capacities and not as representatives of governments. Never-theless, May maintained informal contact with the agencies of the American government concerned with narcotics and played an in-valuable role in explaining the American statistics submitted to the board."32

As far as possible the United States sought to ignore the connection of the Central Board with the League. In transmitting information to the board efforts were made to avoid going through League channels. Therefore information coming under Article 2 of the Hague Conven-tion was sent to the board through the Dutch government. Other in-formation was transmitted through the American legation at Berne and addressed in the following manner: "The Secretary of State . . . encloses herewith for transmission in the usual informal manner, a note to the President of the Permanent Central Opium Board . . ."33

In still-another way the United States sought to maintain the fiction that it was in no way collaborating with the League. On adopting in 1926 the import and export certificate forms specified by the League, the United States carefully pointed out that this was being done to facilitate cooperation with other nations and not the League, and that this did not imply any approval of the Geneva Convention. The United States adopted these forms on the basis of a suggestion of Arthur Woods, the American assessor on the Advisory Committee who had succeeded Mrs. Wright, and the desire of the Treasury Department for closer cooperation with the League on administrative matters,34 as uniform procedures facilitated its task of carrying out the narcotics laws and regulations of the United States and of suppressing the illicit traffic.

While trying to maintain a proper degree of aloofness toward the League, the United States found itself at a loss as to how to regain its leadership in the international movement. For a while it appeared that its role was being progressively assumed by Italy, a member of the League. At the meeting of the Fifth Committee in September 1926 the Italian representative, Cavvazoni, had shocked the representatives of the other powers by bitterly assailing the Geneva Convention. He also criticized the composition of the Opium Advisory Committee, which up to this time consisted of representatives of drug-producing and drug-manufacturing countries, and demanded a seat on the com-mittee for Italy as a consuming country. His demand was met, and he became Italy's representative on the committee. At the ninth session of the committee in January 192,7, Cavvazoni laid down the Italian policy as embracing the following points: the strict and full enforce-ment of the provisions of the Hague Convention, entrusting solely to the League of Nations the control of the narcotics traffic and manu-factured drugs, the rationing of the manufacture of drugs among the manufacturing countries, an intensive study of the smuggling problem as to its causes and the penalties imposed on offenders, and the extension of the Hague Convention to cover all narcotic substances.s5 Cavvazoni later implemented these principles with a detailed scheme for the strict supervision of the traffic in and manufacture of narcotic drugs. This scheme, he declared, was designed to strengthen the Hague Conven-tion, for he was very skeptical of the efficacy of the Geneva treaty.36

The American government manifested considerable interest in Cavvazoni's plan. The element of attraction in the scheme was the ap-peal for the control of the narcotics traffic on the basis of a strengthened Hague Convention rather than on the defective Geneva instrument. This one point was sufficient to arouse American sympathy for the Italian position, despite the failure of the scheme to embrace the American principles of limitation of production of raw materials and the suppression of the traffic in prepared opium. The Italian plan also called for strict League supervision of the trade, something to which the American government was averse. Nevertheless, on the basis of the Italian dissatisfaction with the Geneva Convention, the United States looked ahead to the reestablishment of its leadership in cooperation with Italy in an effort to bring about stricter control of the drug traffic through the implementation of the Hague Convention.37 This idea collapsed, however, when Italy ratified the Geneva Convention in December 192.9. Thus the United States was left virtually isolated among the major powers on the narcotics question.

In the meantime, the American government was casting about for some means by which it might regain the initiative it had lost by with-drawal from the Geneva Conference. This desire for action was inten-sified by pressure from various sources, both within and outside the United States. As already mentioned, even officials of the League castigated American lethargy. But as the United States maintained that only the Hague Convention furnished a proper basis for international action to solve the narcotics problem, the choice of means available to reestablish its prominence in the movement was limited. The idea that the United States should call a conference on its own initiative was several times broached, but there was little likelihood that this would meet with any significant response from other nations. The hope that the Geneva Convention would not be ratified by the requisite number of nations for it to go into effect was fatuous. It was not likely that the adherents to that convention would agree to a new conference without having given the instrument a trial. Furthermore, the matters in which the United States was most interested—limitation of the production of raw materials and suppression of the traffic in prepared opium—were not amenable to early accomplishment, as there was no fundamental change in the positions of the nations directly involved in these ac-tivities from the stand they had taken in 192 5. The United States ap-peared to be trapped by its own principles and position as enunciated at the Geneva Conference. It could do little more than seek bilateral agreements with other powers on administrative matters.

Gradually, however, the United States began to concentrate increas-ing attention on the aspect of the narcotics problem which appeared to be most susceptible of melioration—the manufacture of excess quan-tities of drugs. Arthur Woods, the American assessor on the Opium Advisory Committee, had urged the committee during its eighth ses-sion in May and June 192, 6 to recommend to the Council of the League that the manufacture and distribution of derivatives of opium and the coca leaf be permitted only in factories owned or effectively controlled by governments. As there were less than fifty factories in the world, and most of these were in five countries—the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, and Japan—Woods maintained that such control could easily be achieved and would result in the effective suppression of illicit traffic in manufactured drugs.38 Although the committee did not adopt Woods's resolution, it was strongly endorsed by the Dutch foreign minister, Jonkheer Loudon, and Lord Cecil. The latter suggested that the American ambassador in London take up the matter with the British foreign secretary, Sir Austen Chamberlain." A favorable reception from the British was assured, for this proposal represented a position which the British had long held in regard to the solution of the drug problem. In line with Woods's proposal the State Department decided to urge the parties to the Hague Convention to establish stricter control over the factories manufacturing and selling narcotic drugs." In the communication sent to the other powers the United States cited its own legislation controlling drug transactions and pointed out that only a small part of the drugs manufactured in the United States got into illicit channels. Therefore, in order for the American system of control to be effective in preventing the smug-gling of narcotics into the United States and their illicit consumption, there was a great need for the other countries to adopt similar control measures. The United States was prepared to cooperate with any other government to achieve the ends aimed at by the Hague Convention.'"41

It is significant to note that no mention was made of prepared opium or the desirability of limiting the production of raw materials.

A year later the attention of the American government was again drawn to the feasibility of limiting its immediate obj ectives to the manu-facturing phase of the drug question. Assuming that the American note of October 1926 to the parties to the Hague Convention indicated that the United States was prepared to subordinate temporarily its de-mands relative to prepared opium and coca leaf and poppy cultivation in favor of measures to control manufactured products, Charles K. Crane, a private American citizen who had given extensive thought to the narcotics situation,42 proposed a plan to the American govern-ment for the achievement of the latter. The plan, which came to be known as the Scheme of Stipulated Supply, was the work of A. E. Blanco, a member of the Opium Section of the League Secretariat and a Spanish national." Crane's scheme was quite simple in its general outline and contained only two main features. Each country, through the machinery of the League, was "to notify in advance, for a deter-mined period, their requirements of each narcotic substance" and "to state from which country they will purchase these requirements."44 Limitation of manufacture to these requirements would be effected in that having stated their needs beforehand, the purchasing countries would obtain the stipulated supply only from the countries designated, and the manufacturing countries would produce only the quantities necessary to meet their own domestic needs and to fill the previously publicized orders of the purchasing countries. The purchasing country would have a guaranteed supply while the selling country would have a guaranteed definite market.

Crane's scheme appeared to be ingenious, and the State Department evinced much interest in it." The only other plans for the limitation of manufacture which had thus far been put forward embodied the principle of the allocation or rationing of quotas of the drugs to be manufactured among the existing manufacturing countries. Because of the difficulty of finding a satisfactory basis on which an equitable allocation of quotas could be made and the fear that the current non-manufacturing countries which might later wish to manufacture for export might have great difficulty in obtaining such quotas, the ration-ing plans had not generated much enthusiasm. The advantages claimed for the Scheme of Stipulated Supply lay in the apportionment without rationing of the manufacturers' export market, the freedom of choice allowed to consuming countries to determine the extent of their drug requirements, and the dissociation of the plan from the difficult prob-lem of the production of raw materials. The plan was later modified, however, to include raw materials to the extent that governments of manufacturing countries would prevent their manufacturers from overproducing by restricting the importation of raw materials to the amounts necessary for legitimate manufacture. The boycott wis con-templated as the principal instrument for enforcing the scheme. A manufacturing country which refused to cooperate in the plan would be subject to a boycott not only of its drug products but of other commodities as well, on the assumption that all of its exports were suspect as containing narcotics, a system which prevailed informally and temporarily between the United States and Switzerland." Con-suming countries which refused to submit estimates and otherwise cooperate would be denied drugs by the manufacturing countries. Countries which were both producers of the raw materials and the manufacturers of derivatives could be similarly subjected to an eco-nomic boycott.

