If the war were indecisive or left all the combatants more or less prostrated, peaceful immigration might give a big impulse to the gradual growing up of powerful States in the temperate zone of the extreme South. The situation there, and the evolution of our own power, make it perhaps even now fair to consider the question of regarding as optional in any given case the assertion by us of the Monroe Doctrine much below the equator, let us say, beyond which it may possibly be doubtful whether we have nowadays much reason for special interest.
But, even so, our relations to South America and our obligations under the Monroe Doctrine, in spite of the blessed fortifications of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, leave us where it is tempting fate to be without a navy of the first magnitude, and a big merchant marine. We have seen what happened to Belgium and Luxemburg. We have seen how even some of the most enlightened nations can still make force their god. Nations learn slowly, and there are perhaps some new big ones coming on, like China.
If the war is a fight to a finish, and the Allies triumph, we can imagine Russia, with its teeming millions of people, occupied for a while in the Near East; Japan consolidating her position in the Far East, an increasingly powerful neighbor to us in the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Pacific Ocean; France still a great power; and England as a world power of uncomfortably ubiquitous strength, able to challenge the Monroe Doctrine at will.
Or, let us suppose that Germany should triumph and that German emigration should swarm into the Caribbean countries, or into Brazil or some other country where there is already a large German colony—elated, triumphant Germans, not Germans disgusted by a disastrous war. Would Germany be likely to heed the Monroe Doctrine, or would it be only another “scrap of paper”?
In the present stage of civilization the safety of America should not be left dependent upon the forbearance of any power that may emerge dangerously strong from the war or that may otherwise arise. The obligations and rights of our Latin-American relations, under the Monroe Doctrine and otherwise, like our security and our efficiency as a force for peace and good in the world, demand a big navy, a merchant marine, and the self-discipline and safeguard of adequate military preparedness. The need of these and of a diplomacy of intelligent self-interest, continuity, and intense nationalism is the lesson brought home to us by the European war in its effects upon our Latin-American relations as well as upon our general position as a great power.
By BEATRICE BARRY.
Into what depths of misery
thou art hurled,
Belgium, thou second Saviour of the World!
Thou who hast died
For all of Europe, lo, we bathe thy feet
So cruelly pierced, and find the service sweet,