Correspondences 2

March 4, 2011
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 Statehood and Hawaii: Correspondences between Congress, the State Department and the United Nations Pt.2

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Edward Stettinius, Jr. signs UN Charter 1946

The UN Charter was signed in San Francisco on June 26, 1945. About three weeks later, Delegate to Alaska E.L. Bartlett wrote Abe Fortas, the Under Secretary of the Interior, Department of the Interior questions pertaining to Alaska and Hawaii regarding the Chapters 11, 12 and 13 of the Charter, the chapters relating to territories.  Two days later, on the 18th, Fortas responded with a full description of what the Chapters meant, stating that only Chapter 11 pertained to US territories and that the US took pride in the submission of its territories to the United Nations.

“On the other hand, it is perfectly clear that chapter XI, the “Declaration regarding non-self-governing territories,” does apply to all of the named territories. By its terms, it is applicable to “territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government.”  Although Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico have a very large measure of self-government, and although steady progress toward self-government has been made in the Virgin Islands, it cannot be said that any of these territories has yet attained “a full measure of self-government.  The Governor in each of these Territories is still appointed by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate; laws enacted by local legislatures are subject to veto by the Governors so appointed, and all laws enacted by the territorial government are subject to being overridden by the Congress of the United States. For these and other reasons, it is clear that the named Territories are within the scope of chapter XI of the proposed charter.  Their inclusion however, in no way implies that the inhabitants of these areas are regarded as dependent peoples in the usual sense, nor can it, in the slightest degree, impede progress toward the final resolution of their status by join action of the people of the Territories and the Congress of the United States.”

What Territorial Representative Bartlett suggests to Congress ensures that the territories would be guided to adhere to a full-measure of self-government, and would lead the other Administering Powers to follow the lead of the US, by listing and reporting upon the economic and social conditions of their territories, as defined by Chapter XI Article 73 (e).

This provision on territories was inserted in the charter in accordance with the Yalta agreements, which was one of the United Nations post-war planning conferences that occurred a few months before the signing of the UN Charter. The Yalta conference focused on adjusting the many treaties that were signed previous to the war, including the territorial status of occupied areas like Poland and Korea, Greece and Turkey (all playing a significant role in US foreign policy as we shall see later), and the Dependent Areas.  At Yalta, they advanced the discussions that occurred at Dumberton Oaks and introduced the provisions on territories.

Declaration of Principles (Yalta)

The authorities responsible for the administration of dependent territories should agree upon a general declaration of principles designed to establish minimum political, economic, and social standards applicable to all non-self-governing territories, whether colonies, protectorates, or trust territories.

These principles should be formulated in accord with two essential assumptions: (1) that the welfare of dependent peoples and the development of the resources of dependent territories should be recognized as of proper concern to the international community at large; and (2) that states responsible for the administration of dependent territories should recognize the principle of some measure of accountability to the international community for such administration.

Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister objected to this provision, however the United States, under President Roosevelt and the Soviet Union under Premier Stalin, agreed that for the United Nations to meet its objective for world peace, there needed to be an effective end to territories.

“His Majesty’s Government are convinced that the administration of the British Colonies must continue to be the sole responsibility of Great Britain.  The policy of His Majesty’s Government is to plan for the fullest possible political, economic and social development of the Colonies within the British Empire, and in close cooperation with neighboring and friendly nations.”  Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, March 17, 1943, in House of Commons.

Shortly after the ratification or the UN Charter, England, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and the United States all placed their territories on the list for decolonization.  The Soviet Union, however, asserted that they had no territories, and that all the regions that made up the USSR, were independent. The territories that were being administered included most of Africa, South-East Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean islands, Greenland, Alaska and some of the smaller countries in South America.

The dilemma over territories wasn’t new to Yalta, as it came up as a point to not be discussed at Dumbarton Oaks in August of 1944, the first agreement towards establishing a United Nations.

