Europe and America
THE great European question of the present moment is certainly America. The United States is occupying the second thoughts of English and Continental statesmen more continuously to-day than ever before ; and from all one can gauge, this newborn interest is likely to grow rather than fall off. To whatever department of national life one turns, to industry, to agriculture, to finance, or to the higher kind of politics, one finds the unwonted, unpredictable cloud of American competition overhanging Europe like a pall. Whether it will burst in a deluge of destruction ; whether it will pass, and leave the sky clear once more ; whether, if it bursts, there will be a chance of saving from the wreckage more than a fragment here and there of the old order, are questions which Europe is asking with increasing feverishness, but without getting any very satisfactory answer.
At present all is bewilderment and speculation. America’s plunge into Weltpolitik, the American swoop upon industrial Europe, the first strokes of the new American finance, have been too dramatic and too recent to allow men’s thoughts to settle. Mr. Brooks Adams, in his remarkable article in the Atlantic Monthly for August, names 1897 as the year of revolution, the year which produced the first clear forewarning that the relations between the New and the Old World were entering upon a new phase. In a matter of such moment five bustling years are all too few for anything in the nature of a policy to take shape, and in the presence of her unexampled danger Europe remains as yet without a policy. There are tendencies, however, and there is a state of mind which may, and, I think, will, develop into definite action. There are also certain clear-edged facts to go upon, — facts none the less substantial, but all the more bewildering, because their precise issue is unknowable. The action of America upon the nerves and emotions of Europe is that of a power whose strength is known, but whose future course can only be guessed at. America has sprung suddenly upon the platform of the world powers. In a flash she has expanded from a stay-at-home republic into a venturesome empire. She is building a fleet, which seems to point to a determination to hold, if not to enlarge, her new position. She is reaching out, with an intensely irritating consciousness of success, for the commercial supremacy of the world, and her voice is raised among those of the decisive nations of the earth in the settlement of international questions. All this is disquieting and perplexing enough to Europe, which is woefully misinformed upon America and all things American, and even in the sphere of politics knows not what to predict of this formidable and erratic competitor. That the United States has a mind of her own, and is by no means inclined to obey European dictation, has been made sufficiently clear in the last twelve months of the Chinese situation. But this only adds to the consternation of Europe. What use Americans will make of their new international standing, what their policy will be in the Pacific, China, the West Indies, and, above all, in South America, are points which European statesmen are discussing with angry uncertainty. Possibly, Americans themselves could not say with confidence how far the upheaval produced by the Spanish war will carry them. Europe, at any rate, is completely in the dark. She resents what has already been accomplished, but with even more anxiety she waits to see what will follow.
This, too, carried somewhat farther, is the European attitude toward the American industrial invasion. Already the pressure of the screw is painful enough, but not so painful as the consciousness that there is more and worse to come. A few weeks ago, I asked the Vienna correspondent of one of the great London papers, a man of singular powers of observation and with a highly trained political sense, what was the popular movement of the day in central Europe. He replied at once, “ What the people of the dual monarchy and of the German Empire are thinking and talking most about just now is American competition, and the best ways of meeting it,” — an answer which ten years ago would have been amazing, and fifty years ago incredible. The conditions which have made such a reply not only possible to-day, but almost natural, are of too great complexity to be touched on here. The broad results to which they lead, however, are comparatively few and simple. Just when the excessive production of cereals and meat in America, Argentina, India, and even Australia, but chiefly in America, has half strangled the agriculturalists of middle Europe, the remaining workers employed in manufactures find themselves ominously threatened by the competition of American artisans. The decline of European agriculture has been the familiar nightmare of the past generation, but the intrusion of the American manufacturer has a doubly sinister significance. It blocks up the one road of escape open to Europe, and chokes the source on which she is relying to make good her natural deficiencies. With the stress of foreign competition in the bare necessities of life growing keener and yet keener, the production of food under European conditions, it is feared, must become in the end unprofitable. The landlords will be ruined, and the peasantry forced back into that primitive stage of civilization in which men eat only what they grow, clothe themselves in their own wool and flax, and, having