Who Said It?

by Don Boudreaux on May 13, 2007

in Trade

Frederic Bastiat is often credited with having said something like "If goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will."  Bastiat almost certainly believed these words to be true, but I can find no evidence that Bastiat really did write such a thing.  (I’m happy to be corrected.)

But on page 255 of Jeffry Frieden’s Global Capitalism (2006) I find the following: "As one of [FDR's Secretary of State Cordell] Hull’s supporters put it, ‘If soldiers are not to cross international borders, goods must do so.’"

Frieden’s footnote to the above sentence attributes these words to one Otto Maller, and gives a citation to page 37 of Alfred E. Eckes, A Search for Solvency: Bretton Woods and the International Monetary System, 1941-1971 (1975).

I can find nothing about this Otto Maller; Googling that name produces a mere five hits, none of which seem to point to the person referred to above.

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The Cynical Libertarian May 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Interesting. I've read a little Bastiat, but I must read more.

Mathieu B├ędard May 13, 2007 at 7:23 pm

I'm not sure if this is of any help, but it sounds like something Montesquieu would write;

Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws pp. 389;

Between the two empires deserts were formed and armies were always stationed on the frontiers; so that instead of there being any commerce, there was not so much as communication between them. Ambition, jealousy, religion, national antipathy, and difference of manners completed the separation.

again pp.634;

But the indictions, the capitations and other imposts raised at the time of the emperors on the persons or goods of freemen had been changed into an obligation of defending the frontiers and marching against the enemy.

Matt C. May 14, 2007 at 9:01 am

I find amazing is that Hull would say such a thing. Here is why I am astonished. FDR basically forced the hand of the Japanese, so to speak. He wanted to cut them off from the rubber supply, so instead they went right for the throat. They invaded Singapore and Malaysia so that they could have a rubber supply.

It's a little ironic that someone from FDR's own cabinet would have realized that so late in the game.

Brian Moore May 14, 2007 at 12:50 pm

I think they full well understood what would happen. Didn't FDR want to provoke Japan to action?

kurt May 14, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Try Otto Mallery's Economic Union and Durable Peace.

True_Liberal May 17, 2007 at 8:10 pm

The present Middle East situation doesn't fit the goods/borders/soldiers paradigm, does it? We've been trading heavily in crude from the Persian Gulf states for many decades, and they've been the recipients of many Western goods.

And yet it seems the Western goods, people, and lifestyle presence there are the very kindling that have ignited the present war.

Jason Briggeman April 8, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Following Kurt's tip, I found this on p. 10 of the Mallery book:

"If soldiers are not to cross international boundaries on missions of war, goods must cross them on missions of peace."

Kevin Craig May 2, 2008 at 2:22 am

John Paul – Single Tax – Land & Liberty: Monthly Journal for Land Value Taxation and Free Trade – 1919 – Page 64.

The press, cinema and radio must be used to show that goods and trade means peace,
friendship and prosperity and that if goods are not allowed to cross …

t.ross September 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

Someone obviously said it 1st, and Bastiat has long been credited with it. It does sound like Bastiat and until someone can show that he didn't say it, I'm going to continue to credit him those wise and timely remarks.

Name September 20, 2009 at 7:10 pm

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