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From Isolation to Leadership: A Review of American Foreign Policy.
By John Holladay Latané, Ph.D., LL.D. New York: Doubleday,
The central thread of the ten chapters of this small timely volume is the question of participation in world politics—either in protection of American rights and principles or by cooperation in affairs of general interest.
Although the volume evidently is largely a growth from earlier studies in diplomatic relations and from preparation of addresses delivered at various universities or before political and international associations, its present appearance was doubtless influenced by the President's bold announcement of January 22, 1917, proposing that the nations should adopt the Monroe Doctrine as the doctrine of the world and disentangle themselves from secret alliances by the establishment of a concert of powers through a League to Enforce Peace, and also by the astonishing achievement of America in organizing and transporting fighting forces which turned the tide of battle against the vast and long-prepared military organization of the Central Powers led by the military masters of Germany.
It is not a presentation of new materials, but a clear and wellarticulated statement, a progressive and judicial summary and interpretation, of a large mass of facts which the author has digested and assimilated. Seizing main points, the author presents them in continuity of development, avoiding tiresome details, and without footnote references or bibliographic appendix. He adds a convenient index.
Necessarily, as planned, the book omits many incidents which one might expect or wish to find mentioned. It contains no reference to the early applications of American policy against the Barbary pirates, or in connection with the acquisition of Louisiana and Florida, or in the early American relations in the Caribbean and the contiguous territory of Central America and Mexico, or in the opening of relations in China and the Hawaiian Islands.
The writer is accurate in his historical statements, but he has introduced several historical hypotheses (pp. 33, 53, 87, 93-94, 186) which he admits are of little practical value (p. 11).
The book will prove satisfactory and useful to the student of international questions, and is especially adapted to the use of the general reader who does not have the time for a fuller treatise.
Dr. Latané briefly sketches the essential features in the development of the two chief phases of American foreign policy—the traditional policy of political isolation and the Monroe Doctrine, between which he makes a clear distinction which many writers have not made.
Dr. Latané too strongly emphasizes the idea that American maintenance of the doctrine without resort to force has really rested only on the existence of a nicely adjusted European balance of power resulting in the rise of diverting European situations at critical times when the doctrine was threatened by some European power which might have put it to the test of actual war (p. 146).
Referring to American participation at the Algeciras conference as the most radical departure” from the American traditional policy of isolation, nevertheless, in view of what has since happened, he justifies the secret diplomacy and motives of Roosevelt as a positive factor in preserving the balance of power in Europe and thwarting the relentless attempt of the German Kaiser to humiliate France (p. 76).
He indicates that American diplomacy in the Orient has had a freer hand, illustrated by Perry's Japan expedition, which he regards as a radical departure from the general American isolation policy, and later by the retention of the Philippines not only as a naval base but also to prevent the precipitation of a world war by German seizure of the islands (p. 85).
In a brief review of Anglo-American relations, he suggests the possibility of a closer Anglo-American understanding and cooperation.
The author devotes a chapter to the natural and inevitable imperialistic tendencies appearing in protectorates and receiverships and financial supervision in the Caribbean since 1898, which converted American policy into law (p. 146) and caused Latin American attacks on the Monroe Doctrine on the ground that it has thus been violated. These so-called imperialistic policies, if administered in an unselfish spirit, the author declares are not inconsistent with the recent general war aims defined by Wilson (p. 165).
The traditional policy of isolation from world politics, justified in the early experimental days of American democracy as a quarantine against the fatal disease of militarism, long remained a mere tradition or popular delusion which restricted America in the face of opportunities for useful service, and bred a complacence of effortless contemplation which made her indifferent to international responsibilities and as selfish as the predatory powers from which it held her aloof. But, under new conditions resulting in closer neighborhood, and in the complexity of diplomacy resulting from the emergence of Japan as a first class world power, it finally became an impossibility and was dispelled and abandoned under the conditions of the unequal world conflict between aggressive, merciless might and defensive right. The final decision against it, as Dr. Latané observes, was doubtless influenced not only by the immediate German violation of American rights on the seas and German conspiracies and activities within American territory, but also by the well-grounded apprehension of eventual German direct attack upon the United States and by the apparent necessity of the establishment of the peace of the world and the freedom of peoples against an irresponsible military autocracy (p. 186). In making the decision, the President “assumed an unparallelled moral leadership’' by clearly formulating the issue to maintain democracy and the principle of the consent of the governed, positively and throughout the world, against the attacks of autocracy. At the peace conference, the author declares, America by her unselfish aims and with her cloistered virtue gone “will be in a position to shape the destinies of the world” (p. 208).
