A NATIONAL FOREIGN POLICY
The logic of a national democratic ideal and the responsibilities of a national career in the world involve a number of very definite consequences in respect to American foreign policy. They involve, in fact, a conception of the place of a democratic nation in relation to the other civilized nations, different from that which has hitherto prevailed in this country. Because of their geographical situation and their democratic institutions, Americans have claimed and still claim a large degree of national aloofness and independence; but such a claim could have been better defended several generations ago than it can to-day. Unquestionably the geographical situation of the United States must always have a decisive effect upon the nature of its policy in foreign affairs; and undoubtedly no course of action in respect to other nations can be national without serving the interests of democracy. But precisely because an American foreign policy must be candidly and vigorously national, it will gradually bring with it an increasingly complicated group of international ties and duties. The American nation, just in so far as it believes in its nationality and is ready to become more of a nation, must assume a more definite and a more responsible place in the international system. It will have an increasingly important and an increasingly specific part to play in the political affairs of the world; and, in spite of "old-fashioned democratic" scruples and prejudices, the will to play that part for all it is worth will constitute a beneficial and a necessary stimulus to the better realization of the Promise of our domestic life.
A genuinely national policy must, of course, be based upon a correct understanding of the national interest in relation to those of its neighbors and associates. That American policy did obtain such a foundation during the early years of American history is to be traced to the sound political judgment of Washington and Hamilton. Jefferson and the Republicans did their best for a while to persuade the American democracy to follow the dangerous course of the French democracy, and to base its international policy not upon the firm ground of national interest, but on the treacherous sands of international democratic propagandism. After a period of hesitation, the American people, with their usual good sense in the face of a practical emergency, rallied to the principles subsequently contained in Washington's Farewell Address; and the Jeffersonian Republicans, when they came into control of the Federal government, took over this conception of American national policy together with the rest of the Federalist outfit. But like the rest of the Federalist organization and ideas, the national foreign policy was emasculated by the expression it received at the hands of the Republicans. The conduct of American foreign affairs during the first fifteen years of the century are an illustration of the ills which may befall a democracy during a critical international period, when its foreign policy is managed by a party of anti-national patriots.
After 1815 the foreign policy of the United States was determined by a strict adherence to the principles enunciated in Washington's Farewell Address. The adherence was more in the letter than in the spirit, and the ordinary popular interpretation, which prevails until the present day, cannot be granted undivided approval; but so far as its immediate problems were concerned, American foreign policy did not, on the whole, go astray. The United States kept resolutely clear of European entanglements, and did not participate in international councils, except when the rights of neutrals were under discussion; and this persistent neutrality was precisely the course which was needed in order to confirm the international position of the country as well as to leave the road clear for its own national development. But certain consequences were at an early date deduced from a neutral policy which require more careful examination. During the presidency of Monroe the systematic isolation of the United States in respect to Europe was developed, so far as the two Americas were concerned, into a more positive doctrine. It was proclaimed that abstention on the part of the United States from European affairs should be accompanied by a corresponding abstention by the European Powers from aggressive action in the two Americas. What our government proposed to do was to divide sharply the democratic political system of the Americas from the monarchical and aristocratic political system of Europe. The European system, based as it was upon royalist legitimacy and privileges, and denying as it did popular political rights, was declared to be inimical in spirit and in effect to the American democratic state.
The Monroe Doctrine has been accepted in this form ever since as an indisputable corollary of the Farewell Address. The American people and politicians cherish it as a priceless political heirloom. It is considered to be the equivalent of the Declaration of Independence in the field of foreign affairs; and it arouses an analogous volume and fury of conviction. Neither is this conviction merely the property of Fourth-of-July Americans. Our gravest publicists usually contribute to the Doctrine a no less emphatic adherence; and not very many years ago one of the most enlightened of American statesmen asserted that American foreign policy as a whole could be sufficiently summed up in the phrase, "The Monroe Doctrine and the Golden Rule." Does the Monroe Doctrine, as stated above, deserve such uncompromising adherence? Is it an adequate expression of the national interest of the American democracy in the field of foreign affairs?
At the time the Monroe Doctrine was originally proclaimed, it did unquestionably express a valid national interest of the American democracy. It was the American retort to the policy of the Holy Alliance which sought to erect the counter-revolutionary principles into an international system, and which suppressed, so far as possible, all nationalist or democratic agitation. The Spanish-American colonies had been winning their independence from Spain; and there was a fear, not entirely ill-founded, that the Alliance would apply its anti-democratic international policy to the case of Spain's revolted colonies. Obviously the United States, both as a democracy and as a democracy which had won its independence by means of a revolutionary war, could not admit the right of any combination of European states to suppress national and democratic uprisings on the American continents. Our government would have been wholly justified in resisting such interference with all its available military force. But in what sense and upon what grounds was the United States justified in going farther than this, and in asserting that under no circumstances should there be any increase of European political influence upon the American continents? What is the propriety and justice of such a declaration of continental isolation? What are its implications? And what, if any, are its dangers?