Together with its creditable features, Crane's proposal had several potential shortcomings. One of these was the impossibility of binding nations which were both producers of the raw materials and manu-facturers of the refined products in the same way as other countries. Although a boycott might be instituted against such countries if they refused to cooperate, excess quantities of drugs could be built up in these countries which would find an outlet in the illicit traffic. Then too, there was the likelihood that countries with small drug require-ments would consider the scheme as involving too much effort, and by refusing to submit estimates, they would frustrate the accurate determination of the world's legitimate drug requirements, which could only be ascertained through the cooperation of all purchasing countries. Furthermore, as the plan required dealing in futures, there would be restriction on competitive buying; once a country had designated the nation from which it would buy, its purchases would be confined to the factories of that one nation. From the point of view of the United States the principal defects of the plan were the stipulation that it should be administered by the Opium Advisory Committee and the lack of concrete provisions for the control of raw material used in manu-facture. Aside from these "defects," the State Department saw real merit in the scheme.47 To meet the American objections Crane offered to modify his plan so that it might be administered by a board estab-lished by the manufacturing countries to collect, collate, and transmit the information received from the various governments rather than by the Advisory Committee. The scheme might also be made to cover the importation of raw materials by the manufacturing countries."48

From the fall of 1927 to the end of 929 Crane kept up a continuous corresporidence with the State Department in an effort to secure American sponsorship of his plan and possibly the convening of an international conference by the United States to obtain its adoption by the international community." The State Department, being still uncertain about concentrating its efforts on this one aspect of the nar-cotics problem, and fearing that an international conference could not be obtained on American initiative, demurred. It contented itself with transmitting the scheme, "without comment and without respon-sibility," to the Dutch government for communication to the parties to the Hague Convention, and with allowing Crane to send copies of the plan, if he wished, to the American consulate at Geneva for in-formal transmission to the League Secretariat, making it absolutely clear that it was Crane and not the State Department who was sending them.50 Despite the Department's efforts to dissociate itself from Crane's proposal, the plan eventually came to be known as the Ameri-can scheme. Blanco was largely responsible for this, for he used every opportunity to convey the impression that the United States was back-ing the proposa1.51 Newspaper correspondents also contributed to this fiction by referring to the plan as the "American Scheme."52
Although Crane failed to gain American support for his plan, several other governments did endorse it. By the end of 1929 Germany, Spain, Hungary, Uruguay, Belgium, Costa Rica, and Italy had all approved the scheme. Except for Germany, however, most of these countries could be classified as nonmanufacturers. By the time the conference on manufacture convened in 193o, several other governments had given the plan their tentative endorsement. One of the reasons for lack of wider approval of the scheme was the cool reception accorded it by the Opium Advisory Committee. At its twelfth session in January and February 1929 the majority of the members, while admitting that the plan was ingenious, nevertheless considered it to be impractical. They therefore decided to take no action on it, but to wait to see th,e results of the Geneva Convention which had just recently come into force. A minority of the members of the Advisory Committee, however, wanted the scheme taken as a starting point for discussion in the next session of the committee when the question of measures for the limita-tion of manufacture would be taken up.53

The decision of the Advisory Committee to examine seriously the possibility of circumscribing the manufacture of narcotic drugs to the world's medical and scientific needs stemmed from the realization that the illicit traffic in these products was reaching extremely dangerous proportions. Not only was this the phase of the narcotics problem which most seriously affected Western countries, but during the 1920's it had also become the major problem in the Far East, con-stituting a more serious menace to Orientals than the use of prepared opium. The principal sources of these manufactured drugs in the illicit traffic were certain countries of western Europe and Japan. Two de-velopments spurred the League to action. At the twelfth session of the Advisory Committee the Dutch government disclosed that it had suppressed a huge center of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs. The Naar-den firm, a Dutch concern, had amassed during a fifteen-month period covering 192 7 and the first half of 1928 about 85o kilograms of mor-phine, 3,000 kilograms of heroin, and 90 kilograms of cocaine, the bulk of which went into the illicit traffic to China. Most of the supplies came from three firms in Germany, Switzerland, and France. It was esti-mated that this center of the international traffic had probably dealt with half the total annual world production of heroin.54 The Naarden case received extensive publicity in the British and American press and led to the publicizing of other disclosures in the Advisory Com-mittee of illicit drug transactions." As a result, public pressure devel-oped many countries for measures to control the manufacture of these products.

