The Promise of American Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about The Promise of American Life.

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 cooeperation 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.

III

DEMOCRACY AND PEACE

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The Promise of American Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.