The characteristic of the foreign relations of the United States at the outbreak of the late Spanish war was isolation. The policy was traditional, originating at the very birth of the Republic. It had received the sanction of its founders—of Washington preeminently—had been endorsed by most if not all of the leading statesmen of the country, and had come to be regarded with almost as much respect as if incorporated in the text of the Constitution itself. What the policy enjoined in substance was aloofness from the political affairs of the civilized world in general and a strict limitation of the political activities of the United States to the concerns of the American continents. It had been distinguished by two salient features which, if not due to it as their sole or chief cause, had certainly been its natural accompaniments. One of them was the Monroe doctrine, so-called, directly affecting our relations with foreign powers. The other was a high protective tariff aimed at sequestering the home market for the benefit of home industries and, though legally speaking of merely domestic concern, in practical results operating as the most effectual of obstacles to intercourse with foreign peoples.
While the Monroe doctrine and a protective tariff may be regarded as the distinguishing manifestations of our foreign policy prior to the late Spanish war, our "international isolation" has had other important consequences which should be briefly adverted to. The isolation policy and practice have tended to belittle the national character, have led to a species of provincialism and to narrow views of our duties and functions as a nation. They have caused us to ignore the importance of sea power and to look with equanimity upon the decay of our navy and the ruin of our merchant marine. They have made us content with a diplomatic service always inadequate and often positively detrimental to our interests. They have induced in the people at large an illiberal and unintelligent attitude towards foreigners constantly shown in the disparagement of other peoples, in boastings of our own superiority, and in a sense of complete irresponsibility for anything uttered or written to their injury. This attitude of the people at large has naturally been reflected in their representatives in public life, while in officials brought in direct contact with foreign affairs it has often been even greatly intensified. Apparently, in their anxiety not to fall below the pitch of popular sentiment, they have been led to strike a note altogether beyond it. Hence have come, only too frequently and on but slight pretexts, violent diatribes against foreign governments and gross abuse of their peoples and institutions, not merely on the hustings, but on the floor of the senate or house; not merely by unknown solicitors of votes but by public officials in stations so prominent as to give to their utterances an air of real significance. The bad taste and worse manners of such utterances from such sources, whether in the past or in the future, need not be enlarged upon. The difference for the future is that they can no longer be made with impunity nor be excused by any professed belief in their harmlessness. The cheapest politician, the most arrant demagogue can not fail to realize both that, after joining the international family of European states, the United States can not afford to flout its associates, and that foreign governments and peoples can not be expected to discriminate between the American people and those who represent them in appearance however much they may misrepresent them in fact.
Though historians will probably assign the abandonment of the isolation policy of the United States to the time when this country and Spain went to war over Cuba, and though the abandonment may have been precipitated by that contest, the change was inevitable, had been long preparing, and could not have been long delayed. The American people were fast opening their eyes to the fact that they were one of the foremost Powers of the earth and should play a commensurately great part in its affairs. Recognizing force to be the final arbiter between states as between individuals, and merit however conspicuous and well-founded in international law to be of small avail unless supported by adequate force, they were growing dissatisfied with an unreadiness for the use of their strength which made our representatives abroad less regarded than those of many a second or third class state, and left American lives and property in foreign countries comparatively defenseless. They had come to resent a policy and a condition of things which disabled the nation from asserting itself beyond the bounds of the American continents, no matter how urgently such assertion might be demanded in the interests of civilization and humanity, and no matter how clearly selfish interests might coincide with generous impulses and with what might even be claimed to be moral obligation. They had begun to realize that their industrial and commercial development should not be checked by limitation to the demands of the home market but must be furthered by free access to all markets; that to secure such access the nation must be formidable not merely in its wants and wishes and latent capabilities but in the means at hand wherewith to readily exert and enforce them; and, as it could not hope to compass its ends without a sympathizer or friend among the nations, that it was imperative the United States should be ready to take any concerted action with other nations which its own special interests might require.
