The situation invites us to give capital and credit to take the place of the European supply which has failed. One need not fear that the returns will be uninviting, for Europe would hardly have been supplying credit and capital to Latin America as a mere matter of amiability. Thus our capital must regenerate Latin-American prosperity, while our bankers, merchants, and manufacturers are engaged in making solid, permanent arrangements, not opportunistic ones, to take possession of a great share in the present and still more in the growing future development and commerce of these countries. Capital, then, and credit are the first requisites.
The war has had the effect of making the Latin-American countries realize for once the economic importance to them of the United States. The products of some, like the tin of Bolivia and the nitrates of Chile, have been going almost entirely to Europe. Several republics suffer the more acutely in proportion to their previous failure to cultivate financial and commercial relations with the United States.
They now feel this and are compelled to a mood receptive to our advances. More, they are forced to seek new markets for their goods just as they are forced to buy some of ours. In this way there should come about new exports to the United States, and there should spring up there the corresponding new industries and habits of consumption, to the ultimate benefit of all the countries concerned.
Meanwhile, the United States is the only present economic hope of a number of the republics. It is to be hoped that our capitalists and business men will realize the responsibilities as well as the opportunities of profit in the role they are asked to play, and that their response to their new opportunities will be one of courage, thoroughness and intelligence, and one also of quiet patriotism.
Turning from the opportunity to the lesson, from the commercial and economic aspects of this question to those that are political in the large sense, one’s imagination is appalled at the potentialities of the yet unknown results of so vast an upheaval. Yet we must envisage some of these if we are to be prepared for their effect upon us. We must be ready for the impact of the resultant forces of these great dynamics. We must be ready everywhere, but nowhere more than in our relations with Latin America, in the zone of the Caribbean, and wherever the Monroe Doctrine as still interpreted gives us a varying degree of responsibility.
The war’s first effect upon our Latin-American relations is to compel through commercial and financial rapprochement a larger measure of material interdependence, more contact, and, we may hope, a substitution of knowledge for the former reciprocity of ignorance. All this makes for better social and intellectual relations, good understanding and friendship, and so for political relations much more substantial in the case of many of the republics than the rather flimsy Pan-Americanism celebrated in eloquent speeches and futile international conferences.