no margin to fall back upon, are incapable of commerce. This, as sketched by the London Spectator, is the agricultural peril that, unless substantial relief can be found, lies inevitably ahead of middle Europe. The danger has been foreseen, and prepared for in the way England met it fifty years ago, in the way M. Witte is hoping to meet it to-day in Russia, — by a vast extension of manufactures, by calling in the towns to redress the adverse balance of the country. The formula is easier to prescribe than to apply. Alone of all the countries in the world, the United States maintains a progressive equilibrium between the farmer and the artisan. In England trade has gained what agriculture has lost. In Europe, and especially in Austria, Germany, and Hungary, the landlords, holding a social and historical position incomparably stronger than the English squires ever attained to, dispute the industrial advance inch by inch, — always with furious stubbornness, sometimes with success. The recent triumph of the Prussian Agrarians in defeating the canal bill, from no other reason but that it was expected to benefit commerce at the expense of agriculture, is a wonderful token of the vitality of the Junker element. Even if one leaves industrial America out of the question, there yet remains a terrible internal struggle to be fought out before the manufacturers of central Europe can feel themselves fairly equipped for the fight. So engrossing has been the conflict, and so passionate the emotions it has provoked, that until quite recently its issue has dominated and excluded every other consideration. What Europe is now painfully realizing is, that the decision between free trade and protection, whichever way it goes, is not the vital matter she thought; that, instead of being the precursor of victory, it will prove at best but a weapon for mitigating defeat; and that if, as now seems more than likely, American manufactures are to undersell the manufacturer as completely as American products have undersold the farmer, then the hope of restoring national prosperity by bringing a fresh and buoyant industrialism to the aid of a decaying agriculture must be given up.
To Count Goluchowski belongs the honor of being the first responsible statesman in Europe to sound a note of warning. Speaking to the parliamentary delegations in November, 1897, the AustroHungarian foreign minister, by way of emphasizing the necessity of peace to Europe, gave a sketch of what he believed to be the coming danger of the twentieth century. The “very existence ” of the European peoples, he declared, would be staked upon their power to defend themselves, “fighting shoulder to shoulder,” against “ transoceanic competition.” Prompt and thorough “ counteracting ” measures were a necessity, if the vital interests of all European nations were not to be gravely compromised. The echoes of that speech are rumbling still, and, historically, it may perhaps be looked upon as the beginning of the antiAmerican movement on the Continent. That movement has had its ups and downs in the last five years, but not the most skeptical doubter of its final efficacy can deny that it has gained ground amazingly. It has already passed through its first stage of grandiloquence and sentimental sensationalism. It is now settling down into an agitation as practical and businesslike as was John Bright’s and Cobden’s against the Corn Laws. Hardly a Chamber of Commerce meets anywhere in Germany, Austria, or Hungary without some discussion taking place on American competition. Though Count Goluchowski gave the movement its first impulse, it is not the statesmen, but the people themselves, and especially the industrial and commercial elements, that have maintained and expanded it. In the shape of a “ Pan-European combine ” against American aggressiveness, it had from the start an obvious attractiveness for the populace. This was the visionary and sentimental phase of the propaganda. Nothing came of it; nothing ever can come of it so long as the political map of Europe remains as it is. To talk, as the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung was talking a short time ago, of Pan-Europe, “ in the inevitable war with America,” imitating Napoleon I., and adopting a “ Continental system of exclusion against the United States,” is easy enough ; but to apply the suggestion in practice, to reconcile the divergent interests of the different states, and, above all, to get England to join the coalition, is quite another matter. The one point in Mr. Brooks Adams’s article which an Englishman would decidedly dispute is his supposition that circumstances might arise in which England “ would shift to the side of our antagonist.” So long as England has to rely upon America for two thirds of her food supply, self-interest of the most flagrant and peremptory kind forbids her the futile luxury of taking part in a Weltboycott of American products. The smiling neutrality which self-interest points out as the proper policy has also the backing of English sentiment and English traditions. Infallibly, Downing Street would answer an invitation to join Europe in putting economic pressure upon America just as, in 1898, it replied to another coalition that was aimed at the humiliation of the United States. Whatever Europe may do, England will continue to trade with America, as at present; and from this attitude only one contingency could by any chance induce Englishmen to swerve. That