Dr. Latané has performed a useful service by placing in convenient form this interesting narrative of the evolution of the fundamental principles and complicated questions of foreign policy, which should facilitate the study of the subject and furnish to Americans an opportunity to obtain a wider knowledge of reliable facts—a knowledge which is required to reduce the necessity of secret diplomacy in a democracy. His volume deserves to be widely read.
J. M. CALLAHAN.
A World Court in the Light of the United States Supreme Court. By
Thomas Willing Balch. Philadelphia : Allen, Lane & Scott. 1918. pp. 165.
In this interesting volume the author has given us not only an instructive review of the part the Supreme Court of the United States has played in settling serious disputes and preventing wars among the States of this Union, but has also presented a thoughtful and lucid analysis of the true and the false analogies that may be drawn between the successful operation of that great court and the doubtful success of a world court organized to perform the same beneficent function as between the independent nations.
So far as mere legal or juridical questions are concerned he entertains no doubt that a world court would be competent to adjudicate them, and that there is little future danger of great wars resulting from such causes. “Legal” questions he defines as those which do not involve profound policies of self-preservation or the “vital interests” of a nation.
But he argues forcefully that the mere establishment of such a court would not suffice to prevent wars between nations arising from “political” disputes involving vital questions of their self-preservation or welfare. In these respects his hopes for future peace are based on the slow and gradual elimination of these causes of war through international legislation or mutual agreements of the nations, through an increasing popular hatred of war, and through increased powers of conciliation as well as of legislation conferred upon the International Conference at The Hague.
If, however, a world court cannot be expected to attain greater results in the security of permanent peace than the rather moderate ones above mentioned, why, it may be reasonably asked, has our Supreme Court succeeded so admirably in the peaceable settlement of the numerous disputes that have in the course of more than a century arisen between the sovereign states composing the United States ?
Our author attributes this to two principal causes or influences. He is emphatic in his postulate that it is due, in the first place, to the pressure of the outside world reacting upon the States of the Union, which has forced them from motives of self-preservation and dread of attack to stand together and exert their united force to compel two disputant states to keep the peace and to accept judicial determinations of their disputes. On the other hand, in case of a court established by the united assent of all nations to secure general peace, there is no force outside of the world to drive the peoples of the earth to remain united in order to avoid war among themselves. But, to quote the author:“It should not be forgotten that there is within the Nations of the world themselves a force driving toward peace. This force arises from the fact that the destruction of life and wealth wrought by modern war as well as the destruction of wealth caused by the preparation in times of peace for war is so tremendous that immense suffering both immediate and for the future are thereby inflicted upon the inhabitants of the belligerent Nations, and indirectly in many cases upon neutrals.”
May it not be hoped that this subjective force, greatly enhanced by the present war, will ultimately prove as powerful as the dread of attack from without ?
The second reason assigned for the difference in effectiveness between our Supreme Court and the contemplated international tribunal is that in our case the vital interests of our States are protected already otherwise than by the action of the court, while those of the Nations must depend upon the adjudications of the world court or else upon the strong arms of the Nations themselves, the latter being their main reliance.
If we ask why this difference in favor of our Supreme Court, the author replies:
“Because when two States of the Union appear at its bar as litigants upon a question which is purely a bone of contention between them, not only is the power of all the United States, owing in part to the pressure of the outside world (italics his), behind the court to enforce its judgment, but also the future safety and existence of neither state is really endangered by the decision. The individual States of the Union are not exposed to be divided up and annexed in parcels or in toto to some of the other States, as is the case with members of the family of Nations.
“This immunity from dismemberment and absorption of one member state by another ... is due in part to the need of all the forty-eight States . . . to remain united and live in peace together in order to afford a united and strong front for mutual protection against the other nations of the world ... and in part also to the fact that within all the bounds of the United States there is entire freedom of trade and migration, while between the members of the family of nations there is restriction of trade and some restriction of migration.”
If this be a complete analysis of the reasons for the difference, then the nations of the world, if they would have peace, must address themselves to the task of securing freedom of trade and migration amongst themselves and of finding a substitute for the need of “a united and strong front for mutual protection against other nations of the