In short, when our troubles with Spain came to a head, it had, it is believed, already dawned upon the American mind that the international policy suitable to our infancy and our weakness was unworthy of our maturity and our strength; that the traditional rules regulating our relations to Europe, almost a necessity of the conditions prevailing a century ago, were inapplicable to the changed conditions of the present day; and that both duty and interest required us to take our true position in the European family and to both reap all the advantages and assume all the burdens incident to that position. therefore, while the Spanish war of 1898 is synchronous with the abandonment of its isolation policy by the United States, it was not the cause of such abandonment and at the most only hastened it by an inconsiderable period. So, while the Spanish war ended in the acquisition of Cuba by the United States, that result was neither unnatural nor surprising, but something sure to occur, if not in the year 1898, before many years, and if without war, then by a cession from Spain more or less compulsory in character. It may be thought at first blush that to speak of "the acquisition of Cuba by the United States" as a fact so accomplished is inaccurate. But the objection is technical and the expression conveys the substantial truth, notwithstanding a resolution of Congress which, ill-advised and futile at the time of its passage, if now influential at all, is simply prejudicing the interests of Cuba and the United States alike. No such resolution can refute the logic of the undisputed facts or should be allowed to impede the natural march of events. To any satisfactory solution of the Cuba problem it is vital that Cuba's political conditions should be permanently settled. The spectacle now exhibited of a President and his Cabinet sitting in Washington with an appointee and sort of imitation President sitting with his Cabinet in the Antilles must have an end, the sooner the better, and will end when Congress ceases to ignore its functions and makes Cuba in point of law what she already is in point of fact, namely, United States territory. Were there to be a plebiscite on the subject, such a consummation would be favored by practically the entire body of the intelligence and wealth of the Island. Until it is reached, capital will hesitate to go there, emigration from this country will be insignificant, and Cuba will fail to enter upon that new era of progress and development, industrial, political, and social, which is relied upon to justify and ought to justify the substitution of American for Spanish control.
If our peculiar relations to Cuba be borne in mind—if it be remembered that the United States has always treated that Island as part of the American continents, and, by reason of its proximity to our shores and its command of the Gulf of Mexico, as essential to our security against foreign aggression—if it be realized that during our entire national existence foreign Powers have had clear notice that, while Spain would be allowed to play out her hand in the Island, no other Power than the United States would be permitted to absorb it, it will be at once admitted that neither the Spanish war nor its inevitable result, our acquisition of Cuba, compelled or is responsible for the relinquishment by the United States of its isolation policy. That relinquishment—the substitution of international fellowship—the change from passive and perfunctory membership of the society of civilized states to real and active membership—is to be ascribed not only to the various causes already enumerated, but above all to that instinct and impulse in the line of national growth and expansion whose absence would be a sure symptom of our national deterioration. For it is true of states as of individuals—they never stand still, and if not going forward, are surely retrogressing. This evolution of the United States as one of the great Powers among the nations has, however, been accompanied by another departure radical in character and far-reaching in consequences. The United States has come out of its shell and ceased to be a hermit among the nations, naturally and properly. What was not necessary and is certainly of the most doubtful expediency is that it should at the same time become a colonizing Power on an immense scale. The annexation of the Hawaiian Islands need not now be taken into account and is to be justified, if at all, on peculiar grounds not possible to exist in any other case. But why do we find ourselves laboring under the huge incubus of the Philippines? There has always been a popular impression that we drifted into the Philippines—that we acquired them without being able to help ourselves and almost without knowing it. But that theory—however in accord with the probabilities of the case—that theory, with all excuses and palliations founded upon it, is in truth an entire mistake. It is certain and has recently been declared by the highest authority that, having acquired by our arms nothing but a military occupation of the port and city of Manila, we voluntarily purchased the entire Philippine archipelago for twenty millions of dollars. The power of the government to buy—to acquire territory in that way—may be, indeed probably should be and must be admitted. Its exercise, however, must be justified by something more than the fact of its possession. Such exercise must be shown to have been demanded by either the interests or the duty of the United States. What duty did the United States have in the premises? The question of duty comes first—because, if there were any, it might be incumbent on us to undertake its performance even at the sacrifice of our interests. What, then, was the call of duty that coerced us to take over the Philippine archipelago—that compelled us to assume the enormous burden of introducing order and civilization and good government into uncounted, if not uncountable, tropical islands lying thousands of miles from our coasts—that bound us to enter upon the herculean task of leading into the paths of "sweetness and light" many millions of people of all colors from the deepest black to the lightest yellow, of tongues as numerous and hopelessly diverse as those of the builders of the tower of Babel, and of all stages of enlightenment or non-enlightenment between the absolutely barbarous and the semi-civilized?