In seeking an answer to these questions we must return to the source of American foreign policy in the Farewell Address. That address contains the germ of a prudent and wise American national policy; but Hamilton, in preparing its phrasing, was guided chiefly by a consideration of the immediate needs and dangers of his country. The Jeffersonian Republicans in their enthusiasm for the French Revolution proposed for a while to bring about a permanent alliance between France and the United States, the object whereof should be the propagation of the democratic political faith. Both Washington and Hamilton saw clearly that such behavior would entangle the United States in all the vicissitudes and turmoil which might attend the development of European democracy; and their favorite policy of neutrality and isolation implied both that the national interest of the United States was not concerned in merely European complications, and that the American people, unlike those of France, did not propose to make their political principles an excuse for international aggression. The Monroe Doctrine, as proclaimed in 1825, rounded out this negative policy with a more positive assertion of principles. It declared that the neutrality of the American democracy, so far as Europe was concerned, must be balanced by the non-intervention of European legitimacy and aristocracy in the affairs of the American continents. Now this extension of American foreign policy was, as we have seen, justified, in so far as it was a protest against any possible interference on the part of the Holy Alliance in American politics. It was, moreover, justified in so far as it sought to identify the attainment of a desirable democratic purpose with American international policy. Of course Hamilton, when he tried to found the international policy of his country upon the national interest, wholly failed to identify that interest with any positive democratic purpose; but in this, as in other respects, Hamilton was not a thorough-going democrat. While he was right in seeking to prevent the American people from allying themselves with the aggressive French democracy, he was wrong in failing to foresee that the national interest of the United States was identified with the general security and prosperity of liberal political institutions—that the United States must by every practical means encourage the spread of democratic methods and ideas. As much in foreign as in domestic affairs must the American people seek to unite national efficiency with democratic idealism. The Monroe Doctrine, consequently, is not to be condemned, as it has been condemned, merely because it went far beyond the limited foreign policy of Hamilton. The real question in regard to the Doctrine is whether it seeks in a practicable way—in a way consistent with the national interest and inevitable international responsibilities—the realization of the democratic idea. Do the rigid advocates of that Doctrine fall into an error analogous to the error against which Washington and Hamilton were protesting? Do they not tend, indirectly, and within a limited compass, to convert the American democratic idea into a dangerously aggressive principle?
The foregoing question must, I believe, be answered partly in the affirmative. The Monroe Doctrine, as usually stated, does give a dangerously militant tendency to the foreign policy of the United States; and unless its expression is modified, it may prevent the United States from occupying a position towards the nations of Europe and America in conformity with its national interest and its national principle. It should be added, however, that this unwholesomely aggressive quality is only a tendency, which will not become active except under certain possible conditions, and which can gradually be rendered less dangerous by the systematic development of the Doctrine as a positive principle of political action in the Western hemisphere.
The Monroe Doctrine has, of course, no status in the accepted system of International Law. Its international standing is due almost entirely to its express proclamation as an essential part of the foreign policy of the United States, and it depends for its weight upon the ability of this country to compel its recognition by the use of latent or actual military force. Great Britain has, perhaps, tacitly accepted it, but no other European country has done so, and a number of them have expressly stated that it entails consequences against which they might sometime be obliged strenuously and forcibly to protest. No forcible protest has as yet been made, because no European country has had anything to gain from such a protest, comparable to the inevitable cost of a war with the United States.
The dangerously aggressive tendency of the Monroe Doctrine is not due to the fact that it derives its standing from the effective military power of the United States. The recognition which any proclamation of a specific principle of foreign policy receives will depend, in case it conflicts with the actual or possible interests of other nations, upon the military and naval power with which it can be maintained. The question as to whether a particular doctrine is unwholesomely aggressive depends, consequently, not upon the mere fact that it may provoke a war, but upon the doubt that, if it provokes a war, such a war can be righteously fought. Does the Doctrine as usually stated, possibly or probably commit the United States to an unrighteous war—a war in which the United States would be opposing a legitimate interest on the part of one or a group of European nations? Does an American foreign policy of the "Monroe Doctrine and the Golden Rule" proclaim two parallel springs of national action in foreign affairs which may prove to be incompatible?
There is a danger that such may be the case. The Monroe Doctrine in its most popular form proclaims a rigid policy of continental isolation—of America for the Americans and of Europe for the Europeans. European nations may retain existing possessions in the Americas, but such possessions must not be increased. So far, so good. A European nation, which sought defiantly to increase its American possessions, in spite of the express declaration of the United States that such action would mean war, would deserve the war thereby incurred. But there are many ways of increasing the political influence of European Powers in the Americas without actual territorial appropriation. The emigration from several European states and from Japan to South America is already considerable, and is likely to increase rather than diminish. European commercial interests in South America are greater than ours, and in the future will become greater still. The South Americans have already borrowed large quantities of European capital, and will need more. The industrial and agricultural development of the South American states is constantly tying them more closely to Europe than it is to the United States. It looks, consequently, as if irresistible economic conditions were making in favor of an increase of effective European influence in South America. The growth of that influence is part of the world-movement in the direction of the better utilization of the economic resources of mankind. South America cannot develop without the benefits of European capital, additional European labor, European products, and European experience and training; and in the course of another few generations the result will be a European investment in South America, which may in a number of different ways involve political complications. We have already had a foretaste of those consequences in the steps which the European Powers took a few years ago to collect debts due to Europeans by Venezuela.