The other development which prompted League consideration of the surplus production of manufactured drugs was the sudden re-versal in the French attitude toward this phase of the narcotics prob-lem. It will be recalled that in the preparations for the Second Geneva Conference and in the conference itself, the French had opposed sug-gestions for strict measures to regulate the production of opium and coca leaf derivatives." The members of the League were thus caught by surprise when the French representative announced in a meeting of the Fifth Committee of the Assembly in 1929 that his government had decided to impose limitations on the quantity of narcotics manufactured in France and to adopt other strict measures to suppress illicit traffic.57 This change in the French attitude apparently stemmed from alarm over recent disclosures of the participation in illicit transactions of French manufacturers, wholesalers, and other dealers in narcotics. The absence of adequate regulations covering the drug trade was large-ly responsible for this situation. As the discussion of the situation in the League organs concerned with the problem would have proved highly embarrassing to France, the French announcement was made to rectify the weaknesses in the French system of control."

To take immediate advantage of the new French approach, Duncan Hall of the Opium Section of the League Secretariat and Sir Malcolm Delevingne, the British representative on the Advisory Committee, approached the representatives of the principal manufacturing coun-tries as to the possibility of reopening the question of direct limitation of manufacture. These countries responded favorably. The result was the adoption by the Fifth Committee of the British proposal calling for acceptance of the principle of the limitation of the manuTacture of those drugs covered by the Geneva Convention of 192 5, the prepara-tion of a plan of limitation by the Advisory Committee, and the con-vening by the Council, on the basis of the Advisory Committee's report, of a conference of the manufacturing and principal consuming countries to consider steps supplementing the Geneva Convention to restrict the manufacture of dangerous drugs to the amount required for medical and scientific purposes." The Assembly adopted the reso-lution on September 24, 1929.

 

1. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg to Porter, Jan. 25, 1926, SDR 51r.4A2/445a.

2. Memorandum by Nelson T. Johnson of conversation with Mrs. Wright, July 7, 1926, SDR 5oo.C1197/18.

3./bid.; see also memorandum by Johnson to the Secretary of State, Dec. 16, 1927, SDR 511.4A2/557.

4. Mrs. Wright to Johnson, Jan. 25, 1928, SDR 511.4A2/563; memorandum by Johnson, Jan. 27, 1928, SDR 511.4A2/564-

5. Secretary of State Kellogg to Charles Evans Hughes, Chairman of American Delegation to the Sixth International Conference of American States, Feb. 4, 1928, SDR 51 1.4A2/563.

6. Confidential memorandum of Division of Far Eastern Affairs, "The Geneva Opium Convention," March 3, 1928, SDR 511.q.A2/57o.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Memorandum by John K. Caldwell to Johnson, March 9, 7928, SDR 5 T.4A2/57o.

10. The Treasury Department, for instance, favored American adhesion. See memorandum by Caldwell to Johnson, March lo, 7928, SDR 577.4A2/569.

11.Memorandum by Caldwell of conversation with Porter, March 8, 1928, SDR 577.4A7/2o64.

12. Memorandum by Johnson to Caldwell, March io, 1928, SDR 511.4Az/569.

13. Nelson T. Johnson, Chief, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, to Tuck, March 3, 1926, SDR 511.4A2/477.

14. Tuck to the Secretary of State, Sept. 5, r9z5, SDR r 1.1A2/39o; Tuck to Johnson, Nov. z5, 1925, SDR 511.4A2/477.

15. Johnson to Tuck, March 3, 192.6, SDR 511.4A2/477.

16.Clipping from the Neu) York Times, Feb. 12, 1928, enclosed in C. K. Crane to John K. Caldwell, Acting Chief, Division of Far Eastern Affairs, Feb. 21, 1928, SDR 511.4A1/2o47.