It used to be said that our honor was involved—that having forcibly overthrown the sovereignty of Spain in the archipelago, we were bound in honor not to leave it derelict. But, as already noted, that proposition is completely disposed of by the official admission that we never held by conquest anything more than the city and harbor of Manila and that our title to everything else rests on purchase. The same admission disposes of the specious argument, a cheap resource of demagogy, that where the flag has once been hoisted it must never be taken down. But if, as now authoritatively declared, it had never been hoisted over more than the city and port of Manila, no removal of it from the rest of the archipelago was possible in the nature of things. If not bound in honor to buy the Philippines, how otherwise were we bound? A distinguished senator, on his return from England last summer being asked what was thought there of our Philippine imbroglio, is said to have answered that the English were laughing in their sleeves at us. They were not laughing, it may be assumed, at our disasters. They were not merry, unquestionably, over our waste of millions of treasure and over our sacrifice through battle and disease of thousands of valuable lives. They would naturally rather applaud than scoff at our ambitions in the line of territorial extension. But British risibles, not too easily excited under any circumstances, must indeed have been adamant not to be moved by the justifications for our predicament vociferously urged by politicians and office-holders now especially prominent before the public. Does it appear or is it argued that the Spanish war was unnecessary—that the pear was ripe and ready to fall into our laps, without war and the killing of the reconcentrados, could we only have kept our heads and our tempers—that with a fair degree of tact and patience and common sense the Philippines might have been pacified—the astonishing answer is declamation about the beauties of the "strenuous life," the latest euphemism for war!
Does it appear or is it claimed that no trade we are likely to have with the Philippines and China together is likely to compensate us for the enormous cost of first subjugating and afterwards defending and governing the Islands—an equally remarkable reply is that any such objections are shameful and unworthy; that we have a duty in the premises; and that whatever our wishes, or our interests or our sacrifices, we are under solemn obligation to carry the blessings of good government and civilization to the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago! It is not easy to conceive of anything more baseless and more fantastic. As if war, under whatever alias, were not still the "hell" it was declared to be not by any apprentice to the trade but by one of the great commanders of the age; as if charity should not begin at home and he who fails to make those of his own house his first care were not worse than the heathen; as if New York and Boston and all our cities did not have their slums and the country at large millions of suffering and deserving poor whose welfare is of infinitely greater importance to us than that of the Kanakas and Malays of the Orient, and whose relief would readily absorb all the energies and all the funds the United States can well spare for humane enterprises. No wonder our British kinsmen guffaw at such extraordinary justifications of our Philippine policy. The Britisher himself is as far as possible from indulging in any such sickly sentimentality. He quite understands that the first and paramount duty of his government is to himself and his fellow-subjects; that, as regards all outside of the British pale, whatever his government may do in the line of benevolence and charity is simply incidental and subsidiary. He fully realizes that if territory is annexed or control assumed of an alien race, it must be justified to the British nation by its promotion of the interests of the British Empire. If the transaction can be justified to the world at large as also in the interest of a progressive civilization—and it must be admitted that it often can be—so much the better. But British policy is first and last and always one of selfishness, however superior in point of enlightenment that selfishness may be. It is so of necessity and in the nature of things—as must be the policy of every other great Power. None can afford not to attend strictly to its own business and not to make the welfare of its own people its primary object—none can afford to regard itself as a sort of missionary nation charged with the rectification of errors and the redress of wrongs the world over. Were the United States to enter upon its new international role with the serious purpose of carrying out any such theory, it would not merely be laughed at but voted a nuisance by all other nations—and treated accordingly.
If not bound to buy the Philippines by any considerations of honor and duty, was it our interest to buy them?
