Latin America


THE major problem of the San Francisco Conference as it concerned the Americas, and may in the future concern equally powerful regional peace-keeping systems in other parts of the world, lay in gearing the world and the regional peace organizations together. The American regional system could not be given so much autonomy that it would be, for all practical purposes, independent of the world organization. In such a situation, almost inevitably the Americas would tend to draw away from the world organization and to withhold support from it.

There were no fundamental clashes, but in the inner currents of the conference certain suspicions had to be allayed. The Russians, for example, were troubled over the possibility that giving the American regional system too much autonomy might leave the world peace organization insufficient authority to deal with aggressive developments in the Americas aimed in one way or another at Russia.

The Latin American powers most suspicious of communism, on the other hand, had fears that if too much authority over the regional system were granted the world organization, proper actions by the American powers to put down communist aggressions by indoctrinated states in the Western Hemisphere might somehow be vetoed by the world organization.

In the end an encouraging solution was found. With the full approval of the Russians and of the Latin American states which might be described as antiRussian, this agreement was reached: in the event of an aggression against an American country by a power or a group of powers either from within or from without the Western Hemisphere, the American countries are to be free to exercise their “inherent” right of self-defense against the aggressor — either individual self-defense, on the part of the state attacked, or collective self-defense, on the part of all the American nations, acting against the aggressor under the pledges of the Act of Chapultepec.

How it will work

In practical terms, this means that if an aggressor struck, say, at Uruguay, the other American powers, under the Chapultepec agreement, could come to Uruguay’s rescue without waiting for authorization from the Security Council of the world peace organization. But at the same time, under the regional compromise reached at San Francisco, the actions of the American powers would be required to be reported at once to the Security Council of the world organization.

After that, the Security Council, by invoking its constitutional powers in the world organization, would be in a position to do any one of three things: (1) approve the use of force by the American republics against the aggressor, and tell them to go ahead and finish the job; (2) order out military forces from the other continents to aid the American powers in putting down the aggressor — that is, send us European or Asiatic allies to help us enforce the Act of Chapultepec; (3) request a cessation of hostilities with a view to the settlement of the Western Hemisphere’s war against the aggressor by peaceable means.

It would be manifestly impossible for the Security Council to order out armed forces from the other continents to prevent the American powers from going on with their war against the aggressor — that is, to take the aggressor’s side — because the United States could prevent such action through its veto power as a permanent member of the Council.

Checking the aggressor

Let us go back to our hypothetical American war, starting off with an aggression against Uruguay. If the American powers were getting along fairly well with their business of putting the aggressor in his place by the time the situation was reported to the Security Council, the Council would almost certainly pass down the order of the day: “You’re doing fine, boys. Keep on doing it.”

But if there was serious doubt of the ability of the American powers to handle the situation on their own, the Security Council then might order out reinforcements from Europe or Asia. On the other hand, the authority of the Security Council to ask for a cessation of hostilities to consider the possibility of peaceable settlements puts a wholesome check in the Council’s hands — in the event that the American powers might some day tackle some aggression crisis with itchy trigger fingers without exhausting the possibilities of peaceable settlements beforehand.

There are sound reasons for believing this solution will work if there is sufficient will and good faith around the world from Moscow to Chile to make it work. In the development of the world peace organization there may be some conflict between the central body and its regional components — such as the Western Hemisphere and the Russian-influenced region in Eastern Europe and Western Asia — resembling the conflict between states’ rights and Federal authority in United States history. But the chances are good that the world and the regional peace systems will eventually function harmoniously. In any case the settlement of the regional issue reached at San Francisco gives us solid ground to start from.

One thing is certainly obvious in all this development of the idea of regional security through the Act of Chapultepec. The long process of converting the Monroe Doctrine from a strictly unilateral defense policy of the United States into a cog wheel of interAmerican defense machinery has now been completed. The Monroe Doctrine is now as inter-American as the fortifications of the bulge of Brazil or the Panama Canal.

The isolationism of Chapultepec

Certain symptoms at San Francisco connected with regionalism do not inspire confidence. Many of the Latin delegations had to be led by the hand into the compromise on the issue of regional versus world organization. After it was made — and it was one of the conference’s earlier achievements — they still tended to hang back on most of the issues strengthening the authority of the world organization, especially its Security Council.

As small — or, at the most, middle-sized — states, the Latin countries are naturally jealous of the immensely superior powers given to major countries and especially the Big Five permanent members in the Security Council of the world organization. Consequently they have voted, not in a solid bloc, but by fairly consistent majorities, for the whittling down of the powers of the Council and of the world organization itself. Almost oversold on the strength of their regional organization, they have wanted to place their confidence in the Act of Chapultepec rather than in the agencies of the world peace-keeping system.

In spite of their cultural affinities with Europe, the Latin American peoples are really farther outside the currents of world politics than even the Middle Westerners in the United States. If a “states’ rights versus Federal authority” struggle develops in the growth of the world organization, the Latin Americans for years are constantly going to be extreme " states’-righters. ”

Argentine appeasement

Another factor in the conference has been the admission of Argentina. Not that the Argentine delegates have behaved badly in any overt way. Indeed, Assistant Secretary of State Nelson Rockefeller, who regards leading the South American fascist government back into the fold as an outstanding diplomatic achievement, has described their conduct as “exemplary.”

From Argentina’s ambassador to Great Britain, Don Miguel Angel Carcano, down to the lowest public relations secretary, the Argentines circulate at all cocktail parties, urging all and sundry to “come and see us in Buenos Aires.” Concentration camps are never mentioned, even by newspapermen, so strong is the charm of the perfumed Argentine hands.

The admission of Argentina to the San Francisco meeting made relations between the United States and Russia, and consequently the relations between all the major powers, more difficult. Having suffered from one “smart trick” at the hands of our State Department, Moscow has been constantly on the lookout for more.

Argentine appeasement, in fact, appears to be responsible, more than any other factor in the world situation, for the suspicious and reluctant attitude of Moscow toward many of the conference decisions, for the lengthening of many impasses, for the magnification of honest differences of opinion into difficult controversies. More was involved, then, in Argentine appeasement than the mere bringing of a second-class fascist power into a world organization presumably dedicated to the extermination of fascism.

Regarding this still festering matter of Argentina’s admission to the conference, Assistant Secretary of State Nelson Rockefeller thinks that he took the right tack. Time — and the hardened attitude of the Russians — will tell.