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By Akira Iriye, Warren I. Cohen

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Hornbeck and Stimson were never close, but Hornbeck reinforced the secretary's inclination to see Japanese actions in Manchuria as violations of the postwar treaty system and thus as threats to the stability of the new world order. Hornbeck also reinforced Stimson's apprehension that Great Britain or the Page 5 League would attempt to force responsibility for managing the emerging East Asian crisis on the United States. 5 Although Hoover left considerable initiative to Stimson, he had a far less romantic notion of China, the Chinese, and America's mission in Asia.

By May, Hoover was acting with one eye to the November election. He had never been willing to use force or economic sanctions, which he believed would result in war. He was uncomfortable with Stimson's bluff, and in May, while Stimson was abroad, he authorized Castle to explicitly assure the American people and the Japanese that the United States would back the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine with nothing more than the moral force of public opinion. Lest doubts remain anywhere in the world, Hoover bid for a Nobel Peace Prize by offering further reductions in American naval power as a catalyst to the success of the world arms limitation conference meeting in Geneva.

The old capital of Beijing, where the American legation remained, was less than four hundred kilometers away. Could the Japanese be stopped? In desperation Stimson returned to the idea of nonrecognition. S. " The Stimson (or Hoover-Stimson) Doctrine, as the policy expressed in these notes came to be called, provided American leaders with a conscience-soothing course across the waves of guilt stirred up by their inability and unwillingness to take more aggressive and effective action to aid China.

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