Colonies may be greatly for the advantage of a nation. If it leave a limited home territory and a redundant population, distant dependencies may afford just the outlet required for its surplus inhabitants and for the increase and diversification of its industries. It is manifest that no considerations of that sort are applicable in the case of the United States and the Philippines. Were our population ever so dense, it could not be drained off to the Philippines where the white laborer can not live. But the United States, far from having a crowded population to dispose of, has an enormous area of vacant land which for generations to come will be more than adequate to all the wants of its people. Our purchase of the Philippines can be justified, then, if at all, only by its effect in creating or extending trade and commerce with the Philippines and with China. What can be said for the purchase from that point of view?
On this subject the thick and thin supporters of the administration seek to dazzle our eyes with the most glowing visions. A soil as fertile as any on the globe needs but to be tickled with the hoe—to use Douglas Jerrold's figure—to laugh with abundant harvests of all the most desired tropical fruits. Minerals of all kinds are declared to abound everywhere—virgin forests of the choicest woods to be almost limitless in extent—while as for coal, it is solemnly asserted to be even dropping out of the tops of mountains. Nothing, in short, is too good or too strong for the defenders of the Philippine purchase to say of the natural resources of the Philippines, and with declamation on that single point, they usually make haste to drop the subject. They do not stop to tell us what we are to sell to a community whose members live on the spontaneous growth of their mother earth, and clothe themselves very much as did our first parents after the expulsion from Eden. They fail to tell us, further, with what labor the vaunted resources of the Islands are to be exploited, since the white laborer can not work there and the native will not. Shall we take the ground that what is bad for the United States is yet good enough for the Philippines and so legalize coolie immigration from China? Or, being just recovered from the bloodiest war of our time waged for the national life but caused and inspired by hatred of negro slavery, shall we now follow up our Philippine investment by adopting the system of quasi-slavery known as "Indentured Labor" and hire "black-birders," as they are called in Samoa, to "recruit" laborers in India or to steal or cajole negroes from among the outlying islands of the Pacific? Upon these as upon all the other difficulties which lead, not orators nor politicians, but business men and experts on the subject to declare that the Philippine trade will never repay the cost of acquisition, the friends of the Philippine purchase are discreetly silent. They do not, however, rest their case wholly, nor as a rule, even to any great extent, on the Philippine trade alone. They point to China—to its swarming millions and the immense markets which the breaking down of Chinese traditional barriers will afford to the nations of the West—and they triumphantly assert that here is to be found the more than sufficient justification for the Philippine purchase. The claim would be much exaggerated even if the Philippines could give us the entire Chinese market instead of simply letting us join in a neck and neck race for a share of it with every country of Europe.
Be it assumed, however, that all that is said about the value of commerce with China—be it assumed, indeed for present purposes that all that is said about the value of both the Philippine and the China trade—is fully borne out by the facts—what follows? That we were compelled to buy the Philippines in order to get our share? That is so far from being evident—is indeed so far from what seems to be the truth—that it is not too much to assert quite positively that we should have been in a better position to command our share of the Philippine and Chinese trade without the Philippines than with them. Chinese territory, it may be taken for granted, is not coveted by the most advanced of American jingoes. What they may come to in the future no one can predict, of course, but as yet no party and no section of any party in this country claims that, for the purposes of trade with China or for any other purpose, we should be one of the Powers to demand and extort territory or territorial rights in China. The efforts of the United States are limited—and wisely limited—to seeking for its ships and its merchants equal opportunities in China—to promoting in Chinese waters and on Chinese soil the policy known as the "open door." Is, then, the position of the United States, as insisting upon the "open door" in China, strengthened or weakened by its having the Philippine Islands on its hands? The administration has apparently memorialized European Powers on the ground of our legal rights to the "open door" under our treaties with China. But, if those powers have been rightly appealed to, it must be because they have become paramount in China—because by conquest or unrestricted cession they have displaced China's sovereignty and substituted their own—in which case any observance by them of our treaty stipulations with China becomes matter of grace and favor purely. Our appeals are said to have brought satisfactory "assurances." But such "assurances" can hardly be regarded as definite obligations, nor as more than expressions of present views and intentions, nor as being more unchangeable than the views and intentions themselves. In these commercial days, governments do not give something for nothing—if they accord trade privileges, it is for value received or expected—and the official representative of the Czar in this country has already risen to explain as follows: "The extraordinary privileges for the importation of machinery and breadstuffs into Russia will of course not last forever. Americans understand the principle of the protective tariff too well to make lengthy explanation necessary. When Russian industries reach a stage where reasonable encouragement will produce results, of course the necessary protection will be extended." We should indeed be credulous if we were to believe that, when the time comes which the Russian Ambassador anticipates, either any "assurances" now given will prevent such customs regulations by Russia as her own interest requires, or will lead her to distinguish for our benefit between her Chinese possessions and her territory generally. We can count upon the maintenance of the "open door" in China, therefore, only if we can influence the Powers concerned in one of two ways—by making it their interest to grant it through reciprocal concessions on our own part or by a manifest readiness to back our demand for it by physical force as they will not care to encounter. To the successful use of the first method, our Philippine possessions are a serious drawback if not an insuperable obstacle.