17.Wilbur J. Carr (for the Secretary of State) to Caldwell, March 26, 1928, SDR 5oo.Crio7/165; Secretary of State to the American Consul, for Caldwell (Geneva), April 27, 1928, SDR goo.Cr 197/171.

18. See below, p. 31 x-3 2.

19. Minister Hugh Wilson (Berne) to the Secretary of State, Sept. 7, 1928, SDR 51i4A2A/2; transmits telegram from Sir Eric Drummond.

20. Memorandum by Nelson T. Johnson, June 2o, 1928, SDR 511.4A2A/—.

21. Memorandum of "Conversation Between Representative Stephen G. Porter and Doctor Rupert Blue with Mr. Clark, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Caldwell," Sept. 24, x928, SDR 511.4A2A/91/2.

22. Ibid.

23. Memorandum by Maxwell M. Hamilton and John K. Caldwell, Aug. 17, 1928, SDR 511.4A2A/21/2.

24. Ibid.

25. Secretary of State Kellogg to the American Legation (Berne), Sept. 29, 1929, SDR 511.4A2A/7.

26. Ibid.

27. Memorandum by Caldwell, Sept. 29, 1928, SDR 5 ii.4A2A/71/2.

28. Minister Wilson (Berne) to the Secretary of State, Dec. 15, 1928, SDR 51 i.4A2A/ 24. What the State Department really meant by this statement was that the unity of purpose and joint responsibility of the powers were destroyed by the separation into special groups—countries in whose territories opium smoking was allowed and powers concerned with the narcotics problem—and the separation of one phase (use of pre-pared opium) of the general problem from the problem as a whole. See memorandum by Maxwell M. Hamilton, Jan. 8, 1929, SDR 5ir.4A2A/38.

29. Memorandum by Johnson of conversation with Mrs. Moorhead, Oct. 3o, 1928; memorandum by Caldwell of conversation with Mrs. Moorhead, Oct. 31, 1928, SDR sii.4A2A/ii; memorandum by Johnson of telephone conversation with Arthur Woods, May 16, 1928, SDR si 1.4A2A/17.

30. Memorandum by Stuart J. Fuller to Pierrepont Moffat, Sept. 5, '933, SDR s ii.q.A2A/3oo.

31. Other persons selected were Dr. O. Anselmino (Germany), Dr. C. J. Bonin (France), Professor Giuseppe Gallavresi (Italy), L. B. Lyall (Great Britain), Sir B. K. Mullick (India), Henrik Ramsey (Finland). See American Consulate (Geneva) to the Secretary of State, Jan. 14, SDR sii4A2A/39.

32. Memorandum by Fuller to Moffat, Sept. s, 1933, SDR

33. Memorandum by Caldwell to Johnson, July 17, 1929, SDR sii4A2A/53.

34. Undersecretary of State Grew to the Secretary of the Treasury, May 22, 1926, and enclosures, SDR 5i1.4A2/499.

35. Stanley Woodward to the Secretary of State, Feb. 23, 1927, SDR 5oo.C1197/71. See also Tuck to the Secretary of State, Sept.    1926, SDR 511.4A2/515. For text of
Cavvazoni's statement before the Advisory Committee, see League of Nations, Ad-visory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Minutes of the Ninth Session Held at Geneva from February 17th to March 3rd, 027, C.86.M.35, 1927. XI (Geneva, 1927), pp. 11-15.

36.Caldwell to the Secretary of State, May 25, 1928, "Report on the Eleventh Session of the Advisory Committee," SDR 5oo.C1197/199.

37. For interest of American officials in the Cavvazoni proposal, see ibid. and mem-orandum of Caldwell to Johnson, May 8, x929, 511.4/311/2.

38. League of Nations, Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dan-gerous Drugs, Provisional Minutes of the Eighth Session Held at Geneva from May aoth to June 8th, z 926, C.393.M. 236.1926.XI (Geneva, 1926), pp. 52-53.

39. Arthur Woods to Undersecretary of State Grew, July 15,1926, SDR 5oo.C1197/

4o. Secretary of State Kellogg to the American Embassy (London), Aug. 26,1926, SDR 5oo.0 197/26a.