contingency is the possibility that some day or other the British Empire may be able to supply the mother country with the food she needs, at prices no higher than those of Kansas or Nebraska. Such a contingency is obviously remote ; it may, indeed, never occur ; but not until it does occur, not until an imperial Zollverein has found its indispensable basis, need Americans trouble themselves lest their goods or products will be discriminated against in the English markets. Nothing less than that supreme realization of the commercial side of empire will be needed to plunge England and America into a war of tariffs. For the rest, Englishmen laugh at Pan-Europeanism. The weapon has been used against them before, and even in the grasp of a master hand it snapped like a twig. What Napoleon could not effect against England, the Concert of Europe is hardly likely to effect against America. Such, at any rate, is the English view, both popular and official. England will have no hand in forging the new weapon, still less in directing it. One may even go farther, and with not less assurance. Were united Europe, in some freak of madness, to attempt, as it has actually been suggested she might attempt, to prohibit American exports by force, England would be compelled by sheer national necessity to join with America in frustrating it.
Offensively, Pan-Europe dare do nothing. It might forbid the importation of American food, but at what a cost! At the cost, inevitably, of raising the price of bread to the point of revolution. It might also close the Continent against American manufactures ; but the bulk of Europe is agricultural, and would gain nothing thereby. Or, finally, it might do both: fence the Continent round with a tight wall, place an impossible duty on American products as well as American goods, and so restrict all trade to Continental Europeans, in a desperate effort to find out whether nations cannot live by taking in one another’s washing. All these schemes were broached in the first few months of nervous alarm after Count Goluchowski’s warning; and to them, of course, was added the pet Continental specific of handsome, universal bounties. All died the death, and PanEuropeanism to-day is but a rhetorical catchword. It comforts the popular imagination, and it expresses accurately enough the ideal of the toilers of Europe. Statesmen and economists muse over it, play with it, wish it could be, are sure that it ought to be, and will not for worlds admit its impossibility. M. Paul Leroy - Beaulieu, I believe, stands absolutely alone among men of authority in thinking that an economic alliance of all Europe is really feasible. His idea is, not to abolish customs duties between the different states, but to reduce them considerably by means of clearly defined commercial treaties concluded for a long period. “ With few exceptions,” he elaborates, “ the maximum should, for example, be twelve per cent; and a permanent European customs commission should be appointed, and intrusted with the task of providing for successive reductions of the duties, and of establishing the closest possible relations among the European nations. There can be no doubt as to the possibility of such an arrangement.” M. Leroy-Beaulieu may have no doubts, but others, remembering there is still such a thing as politics, have several. Indeed, the anti-American movement, in its first seductive form of a Pan-European alliance, may be said to have fallen through. We have not, on that account, heard the last of either the name or the thing. Pan-Europeanism may easily continue to be the symbol and battle cry of an agitation working along humbler lines and with less unwieldy weapons. It is something gained for a cause when it has found a taking title, and in Pan-Europeanism, in the delightfully simple idea of “ opposing the United States of Europe to the United States of America,” there are some most fascinating possibilities of rhetoric, — just the vague suggestion of grandiose schemes, the hint that something big is on foot, that Demos most delights to be tickled with.
As a matter of fact, anti-Americanism quickly drifted from the nebulous ideal conveyed in its rallying word to the discussion of less fantastic measures. Failing a united Europe, it fell back not unhopefully on the Triple Alliance, and the chances of converting it into a sort of Trade Defense League, only to find itself once more confronted by insuperable politics. Neither Austria nor Hungary can afford the political price which a customs alliance with Germany would entail. In both countries there are millions of German-speaking subjects, — nearly ten million in Austria, and over two in Hungary, —all of them more or less infected by the propaganda of Pan-Germanism, some of them warm and even intolerant in its advocacy. In Austria, a loud and aggressive party, holding over twenty seats in the Reichsrath, work openly for the incorporation of German-speaking Austria in the German Empire, and it is significant that one of the chief items in their programme has always been a customs union between the two nations. They know, and everybody knows, that such a union would put the seal on the political and commercial predominance of Germany in central Europe, and render inevitable the absorption of the weaker party to the compact. A central - European customs union will become possible only on the day Austria and Hungary have reconciled themselves to signing away their political independence.