If we claim the "open door" of the Powers dominating China, how are we to deny it to them in our own dependencies and especially in the Philippines? One inconsiderate foreign office is already said to have answered us by asking our intentions as to the Philippines, and might, in view of the alleged vast extent of the Chinese markets, have not impertinently inquired if some other American territory would not also be opened to free trade. If the Philippines rather embarrass than help us in securing the "open door" in China by amicable arrangement, what is to be said upon the point of their enabling or aiding us to enforce it? We are told that they place us in the "front door-yard" of the "Orient" and, from that graphic figure of speech, are desired to infer and believe that the entire Philippine archipelago was and is necessary to our possession of power and authority in the Pacific. But it might as well be claimed that Gibraltar did not suffice for England's control of the Mediterranean and that for that purpose she ought to have in addition a large slice of Africa or of Spain. Assume to be true all that is said of the value of trade with China—assume, that, if we can not get our share in any other way, we ought to be in a position to get it by force—assume that, to use such force or be prepared to use it, we must have a large navy which must be enabled to supply itself with coal—assume all this—and there is still no satisfactory proof that we had any occasion to buy the entire Philippine archipelago. Nothing, indeed, follows except that it would have been wise for us to acquire such part of the Philippines as was necessary to give us proper coaling stations and an adequate naval base. If that and that only had been done, we should have been in a better position to secure and protect our interests in trade with China than we are with the Philippine load on our backs. We should have been more likely to reach our end by friendly negotiations because we should have seemed less aggressive; should have excited to a less degree the jealousies and the rivalries of foreign peoples; and should have had less difficulty with our anomalous attitude in demanding free trade with the dependencies of other countries while hampering free trade with our own by the severest restrictions. We should also have been stronger for accomplishing our object by force because, as compared with a proper naval base in the Philippines adequately supplied, fortified, and garrisoned, our possession of the entire Philippine group is a source of weakness rather than of strength. The Islands offer innumerable points of attack to any Power with a hostile animus. Yet we must always be prepared to defend each and all of them at all hazards and with all our resources—the Islands are ours as much as Massachusetts or Illinois—and not to maintain the integrity of American soil everywhere and against all comers, would deservedly expose us to universal contempt and derision. It follows, that whereas our trade with China would have been amply secured and protected by the enlarged navy we must and should have under any circumstances supplemented by an adequate naval base and coaling stations in the Philippines, the taking over of the whole archipelago enfeebles us for all purposes—by the immense, remote, and peculiarly vulnerable area we must defend; by the large permanent army we must transport and maintain, not merely to prevent and deter aggression from without, but to hold down a native population thoroughly disaffected and resentful of the tactless and brutal policy hitherto pursued towards it; and by the tremendous drain on our resources which the civil and military administration of the Islands will inevitably entail.
Thus, adequate grounds for the purchase of the Philippines by the United States, for considering it to be demanded by duty, or honor, or interest, are not apparent. Nevertheless, however bad the blunder, the possession of sufficient legal power to commit us on the part of those in charge of the government for the time being must be conceded. Whether we want the Philippines or not, whether we ought to have them or not, and that we have got them is something to be denied. They are our "old man of the sea"—with this difference in favor of Sindbad, that by intoxicating his monster he managed to get rid of him. It is tolerably certain there is no such way out for us, and that if intoxication is any element in the case at all, it must have supervened at the time our "old man of the sea" was foisted upon us.