The increasing industrial, social, and financial bonds might not have any serious political consequences, provided the several South American states were possessed of stable governments, orderly political traditions, and a political standing under definite treaties similar to that of the smaller European states. But such is not the case. The alien investment in South America may involve all sorts of political complications which would give European or Asiatic Powers a justifiable right under the law of nations to interfere. Up to the present time, as we have seen, such interference has promised to be too costly; but the time may well come when the advantages of interference will more than counterbalance the dangers of a forcible protest. Moreover, in case such a protest were made, it might not come from any single European Power. A general European interest would be involved. The United States might well find her policy of America for the Americans result in an attempt on the part of a European coalition to bring about a really effectual isolation. We might find ourselves involved in a war against a substantially united Europe. Such a danger seems sufficiently remote at present; but in the long run a policy which carries isolation too far is bound to provoke justifiable attempts to break it down. If Europe and the Americas are as much divided in political interest as the Monroe Doctrine seems to assert, the time will inevitably arrive when the two divergent political systems must meet and fight; and plenty of occasions for such a conflict will arise, as soon as the policy of isolation begins to conflict with the establishment of that political relation between Europe and South America demanded by fundamental economic and social interests. Thus under certain remote but entirely possible conditions, the Doctrine as now proclaimed and practiced might justify Europe in seeking to break it down by reasons at least as valid as those of our own country in proclaiming it.
But if the Monroe Doctrine could only be maintained by a war of this kind, or a succession of wars, it would defeat the very purpose which it is supposed to accomplish. It would embroil the United States and the two American continents in continual trouble with Europe; and it would either have to be abandoned or else would carry with it incessant and enormous expenditures for military and naval purposes. The United States would have to become a predominantly military power, armed to the teeth, to resist or forestall European attack; and our country would have to accept these consequences, for the express purpose of keeping the Americas unsullied by the complications of European politics. Obviously there is a contradiction in such a situation. The United States could fight with some show of reason a single European Power, like France in 1865, which undertook a policy of American territorial aggrandizement; but if it were obliged to fight a considerable portion of Europe for the same purpose, it would mean that our country was opposing a general, and presumably a legitimate, European interest. In that event America would become a part of the European political system with a vengeance—a part which in its endeavor to escape from the vicissitudes of European politics had brought upon itself a condition of permanent military preparation and excitement. Consequently, in case the "Monroe Doctrine and the Golden Rule" are to remain the foundation of American foreign policy, mere prudence demands a systematic attempt to prevent the Doctrine from arousing just and effective European opposition.
No one can believe more firmly than myself that the foreign policy of a democratic nation should seek by all practicable and inoffensive means the affirmation of democracy; but the challenge which the Monroe Doctrine in its popular form issues to Europe is neither an inoffensive nor a practicable means of affirmation. It is based usually upon the notion of an essential incompatibility between American and European political institutions; and the assertion of such an incompatibility at the present time can only be the result of a stupid or willful American democratic Bourbonism. Such an incompatibility did exist when the Holy Alliance dominated Europe. It does not exist to-day, except in one particular. The exception is important, as we shall see presently; but it does not concern the domestic institutions of the European and the American states. The emancipated and nationalized European states of to-day, so far from being essentially antagonistic to the American democratic nation, are constantly tending towards a condition which invites closer and more fruitful association with the United States; and any national doctrine which proclaims a rooted antagonism lies almost at right angles athwart the road of American democratic national achievement. Throughout the whole of the nineteenth century the European nations have been working towards democracy by means of a completer national organization; while this country has been working towards national cohesion by the mere logic and force of its democratic ideal. Thus the distance between America and Europe is being diminished; and Americans in their individual behavior bear the most abundant and generous testimony to the benefits which American democracy can derive from association with the European nations. It is only in relation to the Monroe Doctrine that we still make much of the essential incompatibility between European and American institutions, and by so doing we distort and misinterpret the valid meaning of a national democratic foreign policy. The existing domestic institutions of the European nations are for the most part irrelevant to such a policy.
The one way in which the foreign policy of the United States can make for democracy is by strengthening and encouraging those political forces which make for international peace. The one respect in which the political system, represented by the United States, is still antagonistic to the European political system is that the European nation, whatever its ultimate tendency, is actually organized for aggressive war, that the cherished purposes of some of its states cannot be realized without war, and that the forces which hope to benefit by war are stronger than the forces which hope to benefit by peace. That is the indubitable reason why the United States must remain aloof from the European system and must avoid scrupulously any entanglements in the complicated web of European international affairs. The policy of isolation is in this respect as wise to-day as it was in the time of its enunciation by Washington and Hamilton; and nobody seriously proposes to depart from it. On the other hand, the basis for this policy is wholly independent of the domestic institutions of the European nations. It derives from the fact that at any time those nations may go to war about questions in which the United States has no vital interest. The geographical situation of the United States emancipates her from these conflicts, and enables her to stand for the ultimate democratic interest in international peace.
This justifiable policy of isolation has, moreover, certain important consequences in respect to the foreign policy of the United States in the two Americas. In this field, also, the United States must stand in every practicable way for a peaceful international system, and whatever validity the Monroe Doctrine may have in its relation to the European nations is the outcome of that obligation. If South and Central America were thrown open to European colonial ambitions, they would be involved very much more than they are at present in the consequences of European wars. In this sense the increase of European political influence in the two Americas would be an undesirable thing which the United States would have good reason to oppose. In this sense the extension of the European system to the American hemisphere would involve consequences inimical to democracy. In 1801 the North was fighting, not merely to preserve American national integrity, but to prevent the formation of a state on its southern frontier which could persist only by virtue of a European alliance, and which would consequently have entangled the free republic of the Northern states in the network of irrelevant European complications. Such would be the result of any attempt on the part of the European states to seek alliances or to pursue an aggressive policy on this side of the Atlantic.
But it may be asked, how can European aggressions in America be opposed, even on the foregoing ground, without requiring enormous and increasing military preparations? Would not the Monroe Doctrine, even in that modified form, involve the same practical inconsistency which has already been attached to its popular expression? The answer is simple. It will involve a similar inconsistency unless effective means are taken to avoid the inevitable dangers of such a challenge to Europe—unless, that is, means are taken to prevent Europe from having any just cause for intervention in South America for the purpose of protecting its own investment of men and money. The probable necessity of such intervention is due to the treacherous and unstable political conditions prevailing on that continent; and the Monroe Doctrine, consequently, commits the United States at least to the attempt to constitute in the two Americas a stable and peaceful international system. During the next two or three generations the European states will be too much preoccupied elsewhere to undertake or even to threaten any serious or concerted interference in South America. During that interval, while the Monroe Doctrine remains in its present situation of being unrecognized but unchallenged, American statesmen will have their opportunity. If the American system can be made to stand for peace, just as the European system stands at present for war, then the United States will have an unimpeachable reason in forbidding European intervention. European states would no longer have a legitimate ground for interference; it would be impossible for them to take any concerted action. The American nation would testify to its sincere democracy both by its negative attitude towards a militant European system and by its positive promotion of a peaceful international system in the two Americas.
On the other hand, if a stable international system either is not or cannot be constituted in the two Americas, the Monroe Doctrine will probably involve this country in wars which would be not merely exhausting and demoralizing, but fruitless. We should be fighting to maintain a political system which would be in no essential respect superior to the European political system. The South and Central American states have been almost as ready to fight among themselves, and to cherish political plans which can be realized only by war, as the European states. In the course of time, as they grow in population and wealth, they also will entertain more or less desirable projects of expansion; and the resulting conflicts would, the United States permitting, be sure to involve European alliances and complications. Why should the United States prepare for war in order to preserve the integrity of states which, if left to themselves, might well have an interest in compromising their own independence, and which, unless subjected to an edifying pressure, would probably make comparatively poor use of the independence they enjoyed? Surely the only valid reason for fighting in order to prevent the growth of European political influence in the two Americas is the creation of a political system on behalf of which it is worth while to fight.
A STABLE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM
Possibly some of my readers will have inferred by this time that the establishment of a peaceable international system in the two Americas is only a sanctimonious paraphrase for a policy on the part of this country of political aggrandizement in the Western hemisphere. Such an inference would be wholly unjust. Before such a system can be established, the use of compulsion may on some occasions be necessary; but the United States acting individually, could rarely afford to employ forcible means. An essential condition of the realization of the proposed system would be the ability of American statesmen to convince the Latin-Americans of the disinterestedness of their country's intentions; and to this end the active coöperation of one or more Latin-American countries in the realization of the plan would be indispensable. The statesmen of this country can work without coöperation as long as they are merely seeking to arouse public sentiment in favor of such a plan, or as long as they are clearing away preliminary obstacles; but no decisive step can be taken without assurance of support on the part of a certain proportion of the Latin-American states, and the best way gradually to obtain such support has already been indicated by Mr. Elihu Root during his official term as Secretary of State. He has begun the work of coming to an understanding with the best element in South American opinion by his candid and vigorous expression of the fundamental interest of the United States in its relations with its American neighbors.
Fifteen years ago the attempt to secure effective support from any of the Latin-American states in the foundation of a stable American international system would have looked hopeless. Countries with so appalling a record of domestic violence and instability could apparently be converted to a permanently peaceable behavior in respect to their neighbors only by the use of force. But recently several niches have been built into the American political structure on which a foothold may eventually be obtained. In general the political condition of the more powerful Latin-American states, such as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, has become more stable and more wholesome. If their condition of stability and health persists, their industrial and commercial prosperity will also continue; and little by little their political purposes will become more explicit and more significant. As soon as this stage is reached, it should be possible for American statesmen to estimate accurately the weight of the probable obstacles which any movement towards an international agreement would encounter. A series of particular steps could then be taken, tending to remove such obstacles, and, if wise, the whole question of an international agreement could be raised in some definite way.