This was the second stage of the antiAmerican movement. The third is still in progress, and developing along sound, businesslike lines. Joint action is postponed, presumably to the Greek kalends ; individual action, based on a common motive, is now the formula. It was, I believe, at a meeting of Austrian manufacturers, summoned last April to consider how best to “ protect European industry against the threatened danger of American competition,” that this new plan was first put forward. It is practicable, and, within its limits, effective. Americans cannot disregard it; it is a weapon that will move even the Senate. The Austrian manufacturers — and it was in all ways a thoroughly representative gathering — unanimously adopted a resolution declaring “ the necessity of placing the commercial relations of the dual monarchy and the United States on a basis of reciprocity and equality simultaneously with the renewal of the commercial treaties in 1903.” The resolution was sent to the Ministry of Commerce, and by them it has been seriously considered. Both in Austria and in Germany the official departments have since set themselves to find out in detail just where the American shoe pinches, and the results of their researches point to the adoption of an American weapon to fight American competition. Hitherto Germany and the dual monarchy have included in their commercial treaties a general and unconditional most-favorednation clause. This is now to be abandoned, and the American example followed instead. One may take it for certain that the motive force of the new central - European treaties will be the American peril, and that it will be fought against by a common agreement to abandon the universal application of the mostfavored-nation clause, and for the future to conclude treaties only on a reciprocal basis with each particular state.
This policy has several advantages from the Continental point of view. It enables the states to act in concert, and yet preserves to each, in great part, its liberty of action. It involves no political dangers, and, thanks to the adverse balance of trade, it puts a decided and peculiar pressure upon the United States. Americans are, as a rule, so complacently content with the prodigious disparity between their exports and their imports as to forget that this very disparity exposes them to easy retaliation. Whatever she may become, Europe is not yet an economic dependency of the United States ; and so long as American breadstuffs and provisions are not the necessity to her that they are, for instance, to England, she can always strike back with effect. Russia, on a small scale, by her prompt acceptance of Mr. Gage’s challenge, has thrown a useful light on the precariousness of being an enormous seller and a small buyer. In German hands, the lesson could, and, as it seems, will, be brought home yet more unmistakably ; for Germany’s exports to the United States are worth only about half as much as American exports to Germany, — $97,374,700 to $184,648,094. Germans believe, and, as the new provisional tariff bill shows, are ready to act on their belief, that America has better reason to keep on good commercial terms with them than they with America ; and they are therefore using their advantage to force Congress to choose between an equable reciprocity treaty and the loss, or partial loss, of the German trade. Whether, looking to the peculiar nature of the German-American trade, they are right in their expectations, I am not economist enough to judge ; but evidently they are determined to risk it. The Reichstag will doubtless modify the new tariff bill in parts, but as a whole it will remain what its framers intended it to be, — a rigid measure of protection aimed at the American farmer in the interests of the German Agrarians, the first blow in the battle between the New World and the Old.
And this, be it noted, is how the Austrian agriculturalists view it, in spite of the small amount of consideration shown in its clauses for the interests of either half of the dual monarchy. At an August sitting of the government department, intrusted with the preparation of the commercial treaties, the most influential representatives of Austrian agriculture passed a resolution, in which it was declared that they regarded the projected German customs tariff as “the first step toward the union of the central-European producers and the realization of a convention for their mutual protection against the competition of transoceanic countries, and more particularly of the United States, on the basis of the general adoption of high duties.”