The thing is done. We were an American Empire purely—and the United States, in taking its seat at the international council table and joining in the deliberations of civilized states, might have been in an ideal position, combining the height of authority and prestige with complete independence and with a liberty of action which would enable is to always make our own interests our first care and yet allow us, when permitted by those interests, to say a timely word or do a timely deed wherever and whenever the cause of civilization seemed to require. This possible—this natural—ideal position, an exercise of the treaty power by the national executive and senate has deprived us of. We are no longer an American Empire simply—we are become an Asiatic Empire also, environed by all the rivalries, jealousies, embarrassments, and perils attaching to every Power now struggling for commercial and political supremacy in the East, and starting the second century of national existence with all our energies and resources, which have proved more than adequate to the good government and civilization of the white and black races of North America, pledged and mortgaged for the like services to be rendered by us to seven or eight millions of the brown men of the tropics. Nevertheless as already stated, we are committed—the Philippines are ours—how we shall deal with them is a domestic question simply—so that, in this connection and at this time, what remains to be considered is the effect of this exact situation upon the future of our foreign relations. The United States now asserting itself not only as one of the great Powers of the world but as a Power with very large Asiatic dependencies—what consequent changes in respect of its foreign relations must reasonably be anticipated?
It goes without saying that the United States cannot play the part in the world's affairs it has just assumed without equipping itself for the part with all the instrumentalities necessary to make its will felt either through pacific intercourse and negotiation or through force. Its diplomatic agencies must, therefore, be greatly enlarged, strengthened, and improved, while a powerful navy up to date in all points of construction, armament, general efficiency and readiness for instant service, becomes of equal necessity. Our Philippine possessions will not merely emphasize the urgent occasion for such innovations. They will make the innovations greater and more burdensome while at the same time compelling others which we could have done without. The Philippines inevitably make our navy larger than it would have to be without them—they inevitably enhance the extent and the quality and the cost of the diplomatic establishment with which we must provide ourselves. But besides aggravating the weight and the expense of the necessary burdens involved in our assuming our true place among the nations, the Philippines add burdens of their own. There will be no respectable government of the Islands until they are furnished with a large force of highly educated and trained administrators. Further, as already observed, were it not for the Philippines, we might have escaped the curse of any very large additions to our regular standing army. But the equipment required for our new international role need not be discussed at any length. We must save it—the need will be forced upon us by facts the logic of which will be irresistible—and however slow to move or indisposed to face the facts, the national government must sooner or later provide it. It is more important as well as interesting to inquire how the new phase of our foreign relations will affect the principles regulating our policy and conduct towards foreign states.
In dealing with that topic, it should be kept in mind that membership of the society of civilized states does not mean that each member has the same rights and duties as respects every subject-matter. On the contrary, the immediate interests of a nation often give it rights and charge it with duties which do not attach to any other. By common consent, for example, the right and duty of stopping the Spanish-Cuban hostilities were deemed to be in the United States on account of a special interest arising from Cuba's proximity to the United States and from the intimate relations of all sorts inevitably growing out of that proximity. So, though England is an insular Power, her home territory lies so near the European continent that the internal affairs of the European states directly interest her almost as much as if the English Channel were solid land. On the other hand, while the United States as regards Europe in general may also be regarded as an insular Power, its remoteness and separation from Europe by a great expanse of ocean make its interest in the internal affairs of European states almost altogether speculative and sentimental. Abstention from interference in any such affairs—in changes of dynasty, forms of government, alterations of boundaries and social and domestic institutions—should be and must be the rule of the United States for the future as it has been in the past.
Again, as between itself and the states of Europe, the primacy of the United States as respects the affairs of the American continents is a principle of its foreign policy which will no doubt hold good and be as firmly asserted in the future as in the past. A particular application and illustration of the principle are found in what is known as the Monroe doctrine, which will be as important in the future as in the past; our uncompromising adherence to which we have lately proclaimed to all the world; and which may and should command general acquiescence since it requires of Europe to abstain from doing in America nothing more than we should and must abstain from doing in Europe.