It also came up decades earlier in President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen points just after World War I as:

A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

And it came up again in 1919 as a Mandate in Article 22 of the League of Nations:

To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world

One of the main reasons for this language, explicit to territories and sovereignty, was that the larger powers saw territories as assets for cheap labor, resources and commodities, and thus countries competed for them.  When, for example, resources were needed for manufacturing and/or labor and the administrating power of a country or region withheld resources; or used the assets of a country aggressively against another country; or used proximity and resources in an aggressive manner whereby a country was unable to compete in the market: these were the kinds of maneuverings that led to regional instability.  Specific to WWI and WWII, these territorial disputes often led to the breaking of treaties and resulted in military aggression and occupation.

Before WWI for example, starting with the Triple Alliance in 1879, the British and European States were actively engaging in entente, and these were multi-lateral agreements, or alliances. As this practice of entente grew, new multi-state alliances developed complex rules that were often incompatible with local  political or economic identities. Reconciling these new kinds of multi-state agreements created tensions that led to polarizing differences between internationalist and nationalist identities that affected both economics and trade. Following the work of Marshall Berman’s “All that is Solid Melts into Air,” who approaches this period as a kind of early precursor to globalization, we could summarize that within a generation, populations were thrust into a modernist society that were challenged by systemic changes in almost every facet of their lives, which included how manufacturing, trade and labor were governed.

Suspending the various approaches to technology, philosophy, the social sciences, political economy, etc–  we can reduce these narrative threads and conclude that it was the combined “modernist” tensions that strained the region at that time, a flux that led to the “Great War.” And as one considers the abundance of bilateral treaties before World War I that were either broken or ignored as a result of entente,  the Great War would almost look comic if wasn’t so tragically inevitable.

In regard to Hawaii, I would like to quickly suggest that in 1893, the year the Kingdom suffered a coup by a cabal of annexationists, Queen Lili’uokalani was about to announce a new Hawaiian constitution that sought to resolve some of the economic conflicts that were earlier imposed upon her brother, King Kalakaua, who under duress signed a bilateral 1885 Reciprocity Treaty with the US and the 1887 (other wise known as the Bayonet) constitution.  Even as isolated as Hawaii was, the internationalism that Liliuokalani sought was more in line with the politics of Europe at that time, and she was forcibly challenged by those who sought to enforce the bilateral trade agreements with the United States. Even though the Kingdom of Hawaii was quick to embrace these modernist changes, it was the pro-US annexationists that stunted Hawaii’s growth by binding Hawaii to a system that Europe was already moving away from.

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Following WWI,  certainly, the drafting and formation of the League of Nations was an admiral attempt at maintaining peace.

One of the failures of the League of Nations is that it did little to properly regulate or enforce trade demands, and economic issues quickly rose to the forefront as a result of these imbalances. Labor conflicts in manufacturing, transport  and commerce sectors created unfair conditions that led to the formations of national and international unions. These tensions grew as unemployment could not be resolved…

WHICH THEN AFFECTED WAGE AND LABOR DEMANDS, AS UNEMPLOYMENT GREW AND GREATLY AFFECTED WAGES FOR THOSE WHO WERE EMPLOYED—GIVEN THAT PREVIOUS ECONOMIC MAXIMS DID NOT NECESSARILLY PRIORITIZE LABOR, AND EQUITABLE OR REAL WAGE, BUT RATHER PROVIDE FOR MAXIMIZING THE PROFIT FOR INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE. AND FROM A FINANCIAL ASPECT, National currencies were ALSO still held to a Gold Standard, and so it goes without saying that the country with the most gold OR COMMODITIES had the strongest currency, after accounting for population, its territories, commodities and resources, production, consumption and a country’s labor force.

