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IS AMERICA IMPERIALISTIC?
BY SUMNER WELLES
TAKE, for example, our relations to the Republics of Latin America. I think it may be said truly, that these relations were never better than to-day. Facilities of direct communication have been developed, trade is increasing, the youth of other nations are coming in increasing numbers to our universities. Despite the efforts of those in other countries who endeavor to foster an unfriendly sentiment toward us, our national position is more clearly understood; the absence of any imperialistic purpose on our part is more generally recognized; our desire to promote peace and good-will, to have the beneficial coöperation which depends on confidence in the maintenance of territorial integrity, assured independence, and mutual esteem, is more fully appreciated. ...
Yet there are writers among us who apparently make it their business to develop antagonism and to spread among the people of this country, who have no opportunities for judgment from personal knowledge, the notion that our policies are imperialistic, that our influence is baleful, and that mutual respect and friendship are decreasing. Publicity is given to these erroneous and harmful assertions and misdescriptions upon the ground, I suppose, that what may be false should have an equal chance with what may be true. ...
Our Government has no intrigues, no secret agreements, no hidden policies. And when history fully reveals our actual relations at this time to our sister republics of this hemisphere, when correspondence and instructions are published, I am happy to say that there will be no page of which any American need be ashamed. — The HONORABLE CHARLES E. HUGHES, SECRETARY OF STATE, in an address delivered at Amherst College, June 18, 1924.
The belief that the policy animating In considering this aspect of the the Government of the United States question, it is of interest to determine in its relations with the Latin-American the class to which the more vociferous republics is one of ‘dollar diplomacy, critics of the continental policy of the with its combination of bonds and bat- United States belong. Should careful tleships,' is shared by a small group in investigation be made, it would be the United States and by other groups found that ninety per cent of them may in the majority of these republics. It is fittingly be compared to those groups a belief to which the policy of the in our own country who promote racial United States has given credence upon or religious antagonism for personal or a few unfortunate occasions in the political ends. They are rarely men or past. It is a belief sedulously fostered women who have achieved prominence at present by propagandists, both sin- in statesmanship, politics, or in affairs. cere and insincere. But, after years of By far the greater part are agitators personal experience in Latin-America, whose articles foment distrust of the the author is not convinced that this motives of the ‘Octopus of the North,' belief is shared by more than a small as they refer to the United States, proportion of the inhabitants of any of and who, so far as is known, confine the republics on this Continent. themselves to destructive criticism, omitting to point out any remedy for be compared to the relations existing the appalling condition of affairs which between Brazil and the United States, they profess to see.
for the reason that the former nations, There is always an audience for crit- while they are in the eyes of the world ics of this character. In fact, the Gov- on an equal plane with Brazil so far as ernment of the United States has, to a their independence and sovereignty is certain extent, because of the propa- concerned, have not been afforded the ganda which has been carried on, be- opportunity to march so far along the come an 'Aunt Sally’for this variety of road of civilization and progress as has audience on the rest of the American Brazil. The practical task confronting Continent; but that such criticism is our Government therefore is the followparticipated in by those who direct the ing: our relations with all the neighbordestinies of the Latin-American repub- ing republics should be those existing lics, or by any considerable number of between free and independent nations; those engaged in agriculture, in com- yet, until certain of these countries merce, or in industry, of the liberal have developed a firm tradition of professions, or even of the labor ele- orderly, constitutional government, the ment, it would be impossible to prove. United States must be prepared to step
Although mistakes undoubtedly have in to protect the lives and property of been committed, our record in general its citizens should they at any time be has been one with which an American in danger; and it must likewise be ready citizen may be well content. It has to assume the responsibility of offering revealed a consistent effort on our part its friendly mediation, or, in extreme to strengthen the foundations of consti- cases, its friendly intervention, should tutional and stable government, to de- conditions be such as to threaten a velop legitimate commercial relations, national or international conflagration and, by demonstration and friendly which would give rise to a situation advice, to further the settlement by wherein the policy of self-protection peaceful methods of international dis- of the United States, known as the putes.