It is to be remembered, however, that no rule of policy is so inflexible as not to bend to the force of extraordinary and anomalous conditions. During the Napoleonic wars, the United States wisely though with the utmost difficulty preserved a strict neutrality. But our weakness, not our will consented—we were the passive prey of both belligerents—publicly and privately we suffered the extreme of humiliation and indignity—and it is safe to say that were the career of the first Napoleon to approach or even threaten repetition, not merely sentiment and sympathy but the strongest considerations of self-preservation and self-defense might drive us to take sides. It is hardly necessary to add that the status of the United States as an Asiatic Power must have some tendency to qualify the attitude which, as a strictly American Power, the United States has hitherto successfully maintained towards the states of Europe. They are Asiatic Powers as well as ourselves—we shall be brought in contact with them as never before—competition and irritation are inevitable and controversies not improbable—and when and how far a conflict in the East may spread and what domestic as well as foreign interests and policies may be involved, is altogether beyond the reach of human sagacity to foretell.
Subject to these exceptions—to exceptions arising from extraordinary and anomalous European conditions and from difficulties into which the United States as an Asiatic Power may draw the United States as an American Power—subject to these exceptions, our new departure in foreign affairs will require no change in the cardinal rules already alluded to. Hereafter as heretofore, our general policy must be and will be noninterference in the internal affairs of European states—hereafter as heretofore we shall claim paramountcy in things purely American—and hereafter as heretofore we shall antagonize any attempt by an European Power to forcibly plant its flag on the American continents. It can not be doubted, however, that our new departure not merely unties our hands but fairly binds us to use them in a manner we have thus far not been accustomed to. We can not assert ourselves as a Power whose interests and sympathies are as wide as civilization without assuming obligations corresponding to the claim—obligations to be all the more scrupulously recognized and performed that they lack the sanction of physical force. The first duty of every nation, as already observed, is to itself—is the promotion and conservation of its own interests. Its position as an active member of the international family does not require it ever to lose sight of that principle. But, just weight being given to that principle, and its abilities and resources and opportunities permitting, there is no reason why the United States should not act for the relief of suffering humanity and for the advancement of civilization wherever and whenever such action would be timely and effective. Should there, for example, be a recurrence of the Turkish massacres of Armenian Christians, not to stop them alone or in concert with others, could we do so without imperiling our own substantial interests, would be unworthy of us and inconsistent with our claims and aspirations as a great Power. We certainly could no longer shelter ourselves behind the time-honored excuse that we are an American Power exclusively, without concern with the affairs of the world at large.
On similar grounds, the position we have assumed in the world and mean to maintain justifies us in undertaking to influence and enables us to greatly influence the industrial development of the American people. The "home market" fallacy disappears with the proved inadequacy of the home market. Nothing will satisfy us in the future but free access to foreign markets—especially to those markets in the East now for the first time beginning to fully open themselves to the Western nations. Hitherto, in introducing his wares and in seeking commercial opportunities of any sort in foreign countries, the American citizen has necessarily relied almost altogether upon his own unaided talents, tact, and enterprise. The United States as a whole has counted for little, if anything, in his favor—our notorious policy of isolation, commercial and political, together with our notorious unreadiness for any exertion of our strength, divesting the government of all real prestige. In the markets of the Orient especially, American citizens have always been at a decided disadvantage as compared with those of the great European Powers. The latter impress themselves upon the native imagination by their display of warlike resources and their willingness to use them in aid not merely of the legal rights of their citizens but in many cases of their desires and ambitions as well. If the native government itself is in the market, it of course prefers to trade with the citizen of a Power in whose prowess it believes and whose friendship it may thus hope to obtain. If its subjects are the traders, they are affected by the same considerations as their government and naturally follow its lead in their views and their preferences. Obstacles of this sort to the extension of American trade can not but be greatly lessened in the future under the operation of the new foreign policy of the United States and its inevitable accompaniments. Our new interest in foreign markets can not fail to be recognized. Our claim to equal opportunities for our citizens and to exemption from unfriendly discrimination against them, will hardly be ignored if known to be backed by a present readiness and ability to make it good. "To be weak is miserable" and to seem weak, however strong in reality, often comes to about the same thing. Our diplomatic representatives, no matter how certain of the greatness of their country, have hitherto labored under the difficulty that nations to whom they were accredited, especially the Oriental nations, were not appreciative of the fact. That difficulty is unlikely to embarrass them in the future. They will, like the nation itself, cease to be isolated and of small consideration, and will speak and act with something of the same persuasiveness and authority as the representatives of European Powers.