Such obstacles may prove to be insurmountable; but provided the Latin-Americans can be convinced of the disinterestedness of this country, they do not look insurmountable. Acquiescence in a permanent American international system would, of course, imply a certain sacrifice of independence on the part of the several contracting states; but in return for this sacrifice their situation in respect to their neighbors would receive a desirable certification. They would renounce the right of going to war in return for a guarantee of their independence in other respects, and for the consequent chance of an indefinite period of orderly economic and social development. Whether they can ever be brought to such a renunciation will depend, of course, on the conception of their national interest which the more important Latin-American states will reach. As long as any one of them cherishes objects which can only be realized by war, the international situation in the Western hemisphere will remain similar to that of Europe. An actual or latent aggressiveness on the part of any one nation inevitably provokes its neighbors into a defiant and suspicious temper. It is too soon to predict whether the economic and political development of the Latin-Americans during the next generation will make for a warlike or a peaceful international organization; but considering the political geography of South America and the manifest economic interests of the several states, it does not look as if any one of them had as much to gain from a militant organization as it had from a condition of comparative international security.
The domestic condition of some of the Latin-American states presents a serious obstacle to the creation of a stable American international system. Such a system presupposes a condition of domestic peace. The several contracting states must possess permanent and genuinely national political organizations; and no such organization is possible as long as the tradition and habit of revolution persists. As we have seen, the political habits of the more important states have in this respect enormously improved of late years, but there remain a number of minor countries wherein the right of revolution is cherished as the essential principle of their democracy. Just what can be done with such states is a knotty problem. In all probability no American international system will ever be established without the forcible pacification of one or more such centers of disorder. Coercion should, of course, be used only in the case of extreme necessity; and it would not be just to deprive the people of such states of the right of revolution, unless effective measures were at the same time taken to do away with the more or less legitimate excuses for revolutionary protest. In short, any international American political system might have to undertake a task in states like Venezuela, similar to that which the United States is now performing in Cuba. That any attempt to secure domestic stability would be disinterested, if not successful, would be guaranteed by the participation or the express acquiescence therein of the several contracting states.
The United States has already made an effective beginning in this great work, both by the pacification of Cuba and by the attempt to introduce a little order into the affairs of the turbulent Central American republics. The construction of the Panama Canal has given this country an exceptional interest in the prevalence of order and good government in the territory between Panama and Mexico; and in the near future our best opportunity for improving international political conditions in the Western hemisphere will be found in this comparatively limited but, from a selfish point of view, peculiarly important field. Within this restricted area the same obstacles will be encountered as in the larger area, and success will depend upon the use of similar means and the exhibition of similar qualities. Very little can be achieved in Central America without the coöperation of Mexico, and without the ability to convince Mexican statesmen of the disinterested intentions of this country. In the same way any recrudescence of revolutionary upheavals in Mexico would enormously increase the difficulties and perils of the attempt. On the other hand, success in bringing about with Mexican coöperation a condition of political security and comparative stability in Central America would augur well for the success of the larger and more difficult attempt to perform a similar work for the whole American hemisphere.
The most difficult task, however, connected with the establishment of a peaceful American international system is presented by Canada. In case such a system were constituted, Canada should most assuredly form a part of it. Yet she could not form a part of it without a radical alteration in her relations with Great Britain. Canada is tied to the British Imperial system, and her policy and destiny depends upon the policy and destiny of the British Empire. She is content with this situation, not merely because she is loyal to the mother country, but because she believes that her association with Great Britain guarantees her independence in respect to the United States. Many Canadians cherish a profound conviction that the United States wishes nothing so much as the annexation of the Dominion; and the one thing in the world which they propose to prevent is a successful attack upon their independence. This is the natural attitude of a numerically weak people, divided by a long and indefensible frontier from a numerous and powerful neighbor; and while the people of this country have done nothing since the War of 1812 positively to provoke such suspicions, they have, on the other hand, done nothing to allay them. We have never attempted to secure the good will of the Canadians in any respect; and we have never done anything to establish better relations. Yet unless such better relations are established, the United States will lose an indispensable ally in the making of a satisfactory political system in the Western hemisphere while at the same time the American people will be in the sorry situation for a sincere democracy of having created only apprehension and enmity on the part of their nearest and most intelligent neighbors.
Under such circumstances the very first object of the foreign policy of the United States should be to place its relations with Canada on a better footing. There was a time when this object could have been accomplished by the negotiation of a liberal treaty of commercial reciprocity. If the commercial policy of the United States had been determined by its manifest national interest instead of by the interests of a group of special industries, such a treaty would have been signed many years ago. A great opportunity was lost when the negotiations failed early in the eighties, because ever since Canada has been tightening her commercial ties with Great Britain; and these ties will be still further tightened as Canada grows into a large grain-exporting country. But while it will be impossible to make an arrangement as advantageous as the one which might have been made twenty-five years ago, the national interest plainly demands the negotiation of the most satisfactory treaty possible at the present time; and if the special interests of a few industries are allowed to stand indefinitely in the way, we shall be plainly exhibiting our incompetence to carry out an enlightened and a truly national foreign policy. We shall be branding ourselves with the mark of a merely trading democracy which is unable to subordinate the selfish interests of a few of its citizens to the realization of a policy combining certain commercial advantages with an essential national object. Just as the maintenance of the present high protective tariff is the clearest possible indication of the domination of special over national interests in domestic politics, so the resolute opposition which these industries show to the use of the tariff as an instrument of a national foreign policy, suggests that the first duty of the United States as a nation is to testify to its emancipation from such bondage by revising the tariff. The matter concerns not merely Canada, but the South American Republics; and it is safe to say that the present policy of blind protection is an absolute bar to the realization of that improved American political system which is the correlative in foreign affairs of domestic individual and social amelioration.