Here, then, we reach the end of the effects so far produced on Europe by the commercial expansion of America. It has given Europe a certain sense of solidarity. It has to some extent appeased, and in the future it may wipe out, the jealousies that prevent the agricultural and industrial interests of the different countries from combining. It has thus done something to create nationalism as well as Continentalism. It has also, through the agency of the German Agrarians, seemingly committed Europe to a high-tariff policy, tempered by inter-European commercial treaties, and it has immensely popularized the American system of reciprocity. These results, or some of them at least, have already found expression in the projected German tariff bill; but we shall have to wait till 1903, when the terms of the new commercial treaties get published, to judge how much farther the leading countries of Europe are prepared to go. Unless Congress quickly and radically alters its attitude toward reciprocity treaties, it will be found, I think, that Europe is not by any means so irresolute as Americans seem to suppose. One way or the other, 1903 will be a decisive year in the history of the two continents.
It is, of course, an open question, to be settled only after long and minute examination into an infinity of conditions, — conditions historical, social, economic, educational, and so on, — whether Europe has not half brought the American invasion upon herself, or at least whether its unexampled success is not due as much to a certain mental and manual backwardness and an artificial valuation of the non-productive side of life among the conquered as to the known enterprise and ingenuity of the conquerors. To put it in another way, would not the Americans have made more of Europe than the Europeans have done ? If, as one suspects, the answer to this query were found to be affirmative, tariffs alone cannot be trusted to make good a deficiency which has its root in an ineptitude, partly natural, partly the result of social and political conditions, for turning patently inferior resources to the best account. But this can be barely glanced at here, nor may I more than hint at what to many Europeans seems the essential threat of American expansion. The strength that the nations of Europe waste in arming themselves against one another, Americans have turned to “ fruitful strifes and rivalries of peace ; ” and to some who are not dreamers, the inexorable forces that are destined to grapple behind the veil of imports and exports, reciprocity treaties and what not, are those of industrialism and militarism. As the stress of American competition grows fiercer, may it not prove for Europe a rough-and-ready alternative between facing commercial ruin and abandoning militarism ? Will American competition reach the annihilating point when the loss of productive power involved in conscription becomes intolerable ? Will it end by supplying Socialism with the concentration and the basis of fact to convert it from a movement of opposition into a movement of revolution ? These are speculations, merely, but speculations that are of vital moment to the continent of Europe, that are already the nightmare of more than one chancellery. What was the prelude to the Czar’s Peace Conference but a recognition that the American farmer and the American artisan may yet, between them, make Europe do from necessity what the Czar wished her to do from sentiment ?
Meanwhile, the first few tokens of the American advance have done nothing to lessen that dislike of the United States which is the common sentiment of Europe. United in nothing else, all Europe is at one at least in this. Even England, among the smaller nations that remember her as the great Liberator, can still count on a Continental friend or two. The United States has no friend in Europe. Americans, I know, hate to think that they are not beloved, and, wrapping themselves up in sentiment and tradition, refuse as long as possible to face the plain facts of international life. Sometimes it ceases to be longer possible. Sometimes, as in the Spanish war, the veil is torn aside, and then nothing can surpass the ingenuous surprise of the average American on finding that the France of Lafayette is not necessarily the France of to-day; that England has no thought of fitting out another Alabama ; that Germany, instead of being a benevolent neutral, seems strangely waspish ; and that even Russia can actually so far forget “ the dear old past ” as to drop hints of coalitions, and point with bewildering tactlessness to the unfortified state of the Pacific coast. Then for a lucid interval does America realize that it is not quite safe always to judge the present by the past. But after a while things calm down ; tradition, nowhere so strong as among Americans, reasserts itself ; the professional Anglophobiac takes the stage once more, and the lion’s tail, if not twisted with all the old heartiness, is at least tentatively fingered. Let me say, as an Englishman, that I have not the slightest objection ; that England, as a whole, is perfectly comfortable on the score of AngloAmerican friendship, has no desire to force the pace, and is quite willing to wait till America finds herself in a tight corner again. If, and when, that happens, it will be seen, as it was seen in 1898, who are the friends of America, and who are not; and in my country it is believed that this process of enlightenment, sufficiently repeated, will at last induce Americans to collect themselves for the effort of seeing things as they are.
