The Monroe Doctrine by the Review of the Reviews

A Bar to Civilisation

The March number of the North American Review contained an article in which the Monroe Doctrine was pushed to its ultimate extremity of forbidding European nations to gain any control of any kind over the South American Republics. In the April number ” An American Business Man ” proceeds to the other extreme, and denounces the Doctrine as “A Bar to Civilisation*

It is evidently characteristic of  aitierican public opinion on the subject that the first article should be signed and the second anonymous. The American business man, however, puts bis case strongly. He says that there is no protection for any Europeans in South America, and Americans are treated worst of all, their Consuls being generally “squared.” Ninety-five out of every hundred laws passed in South America are merely the decrees of dictators, and the ruling class is composed of adventurers, ambitious military men, many outright criminals, “the most aggressive, pretentious, good-for-nothing, nondescript, villainous, treacherous set of semi-banditti ever organised.

The Germans as pioneers

There is no hope for these countries, says the writer, save in external control. The Americans have no interest there. America’s total commerce with Venezuela and Colombia now amounts to probably as much as the business of one big New York dry-goods house ; and nine-tenths of American commerce with these States is done through German houses. The Germans are the tme pioneers of commerce in South America :

That the United States, magnificent exponent of modem civilisation, should throw itself as the mightiest barrier which the world has ever known across the stream of human progress ; that it should condemn the great continent of South America to everbitting barbarism, is a pity I Ourselves refusing to maintain or establish law and decency in South America, refusing to protect the life and property of those pioneers of commerce who are doing more to civilise the world than all the creeds and jarring sects combined, refusing to interfere to mitigate the anarchy and desolation which environ and envelop that great continent, we stand with our mighty force and defy the world to move its finger in an effort to stanch the stream of blood.

A joint control for South America

America can no longer permit herself to remain the colleague of thieves and banditti, protecting them from punishment they richly deserve. To talk of going to war with Germany over such an affair as the Venezuelan is utterly indefensible. No greater service could be done to Latin- America itself than for Germany, England and the United States to take joint possession and control of all Latin-American countries except Mexico, Chili, and the Argentine, and govern them as dependencies. Until this is done there will be no peace in the Western Hemisphere : –

The important thing is that stability and security should take the place of anarchy, desolation, and destruction. Until that is done, there can be no permanent peace upon the earth. Every session of Congress will witness calls for additional naval appropriations, with the undisguised intention of making common cause with the banditti of South America against those great and civilised Powers with whom we chiefly trade, who related to us by ties of blood, literature, religion, and commerce, and whose friendship we ought not lightly throw away.

Such a war would cover with eternal infamy the administration responsible for it, and would make a blot on the fair page of American history which time could never efface. That sane and intelligent Americans can talk of possible war with England or Germany on such an issue is one of those disquieting things which can only be explained on the hypothesis of inexcusable and criminal ignorance.

It is inconceivable that any respectable American, conversant with the facts, could do other than applaud the German Emperor, who is doing so much towards making it possible for a white man to exist in these countries, without the necessity of having a squadron of warships, or an army, at hand to protect him from plunder or assassination. I only voice the sentiments of every American business man who has ever invested a dollar in these countries, when I fervently say : “More power to his strong right arm!”

Stead, W. T. (Ed.) The review of the reviews 27 Jan- June 1903. Source: