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republics and European states. So in the controversy last referred to, the United States used its good offices to bring about a series of arbitrations which superseded the resort to force determined upon by the allied Powers against Venezuela. She did this upon the request of Venezuela. She did it in the performance of no duty and the exercise of no right whatever except the duty and the right of friendship between equal sovereign states. The Monroe Doctrine has nothing whatever to do with acts of this description; yet many times censorious critics, unfamiliar with the facts and uninstructed in the customs and rules of action of the international world, have accused the United States in such cases of playing the role of school master, of assuming the superiority of guardianship, of aiming at a protectorate.
As the Monroe Doctrine neither asserts nor involves any right of control by the United States over any American nation, it imposes upon the United States no duty towards European Powers to exercise such a control. It does not call upon the United States to collect debts or coerce conduct or redress wrongs or revenge injuries. If matters ever came to a point where in any American country the United States intervenes by force to prevent or end an occupation of territory to the subversion or exclusion of an American government, doubtless new rights and obligations will arise as a result of the acts done in the course of the intervention. Unless such a situation shall have arisen there can be no duty on the part of the United States beyond the exercise of good offices as between equal and independent nations.
There are indeed special reasons why the United States should perform that duty of equal friendship to the full limit of international custom and international ethics as declared in The Hague Convention, whenever occasion arises in controversy between American and European Powers. There is a motive for that in the special sympathy and friendship for the gradually developing republics of the south which the American people have always felt since the days of Monroe and John Quincy Adams and Richard Rush and Henry Clay. There is a motive in the strong desire of our government that no controversy between a European and an American state shall ever come to the point where the United States may be obliged to assert by force the rule of national safety declared by Monroe. And there is a rnotive in the proper desire of the United States that no friendly nation of Europe or America shall be injured or hindered in the prosecution of its rights in any way or to any extent that can possibly be avoided because that nation respects the rule of safety which Mr. Monroe declared and we maintain. None of these reasons for the exercise of the good offices of equality justifies nor do all of them together justify the United States in infringing upon the independence or ignoring the equal rights of the smallest American state.
Nor has the United States ever in any instance during the period of almost a century which has elapsed, made the Monroe Doctrine or the motives which lead us to support it, the ground or excuse for overstepping the limits which the rights of equal sovereignty set between equal sovereign states.
Since the Monroe Doctrine is a declaration based upon this nation's right of self-protection, it cannot be transmuted into a joint or common declaration by American states or any number of them. If Chile or Argentina or Brazil were to contribute the weight of her influence toward a similar end, the right upon which that nation would rest its declaration would be its own safety, not the safety of the United States. Chile would declare what was necessary for the safety of Chile. Argentina would declare what was necessary for the safety of Argentina. Brazil, what was necessary for the safety of Brazil. Each nation would act for itself and in its own right and it would be impossible to go beyond that except by more or less offensive and defensive alliances. Of course sucb alliances are not to be considered.
It is plain that the building of the Panama Canal greatly accentuates the practical necessity of the Monroe Doctrine as it applies to all the territory surrounding the Caribbean or near the Bay of Panama. The plainest lessons of history and the universal judgment of all responsible students of the subject concur in teaching that the potential command of the route to and from the Canal must rest with the United States and that the vital interests of the nation forbid that such command shall pass into other hands. Certainly no nation which has acquiesced in the British occupation of Egypt will dispute this proposition. Undoubtedly as one passes to the south and the distance from the Caribbean increases, the necessity of maintaining the rule of Monroe becomes less immediate and apparent. But who is competent to draw the line? Who will say, “To this point the rule of Monroe should apply; beyond this point, it should not”? Who will say that a new national force created beyond any line that he can draw will stay beyond it and will not in the long course of time extend itself indefinitely?
The danger to be apprehended from the immediate proximity of hostile forces was not the sole consideration leading to the declaration. The need to separate the influences determining the development and relation of states in the New World from the influences operating in Europe played an even greater part. The familiar paragraphs of Washington's Farewell Address upon this subject were not rhetoric. They were intensely practical rules of conduct for the future guidance of the country.
Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course.
It was the same instinct which led Jefferson, in the letter to Monroe already quoted, to say:
Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe; our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cisatlantic affairs.
The concurrence of Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson in the declaration of this principle of action entitles it to great respect. They recalled the long period during which every war waged in Europe between European Powers and arising from European causes of quarrel was waged also in the New World. English and French and Spanish and Dutch killed and harried each other in America, not because of quarrels between the settlers in America but because of quarrels between the European Powers having dominion over them. Separation of influences as absolute and complete as possible was the remedy which the wisest of Americans agreed upon. It was one of the primary purposes of Monroe's declaration to insist upon this separation, and to accomplish it he drew the line at the water's edge. The problem of national pro
tection in the distant future is one not to be solved by the first impressions of the casual observer, but only by profound study of the forces which, in the long life of nations, work out results. In this case the results of such a study by the best men of the formative period of the United States are supported by the instincts of the American democracy holding steadily in one direction for almost a century. The problem has not changed essentially. If the declaration of Monroe was right when the message was sent, it is right now. South America is no more distant today than it was then. The tremendous armaments and international jealousies of Europe afford little assurance to those who think we may now abandon the separatist policy of Washington. That South American states have become too strong for colonization or occupation is cause for satisfaction. That Europe has no purpose or wish to colonize American territory is most gratifying. These facts may make it improbable that it will be necessary to apply the Monroe Doctrine in the southern parts of South America; but they furnish no reason whatever for retracting or denying or abandoning a declaration of public policy, just and reasonable when it was made, and which, if occasion for its application shall arise in the future, will still be just and reasonable.
A false conception of what the Monroe Doctrine is, of what it demands and what it justifies, of its scope and of its limits, has invaded the public press and affected public opinion within the past few years. Grandiose schemes of national expansion invoke the Monroe Doctrine. Interested motives to compel Central or South American countries to do or refrain from doing something by which individual Americans may profit invoke the Monroe Doctrine. Clamors for national glory from minds too shallow to grasp at the same time a sense of national duty invoke the Monroe Doctrine. The intolerance which demands that control over the conduct and the opinions of other peoples which is the essence of tyranny invokes the Monroe Doctrine. Thoughtless people who see no difference between lawful right and physical power assume that the Monroe Doctrine is a warrant for interference in the internal affairs of all weaker nations in the New World. Against this supposititious doctrine, many protests both in the United States and in South America have been made, and justly made. To the real Monroe Doctrine these protests have no application.
DIPLOMACY OF THE QUARTER DECK
The building of the Panama Canal has not been a one man's work by any means. In its inception, the preparation of the field, the elimination of impossible routes, and in the actual construction work, it has drawn forth some of the best brains of the country.
Noted engineers from civil life have had an important influence in determining the locality best suited for the purpose, and also in the plans adopted for building the canal; and the names of these men will go down in history as a part of its constructive force. But as the principal object of building the canal was to augment means for the national defence, it was eminently proper that the Army and Navy of the United States should have paramount influence in its establishment. For nearly forty years naval men have been engaged in surveying different parts of Central America and the Isthmus of Panama to find a practical route which should offer the fewest obstacles in cutting a channel between the two oceans. Finally, by a process of elimination, which brought the problem to a choice between the Nicaragua and Panama routes, the construction of a canal was actually begun by an American company on the Nicaragua line, and the work of construction put in the charge of naval officers.
Owing to circumstances not necessary to mention here, this scheme was abandoned, and the Panama route, which had been first surveyed by Captain E. P. Lull, U. S. N., was finally decided upon. After many vicissitudes in starting the work, which had been begun with Admiral John G. Walker, U. S. N., as President of the Commission, the matter was turned over to the Engineer Corps of the United States Army, and it is now, as we all know, being brought to a successful ending. This was most fortunate; but for the engineering skill and military training of Colonel Goethals, as well as the remarkable sanitation work of Dr. Gorgas, U. S. Army, the canal could never have been finished within the time set. Scarcely less important to the work of constructing the canal,