Monroe Doctrine, might be endangered. Before passing to a survey of the re- For the reasons above set forth, our lations actually existing between the relations with the republics of Central United States and Latin America, it America, Cuba, the Dominican Repubseems desirable to point out that the lic, Haiti, and Panama, have certain United States must by force of neces- common aspects. Our relations with sity, due to geographic proximity, the remaining nations, including all the treaty relations, or other reasons, make republics of South America and the Rea practical distinction in its dealings public of Mexico, are likewise in general with the various republics of the Con- comparable. tinent. Relations between the Repub- Since our dealings with the former lic of Cuba and the United States on republics in the past have given rise, the one hand, and the Argentine Repub- in a few instances, to ground for just lic and the United States on the other, criticism and have undoubtedly been cannot be regarded in the same light by subject to very general misunderour diplomats because of the special standing in this country, it would be treaty relations existing with the for. useful to review with entire frankness mer. In like manner, the relations be- the history of the relations of the United tween certain of the republics of Central States with each one of those republics America and the United States cannot during the past decade.
which applies to the other countries of
the Caribbean. Our Government must The problems which the United States be guided not only by its altruistic dehas faced in its relations with Cuba sire to help develop civilization and progsince the termination of the first occupa- ress in general, but also by purely seltion have been many and serious. No fish motives; for what better protection nation has produced more devoted and can there be for the United States in unselfish patriots than were the Cuban the event of foreign menace than the heroes of 1898; and yet, because of the presence throughout the Continent of centuries of Spanish colonial adminis- strong Governments maintained in tration, the great mass of the Cuban power by the consent of the governed, people entered their independence with well disposed toward the United out ever having experienced the bene- States? Intervention in Cuba has fits of honest, efficient, and democratic never been undertaken except with this government. For the protection of the end in view. The policy of the United Cuban people themselves, therefore, a States in this regard has not changed. treaty was consequently entered into Such actual intervention in or occupabetween the United States and Cuba tion of Cuba as the United States has which contained provisions, also incor- been obliged to undertake is, of course, porated in the Cuban Constitution, at best, an artificial method of restoring commonly known as the Platt Amend- outward tranquillity so that constitument. The third article of this treaty tional government may once more be provides:
established. Of far greater value
is the friendly advice which may be That the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise
offered to the Cuban Government the right to intervene for the preser
and to the Cuban people through our vation of Cuban independence, the
representatives. maintenance of a government ade There are no American Marines in quate for the protection of life, prop Cuba, as has been charged, as a physerty, and individual liberty, and for ical reminder of our treaty rights, bedischarging the obligations with re yond those stationed in the United spect to Cuba imposed by the Treaty
States naval district of Guantánamo; of Paris on the United States, now to
and only as a sequel to intervention be assumed and undertaken by the Government of Cuba.
by treaty right have members of the
military establishment of the United This contractual right of interven- States been stationed in the interior of tion, though of no advantage — direct the Republic. The last occasion upon or indirect — to the United States, has which American Marines were tempobeen, on the other hand, a fruitful rarily stationed in the interior of Cuba source of misunderstanding and resent- was following the armed uprising of the ment. The right has been exercised on Liberal party in 1917, when a small devarious occasions, but never except in tachment of Marines was retained in the face of open rebellion which might the Province of Camagüey upon the rehave threatened the independence quest of the Cuban Government itself. of the Republic and which actually In considering present conditions in threatened the maintenance of a stable Cuba, it is impossible to overlook the constitutional government.
great benefits derived from the friendly The policy of the United States with advice tendered the Cuban Governregard to Cuba is necessarily a policy ment by the United States after the
the face of open te the independence
in considering presence overlook the
economic crisis of 1920 through Gen. 1907 had been violated by the Dominieral Enoch H. Crowder, then Special can Government, would never have Representative of the President of the occurred had President Wilson had the United States, as well as through many opportunity or the time, in the exciteexperts sent to Cuba to devise methods ments of that period, to become fully of reëstablishing financial credit and cognizant of the causes of the situation economic stability. The economies and existing in the Dominican Republic. fiscal reforms initiated by President Even so, in the order authorizing the Zayas, after consideration of the advice occupation, Mr. Wilson, declared that so tendered, have brought the Republic he acted 'with the deepest reluctance.' out of a condition of impending ruin to Likewise it is improbable that he was one of essential financial soundness. informed of many of the occurrences The advice so offered has not been re- which took place in the Dominican Resented by thinking Cubans. On the public during the earlier years of the contrary, the Cuban people as a whole American Occupation — occurrences have demonstrated their gratitude for deeply to be regretted by every Amerithe assistance lent them, and although can citizen. a few may protest the friendly interven- It is not generally known that the tion of the United States in Cuban present policy of evacuation was initiaffairs, even these realize that the steps ated under Secretary of State Colby taken by the Cuban Government in during the last six months of President 1921 saved the Republic from disaster Wilson's administration, although the — possibly revolution.
