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Safeguarding Democratic CapitalismU.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015$
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Melvyn P Leffler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196510

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196510.001.0001

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The Origins of Republican War Debt Policy, 1921–1923

The Origins of Republican War Debt Policy, 1921–1923

A Case Study in the Applicability of the Open Door Interpretation

(p.28) 1 The Origins of Republican War Debt Policy, 1921–1923
Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism

Melvyn P. Leffler

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that elite factions of the American business, banking, and farm sectors grasped that war debt payments were intimately related to the controversies over German reparations, the restoration of European currency stability, the promotion of American exports, the alleviation of unemployment, and the revival of agricultural prosperity. In short, they were far from ignorant about the needs of European reconstruction after World War I. The chapter studies the origins of war debt legislation in a microscopic way. In doing so, it reveals the complexity of the policymaking process and the diversity of motives bearing on decision-makers. Here, the chapter demonstrates the role of business and economics in the making of U.S. foreign policy, as well as the pluralism within the business community, the messiness of the legislative process, and the salience of organizational pressures within executive branch departments.

Keywords:   war debt, war debt payments, Republican war debt, open door interpretation, European reconstruction, World War I, war debt legislation, American business

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