The desirable result of the utmost possible commercial freedom between Canada and the United States would be to prepare the way for closer political association. By closer political association I do not mean the annexation of Canada to the United States. Such annexation might not be desirable even with the consent of Canada. What I do mean is some political recognition of the fact that the real interests of Canada in foreign affairs coincide with the interests of the United States rather than with the interests of Great Britain. Great Britain's interest in the independence of Holland or in the maintenance of the Turkish power in Europe might involve England in a European war, in which Canada would have none but a sentimental stake, but from which she might suffer severe losses. At bottom Canada needs for her political and commercial welfare disentanglement from European complications just as much as does the United States; and the diplomacy, official and unofficial, of the United States, should seek to convince Canada of the truth of this statement. Neither need a policy which looked in that direction necessarily incur the enmity of Great Britain. In view of the increasing cost of her responsibilities in Europe and in Asia, England has a great deal to gain by concentration and by a partial retirement from the American continent, so far as such a retirement could be effected without being recreant to her responsibilities towards Canada. The need of such retirement has already been indicated by the diminution of her fleet in American waters; and if her expenses and difficulties in Europe and Asia increase, she might be glad to reach some arrangement with Canada and the United States which would recognize a dominant Canadian interest in freedom from exclusively European political vicissitudes.
Such an arrangement is very remote; but it looks as if under certain probable future conditions, a treaty along the following lines might be acceptable to Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. The American and the English governments would jointly guarantee the independence of Canada. Canada, on her part, would enter into an alliance with the United States, looking towards the preservation of peace on the American continents and the establishment of an American international political system. Canada and the United States in their turn would agree to lend the support of their naval forces to Great Britain in the event of a general European war, but solely for the purpose of protecting the cargoes of grain and other food which might be needed by Great Britain. Surely the advantages of such an arrangement would be substantial and well-distributed. Canada would feel secure in her independence, and would be emancipated from irrelevant European complications. The United States would gain support, which is absolutely essential for the proper pacification of the American continent, and would pay for that support only by an engagement consonant with her interest as a food-exporting power. Great Britain would exchange a costly responsibility for an assurance of food in the one event, which Britons must fear—viz., a general European war with strong maritime powers on the other side. Such an arrangement would, of course, be out of the question at present; but it suggests the kind of treaty which might lead Great Britain to consent to the national emancipation of Canada, and which could be effected without endangering Canadian independence.
Any systematic development of the foreign policy of the United States, such as proposed herewith, will seem very wild to the majority of Americans. They will not concede its desirability, because the American habit is to proclaim doctrines and policies, without considering either the implications, the machinery necessary to carry them out, or the weight of the resulting responsibilities. But in estimating the practicability of the policy proposed, the essential idea must be disentangled from any possible methods of realizing it—such as the suggested treaty between the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. An agreement along those lines may never be either practicable or prudent, but the validity of the essential idea remains unaffected by the abandonment of a detail. That idea demands that effective and far-sighted arrangements be made in order to forestall the inevitable future objections on the part of European nations to an uncompromising insistence on the Monroe Doctrine; and no such arrangement is possible, except by virtue of Canadian and Mexican coöperation as well as that of some of the South American states. It remains for American statesmanship and diplomacy to discover little by little what means are practicable and how much can be accomplished under any particular set of conditions. A candid man must admit that the obstacles may prove to be insuperable. One of any number of possible contingencies may serve to postpone its realization indefinitely. Possibly neither Canada nor Great Britain will consent to any accommodation with the United States. Possibly one or more South American states will assume an aggressive attitude towards their neighbors. Possibly their passions, prejudices, and suspicions will make them prefer the hazards and the costs of military preparations and absolute technical independence, even though their interests counsel another course. Possibly the consequences of some general war in Europe or Asia will react on the two Americas and embroil the international situation to the point of hopeless misunderstanding and confusion. Indeed, the probabilities are that in America as in Europe the road to any permanent international settlement will be piled mountain high with dead bodies, and will be traveled, if at all, only after a series of abortive and costly experiments. But remote and precarious as is the establishment of any American international system, it is not for American statesmen necessarily either an impracticable, an irrelevant, or an unworthy object. Fail though we may in the will, the intelligence, or the power to carry it out, the systematic effort to establish a peaceable American system is just as plain and just as inevitable a consequence of the democratic national principle, as is the effort to make our domestic institutions contribute to the work of individual and social amelioration.