proposals of our Government were not No step taken by the Government then accepted by the Dominican people of the United States in Latin America and a plan for evacuation was carried in recent years has given rise to more to a successful conclusion only in the criticism-and, in this instance, just third year of the succeeding administracriticism—than the military occupa- tion. Those who refer merely to the tion of the Dominican Republic by the errors of the Occupation do so without armed forces of the United States in at the same time making clear that the 1916. The history of the Dominican Occupation has terminated, and that a Republic throughout the years which freely elected constitutional governhave elapsed since its original lib- ment of the republic is now in sole eration from the Spanish yoke has power. The promise of the United been a tragic one. It has comprised States to the Dominican people to decades of Haitian domination, a re- undertake the immediate evacuation of turn to Spanish rule, and during the the Republic was not conditioned, as last sixty years, with a few periods of stated by Dr. Inman, in a recent issue comparative improvement, a long se- of the Atlantic, on the ratification by quence of dictatorship, revolution, and the Dominican people of all the acts of dictatorship once more. Since the over- the Military Government, nor upon throw of the last Dictator, Ulises Heu- their agreement to allow the United reaux, in 1899, revolution has succeeded States to continue to collect the cusrevolution, notwithstanding the efforts toms and administer the finances of the of many high spirited and truly patri- country. Such a statement is entirely otic Dominicans to stem the tide. It is inaccurate. An agreement was entered the belief of many that the Military into in 1921 between the United States Occupation by the United States in 'Imperialistic America': SAMUEL GUY INMAN, 1916, on the ground that the Treaty of in the July Atlantic.
and a commission of representative public improvements without the seDominican citizens, comprising the curity afforded by the collection of leaders of all the political parties, Dominican customs under the superproviding for the establishment of a vision of American officials.. Provisional Dominican Government, Because of the Occupation, feeling under which free elections could be held against the United States in Santo to provide for a future constitutional Domingo has been exceedingly bitter, government.
and yet, during the past two years, Their national elections took place in there has been evidenced a notable March 1924, and the President and change, through general belief in the other public officials elected in those sincerity of the United States in its elections took office on July 12 of the reparation of the mistaken policy, present year; whereupon the Military which had been initiated. What could Forces of the United States evacuated be more significant in this connection the Republic and relations between the than the following phrases voiced by United States and the Dominican Re- the President of the Republic, General public are now undertaken entirely, as Horacio Vasquez, when, on a recent they should be, through diplomaticchan visit to Washington, he had occasion to nels. Ratification by the freely elect- address a few remarks to his fellow ed Dominican Government of certain guests at an entertainment at the Pan acts of the Military Government has American Union:been limited to validation of those acts 'I desire to take occasion to express which established revenues, authorized my hope that the notable work of the expenditures, or created rights in favor Pan American Union in making closer of third persons. Were such ratification and more friendly the relations be
Except during the Military Occupation, meet with ever increasing success; and the United States has never adminis- may I state my belief that no opportered the finances of the Dominican Re- tunity could be more favorable for public, nor was any attempt made to do that desired end than the present, so under the agreement providing for when the efforts of the Pan American the evacuation of the country. The Union are supported by a government collection of Dominican customs by of the United States guided by a American officials was undertaken up- spirit of sincere friendship and real on the request of the Dominican Gov- justice to its sister nations of this ernment in 1905, and such obligation on hemisphere. the part of the Government of the Those who have the privilege of United States was provided for in a knowing the present President of the treaty entered into in 1907. Abroga- Dominican Republic will realize that tion of that treaty has not been sug- those words are not merely courteous gested by the Dominican people, nor is expressions. They are due to a sincere it desired by them, since, until the re- conviction, and that sincere conviction sources of the country have been devel. is unquestionably shared by the great oped and governmental stability has majority of his fellow citizens. been assured, as they undoubtedly will The series of revolutions existing in be during a period of peace and tran- Central America during the past quillity, it would be impossible for the century has forced the United States Dominican Republic to obtain funds repeatedly to intervene temporarily in with which to construct permanent those republics in order to protect the