The reasons that make Europe dislike England are, in part, the reasons that make her dislike America. There is at the bottom of it all a despairingenvy of her prosperity and success. To this is now added a dread, almost a conviction, that competition with America in business is growing impossible; that America aims at nothing less than a monopoly of the world’s trade, — a suspicion pointed by the terrible fact that the trusts do not raise prices ; and that, sooner than miss her goal, America would willingly see Europe plunged into Socialism and revolution. Cultured Europeans intensely resent the bearing of Americans ; they hate the American form of swagger, which is not personal, like the British, but national; and they cannot with patience think of a country so crudely and completely immersed in materialism. They look upon Americans, to adopt a happy simile which I wish I could claim as my own, much as a New York mugwump looks upon a Tammany alderman. They accuse them of having vulgarized life as a Tammany alderman may be trusted to vulgarize politics. If any American ever troubled to read the comments of the European press on the annual presidential message, he would discover that, in the eyes of the Continent, the United States is a monster of hypocrisy, only less unctuous than Great Britain herself. Habits, natures, instinctive ways of doing things, separate the two worlds by more than the breadth of the Atlantic. Even in such a trifling matter as diplomatic etiquette, Americans would probably be surprised if they knew how much irritation they provoke. The professional diplomats of Europe do not at all relish being called upon to negotiate with amateurs ; they relish it still less when these amateurs treat the rules of the profession with small respect, are more bluntly insistent than is common, and show in their dispatches a strain of masterfulness, an unholy certainty that the American view must be complied with, which are highly “ irregular.” Any one who, merely from the standpoint of manner, compares Mr. Olney’s dispatches, during the Venezuelan affair, with Lord Salisbury’s will understand at once what I mean.
These things may seem trivial in themselves, and doubtless would be so if international likes and dislikes were determined by broad principles instead of being the outcome of caprice and accident and uninquiring prejudice. I doubt whether anything is of so little consequence as not to have its influence in shaping national preferences and aversions. The few causes I have ventured to suggest, by way of explaining the European attitude toward America, would of themselves be enough to explain it entirely. But they do not complete the list. Above and beyond them all is an intense political antagonism, the issue of the Spanish war and of the latest crisis in the Far East. In beating to her knees an ancient Catholic power, the United States not only grievously affronted the whole of the “ Latin ” race, but challenged the solidarity of Catholicism. The Vatican to - day is as instinctively the opponent of political as of theological “ Americanism,” and those who know Europe best have the most respect for the realities of papal power. It may some day happen that Americans themselves, in one or the other of their new possessions, will find the Pope a useful ally or a most dangerous foe. Meanwhile, Catholic unity, such as it is, counts for something in the trend of European sentiment against America. So, too, does republicanism ; the old spirit and the old fear are not yet dead. But at the root of the political objections to American expansion lies the apprehension, one might say the certainty, that the United States intends to bar the way to two of the greatest markets of the future, — China and South America. To undersell us at home, and to keep us from finding an outlet abroad, is the European version of American policy, not, perhaps, without its basis in fact.
It is at least curious to trace in one’s political scrapbook the sure growth of anti-Americanism during the past few years. Before the Spanish war the United States figured in the politics of Europe chiefly as a redoubtable tailtwister, to whom, some day, would fall the honor of humbling Great Britain. When England and America were “ out,” the Continental Foreign Offices were always in high feather; both the official and popular view of the matter being that a war between the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race would be Europe’s ideal opportunity. Even now nothing would give the Continent sincerer pleasure than to see a further deadlock between the two countries over the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. The Spanish war, therefore, sprang upon Europe a double surprise. It showed America bounding out of her long, innocuous isolation to fell at a stroke a kingdom once the most powerful in the world, and still an essential member of the European family. More amazing yet, it showed England enthusiastically abetting her, — saying in so many words that no interference would be tolerated ; that if any were attempted, the British fleet would do what it could to keep the course clear. Americans presumably have not forgotten, though they may not even yet realize all that it meant, how they made their first venture in Weltpolitik in the teeth of a sullen and resentful Europe, and unwelcomed by any friend but England. A singularly cool and competent observer thus described at the time the Continental feeling : “In newspapers, in clubs, in society, even in the street, the dislike of America, the wish that she might be defeated, the desire, if it were only safe, to give her some savage snub, is unmistakable.”