During WWI and following, there BEGAN TO DEVELOP a MUCH strongER transatlantic trade exchange, but it was also very unstable and trade became very difficult with sovereign currencies fluctuating so wildly, AND ONE WAY TO TRY TO BALANCE LOCAL MANUFACTURING WITH INTERNATIONAL TRADE WAS THROUGH TARIFFS, AND THERE WERE ALL KINDS OF RULES THAT had to be developed to help stabilize the national economies. And in addition to this burgeoning trade, there was a lot of unevenness in the markets which, for geo-political reasons, involved the competition for cheap labor and commodities, continued financial adjustments in the central banks failed to devise a system to sustain the capitalist approach and wages and job security took a backseat to the free-market, where it was institutionalized that markets would fix itself without government regulations or subsidies. This instability led workers to organize around a saner, more scientific approach to economic stability—namely communism.  In England, the labor uprisings nearly led to a communist revolution and John Maynard Keynes appropriated the economic science of Marx’s full-employment which challenged and expanded upon the capitalist model, so that eventually the government provided for sponsored welfare while regulating the market around a central bank, which at the time helped to stabilize Great Britain.

In other places in Europe, as a result of the same post-World War I unemployment and exploitive labor practices, communism made profound strides and strong labor unions evolved all across Europe.  One in particular the International Federation of Trade Unions which began in 1919, transformed into the World Federation of Trade Unions in 1945 and is a central component to this statehood story in that Hawaii’s ILWU leadership was the only organization I know of who throughout post-World war II era—up until statehood—communicated to Hawaii’s Rank and File the UN resolutions.  For example in 1955, at the second biennial local convention at the Hilo Armory on Sept 21-24, 1955, one of the 10 resolutions that was adopted by ILWU local 142 was to reverse the vote cast by the US in UN Assembly against independence for colonial nations and the right of colonial counties to own and exploit their own natural resources. This was a Soviet-sponsored resolution in the United Nations, and the U.S. at the time, in the midst of the red-scare and anti-communist propaganda, was throwing the book at the ILWU because of their affiliation with the WFTU.  But I will come back to this later.

I know this is jumping all over the place, but the Postwar policy drafters had to absorb the information of economics, trade, labor, markets, territories and international law at the time and draft a document that the countries of the world would ratify with the aim of preventing WWIII.  Keynes was one of the pivotal drafters in all of this as he led the Bretton Woods conference in July of 1944, a month before Dumbarton Oaks, and he helped to develop the structure of what became the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, aka the World Bank and the International Trade Organization which the US co-opted in 1947 as the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1947.  These financial institutions were built upon strong ideals and their evolution into what they have become is a result of US opportunism, specifically the 1948 economic cooperation act, aka the Marshall Plan, which evolved into the Mutual Securities Act in 1951, and it was through these Acts that the US became the principle aid supplier to the World Bank and the IMF, which resulted in these UN aid mechanisms to be used to counter Soviet influence in developing countries.

The central moment when this occurs, and if you’ve been following my seemingly unconnected point, thank you—but anyway, there is an incident that occurs in 1947 that brings everything together and they are the uprisings in Greece and Turkey.

As a result of the war, Greece—as were the rest of the war-torn countries—was in need of aid.  Greece had suffered great loss to their infrastructure as a result of the Nazi campaign. Turkey remained somewhat neutral in the war, but it had an agreement with the British and they continued to supply Turkey with military equipment and often used them as a base against German-occupied Bulgaria.

In 1947, the British announced that for financial reasons they would be pulling their troops out of Greece and Turkey, a result of a treaty they made with Russia after the 1946 Paris Peace Conference, which stated that Russia would leave Bulgaria within three months of ratification of the treaty and that Bulgaria would reassume their responsibilities as a sovereign state in international affairs and qualify for membership in the United Nations.

Just after this was announced Secretary of State Acheson and Senators Vandenberg and Connelly held a hearing in March and April of 1947 and submitted Senate bill 938, “to provide for assistance to Greece and Turkey.” In the Hearings held in Executive Session before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Acheson, Vandenberg and Connelly argued why the U.S. should flip the cost for this Bill, despite objections as to why the World Bank would not do it, since this was the purpose for its establishment.

Admiral Sherman of the Navy and the Secretary of War James Forrestal commented on the importance of strategically securing that area since it closed a major Soviet gateway point through Bulgaria.

Ultimately, when the British left, the US went in with US funded aid and continued to support the Greek and Turkish puppet regimes that had previously been supported by the British.

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