The object of this article is to show that however much America may attempt to hold herself free in Europe she will very deeply feel the effects, both material and moral, of upheavals like that which is now shaking the old Continent; that even though there be no aggressive action against her, the militarization of Europe will force upon America also a militarist development; and that she can best avoid these dangers and secure her own safety and free development by taking the lead in a new world policy which is briefly this:
To use her position to initiate and guide a grouping of all the civilized powers having as its object the protection of any one of its members that is the victim of aggression. The aid to be given for such an object should not be, in the case of the United States, military but economic, by means of the definite organization of non-intercourse against the recalcitrant power. America’s position of geographical and historical remoteness from European quarrels places her in a particularly favorable position to direct this world organization, and the fact of undertaking it would give her in some sense the moral leadership of the western world, and make her the centre of the World State of the future.
(COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY.)
In the discussion of America’s relation to the rest of the world we have always assumed almost as an axiom that America has nothing to do with Europe, is only in the faintest degree concerned with its politics and developments, that by happy circumstance of geography and history we are isolated and self-sufficing, able to look with calm detachment upon the antics of the distant Europeans. When a European landed on these shores we were pretty certain that he left Europe behind him; only quite recently, indeed, have we realized that we were affected by what he brought with him in the way of morals and traditions, and only now are we beginning dimly to realize that what goes on on the other side of the world can be any affair of ours. The famous query of a certain American statesmen, “What has America to do with abroad?” probably represented at bottom the feelings of most of us.
In so far as we established commercial relations with Europe at all, we felt and still feel probably that they were relations of hostility, that we were one commercial unit, Europe another, and that the two were in competition. In thinking thus, of course, we merely accepted the view of international politics common in Europe itself, the view, namely, that nations are necessarily trade rivals—the commercial rivalry of Britain and Germany is presumed to be one of the factors explaining the outbreak of the present war. The idea that nations do thus compete together for the world’s trade is one of the axioms of all discussion in the field of international politics.