Since then much has happened to confirm and amplify that feeling. The futile rudeness of the German squadron in the Bay of Manila, the pro-British sympathies shown by the American people when war threatened over Fashoda, the Samoan affair, the Philippine war, Secretary Root’s speech on the Monroe Doctrine, the American quarrel with Turkey, the dispute with Venezuela, Vice President Roosevelt’s Bismarckian bluntness at the Buffalo Exposition, the whole action of America throughout the Chinese crisis, and, lastly, the threat of American interference in the trouble between Colombia and Venezuela, —all these incidents, some of them important, others irredeemably ephemeral, have been canvassed in Europe, and especially in Germany, with a bitterness that might shake even America’s incorrigible optimism. Out of many goodly instances I choose one only, an article that appeared in the Listok of Odessa, early in May of last year. No article, it may be as well to remind Americans, can be published in a Russian newspaper without the sanction of the censor, who does not spare his pencil when he finds opinions expressed that the authorities are at all likely to object to. The Listok, after hinting at a European coalition to oppose America in China, went on to express its mingled anger and surprise that the United States should “ venture to threaten a European power ” like Turkey in order to enforce a pecuniary obligation. “ It is, however,” added the writer, “ highly improbable that the thing will go so far as a naval demonstration,” — that is, by America, — “ for there are powers in Europe, with Russia in the van, who will lose no time in reminding the United States that the Concert of Europe has in the past made sacrifices on far too extensive a scale, in the settlement of the question of free passage through the straits, to think of allowing the United States now to nullify at a stroke agreements which have cost so much blood in working out.”
I draw no inferences from this, except to note, with something like awe, the frankness of the threat to blow out of the water any American ships that might seek to pass the Dardanelles. But lest it be said that these are merely the imaginings of an irresponsible diplomat, I add a sentence from a speech by Admiral Count Canevaro, delivered last April at Toulon. Count Canevaro, at any rate, can hardly be dismissed as irresponsible. He has been Minister of Foreign Affairs in Italy ; he is an energetic and capable sailor, and, as his conduct in the Cretan imbroglio showed, something more than a merely clever statesman. After expressing his conviction that the Triple and the Dual Alliance, taken together, had given Europe thirty years of peace, he let fall the pregnant remark that “ this fact would perhaps lead the European nations to consider the possibility and the necessity of uniting against America, as the future of civilization would require them to do.”
Where, Americans will ask, is “ the necessity ” ? The answer, from the European point of view, is simple, and supplied by America herself in her Chinese and South American policies. Rightly or wrongly, Europe believes that the action of Washington throughout the muddle in the Far East points to an American determination to preserve China to the Chinese, or at least to resist, with force if necessary, any scheme of partition that threatens to put American traders at a disadvantage. Either way, her policy cuts directly across the path of European ambitions. What Europe seeks in China is not only fresh markets, but exclusive markets; and exclusive markets are to be had only by conquest. Europe has learned to her cost that it is usually England and America who manage to slip in first through the “ open door,” and that her chance lies in carving out an empire of her own on Chinese territory, which she may fence in with a discriminating tariff, and from the development of which she alone may reap the profit. This is the policy which all the Continental nations think vital to their commerce with China; they cannot separate the idea of trade from that of conquest. Partition, they honestly believe, is not only good in itself, as opening up fresh fields of enterprise, and bringing the Chinese into first-hand acquaintance with Western civilization ; it is also a safeguard and a protection against the bustling AngloSaxon traders. Nor is it impossible that some such stratagem as wrested Kiao Chou from China might have been repeated in 1900 but for the United States. Up to the time the Americans found themselves in the Philippines, the protectionist powers had only England and Japan to reckon with : the former weakened for offensive action by the Boer war ; the latter still, for all her sacrifices and activity, only half organized. The advent of America just turned the scale against them, and it is therefore on America that they lay the blame for the fiasco of the year’s work. Europe quits the scene baffled and empty, with nothing to show for all her toil but the promise of an indemnity which may or may not bear fruit. The policy as well as the diplomacy of the United States has left behind a legacy of friction and irritation.