41. The Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Officers of the United States Ac-credited to the Governments Party to the Hague Convention of January 23, 1912,

Washington, Oct. 14, 192.6, SDR 5 II4A1/197za. Also in F oreign Relations, 1926,1, 250-25 3 •

42. Crane was a retired American businessman who had resided in England for a number of years up to 1924. After the Geneva Conference he had made an intensive study of the drug problem. See Crane to the President of the United States, Oct. 14,
1927, SDR 511.4A tizo37.

43. Crane did not reveal the authorship of the plan for almost a year after presenting it to the State Department, although he did specify that the scheme was not original with him. By this time Blanco, because of personality and policy differences with other members of the Opium Section, had resigned from his position. He remained in Geneva, however, and established the Anti-Opium Bureau, a one-man operation, for the propagandizing of his views on measures for the solution of the narcotics problem. Because of the glare of publicity which it directed toward the Opium Advisory Com-mittee and other agencies of the League concerned with the drug question, the Bureau
was not uninfluential.

44. Crane to the President, Dec. 14, 1927, SDR 4A1/2o38.

45. Stanley K. Hornbeck, Chief of Division of Far Eastern Affairs to C. K. Crane, March 3, 1928, SDR 5i1.4Arizo44.

46. Gavit, Opium, p. 238.

47. Memorandum by Caldwell of conversation with Porter, March 8, 1928, SDR 511.411J/2064.

48. Crane to Caldwell, May 2I, 1928, SDR 51 .4A1/2087.

49. The principal correspondence is contained in the following files: SDR sti.4At/ 2o37,    2038, 2o3o, 2o4o,    2o44,    2052, 2o57, 2658, 2o5o, 2o62, 2o7o, 2087, 2000, 2091, 2101, 2121,    2122, 2131, 2134,    1133.

5o. Memorandum of conference between Johnson, Hornbeck, and Caldwell, March 9, 1928, SDR 5i r. 4oi/2o65; memorandum by Caldwell to Hornbeck, Sept. io, 1928, SDR 5r1.4A1/2o96. Also enclosed is copy of Caldwell to American Consul (Geneva),
Sept. 25, 1928.

51. Memorandum by Caldwell to Johnson, March 13, 1929, SDR soo.C1197/2661/2. Gibson C. Blake to Secretary of State, Dec. 14, 1929, SDR 511.4A1/2141.

52. See, for example, the New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 24,1929, p. 3.

53. League of Nations, Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dan-gerous Drugs, Report to the Council on the Work of the Twelfth Session Held at Geneva, from Ianuary 17th to February 2nd, z929 C.33.1929.XI, OC.943 (1) (Geneva,
1929), pp. 5-6. The Dutch government had forwarded the scheme to the League Secre-tariat which had printed and distributed it as a League document to the Advisory Com-mittee just before its eleventh session. At this session the committee demonstrated a hostile attitude toward the plan largely because Blanco, with whom the committee was having considerable difficulties, was the author. The committee therefore post-poned discussion of the scheme on the grounds that Crane disclaimed authorship and thorough familiarity with it. See memorandum by Caldwell to Hornbeck, Sept. io,
1928, SDR 511.4A1/2096.

54.League of Nations, Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, Report of the Fifth Committee to the Assembly, A.86.1929.XI (Geneva, 1929), p. 4.

55. For clippings from British papers dated Jan. 26, 1929, on the Naarden case and subsequent press reports, see American Embassy (London) to the Secretary of State,
Jan. 29, 1929, SDR 5oo.Czi97/257; Feb. 5, 1929, SDR 5oo.Cii97/26o; and Feb. 18, 1929, SDR goo CA 197/264.

56. See above, p. 173.

57.Report of the Fifth Committee to the Assembly, A.86.1929.XI, pp. 4-5.

58. The motives behind the French change of attitude were confirmed in several communications to the State Department from disparate and reliable sources. See Consul Gilson G. Blake, Jr. (Geneva), to the Secretary of State, Nov. r, 1929, SDR 5oo    1/418; memorandum of Conversation between Mrs. Helen H. Moorhead,
Herbert L. May, Hornbeck, and Caldwell, Nov. 4,1929, SDR 511.4A6/6; memorandum by Caldwell to the Undersecretary, Dec. 9,1929, SDR 511.4A6/16.

59. Ibid. See also Report of the Fifth Committee to the Assembly, A.86.1929.XI, p. 6.

 

Our valuable member Paul Goldstein has been with us since Monday, 20 February 2012.

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