DEMOCRACY AND PEACE
A genuinely national foreign policy for the American democracy is not exhausted by the Monroe Doctrine. The United States already has certain colonial interests; and these interests may hereafter be extended. I do not propose at the present stage of this discussion to raise the question as to the legitimacy in principle of a colonial policy on the part of a democratic nation. The validity of colonial expansion even for a democracy is a manifest deduction from the foregoing political principles, always assuming that the people whose independence is thereby diminished are incapable of efficient national organization. On the other hand, a democratic nation cannot righteously ignore an unusually high standard of obligation for the welfare of its colonial population. It would be distinctly recreant to its duty, in case it failed to provide for the economic prosperity of such a population, and for their educational discipline and social improvement. It by no means follows, however, that because there is no rigid objection on democratic principles to colonial expansion, there may not be the strongest practical objection on the score of national interest to the acquisition of any particular territory. A remote colony is, under existing international conditions, even more of a responsibility than it is a source of national power and efficiency; and it is always a grave question how far the assumption of any particular responsibility is worth while.
Without entering into any specific discussion, there can, I think, be little doubt that the United States was justified in assuming its existing responsibilities in respect to Cuba and its much more abundant responsibilities in respect to Porto Rico. Neither can it be fairly claimed that hitherto the United States has not dealt disinterestedly and in good faith with the people of these islands. On the other hand, our acquisition of the Philippines raises a series of much more doubtful questions. These islands have been so far merely an expensive obligation, from which little benefit has resulted to this country and a comparatively moderate benefit to the Filipinos. They have already cost an amount of money far beyond any chance of compensation, and an amount of American and Filipino blood, the shedding of which constitutes a grave responsibility. Their future defense against possible attack presents a military and naval problem of the utmost difficulty. In fact, they cannot be defended from Japan except by the maintenance of a fleet in Pacific waters at least as large as the Japanese fleet; and it does not look probable that the United States will be able to afford for another generation any such concentration of naval strength in the Pacific. But even though from the military point of view the Philippines may constitute a source of weakness and danger, their possession will have the political advantage of keeping the American people alive to their interests in the grave problems which will be raised in the Far East by the future development of China and Japan.
The future of China raises questions of American foreign policy second only in importance to the establishment of a stable American international organization; and in relation to these questions, also, the interests of the United States and Canada tend both to coincide and to diverge (possibly) from those of Great Britain. Just what form the Chinese question will assume, after the industrial and the political awakening of China has resulted in a more effective military organization and in greater powers both of production and consumption, cannot be predicted with any certainty; but at present, it looks as if the maintenance of the traditional American policy with respect to China, viz., the territorial integrity and the free commercial development of that country, might require quite as considerable a concentration of naval strength in the Pacific as is required by the defense of the Philippines. It is easy enough to enunciate such a policy, just as it is easy to proclaim a Monroe Doctrine which no European Power has any sufficient immediate interest to dispute; but it is wholly improbable that China can be protected in its territorial integrity and its political independence without a great deal of diplomacy and more or less fighting. During the life of the coming generation there will be brought home clearly to the American people how much it will cost to assert its own essential interests in China; and the peculiar value of the Philippines as an American colony will consist largely in the fact that they will help American public opinion to realize more quickly than it otherwise would the complications and responsibilities created by Chinese political development and by Japanese ambition.
The existence and the resolute and intelligent facing of such responsibilities are an inevitable and a wholesome aspect of national discipline and experience. The American people have too easily evaded them in the past, but in the future they cannot be evaded; and it is better so. The irresponsible attitude of Americans in respect to their national domestic problems may in part be traced to freedom from equally grave international responsibilities. In truth, the work of internal reconstruction and amelioration, so far from being opposed to that of the vigorous assertion of a valid foreign policy, is really correlative and supplementary thereto; and it is entirely possible that hereafter the United States will be forced into the adoption of a really national domestic policy because of the dangers and duties incurred through her relations with foreign countries.
The increasingly strenuous nature of international competition and the constantly higher standards of international economic, technical, and political efficiency prescribe a constantly improving domestic political and economic organization. The geographical isolation which affords the United States its military security against foreign attack should not blind Americans to the merely comparative nature of their isolation. The growth of modern sea power and the vast sweep of modern national political interests have at once diminished their security, and multiplied the possible sources of contact between American and European interests. No matter how peaceably the United States is inclined, and no matter how advantageously it is situated, the American nation is none the less constantly threatened by political warfare, and constantly engaged in industrial warfare. The American people can no more afford than can a European people to neglect any necessary kind or source of efficiency. Sooner than ever before in the history of the world do a nation's sins and deficiencies find it out. Under modern conditions a country which takes its responsibilities lightly, and will not submit to the discipline necessary to political efficiency, does not gradually decline, as Spain did in the seventeenth century. It usually goes down with a crash, as France did in 1870, or as Russia has just done. The effect of diminishing economic efficiency is not as suddenly and dramatically exhibited; but it is no less inevitable and no less severe. And the service which the very intensity of modern international competition renders to a living nation arises precisely from the searching character of the tests to which it subjects the several national organizations. Austria-Hungary has been forced to assume a secondary position in Europe, because the want of national cohesion and vitality deprived her political advance of all momentum. Russia has suddenly discovered that a corrupt bureaucracy is incapable of a national organization as efficient as modern military and political competition requires. It was desirable in the interest of the Austrians, the Hungarians, and the Russians, that these weaknesses should be exposed; and if the Christian states of the West ever become so organized that their weaknesses are concealed until their consequences become irremediable, Western civilization itself will be on the road to decline. The Atlantic Ocean will, in the long run, fail to offer the United States any security from the application of the same searching standards. Its democratic institutions must be justified, not merely by the prosperity which they bestow upon its own citizens, but by its ability to meet the standards of efficiency imposed by other nations. Its standing as a nation is determined precisely by its ability to conquer and to hold a dignified and important place in the society of nations.