Along with the Monroe doctrine and noninterference in the internal concerns of European states—rules of policy which generally speaking will stand unaffected—has gone another which our changed international attitude will undoubtedly tend to modify. It has heretofore been considered that anything like an alliance between the United States and an European Power, for any purpose or any time, was something not to be thought of. To give a thing a bad name, however undeservedly, is to do much to discredit it, and there is no doubt that the epithet "entangling"—almost invariably applied—has contributed largely to make "alliances" popularly and politically odious. Yet there may be "alliances" which are not "entangling" but wholly advantageous, and without the French alliance, American independence, if not prevented, might have been long postponed. It has been a prevalent notion that Washington was inimical to all alliances as such and left on record a solemn warning to his countrymen against them. Yet Washington clearly discriminated between alliances that would entangle and those that would not, and between alliances that were permanent and those that were temporary. Justly construed, Washington's utterances are as wise today as when they were made and are no more applicable to the United States than to any other nation. It must be the policy of every state to avoid alliances that entangle, while temporary and limited are better than general and permanent alliances because friends and partners should be chosen in view of actually existing exigencies rather than in reliance upon doubtful forecasts of the uncertain future. Nevertheless, up to this time the theory and practice of the United States have been against all alliances peremptorily, and, were the Philippines not on our bands, might perhaps have been persisted in for a longer or shorter period. Whether they could have been or not is a contingency not worth discussing. We start our career as a world Power with the Philippine handicap firmly fastened to us, and that situation being accepted, how about "alliances"? The true, the ideal position for us, would be complete freedom of action, perfect liberty to pick allies from time to time as special occasions might warrant and an enlightened view of our own interests might dictate. Without the Philippines, we might closely approach that position. With them, not merely is our need of friendship imperative, but it is a need which only one of the great Powers can satisfy or is disposed to satisfy. Except for Great Britain's countenance, we should almost certainly never have got the Philippines—except for her continued support, our hold upon them would be likely to prove precarious, perhaps altogether unstable. It followed that we now find ourselves actually caught in an entangling alliance, forced there not by any treaty, or compact of any sort, formal or informal, but by the stress of the inexorable facts of the situation. It is an alliance that entangles because we might be and should be friends with all the world and because our necessary intimacy with and dependence upon one of them is certain to excite the suspicion and ill-will of other nations. Still, however much better off we might have been, regrets, the irrevocable having happened, are often worse than useless, and it is much more profitable to note such compensatory advantages as the actual situation offers. In that view, it is consoling to reflect that, if we must single out an ally from among the nations at the cost of alienating all others, and consequently have thrown ourselves into the arms of England, our choice is probably unexceptionable. We join ourselves to that one of the great Powers most formidable as a foe and most effective as a friend; whose people make with our own but one family, whose internal differences should not prevent a united front as against the world outside; whose influence upon the material and spiritual conditions of the human race has on the whole been elevating and beneficent; and whose empire and experience cannot help being of the utmost service in our dealing with the difficult problems before us.
In undertaking any forecast of the future of our foreign relations, it is manifestly impracticable to attempt more than to note certain leading principles which, it would seem, must inevitably govern the policy of the United States. It is not rash to affirm in addition, however, that a consequence of the new international position of the United States must be to give to foreign affairs a measure of popular interest and importance far beyond what they have hitherto enjoyed. Domestic affairs will cease to be regarded as alone deserving the serious attention of Americans generally, who, in their characters, interests, and sympathies can not fail to respond to the momentous change which has come to the nation at large. Such a change will import no decline of patriotism, no lessening of the loyalty justly expected of every man to the country of his nativity or adoption. But it will import, if not for us, for coming generations, a larger knowledge of the earth and its diverse peoples; a familiarity with problems worldwide in their bearings; the abatement of racial prejudices; in short, such enlarged mental and moral vision as is ascribed to the Roman citizen in the memorable saying that, being a man, nothing human was foreign to him.
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