And if this is true of China, with how much greater force does it hold good for South America! I have no space left for anything more than a brief note on the European view of the Monroe Doctrine. Americans, I presume, have made up their minds on the subject, though even now it is a question whether they are aware how far the stream of inexorable tendencies may carry them. What is South America ? It is something more than “ a land of revolutions.” It is the only part of the world’s surface that has escaped the modern rage for colonization. It is the last and most tempting field for the reception of overcrowded Europe, — colossal, sparsely populated, much of it almost unexplored, inhabitable by Caucasians, its interior easily accessible by water, its soil of seemingly exhaustless fertility, its mineral wealth barely tapped. And this magnificent domain is at present divided among a congeries of pseudo-republics, the best of them unstable, the prey of military adventurers, as turbulent in spirit as they are crooked in finance. What a prize to dangle before a world whose ceaseless endeavor it is to lower the social pressure by emigration, and secure for her workers easy access to exclusive markets ! One has to realize what Europe would give to have South America as defenseless as Africa, before one can gauge the spirit in which she views the Monroe Doctrine. To Europe that edict is the most domineering mandate issued to the world since the days of imperial Rome. It is an abridgment of her natural rights, enforced, as she regards the matter, simply in the interests of the dog in the manger. The United States will neither take South America for herself nor let any one else take it. She does not colonize the country with her own people; she has no trade with it worth mentioning ; she admits no responsibility for the outrages, disorders, and financial freakishness of her protégés. But she insists that South America is within her sphere of influence ; that such European holdings as exist there shall be neither extended nor transferred ; that immigrants who settle on its soil must make up their minds to leave their flag behind them ; and that, in the event of trouble between a European government and one of the half-breed republics under her patronage, satisfaction must be sought, if at all, in a mere financial indemnity, — never in the seizure and retention of South American territory.
Do Americans seriously believe that Europe will lie passive forever under such an edict ? Any one who has looked into the bloody and tangled history of South America, and kept an eye on the steady stream of European immigration into Brazil and Argentina, can imagine at least a score of incidents, any one of which would bring the Monroe Doctrine to a decisive test. Put on one side the implacable loyalty of Americans to their famous policy, and on the other the congested state of Europe, which would make expansion a necessity even if it were not all the fashion ; the military spirit of the Continent, which will never show England’s compliance with American wishes; the extraordinary inducements to colonization offered by South America, and the spirit of revolutionary turbulence that broods over the country from Panama to Patagonia — and one has a situation which it will take a miracle to preserve intact for another fifty years.
I write as an Englishman who has learned to know and like America, and has no conscious tendency toward Jingoism. The subject is, in fact, one on which an Englishman may express an opinion with singular impartiality, for it concerns his own country only indirectly. The work of England during the century that has just begun is to consolidate and develop what she has won, not to seek fresh territory. The Monroe Doctrine, I conceive, touches none of her vital interests ; indeed, were the question to be raised, it would, I imagine, be found that England and the United States are really at one in desiring to preserve South America from European encroachments. But with the Continent it is different. No European power has an empire to organize; all are driven by necessity to seek new outlets, and when found, to close them to competitors. It is therefore but a part of the inevitable evolution of things that Europe should some day burst upon South America. This, as it seems to an on-looker, is what Americans have too long shut their eyes to. They appear to have regarded the Monroe Doctrine as a self-acting barrier, as something which had merely to be enunciated to be an effective check to European designs. The Kaiser himself, some twenty months ago, supplied the unanswerable comment on this illusion: “ If anything has to be done in this world, the pen will be powerless to carry it through unless backed by the force of the sword.”