The inference inevitably is that the isolation which has meant so much to the United States, and still means so much, cannot persist in its present form. Its geographical position will always have a profound influence on the strategic situation of the United States in respect to the European Powers. It should always emancipate the United States from merely European complications. But, while the American nation should never seek a positive place in an exclusively European system, Europe, the United States, Japan, and China must all eventually take their respective places in a world system. While such a system is still so remote that it merely shows dimly through the obscurity of the future, its manifest desirability brings with it certain definite but contingent obligations in addition to the general obligation of comprehensive and thorough-going national efficiency. It brings with it the obligation of interfering under certain possible circumstances in what may at first appear to be a purely European complication; and this specific obligation would be the result of the general obligation of a democratic nation to make its foreign policy serve the cause of international peace. Hitherto, the American preference and desire for peace has constituted the chief justification for its isolation. At some future time the same purpose, just in so far as it is sincere and rational, may demand intervention. The American responsibility in this respect is similar to that of any peace-preferring European Power. If it wants peace, it must be spiritually and physically prepared to fight for it. Peace will prevail in international relations, just as order prevails within a nation, because of the righteous use of superior force—because the power which makes for pacific organization is stronger than the power which makes for a warlike organization. It looks as if at some future time the power of the United States might well be sufficient, when thrown into the balance, to tip the scales in favor of a comparatively pacific settlement of international complications. Under such conditions a policy of neutrality would be a policy of irresponsibility and unwisdom.
The notion of American intervention in a European conflict, carrying with it either the chance or the necessity of war, would at present be received with pious horror by the great majority of Americans. Non-interference in European affairs is conceived, not as a policy dependent upon certain conditions, but as absolute law—derived from the sacred writings. If the issue should be raised in the near future, the American people would be certain to shirk it; and they would, perhaps, have some reason for a failure to understand their obligation, because the course of European political development has not as yet been such as to raise the question in a decisive form. All one can say as to the existing situation is that there are certain Powers which have very much more to lose than they have to gain by war. These Powers are no longer small states like Belgium, Switzerland, and Holland, but populous and powerful states like Great Britain, Italy, and France. It may be one or it may be many generations before the issue of a peaceful or a warlike organization is decisively raised. When, if ever, it is decisively raised, the system of public law, under which any organization would have to take place, may not be one which the United States could accept. But the point is that, whenever and however it is raised, the American national leaders should confront it with a sound, well-informed, and positive conception of the American national interest rather than a negative and ignorant conception. And there is at least a fair chance that such will be the case. The experience of the American people in foreign affairs is only beginning, and during the next few generations the growth of their traffic with Asia and Europe will afford them every reason and every opportunity to ponder seriously the great international problem of peace in its relation to the American national democratic interest.
The idea which is most likely to lead them astray is the idea which vitiates the Monroe Doctrine in its popular form,—the idea of some essential incompatibility between Europeanism and Americanism. That idea has given a sort of religious sanctity to the national tradition of isolation; and it will survive its own utility because it flatters American democratic vanity. But if such an idea should prevent the American nation from contributing its influence to the establishment of a peaceful system in Europe, America, and Asia, such a refusal would be a decisive stop toward American democratic degeneracy. It would either mean that the American nation preferred its apparently safe and easy isolation to the dangers and complications which would inevitably attend the final establishment of a just system of public law; or else it would mean that the American people believed more in Americanism than they did in democracy. A decent guarantee of international peace would be precisely the political condition which would enable the European nations to release the springs of democracy; and the Americanism which was indifferent or suspicious of the spread of democracy in Europe would incur and deserve the enmity of the European peoples. Such an attitude would constitute a species of continental provincialism and chauvinism. Hence there is no shibboleth that patriotic Americans should fight more tenaciously and more fiercely than of America for the Americans, and Europe for the Europeans. To make Pan-Americanism merely a matter of geography is to deprive it of all serious meaning. Pan-Slavism or Pan-Germanism, based upon a racial bond, would be a far more significant political idea. The only possible foundation of Pan-Americanism is an ideal democratic purpose—which, when translated into terms of international relations, demands, in the first place, the establishment of a pacific system of public law in the two Americas, and in the second place, an alliance with the pacific European Powers, just in so far as a similar system has become in that continent one of the possibilities of practical politics.